Archive for the 'Lists' Category

The Ledge’s top 10 gigs of 2008

  1. Leonard Cohen @ Opera House, Manchester, 18th June
  2. Bon Iver @ Manchester Academy 2, 15th September
  3. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds @ Manchester Apollo, 24th November
  4. R.E.M. @ T In The Park / Lancashire County Cricket Ground, 13th July / 24th August
  5. The National @ ATP, Minehead, 17th May
  6. Stereolab @ Club Academy, Manchester, 17th December
  7. Eels @ Bridgewater Hall, 27th February
  8. The B-52s @ Manchester Academy, 22nd July
  9. Silver Jews @ Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester, 27th May
  10. My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, 27th June
Posted by The Ledge on 23rd December 2008 at 5:49 pm | comments (3)
File under atp,bon iver,eels,Leonard Cohen,Lists,manchester gigs,my morning jacket,R.E.M.,stereolab,the b-52's,the national.

Justhipper’s Top 13 Gigs of 2008

Well, here’s my list of my favourite gigs of 2008. Why 13 you ask? Cause I couldn’t pare it down to just 10, especially once I got past the first 8. In any year where I hadn’t seen Leonard Cohen for the first time ever, the Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds gig we saw recently would probably have been at #1, but this was a special year for music because not only did Leonard Cohen return to playing live, but the gigs he was playing were absolutely magical. Anyway, here’s the list:

  1. Leonard Cohen @ the Opera House, Manchester, June 18, 2008
  2. Leonard Cohen – “Tower of Song”

  3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds @ the Apollo, Manchester, November 25, 2008
  4. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “We Call Upon the Author”

  5. Rage Against the Machine @ T in the Park – I’ve only just realised we never reviewed T in the Park 2008, which is a shame because we saw some great sets there! RATM were unexpectedly brilliant. Here’s my review of their Leeds Festival performance.
  6. Rage Against the Machine – “Take the Power Back”

  7. The National @ All Tomorrow’s Parties, May 17, 2008
  8. The National – “Start a War”

  9. Eels @ Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, February 27, 2008
  10. Eels – “Railroad Man”

  11. James @ Liverpool University, April 12, 2008
  12. James – “Waterfall”

  13. REM @ T in the Park – Again, we didn’t review this, but we did review the REM gig at LCCG on August 24.
  14. R.E.M. – “These Days”

  15. The Hold Steady @ Manchester Academy 1, December 10, 2008
  16. The Hold Steady – “Killer Parties”

  17. Robert Forster @ the Royal Northern College of Music, September 21, 2008
  18. Robert Forster – “If It Rains”

  19. My Morning Jacket @ Manchester Academy 2, June 27, 2008
  20. My Morning Jacket – “Aluminum Park”

  21. Band of Horses / The Cave Singers @ Manchester Academy 2, February 24, 2008
  22. The Cave Singers – “Seeds of Night”

  23. Daniel Johnston and Friends @ New Century House, Manchester, July 24, 2008
  24. Daniel Johnston – “Rock This Town”

  25. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone @ Charlies, Manchester, March 13th 2008
  26. Casiotone for the Painfully Alone – “Don’t They Have Payphones Where You Were Last Night”

Posted by JustHipper on 14th December 2008 at 6:53 pm | comments (6)
File under gigs,Lists.

Gig Review: ¡Forward, Russia! @ Manchester Academy 3, 27th April 2008

After a couple of years out of the limelight it must feel to ¡Forward, Russia! that they’re starting all over again. The last time we saw them it was in front of a healthy crowd in the Academy 2; just over a year later the Academy 3 was barely even half full.

With Johnny Foreigner stuck in Amsterdam it was left to The ABC Club to fill their support slot at short notice, and they did a fine, fine job. Their excellent six song set had me thinking of a collision between The Smiths and The Strokes; not a high-speed collision by any means, more like a fender bender, as the band were almost too laid back and impassive for comfort. However, there were plenty of clever guitar arrangements and dexterous Rourkesque basslines, though the band’s trump card is undoubtedly the striking vocals of Zandra Klievens, whose voice couples the nonchalant drawl of Julian Casablancas with Morrissey’s muted yodelling, in female form. Definitely a band to watch out for.

