funfunfun's Favourite Albums Of 2007 (5-1)
Ok here's the top 5, but first here's a quick recap from 15-6
15) Kat Flint - Dirty Birds
14) Matthew Dear - Asa Breed
13) Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
12) Justice - † (Cross)
11) Eugene McGuinness - The Early Learnings Of...
10) Meet Me In St Louis - Variations On Swing
9) LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver
8) Les Savy Fav - Lets Stay Friends
7) Parts & Labor - Mapmaker
6) M.I.A. - Kala
Now down to business.
Napoleon IIIrd - In Debt ToAfter months sitting in cyper-space, this debut album from Leeds' James Mabbett, aka Napoleon IIIrd, finally got a physical release in October and it was definitely well deserved. Its a grand pop album, taking much inspiration from The Beach Boys, but the music is pushed as far as it possibly could be while still keeping it accessible. Like all the solo acts in this list, Napoleon IIIrd isn't your standard singer-songwriter. He's trying something different, experimenting with everyday sounds and telling lyrical stories about the world around him. In Debt To is unpredictable, inventive but also fun and catchy with some cracking tunes on it.
Favourite Tracks - This Is My Call To Arms, Defibrillator, The Conformist Takes It All, Hit Schmooze For Me
Video - Hit Schmooze For Me
Download - Defibrillator
Jetplane Landing - Backlash CopOn first listen Backlash Cop surprised me, i guess it surprised anyone who was a JPL fan, it just had a completely different feel to their previous two efforts, 2001's Zero For Conduct and 1003's Once Like A Spark. The sound was still the same, Andrew Ferris' talking/rapping/singing vocals, the shredding guitar riffs and driving rhythm but this time it felt funky. It was only after a month or two of constantly repeated listens that i realised the difference, this is Jetplane Landing's most comfortable record. This is what they been strive to sound like for six years and thats why its sounds so natural and organic. Its basically a concept album, pinpointing a number of hugely influential people in the band's lives, Dizzy Gillespie, Les Savy Fav, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix to name just a few. It is funky in places but that seems to fit and there's still enough rock-out riffs for the old fans. The spoken-word number Us And The Ringside Stars would sound out of place on any other album but this is an album of experimentation and vision and its sits perfectly in the fierce, intelligent, 35 minute journey
Favourite Tracks - Dizzy Gillespie For President, Lungs Of Punk, Songs For Sonia Sanchez
Video - No videos sorry :(
Download - Lungs Of Punk
Beirut - The Flying Club Cup
Zach Condon is a genius. I thought i'd get that out of the way before i started. To follow up 2006's amazing debut Gulag Orkestar with such a convincing and determined effort is an incredible feat but to match it and sometimes surpass its quality and emotion is unbelievable. There may not be the stand-out track like Postcards From Italy but as a whole album, The Flying Club Cup is more compelling and complete. Zach's melancholic croon is still at the forefront but the backing this time is of a Gallic tone. The horn part on A Sunday Smile is a swaying memory of a laconic Sunday afternoon and the opening strings on the album highlight Forks And Knives are shrilling and thrilling. Its antique music for the modern age.
Favourite Tracks - Forks And Knives (La Fete), A Sunday Smile, Cliquot
Video - Nantes (Take Away Show)
Download - Forks And Knives (La Fete)
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Enough has already been said about how this album was distributed but i would like to add how exciting it was that everyone got to listen to the album for the first time simultaneously. No leaks, no reviews, just everyone's initial reactions, i thought that was the most exciting thing about the distribution method. Now the music. For me it was Radiohead back at their best. I have really been enticed by any of their releases since Kid A but right from 15 Steps i could tell that this was for me. Thom Yorke's vocals are strong and assured - just listen to Nude- and J. Greenwood's guitar work flitters and flows seamlessly between electronic glitches and his brother's steady but innovative basslines. But its not all The Eraser-like electronics, Bodysnatchers sees the band rocking out, which must have pleased old fans. The album saunters off a bit in the middle but its still visceral and irresistible and in places its un-fucking-believable.
