Best in British Music Show with Tara O.
A Blog & Radio Show on New Indie Music from the UK
What kills ‘n ills

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THIS PAGE LAST UPDATED:  Jan 11, 2010

Here’s my list, updated regularly on what “kills” and what “ills” me (see below for defs).

Latest entries are in green at the top of EACH categoryEnjoy!

2010 CDs that KILL and worth your $$ …

Delphic “Acolyte”, Released Jan 11/10
7/10
Electro pop Manchester 3 dude band Delphic has an 11 January 2010 release for their debut CD Acolyte.

BBC gave them 3rd place this week in their ‘Sounds of 2010’ series – those bands that will make a difference, step it up in the new year. I’ve been raving about them since first playing them in Sep 09.

—-REVIEW

Shit. I hate when this happens… I hear a single or two from an upcoming CD, I get excited at the talent, jump ahead a couple of months later when the CD comes out and uhhhmmm well, must then pronounce the CD as ‘not too bad’… but it’s not the shit (in a good way) that I was hoping for (ok! ok! expecting!)

Delphic (a super great band name btw) sounds like morsels of 80s Duran Duran, the mambo-less electro dance of Friendly Fires, and the rawness of Enigma (minus the sensuality).

While their tracks will have success on dancefloors reincarnated as remixes, the album could’ve ‘given’ a bit more. Vocals are generally too soft, intentional no doubt to showcase/focus on the music — albeit their strength.

But lead James Cook has a good voice and the overall impression of the album on the listener would be stronger if this was amped up. I would’ve given almost equal emphasis to both vocals and music, providing a ‘fuller’ sound across the album.

Yes, the trend these days (XX, Big Pink…) is downplayed, muted sounds and while that has its place in music, Delphic has borrwoed too heavily from this trend. As my mom used to say when I was a kid: “Just because Suzie jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge – should you?”

Nonetheless, there’s a few great tracks worth your listen: This Momentary, Counterpoint, Acolyte, Doubt.

Tracks:

Clarion Call – proper opener. Sets a tone for what’s to come

Doubt – the CDs latest single. It’ll do well.

This Momentary – a great song that I’ve already played a couple of times on the show (radio edit & live)

Red Lights- enjoyable but gets monotonous

Acolyte – instrumental. Starts off downplayed and unsuspecting and turns into a really nice electro groove.

Halcyon – demure vocals lend to one of the album’s best tracks

Submission – 80s synths. Why does Simon Le Bon and Duran Duran (and for that matter, pre-’84 pop) come to mind when I hear this track?

Counterpoint – one of the album’s best tracks. Great electro, plus I much prefer the stronger (relatively speaking) vocals on display here.

Ephemera – as the title suggests, it’s a short instrumental voyage into the ephemeral

Remain – bookends the experience but ends the album on a bland note.