I’d heard of Grammatics before, but not actually heard them. They were fine – great musicians and the singer has a wonderful voice – but the songs lost their focus as the set wore on and began to elicit more proggy tendencies, leaving us thinking that in a couple of years time, Grammatics may well have fully completed their transformation into Muse.

The relatively small showing for ¡Forward, Russia! did nothing to dim the band’s enthusiasm. The great energy and intensity of their performance remained intact and the crowd responded with a highly animated mosh pit and plenty of crowd surfing and stage diving, some of it the highly dangerous knees first variety that had guitarist Whiskas remonstrating with the offenders. However, the sound mix was appalling: it sounded like the PA’s speaker cones had been stuffed with cotton wool and then submerged in a large tank of sludge. For a band whose music is all sharp edges and thunderous rhythms this had a huge bearing on my enjoyment of the gig.

Also on the downside, I’ve only heard the new album a couple of times and I’m distinctly underwhelmed by it. It certainly doesn’t fire on all cylinders like its predecessor, and it definitely gets a bit too proggy from time to time. I think that if I am going to like it then its going to take a while. With much of the set taken up by foggy renditions of the new material, I spent most of the gig completely impassive to what was going on on stage and in the crowd, “A Prospector Can Dream” the only new song that managed to raise the pulse a little, though the closing “Spanish Triangles” sounded much better than I remember it on record. The oldies they played were great, despite the sound, and included most of my favourites, with “Twelve” and “Nineteen” bringing back memories of previous glorious gigs. This was, however, the least fun I’ve had at a ¡Forward, Russia! gig. Hopefully the album is a bit of a grower and the band will get back to playing bigger venues over the next few months

¡Forward, Russia! – Nineteen

¡Forward, Russia!- A Prospector Can Dream

Posted by The Ledge on 6th May 2008 at 11:00 pm | comments (1)
File under forward russia,Gig Reviews,grammatics,Lists,manchester academy 3,mp3,Random comment,Reviews,the abc club.

The Ledge’s Top 40 Albums of 2007

So, that was 2007. Wasn’t that bad, was it? Been too busy wrapping presents and making mince pies to write any in-depth insights to the 20 records that made the list this year but here it is anyway with some crappy soundbites for the top ten and not a torpor inducing Panda Bear or Animal Collective record in sight.

20. Widow City by The Fiery Furnaces

The Fiery Furnaces – Restorative Beer

19. The Reminder by Feist

Feist – Past In Present

18. Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? by Of Montreal

Of Montreal – A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger

17. Challengers by The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers – All The Things That Go To Make Heaven And Earth

16. Three Easy Pieces by Buffalo Tom

Buffalo Tom – Bottom Of The Rain

15. Wincing The Night Away by The Shins

The Shins – A Comet Appears

14. The Flying Club Cup by Beirut

Beirut – Cliquot

13. Beyond by Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr. – Been There All The Time

12. In Rainbows by Radiohead

Radiohead – House Of Cards

11. Spirit If… by Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew

Broken Social Scene presents Kevin Drew – Safety Bricks

10. Grinderman by Grinderman

The sound of Nick Cave and a handful of Bad Seeds venting their sexual frustrations with gallons of sleaze and some downright dirty rock ‘n’ roll.

Grinderman – Go Tell The Women

9. The Shepherd’s Dog by Iron And Wine

Sam Beam’s most confident and fully realised batch of songs to date. The presence of a full band – a natural progression from his work with Calexico a couple of years ago – is a more than welcome addition.

Iron And Wine – Lovesong Of The Buzzard

8. Yes, U by Devastations

A brilliant album of moody melancholia from the Aussie rockers. The superb production and subtle washes of electronica really set this apart.

Devastations – The Pest

7. Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

Obviously nowhere near as good as Funeral but it grew on me over the year, its excellence really hitting home after seeing their incredible performance at the MEN Arena in October.

Arcade Fire – Windowsill

6. Boxer by The National

Again, not quite as great as their previous effort but the subdued quality of Boxer made for another grower that clicked after seeing the songs played live.

The National – Apartment Story

5. Night Falls Over Kortedala by Jens Lekman

Marvellous album from the Swedish pop genius, packed with humour, melancholy and great tunes swept along by some magnificent orchestrations.

