Monday, February 28, 2005

It's happened! Britney Spears has finally taken over the world and Hannah has been sent to a hard labour camp for Muse fans where she will toil to the beat of Britney's first album (bonus tracks only).

... Actually, her computer has died on her so she won't be around for a little while. I've told her I'll try and make a couple of posts in her absence but right now I'm writing a deadly-boring but necessary essay, so: goodnight!

Sunday, February 27, 2005


Lately, I've been a little slow keeping up with all things Box Five related, but the big news of the past month is that the band are gaining a new member, restoring them to a four-piece once more.

This member is the wonderful Scott Liss, who is also a fabulous solo artist in his own right. Also known as NightOnlyVisual, his album 'Skylines' can be downloaded for free from here.

No surprises here - it's extremely good. In a bizarre sense it sounds like Radiohead crossed with Bright Eyes.

Have a listen - it's gorgeous stuff.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Back from the dead...

With the help of Woodshed, our spinoff blog We Love 1997 has been brought back to life and will hopefully be regularly updated and increasingly more varied! We Love 1997 is an mp3 blog celebrating the releases and the events of that year in music. We're still looking for people to help out - the more the merrier - so if you're interested, email the WL team at the usual address.

We Love 1997

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Leo's Single of the Week SPECIAL

It's only a SPECIAL in that I hardly ever post here nowadays so any time I do is a special occasion. Though not special as in 'good'. Anyway, once Hannah's picked herself up off the floor after the shock of seeing a post by me, I'll continue:

Usher - 'Caught Up'
Once again, Usher is releasing some new 'music' to try and thwart Girls Aloud's bid for the top spot. Having said that, 'Caught Up' is slightly less offensive to the ear than some of his previous stuff. And the Caught up! bits are a glimmer of pop wholesomeness in an otherwise dull, if pretty innocuous, song. 1.3/5
(Please note this in the minutes - 'Leo gives diplomatic-ish Usher review'.)

Kaiser Chiefs - 'Oh My God'
I can only remember the 'Oh my God, I can't...' line, so the rest of the song may well be rubbish, but with a catchy chorus, you can't really go wrong. 4/5

Verbalicious - 'Don't Play Nice'
It's so wrong of me and I feel so dirty. But... I quite like this. In fact, I just downloaded the mp3. Yes, I know - don't look at me like that, I feel bad enough as it is. I expect I'll have seen sense by tomorrow.
The lyrics are a bit dodgy though. 'Waiting for the bassline, speakers that can dry my hair.' What? 'Spittin' too early is considered a crime.' Pardon? 3.6/5

The Futureheads - 'Hounds of Love'
I'm not totally sure about this one. On the one hand, I think it's a great interpretation of a fantastic song. But part of me thinks, 'This is Kate's song, get your thieving mitts off and write your own!' It's probably a good thing though since it's reminding the world of Kate Bush ahead of her new album. So, buy it. But not all of you. We don't want it to do better in the charts than Kate's original did (No 18 - a crime). 4.7/5

Leo's Single of the Week:
Girls Aloud - 'Wake Me Up'
I considered giving the SOTW to the Futureheads but I just couldn't quite bring myself to do it. Not only would it be betraying the Aloud but it would a kind ofbetrayal of Kate. Somehow. And anyway, it's bloody good, and the video is suitably cheap and nasty and brilliant. I find myself slightly hypnotised by Nicola's breasts which is inappropriate on several levels. But back to the song: It's very nearly pop perfection and it's not Usher - two reasons to buy it and make it Number One this weekend. 4.9/5

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (19/02/05)

Special Mentions:
Futureheads - 'Hounds of Love' (video here)
Laying down the red carpet for the eagerly anticipated return of Kate Bush, the Futureheads have released their cover of 'Hounds of Love'. Now, I'll admit, I haven't heard the original, but this punkier version seems to have got the thumbs up from the Kate Bush camp, so I can safely say it's not too bad at all. Futureheads manage to successfully incorporate their signature style into an existing classic. And even with me not being a fan of 'Decent Days and Nights' I like this song. It has 'hit' written all over it, and may be what really drags the Futureheads into the mainstream. 3.5/5

Maximo Park - 'Apply Some Pressure' (video here)
In a world ready to be dominated by angular, danceable indie rock, Maximo Park will probably begin to thrive. The video and song have such simple concepts, but it's very hard to stop watching and listening. The band seem to just radiate with charisma, while producing a single (their third, apparently, but it's all new to me) that's quirky, interesting, and pretty much unpredictable. It is really hard to tell, even after many listens, where it's going to go next. The song manages to cram in so many ideas that it's tricky to tell what is actually the chorus - everything is a chorus! Franz Ferdinand clones? Maybe, but it's damn good fun. 3.5/5

Kaiser Chiefs - 'Oh My God' (video here)
It's a re-release. Oh, and it's a re-make. Usually these things spell trouble. Fortunately, this isn't the case with the Kaiser Chiefs. They've produced a video that doesn't make lead singer Ricky Wilson look ugly (hoorah!) and manages to feature fake snow, belly dancers and plastic children's guitars - genius. The song packs more punch than before, and even if the chorus, in my opinion, doesn't quite equal the magnificence of 'I Predict A Riot' the song, as a whole, works, managing to please both the pop crowd and the indie kids alike. I'd be very surprised if this doesn't get in the top 10. 4/5

Single Of The Week:
Charlotte Hatherley - 'Bastardo' (video here)
Very seldom do you see credible guitar-pop perfection. It's not often you see a star-studded video, either. So, it's even more of a shock to the system when you see a remarkable song coupled with what is easily the best video of the year so far. 'Bastardo' is the second single release from Charlotte Hatherley's debut album, Grey Will Fade (not counting the awesome download-only release 'Kim Wilde') and is competing with the aforementioned song for being the best thing on it.

