Monthly Archives: December 2009

Album of the Year 2009: Albums 5-1

Almost there! The plan was to have these ready for the 25th, before deciding on the 26th as an appropriate date (being as that’s my mum’s birthday and being as she was very influential in my early music listening) before the festive season took over…

Anyway, enough of that and on to the top five albums of this year!

5. Eels: Hombre Lobo [9.1]

Feels like Christmas, with the Eels in the top five and I don’t think there has been a year when they have not featured high in the chart, since 1997 when the whole Eels obsession began for me.

Although trapped in tradition is not really the thing here, as when it comes to quality it is quite simply that Mr. E produces great songs year after year and I, for one, am a fan, a huge fan.

This year saw them start a little lower, however, as I still think that Prizefighter, (the opener) is easily one of their weakest tracks, and starts some early pessimism off. However, after hearing the power of Tremendous Dynamite (easily one of their best) and the melancholy of The Longing, we are reminded that there is still much quality left in the house of Mr. E.

I think the album suffers a little again from that which I discussed with Andrew Bird and the Kings of Convenience, this symptom of tunes a little too reminiscent of earlier stuff. The Eels, though, are solid, solid and consistent and when they have things to say, you just feel like you have to listen.

And listen you should.

4. Julian Plenti: Julian Plenti is…Skyscraper [9.3]

Another online recommendation (many thanks to KV Taylor for this one) and one that pretty much enjoyed a spot in the top five since I got hold of my copy. Having enjoyed previous Interpol records, I was quite intrigued to hear that their lead singer had released a solo album, one that had been around ten years in the making.

And this is one of the things I thought might bother me in the recording, and that is of the album sounding like a ‘best of’, rather than a complete package. There is a disparate feel to the album but a very cohesive and thought out one also.

There are some absolute crackers on here: my personal favourites being Skyscraper, On the Esplanade, and Only if you Run but, in my opinion, this is stronger than anything Interpol have released. Musically I think it’s a bit tighter and I also think some of the lyrics are a bit more solid. I think Plenti (Paul Banks) has a wonderful voice and coupled with the tunes and lyrics on this album, make it all a perfect mix of rock and melody.

Fans of Interpol should be checking it out, but in truth, anybody into fine music should also have a listen.

3. DM Stith: Heavy Ghost [9.4]

And here we have the first of two Asthmatic Kitty records in the top three, showing my new love for this record label,  a worthy competitor to 4AD, as possibly the best label for indie music. And my word what an album this one is!

One of those albums that took lots of listens to fully get it and to fully put it in the spot it deserves (still not 100% sure it is high enough), due to the depth of quality within (an Asthmatic Kitty trait).

Stith eases along with this album, never jumping into high powered tunes, at times even lazily meandering along in an effort to deliver his words in the best way. And it is the lyrics that shine, for all that he employs great music and has a very engaging voice, you can’t help but be drawn back into the words, feeling almost like you can pluck them out of the air, solid as they are.

This is my first exposure to Stith and I am seriously hoping that it is not the last. I only have to think about the wonder that is Braid of Voices and I already begin to feel the hairs on my neck stand on end. The album is filled with moments that you just want to relive and, feeling the musical enormity of it all, is something that takes time. Come to Heavy Ghost with high expectations but don’t leave early if they are not fulfilled immediately, as then you haven’t done the album justice.

2. The Twilight Sad: Forget the Night Ahead [9.5]

The term has to be used, for ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ has never felt more appropriate here. For in 2007 the band were number one for most of the year, losing out to the Editors and An End Has a Start, in December, before sitting pretty on the top here until a couple of days ago. So not only have they missed the top spot but they’ve missed it twice, as close as you can get to taking it.

Which in some way goes to show the strength of the band and how I cannot in any way fathom how they have not got more recognition in the last two years. I mean they have released two fantastic albums, which sit proudly in my CD collection, but so few people are on the bandwagon. I am aware that their debut, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters received quite a bit of critical acclaim, yet missed out on all but one of the best of lists I read every year (featuring at number 14 on that one).