Jens Lekman – The Opposite Of Hallelujah

4. Mirrored by Battles

Battles’ inspired math-rock took a few listens to sink in but when it did it was easy to see why every blogger and his dog has been salivating over this record since its release. It’s a multi-layered beast of an album, each listen revealing new twists and turns in Battles’ melodic madness.

Battles – Ddiamondd

3. Sound Of Silver by LCD Soundsystem

From the opening Talking Heads-meets-Kraftwerk groove of “Get Innocuous!” onwards, this album was the perfect showcase for James Murphy’s brilliant fusion of disco and indie.

LCD Soundsystem – Get Innocuous!

2. Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters by The Twilight Sad

A colossal debut from this Glaswegian quartet where the incredible drama of the lyrics and vocals is surpassed by the monumental guitars.

The Twilight Sad – mapped by what surrounded them

1. Are The Dark Horse by The Besnard Lakes

For the third year running a Canadian band takes the honours. If Neil Young made a shoegaze album – and it was a good Neil Young album – then it might sound like this but probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as good.

The Besnard Lakes – Ride The Rails

Posted by The Ledge on 24th December 2007 at 11:27 am | comments (11)
File under besnard lakes,Lists,mp3.

Justhipper’s Top 10 Gigs of 2007

  1. The Decemberists @ Manchester Academy 2, February 5th (review) & @ Sheffield Leadmill, February 2nd (review)
  2. The Hold Steady @ Sheffield Leadmill, February 21st (review) & @ Manchester Club Academy, February 13th (review)
  3. James @ Manchester Club Academy, April 30th (review)
  4. The Arcade Fire @ Manchester Evening News Arena, October 27th (review)
  5. The Shins @ Manchester Academy 2, March 27th (review)
  6. Jarvis Cocker @ Manchester Academy 1, February 19th (review)
  7. Joanna Newsom @ Manchester Bridgewater Hall, January 15th (review)
  8. Broken Social Scene @ Manchester Club Academy, October 16th
  9. New Pornographers @ Manchester Academy 3, November 20th (review)
  10. Devastations @ Leeds Faversham, November 24th (review)

Like The Ledge, I went to less festivals this summer and owing to circumstance, did not get around to reviewing T in the Park at all, even though it was, as expected, great fun. I found the live music I saw at festivals this year (ATP excepted) was no match for last year, but a few sets did stand out. I really should have reviewed that Hold Steady set from T in the Park at the time. They only did 3 acoustic songs, and it wasn’t even the full band because most of their equipment didn’t make it from Oxygen and they had no bass at all, but because of their determination to play and give us a good time, and because of the fantastic crowd who had been waiting for them with a lot of anticipation (and swapping Hold Steady gig stories with us), it was the best 15 minutes I’ve had at a festival since I saw the Arcade Fire at Leeds in 2005.

  1. The Hold Steady @ T in the Park, July 8th
  2. Nick Cave / Grinderman @ ATP, April 28th & 29th
  3. Low @ ATP, April 28th
  4. The Hold Steady @ Leeds Festival, August 24th
  5. Einsturzende Neubauten @ ATP, April 28th
Posted by JustHipper on 19th December 2007 at 11:36 am | comments (2)
File under Lists,the hold steady.

The Ledge’s Top 10 Gigs of 2007

  1. The Hold Steady @ Sheffield Leadmill, February 21st (review)
  2. The Arcade Fire @ MEN Arena, October 27th (review)
  3. Joanna Newsom @ Bridgewater Hall, January 15th (review)
  4. Jens Lekman @ Sacred Trinity Church, November 27th (review)
  5. The Hold Steady @ Liverpool Academy 2, July 11th (review)
  6. The Decemberists @ Manchester Academy 2, February 5th (review)
  7. Beirut @ Manchester Club Academy, November 6th (review)
  8. Broken Social Scene @ Manchester Club Academy, October 16th
  9. The National @ Manchester Academy 2, November 4th (review)
  10. The Besnard Lakes @ The Night & Day, May 23rd (review)

I only went to a couple of festivals this year and while ATP was as great as it always is the Leeds Festival was pretty awful on the whole, though The Hold Steady and Dinosaur Jr both put in spectacular sets. I don’t think we’ll be going back any time soon. Anyway, my top 5 festival sets were:

  1. The Hold Steady @ Leeds Festival, August 24th
  2. Nick Cave / Grinderman @ ATP, April 28th
  3. Low @ ATP, April 28th
  4. Dinosaur Jr @ Leeds Festival, August 26th
  5. Magnolia Electric Co. @ ATP, April 27th
Posted by The Ledge on 15th December 2007 at 6:39 pm | comments (1)
File under gigs,Lists.

