Friday, December 30, 2005

Hannah's Singles of the Year - The Shortlist (Part D)

Doves - Black and White Town
UK Chart Peak: 6
What I said at the time: " 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."
What I say now: "Only occasionally does Jonny start insisting I listen to music because he thinks it's great. I have to mention here that he's nearly always right. This was one of the first tracks of 2005 he insisted I listened to and reviewed. It's the best single from 'Some Cities', and the high point of the band's live set when I saw them in July."
What I rated it then: 4/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Razorlight - Somewhere Else
UK Chart Peak: 2
What I said at the time: "Borrell and the boys are back with possibly their catchiest hook yet, a stunning track that manages to worm its way into your head before refusing to budge. I love it, I really do, and I've actually bothered to go out and buy it too."
What I say now: "Borrell can be an idiot. However, aside from the odd scrap with Doherty, he writes some fantastic songs. This one, 'Keep The Right Profile' and the sublime 'Kirby's House' were his offerings for 2005. This was the big hit single, narrowly missing out on the band's first number one. It was well deserved, too."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


KT Tunstall - Suddenly I See
UK Chart Peak: 12
What I said at the time: "It's a catchy little thing and contrasts nicely with the gentler paced ballad that preceded it. In comparison, this is a stomping energetic number with more of an edge, and two vocal lines, illustrated cleverly by the video. Twice the amount of Tunstall. What a great concept."
What I say now: "Eee! Look at her cheeky, happy, smiley face! Marvellous. KT Tunstall - woman of 2005. Like Dido and Katie Melua, but infinitely less bland, with a bit more pace and a killer middle eight."
What I rated it then: 4/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


British Sea Power - Please Stand Up
UK Chart Peak: 34
What I said at the time: "It's the only song of theirs I've heard and I adore it, and I'm desperate to hear the album, because this track is (apparently) not their best. There's better yet to come? I can't wait."
What I say now: "Yes, it's another epic indie track with strings, guitars, etc. I might express a lack of variation and originality with my single picks, but anyone who has heard this will know it's an amazing adrenalin rush and a fantastic song."
What I rated it then: ?/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Patrick Wolf - The Libertine
UK Chart Peak: 67
What I said at the time: "Patrick has created some beautiful, true music, with an introduction full of suspense, escalating into a sweeping, complex, fully-formed cult classic, with a chorus almost as grandiose as something by Muse, except without the thrashy guitars."
What I say now: "My first experience of Patrick Wolf made me admit that Michael Bush has good taste in music. And that doesn't happen very often. :P Everything, from the mystical piano, to Patrick's bewitching voice, to the sweeping strings, the sound samples is PERFECT and makes you want to hear the track again and again and again. Just to make sure it really was that unbelievably incredible. Just to check."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Missy Higgins - Scar
UK Chart Peak: Did not chart
What I said at the time: "'Scar' is a delightful slice of piano driven pop that is so ridiculously catchy that one listen will have it stuck in your head for a matter of days. Think Daniel Powter's 'Bad Day' in female form, just more intelligent, avec Aussie accent and sans stupid beanie hat."
What I say now: "Australia's shining star flopped spectactularly here. Maybe this is because the British public only buy from Aussies they've seen on Neighbours? I'm not sure. However, Missy definitely deserved more attention than she got. This single is a prime example of that. All praise be to The Amp for being the only channel on TV to play her video."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Robert Post - Got None
UK Chart Peak: 42
What I said at the time: "Q Magazine compared his epic style to that of the Manic Street Preachers. I’m not so sure, but it certainly packs in the acoustic guitar, great basslines, sweeping strings and subtle keyboards that make what is, in my eyes, an incredible song."
What I say now: "I still think he looks a bit like a chubbier Craig-from-Big-Brother. I still think in some of his other songs he doesn't have the best grasp of the english language. I still don't quite understand the baseball cap. However, this song, and its video are completely and utterly fantastic. Nuff said."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (26/12/05)

Single of the Week:
Hard-Fi - Cash Machine
As is traditional with music singles, there's not a lot out this week. So, of what there is out, this is my favourite. It's probably my favourite Hard-Fi single, but I'm hardly their biggest fan, considering their songs seems to have an ability to meld into one, and I'm never completely sure, when listening to instrumental bits, which one I am actually listening to. It's also a re-release. That said, this one does have a nifty little video (one of those 'ooh, that's clever!' ones) and is worth a watch for the visual concept alone.
3.5/5