Favourite Tracks - Nude, 15 Steps, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Bodysnatchers
Video - Nude (live)
Download - 15 Steps
Panda Bear - Person Pitch
I'm a tiny bit surprised Person Pitch is my favourite album of the year. The music not really the type i'd usually get into this much but from the moment i first heard it back in the early Summer, i haven't been able to stop playing it. It actually soundtracked one of the happiest moments of the year, finishing my degree and my graduation, so that must have put it in good stead. Its hypnotic and mesmeric throughout. The vocals float back and forth, emerging through a mist of sounds before being enveloped again. I read a description in Plan B magazine about it which mention that Person Pitch sounded like it had been recorded underwater and i could agree more. At the end of Comfy In Nautica, it sounds like the groans and creeks in the bowels of a sunken ship. Its an album that needs to be consumed as one as its overall atmosphere is unsurpassed but individual tracks stand out. Take Pills and the epic Bros are wonderfully Beach Boys-esque and remind me of warm summers and fuzzy heads. For tracks comprising wholly of samples and computerisation, its amazing how warm and human it feels. Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear, recorded the album after just moving to Lisbon from the States and you can hear his alienation and isolation interweaved in the sounds, but its always sounds hopeful and that could be another reason i connected with it so well as i was in the same sort of position. This was just an album that came along exactly when i needed it and that why its my favourite album of 2007.
Favourite Tracks - Comfy In Nautica, Bros, Good Girl/Carrots
Video - Bros
Download - Comfy In Nautica
I hope you enjoy that. What did you think about my choices? Let me know and Have A Great New Year
funfunfun's Favourite Albums Of 2007 (10-6)
Lets keep this list going
Meet Me In St Louis - Variations On Swing
After hailing them as exciting prospects back in January, funfunfun was pleased to see Meet Me In St Louis flourish in 2007. The sizeable amount of touring and shows they performed had formed their sound in to an exciting, tight sonic ball and they managed to capture that essence in Variations... Produced by Alex Newport, who had also produced At The Drive-In to pick a name from the bunch, its a spiky and challenging listen with ingenuity and surprises awaiting through every ticking second. The biggest surprises for me was the inclusion of the acoustic track I Beat Up The Bathroom, I'm Sorry, which turns out to be a beautiful relief from the persistent blasting of the other tracks and one of the highlights of Variations. The blasting is incredible as well, the intelligent guitar lines weave between each other as the super-fast technical drumming knocks you back. The year ended on a sad note with singer Toby leaving the band to pursue other things but this change could lead to bigger and better things if they find the right replacement. All that said, Variations On Swing is a glaring beacon shining across the Atlantic showing that the UK underground scene is alive and well.
Favourite Tracks - The Torso Was Severed In Mid Thorax, I Beat Up The Bathroom I'm Sorry, All We Need Is A Little Energon And A Lot Of Luck
Video - All We Need Is A Little Energon And A Lot Of Luck
Download - The Torso Was Severed In Mid Thorax
LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of SilverI must have lost this album over the summer because after my initial excitement when it was released, it seemed to slipped between my fingers and get lost in a big mess of music. When it started getting high rankings in people's top albums of the year i found it again and, boy, i'm glad i did. Tracks such as North American Scum and Time To Get Away are the album's hooks, attaching to you so that you give it time. Thats what it needs. All My Friends and Someone Great are slow-burners that releases that song-writing genius over time, the former one climaxing in a euphoric burst and the latter's use of what sounds like an electric alarm clock. But at times, it all feels a bit overblown, Us Vs Them and the title track are just a bit too long and repetitive for me but when he gets it right, James Murphy really does get it right.
Favourite Tracks - Get Innocuous, All My Friends, Someone Great
Video - All My Friends
Download - Someone Great
Les Savy Fav - Lets Stay FriendsThis album, Les Savy Fav's fourth offering, may only be this high in my list due to their incredible performance at The Scala back in October but i think it does deserve it. Lets Stay Friends has pushed Tim Harrington and co. from fervently adored underground artists to NME-covered, radio-played stars but that doesn't make them any less worth bothering about. Lets Stay Friends is an abrasive, experimental punk album that manages to be open and optimistic. The Equestrian is raw and erupting, Patty Lee is groove-ridden and dancey and Raging In the Plague Age is triumphantly raucous. This album and this band are all about having a good time and Lets Stay Friends will always remind me of one of the best, and most fun, live performances i've ever witnessed
.Favourite Tracks - Raging In The Plague Age, Patty Lee
Video - Patty Lee, Brace Yourself
Download - Raging In The Plague Age
Parts & Labor - Mapmaker
Writing this review has allowed me to listen to Mapmaker's first track Fractured Skies over and over again and each time i feel exactly how I did on my first listen: blown away. Its intensity and euphoria just send exciting shivers up my spine and make me beam with joy. Its the most exhilarating piece of music I've heard all year and my favourite track of 2007. That force and originality is maintained for most of Mapmaker, Parts & Labor's second album. Tracks like The Gold We're Digging and Brighter Days are electrifying with bursts of electronic noise and fireball drumming but the pace and quality isn't exhibited in the latter stages. When i first heard Fractured Skies, i recall saying that this is the future sound of alternative music, and I stand by that. This album could well be the benchmark for future bands to aspire to.