Our first mp3 post: Songs Of 2006

We’ve decided that our first post of 2007 should also be our first ever mp3 post, having been promising to post mp3s for so long but failing to get round to it. So, the following 18 mp3s are all songs that I was obsessed with at some point during 2006. Enjoy.

  • Lambchop – Paperback Bible

    The opening track on Lambchop’s excellent Damaged long player is effectively a list song describing items wanted and offered on an American swap shop style radio show. But a mundane list in the hands of Kurt Wagner and his honeyed croak of a whisper is a wonderful thing indeed and by the time you reach the final verse with its anti-handgun message you find that you’re worrying if the rat terrier pup in verse two ever found a good home.

  • Bishop Allen – Corazon

    Bishop Allen apparently released an EP each month in 2006 and this song was the opening track on their January release. It is a paean to a beaten up piano that the band found abandoned outside their practice rooms in Brooklyn and it’s an incredibly romantic and inspiring story. Nothing I’ve heard from their subsequent EPs even came close to this.

  • Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken

    If this list was in order then this song would be at the very top. It’s a classic slice of soulful indie pop with a chorus that positively swoons. It inspired me to buy a copy of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ classic Rattlesnakes album on CD, an album I first bought on vinyl way back when it was first released in about 1683 or something.

  • Tapes ‘n Tapes – Insistor

    Tapes ‘n Tapes finest moment thus far begins with a corking piece of Pixie-ish rhythm guitar and is propelled along by an insistent drum beat as Josh Grier treats us to a thrilling chorus and some perplexing lyrics (he wants to be a badger?!). The best is saved till the end as a dynamic last verse starts with a whisper and builds and builds before crashing into the coruscating final chorus.

  • Jens Lekman – Maple Leaves

    The combination of a winsome string loop and the pounding toms of a drum machine form the backbone of this beautifully crafted slice of intelligent Scandinavian indie pop. Jens is having trouble communicating with a girl whose own self-loathing is at odds with his high opinion of her. The song contains the line “And when she talked about the fall / I though she talked about Mark E Smith / I never understood at all.” Genius.

  • Band Of Horses – The Funeral

    This song is huge, with an epic sweep to rival anything from the Arcade Fire album it almost shares a name with.

  • Midlake – Head Home

    While most bloggers picked out “Roscoe” as the stand-out track from “The Trials Of Van Occupanther,” I prefer “Head Home,” mainly for the glory of its singalong chorus that never fails to get me hollering along in the car at full volume.

  • Neko Case – Star Witness

    This song, about a gang murder that Neko witnessed in Chicago, is one of her best, both musically and lyrically. The vocal harmonies on the brilliant line “Hey there, there’s such dandy wolves round the town tonight” was one of the most beautiful things I heard all year.

  • Guillemots – Trains to Brazil

    The Guillemots’ finest moment of 2006 was a genuinely uplifting song about terrorism and how we must rise above it and just be happy that we are alive. I lost count how many times it was released as a single but it deserved to chart much higher than the miserly 36 that it reached in September.

  • CSS – Music Is My Hot Hot Sex

    I don’t usually get on with disco and R ‘n’ B yet this slab of Brazilian disco pop contains some slinky R ‘n’ B guitars as well as a synth riff that is just a couple of notes away from a Jack White royalty claim. It’s as infectious as the common cold and any song that acknowledges the overwhelming power of music usually goes down well in the Indie Cred household. Except that Richard Ashcroft one. That was shit.

  • Destroyer – European Oils

    Rubies was my album of the year and this is the best track on it. As usual I have no idea what Dan Bejar is on about but the brilliant wordless chorus and the way he sounds exactly like Luke Haines when he sings “Her father – the fucking maniac!” make it a joy to behold.