This year mine is the only chart in which they have featured and I am annoyed about that, especially when considering the enormity of their lyrical quality and that That Room is a very strong contender for song of the year.

I can only guess that people are shying away from a very dark album, one that is very powerful and hard to just sit and listen to, without being forced to relive memories that aren’t the brightest. I know a lot have issues with music that does this and can only guess that this is why one of the finest artists of the decade, seems to be missing from many best ofs.

Get out and get it listened to, this and the debut, as they are brilliant!

1. Sufjan Stevens: The BQE [9.7]

Here is my genius of the last five years or so, who, surprisingly, has not (until this year) had a number one spot since I first listened to him, the previous highest being a number three spot in 2005 with Illinoise. What maybe surprises is that it is this album as his first in that it is 100% instrumental, and two of Sufjan’s biggest strengths are his lyrics and his voice, meaning this particular album relies solely on his powerhouse talent that is his music.

You don’t have to be able to read music or have knowledge of a vast array of musical instruments but when listening to Stevens (and Andrew Bird) you realise how much of an advantage that is – for these two (especially Stevens) are giants when it comes to music.

The BQE is a commissioned piece, with the BQE being the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Stevens created a soundtrack for this particular stretch of road in the states. Here’s what he says about the project:

I intended to create a non-personal, non-narrative piece. I tried to reduce my own personal investment as much as possible, and I refused to incorporate one of my strengths, which is the song. I was relinquishing my greatest weapon.

which goes back to what I said earlier about his not using his voice. I’m not sure I would agree with him totally that he is ‘relinquishing’ his ‘greatest weapon’, rather using another powerful weapon to devastating effect.

The BQE is not an easy listen, especially not early on, and especially not for one waiting for the trademark Stevens voice. The distinctive music style of Stevens comes in rather early though, and I feel that those already sold on the master of this decade may well slip into the album earlier than those first coming to him.

And I would not recommend this album to those who have never listened to Sufjan Stevens before, as tips there would be Illinoise or Greetings from Michigan, where the full scope of his style can be enjoyed.

Think Gustav Holst, and The Planets, then bring that down to a road, in New York, and you have some idea of what Stevens is working with here. It’s a mighty mighty record and easily one of the classics of our time! I’m so pleased to see Sufjan Stevens in this position, just as we come to end of the decade in which he has shone so brightly!

And that was that! Next up is more than likely the top five songs of 2009, before I hit you with the top ten albums of the decade on New Year’s Eve!

Album of the Year 2009: Albums 10-6

Oh, er, we got really carried away now didn’t we? The usually famous top ten, published on New Year’s Eve, is replace by seeing the first half of the ten already before Christmas Eve…which begs the question of whether there is something more in store…

And that there is dear readers, for I can announce today that on New Year’s Eve, I will be announcing, not the top ten of the year, as the second half of that will be revealed on the 25th December, but the top ten albums of the decade – exciting eh?

But, without further ado, let’s get onto this year’s chart:

10. Wild Beasts: Two Dancers

I so tried to dislike this one, I mean that voice is just too much sometimes, and being, as I am, a self-confessed hater of all things Anthony and the Johnsons, it seemed only right and fair that I would not be interested in these guys.

Which of course was so unfair. Unfair mainly, as, although we have that whiny tinnitus-inducing voice at times on this particular album, the falsetto has a little more character and is more varied, seeing as the lead singer uses other vocal pitches at his disposal too.

But, hey, this is one impressive album, in terms of musical styles and something I’ve not found a lot this year. These experimental styles that really do work. I see that Dirty Projectors, have featured on a whole load of best ofs this year, for that same reason, and I totally disagree, as I found the album completely lacking in character and in complete opposition to this one.

It’s hard, yet soft, it’s lyrical, yet grating, it’s falsetto, yet powerful, it’s experimental, yet conservative and all that works in one neat package. One of those on the chart that needs plenty of listening to get a real sense of the scope of the album and I’ll definitely be looking forward to their next offering!