Favourite Tracks - Fractured Skies, The Gold We're Digging, Long Way Down
Video - The Gold We're Digging
Download - Fractured Skies
M.I.A. - Kala
No other album this year can boast the amount of air-miles or the size of its carbon-footprint than Ms Arulpragasam cultural collage that is Kala. I hadn't heard anything of M.I.A's before Bird Flu was released last Spring and I guess at first it confused me. I hadn't heard anything like it. It was forceful but made me want to dance and it exploded with some many sounds and so much energy, that it was quite uncompromising. The whole album has this "fuck you" attitude, its not willing to back down or be anything different and its M.I.A's confidence and conviction that makes this album work. Be it Aborigine kids rapping over didgeridoos in Mango Pickle Down River, Bollywood strings in Jimmy or sampling The Pixies in 20 Dollar, its full of an attractive arrogance and passion and chockablock with ideas and genres. Kala contains so many catchy, hooky tracks that almost every song should be in the charts.
Favourite Tracks - Bird Flu, Paper Planes, Jimmy, XR2, Come Around
Video - Bird Flu, Paper Planes
Download - Bird Flu
Come back tomorrow for funfunfun's top 5 albums of the year!!!
funfunfun's Favourite Albums Of 2007 (15-11)
This year's list has been so much harder to compile than last year's. Its probably because i've listened to double the amount of albums than in '06 and so i've had twice the amount of songs to go through. Its also because the quality of music released since last January has been pretty exceptional. This list has been through so many reshuffles and rejigs in the past few weeks, constantly morphing every time i relisten to the albums i've shortlisted and so finally, here's the start of my 15 favourite albums of the year.
Kat Flint - Dirty Birds
Not officially released until next year, funfunfun got hold of a copy of Dirty Birds by being one of the generous donators, who helped Kat with her Album Rescue Plan and i'm glad i did. From the first seconds, Dirty Birds feels like a labour of love. Its warm and comfortable, glowing from its rich and odd instrumentation and Kat's full and sultry vocals. Scissor snips create rhythms, kazooes add melodies and guitars, piano and trumpets flow to create lush canvases for Kat to paint with her wonderful lyrics and gorgeous voice. For a home-made effort with so much experimentation, the production on Dirty Birds is incredible. Listening to Lazy Bones or Dirty Birds would make you think that tonnes of money was thrown at this recording, its sharp and round and beautiful. It might even make it into next year's list.
Favourite tracks - Go Faster Stripes, Anticlimax, Dirty Birds
Video - Go Faster Stripes (I'm in this!!!!)
Download - Dirty Birds
Matthew Dear - Asa Breed
This album took its time to get to me. Its slow, laid-back, repetitive beats worked their way over the space of a few months into every crevice of the brain. The final take-over moment came as i was walking to the shops in the rain, with my headphones on and Don And Sherri popped up. Its plodding, rhythm match my walking and when the synth entered the frame and kept switching between my left and right ear, scanning my brain on each sweep, i was hooked. Maybe i'd been brain-washed but i couldn't stop listening to Asa Breed for weeks after that. Its moody and dark but with enough bounce and beats to keep it from being depressing.
Favourite Tracks - Fleece On Brain, Don And Sherri, Good To Be Alive
Video - Don And Sherri
Download - Don And Sherri (Hot Chip Version)
Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
Trying to follow up one of the most talked about and celebrated debuts of the new millenia must be quite daunting. All that anticpation and expectation on your shoulders to create another masterpiece must be overwhelming. But it seems like Arcade Fire were more than up to the challenge when they released Neon Bible to the waiting public in March. It may have not been the sonic behemoth that fans and critics were expecting but it was brooding and relentless and brilliant. The organ intro on Intervention, the subtlety of the title track, the fire of Antichrist Television Blues and the unstoppable No Cars Go, all create a foot-stomping, fist-pumping, impassioned second LP and for any other band that would have been enough for most bands. Their festival performances have also been highlights of my year, especially No Cars Go at Glastonbury.