All Releases:
Brian Kennedy Ft Peter Corry - George Best: A Tribute, Hard-Fi - Cash Machine, Kylie Minogue - Somewhere Over The Rainbow [Download Only], Nathan - Round And Round, Simply Red - Something Got Me Started/A Song For You

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Lewis's Albums of 2005

5. M.I.A. - Arular (XL Recordings)
She panders to the 'It's Grim Up North London' types slightly too much, 'tis true, but Maya Arulpragasam's debut is ultimately a bold assertion and definition of its own exciting, trenchant sound. Fused together with indelible cut 'n' paste variety, this trips through scattergun rhythms, dancehall-style toasting, strident skits, tidy, catchy choruses ('Galang') and text message-inspired bitchiness ('URAQT'). What more could you ask for? This album's freeform style means that it also benefits from further exploration and reinvention - thus, there are many worthy remixes and mash-ups available across the internet.
Official site
Download: 'Pull Up The People'.
Also recommended: Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner.

4. The Boy Least Likely To - The Best Party Ever (Absolute)
Charming toybox pop, incorporating recorders, triangles, washboards and various other elements of a school percussion section, as well as the more folky banjos, fiddles and violins. Rest assured, however - this lot aren't a bunch of loathsome gypsies. Rather, The Best Party Ever is a fantastic instance of new-age twee, all barndance rhythms and kaleidoscopic vocals. It glides effortlessly between the summery synthesized wash of 'Paper Cuts', and the all-out hoedown of the delightful 'I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon To Your Star'. It also trades a nice line in plaintive love songs, and displays a liberated sense of childlike exploration, with clever, witty lyrics. A most pleasurable listen.
Official site
Download: 'Paper Cuts'.
Also recommended: Belle and Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress.

3. Antony and the Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now (Rough Trade)
Antony Hegarty and Co took the Mercury Music Prize this year and outraged brazen charlatans like the Kaiser Chiefs in the process. Good. I Am A Bird Now has a beautiful, hopeful sound, and thoroughly deserves its recognition. The album opens with the almost lachrymose 'Hope There's Someone' and swoons with sweet, sexually ambiguous cabaret ballads before culminating with the divine 'Bird Girl'. It is superbly arranged, and features guest spots from such luminaries as Boy George (on the Ink Spots-esque 'You Are My Sister'), Rufus Wainwright (on 'What Can I Do?'), and Lou Reed (on 'Fistful of Love'). This album is a haunting, transcendent work, with sublime, black melodies and vocals like oceans.
Official site
Download: 'Hope There's Someone'.
Also recommended: The Ink Spots - Whispering Grass.

2. Arcade Fire - Funeral (Rough Trade)
Riotous, melancholic and darkly beautiful all at once, the Arcade Fire's semi-conceptual debut tells of snowstorms, lost childhoods, warfare and strength through adversity. Patched together with a thrilling lo-fi edge and brilliant instrumental work, this album contains several sensual eclipses that collapse in on themselves in the most frenetic, exciting way. At other times it tiptoes with quaint ballads that give it a slower, mournful dimension. Funeral is strangely life-affirming, as evidenced by the climactic opener (and standout track) 'Neighbourhood #1: Tunnels', the all-powerful 'Wake Up' and the towering 'Rebellion/Lies'. It is a glorious cyclical emblem of its title, with an uplifting representation of rebirth.
Official site
Download: 'Neighbourhood #1: Tunnels'.
Also recommended: Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous.

1. Electrelane - Axes (Too Pure)
Electrelane's third full-length is a joyful whirlwind of a record. Presided over by current producer du jour Steve Albini, it takes in flighty, breathless-but-effortless indie girl pop on 'Bells' and 'Two For Joy', before twisting to control itself on a tour de force through drone rock, fractured instrumentals, a wired cover of Leonard Cohen's 'The Partisan', and guttural choral arrangements (particularly on 'I Keep Losing Heart') that are somehow redolent of those used on Björk's Medulla. These styles collide and slowly burn out on the closing track, the epic 'Suitcase', after which this album remains scratched across your consciousness - its skilful experimentalism and abrasive tension is so perfectly tinted it is guaranteed to draw you back.
Official site
Download: 'Bells'.
Also recommended: Sleater-Kinney - The Woods.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!
from all at WL xxx

Friday, December 23, 2005

Hannah's Albums of 2005

So, after kindly asking the entire WL team of writers to recommend their top 5 albums of 2005 (which are undoubtedly on their way) here are my own. The following records have all grabbed me in some way, have been (almost) flawless and I would, without hesitation, recommend them to all of you. As is the tradition, I have included a few sample tracks, in case you need any more convincing. And, as I've said before, these really are for sampling purposes only, and I do recommend you buy the titles concerned. As ever, downloads are limited, so get 'em while they're hot!

