Welcome to With Guitars tribute to John Peel, with our own 2011 version of the Festive 50. Only hope the former DJ’s eclectic tastes are served well in our 50 singles of the year. I can report that New Year resolutions are all agreed, to start the Festive 50 a few months earlier…
50. Elvis Jackson
Slovenia’s Elvis Jackson October release of ‘Street 45’, the third single to be taken from their album “Against the Gravity”, hit really hit home with me. Elvis gained critical praise during the UK release of Against The Gravity last year, and the band will this single reached a new bench mark for the band in my view, Down In part, to an original and interesting animated video for the song “Street 45”, The video was recorded on an adventurous tour that saw the band take in Ljubljana, New York and Sarajevo. This music video captures the message of the song perfectly and takes place on the actual 45thStreet in the New York City. In what appears, as an ever increasing banal world take a bow Ms Perry, et al the machines, one of a handful of songs that cut through the radio play fuzz and makes you think.
49. In Archives
Peterborough has an estimated population of 164,000 and it’s obvious that five of this population like making music that can only be described as techchore (technical hardcore). They have all the aspects of a possible cliché hardcore band but with a lot more brains than the dozens of hardcore bands who constantly appear and then quickly disappear on the UK circuit.
The musicianship shows a technical ability that a lot of “metal” musicians are sometimes afraid to show. In Archives seem to understand that it isn’t all about blasting the distortion up, blasting out a handful of chords in time with an up tempo drum beat whilst screaming over the top of this ruckus. Stand out track on this EP that consists of four tracks and one intro is the brutal *Lost At Sea”, which encapsulates all this band can do in just over three and a half minutes. The entire EP has an infectious groove to it but this is the definite winner out of all four tracks.
48. Isaacs Aircraft
Isaacs Aircraft the rising Cambridge band have effortlessly fused indie pop with piano to create Mathematics, a bouncy infectious anthem that seemingly contains 2 sing along choruses. Propelled by sonic electric guitar mathematics hurtles along at great speed, so it’s a very pleasant surprise to hear it stripped and slowed down in an acoustic version on the B side. Vocal acrobatics take prominence on this different but equally as good rendition.
47. The Dirty Youth
‘The Fight’ EP
Who are The Dirty Youth? No they aren’t a group of underage charvs drinking lambrini and cider on your local street corner but a hard hitting female rock band from South Wales. The Welsh Valleys brought us bands such as Lost Prophets, Bullet For My Valentine and Funeral For A Friend and once again they’ve brought us another gem.
Although these guys are female fronted this isn’t your standard drab Paramore wannabe band. The fast paced guitar riffs as well as the powerful vocals are reminiscent of In This Moment where as the up beat rhythm section glues the musical ability of the band as a whole perfectly.
46. Damn Vandals
‘Can’t Go Dancing When Your Gone’
The latest release from Damn Vandals ‘Cant Go Dancing When You’re Gone’ is 2 1/2 minutes of pure Rock n Roll swagger. Lead singer Jack Kansas sounds like Bowie fronting Talking Heads after ingesting copious amounts of cocaine off a groupies quivering bosom – yep that good.
The taut rhythm section delivers a pulsating beat that combined with the dynamic, angular guitar playing makes for a confident dance floor smash. This intelligent, articulate rock proves that bands don’t need to emulate Kasabian or the Gallagher brothers to create a testosterone fuelled romp.
45. Club Smith
‘No Friend Of Mine’
This is a better than average thumping post punk single. Lead singer Sam trained for 3 months as a boxer for the band’s ‘No Friend Of Mine’ video. Wish more bands were as hard working. There is no denying the strength of the title track, Club Smith undertook a lengthy spell as support to The Pigeon Detectives on a mammoth UK Tour, I can imagine that ‘No Friend Of Mine’ can only add to the band’s great live repertoire of songs, like ‘The Green Room’ or ‘Lament’. If you originally bought the ‘Loss’ EP, you know it has has a version of the title track, albeit a little brighter and beefed up here though and, if you got the second EP, ‘The Process’ you could get hold of ‘Young Defeatists’. No weird thing, to be honest, but that’s why this indie rock single sounds so strong, err, cos it is!
44. The Naked & Famous
‘Girls Like You’
Proof, if there needs to be any, that ‘pop’ music can be good. The Naked & Famous wowed just about everyone that heard their debut album ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’. There is not that much left to say, apart from this is well crafted, engaging pop.