  • Joanna Newsom – Monkey And Bear

    The highlight of Ys was this beautiful tale of a monkey and a bear who escape from the circus. Monkey promises bear “milk and honey” but tells her that she must continue to perform her circus act so the duo can earn money to live. Monkey gets greedy and has no intention of stopping his exploitation of bear. Bear goes off to swim in the seaside caves as an escape which irks her duplicitous partner who plans to shame bear in front of the villagers. Bear doesn’t come back. Newsom’s poetry in this song is astounding.

  • Voxtrot – Mothers, Sisters, Daughters and Wives

    The catchy title track of Voxtrot’s second EP positively bursts with melody and invention and marks them out as having perhaps the greatest potential of any band that came to prominence in 2006.

  • Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – New Year’s Kiss

    This is a recent obsession, a track I didn’t hear ’til just before Christmas. It’s a perfect two minutes of maudlin pop about a girl who wakes up on New Years Day and tries to piece together the events of the night before, unable to remember who her New Year’s Kiss was with. There isn’t a line wasted in the song’s four verses.

  • The Shins – Phantom Limb

    Another recent obsession. Phantom Limb is quite slow compared to your average Shins song and, like all of James Mercer’s best work, it takes its time to reveal its melodic purpose. It has some great woo woo woo’s at the end and the way that the first chorus melts seamlessly into the second verse is a mark of Mercer’s undoubted pop genius.

  • TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me

    Much has been written in the blogosphere about this song and its parent album in the last few weeks and with good reason. “Wolf Like Me” is a sexually charged musical tour de force played by a band on fire. Listen loud.

  • Part Timer – The Young Knives

    The opening track from Voices Of Animals And Men is a stupendous effort, channeling the singer’s frustrations with his writer’s block and fears about becoming a full-time musician into a hectic, frenzied three minutes of post-punk perfection.

  • Sparklehorse – Getting It Wrong

    Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain, Mark Linkous’ return to action after five years in the wilderness, sounded pretty much like his previous three albums, which was just a little disappointing. However, “Getting It Wrong,” a Dangermouse collaboration, is Linkous at his languid best and has the greatest vocal effect this side of Broken Social Scene’s “Anthems For A Teenage Girl.”

Posted by The Ledge on 4th January 2007 at 11:25 pm | comments (295)
File under Lists,mp3.

The Ledge’s Top 20 Albums of 2006

  • 20. Oh You’re So Silent Jens – Jens Lekman

    A compilation of singles and odds and sods it may be but there’s barely a bad song on this. “Maple Leaves” is so good it’s on there twice.

  • 19. Let’s Get Out Of This Country – Camera Obscura

    While Belle & Sebastian failed to impress me enough with the summery pop of The Life Pursuit, Camera Obscura were going from strength to strength, mixing up their twee pop with a devilish country twang and a hearty slice of Spectorish Wall Of Sound.

  • 18. Fox Confessor Brings The Flood – Neko Case

    This is Neko back on seriously good form, lending her powerful lungs to her best set of songs since Furnace Room Lullaby.

  • 17. The Loon – Tapes ‘n Tapes

    Arriving on a wave of hype from the US bloggerati, the Tapes almost lived up to it with their debut which mixed the quiet/loud dynamism of the Pixies with the lo fi melodicism of early Pavement but managed to sound nothing like either of those bands.

  • 16. Mr Beast – Mogwai

    Mogwai expanded their palette with strident piano riffs joining ear-melting guitar noise to produce their most varied and possibly their best effort to date.

  • 15. Everything All The Time – Band Of Horses

    Any band likened to The Shins and My Morning Jacket is going to get my attention and Band Of Horses more than lived up to expectations with an assured, expansive debut that occasionally promised to fill the void left by Arcade Fire’s Funeral.

  • 14. Bitter Tea – The Fiery Furnaces

    Recorded at the same time as the much maligned Rehearsing My Choir, the weird and wonderful Bitter Tea was the fullest realisation to date of Matt Friedberger’s kaleidoscopic pop vision.

  • 13. I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass – Yo La Tengo

    Bookended by a couple of classic tracks that easily stretched past the 10 minute mark, this album took us on a journey that touched on all points of the Yo La Tengo story so far and as such may well be their definitive album.