5. Do Me Bad Things - Yes
DMBT are something of a guilty pleasure for me. But that's okay, right? If some say it's okay to like The Darkness, then why shouldn't I adore their similarly extravagant and OTT labelmates? The band who have been dubbed the Scissor Sisters rockier cousins have turned out a collection of 10 stunning tracks. The sheer number of vocalists in the band (five on the album, but now three) allows an entertaining variety of songs, and DMBT tackle hard rockers, soulful ballads and energetic singalong poprock and make all of them sound great. They've also had a great little promotional campaign - any band that produce rainbow coloured rock candy to match the album cover are heroes in my eyes. Perhaps the only let down is that some of the tracks are too long. I've included the shortest one - a non-charting single from last year (I blame the terrible video) and one of the standout tracks from 'Yes!'.
Track to sample: The Song Rides

4. Patrick Wolf - Wind In The Wires
It was in the early months of 2005 that I was advised to purchase this album on pain of death by a good friend. He knows who he is. The genre 'electrofolk' seemed somewhat dubious, but I bought the album anyway and was pleasantly surprised by the fact I now owned and could listen to something so different to everything else that was around. While everything else could be pieced together by references to 'this band', or 'that singer', or 'that song', this just seemed unique. It's incomparable to the popular simpering singer-songwriter dross that surrounded it. 'Wind In The Wires' has scored two WL single of the weeks, as well as one special mention. Let me just say that since the time of reviewing my mind hasn't changed - I still think they're marvellous. So what is it that is so captivating about Patrick Wolf? I still can't put it into words. Buy it. Find out for yourself.
Track to sample: Souvenirs (a b-side from the Wind In The Wires single)

3. Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger
Apart from lead singer Paul Smith's hair, I find it incredibly difficult to fault these northern newcomers to the British indie scene. Their energetic, vibrant pop tunes stand out from the rest of the indie crowd. Their debut album, 'A Certain Trigger' is near-faultless, and is jam-packed with catchy hooks, cool riffs and beats that make you want to leap around like a madwoman. Believe me, I'd know. From the opening track to the closing one it's an exhibition of everything that is great about the British indie scene.
Track to sample: The Coast Is Always Changing

2. Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Franz Ferdinand? Not number one? What the...? Admittedly, it was a close call. The Franz's second effort easily surpasses their eponymous debut (although 'Take Me Out', 'Michael' and 'Matinee' have yet to be bettered) and is more experimental, more 'rock' and is even more lyrically bizarre than the first. It's packed with the catchiest of guitar riffs, and like their musical equivalent of younger brothers, Maximo Park, it's full of verve and energy, too. It's mellower moments provide a much needed contrast and 'Fade Together' (with vocals by Nick, as opposed to Alex) is particularly beautiful. The only thing that lets it down is the painful tempo-changing 'Well That Was Easy'.
Track to sample: Walk Away (acoustic)

1. Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous
Albums these days just aren't consistent enough. In an interview earlier this year, WL hero Nicky Wire said it was the first album he'd played back-to-back in a long time, so obviously I felt a need to have a listen myself. Strictly speaking, it's from 2004. However, since it was only let loose in the UK this year, and its had such an impact on me it seemed criminal to leave it out of my chart. And look - it's number one! Fronted by the gorgeous Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley present some gorgeous indiepop with a country tinge, and while it's possible just to bask in the glory of the music, the lyrical content here is also a triumph. Obscure in places, irresistably clever in others and all sung with such emotional conviction - it truly is breathtaking. Every track has something different to offer, but the track I've chosen to share with you all is a prime example of all that is great about 'More Adventurous' and is also my personal favourite.
Track to sample: Does He Love You?