I am over it now; it’s just that the last string of words is so alien – I mean pop? It took me a minute to recover. But I urge you to hear their album, better still see them, expect a string of dates, then your only choice is to go to Glastonbury, Latitude or Leeds/Reading here in the UK, Fuji Rock Festival in Japan and if that’s not enough, Lollapalooza which is going just about everywhere.
43. Tom Williams And The Boat
This is the second single to be taken from their debut ‘Too Slow ‘album, Imaginings of a potential suicide bomber in ‘Concentrate’ which contains a great narrative; the band’s songs have graced the airwaves on Radio 1, 2 and 6 with some weighty DJ names praising the Kent band – If this was Top Trumps you have already lost, Zane Lowe, under the category of Influential has to be a an 8 or a 9, he’s even doing adverts on that television thing.
But dragging myself back to matter at hand, ‘Concentrate’ – please search for this song, lyrically cotemporary kitchen sink meets A Life Less Ordinary via a few pages of Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. Tom Williams And The Boat’ future, even with just this snap shot as a flavour of the band, it looks bright; when you hear a few more songs you’re convinced. This single deserves all of the praise it will and has received to date.
42. Poly Styrene
Future Noise Music
‘Ghoulish’ is one of the outstanding results of the torrential creative relationship which sparked between Poly and producer Youth, here hot-wiring New York’s 60s girl group sound with sparkling future-sheen and swooping sonic sheets to produce a new strain of spectacular, 21st century pop music. This posthumous release, following Poly Styrene’s sad, untimely death earlier this year is a welcome reminder of her vocal and writing talents. The single reminds me, in part, of ‘Germ Free Adolescents’. As I think the 60s style of breathless delivery works on both releases. It has been suggested that ‘Ghoulish’ could sit happily alongside classic songs as ‘Identity’ or ‘Oh Bondage’, not even mentioned ‘Warrior In Woolworths’. I have given the single release multiply plays, and I agree. Most fans of Poly’s previous band X-Ray Spex I hope you also voice support for ‘Ghoulish’.
41. The Skuzzies
Welcome breath of if not fresh then warm and comforting air. This release is ‘alternative’ in narrative and feeling, but in a post Libertines landscape. Put simply this is Rock n’ Roll from the capital, so much for that PS2, someone still likes to rip the shit out of what was once described as a guitar.
Are they the malcontents of the modern age? If so, post-cuts Eton saddo Cameron – is not everyone now? But talking music, I love guitars with attitude. For me, The Skuzzies do that well, making you think, to remember, to respond.
‘Dissatisfied’ is a good, neat, upfront post garage-punk song. I was going to compare them to a few bands that had gone before, but the band did not debut until 2004 at the infamous Babyshambles riot, where they played in front of 4000 people. Imagine that for a first gig, which ends in a riot, unprovoked third party substance assisted anarchy, who would have thought that would happen? So as a result I feel that their references are a lot fresher than any I can offer. If all the Babyshambles antics did not faze them, I doubt much else will. I am pleased they are back with such a strong single.
40. Sonic Boom Six
‘For The Kids Of The Multiculture’
It has been a good hard-working summer for Sonic Boom Six, those that venture to a music festival probably found the soundclash band high in the programme’s stage listings. ‘For The Kids Of The Multiculture’ saw part of many a festival set, so it comes as no surprise, as it made good and oblivious choice for the Manchester band. The single comes complete with brand new track ‘Five Minutes With You’ as the B-Side as well as tracks culled from The Boom’s triumphant headline set on the RockSound / Macbeth stage at Hevy Festival. After the riots, the lack of job opportunities; but possibly more galling apart from tuition fees, the NHS, was David Cameron speaking against multi-ultraism – twat! But, the new single, is so much positivity, thought provoking lyrics that are brought into even brighter focus. That’s what I find so uplifting about ‘For The Kids Of Multiculture’ against some of this backdrop, instead the song is a celebration, they sing "Put Your hand Up, where we live in a land take a chance and build a future for the kids of the multicultural." It is a strong sound musically. Hooks aplenty, lyrically and I think you willow see when play is pressed on the video, they seem a lot more relaxed, focused and dangerous.
39. Liz Green
Play It Again Sam Records
A taster from Liz Green’s debut album ‘O, Devotion’. ‘Hey Joe’ serves as the opening track to the record which is released on Play It Again Sam Records.