9. Jonsi & Alex: Riceboy Sleeps

Big nod to Barry Napier here for being a total star and pointing me in the direction of this album. That the two involved are members of Sigur Ros, who featured in my top ten last year, makes it even more unfathomable that I was about to miss out on this little gem.

If you’re a fan of Sigur Ros, then you have an idea of what is coming up here, otherwise you’re in for one hell of a nice surprise!

It’s a mood album, and maybe one reason that it’s not higher is that sometimes the mood doesn’t suit, and I need to listen to my albums a lot when compiling the charts. It’s very mellow, very relaxing but in no way easy listening. You’d react if it was playing in your supermarket or if one of the tracks followed the insipid Norah Jones, on the radio.

It reminds me of Sigur Ros, a lot, for obvious reasons, but also Coil, in their ambient tracks and I think any lover of fine, atmospheric music should give this one a listen.

8. Andrew Bird: Noble Beast

Again those familiar with my album charts since 2005, were wondering when, rather than if, one of my newest musical heroes would be taking his spot in the chart. I’m sure some would have expected him higher but, in truth, this is the highest he has ever been, fluctuating between 12 and 8 all year.

It’s a mighty fine album and one that deserves much merit. It contains Not a Robot, But a Ghost, which always reminds me of Cate Gardner and her kooky but excellent story titles, and is also an excellent tune, and it has the most played song of any since I got this computer (and, Anonanimal, which has been vying for the song of the year since January 14th of this year, a behemoth of a track, and one that still causes the hairs on the neck to stand up when it opens.

In truth Bird puts together another lovely album and there’s not a weak track on it in truth, its position is more to do with the criticism I have of Kings of Convenience, earlier and that is that a few of the songs are very reminiscent of previous albums, to the point where they feel almost like cover versions. I’m not saying Bird should completely change his style, just that a little variation goes a long way.

However, if you are new to the man, then this album is as good a place as any to start.

7. Florence and the Machine: Lungs

And ‘bloody hell’, was my first thought on hearing this debut album. The response was due to having seen footage of the band, and thinking that Florence Welch, was a little irritating live, and made the music hard to deal with.

The studio album takes all that away and just leaves us with one of the finds of the year, putting together a wonderful voice, some powerful music, and, my particular favourite: the lyrics. Cosmic Love, and Blinding were the two that stood out for me but any number on the album had so much character and presence that I just couldn’t stop listening.

This is the first of the Mercury Prize nominees that I think was better than the winner, more for the fact that they did more with the album as a whole, even though it doesn’t flow as much as Hannigan’s. It does mean, however, that this wouldn’t have won the award had I been judging either…

6. Bat for Lashes: Two Suns

For that award would have gone to this gem, surpassing the dizzy heights she set with Fur and Gold, to come up with an album, more refined, with a harder edge, yet softer in tone. How she does it I don’t know but Natasha Khan has suceeded again in producing an album that stands out from its contemporaries in so many different ways.

Glass and Moon and Moon, are the two tracks that exemplify Khan’s excellence in the field, although all of the tracks show a strength of a maturing artist, ready to become one of the classics in a couple of years or so.

Her voice has this dreamy quality that draws you in before she assails you with all kinds of musical instruments. As you get used to those two you then find that the lyrics are pretty damn punchy and you’re taken to the next level of a musical nirvana.

I firmly believe Bat for Lashes, will be joining the ranks of Bird and Stevens in a couple of years!

Look out for the top five, as one of your Christmas presents this year!

Album of the Year 2009: Albums 20-11

This is always one of the hardest (and most enjoyable) stages of the whole year of music listening, the moment where I can confirm that there are only ten albums left and where I begin to play those ten, fantastic examples of music intensively, before announcing the album of the year on 31st December 2009.

It’s been a tough one this year, more so than other years, due to the fact that many more albums have been around the eight out of ten score, meaning competition is tougher round the 11-20 mark than it is in the top ten. The top five was actually decided before I even came near to being ready with this – different years, different focuses!