Some other favourites from this year:
Brendan Benson - The Alternative To Love, KT Tunstall - Eye To The Telescope, Supergrass - Road To Rouen, The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan, Hal - Hal, Coldplay - X&Y, Missy Higgins - The Sound Of White, Elbow - Leaders of the Free World, Bright Eyes - Digital Ash In A Digital Urn, NightOnlyVisual - Skylines

Thank you for reading and commenting on WL this year. Hopefully 2006 will bring yet more great music!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Hannah's Singles of the Year - The Shortlist (Part C)

This is the third part of my 'shortlist' for my single of the year. There are past singles of the week, as well as a few surprises! Some of the listed singles are accompanied by mp3s. These are for sampling purposes only, and I really recommend you go and buy the CD or one of those fancy legal downloads. I prefer CDs though. Or vinyl. Vinyl is good. Downloads will be up for a week and/or a limited number of downloads. Enjoy!

Stereophonics - Dakota
UK Chart Peak: 1
What I said at the time: "This week my single of the week just has to be 'Dakota' from the Stereophonics (I'm a fan...so shoot me)"
What I say now: "Possibly the least Stereophonics-like Stereophonics single of all time, which is probably why even the anti-Stereophonics brigade guiltily sat up and took notice. For the fans it was something amazing and easily the highlight of their set on their UK tour. It's just a real shame the later singles didn't even come close to this piece of absolute brilliance."
What I rated it then: ?/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure
UK Chart Peak: 17
What I said at the time: "It's upbeat, with energetic angular guitar riffs, is full of pizazz and sparkle and has a definite sense of I'm-not-quite-sure-what-the-chorus-is...and the most impressive thing is it's not even their best."
What I say now: "Well, it's been out twice this year and frankly I expected to be sick of it by now, but I'm not! There's something magic about it, as there is with the whole album. But I've said it once, and I'll say it again - I really do not like Paul's hair!"
What I rated it then: 4.5/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Elbow - Forget Myself
UK Chart Peak: 22
What I said at the time: "worms its way into your brain and superglues itself to the inside of your skull"
What I say now: "While Elbow don't have the same sort of catchiness as their supposed musical cousins Coldplay, there's something incredibly addictive about this single. I reckon it's the layered nature of the song - there's always something new to hear, even several months on."
What I rated it then: 4/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Bright Eyes- First Day Of My Life
UK Chart Peak: 37
What I said at the time: "The song itself is nothing that will change the world, but its beauty lies in its simplicity and its tenderness."
What I say now: "It's the most gorgeous, heartstring-tugging, musical expression of love that's been released this year. Why 'You're Beautiful' gets all the success, god knows..."
What I rated it then: 3.5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Mark Owen - Believe In The Boogie
UK Chart Peak: 57
What I said at the time: "I don’t care if it’s tragically uncool – I really do love this song and I’m definitely off to buy it this week."
What I say now: "Yes it's cheesy. Yes I will be the first to admit Mark isn't the world's best singer. But I LOVE this song. And surely the fact I'm confessing this proves exactly how much. How the mighty fall...and rise up again. Welcome back Take That!"
What I rated it then: 4.5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


The Frames - Fake
UK Chart Peak: Did not chart :(
What I said at the time: "I can't find what I said!"
What I say now: "Having first heard this so long ago, it's done nothing but grow on me and grow on me. It's one of those genuine indie epics. There's such beautiful use of vocals, dynamics, guitars, strings - everything! I recommend it to Snow Patrol fans, actually."
What I rated it then: ?/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


The Go! Team - Bottle Rocket
UK Chart Peak: 64
What I said at the time: "It's a re-release, I think, but it's still the most innovative, interesting and, most importantly, good single out this week. It's funky, quirky, danceable, and irritatingly unclassifiable, but still brilliant."
What I say now: "What is this? Pop? Dance? Hiphop? Who cares? It's eccentric, colourful, fabulous and, most importantly, a lot of fun. It's able to melt the stubborn heart of any devout 'alternative/indie kid' any day."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -

Hannah's Single of the Week (19/12/05)

While I'll give a special mention for the re-release of 'Fairytale of New York', the fact that it's the race for Christmas number one undoubtedly makes this release list a bit rubbish (for want of a stronger word). James Blunt, The Choirboys, G4 and...Santa - the future doesn't look bright. Even Girls Aloud have come out with a ballad that doesn't quite hit the spot. So, is there anything to like? Yes, yes there is.