For anybody not in the know, Charlotte Hatherley is a full-time member of British rock group Ash, an extremely talented songwriter and solo artist and is also, as a bonus, dating the director of hit Brit flick Shaun of the Dead. Edgar Wright also showcases his directing talents on the video for 'Bastardo' which manages to incorporate some of the hottest names in British comedy. David Walliams, Simon Pegg and Lucy Davis, amongst others, all star in a masterpiece that just begs to be watched.

The song itself is fantastic, with clever backing vocals, upbeat rhythms and a blinder of a middle-eight. The lyrics have an adorable childlike singalong quality to them, the melody is perfectly crafted. It's officially my favourite single of the year, so far. And that, they say, is that. 5/5

Avoid at ALL costs:
Surprisingly there's nothing out this week I really dislike. So, you tell me - what should the general public be avoiding, this week?

Full Release Schedule (subject to change)
Akon - Locked Up, The Beat Up - Alright, Charlotte Hatherley - Bastardo, Cherubs - Club Hoola Hoops Walls, Crash Convention - Watch Committee/Thick As Thieves, David Guetta - The World Is Mine, Diefenbach - Re-make Your Mind EP, Dogs - She’s Got A Reason, DT8 Ft Andrea Britton - Winter, The Earlies - Bring It Back Again, Elvis Presley - (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame, Emiliana Torrini - Sunny Road, The Engineers - Forgiveness, The Frames - Fake, Futureheads - Hounds Of Love, Girls Aloud - Wake Me Up, Idlewild - Love Steals Us From Loneliness, Iron and Wine - Woman King EP, Kaiser Chiefs - Oh My God, Kaptain Black - Drone The Queen Bee/Overeaten, Katherine Jenkins - Time To Say Goodbye, Keisha White Ft Cassidy - Don’t Care Who Knows, Kevin Mark Trail - D Thames, KT Tunstall - Black Horse And The Cherry Tree, Low - California, Mary Hansen and Horizontalist - Hybrid, Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure, Nelly and Tim McGraw - Over And Over, Planet Of Women - Waking Up The Neighbourhood, Postal Service - We Will Become Silhouettes, Prefuse 73 - Hidey face, Radio 4 - Transmission, Ray Lamontagne - Trouble, Reflekt Ft Delline Bass - Need To Feel Loved, Simple Plan - Shut Up, Snoop Dogg - Let’s Get Blown, Tears For Fears - The Closest Thing To Heaven, Tokyo Dragons - What The Hell, Usher - Caught Up, Verbalicious - Don’t Play Nice, Whitey - Non Stop, The Wonder Stuff - Bile Chant/Rubbish Island

What's your single of the week?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

UK Top 75 (20/02/05)

Albums Chart Positions:
In another shock turn in sales, Scissor Sisters have knocked Keane from the top spot to once again claim the title of No 1 Album. 'Hopes and Fears' is at 2 this week. The highest new entry is, unsurprisingly, from Bloc Party. 'Silent Alarm' is predicted to be one of the biggest albums of 2005 - it hasn't had a bad start. There's not much change in the top 10 - firm favourites Franz Ferdinand, Green Day and The Killers show no signs of shifting, while Joss Stone, U2 and Gwen Stefani climb ever higher. Gwen has a new video out - 'Rich Girl' which is worth a watch. Check out the full chart here.

Singles Chart Positions:
First into the top 75 this week are House of Love with 'Love You Too Much', new at 73. Felix Da Housecat is new at 62 with 'Ready2Wear' while my current Single of the Week from Aberfeldy - 'Love Is An Arrow' - is new at 60.

'Loneliness', the latest offering from Ed Harcourt, is new at 59, while Kings of Tommorow chart at 55 with 'Thru'. Just missing out on the top 40 are New Found Glory with 'I Don't Wanna Know' (48) and Grounded with 'I Need A Girl' (43).

Managing a top 40 placing, New Rhodes are at 38 with 'You've Given Me Something That I Can't Give Back'. Meanwhile, Mark Joseph, you know, the one who got into the top 40 all by himself, is back once again with his latest single 'Lady Lady' charting at 36 this week.

Death From Above 1979 are at 33 with 'Blood On Our Hands', while Biffy Clyro crash into the top 30 once again with their latest no-more-than-mediocre single, 'Only One Word Comes to Mind'. It's brand new at 27, this week.

Serving as even more proof that hip hop artists can't seem to go it alone, Trick Daddy, Twista and Lil' Jon are new at 26 with 'Let Go'. At 23, this week, Willy Mason makes an impressive impact on the chart with his debut, 'Oxygen'. I'm not a fan, but it deserves the top 20 a lot more than some of things in there at the moment. Maybe it'll be this year's 'Cannonball'? I'm not sure.