  • 12. The Trials Of Van Occupanther – Midlake

    As someone who was brought up listening to the likes of The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, thanks to my parents’ love of seventies soft rock, this album was a nostalgic pleasure, and not even a guilty one.

  • 11. Cansei De Ser Sexy – CSS

    I’m not a great fan of dance music but CSS’s sleazy marriage of seventies disco with bubblegum pop won me over almost immediately with its nagging hooks and downright filthy lyrics.

  • 10. Voices Of Animals And Men – The Young Knives

    This album really surprised me with its razor sharp wit and even sharper melodies. From the brilliant opener “Part Timer” on it rarely lets up and by the time “She’s Attracted To” kicks in you know you’re listening to a true British indie classic.

  • 9. Give Me A Wall – ¡Forward, Russia!

    The best British album of the year was a dense, sweaty and complex beast that almost captured the power of ¡Forward, Russia!’s live show and showed great promise for the future.

  • 8. Return To Cookie Mountain – TV On The Radio

    This album is a welter of contradictions: sparse yet cluttered, soulful yet vitriolic, warm yet isolating. It’s difficult to pin down but it works on so many levels and its mix of shoegazey guitars, experimental loops and beats and the multi-layered vocals of Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone made for a compelling listen.

  • 7. Damaged – Lambchop

    No great change of direction for Lambchop on this one but Kurt Wagner was on top form as he vented his spleen after a tough year for his health and relationships. Their best since the great Nixon.

  • 6. He Poos Clouds – Final Fantasy

    Owen Pallet’s mix of twee indie pop with ornate mini-symphonies was an odd sounding concoction on first listen but soon revealed itself to be a baroque masterpiece that improves on every listen.

  • 5. Rather Ripped – Sonic Youth

    A couple of years ago Sonic Nurse was an unexpected major return to form for Sonic Youth. Rather Ripped is even better; chock full of great pop tunes and brilliant guitars. Gets minus points for the inclusion of two vastly inferior “bonus tracks” inexplicably tacked onto the end of the CD version.

  • 4. Boys & Girls In America – The Hold Steady

    The Hold Steady’s breakthrough album possessed more melodies than their previous efforts at the expense, perhaps, of a little integrity and some killer guitar riffs. But was still a rollicking success, a blue collar rock record dealing with drugs, parties, religion and doomed relationships; the usual Hold Steady fare but with a more user friendly sheen.

  • 3. The Crane Wife – The Decemberists

    The Decemberists’ major label debut surprised with the inclusion of a couple of three part concept songs and some worrying proggy leanings but was still stuffed full of delicious melody and more potential singles than you can shake a stick at.

  • 2. Ys – Joanna Newsom

    After seeing Newsom play these songs at ATP back in May it was obvious that this was going to be a special album. While the involvement of Van Dyke Parks, Steve Albini and Jim O’Rourke certainly enhanced the album’s potential, it was Newsom’s beautifully poetic lyrics, dramatic storytelling and winding melodies that stole the show.

  • 1. Destroyer’s Rubies – Destroyer

    I admit that I was barely aware of Destroyer at this time last year but after picking up Rubies for free on eMusic I immediately became a worshipper at the church of Bejar. From the warm, fuzzy guitars of the constantly shifting nine minute eponymous opener to the closing “Sick Priest Learns To Last Forever”, which recalls Neil Young in his pomp, this was an album of melodic wonder, suffused with Dan Bejar’s impenetrable yet brilliant lyrical bent.

Posted by The Ledge on 31st December 2006 at 11:34 am | comments (2)
File under Lists.

Justhipper’s Top 20 Albums of 2006

It’s that time of year again folks when everybody’s making lists and I realise that I’ve barely listened to the stuff we bought this year because I’m still getting caught up with all the stuff I didn’t get a chance to get into properly last year. So it’s an odd list this, possibly, and there’s a few that probably should have made it if I’d been able to wrestle them out of The Ledge’s car a bit sooner than last week. But here goes:

  • 20) The Organ, Grab That Gun

    A fantastic, energetic collection of pop tracks from the now defunct all-girl band. This is brimming with slightly retro synth sounds, it’s full of attitude and I was singing along by the second listen.