Single of the Week:
Coldplay - 'Talk'
While 'X&Y', overall, was something of a disappointment, Coldplay have thankfully released one of the better songs on the album as a single. The Kraftwerk-sampling 'Talk' has a bit more pace than your average Coldplay song, is surprisingly catchy, and even has what could be the band's most entertaining video to date due to some of the most amusing overracting of the year. The video ('hurrah it's not a performance video'/'ooh, they're trying to be Radiohead' etc) is arguably the best thing about the release. That said, and despite the fact it's a stronger single than 'Speed Of Sound', it probably won't even make the top 10.
4/5

More Releases:
Barbra Streisand - Come Tomorrow, Battle - Wicked Owl [Download Only], Cantamus Girls Choir - Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime, The Choirboys - Tears In Heaven, Coldplay - Talk, Dusted - Always Remember, Eminem - When I’m Gone, G4 Ft Robin Gibb - First Of May/When A Child Is Born, Girls Aloud - See The Day, Hound Dogs - I Like Girls, James Blunt - Goodbye My Lover, Joseph & Mary Chain - 12 Days Of Christmas [7” only], Lisa Brown - What’s That Sound?, Lucie Silvas - Forget Me Not, Mary J Blige - Be Without You, Plan B - No Good/Sick To Death [7” only], Pogues and Kirsty MacColl - Fairytale In New York, Quireboys - Tears In Heaven, Santa - Is This The Way To Santa’s Grotto?, X Factor Winner (Shane) - That’s My Goal (December 21st)

What's your single of the week?
And who is your tip for Christmas number one?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Freelance Videowatch...with Elz

Freelance Videowatch:
Pussycat Dolls - Stick Wit U (official site - the video is there, but I don't recommend you watch it)

I tried to sit through this video in its entirety and write a proper review, I honestly did. HWho cares about grammar? We're 'hot'!owever, it hurt my brain far too much, so you'll have to cope with a review of the first minute or so that I actually managed to watch.

...they're just a bunch of strippers with a record contract! Come on! (No offence to any strippers who may be reading this; I find the Pussycat Dolls to be far less reputable than you.) I understand the song is meant to be a rousing tale of friendship and loyalty, but I can't get over the lack of grammar and clothing. The members of the "band" are all friends and love each other very much, so they wander around in hot-pants and miniscule skirts, signing things for impressionable children. Please, think of the children.

Maybe someone should think of the poor dog that they keep on their bus, which I thiThe dog is screaming in terror.nk is a chihuahua dressed in an ugly sweater. I think it's safe to blame Paris Hilton for the tiny dog trend, and I hope for the sake of dogs everywhere that this video doesn't resurrect it.

Don't watch this if you value your mental health.
0/5

Monday, December 19, 2005

Lewis's single to avoid (19/12/05)

James Blunt - 'Goodbye My Lover'
Apparently 'James Blunt' has entered the realms of Cockney rhyming slang, as a term for the female genital organs. Whatever could that be? Rarely has any form of language stemming from London retained such a sense of overarching perspective. Fresh from hauling the Queen Mother's corpse up to Westminster, the loathsome toff returns with this painfully tuneless piano dirge, presumably under the impression that it's Christmas, and that at Christmas people like this kind of dross. I urge you to resist. 'Did I disappoint you, or let you down?', he squeaks, by means of an opening line. No, James. We've never expected you to be anything but the amoebic twerp you've always been. In fact you're fulfilling that role as richly as ever. As a refrain he mumbles 'I'm so hollow, baby, I'm so hollow'. Is this James Blunt's great song of self-realization? Afraid not. The rest of the lyrics are too staggeringly bland for this to mean anything at all, really. It sounds like it should be used in a US teen drama, to soundtrack a scene in which one of the androgynously-named characters has recently snuffed it. That's all it's worth. Have you ever considered joining the Marines, James?
0/5

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Freelance Videowatch...with Elz

Freelance Videowatch:
KT Tunstall - Under The Weather (official site - with video and music clips)

Anyone who knows me knows of my almost fanatical love for KT TunstallKT sits in her cosy caravan, aww., and it just increased when she decided to release my favourite song from her debut album, Eye to the Telescope. "Under The Weather" is the first song I heard in full by KT, and in my opinion, should have been released long before now. The important thing to note is that the single is not the same as the album track, losing some of the more mournful tones in favour of the rocking rhythms seen in "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree".