Favourite Tracks - Intervention, Antichrist Television Blues, Keep The Car Running, No Cars Go
Video - No Cars Go (Glastonbury '07), Neon Bible (Take Away Show)
Download - No Cars Go
Justice -† (Cross)
Another album that grew on me as the year went on, although the sounds on † are rather immediate. Starting with that initial, ear-opening WHOOSH, it smacks at your ear drums with a variety of piercing screeches and walloping bass notes. It may have been too much for me the first time i listened to it but after numerous listens, you catch the melodies and the pace of the tracks and although its uncompromising, it allows you room to breathe and think. Also with tracks as catchy as D.A.N.C.E and The Party, its going to filling dancefloors across the world til the end of '08 i'm sure.
Favourite Tracks - D.A.N.C.E, Genesis, DVNO
Video - D.A.N.C.E
Download - Genesis
Eugene McGunness - The Early Learnings Of...
Not technically an album, this mini-album burst out of the new London folk scene, which features such artists as Lightspeed Champion, Noah & The Whale, Emmy The Great and Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit. All these artists are firm favourites of funfunfun but Mr McGuinness' release was the one that really caught my attention. Its full of underlying tension, awkwardness and tales of modern living. Its production is great, featuring computer game noises and TV samples and it showcases Eugene's incredible vocal talents and songwriting abilities. If the rest of the scene can produce a debut that is so confident, beautiful and brimming with ideas then I could pretty much take over the world, but in the meantime we'll have The Early Learnings Of... to keep us going.
Favourite Tracks - Monsters Under The Bed, Bold Street, A Girl Whom My Eyes Shine For But My Shoes Run From
Video - Monsters Under The Bed, Bold Street (Black Cab Session)
Download - A Girl Whom My Eyes Shine For But My Shoes Run FromCheck back tomorrow, or maybe the day after for albums 10-6
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
First of all, apologies for the lack of posting recently. With producing the zine, job-hunting, Christmas and a whole other bunch of stuff I haven't been able to find time to blog. But fear not, I will be bringing you funfunfun's fifteen favourite albums of the year next week, probably after the xmas festivities are over, which means I have another few days to re-jiggle and re-shuffle the list. Its been a really hard task this year.
Anyway I thought I'd bring you some Christmassy type of tunes for you to enjoy over the Yule. Merry, Merry Christmas and I hope you get everything you wanted!
The Research - For Christmas I Got Pityriasis Rosea
Blamma! Blamma! vs Jay-Z - Merry Xmas Jigga Man, We Got You Something From Boots
Emmy The Great & Lightspeed Champion - Christmas In Prison
The Hot Uncles - The Joy Of Giving
Lightspeed Champion - I Forgot To Wrap Your Present
And remember you can still download my zine from my blog or email me with your name and address and I'll send you a copy for free :)
fff Zine Issue #1
That's right folks! As i mentioned a couple of weeks back, funfunfun has now gone physical!
You can download it for free by right-clicking and saving the picture above, then print it out and fold it in an special way to create your very own fff #1(check my myspace blog to do this). If you don't fancy doing that and you want me to do all the work, then leave a comment or email me, incuding your name and address and I'll send you a copy for FREE!!!
Issue #1 features:
-Blamma! Blamma! & Situationists
-an interview with Napoleon IIIrd
- an Acoustic Ladyland live review
- Kat Flint & Plans And Apologies reviews
All fitting on one wonderfully collaged and beautifully written A4 side. WOW!!!
Here's some tunes from those featured:
Raw (Blamma! Blamma! Scanner! Mix) - Scanners
Situationists - We Are Weightless
Napoloeon IIIrd - Defibrillator
Acoustic Ladyland - Iggy
Kat Flint - Joesph
Plans And Apologies - Meetoo
The title track off Plugs' debut ep That Number sets the bar very high. With its slow funky groove, steel drum melody and Hot-Chip-esque vocals and electronics, we could already be hearing next year's indie dancefloor anthem. Even though the beat is plodding, its steady and driving and once one part of your body starts to move to it, the rest seem to be drawn into the hypnotic motion the track creates.
The band come from St Albans and feature Morgan Quaintance from Does It Offend You Yeah?, and while i never got into DIOYY?, Plugs offer a more pleasing and exciting sound. They even got Yuksek, who I've never heard of but is apparently quite hyped, to remix the track and he's created an even bigger beast of a dancefloor filler. While keeping the full vocal track he's added a heavy bass, some odd noises and tonnes of energy to enhance the ever-driving presence of the track.
Plugs - That Number
Plugs - That Number (Yuksek Remix)
The ep comes out in February on People In The Sky