Embrace narrowly miss out on the top 10 with their latest offering 'Looking As You Are'. They're at 11, this week. Here's an Embrace related challenge - how many times is 'Looking As Your Are' actually mentioned in the entire song? I'm interested, but just can't face listening to it again...

The re-hash of 'Cradle', from Atomic Kitten, makes its way neatly into the top 10, at 10. The rest of this week's bestsellers are basically R&B, mediocre pop, or awful trance. Elvis is at 2. Jennifer Lopez is at 1. I couldn't care less, to be honest...

The full chart is here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Googled! 2

if i was a rich girl nanananannanana - included for the unlikely result of somebody spelling the 'nanananananana' bit like Leo (ie. wrong)

2005 nme award keen result - apparently there's this band called 'keen' - have you heard of them?

ashlee simpson lala chord chart - somebody wants to learn this song, perhaps the poor sod who's found himself playing for Ashlee. It is a sad, sad day.

gunge natasha bedingfield - wishful thinking, especially if she's thinking of duetting with Daniel on a regular basis

listen to joss stone angels - just when you thought the whole 'Best Single' thing couldn't get anymore ridiculous...

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Some news...

Happy Birthday!
My occasional blogging buddy and very dear friend, Jamie, has turned 18 today, which means he's supposed to start acting all mature and responsible. I sincerely hope otherwise. Wish him all the best, and if you're a new reader, have a delve around the archives for his posts, which are ten times better than mine!

Doves album stream:
Those wonderful folks at WarChildMusic are not content with providing high quality mp3s AND donating the proceeds from their sale to charity, oh no. In conjunction with the band, they've put up a free stream of the brand new album from Doves - 'Some Cities'. If you're still loving 'Black and White Town', check it out.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (14/02/05)

While this week is a little slow on releases, do not fear! Take my advice and save your money (aside from purchasing the latest release from Aberfeldy) for some brilliant releases from Charlotte Hatherley, The Frames, Futureheads, Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park, all out next Monday. It's going to be tricky to decide what to pick.

Special Mentions:
Willy Mason - 'Oxygen', Embrace - 'Looking As You Are' and Biffy Clyro - Only One Word Comes To Mind'
The problem with 'Oxygen' is that it all starts off so well - there are some great ideas in there- but it just fails to go anywhere. There are some great parts to the lyric, but some sounds a little cliched, Mason's voice doesn't evolve, and so the song becomes irritating. Embrace seem to have adopted the Manic Street Preachers' approach of 'let's sing exactly the same line over and over again and hope nobody notices' until it becomes tedious. Meanwhile Biffy Clyro start with a promising guitar intro before descending into something that feels like musical slo-mo, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the video. If you like the artistes concerned, great. Otherwise, give them a miss this time.

Single of the Week:
Aberfeldy - 'Love is an Arrow' (video here)
Rough Trade is one of those labels you have to watch to discover real musical gems, especially those acts who may not necessarily make it into the mainstream. This single from Aberfeldy is one of those gems. A pretty, simple, acoustic number, with a gentle bounce to it, it manages to succeed as being something reassuringly cute, loving and tender. It's all there, from the sweet harmonies to the extremely intelligent, cute video, and an animated one at that. In a world of tacky-looking cheap CGI and thrash guitars, it really, really shines. 4/5

Avoid at maybe not all costs:
Atomic Kitten - 'Cradle 2005'
While watching the video for this latest release from the band supposedly taking a break (like Blue, however, they do not seem to want to go away) I was convinced that it was yet another track, indistinguishable from the rest of their releases since the departure of Kerry and should be left well alone. The sheer blandness of it all is almost enough to make Keane look like punk rockers. However, it's another one of these charity singles, with money going to help people a lot less fortunate than ourselves, thus forcing me to feel a little bit guilty. The solution? Buy the single, then demolish it in a creative way and send us the photo, or, alternatively, give an extra £3 to Comic Relief this year. You know it makes sense. 1/5

All Releases: (may be subject to change)
Aberfeldy - Love Is An Arrow, Angel City - Sunrise, Atomic Kitten - Cradle 2005, Biffy Clyro - Only One Word Comes To Mind, Death From Above 1979 - Blood On Our Hands, Ed Harcourt - Loneliness, Elvis Presley - Surrender, Embrace - Looking As You Are, Emiliana Torrini - Sunny Road, Felix Da Housecat - Ready To Wear, The Game Ft 50 Cent - How We Do, House Of Love - Love You Too Much, Infrasound - Deer Hunter, James Yorkston & The Athletes - Shipwreckers, Jennifer Lopez - Get Right, Kings Of Tomorrow - Thru, LL Cool J - Hush, Low - California, Miss Kitten - Happy Violentine, New Found Glory - I Don’t Wanna Know, New Rhodes - You’ve Given Me Something That I Can’t Get Back, Rachel Goswell - Coastline/Plucked [12” only], Rhesus - Art Is Dead, Six By Seven - Ocean/Clouds, Stephen Fretwell - Run, Trick Daddy - Let’s Go, Willy Mason - Oxygen

As ever, all tracks in bold are the releases I've heard this week.