But we're here toRainbows symbolise something, right? Wonder what... discuss the video. While I feel it could have done with more rain, the setting and idea really suits the song. I'd quite like to move into that caravan with KT myself - it looks cosy, and, although prone to random indoor hurricanes, is probably really quite comfortable. The most striking thing about this video is the simplicity. There are no special effects, no enormously fancy performance scenes. This video is about the music, and it's refreshing to see that. At the climax of the video we move on from shots of KT riding her bicycle, reading, sitting in her car and walking around in a field with a rainbow in the bHurricaaaaaaaaaane!ackground to the aforementioned internal hurricane. She must have had an interesting childhood if that's what feels like home.

After racking my brains to try and work out exactly how many performance shots there are, I can only think of two, both of which are wonderfully understated. I can't actually fault this video, and it thrills me. Shame the song only got to number 39 in the charts.
5/5

Hannah's Singles of the Year - The Shortlist (Part B)

This is the second part of my shortlist for WL Single of the Year 2005. For your listening pleasure I've included some mp3s. These mp3s are intended for sampling purposes only, and are being left up for a week, maximum. I also urge you, if you enjoy them, to buy the album/single they come from, because we definitely recommend them! If anyone owns the copyright and would like the tracks removed, please email us. Enjoy!

Charlotte Church - Crazy Chick
UK Chart Peak: 2
What I said at the time: "I was particularly impressed with Charlotte Church’s ‘Crazy Chick’, being won over by its brass section and distinct lack of obvious chorus."
What I say now: "At the time it was beaten by Beck's delightfully quirky 'Girl' but this funky little number has definitely grown on me since. I must say I was quite surprised to hear it in the first place, seeing as Charlotte appeared to be taking an Eva Cassidy direction as late as January this year. Personally I'm glad she came out with this instead - the second best 'pop' pop record of the year."
What I rated it then: 3.5/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


The Futureheads - Hounds of Love
UK Chart Peak: 8
What I said at the time: "The Futureheads manage to successfully incorporate their signature style into an existing classic. It has 'hit' written all over it, and may be what really drags them into the mainstream."
What I say now: "Well, they didn't really get dragged into the mainstream, but for The Futureheads this song was a huge hit, and deservedly so. It's easily the best cover version of the year, possibly even of the decade so far. If you don't love it, there is something wrong with you."
What I rated it then: 3.5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


The Magic Numbers - Forever Lost
UK Chart Peak: 15
What I said at the time: "If you haven't heard this song, you are seriously missing out. It's mellow, summery pop at its best, with some gorgeous harmonies...and lots of facial hair."
What I say now: "I love it now just as much as I did when it was released. Everything about it is so completely and utterly perfect - from the instrumentation, to the harmonies, and especially to that bit where they go a cappella. Leaves me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -

KT Tunstall - Black Horse and The Cherry Tree
UK Chart Peak: 28
What I said at the time: I didn't!
What I say now: "Funnily enough, I didn't take too much notice of this song when it came out, considering it's release date was shared with two other singles that have made this shortlist, along with Kaiser Chiefs, who didn't. I think I do prefer KT when she's a little more upbeat, like this. Acoustic guitars, great beat, surging chorus - what's not to like?"
What I rated it then: ?/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -

Charlotte Hatherley - Bastardo
UK Chart Peak: 31
What I said at the time: "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."
What I say now: "This is girl power-pop how it should be done. Take note, all you Faders and Love Bites types."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -

Brendan Benson - Spit It Out
UK Chart Peak: 75
What I said at the time: "it's great, lively, fun pop - just homemade (Brendan plays almost all the instruments himself) and free of anything artificial"
What I say now: "The first great single from a great album. Yes, it's more singalong power pop (and there's a lot of it on this shortlist) but Mr Benson is one of these people who genuinely deserves to be bigger than he is, considering this song only just became his first top 75 UK hit. Hopefully soon that's going to change..."
What I rated it then: 4/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -

Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes
UK Chart Peak: Did not chart :(
What I said at the time: "Jonny sent it to me, and it's very good. That is all. Please buy."
What I say now: "This year Rilo Kiley have pretty much been my only solution for everybody's musical dilemmas. At every opportunity I've said 'listen to Rilo Kiley!' and hopefully there have been a few RK converts on the way. The thing is, I can't quite articulate how incredibly ACE this band is. Poptext (one of my favourite mp3 blogs) does a better job of that."
What I rated it then: 4/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hannah's Single of the Week (12/12/05)

Allow me to be brief. And possibly blunt. Having removed download-only singles and 12" singles from the chart...there's a heck of a lot of crap. Being totally honest, I haven't heard much of this week's selection, but what I have heard grades from 'not bad' to 'hilariously rubbish' and what I haven't heard generally inspires me to invest in some earplugs.

There are Christmas novelty releases hitting you left, right and centre. The Crazy Frog is trying yet again for another absurdly annoying chart smash, there's a dubiously named pop band manage to incorporate textspeak AND pointless brackets into ONE release, and those great musical pioneers 'The England Cricket Team' are even having a crack at the charts, helped by a lady who thought it was OK to sing with a member of Blue. Rrrrright.

Out of the 'real' releases of the week there is little to inspire anything resembling a creative review. McFly's 'Ultraviolet' has an intro which appears to mimic Starsailor, before charging in to 'textbook McFly' and not really introducing anything particularly new. Robbie Williams releases his typical piece of Christmas balladry - 'Advertising Space' - which I do like, but again, it seems suspiciously like every similar song he's done before. The good news? It's better than last year's 'Misunderstood'.

So, possibly by default, my Single of the Week reluctantly goes to The Subways, for their chirpy strumalong entitled 'No Goodbyes'. It's a nice contrast to previous singles 'Oh Yeah' and 'Rock And Roll Queen' exhibiting the band's mellower side. However, it's really only the best of a bad bunch.

All Releases:
Al Haca - Mindgames/Day Break [7” only], At The Lake - These Days, Crazy Frog - Jingle Bells/Can’t Touch This, Dave McCullen - B Tch, Dean Park - McElvis Presley’s Scottish Medley, Depeche Mode - A Pain That I Am Used To, Euros Childs - Donkey Island [7” only], Hell - Tragic Picture Show [7” only], Help, She Can’t Swim - Committing Social Suicide EP [7” only], Hot Pantz - (I’d Like To Give U) One 4 Christmas, Keedie Ft England Cricket Team - Jerusalem, Kubichek - Taxi [7” only], Levellers - Last Man Alive, Leya - On All My Sundays, Lisa Brown - What’s That Sound?, Long Blondes - Separated By Motorways [7” only], Mariah Carey - Don’t Forget About Us, McFly - The Ballad Of Paul K/Ultraviolet, New Emotion - 9 To 5, Nizlopi - JCB, Objects - Fifi Brown, Ozzy Osbourne - In My Life, Patrolman Pete - Ready To Roll, Performance - Surrender [7” only], Redshed - Boundaries, Robbie Williams - Advertising Space, Robert Pollard - I’m A Strong Lion, Ruff Ryders - Stay Down, Snipereyes - Ballet Machine, Southern Electrics - Save You, The Subways - No Goodbyes, T Raumschmiere - A Very Loud Lullaby [7” only], Temposhark - It’s Better To Have Loved, Trashcan Sinatras - Wild Mountainside, Water Babies - Under The Tree, Westlife & Diana Ross - When You Tell Me That You Love Me, The White Stripes - Walking With A Ghost EP

Monday, December 12, 2005

Lewis's single to avoid (12/12/05)

Nizlopi - 'JCB'
That's right! I haven't got a heart, merely a swinging brick. This saccharine little tale is, on the surface, somewhat inoffensive; indeed, the music is quaint and melodic, almost bordering on pretty. What really lets this down, though, is the content. For a start, it sounds like it's being sung by a reader of Loaded magazine, evident in grating lines such as: "Me an' my dad 'avin' a top larf". It's awash with maudlin escapism, and the author's appreciation of his father is somewhat betrayed by the refrain of: "My dad's Bruce Lee". This displaces his father's role as the hero of the story - the adulation seems to be for someone like Bruce Lee, a true hero, rather than the diluted version that exists in reality. By making the comparison, he detracts from his father's own, personal qualities, instead projecting his desire for daddy to be someone he isn't, which makes his professed appreciation seems trite. Ultimately, this song is mass-produced sentimentality for a mawkish generation that is uncomfortable in its own skin; hence its aura of passive-aggressive masculinity. Many consider this kind of stuff heartfelt and heartwarming. To my mind, its cutesiness seems like a witless sales ploy.
1.5/5