I’m hoping, what with my focus on the whole chart just now, that I can get the 10-5 list ready for Christmas Eve, meaning that all will be set for the big five countdown, which should be posted 31st December (and which I’ve failed doing for a few years now).

Here’s 20-11 (which includes the previous number 21, due to a glitch in the system. I had an album in the top 20 that wasn’t eleigible, meaning Lisa Hannigan is actually number 20)

20. Lisa Hannigan: Sea Sew

I’m a bit slow it has to be told, and only found out today that Ms Hannigan recently won the Mercury Prize for this particular album, and as such, is not too bothered about finishing a lowly 20th in my little chart. On reading the nominees, I see that two of my albums that finish above Lisa are there. Let’s see where those two end up eh?

It’s a lovely little album this one and I very much understand why it won the prize. Compared to Kathryn Williams (totally underrated musician) and it can be argued that Lisa is the better half of Damien Rice, when it comes to music. I can admit that I wasn’t that fond of Mr. Rice, when I heard the album O, but I was interested in the female voice that popped up from time to time. Since they parted ways, Lisa has followed a George Michael-like rise with Rice hitting the dizzying lows of a certain Andrew Ridgeley (remember him?).

Anyway, Lisa’s Plink Plonk Rock (as a friend of hers termed it) is really rather lovely and is very indebted to folk as inspiration. With a cracking voice and some top-notch lyrics, Hannigan has all the requirements needed to be massive and I, for one, will be following her career with interest.

19. Marmaduke Duke: Pandemonium

Easily one of the silliest band names in my chart this year but don’t let that stop you giving them a listen, as they are a bit special these guys.

One of the hardest albums in the chart to classify, this is because once you think you have a grip on the album, it pulls the rug from under your feet on the next track. I mean, every time I listen to Demon, (with its mish mash of styles and bass levels) I sort of wonder why I’ve not got it higher and then Erotic Robotic, pops on and it makes sense again, just before I’m hit with Je Suis Un Funky Homme, which is actually better than the title suggests. You sort of never know where you are with the album and even though that’s something I can really warm to, given today’s X Factor overloads, there is still something comforting about continuity of a sort…

18. Shannon Stephens: The Breadwinner

One of the two albums in the top twenty, which I wouldn’t have heard about if not for the wonder that is Sufjan Stevens. When checking out what was going in the world of Sufjan for 2009, on the Asthmatic Kitty record label, I came across the artist that features a little higher in the chart, before then hearing about Stevens interviewing a new artist on the label, one Shannon Stephens.

Stephens is a little higher than Hannigan yet there is not a lot between them. I think Shannon’s lyrics spoke to me more and I also feel that Stephen’s voice is a little more captivating. I’d be hard pressed to argue strongly for the two place difference and why I believe the ‘funky hommes’ should be sandwiched by them, but then hey, this is what subjective charting is all about eh? 😉

17. Rodrigo y Gabriela: 11:11

One that a fair few of you wouldn’t have been expecting but then I do surprise people every year, when they find out I actually listen to a fair bit of pop, heavy metal, and world music (of course not country music you do understand). I love music  and do attempt to get the feelers out anywhere I can to get hold of new stuff.

11:11, really appealed to me, as a flamenco-type guitar duo, inspired by eleven bands in eleven tracks, some of those being Jimmy Hendrix and Pink Floyd, and the result is rather impressive. There’s lots of speedy strumming energetic guitar playing, yet with a real sense of purpose in making it an east meets west recording. I think the guys succeded – judge for yourself if you like the idea. I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

16. Taken by Trees: East of Eden

So, music reviewer living in Sweden, has a Swedish artist in his top twenty. This all makes sense, right? Well not exactly, as I’d never heard of Victoria Bergsman, until I visited England this November and watched a horrible advert (about how you should buy seriously expensive Christmas gifts for your family to re-create those wonderful Christmases of your past) with a rather weak cover of a rather weak song (Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine).