2009 CDs that KILL and worth your $$ …

Five British CDs to Own This Fall (The Cribs, Editors, The Twilight Sad, The Hot Melts, Florence & the Machine).
– Some Beans, Fear and Loathing in Tipton St. John. Pop Noise Records labels some unique acts including Scotland’s Popup but Some Beans (AKA Andy Fonda) is their latest to find. Andy writes, plays, produces the CD. Don’t think there’s a bad track (read: skip) among the twelve. His noted influences (eg, Buck 65, Portishead, Cut chemist) evolves their sounds on the tracks, not making you feel like you’ve ‘heard this stuff before’. His beautiful voice runs on low-fi/ambient/electro/jazz/pop influenced tracks. Chill.Best Tracks: Turning Blue, No more wine, The Mould.
Florence and the Machine, Lungs Even though Glasvegas should win by several slivers, Flo is my bet for the 2009 Mercury Prize win). Every song’s enjoyable. She’s got the beautiful & emotive voice of Bat for Lashes, the humorous, quirky, and sexually strong & comfortable within her femininity lyrics of Lily Allen, the doom/gloom/morose & honest lyrics of Glasvegas. Solid album, with only last couple of songs the direction trails off). Best Tracks: Rabbit Heart, Dog Days are over, Kiss with a fist, My boy builds coffins
Super Furry Animals, Dark Days/Light Years (The boys from Wales have greatly exceeded my expectations. An upbeat, fresh summer CD. Think Led Zep, Jim Noir (he’s listed under 2008 CDs to own), Beach Boys, touches of Tom Jones (when he was cool) and Thievery Corporation, some prog moments, flashes of art rock à la Bowie, a few uncomprehendible lyrics (german by Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy..he lived in Munich for awhile). How can all that be any good? Not sure. All I can say is it’s 60min of pure musical artistry) Best Tracks: Crazy Naked Girls, The Very Best of Neil Diamond, White Socks/Flip Flops.
Micachu & The Shapes, Jewellery (This boy-girl-girl (tryin’ to make it sound sec-see!) band are like no other… a wonderful artistic concoction of sounds and unusual instruments (ever heard a vaccum cleaner ‘played’ before??). Sit back and be open-minded. Experimentalism defined!)
The Doves, Kingdom of Rust (Let me be upfront from the get-go…I have a big soft spot for this 2brother/3piece band.. while I expected big things from this 4th CD based on my mezz-mer-eye-zing repeated enjoyment over their 3rd CD (“Some Cities”), I was initially a little disappointed..it lacked that overall ‘punch’ and stream of powerful lyrical messages that Some Cities provided. Yet after 3ish listens I warmed up to their return to an overall softer sound, and basked (yes, basked!) in their ever-strong ability to harmonize, along with the lead’s warm yet (somehow conversely?) raspy vocals. If you havent listened to the Doves yet, you …. well, you just should. A talented trio not yet given their dues and too smooth to fight for ’em.
– The Maccabees, Wall of Arms (Is it me or do many songs sound similar? Upside: talent easily exceeds boredom factor. Mixed bag: use of Arcade Fire producer is betrayed, resulting in similar vocals & melodies. A pop pleasure nonetheless)
Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan (fun indie rock, great lyrics. Band starting to come into their own on 3rd CD)
The Noisettes, Wild Young Hearts (Amy Winehouse R&B/Retro meets electro guitar pop & strings)
White Lies, To Lose my Life (if you love Depeche Mode, Glasvegas, Echo&thoseBunnies.. And finally! Alan Cross & I both agree – one of the BEST CDs of 09. My Interview with them is here
Lily Allen, It’s not Me, It’s You (all around great pop. love how she doesnt give a fuck about swearing in her songs if it fits)
The Lightyears, London England (new prog,rock,pop – they mix up this schizophrenic mix like no one can. Check out my Blog review of their CD)
Franz Ferdinand, Tonight Franz Ferdinand (electro rock,pop) ahhh franz…nice you could join us again…
The Joy Formidable (see my blog post for free CD D/L) NKOTB worth noting!
This Town Needs Guns, Animals (check out their hilarious track listing.. there’s a reason the CD is called Animals)