What strikes the listener is the strength of Liz Green’s vocal throughout the song. The Liverpool singer’s voice fits perfectly with the off-kilter yet totally familiar brass backing when it arrives mid-song; Imagine the slightly under-cooked backing of a latter day Tom Waits (both with Epitaph and without) or Jordan Reyes might accompany. It is pop, I guess but with a wonderful small slice of quirky, alternative production.
Hard to ignore, my hope that the album,’O Devotion is of the same standard, resists the bright eyed, bouncy brain dead pop of what, I hope is yester year. More than happy with a landscape were Liz Green wanders; it would be a good place.
38. Daniel Pearson
Saint In the City Records
Daniel Pearson is one to watch judging by this, his October debut release. The Leeds based singer/songwriter has influences ranging from Nirvana and Ryan Adams to Bob Dylan and it’s this injection of US alternative rock that makes him stand out from the usual bedsit troubadour confines.
‘Wishing Well’ from the upcoming album ‘Satellites’ is at once melodic and anthemic, an uplifting ballad similar in style to The National, that soars along with Pearson’s vulnerable/confident vocal appealing for us to "get busy living". It’s a catchy first single that has an epic sound, and should pave the way to success. I for one cannot wait to hear more from Daniel Pearson. 8/10
37. The Bram Stokers
’The Spectator’ is a Pop/Punk winner. The heavy bass line and drum beat draws me in from the start and my foot will start to tap uncontrollably. .. The power of the guitar then bursts in and my head will move with the rhythm. The vocals are soon to follow and I’m off, there’s no stopping me.
Listening to the song at home just makes me want to be there, live at a gig with The Bram Stokers and singing along with this catchy number.
This song has a slight touch of early ‘Jam’ attached to it. This is the new ‘New Wave’. The vocals of Radjhard Wilberforce – Stokes vent anger in a mild manner of speaking. It finishes off leaving a taste for more. The Spectator – recommended.
Sbtrk’s debut self titled album was like an unexpected shot in the arm for dance music, The highlight being this smooth soulful house track featuring Roses Gabor. The album merges flavours such as dubstep, speed garage, house, techno and kitchen sinks, it’s an album of impressive diversity and brilliantly produced.
35. Whirr (formally Whirl)
The Sounds Of Sweet Nothing
Whirl consists of six Californian natives, a meeting of minds and bonding over their collective love of a definable British sound that, as soon as you encounter their ‘Distressor’ EP. The release encompasses seven tracks of influence draws on some brilliant bands – My Bloody Valentine, The Cocteau Twins, Robin Guthrie must have lent them his effects pedal, Slowdive and Portishead, taking Beth Gibbons’ vocal effects software, if she ever had any. Normally press release influences are broad chaotic strokes, just giving you the impression of a band; in this case, they are spot on. With all consuming factory churned music abound these days, it all just pales against this music of more depth, heart and style.
34. Jordan Reyne
’Johnny & The Sea’
‘Johnny & The Sea is a new dark animated Film, the title song of which is to be released as a single by Jordan Reyne.
The accompany video gives you an idea, but really search for the HD version to truly ‘get# the animation. Here’s the film premise, Johnny answers the call to adventure and turns his back on the normal life. On returning to the land, the call of the sea continues to haunt him begging him to return to her murky depths. Moby Dick meets Oliver Twist in this darkly wonderful animation by Eloise Coveny and Johnathan Lamb. Music / Story by Jordan Reyne. Now as a single, think PJ Harvey, then spin in some narrative, of the deep sea, wanderlust, longing and loss. Then you are half way there. The rest you will find in the world of Jordan herself. A great vocals, one of many dark folk songs that await.
33. Friendly Fires
Although an entire of in your face euphoric joy proved to be a bit much on Friendly Fires’ second album ‘Pala’. this track is an irresistible slice of unbridled happiness, a great Summer anthem.
20. Arctic monkeys – Library Pictures
‘Suck it and see’, album number four from the ex Sheffield heroes had them taking the noisy habits they picked up from Josh Homme while working ‘Humbug’ and re-aligning their sound. The best example was on this track which had the urgency of the Monkey’s of old with the heaviness of a melodic Queens of the Stoneage moment. Any self respecting Northerner will remember the phrase ‘ipp dipp dog shit well’,Turner using this phrase in song is a stroke of genius.