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Hannah's Singles of the Year - The Shortlist (Part A)

So, as we enter December, I see it fit to round off the year with a shortlist of my favourite singles of this year before concluding by announcing my top 5 on New Year's Eve. Let's face it - you cannot place nearly 40 singles in an chart-like order without immediately regretting it, changing things round and confusing everybody.

Admittedly for a shortlist, it's not actually that short. Oh dear. However, amongst this lovely selection of the year's best singles there are some mp3s. These mp3s are intended for sampling purposes only, and we urge you to buy the album/single they come from, because they're so great! Downloads will be up for one week or 25 downloads - whatever happens first! If anyone owns the copyright and would like the tracks removed, please email us.
Enjoy!

The WL Shortlist - Part A:

Manic Street Preachers - Empty Souls
UK Chart Peak: 2
What I said at the time: "Empty Souls' captured my heart straight off, leading to a Manic Street Preachers musical revival"
What I say now: "It got to number 2, but alas it didn't do much for the sales of Lifeblood. I still love it now, possibly more than before. Its multilayered chorus is sublime and while lyrically it's not the best the music easily overrides that. And they scrapped the 'twin towers' lyric for the single version - hurrah!"
What I rated it then: 4/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Rachel Stevens - I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)
UK Chart Peak: 12
What I said at the time: "Nobody could front this other than Stevens. I'm not a pop lover, normally, but this is FANTASTIC."
What I say now: "It's probably the best pop song of its sort this year. I want to buy her album, and I'm not normally a pop fan! Rachel is a poptastic goddess."
What I rated it then: 4.5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Foo Fighters - DOA
UK Chart Peak: 25
What I said at the time: "addictive 360 degree rock from the unlikely Supergrass fans."
What I say now: "Obviously then I was going through my 'minimalist' blogger period when this was released, but this definitely deserves more attention than it got. The chorus is simple, and probably a bit cheesy, but insanely good, and the video combines stunning visual ideas with the Foo's quirkiness. Love it."
What I rated it then: 3.5/5
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Hal - Play The Hits
UK Chart Peak: 38
What I said at the time: I didn't. The focus was all on Razorlight.
What I say now: "They do summery sixties-esque pop better than the Thrills or anyone else Ireland wants to send over and this is possibly the best and hookiest track from their debut album. Deliciously upbeat and has more 'choruses' than you can count"
What I rated it then: I didn't.
What I rate it now: 4.5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Protocol - She Waits For Me
UK Chart Peak: 65
What I said at the time: " The lead singer may have the most offputting hair since the time Alex Kapranos rid himself of his trademark 'do, but that's about the only critical thing I can say here."
What I say now: "He still has that hair in the new video, but generally things are looking promising for Protocol. Their followup single is still pretty good and they put the life back into the genre that The Bravery took so much out of. I still adore the energy of this song, and the singer has an unusually nice voice."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Patrick Wolf - Tristan
UK Chart Peak: Did not chart
What I said at the time: "[This] features Patrick growling and wailing to great effect, alongside some stunning instrumentation so unlike the contents of your average chart single. Oh Patrick - we are not worthy!"
What I say now: "The main appeal for me about Patrick Wolf is there really is nobody else quite like him. He's a genuine talent, a genuine eccentric and a writer's nightmare as his stunning music defies description."
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 5/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -


Coldplay - Fix You
UK Chart Peak: 4
What I said at the time: "As the stand out track from X&Y (which doesn't really live up to the hype) it allows forgiveness for the pretty average 'Speed of Sound' and is an instant fan favourite, capturing the essence of everything that is Coldplay."
What I say now: "It's suffered somewhat from tragic overplaying on radio and TV, and I now prefer 'Talk', but 'Fix You' still has something magical about it, especially when you're singing along as part of a choir of thousands. And yes, my 'presence' in the video does cause me to be a bit biased. ;)"
What I rated it then: 5/5
What I rate it now: 4/5
- original post -//- official site -//- video -//- mp3 -