2009 NOT BAD / has its moments CDs…

– The XX, “The XX”. So much hype! Can one ac-tually review the quality of a CD objectively over such… ‘accolades’ already given out hand over foot to these four 20 year olds from London who have self-produced their 1st CD? Hell, I’m willing to try.
Intro starts their musical venture sounding like, well, an intro into the soft, understated album “The XX” is. Even the band & CD name is understated. They chose their name based on how its look typed out – supposedly the two X’s looked good together. Perhaps, but if your music’s not cutting it, I won’t be listening just to stare at your name (ironically the CD cover has only one ‘X’ on it).
VCR is a short and passes without much notice and the boy/girl vocals continue into their single Crystalized – where you realize there’s hope you just might not fall asleep listening to this cd. At Islands, I have a short Blur flashback (woo! hoo!) but thankfully the track quickly evolves into its own – while retaining the consistently downplayed mood throughout. The first track over 4min, Heart Skipped a Beat is an Islands extension – soft electro ambience with vocals in duet. The XX will have your woofer up in arms on Fantasy, and from then on Shelter, Basic Space, and Infinity bring you back the same tame quiet monster until Night Time adds some funk and picks up the tempo. ‘The XX’ ends around 37minutes later, just how it started, with Stars.
The vocal trade-off between Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft work well. If consistency & a chill sound is your spice of life, the XX will suit your food just fine.
They’re supporting Florence & the Machine in Europe before heading over to North American with Friendly Fires in late Fall 2009. While this is nothing to shake a stick at, I’m not sure how their understated sound will translate on stage but I’m willing to give their deliberate subtleties a try.  DL Tracks: Night Time, Basic Space
– Muse, The Resistance (September) Eleven tracks by 3 piece Devon-based band most known for their 2006 Black Holes & Revelations CD.  This time around while self-produced CD,  you still think you’re listening to Rich Costey until about track 6, when Unnatural Selection gives us hope that maybe we’ll be hearing some new directions.  Tracks 1-5 & 7 are all over the place spanning sounds from past Muse (Black Holes) to the strange Undisclosed Desires (which sounds like some struggling 90s white cheeezy pop boy band trying to please 14 year olds with their first CD).   United States of Eurasia quite simply just rips-off Queen & the typical 90s hard rock band.  They’re conscious decision to keep the Freddy Mercury voice & outcries was just,  plain, bad in so many ways.
With the CD & one single charting already (Uprising) they’re having commercial success in several countries but their best stuff (I belong to you, Symphony Part 1,2,3) is too long & prog for radio play.  This is unfortunate as these tracks (& United States of Eurasia) are likely the pieces they’re referring to when publicly discussing their creative choices/outbursts for this album.  And attempts – some successful here – at creativity and branching out are always better than wallowing in the known, so for that I commend them.
Lead Matt Bellamy’s voice is strong & full to match the powerfully emotive songs – though their live shows (already sold out in some cities) will prove how much of this is production based.   His use of piano throughout (eg United States of Eurasia, I belong to you, the Symphonies…) is a nice change from keyboards and a nice touch from today’s mega return to synths.
If it wasn’t for the pick n choose feature of ITunes I’d have to say skip this CD, but I belong to You right through to the last track are worth your $4 or pounds.   So crank up the speakers and enjoy these rock opera production tracks that will no doubt blow away live.   … and Muse are smart to make music that will blow you away at live venues – they may not get all your CD or ITunes money — but if they can get 4 pounds + another 60quid for your concert ticket they won’t be going hungry in 2009.
DL Recommendations:  Unnatural Selection, I belong to you, Symphony 1 &2

– Polly Scattergood, Self-titled CD. Combine lyrics, drama-queen-ness & soft voice of Judy Collins (who? you say… – you know..the lady from the 70s…”Bring in the clowns…don’t bother – they’re heeerree..) and the piano of Billy Joel and you’ve got a 17? y.o. girl full of angst with TONS of very-literal songs to chirp about. Don’t expect a cracker to satisfy this polly).
– 1990s CD Kicks Neo punk, rock. Their 2nd CD….they’re evolving somewhat…
– Morrissey, Years of Refusal It has some solid moments. Any Moz fan will want this.


2009 CDs that ILL (me in particular) …

Spaceships are cool (perhaps. but you guys suck. back to the studi-o-di-o…)