What's your single of the week?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

UK Top 75 (13/02/04)

Album Charts:
After claiming a best album award, it only seems right that Keane rise up seven places to be this week's best selling album. Scissor Sisters, also as a result of this week's Brits success, claim second place. Other climbers include award-winners Franz Ferdinand and Joss Stone and nominees Green Day and Snow Patrol. The full chart is available here, with new entries from Hanson and The Boomtown Rats, among others.

Singles Charts:
Nothing from Josh Rouse? Shame. The first new entry in this week's top 75 comes from Apartment with their double A side 'Everyone Says I'm Paranoid'/'June July', new at 67. 'Emily' from Adam Green is new at 53, while Fierce Girl's 'What Makes A Girl Fierce' is new at 52. U2 have a new entry at 51 with 'All Because of You', which is very confusing, because that's certainly not this week's major release from the band. Motiv 8 are the last act missing out on the top 40 this week. 'Riding on the Wings' is new at 44.
Into the top 40...
Managing another top 40 hit in what seems to be only a few months, The Beautiful South are new at 36 with 'This Will Be Our Year'. Duke Spirit are new at 25 with 'Lion Rip' while The Kills enter this week's chart at 23 with 'The Good Ones'.

*Climbing singles this week come from Green Day - their single 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' is still lingering in the charts and this week climbs back into the top 20 from 21 to 18. Jay Z and Linkin Park also climb four places with 'Numb/Encore' from 18 to 14.*

Both of this week's WL hate-victims Daniel Bedingfield and Noize Next Door narrowly miss out on the top 10. 'Wrap My Words Around You' and 'Calendar Girl' are at 12 and 11 respectively.

Making the elusive top 10...
He might do a mean Shrek impression (as demonstrated on Never Mind The Buzzcocks) but this still hasn't enabled Raghav to make the top 5. 'Angel Eyes' charts this week at 7, which is quite respectable for somebody who failed to extract any sort of enthusiasm from a crowd of 60,000 people in Cardiff.

This week's single of the week, from Doves, charts at 6. If you haven't already, go and buy 'Black and White Town'. Destiny's Child miss out on the number one spot once again with their latest single 'Soldier'. It's new at 4, this week.

Elvis Presley, once again, doesn't quite make the top spot. 'Wooden Heart' is new at 2. This means that U2 have another number one hit in the form of 'Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own'. Once again, the full chart is available here.

It's suddenly dawned on me - nothing I like is going to make number one this year, is it? What do you think of the U2 record? Who should have been number one? Tell us what you think.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (07/02/05)

Well, I'm back! After a week of mock GCSE exams and a drain on my creativity (along with aching fingers!) I have my Single of the Week.

While there's every temptation to write about the big names - U2 and Destiny's Child - this week, I'm not going to say anything apart from saying both songs are listenable, but neither are anything to write home about. With both you get the feeling of suspicion that you've heard it all before. Instead, I'm going to take the approach of reviewing both of the tracks Jonny (of Jonny's Site) steered me in the direction of, this week.

Special Mentions:
Josh Rouse - 'Winter in the Hamptons'
I was assured by Jonny I'd like it, and sure enough, I do. In fact, there's hardly anything not to like about this song. It's nothing life-changing, but it's an easy listen guaranteed to bring a smile to even the most miserable of faces. In short, it's a little, jaunty guitar track that can't fail. 3.5/5

Single of the Week
Doves - 'Black and White Town'
There really is only one song that stands out from all the others this week, and this is it. 'Black and White Town' is the first taster for the Doves' new album 'Some Cities' and going by what I've heard already it's going to take its pride of place on my 'to buy' list. Accompanied by a video that seems to be a cross between Christina Aguilera's 'Beautiful' and The Libertines' 'Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads' it's not just powerful musically, but visually, too. Conclusion? I could happily listen to it all day. Great stuff. 4/5

Avoid at ALL costs:
Noise Next Door - 'Calendar Girl'
Daniel Bedingfield - 'Wrap My Words Around You'
Not wishing to be incredibly prejudiced, but the Noise Next Door manage to rely solely on gimmicks, and appear to have a distinct lack of individuality and a decent stylist. Then again, if it's all about the music, they're not particularly good either. Daniel Bedingfield whines his way through another song from an album supposedly better than 'Lifeblood'. It has one of the most boring guitar parts ever written and the lyrical mush isn't even worth talking about. If you're in love, maybe it's all well and good, but this is the dreary rubbish the girlfriend won't want for Valentine's day...