OK, so how does a weak song equate to me going further with this? I don’t like the song, and I don’t think Bergsman made it that much better but what she did was showcase her voice and it’s a rather lovely one at that. Add to that the fact that she has decided to enlist the help of Indians to sing on her latest album and you have a real multi-cultural mix that just oozes class. When I heard the first few tracks of this, I was convinced that the album was going to jump straight into the top ten. Unforntunately it loses its way a bit as it progresses but with the addition of a song, sung completely in the Swedish language, it is a worthy buy and a very worthy addition in this chart.

15. Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Album title give anything away? Cover? Basically there is always room for an album of sheer fun, delightful in its approach and with real crowd pleasers, such as Love Like a Sunset (one of my contenders for track of the year), it’s one of those albums I can just pop on, whilst getting on with stuff, knowing it will elicit a smile and a tapping of the feet very early on. I’m not too concerned with the lyrics, have not got into the secluding myself away with the headphones on, just enjoying it as it is, for what it stands for (which is actually a major reason for it not being higher).

14. Kings of Convenience: Declaration of Dependence

You may or may not remember that a couple of months ago I maintained that I had my album of the year. Yes, it was this one, dropping rather sharply when the music listening got to its most intensive. Their debut album missed out on the number one spot to the Eels (with Souljacker) in 2001 and their second did rather well too, meaning I was going to be listening to the guys very favourably when their third album was released (I’m ignoring the remix album here).

Yet, on more listens, I could see (or rather hear) something that I wasn’t altogether happy with and that was a band that hadn’t really moved on, hadn’t progressed from previous albums and had actually released something that felt almost like a compilation of the first two albums. Let’s not forget though that this Norwegian duo are so massive that with all this complaining, the album still ends up as my fourteenth favourite of 2009.

13. White Denim: Fits

Only just managing to get into stage two of the reckoning, White Denim’s album just went from strength to strength, once I could give it the listens it required. For this is not an easy album to get into and it is only after about a dozen listens that you start to realise just what the guys are up to. There’s a little mish-mash going on, similar in some ways to Marmaduke Duke’s offering. However, White Denim invite a litte more oompf in their recording, and back that up with some wonderful use of sounds and vocals. I think this is one of those albums that will have me looking back in a year or two and wondering why I placed it so low…we shall see…

12. Editors: In This Light And On This Evening

A few might well be surprised that this album finds itself so low, although none more so than myself, tipping them for a top five spot the second I heard that they were to release an album. For the Editors were the band that topped the whole chart in 2007, for both their wonderful music but also for the emotional response it evoked at rather a powerful time in my life.

Yet, An End Has A Start is nearly the perfect album and it was going to take a lot for this to come anywhere near it, on any level.

The opening (and title) track almost makes you believe it can, however, a blistering track that grabs immediately and doesn’t let go until well after the last note, followed by Bricks and Mortar, which suffices (and by suffices with this band means impressive). But then come the next two tracks, Papillon, easily being one of their worst tracks (probably the worst) andYou Don’t Know Love, not particularly stirring the senses either, and you know this is no album of the year contender, not even top ten, as it happens.

But this is how it is, being excellent is an achievement but maintaining it, well…

11. Patrick Wolf: The Bachelor

And here is the second of those choices, the second that was supposed to follow on from a previous win (this time in 2005 with Wind in the Wires), especially when considering that 2005 was one of the toughest years in terms of both quantity and quality. Granted Patrick has already had an album out in between these two, which didn’t feature in the top ten of 2006 and so the expectation was maybe not as high but Wind in the Wires, is easily one of the defining albums of the last decade, and there are hints of that in this one. Thickets and Hard Times, easily two of the best tracks of the year and very reminiscent of that beloved album of mine.

However, like the Editors, Patrick Wolf also has his rejects, tracks such as Battle andCount of Casualty, which are so bad that I keep checking the CD player whenever they come on to see if my three year old has switched the CD for another band. It’s depressing that my heroes of only a couple of years ago are now struggling to get into the top ten but eleven in a year like this is not too bad – and it is a cracking album all told.

