The Wednesday Countdown: Anti-Valentine’s Day

As you have presumably noticed, the annual government-approved, socially-acceptable day to celebrate an invented emotion designed to provide a suitable excuse for the carnal desires of a supposedly advanced species occured on Sunday. And now, more than ever, the Anti-Valentine’s Day brigade is in full force to oppose this. Maybe in my younger years I would have jumped on this growing bandwagon, but right now it seems fruitless. For a start it smacks of jealousy, which I am not averse to, of course, but mostly it just seems to be another recepticle for the over-reaction of a group of people to anything that they deem as slightly wrong. God forbid your personal opinion is not properly represented in the angriest and least productive way possible!

Anyway, my point is, the best way to spend a proper Anti-Valentine’s Day is not to get in the way of your coupled friends, nor to join Facebook groups pronouncing your hatred of 14th February. Instead, the time should be spent wallowing in the best that the music world has to offer in anti-love, rejection, romanticized pain, etc. One song per artist, of course, these are my favourite sentimentality-deviod love tracks. Some of them aren’t even depressing!

Top 10 Anti-Love Songs:

10. Bright Eyes – Lua

9. Muse – Falling Away With You

8. Frightened Rabbit – My Backwards Walk

7. REM – The One I Love

6. Thom Yorke – Skip Divided

5. Blur – Beetlebum

4. Damien Rice – The Blower’s Daughter

3. The National – Available

2. Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees

1. Bon Iver – Skinny Love

Disclaimer: All these choices are anti-love songs IN MY OPINION. You may consider these songs to be truly sentimental and beautiful, but I often take the completely wrong meaning from songs based on my own experiences, and I plan on continuing to do so for many years to come. So don’t try and stop me.

(This will be the last post I make for some time, I imagine. I am taking a hiatus from using this blog, partly because I am aware it comprises almost entirely of lists, partly because I wanted an opportunity to use the word “hiatus”. I promise I will at least try and write a review of the Mumford & Sons gig which I am seeing on 12th March, but it seems unlikely that I will be doing much on here between now and then. Maybe posting a video bin or two. I don’t want to give up completely on this blog but I have accepted that I’m starting to run on empty.)

The Wednesday Countdown: 2005

In conjunction with my Great Years In Music: 2005, I have a 2005 Wednesday Countdown. Pretty much just my top ten albums from 2005.

That’s all you need to know.

Top 10 Albums Of 2005:

10. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm

9. Kasabian – Kasabian

8. Elbow – Leaders Of The Free World

7. Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production Of Eggs

6. Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene

5. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem

4. Wolf Parade – Apologies To The Queen Mary

3. My Morning Jacket – Z

2. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning

1. The National – Alligator

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Tell me better 2005 albums in the commenter below.

The Video Bin 5

LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum

James Murphy seems to be a fan of this sort of stomping rock, which subtly sets about infecting you with its dance vibes even as you keep repeating “No way, man, this is a rock track”. After this and “Daft Punk Is Playing In My House”, I’m hoping that the third, and rumoured last, LCD Soundsystem album will feature a few more of Murphy’s epic blends of guitar and electro when it is released later this year.

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Massive Attack – Inertia Creeps

Listen to Heligoland. OK, it’s not up with their best, but it has been over a decade since their best. So just enjoy the good album instead of pointing out where they’ve “gone wrong”.

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The Good, The Bad And The Queen – Kingdom Of Doom

Oh, Damon Albarn what projects won’t you join?

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Arcade Fire & David Bowie – Wake Up

Sure, this collaboration has been around for ages. Doesn’t make it any less perfect. Anyone who has seen Where The Wild Things Are (or at least seen its trailer) is going to have the song stuck in their heart for a while, unless they dont have one of course. And throwing David Bowie into the mix, well, it just convinces everyone that an indie covers album a la Peter Gabriel’s Scratch My Back must be round the corner soon.

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Beach House – Silver Soul

The essence of Teen Dream is very well represnted by the video, while the band themself just go about crafting their moodiest, most addictive and just downright most awesome track ever. Victoria Legrend’s forlornly wails “it is happening again” amidst a strangely calming storm.

2010: A Year In Music Awesomeness: Update 1

Around November time last year I wrote up a long list of all the albums, some confirmed and some rumoured, that were scheduled for 2010 releases (which can be found here). I mentioned that I would keep up to date with how the albums were actually received upon release, and if the anticipation was deserved. Seeing as there have already been a handful of notable releases, as well as important news regarding other 2010 releases, I decided now would be a good time to offer an update on how 2010 is panning out in terms of music awesomeness.

Released Albums:

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Owen Pallett – Heartland

I’ll start things off with an album I didn’t mention in my original post, but one I’ve quickly grown to love. An 80 on Metacritic is a very positive sign from the critics (despite Q stating in their review that the record was by Final Fantasy), and Pallett is starting to step out of the shadows of the bands he has previously attached himself to, with notable success. Personally, I adore the album, its giddy introduction to string-pop is rife with clever lyrics and a capability and control over the music rarely heard from a solo artist. I hope it will inspire a few more artists to invest in violins, especially if they have the ear for pace that Pallett confidently showcases here.