  • 19) Grizzly Bear, Yellow House

    This is one I’m only really starting to love. It’s soaring and soft at the same time, like folky shoegazing with melodies.

  • 18) Joanna Newsom, Ys

    This should be higher but for the fact I’ve really not listened to it closely enough. The initial impression is brilliant, I’m sure once I actually know what she’s singing about it will sound even better. But harps, meandering lyrics about princesses, meteors and medieval quests, that unique voice and orchestras, what’s not to love?

  • 17) Jarvis Cocker, Jarvis

    Boy how I’ve missed Jarvis. I may be the only one who thought his non-album track, “Running the World” was pretty poor, but this is Jarvis at his best with the wry, observational humour and descriptions of the minutiae of life all to a pretty catchy melody.

  • 16) Micah P. Hinson, The Opera Circuit

    This album makes the list solely on his amazing, textured voice – not that the twangy, simple country tunes are anything to scoff at. It is simply a lovely record.

  • 15) Mojave 3, Puzzles Like You

    The last Mojave 3 album I bought was the first one, which was soft, melancholic and sounded like Slowdive gone acoustic. This record came as quite a shock when I first heard it, as it’s all twee, upbeat melody, but it works. It works in a Rogue Wave or Belle & Sebastian sort of way. It is wonderful, giddy pop.

  • 14) My Latest Novel, Wolves

    This is a challenging, unusual and intense record that captivated me from the moment I saw this band on stage opening for Low. It veers between droning and experimental post-rock and light, summery seaside pop, sometimes all in the same song.

  • 13) CSS, Cansei der Sei Sexy

    Comical and sexually provocative lyrics, driving rhythms and sleazy, retro synths: this is one of the worst albums ever for getting highly inappropriate bits of songs stuck in your head, but you cannot help dancing to it.

  • 12) Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther

    Externally a pretty, soft, folky affair that hints at Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac, lyrically it’s a complex affair about relationships, marriage and American life on the prarie.

  • 11) Destroyer, Destroyer’s Rubies

    I’d love to meet the person who has some idea of what Dan Bejar is on about when he writes lyrics. This should not be catchy and compelling because it meanders so much, but it’s hard not to get drawn in. When it hints at Luke Haines and the Auteurs it is at its pop apex, but it’s the other, even stranger bits that make the album.

  • 10) The Young Knives, Voices of Animals and Men

    This is punchy and frenetic and exactly what intelligent guitar music should sound like in 2006. This album makes the top ten on the back of “You were screaming at your mum and I was punching your dad!” as a catchy refrain but the rest of the CD is ace too!

  • 9) Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas

    This so should not work. Airy, wispy, gothy female vocals and gnarled, deep, countrified male vocals on songs about love, loss and human flaws. The two singers contrast beautifully and the album is absolutely stunning.

  • 8) Tapes n Tapes, The Loon

    What manic, swirling, lunatic guitar melodies on this! “Inisitor” is about the most onomatopoeic song title in ages as it is about the most insistent thing I’ve heard in years. Initially reminding me of Sons & Daughters, Tapes have far more depth to their songwriting, as they can not only knock out tracks that make you want to jump around like a maniac, they can also do the ballads.

  • 7) Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

    I loved Dear Catastrophe Waitress and after a disappointing gig the week before this album came out I was convinced that they’d never top it. But the album is actually a blinder, and almost experimental for B&S as there’s some unusual sounding stuff on there. Every song is memorable and Stuart Murdoch seems never to run out of tales of art school dropouts and quirky middle class white collar heroes.

  • 6) ¡Forward Russia!, Give Me a Wall

    Never has the post-punk revival sounded so grand as with Give Me a Wall. It’s yelping, angsty and full of intellect while still managing to be catchy too. The perfect album for headbanging in the car on the way to work, so you can work out your misery and aggression on something other than your boss.

  • 5) The Hold Steady, Boys & Girls in America

    With one of the most unusual and irritating voices in indie rock, Craig Finn has crafted a classic record about teen ennui and drug taking which is like a snapshot of the film Kids. It is both comical and disturbing and will have your brain working overtime painting mental pictures of these short stories about youth.

  • 4) The Hidden Cameras, Awoo

    You play a Hidden Cameras album once and it’s like you’ve known it your whole life. This is pop music as pop music should be: thoughtful, lilting and full of lyrical double-takes.