(I had some help this time too)

Time Travel (musically speaking)

Just going back through previous blogs (there’s a bit of housework going on) and came across a little treat from 2008:

Rock my Socks 2008 (mp3)


Upping the Tempo

It’s been a case of a post here and a post there on various blogs and Facebook, before deciding to get going with a fully detailed cycling blog. I mean I’ve clocked up a total of 46 hours on the bikes this year and even though that’s nothing compared to Dennis Nilsson, who is managing between 15 and 39 hours a week(!), I’m still rather proud of myself.

My first task is going to be to bore you with my detailed challenge of beating three significant records from 2007: total cycles done, total kilometres covered over the year and length of time on the bike.

Just now I am level with the number of cycles (30) and in front with the number of hours (46 vs 44) and behind with the number of km (1,260 vs 1,180). I’m expecting to beat all those easily (well two I have already), which says a lot considering 2008 was a disaster in terms of me and the bike.

More to follow…

(orignally posted 29th July 2009)

Album of the Year 2009: Number 21

I’m a little ahead of myself this year, in terms of the album chart. One reason for this is that I received the loveliest compliment ever, regarding my music posts and my recommending of new music every year, and it came at just the right time and really has motivated me to get everything spot on this year!

Well, this is a mini-post, featuring just the one album, being as the chart from 20-11 is almost ready and this album got lost in limbo as it’s the only album with a grade of eight or more not in the last twenty.

Number 21: Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew

I’m a bit slow it has to be told, and only found out today that Ms Hannigan recently won the Mercury Prize for this particular album, and as such, is not particular bothered about finishing a lowly 21st in my little chart. On reading the nominees, I see that two of my albums that finish above Lisa are there. Let’s see where those two end up eh?

It’s a lovely little album and I very much understand why it won the prize, compared to Kathryn Williams (totally underrated musician) and it can be argued that Lisa is the better half of Damien Rice, when it comes to music. I can admit that I wasn’t that fond of Mr. Rice, when I heard the album but I was interested in the female voice that popped up from time to time. Since they parted ways, Lisa has followed a George Michael like rise with Rice hitting the dizzying lows of a certain Andrew Ridgeley (remember him?).

Anyway, Lisa’s Plink Plonk Rock (as a friend of hers termed it) is really rather lovely and is very indebted to folk as inspiration. With a cracking voice and some top-notch lyrics, Hannigan has all the requirements needed to be massive and I, for one, will be following her career with interest.

Stuck in the TV screen

Things have been rather hectic of late and I’m finding that going through TV shows has been a good way to take a break here and there. Here’s a little summary of what I’ve been watching recently:

Merlin (Season Two): I was all doom and gloom about this one when I watched the first two episodes of season one but stuck with it (for reasons unknown) and it’s grown on me somewhat. I do think some of the stories are quite well crafted and I think it does OK for a children’s/family show. I’m on episode twelve of season two and I think that means there is one episode left.

Dexter (Season Four): I have just finished the fourth season of easily one of the best TV shows ever made. The finale of this one had me in agony and I still haven’t fully recovered from all the implications of it (and it was Monday night I watched it). It’s compelling TV, excellent writing and with some wonderful characters.

Lie to Me (Season One): I’ve actually watched all of season one but am watching it again with the wife and am up to episode four (of twelve) with her. It’s nice to go away from what I’m used to watching and Tim Roth is excellent as the owner of a company that deals with micro-expressions, which tell us who is lying and why…

V (Season One): A remake of the massive 80’s tv show and with a weird idea from the channel of showing four episodes and then having a four month break. Especially when that fourth episode had no discernable cliffhanger to speak of… It’s a bit tired, a bit lethargic and suffers from being a remake that wasn’t really needed. I’ll probably keep up with mainly as that lovely Juliet from LOST is in it.

Dollhouse (Season One): Struggling muchly with this one. I’m on episode nine just now and think that of those 9x50min slots there is probably about 40mins of good TV. I think Whedon has some good ideas but he’s ultimately so far up his own arse that he’s unwilling to look at a lot of the flaws in what he’s doing. In this comment I also refer to Firefly and Buffy.