All Releases: (subject to change)
Adam Green - Emily, Alison Krauss and Union Station - Restless/Cluck Old Hen, Amusement Parks On Fire - Venosa/Eighty Eight, Apartment - Everyone Says I'm Paranoid/June July, Beautiful South - This Will Be Our Year, Bright Eyes - Drunk Kid Catholic, Bright Eyes vs. Her Space Holiday - Split Single EP, Daniel Bedingfield - Wrap My Words Around You, Destiny’s Child - Soldier, Dizzee Rascal - Graftin’, Doves - Black And White Town, The Duke Spirit - Lion Rip, Elvis Presley - Wooden Heart, Fierce Girl - What Makes A Girl Fierce?, Hall & Oates - I Can Dream About You, Immediate - Never Seen/Say This [7” only], Jacquii Cann - I Believe In You/I’ll Stand By You, Josh Rouse - Winter In The Hamptons, Joya - You And Me EP, The Kills - The Good Ones, The Little Flames - Goodbye Little Rose, M83 - Don’t Save Us From The Flames, Mando Diao - You Can’t Steal My Love, Motiv8 Ft Jocelyn Brown - Riding On The Wings, My Morning Jacket - Sweatbees EP, Noise Next Door - Calendar Girl, Northern State - At The Party, Paddy Casey - Saints And Sinners, Postal Service - We Will Become Silhouettes, Quasimoto - Bus Ride [12” only], Raghav Ft Jucxi & Frankey Maxx - Angeleyes, Readers Wifes - Scumpop, Rhesus - Art Is Dead, Roots - Don’t Say Nuthin’, Sun Connection - Love Me Like A Flower, Tony Christie - Amarillo, U2 - Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own, Warren Suicide - Adjusting Ourselves, Wee Phillie Vs DJ Gotti - Bang On The Drum, The Wonder Stuff - Bile Chant/Rubbish Island, Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Machine

(Any alterations? Please leave a message in the comments. Tracks in bold are all those listened to this week)

What's your single of the week?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Tips for the Brits (part six)

The Brits are tonight! Obviously, since ITV are silly, we don't actually get to watch them ourselves until tomorrow evening, just in case Pete Doherty decides to prove the tabloids right for once and turn up and wreck proceedings, or something. Anyway, the last five awards at the Brits are actually for international acts ranging from our nearest neighbours (well, U2) to practically all of those in the US of A...

You know the score - here's who's nominated, who I would like to win, who I think will win and who I desperately do not want to win at all!

International Male Solo Artist
Brian Wilson
Kanye West
Tom Waits

There's actually nobody I'm a fan of here. My conclusion? American males are only good if they're in bands. However, Brian Wilson's 'Smile' is apparently very, very good, so I'm trusting Q and Tim Chipping on this one.

International Female Solo Artist
Alicia Keys
Gwen Stefani
Kylie Minogue

International females, on the other hand, are extremely cool. Well, Gwen Stefani is. Enough said.

International Group
Green Day
Maroon 5
Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters should win this one, although they've got a lot of competition from Green Day and Maroon 5. Outkast don't really deserve it, especially since their success seems to be based on one (albeit very good) song.

International Album
Killers - Hot Fuss
Maroon 5 - Songs About Jane
Outkast - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

I only own the Scissor Sisters album, and it is amazing. I posted a review in the very early days of WL - see if you can find it and comment on it! I would be very surprised if, despite being the best selling album of last year, it doesn't manage to win. On the other end of the scale, the Outkast double gave me a headache. It was also on the January sales racks in Woolworths this year. Enough said.

International Breakthrough Act
Kanye West
Maroon 5
Scissor Sisters

Jet had two good singles, and an album full of filler. Kanye West produces some half-decent rap, but it's hardly my thing. Oh, what do I care? Scissor Sisters should walk this, give a great performance and walk home with every award they're nominated for. They're practically honorary Brits already!

What do you think?

Monday, February 07, 2005

Uk Top 75 (06/02/05)

It's not that I'm particularly lazy, but here is this week's chart. It's the week of mock exams, ever-nearing coursework deadlines and well - you know the deal. I'm just too busy.

Key new entries come from Patrick Wolf (my single of the week) at 67, Good Charlotte at 9, Bloc Party at 5 and Eminem at number 1 beating the latest release from Elvis Presley, who enters at a respectable 2, this week.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Tips for the Brits (part five)

The Brits are just days away now and while the thought of an entire evening with Chris Evans is causing a bit of a disturbance, but we're hoping the performances will take our mind off the disaster regarding the presenting. Part five explores two awards - British Live Act and the pointless and (apparently) predictable Brits 25 - Best Song Award...

You know the score - here's who's nominated, who I would like to win, who I think will win and who I desperately do not want to win at all!

British Live Act
Franz Ferdinand
Jamie Cullum
The Libertines

I'm not particularly qualified to judge this one, am I? I've seen none of the above live, except for festival/gig clips on the TV or the odd performance on CD:UK. However, from what I've seen, Muse and Franz Ferdinand are equally deserving of the award. They give a real performance. As for Kasabian...I'll get back to you on that one at the end of April, and The Libertines? Not quite my cup of tea. This one seems designed to go to the Franz, but it all depends on who's voting...

Brits 25 - Best Song Award
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
Queen - We Are The Champions
Robbie Williams - Angels
Will Young - Leave Right Now

There's a lot of controversy surrounding this award, and rightly so. Truthfully, I would include none of the above in my list of the top 5, or even perhaps 25, best songs of all time. Sure, they're good songs in their own right, but 'the best'? I don't think so. If I had my way, there'd be offerings from the Manic Street Preachers, Ash, Coldplay, Garbage and Radiohead. Alas, it's never going to be. Robbie's 'Angels' is overrated (I prefer a lot of his non-single tracks) and Will Young's nomination was a huge shock. My vote went to Queen, but still, 'We Are The Champions' is second best to 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. I'm eager to know - what would your five nominations be?

What do you think?