32. Captain Dangerous
‘Forgive Us We’re British’
They could easily catch a heavyweight sea bass with the size of the hooks on display on ‘Forgive Us We’re British’ take a little Divine Comedy mix with say a dash of David Devant And His Spirit Wife, then a large chunk of originally, a trusted producer and you have most likely have a summer hit, I do hope so, forget euro trash, x factory or some god damn TV exposure money grabbing carnage, here’s what happens when you don’t know or read everything about them every minute of the bloody day. If a band get the chance to work a couple of days longer, letting the music breath a little more; the result, just sometimes, and this is one of those times, gives you a song to shout about, in the shape of the glorious ‘Forgive Us We’re British’ single. More to the point a delicious song to lead the way.
31. Rise To Remain
’Power Through Fear’
These days it seem like every time you turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper you are told that the economy is unstable, money is tight and the house of cards is gonna come tumbling down and leave us all up the creek with nothing but a rubber ring, whilst certain members of society wave from their speed boat. It’s these members of society that fuel Rise to Remain’s new single ‘Power Through Fear’.
The single is taken from the band’s album ‘City of Vultures’ and if it’s a sign of things to come then at least we will have something decent to listen to, while the fat cats work out new ways to fuck us. The release is an onslaught of all out metal that will turn you into a furious ball of energy with clenched fists, ready to swing at the stock-brokers who have gained power and personal gain through fear. It’s nice to see such a young band making music about the times we are living in and do it with such passion, but it’s not just the theme of the song that is impressive, the music is also brutally good, If you like your music hard and with meaning then this one is for you.
Available for free from www.showbizheroes.com
Essex boy’s Showbizheroes arrive with probably the worst PR sheet I’ve ever read. They also have a flair for excruciating record titles, the EP is entitled ‘The Periodic Table Does Not Recognise The Element Of Surprise’ and the artwork is naff to say the least. So with little hope I put the CD on and… Thankfully their music speaks for it’s self.
Sinner is a catchy slice of indie rock that proves the lads are great songwriters, this is hook heavy, a sort of Queens Of The Stone Age lite, with a great vocal. If you go to the bands website you can grab a free download of the EP, that’s exactly what I’m about to do and I fully recommend you do too.
29. WU LYF
WU LYF are one of them bands good enough to drop their name in the odd conversation, just like Yuck. But until you hear Wu LYF or better still, see them live, then you start to get why they were recommended in the first place, and much more. ‘We Bros’ is a reworked version of ‘Go tell fire To the Mountain; from the Manchester band’s debut album.
It is hard not to like this single, well envisaged re-arranged and with some niffty production, they simply have pulled it off, and improved what was already popular, Hope this does not give My Bloody Valentine, New Order or Charlatans any ideas – the charts woulde awash.
28. Elektro Guzzi
This Austrian trio’s approach to making techno is that of a live band playing techno music. Not like The Chemical Brothers or Prodigy who perform live to loops, these guys actually play it using live instruments. This is the hypnotic highlight of their second album ‘Parquet’ shows that really anyone CAN play guitar, some people just happen to make more imaginative sounds from it, that’s all.
27. Enter Shikari
‘Sssnakepit’ is the first single taking from Enter Shikari’s third full length album, ‘A Flash Flood Of Colour’; but for now this release is a nice little teaser of what is in store for the legions of Enter Shikari fans. The single features everything that Enter Shikari are known and loved for. Dance loops, metal breakdowns, screams and that cockney singing voice that Rou Reynolds is becoming very well known for. I for one cannot wait for the new album and their 2012 tour to promote it. I advise anyone to go and see these guys live as you will not be disappointed in the slightest.
26. 50ft Wave
‘With Love From The Mens Room’
With an imminent ‘proper’ physical release, the latest offering from Kristin Hersh’s other band was unveiled a track per month during the first half of 2011 – inexplicably as free downloads. 50 Foot Wave tend to release EPs rather than long players as their music is often a frenetic pummelling of the aural senses. This EP was about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.
French electro upstart Sebastian’s debut album was much awaited. After years of remixing predominantly indie songs to fit onto hard, dark dance floors, his album was a disappointing mess of clashing styles and half baked ideas. This title track was the nearest thing to Sebastian of old, loud, hard, thrashy and snotty as fuck, who needs guitars to make punk tunes?
