Sunday, 23 December 2007

Tom's Top Albums of 2007


Everyone's making lists, but music is so subjective and I'm so indecisive that putting albums in order is just too annoying to cope with.
But i like passing judgement on things, so I'm going to give them marks out of ten for their album covers. I'm interpreting 'year' very loosely, because a year ago this blog didn't exist, and a few albums from the last year and a half I just need to get out my system. Please don't comment me to point out that one of the albums here came out at the end of last year, because that would be very dull.

Battles - Mirrored

I have a confession to make. For some reason I decided I didn't like Battles early on this year, and whenever there was any conflicting evidence that might make me arrive at the conclusion that, in fact, Battles are good, I put my fingers in my ears and shouted 'NA NA NA I CAN'T HEAR YOU' and span round the room in circles. But then about a week ago it was quite late, and I was being driven home in the car, when Battles' seven-minute epic 'Atlas' came on the stereo and I was hooked. Due to the joys of being expected to provide every member of your family with some sort of 'gift', I still haven't got round to buying the album, but I have £10 of the money I am assuming I will recieve from some nice relatives for just that. And the cover's pretty nice too. 8/10

To My Boy - Messages

I think this is quite a nice cover overall, the way it's very clearly had very little alteration with computers, and the colours are nice. 7/10

CSS - Cansei De Ser Sexy

I HATE THIS COVER. It's very boring and the colours are horrible and it doesn't really reflect the message of CSS's music. The typography is kind cool, but this whole cover really should have been a lot brighter. 2/10

The Wombats - A Guide To Love, Loss And Desperation

This isn't really anything at all interesting or grounbreaking, but neither is the Wombats' music, so this kind of fits. The music and the cover are both nice. The cover is nice but boring, and the music is nice and fun. 5/10

Cold War Kids - Robbers And Cowards

This one is reaaaaally good. The peeling posters and monochromatic colours give it that sense of Americana and small-town decay. The album itself doesn't really do a lot to back this up - reallistically there are only four good songs on it, but the cover is great. 8/10

The Knife - Silent Shout

They really could have done something a lot more interesting. I hate these minimal covers, I really do. 3/10

The Thermals - The Body, The Blood, The Machine

Blah Blah Blah politics blah blah blah religion blah Jesus blah blah blah America. There are some killer tunes though. 5/10

Les Savy Fav - Let's Stay Friends

I know Les Savy Fav are a rather monumental rock band, but this cover really does nothing for me. And it seems to be coloured in using felt tip pens. 2/10

Bloc Party - A Weekend In The City

I suppose I kinda like this, the whole 'modern life is depressing, look at how boring your life is' message, but could they not just have shoved a studio photo of the band on the cover? 6/10

LCD Soundsystem - Sound Of Silver

What was this supposed to be? It's some kind of giant hairdryer wrapped in foil, and the text seems to be trying to say the band's called LCDSoundsy Stem. I really like creative line run-off in the middle of words, like this for example, but in order for it to look good the letters need to be in places where they would actually have to run onto the next line, (like for example the edge of the record sleeve, not just random taps of the enter key halfway through words!) 1/10

Simian Mobile Disco - Attack Decay Sustain Release

Simple and cool. I love it. (My decision is not based on the fact that it might be possible for me to argue that they must have 'copied' having a load of grass from this blog.) 8/10

Patrick Wolf - The Magic Position

You have to admire this man for just doing exactly what comes into his head and rolling with it. I managed to see about three songs of a Patrick Wolf live show this summer, and he was great. The lighting and the colours in this photograph are perfect, and the weird 'circus' theme is really creative. 8/10

Amy Winehouse - Back To Black

This is a cover that's roughly what everyone wanted and expected. The lettering's very old-school 'jazz club' and suits the music. However, this crazy crazy heartbroken addict CANCELLED HER TOUR AND RUINED MY LIFE so she is not going to get any points at all. 0/10
Buy - except don't, you'll only be funding her life of excess!

Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control

OK, I kind of almost get the logic behing Beth Ditto not wanting to shave her armpits, so fair play to her. But did they have to put them on the front of the album where everyone would see them? 6/10

Bjork - Volta

The bold colour, the subtle diagonal lines in the background, the strange monster suit.... this woman is mentally ill but we love her. 9/10

Kate Nash - Made Of Bricks

VERY DISAPPOINTING. I spent most of april/may/june listening to Kate Nash's music and getting all excited about how cool she was, but this cover is sooo boring. She's a singer, not a builder. 4/10

Justice - †

It's very minimal but you can see they were trying to make one bold statement with just having the one massive crucifix. If they're going to just call the album '†', then it kind of makes sense to have such a minimal cover - at least it's consistent. 7/10

Klaxons - Myths Of The Near Future

This is great because there's so much to see. Like I only just noticed that the strange fan shape in the bottom right is a photo of leaded church windows. The whole cut-and paste ethic here is really cool - does anybody know if I'm completely wrong in having this faint idea that the band made this themselves? 8/10

M.I.A. - Kala

Best album cover of the year. (This is taken from my list of good albums, not just any old rubbish album with a good cover.) The huge brightly coloured pixels make it look like a test card, then in the middle there's MIA in that big crazy hat looking like some kind of military leader. The 'Fight On!' typography references the bollywood influences and the sepia tones on the central photo makes the cover look really low-tech and third world-ey. 10/10

Not on this list:

Burial. I didn't get it. It was really boring. You may as well just listen to the noise of a busy street.

Panda Bear. I didn't get it. I'm not going to re-download the three tracks I downloaded off other blogs and subsequently deleted so that I can explain in depth why I didn't get it, but it just seemed really really boring.

Jack Penate. Sooooo bored of it like four songs in.

***/// UPDATE:
I cannot believe how bad I am at writing lists - I completely forgot to mention Digitalism, Bat For Lashes, Dizzee Rascal, Arctic Monkeys, Enter Shikari. Ah well, I can't be bothered.

***/// UPDATE:
I also forgot to mention how much I hate Scouting For Girls, The Hoosiers, The Pigeon Detectives and of course The View.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

To My Boy let you download their album for Free!

Well... not exactly. But they've recorded eight of their album tracks with acoustic guitars and slightly off-perfect production and you can download it for free from HERE. I'm not sure how stupid I am for doing this, but I made the mistake of thinking you had to sign up for their newsletter before they'd let you download it. On closer inspection, the link is in very big letters at the top of the page.

Anyway, To My Boy make very nice synthy electropop. To be honest, Messages (which was released in June) is a nice album and I did play it a bit, but it hasn't really lasted in my playlists all that much. There's a few tracks that are favourites (I am xRay and Eureka are both amazing) but overall it's not the most killer album there ever was. However, it's nice to see an electro band that quite clearly are very capable musicians, thus rendering the 'electro music is just programming a computer to make rubbish beeping noises because these people couldn't make real music if they tried' argument (that some of my friends have been pushing) completely wrong.

The acoustic tracks have clearly not had any 'pop dust' sprinkled on them, but there's a nice quality of the guitar and piano interspersed with drums that seem to be comprised entirely of hands drumming on a table, where before there was the heavy synth backing track. Just generallly nice music.

You can buy Messages HERE or from your favourite independent record shop. Or HMV but you will experience eternal damnation in hell if you do.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Saturday, 8 December 2007

I'm A Sucker For Concepts.

This is a good'un. The Billion Dollar DJs sent me a very nice email and told me about their new creation, The MySpace Mix. The rules are, they make a big old mixtape exclusively from tracks they've downloaded low-quality off MySpace, with the artists' permission of course. The idea of it is enough for me, as far as I am concerned it could be so bad as to render it completely unlistenable and I'd probably still post it, but it's actually quite good as well.

DOWNLOAD:Billion Dollar Djs - The Myspace Mix (zShare)

And here's the tracklisting with links to all the featured artists' myspaces: (no individual mp3s, get them yourself!)

Frikstailers - Foonkie Boogie
Blackpool - Two Kids
Niyi - 808 Clap
MK303 - Floos (Remix B)
Blamma! Blamma! - Carry Me Home
Catherine Ferroyer-Blanchard - Tu Fais Le Malin
The Faint - iDisappear (Matthew Savant Mix)
Arrow!!! - D.O.E.S (Demo)
Pimp The System - PTS Anthem
Lismore - All That You Are
Snowden - Black Eyes (Le Castle Vania Remix)
The Twelves - I Feel Fine
Trippple Nippples - RIP Meat
Bitchee Bitchee Ya Ya Ya - Fuck Friend
Flamingo Crash - Yes? Yes? Yes?
Shoot Charlie - Boaster
The Genevan Heathen - Swagger (feat Omnikrom)
You Say Party! We Say Die! - The Gap (Between The Rich And The Poor)
SIBOT - 12345
Glass Candy - Digital Versicolor


I have discovered a great new band, and because you are reading this, so have you. At my most recent Live Review I said I wasn't sure who the first band were, but I described their finale track as 'extremely danceable'. I wasn't joking. I first got hold of a Damn Shames mp3 from Good Weather For Airstrikes M3 Volume 16, and I have been hooked ever since. With a playful guitar riff and just a very generally upbeat tune, this is a song that is just about perfect.