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Tips for the Brits (part four)

Part three inevitably leads onto part four, which consists of my opinions on the three musical genres the Brits take into consideration. Any fool would be misguided into thinking that this is the only sort of music you can get on our awkward little island. It isn't, it's just they scrapped the dance award because there wasn't a new Basement Jaxx album. Actually, this is a lie, but nevermind. So, without further ado, here are the nominations for the British Urban, Rock and Pop Acts...

You know the score - here's who's nominated, who I would like to win, who I think will win and who I desperately do not want to win at all!

British Urban Act
Dizzee Rascal
Joss Stone
The Streets

Anybody who reads WL will know I'm not a huge fan of urban music. I find Dizzee Rascal to be inaccessible, Joss Stone to be largely repetitive and uninspiring, despite her vocal gift, and Lemar to be mediocre, aside from one song or two. Jamelia, on the other hand is a marvel and beats the competition hands down. She has the sex appeal, the voice, the attitude and some killer tunes under her belt. 'Superstar' was infectious, kareoke pop, 'Thank You' was darker, yet emotionally powerful and 'See It In A Boy's Eyes' was a collaboration with Chris Martin. I shall say no more. Jamelia deserves this, even though I have a nagging feeling The Streets will be taking the award home.

British Rock Act
Franz Ferdinand
Snow Patrol
The Libertines

Define 'rock' to me - and you'll find it's impossible. The many different acts the genre covers are so diverse. Even some rock blends seamlessly into pop music. It's hard to judge five acts against each other that have nothing in common besides a few guitars and a drum kit. I have all five albums that merited their nominations, so I can be fair here. Each band has their strengths, and while some are stronger than others it's unfair to even begin to compare them. Franz Ferdinand will probably win, but in my opinion Snow Patrol deserve some Brits recognition too.

Pop Act
Avril Lavigne
Girls Aloud
Natasha Bedingfield

Please note that Pop Act is an international category. Does this mean that the reach of British Pop is little more than a reality TV girlband and endless Busted clones? Not really. Again, 'pop' is getting gradually harder to define. Should it be taken literally - 'popular music' or as a term to define sugar-coated tunes delivered to nine year olds and Michael Bush? Should it really cover Rufus Wainwright and all matter of slightly more quirky acts that fall into a similar box? Anyway, this year's selection (no Busted in sight, thank goodness) manages to squeeze in Avril Lavigne and Westlife, who don't really deserve it, McFly, who we admit are slightly better than Busted, but hardly a credit to the music industry, and the sheer girl power that comes in the form of both Natasha Bedingfield and Girls Aloud. I wouldn't really mind if either of them won, even if there are people I'd rather take their place.

What do you think?

Friday, February 04, 2005

Tips for the Brits (part three)

And so begins part three, including our tips for the questionable British Single award, and the Best Breakthrough Act...

So here's who's nominated, who I would like to win, who I think will win and who I desperately do not want to win at all!

British Single
Band Aid 20 - Do They Know It's Christmas
George Michael - Amazing
Jamelia - Thank You
Keane - Everybody's Changing
LMC vs U2 - Take Me To The Clouds Above
Natasha Bedingfield - These Words
Shapeshifters - Lola's Theme
The Streets - Dry Your Eyes
Sugababes - In The Middle
Will Young - Your Game

How the Brits team getting the dates wrong seemed to force five new singles, from throughout the year, to be included in the nominations really confuses me. However, I'm not complaining, because the old list was...a bit rubbish, really. While I've crossed out a few (I didn't like 'Amazing' and I thought the other two were pretty shoddy excuses for singles, really) I've also highlighted several. I loved 'Everybody's Changing' even if by now I'm a little sick of hearing it everywhere, 'These Words' was a grower and was definitely one of the best pop tracks of 2004 and 'Your Game' confirmed my hopes that Will Young could release a single equally as good as 'Leave Right Now'. I think it's a toss-up between The Streets or Natasha to who wins this one, but I'm undecided about whether people will still choose to support the cause of Band Aid now Christmastime is long gone.

British Breakthrough Act
Franz Ferdinand
Joss Stone
Natasha Bedingfield
The Zutons

While the Zutons rose up from the pit of obscurity after their Mercury nomination, their album hasn't quite convinced me, even though it holds some excellent singles. Keane do deserve this award and will probably win it, having had a real 'breakthrough' of the last year and the bestselling album by a British group, but I'm going to have to give my vote to Franz Ferdinand, the masters of danceable indie, for creating a fabulous album and paving the way for the likes of Bloc Party and the Kaiser Chiefs.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Tips for the Brits (part two)

As the Brit Awards 25 get ever closer, we're continuing our award-by-award analysis of the winners and should-be-winners of the actual ceremony. Remember, you can vote in several of the categories at the official Brits site to help those who you do want to win to clinch the prize!

So here's who's nominated, who I would like to win, who I think will win and who I desperately do not want to win at all!

British Group
Franz Ferdinand
Snow Patrol

I own a record (or several!) by most of these acts. All of them are relative newcomers to the big time, with the exception of Muse and all have produced some great music in the last year. So, who do I choose? The answer - I can't. Every group has its merits - the danceable indie produced by Franz, the chanting choruses from Kasabian, the soaring vocals and piano of Keane, the musical grandiosity of Muse, and some great songs (and our site's namesake) from Snow Patrol. Kasabian don't deserve the award as much as the others, perhaps, and I think either Franz Ferdinand or Keane will win because of their universal appeal.