24. Hey Today!
The electronic music scene is waiting for its new Daft Punk with bated breath. With Justice gearing up to follow up their instant classic debut album ‘Cross’, Hamburg duo sneak in with their third EP, the storming ‘Minor’ on French label Kitsune. Merging ice cool synth lines with nagging swarms of electronic bees, the clattering beats and offbeats of ‘Minor’ demand your arrival on the dance floor with optimum abandon. The remixes are just as essential, Black Strobe add forceful beats and cold Kraftwerk synth lines whilst the Para One mix takes the track into a jacking techno dimension with nods to old school sounds from Cybotron. Whatever your particular flavour be it, techno, electro or house, it’s all contained within this gem of an EP, BUY BUY BUY!
23. Damn Vandals
Sexy Beast Records
London residents Damn Vandals met through a shared interest in high quality graffiti art. As it turns out, these guys can play guitars and sing far better than they could ever spray paint. Don’t try and find this in your local treasure trove, as this ‘Bayonet’ is only available through major download sites, which, I think, are going to be busy.
The band is made up of Jack Kansas from Reading on vocals and guitar, Frank Pick from Oxford on guitar, Adam Kilemore-Gardens from N Ireland on bass and Chris Christianson III on drums from Sheffield, via Switzerland. Geography lesson aside, the reason I am detailing Damn Vandals is that ‘Bayonet’ is a great song, blues tinged guitars with a great vocal, like others that have gone before and still remain the likes of Lloyd Cole, Edwin Collins, Nick Cave, I won’t go on it would be unfair, colouring expectations, but this track would be on my end of year compilation and it’s only April. Just give it a listen. Quality.
22. TV On The Radio
TV on The Radio has spent their last two albums cleaning their sound, deleting the fuzzy rough edges that made their first three albums so essential. At times it’s as if they’ve gone out to get rid of the things that made them so interesting but they retain the knack of recording some killer sounds. This mournful ballad was given further poignancy when they performed it live on American tv just days after the untimely death of bassist Gerard Smith, they performed the song bass free in his honour.
21. Smokey Bastard
Folk-punk has had an illustrious past mention great bands like The Pogues or Tenpole Tudor or hop across the Atlantic for a dose of Dropkick Murphys; but my favourite band to date has to be the aforementioned Pogues. Just as well then, that Smokey Bastard in spirit and also in part owe the collective members of the mercurial Irish band a nod, and a pint or two.
As some twist of fate would have it, Smokey Bastard end up in 2011, a few years ago they would have made a considerable splash in the days of the mighty Stiff Records, but that is not to say, that with their label, Bomber Music the band will not suffer any less impact in 2011, it will just take a bit of extra hard work. That ‘work’ just mentioned is made a lot easier with a release as sure-footed and it must also be said, one entertaining video; both should ebb away people’s negativity; I think you get the point.
20. What The Night Brings
‘Bound By Apathy’
How to describe What The Night Brings in one word? Hmmmm, I’m going to with AWESOME. Although ‘Bound By Apathy only’ consists of four tracks it’s more than enough to show what these guys from Buckinghamshire are capable off. These guys epitomise what the current metalcore/hardcore scene in The United Kingdom is all about. Filled with pounding drum fills, diminished chords, shrills screams as well as an awesome attitude this album is a must have for everyone from the stereotypical “scene kids” through to metal heads who appreciate intense new music.
Stand out track for yours truly is ‘Front Towards Enemy’, it shows off everything these guys are made of in just over six minutes as well as leaving you wanting more. If you like bands such as Hatebreed and Architects then this is defiantly for you.
19. The Pigeon Detectives
Dance To The radio Records
Anyone who was lucky enough to catch The Pigeon Detectives on their recent European wanderings is totally familiar with the song ‘Lost’ as a new live favourite. This so called review is just to inform you that those two months spent recording in New York were well spent. For one, you do not work with Justin Gerrish every day of the week or month. He has worked with some good bands from the likes of River via Weezer through to Vampire Weekend; that is three great bands, but musically he has covered folk, soul, indie, rock, and blues that does take a little bit of multitasking. Guess that is my main point is The Pigeon Detectives have captured most of the energy of their live performance of ‘Lost’ while the band along with producer Justin, seem to have eeked out more depth and they don’t lose a beat. Great release, a very good band, in short, things are looking up.
18. Fuyjia & Miyagi
If you ever fancy hearing post punk funk basslines hurled across repetitive krautrock rhythms and creepy lyrics about the dependant nature of ventriloquism, all thrown together in a blender with early Kraftwerk and Suicide bsides…it sounds like this.
17. Tigers & Woods
People with minimal imagination revel in how outrageous Lady Gaga is, meat dresses and decapitated head ball gowns are really shocking these days apparently. This attitude sums up how in 201, the consumers are regressing, most people now party like it’s 1949. Back in 1982 what WAS shocking was the sight of three guys in loin clothes singing slow soul tracks on top of the pops while I as a seven year old watch this while eating my ravioli and chips.
Why am I waffling about this? Mystery duo Tiger and Wood’s (not their real name) have been supplying what can only be described as AMAZING disco re-edits for some time now. Where sampling became lazy a long time ago, these guys really bring the art of sampling back to life. ‘Just an illusion’ by Imagination is of course long forgotten about these days but on ‘Gin Nation’ it sounds like one of the greatest house tracks of the year, which of course, it now is.
16. Paranoid Visions
Eire’s longest running punk band released this vitriolic diatribe against the Irish establishment during the Irish election rallying the disenfranchised and became the first Irish band to have a Top 10 single in the national Irish charts for more than 30 years with. Less frenetic than their 80s or 90s recordings and with two female backing vocalists but don’t be fooled into thinking the band have mellowed, this is EP is lyrically as acidic as anything that anarcho-punk threw up, but the tunes and also the message benefits from the slower pace.
A fine re-recording of ‘Politician’ shows just how improved they are, but the surprise is the slow, atmospheric and beautifully twisted 11 minute track ‘(Join The) Recession Club’ that only the most confident of punk bands would have the confidence to produce. A mini masterpiece and worthy.
15. The Dirtbombs
The first ever techno track is of much debate but this lost club gem from 1981 is a pretty strong candidate to claim that accolade. It makes sense for a Detroit band to cover a Detroit techno classic but when it’s a garage rock band less so. The Dirtbombs understanding of the structure of house and techno and their ability to transform it into pounding rock music is something which very few bands can do, and to do it this well….there’s no one else to compare them with.
14. John Maus
This artist from Austin is so enthralled to music that came out of England, particularly the North in the early 80s that he even records his music with the warm muffles and background hiss of cassettes. Think Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, pre ‘Dare’ era Human League. This closing track to his third album ‘We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves’ is hopelessly anthemic.
13. Florence + The Machine
What The Water Gave Me
The first single from ‘Ceremonials’ features the haunting, powerful vocals of Florence Welch soaring over what can only be described best as a stonking anthem. A chant like chorus battles against an orgy of beats, if all ‘dance’ music was like this than the charts would be greatly improved.
12. Sonic Boom Six
‘New Style Rocka’
SB6 have been constantly pushing musically boundaries with a style appropriately described as a Punk-Rock, Hip-Hop, Jump-Up Ska Soundclash. In Laila K I can’t think of a better front-woman, she is the driving force behind their excellent live show. Surprisingly though she’s not the star of this single, that honour goes to rapper Tonn Piper who delivers an outstanding guest appearance and once again SB6 produce a rock track like no other.
11. Still Corners
‘Into the trees’
Coming from a similar reference point to Faris Badwan’s side project Cats Eyes, this Greenwich based duo merged Joe Meek’s fuzzy production with Cocteau Twins and early 90’s shoegaze to gripping effect Their overly dramatic sounds and musical vision enabled them to make wide screen music with a small screen budget.
This year’s ‘King of Limbs’ album was a muted affair which concentrated on their electronic tendencies but whereas on an album like‘Kid A’, the tracks were assured of their direction, these excursions on ‘Limbs’ sounded like experiments rather than completed tracks.
One pleasurable thing that surprised was the amount of funk that was hidden away in amongst their many different layers, the track ‘Lotus Flower’ is as funky as hell but underpinned with the melancholy we love Radiohead for.
9. Lyyke Li
‘Sadness is a Blessing’
After an ok debut with 2008’s ‘Youth Novel’, the over-hyped Lykki Li returned with a sophomore which put paid to the whispers of style over substance. It’s another break-up album but whereas Adele crossed over to the powerful Tescos music buyers market, Lykki kept her cool and sustained her reputation for kooky leftfield pop. On an album crammed with great pop, this heart wrenching track is a particular showstopper.