LOST (Season Five): Season five was just about to start by the time I got around to watching season one of this and I basically raced through the series in an attempt to catch up and be in the ‘in-crowd’ for when they started the last season. I was negative to this for so long, after hearing about so many people dropping off the show and it was only when my sister said she was going to watch them again, as she’d missed a few episodes, and would I watch them with her and chat about them. I took a bit of convincing and the result was one of my favourite TV shows ever made. I’m worried they are going to royally mess it up, like they did BSG but I trust them just now…

Supernatural (Season Five): Have enjoyed this all the way through, although I cannot really claim to be a fan as it deals with horror in a way I don’t usually appreciate – that of lots of humour – and I miss the fact it used to be quite a tense horror show in the beginning (somewhere). Anyway it’s kept me entertained enough to watch for five years now.

Next on my list to watch is Six Feet Under, and considering the list above, are there any opinions on whether I’m going to like it? (This is also bearing in mind that I gave up on Heroes, Pushing Daises and I absolutely hated the end of BSG?)

The previous album of the year winners

I’ve been asked a couple of times which albums made it into the number one spot since I began this little thang I do and I thought here was the best place to put them. I was also asked when I started my ambitious album of the year challenge and I can answer 1996.

Here are the previous winners:

1996 Tori Amos – Boys for Pele
1997 There was no official winner after I found out that Eels – Beautiful Freak was released in 1996 and not 1997 as originally thought.
1998 Eels – Electro-shock Blues
1999 Blur – 13
2000 Fiona Apple – When the Pawn…
2001 Eels – Souljacker (yes, they are a favourite band)
2002 Tom Waits – Alice (my hero)
2003 Radiohead – Hail to the Thief
2004 Stina Nordenstam – The World is Saved (that kooky Swede)
2005 Patrick Wolf – Wind in the Wires
2006 Two Gallants – What the Toll Tells
2007 Editors – An End Has a Start
2008 Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane

So as you can see, 2009’s album will be in good company, very good company!

And for those reading my music blog, I can reveal that of those artists listed above, two of them have albums in this year’s top twenty!

Eight years on

Well it’s been eight years to the day since we tied the knot and in that time there has been much to enjoy and much to deal with. Obvious high points are the births of both our children, our many trips together and the support we have received from each other in all things artistic, health related and career choices.

The two very obvious low points being my mother’s lost battle against cancer four months before Maddoc was born and the murder of my brother-in-law, in December 2007.

And now we’re eight years on…

A rare event is when the wife surprises me, yet that has been the nature of our relationship over recent months, with her trying to surprise me in both little and big ways. Today’s was calling me this morning to tell me I had to leave home and get over the gym as soon as possible as one of the wheels had fallen off the pram. She couldn’t fix it and so I would have to. I cycled over, only to find the pram in full working order and a grinning wife letting me know that we were off for coffee (Latte and pepparkakor cheesecake please)!

Been mulling about doing work-related stuff this afternoon before getting ready for my first innebandy game in about four years now – very much looking forward to that one, especially as the wife is involved too! We are then off to Indra, a new Indian restaurant in our very own Norrköping.

Some days are just too good!

Stage Three begins!

Dinosaur Jr. - Farm

And now we come to probably my favourite time of the whole selection process, and that is where I listen to albums so far given a grade of 8, seeing which of them will join those receiving 9 (and sometimes 10) in the last phase (Top 20) of the selection.

39 more albums have fallen by the wayside now, with all the albums receiving a grade of 7 out of the reckoning. For those interested in those there is a link here of the 36 Grade 7s that were left behind this week.

Of the 39, three of those not making it to Stage Two actually dropped out of the 7s too and into the mire of the 6 or belows, they were: Kasabian’s West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die and Anathallo’s Canopy Glow. After serious listening last week it was decided these really didn’t cut the mustard.

You’ll notice some noticable artists in this list (if you go have a lookie) but those who know me will notice even more significant artists missing from the cut, meaning they are in the running for a top 20 spot.

Especially as there are a mere 21 albums left!