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Vampire Weekend – Contra

The nature of the anger which churns between Vampire Weekend’s fans and haters meant that this would always be a big release. The sophomore record could be fuel on the fire of their negative image as creators of simple, irritating mock-rock, or it could be a musical step forward that makes the detractors sit up and take notice. In the end we got more of the same, the difference being a lack of a killer single to follow “A-Punk”. Reasonably reviewed by the critics, there is a sense that they are doing well at the moment, but some change or evolution would need to be seen come LP3 if they are going to prove themselves as a serious long-term band.

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Yeasayer – Odd Blood

Washing around the Internet for a good two or three months, Yeasayer’s second record is not actually released until tomorrow. Nevertheless, it has caused a stir in a lot of places, and there is much talk of Yeasayer taking Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective’s lead with an equivalent challenging and moody album that still breaks into the fringes of the mainstream. Whilst the singles have certainly gone some way to achieving this, and some tracks have carried on the current trend of subtly dropping pop into supposedly experimental albums, the consistency is not there.

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Beach House – Teen Dream

Beach House made a fairly good impression with their first two albums, but there was a sense of them lacking identity. They were Grizzly Bear mixed with My Brightest Diamond mixed with Portishead mixed with… well… a fair few bands. There is still that feeling surrounding Teen Dream, the difference now being that they have some monster singles to back it up, gorgeous opening track “Zebra” has graced many a late-night show, and the video for “Silver Soul” is no doubt giving them a decent amount of exposure in the right places. Beach House threaten to overtake those they once imitated with powerfully dreamy melodies and almost alien vocals provided impressively by Victoria Legrand.

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News:

As well as the handful of notable releases thus far this year (Spoon and Four Tet deserve a mention), there has been much news. In some cases there has been massive, major news. The National, who have already whetted indie appetites worldwide with the likes of “Karamazov” and “Bloodbuzz, Ohio”, have given a definite May release to their forthcoming album. Not much more details, except that there will be an accompanying tour this spring. Broken Social Scene plan on solidifying the excellence of that particular month, May 3rd specifically, which will feature usual suspects Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning along with their usual ever-shifting background of guests (Leslie Feist amongst them).

Sooner on the horizon than these two albums is a release that threatens to overshadow both of these critically, Laura Marling’s “I Speak Because I Can”, which is out 22nd March. Following “Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)” and the success of her debut, it may be that Marling will be able to break out of the limitations of the folk genre and appeal to the masses. From what I’ve heard, there’s no doubt on the quality, and together with Mumford & Sons’ surprise success, this could be a golden age for British folk.

With Blur’s reunion and superb Glastonbury show out of the way, Damon Albarn can get back to attracting famous friends with a new Gorillaz project. And this time he has outdone himself, the third album, entitled “Plastic Beach”, Mark E Smith, Lou Reed, Mos Def and Bobby Womack (the last two appearing on the impressive single “Stylo”), are just a few of the big names to listen out for.

Fans of harpists/bloody-good-folk will rejoice at the news that Joanna Newsom is to return on 23rd February with “Have One On Me”, and will then be forced to rejoice a second and third time, because Newsom will be releasing a full 3-disc set. Two songs from the 18-track, 126-minute epic, “81” and “Good Intentions Paving Company” have already been made available, giving much reason for anticipation amongst fans of “Ys”, Newsom’s previous album.

Do you need any further reason to love 2010? There are still unconfirmed reports of the likes of Foals, Wolf Parade, Fleet Foxes, of Montreal, Arcade Fire and The Strokes having new albums out this year, plus there are somewhat uncertain, but nevertheless noteworthy, rumours from Stereogum that Radiohead have in fact wrapped up their new album, with a summer release a possibility. Noteworthy indeed…

The Wednesday Countdown: I Saw Animals, And They Saw Me

Musicians are well-known for talking in metaphors (I have already covered colours and countries in Wednesday Countdown form, notable examples of one thing representing another), and this week we turn to the animal world for inspiration. It isn’t difficult to see why writers would use the kingdom of beasts to draw a parallel to the human condition. In our culture there has always been certain archetypes that writers can allude to, the lion looking for lost courage, the primal wolf that was once a man, the bird longing to stretch its wings and fly away.

Rules for this particular countdown are as follows, only one song for each animal (otherwise “A Wolf at the Door”, “The Wolves” would have also made appearances), one song per artist (thus re-igniting the Pigs vs Dogs debate) and ten songs in total.

Top 10 Songs with an Animal in the title:

10. The National – Theory Of The Crows

9. Damien Rice – Elephant

8. Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench

7. The Beatles – I Am The Walrus

6. Thom Yorke – Black Swan

5. REM – King Of Birds

4. Beach House – Zebra

3. Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man

2. TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me

1. Pink Floyd – Pigs (Three Different Ones)

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Pigs > Dogs

(The title of this post is taken from Dead Clown Society’s “I Saw Animals”, whose miscellaneous projects can be found here)