Mastercard British Album
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
Keane - Hopes and Fears
Muse - Absolution
Snow Patrol - Final Straw
The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free

I never understood the appeal of The Streets. His singles didn't really inspire me, and as yet I've not been persuaded to buy the album. Ruling out Mike Skinner, I'm left with a tricky choice between four albums I think are great. Despite the fact Absolution was released in 2003, it's probably my favourite on the list, even if the album is about the end of the world. I must be a born pessimist...

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

UK Top 75 (30/01/05)

Just in case you haven't heard, we'll begin with the least important news of the week. Elvis is number 1, again, and yes, with ridiculously low sales. It may interest the reader to know that the other latest singles from Elvis are placed at 20 and 40 plummeting down the chart faster than anything else on release. Obviously this is because there's a limited supply of copies, but still, it proves just how little everything else is selling in 2005. The inevitable death of the singles chart appears to have begun, and it's not looking good, is it?

'New Salute' by Little Barrie is at 73 while D:Rail join the list of unsuccessful boybands, only managing to chart at 63 with 'How Do I Say Goodbye'. Editors are new at 54 with 'Bullets'. 'Take It Away' by The Used narrowly misses out on the top 40, charting at 44. Breed 77 also miss out. Their latest single 'Shadows' is new at 42.

New at 36 is 'What a Lovely Dance' by Hal, a song which, upon listening to a short clip appears to be in the same vein as both The Thrills and Travis. At 33 is Houston with his latest single 'Ain't Nothing Wrong' while Amsterdam/Ricky - 'The Journey'/'Stop Knocking the Walls Down' is at 32.

Feeder have made a spectacular 'Tumble and Fall' (see what we did there?) a whole 20 places this week, to 25. Just missing out on the top 20 are Lemon Jelly, with 'The Shouty Track', new at 21.

Phixx, still surviving, and possibly now outselling their rivals, One True Voice, even though that's not too hard, scrape their way into the top 20 with their latest single 'Strange Love'. Meanwhile Mylo has a surprise hit at 15 with 'Destroy Rock and Roll'. Ashlee Simpson thankfully misses out on the top 10 (and a lot more potential radioplay) by entering at 11 with 'La La'.

Into the top 10, and first to play are Hanson, at 10, a little lower than we might have liked, but still a proud placing after their long absence from our chart. New at 9 is Xzibit with 'Hey Now (Mean Muggin)' and Freefaller (possibly the worst Busted imitation yet) stumble into the charts at 8 with 'Do This Do That'. Lovefreekz are new at 6 with 'Shine'.

I wasn't actually aware of what 'Grief Grows Old' by One World Project was, because, to be truthful, it hasn't been heavily publicised, at least not in my circles. Even upon attending the Tsunami Relief concert, and seeing the video on those large screens, nobody actually explained what it was. Hopefully, the fact that it's reached the chart position of 4 this week will alert more people to its release. I can't say I like it, but if it's doing some good, it's doing some good.

Ashanti narrowly misses out on the top spot with 'Only U' at 2, this week.

Elvis Presley is number one with 'It's Now or Never'.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Remembering Richey, and The Holy Bible

Richey, with friend and fellow lyricist, Nicky WireOn the 1st February 1995, I would have been six years old, in my second year of primary school, not even aware of who the Manic Street Preachers were, or what happened to their guitarist and lyricist, Richey James Edwards. 10 years later, and an event I cannot even remember still manages to mean a lot. It's in the newspapers, it's on the Internet, it's on the radio and in the magazines. It's a whole decade since Richey vanished, leaving a legacy behind him, and an event that resulted in the Manics being propelled into the musical spotlight. It's almost impossible to imagine what would have happened if he'd have stayed. There's an irony in the fact that the commercial success of the Manic Street Preachers may have never occurred if it wasn't for Richey's mysterious disappearance. What he left behind, however, was one hell of a record. Raw, daring, political and often disturbing, almost like the man himself, The Holy Bible is something that will never be forgotten.

The Holy Bible
(yes, I love it more than OK Computer)

The Holy Bible is an uncomfortable listen. The music is often either harsh or haunting and the lyrics are frightening, usually in their brutal honesty. Richey was responsible for approximately 70% of the lyrical content of The Holy Bible and the troubled state of his mind is evident throughout. Anorexia and self-mutilation are expressed through song as a result of personal experience. It's disturbing, and even depressing, especially if you're in the wrong mood.

The Holy BibleIt's my favourite record of all time, and I don't feel qualified to review it. This is partially because there's a large proportion of it I don't understand, but also because I love it too much to be fair, and it's impossible to expect anything more than rambling in my writing about it.

The record begins with 'Yes', easily one of the album's highlights and, yes, the one with the 'c word' and some of the hardest-hitting lyrics on the record, referring to self-abuse and solitude. It's the kind of thing you can't play loud because you don't want your mother to hear it. Does this mean I like it? Of course. Does this mean the rest of the record is more of the same. Well, yes...

'IfWhiteAmericaToldTheTruthForOneDayItsWorldWouldFallApart' is one of my favourite songs by the Manics, both lyrically and musically, while the darker 'Of Walking Abortion' is a much harder listen. Compared to what has come before it, 'She is Suffering', is a little dull to listen to, and doesn't quite fit with the other content of the album. It's not necessarily a bad song, but it doesn't belong here. If I remember rightly, it's one of Nicky Wire's, and maybe that's why. He's a stranger on the record referred to as 'Richey's suicide note'.