Killer CDs to own – Anytime, Any year…

2008

– Glasvegas, Glasvegas (A cd where it’s good moments are awesome so worth slappin down the bucks,pounds,yens. I’m gonna get stabbed – How’s that for a song title? Fittingly I played it back at Hallowe’en but cool anytime. Geraldine – you heard on Letterman and my fav(not sure what it says about me!): It’s your own cheating heart that makes you cry, Go Square Go which is all about fight’en. A-magine that -scots writting bout that….)
– Oasis, Dig out Your Soul (ahh hate to give ‘the big guys’ space but it is a pleasure listening to this album. While not mind blowing and won’t compare to their 90s, it’s solid ‘backgrounder’ music as you tend to things (like read my blog!), flow nicely, & nice to hear Liam’s voice again)
– Working for a Nuclear Free City, Businessmen & Ghosts (one of the few doing great prog in early 08…a genre slowly starting to pick up again..but it takes artistic guts cause hard to do right, like on this CD)
– Supergrass, Diamond Hoo Ha (nice to see them back and take charge with some gr8 art / glam rock. If you love 70s Bowie, Roxy Music, you’ll love this. Every track bang on ‘cept Whiskey & GreenTea’ ugh..where did *that one come from?)
– Kaiser Chiefs, Off with Their Heads (yes, somewhat mainstream but if looking for a fun all-’round pop album this is it. and Can’t Miss a Beat is so DAMN catchy. hate it!)
Ray, Death in Fiction (luscious vocals align well to their full guitar rock. idea: turn up the stereo ‘n dim the lights. purrfect. best appreciated in your livingroom, not the pod)
Young Knives, Superabundance (super indie rock!)
– My Federation, Don’t wanna die (pop rock. consistent fun all the way through)
– Late of the Pier, Fantasy Black Channel (electro. a few down spots but overall ..ELECTRO-FUN)
– Hot Chip, Made in the Dark (moreso brooding electro.light up…the fireplace! and listen…
– Jim Noir, Jim Noir (60s groovy beach boys meets electro. how he made it work..who knows…)
– Friendly Fires, Jump in the Pool (great electro all the way thru. Check out my Friendly Fires interview on the blog)
– The Long Blondes, Couples (a solid follow up to cd 1 tho CD 1 has golden moments too..don’t deny yourself that either if you can! Check out my Long Blondes interview on blog)
– The Wombats, The Wombats Presents A guide to Love, loss and desperation (another that’s enjoyed numerous listens. You can’t help but smile when you start to piece. together the song lyrics. mental gone right. o and go see them live. Check out my Wombats interview on the blog).
– Elbow, Seldom Seen Kid (it won a shit load of awards in 08. often that doesnt mean much. here it does)

2007
– Maps, We Can Create (well crafted (&not boring!) euphoric soundscapes, shoegaze electronica)
– New Young Pony Club, Fantastic Playroom (pure unadulterated funky indie fun. Best tracks: The Get Go, Ice Cream, the Bomb, Talking Talking, Hiding on the Staircase)
-MIA, Kala (Best of the albums great tracks: Jimmy, 20 Dollar, Paper Planes)

2006
Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not (mark this one as a notch in the geneology of music. Rock, punk, pop moments with an accent & innocence & true to life lyrics. believeable. An absolute must-have..FROM ITS hilarious non-PC cover & CD design TO ITS No fear of long titles TO ITS enlightenment on the life & times & tribulations of today’s northern UK youths)
Keane, Under the Iron Sea (funny, i didnt like this CD until listening to it again in 08. hmm not sure what that says about me. Btw, their 08 CD bites the big one …maybe i`ll be back in ’10 to tell you how great it is now. ha. But no, i won’t. It’s not a great 80s review CD as touted. I was there, and the 80s were better than that …and that doesnt say much for this CD).

2005

Hard-Fi, Stars of CCTV (Best tracks: the ever famous Cash Machine for its recognition of the life challenges faced by today’s UK youths just trying to ‘get by’, Hard to Beat and the unknown Move on Now. Feelin down? Throw on Living for the Weekend, and you’ll soon forget..whatever it was! …Still their best album to date.
The Bees, Free the Bees
Bloc Party, Silent Alarm
(best example of neo-punk. the fore runners before it became cool. The best of their 3 CDs. Check out my 2 Bloc Party interviews on the blog)
The Doves, Some Cities (i couldnt even TELL you how many times i’ve listened to this CD. one I need to relisten to every year)

2004
Morrissey, You are the Quarry (one word: Solid Morrissey. ok two.)

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