8. Neon Indian
The Blindside kiss
Under his previous guises as Ghosthustler and Vega, Alan Palermo showed how adept he was to merging 80’s pop, filtered house and indie. As Neon Indian he immediately became cooler by dropping the house and replacing it with indie, mainly of the early 90’s shoegaze style. During its 20th anniversary of existence, My Bloody Valentine’s influence looms larger than ever, especially on this track.
7. The War on drugs – Baby Missile. Like Arcade Fire? Like Springsteen? Like it when Arcade Fire play the ones that sound like the boss? This is your new favourite band then.
Red Bull Records
It electro was given a strong orchestral treatment, while keeping its soul, it’s perspective and feel me this comes over a little alternative, there are slight rnb trappings, unusual yet familiar. ‘Sail’ grows on you, much like the response to Awolnation – my American relations have told me of their SxSW shows, I hope they keep things different, I humbly suggest a course of Tom waits, Gavin Friday and lashes of Michael Franti & Spearhead, but what do I know? On this evidence it’s going along just fine.
I picked up their new single ‘For Love’ and put it in my CD player not sure what to expect, what I got was a hard rocking onslaught to my senses that left me crying out for more. As soon as the song started with a drum beat and heavy guitar it had me, then lead singer Tarin Kerry locked me in with raw vocals that just don’t quit, her voice screams with enough attitude and character that I’m convinced she could take on any of rock and rolls bad boys and win. Her voice is perfectly complimented by Nick Magee (guitar), Tom Sherwood (bass) and Matt Feld (drums) who all put their stamp on the track, this band knows what works for them, they do it and they excel at it. This band are a force to be reckoned with and are going places, so strap in and get ready for the ride because from what I just heard, it’s gonna be a good one.
5. The Horrors
‘Moving Further Away’
This was the showpiece of The Horrors’ third album ‘Skying’, an astonishing eight minutes of metronomic krautrock, droning guitar feedback and even dronier vocals pitched against deep propulsive basslines culminating in something which is almost techno-like in its construction. After five minutes of this it collapses into a druggy breakdown, the calm before the ending three minutes of guitar slashing and feedback, it’s a jaw dropping climax to an increasingly essential band.
4. Death In Vegas
A seven year gap between albums was just the jolt Richard Fearless needed as ‘Trans-love energies’, Death in Vegas’ fifth album is by far their best. Taking its note from recent and equally as impressive long players by David Holmes and Andy Weatherall, Fearless has gone back to his roots in post-punk, krautrock and acid house and produced an album which demands multiple plays. This track re-imagines the late 70’s Berlin period of Iggy/Bowie and Lou brilliantly.
’90 degrees’ from Ladytron’s fifth and best album ‘Gravity, the seducer’ is an astonishing blend of dramatic analogue synthesisers, fuzzy Wurlitzer’s and muted electronic beats, it’s twenty first century shoegaze, almost Slowdive in its texture, a genuine showstopper of a track highlighting a band at the height of its powers
2. PJ Harvey
‘Written On The Forehead’
Polly is maturing into a modern day Bowie, each album has it’s own stylistic amendments, concepts and with ‘Let England Shake’, she even needed to find a new method of singing. Very effectively based around reggae classic‘Blood and Fire’ by Niney the Observer. ‘Written on the forehead’is one of the many calls to arms contained within an album which takes the breath away with each listen. Chris Todd
For Metronony’s third album they dropped the kooky electronica and replaced it with minimal electronics and warm 70s influenced pop music with drastic and brilliant results. The introduction to a new and improved Metronomy was this outstanding mix of warm indie pop, droning synths and cool Japan tinged bass lines adding a new gloomy intensity to their sound.
With Guitars could have easily included Class Actress with Love Me Like You Used To, or Tribes ‘With We Were Children (In The Mid 90’s) or Beautiful Swimmers with Excited. Notable releases by Yuck, The Vaccines, Savage Nomads, Two Door Cinema Club, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubus failed to make this Festive 50, but may well turn up elsewhere.
We could have added another twenty or so, but we are dead on our feet, hope it made good reading please leave any comments below. May I thanks Chris Todd, Jamie Gambino, Christopher Storey, Christopher Brown, Rotten Johnny, Bigsey, john, and all of the labels and bands that have kept With Guitars so entertained this year – thank you.