  • 3) Guillemots, Through the Windowpane

    I cannot possibly listen to the Guillemots and walk away without a smile. Full of epic moments and daft sentimentality, this is possibly the most sincere thing you’re likely to hear for a good long while. It’s bold, tender and wholly life-affirming.

  • 2) Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

    After the slightly disappointing Blacklisted, Neko returns with an absolute belter of an album. Full of strange animal references, this is the sort of thing Neko does best – show off that amazing voice with a range of country songs and an old gospel cover thrown in for good measure. It’s about love and life and you can hear every emotion in her voice as she sings.

  • 1) The Decemberists, The Crane Wife

    This is like The Decemberists concentrated. It’s like super-hyper-Meloy-in-a-tin on an album based around two long tales and full of rock and roll sounds to complement the usual acoustic, folky pop goodness. They’re experimenting with new sounds a bit but even where they veer towards prog rock it somehow works. Catchy and compelling from start to finish.

What comes next may be more accurate about my recent listening. Yes, in no particular order and in what is far from an exhaustive list, I now bring you the Top Ten Albums I Have Been Playing Instead of Albums that Came Out in 2006:

  • Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • David Bowie, Hunky Dory
  • Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
  • Neko Case & Her Boyfriends, Furnace Room Lullaby
  • The Shins, Chutes Too Narrow
  • The Decemberists, Picaresque
  • The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema
  • Rogue Wave, Descended Like Vultures
  • Stars, Set Yourself on Fire
  • The Hidden Cameras, Mississauga Goddamn

And there you have it. A year’s worth of CDs. Looking forward to next year’s lists of things I haven’t had time to play.

Posted by JustHipper on 31st December 2006 at 10:51 am | comments (6)
File under Lists.

JustHipper’s Top 10 Gigs of 2006

We’ve seen some amazing gigs this year and this was a really difficult list to compile. It’s worth the near-misses of Richard Hawley, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Death Cab For Cutie getting a mention as well. But here’s my top 10:

10) Calexico – Liverpool Academy, November 3
9) Tapes n Tapes – Liverpool Korova, August 31
8) My Morning Jacket – Manchester Academy 2, August 23
7) The Hidden Cameras – Manchester Night & Day, September 30
6) Guillemots – Leeds Cockpit, April 1 and Manchester Academy 3, May 24
5) Forward Russia – Night & Day, February 15
4) Low and My Latest Novel – Manchester Academy 2, March 28
3) Morrissey, Leeds Town Hall, April 20 and GMex, Manchester, December 23
2) Broken Social Scene – Manchester Academy 2, February 14
1) Nick Cave – Bridgewater Hall, February 6

Having been to five festivals this summer, and in an effort not to have the top 10 gigs full of festival sets, here’s my top 15 festival appearances from the bands I saw at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Weekend 2, T in the Park, Summer Sundae Weekender, D-Percussion and V. I really tried to keep it to 10 and simply couldn’t. To be fair, numbers 6-15 are pretty interchangeable as they were all brilliant. I can’t wait til 2007 and hopefully another 5 amazing festivals!

15) Guillemots – T in the Park
14) Brakes – T in the Park
13) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – T in the Park
12) Boy Least Likely To – Summer Sundae
11) Rufus Wainwright – V Festival
10) Animal Collective – T in the Park
9) Forward Russia – Summer Sundae Weekender
8) Beck, V Festival – Day 2 was the day I never quite got around to reviewing. It was not the best day of festival bands ever, but Beck really redeemed things. He came on stage with a puppet show of the band that was projected live onto the screens doing everything the band was doing. When he went off before the encore, the puppets had their own video showed to the crowd of them trashing Radiohead’s dressing room. It was inspired and pure brilliance. Radiohead would have got a mention as well except we only watched 30 minutes of their set as we had to get home so we would be awake enough to work the next day.
7) Joanna Newsom – All Tomorrow’s Parties
6) Broken Social Scene – All Tomorrow’s Parties
5) Elbow – Summer Sundae Weekender
4) Eels – T in the Park
3) The Shins – All Tomorrow’s Parties
2) The Decemberists – All Tomorrow’s Parties
1) Belle & Sebastian – Summer Sundae