The sinister tone of 'Archives of Pain' is more interesting, musically, and a return to form, especially with its guitar solo and general melody, even if the lyrics are difficult for many to relate to. 'Revol', once again, is a great song, yet filled with names of political or influencial figures who may mean nothing to the masses. I loathe reviewing things I really love, because I fail to be able to criticise the music and enjoy just letting it flow into my ears, listening like a fan, not a critic.

'4st 7lb' is a tale of anorexia sung from the point of view of a young woman, and follows her as she loses weight, and her health, while maintaining a strange view of the world around her. 'Mausoleum' is fabulous, while 'Faster' is one of the best singles the Manics have ever released, and certainly the best one with Richey.
Dressed in mismatched military gear, the Manics maintained an image whilst still producing great music

'This is Yesterday' is mellow and far calmer, without being bland in the same way as 'She is Suffering' and is a welcome contrast to the majority of the record. 'Die in the Summertime' is depressing but beautiful, and has a longing of going back to childhood innocence. 'The Intense Humming of Evil' is painful on the ears, and not only because it covers the issue of the holocaust - the harsh 'screeching' sounds on this track means it is another I'm not so keen on. 'P.C.P.' is an amazing song about political correctness - still astonishingly relevant a decade later. In fact, the whole album is still relevant, and fresh, possibly moreso than 'Lifeblood', the Manics' latest effort, ten years later.

The re-release of The Holy Bible, complete with re-mastered sound, US mix and DVD is worth buying, even if you already have the first pressing. The original, obviously, is better quality, the US mix adds some classy production (even if a percentage of songs sound better left untampered with), there's extra artwork and a special, fold out case. The DVD gave me a chance to really 'see' the Holy Bible era, in all its visual military glory, along with an informative interview from the band as they are in 2004. The highlights, however, are the black and white, acoustic numbers from James and Nicky as recorded for MTV. No costume, no crazed antics, just something pure and image-free. There's 80 minutes of footage in total, which will either bring back memories, or create new ones for years to come.

The Holy Bible supposedly sells 10,000 to 15,000 per year without fail. The memory of Richey, and the Manics at their personal best, clearly hasn't faded yet. Richey may have done some stupid, illogical things, but this wasn't one of them.

We're a little confused by some of the nominations, but...

If you'd like to vote in the NME awards, pay a visit here. There's a 'worst dressed' category tailor-made for Justin Hawkins. Go on, you know you want to...

What's on Hannah's MP3 player?

On Hannah's MP3 player (10/03/05):
(new additions from Manic Street Preachers, Snow Patrol, Radiohead, Thirteen Senses, Stereophonics, Muse, Robbie Williams and more)

4st 7lb (acoustic) - Manic Street Preachers
All In My Head - Kosheen
All Possibilities - Badly Drawn Boy
Alternative To Love - Brendan Benson
Australia - Manic Street Preachers
Bastardo - Charlotte Hatherley
Breaking Up The Girl - Garbage
Buck Rogers - Feeder
Candy - Ash
Can't Stand Me Now - The Libertines
Cherry Lips - Garbage
Chocolate - Snow Patrol
Dakota - Stereophonics
Don't Ever Think (Too Much) - The Zutons
Don't Let Me Get Me - Pink
Do You Realize?? - The Flaming Lips
Electioneering - Radiohead
Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier - Manic Street Preachers
Empty Souls - Manic Street Preachers
Enola/Alone - Manic Street Preachers
Everything Must Go - Manic Street Preachers
Faster - Manic Street Preachers
Find The Colour - Feeder
Godhopping - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Golden Touch - Razorlight
I Live To Fall Asleep - Manic Street Preachers
I Predict a Riot - Kaiser Chiefs
ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart - Manic Street Preachers
I'm Just A Girl - No Doubt
Into The Fire - Thirteen Senses
Is It Coz I'm Cool - Mousse T ft Emma Langford
Just a Day - Feeder
Kim Wilde - Charlotte Hatherley
Local Boy In A Photograph - Stereophonics
Lopez - 808 State ft. James Dean Bradfield (featured on WL97)
Lounger - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Lovefool - The Cardigans
Michael - Franz Ferdinand
Motorcycle Emptiness - Manic Street Preachers
Music is the Victim - Scissor Sisters
No Surprises - Radiohead
Orpheus - Ash
Plug In Baby - Muse
Shiver - Coldplay
Side -Travis
Singing For The Lonely - Robbie Williams
Spitting Games - Snow Patrol
Starcrossed - Ash
Stay Beautiful - Manic Street Preachers
Step Into My Office Baby - Belle and Sebastian
Take Your Mama - Scissor Sisters
The Libertine - Patrick Wolf
The Universal - Blur
Thru The Glass - Thirteen Senses
Time For Deliverance - Do Me Bad Things
What Became Of The Likely Lads - The Libertines
What I'm Looking For - Brendan Benson
When I Grow Up - Garbage
You and Me Song - The Wannadies
You Love Us - Manic Street Preachers
You Stole The Sun From My Heart - Manic Street Preachers
Your Eyes Open - Keane