DOWNLOAD: Damn Shames - Dancing In The Aisles (zShare)

Friday, 7 December 2007

Bah Humbug.

Photo Credit: TIO.

The time has come to celebrate Rome's replacement of the original Christian faith with a hybrid of Mithraism and sun-worship as a state-sanctioned alternative to the orgies of the Winter Solstice.

For, without millions of Christians celebrating the birth of Mithra on roughly the same day as the death of an obscure heretical bishop, 'Santa Claus' could never have been invented by 19th century Americans, and subsequently trademarked by the Coca-Cola Corporation.

As you are bombarded by the offspring of successful memes cobbled together from religious sources as disparate as Druidic rites, Dutch regional festivals and even the birth of 'Jesus Christ', give thanks to your true saviour; Santa Claus™ and his numerous corporate sponsors.

For the profitably of the entire retail sector - and therefore your nation's whole economy - now depends upon your excessive spending over these next few weeks, and the full weight of millenia worth of ritual has been appropriated to ensure that you will not only spend guilt-free, but feel guilty if you do not.

Thanks to the Santa™ brand, the corporations that own your world can ensure that you and your family will continue to enjoy a greater level of material comfort than 90% of the world's population for the rest of your lifes, or until industrialised civilisation collapses due to total resource depletion and the effects of climate change, whichever comes first.

All you need to do is continue consuming more than you can afford, and you will be rewarded with more products and services than you could ever possibly want or need.

And that is the true spirit of Christmas.

DOWNLOAD: Vandals - I Don't Believe In Santa Claus (zShare)

Recently I wrote about Niyi and Namalee, and somebody asked me if I'd copied it from a magazine. I hadn't. The above, however, I did. Not from a magazine, from a humour website. I read it on something like December the 27th, thought it perfectly summed up our horrible consumerist culture, and saved it for this year. However, I have no idea who wrote it, so if it was you and you're reading this now, thankyou for writing it and sorry for stealing! Message me and I'll credit you.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Film Review: Reservoir Dogs

This blog has mainly been where I write about music, probably because if I wrote about everything else I would never end up doing anything, and so eventually this would end up being a blog about writing a blog. Which would probably not be all that interesting.
Anyway, I felt motivated to just quickly notify the world of my opinion on Quentin Tarantino's 'masterpiece', Reservoir Dogs.
It is an old classic, very popular very critically acclaimed. I have already given Harry back his DVD and I can't be bothered to Wikipedia up a load of quotes, but a lot of people think it's good. One of the main reasons people liked it was the way the film was told 'non-linear', meaning chopped up, shuffled around then played backwards and sideways. It's interesting because you don't have the traditional experience of events being revealed to you chronologically, and despite some slightly confusing jumps, it works. And THANK GOD they chose to keep it slightly confusing, instead of adding loads of '3 Months Later'-type subheadings. It's a snapshop into a highly stylised way of life completely different to the majority of the audience, and probably not incredibly realistic, but it's not pretentious. Everyone likes it.

But it's really boring. The actual plot is dull. If the film was played chronologically, it would bore audiences to death. The plot is so basic and undeveloped it's like a twelve year old wrote it. This is a twelve year old who got a good mark, a gold sticker and an A plus, but not a genius of storytelling. (For the twelve year old analogy to work, let's just temporarily ignore the violence/morals of the story.)

If Tarantino wanted to make a really good film, why didn't he write a good story, and then chop it up and play it sideways?

Anyway, here's an oldie that you really must be mad not to like. And I realise for most of you 1995 isn't exactly an 'oldie', but it is and you will just have to cope with that.

DOWNLOAD: Fun Lovin' Crimals - Scooby Snacks (zShare)

Some Shameless Advertising

Gigs in Bedford next year!

Ideally I'd like to go to all of these, as Bedford events are actually rather incredibly fun, despite the occasional overzealous policing by that bouncer. I have no idea as to which of these are weeknights, how many weeknight gigs I can persuade my dear parents to let me go to (alas, not Crystal Castles last Thursday) and whether I can decide if Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong are good enough to make them still worth seeing, even though they have the worst band name there ever was in the history of time.

MAJOR love to the Hungry Bears for organizing all of these, 2008 is going to be fun. Especially Late Of The Pier, because they are actually mad.
///Update: Hungry Bears have a new official website: