Tag Archives: David Bowie

Top tracks of 2016 #2 – David Bowie, The Wedding Present, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Yesterday Andy described what David Bowie meant to him and chose ‘I Can’t Give It All Away’ from the amazing Blackstar album. My choice today is the lead track, ‘Blackstar’ which I was intrigued by when I first heard it last December and it led me into the album.

I don’t think I am as big a diehard fan as Andy or Roy, I tracked his career mostly through singles rather than albums and the many of my favourite artists he influenced from Numan to Kraftwerk to Suede amongst many many others.

I know that some Bowie fans find this album very difficult to listen to, particularly Lazarus, but it is one of the very few albums released over the last few years that sounds entirely ‘new’, music beaming in from a different place and the title track in particular arguably achieves more in nine minutes than most artists will manage in an entire career.

It is such a cliche to call this album a fitting epitaph, but I really can’t think of a better way of putting it.

Over to Andy for his fine choice today:

“Oh no, they’ve fallen at the final hurdle again! David Gedge and his cronies had the number 1 within their grasp but let it slip in the final analysis. The accompanying video is taken from a Seattle radio station live acoustic session, the entirety of which I heartily recommend checking out if you’re a Weddoes/Cinerama fan. I should add that this is a completely different version of the song from their “Going Going” album, but I think it captures what I’ve loved about this band for the past 30 years. This contains my favourite lyric of the year…”The pain of failure is so much greater than the pleasure of success”. Wise words, Gedgey, and so I hope he isn’t too disheartened by once again being the bridesmaid…”

Meanwhile Roy’s penultimate choice is below, plus the list so far is here.

Top tracks of 2016 #3 – Radiohead, David Bowie & Underworld(again)

Some music becomes irrevocably linked to the year or the events it accompanied –  Ghost Town, Shipbuilding, What’s Going On, Ball Of Confusion, even Nessun Dorma. We’ve questioned on this blog before where all the political pop has gone, but  ‘Burn The Witch’ by Radiohead really is 2016 in four minutes. The video in particular perfectly captures that chilling moment (at exactly 3 minutes in) when you realise that the country you live in has gone completely and irrevocably insane  That guy is me.

Apparently Radiohead did not get permission for this obvious Trumpton homage, presumably on the grounds that it would have been denied, given it fuses cosy childhood nostalgia with The Wickerman to stunning effect.

Musically it’s one of the best things Radiohead have ever done, the edgy strings accompanying subtle lyrics –  presumably written before this car crash of a year – perfectly anticipating the  ‘low flying panic attack’ that has been 2016.

Abandon all reason
Avoid all eye contact
Do not react
Shoot the messengers

This is a low flying panic attack
Sing the song of sixpence that goes:

Burn the witch
We know where you live

Sure, as Roy has pointed out the album could not follow up on the promise of the single, but really how could it? There is also a great live version posted by Roy as his number 5 pick here.

Talking of Roy, his number 2 is below along with Andy’s.

 

The Best of 2016 So Far

As seems to have become traditional – well Andy reminded me last week, here are my favourite tracks of the year so far. Some may make it into my end of year list, some may fall by the wayside.  A strong start I would say, with an interesting mix of returning long distance runners, plus some new (to me) artists.

To kick off, here’s  the first track on Underworld’s ‘Barbara Barbara, We Have A Shining Future’. It’s not a ‘return to form’ as in my view they have never lost form. It’s been quite a career, encompassing ‘Born Slippy’ the rave generation’s Bohemian Rhapsody and providing the music for the Olympic Opening Ceremony, in which visuals and music combined to win over even the most cynical of non-patriotic hearts.  They claim to have had a blast recording this album and this video seems to reflect that.

 

The video for Daughter’s ‘How’ seems to reflect the growing trend for artists not to appear in their own videos, but instead to commission mini indie movies – see also Elbow and a whole album from Suede.  Yet another song on this blog with a Slowdive influence, but I can also hear shades of The Sundays as well.

 

Mogwai’s ‘Ether’ takes the shimmering soundscapes up a notch – this is truly lovely, slowly building from a start that is, well, ethereal, into an anthemic instrumental. That reminds me of something on my ‘to do’ list for this blog – a list of recommended instrumental tracks.  Stay tuned.

 

The Mystery Jet’s latest album, ‘The Curve Of The Earth’ is excellent and they remain very hard to categorise, which I like but I do fear that they are this decade’s Cooper Temple Clause – brilliant but somehow beaming in from a parallel universe and never truly acknowledged. This is the second single.

 

Here is David Bowie’s Lazarus just because it is simply brilliant. Hard to watch in hindsight but captivating nonetheless. Dark Star is an incredible album for an artist to leave as a parting gift.

 

Talking of brilliant, Suede have recorded possibly the greatest rock album of this decade. I saw them perform ‘Night Thoughts’ all the way through behind a cinema screen showing the related film, which packs the emotional punch of the first episode of Broadchurch. This track has a jaunty feel to it, but in the context of the album as a whole takes on a completely different meaning. If you haven’t already, then listen to this album now. Go on, stop reading this blog and do it now.

 

Possibly the best video on this post is Polica’s ‘Wedding’.  It reminds me of a couple of longform Public Enemy Videos I got back in the 90s which mixed the band with agitprop footage and vignettes.   Originally I assumed that the singer uses  another language or a Cocteau Twins made up one, but then an actual word of English floats through. If you don’t believe me here are the lyrics. Great track nonetheless:

 

Also no strangers to the world of agitprop, Primal Scream’s latest album is their most pop-orientated yet, reaching almost Beloved levels of blissed out lyrics and chorus. It’s apparently influenced by Abba, which is no bad thing. The first single is a duet with Sky Ferreira, who in a sign of my advancing years ( or lack of exposure to Radio 1) I have to admit I had to google. A great pop single to add to the dozens already in their back catalogue.

 

However when it comes to pop, when you boil it down to its purest form you are left with the Pet Shop Boys. From the upcoming album ‘Super’, this is ‘Pop Kids’ A lyric video is all we have at the moment, but t’s not a bad one and the lyrics are always interesting anyway. Since Kraftwerk’s residency in the Tate Turbine hall, their influence on their disciples has become even more overt – the first few breathy bars of synthesiser in this are of course Trans Europe Express:

 

I really lost interest in Radiohead a few year’s back, so the excitement around an imminent new album has not really hit this blog yet, but I do really like this – Thom Yorke guesting on a track by Mark Pritchard. On the radio this morning someone described this as a Number One hit from a different planet. It has made me more interested in what Radiohead may have in store this year.

 

I don’t know much about DIIV, but do really like this track called ‘Under The Sun’.  Always a sucker for a driving bass riff. Reminds me a bit of mid period Cure.

 

When I first heard White Denim’s Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah) on the radio a few weeks, I assumed it was some lost gem from 68-72 that I had somehow missed. Perhaps a support act for early Fleetwood Mac? But no, these are a bona fide current band from Austin, Texas.  For some reason this also reminds me of the Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion. Remember them?

 

..and I think that’s it. No doubt something else will come to mind the minute I publish the ‘publish’ button, but do feel free to add anything you think I have embarrassingly overlooked!

Happy Easter to one and all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Tracks of 2013 – Number 8

Foals

Foals are my number eight track for 2013 with ‘My Number’. Inhaler, the lead track from Holy Fire was in both Roy’s and my lists last year and the album that followed spawned a number of singles throughout the year, of which ‘My Number’ was the best.

Possibly it has suffered from over-exposure, particularly as it was used as the BBC’s Gladstonbury theme music, but it is a great piece of pop…

..and now over to Roy:

David Bowie‘Love is Lost (Hello Steve Reich mix) ‘ Bowie’s year without question. The Next Day was a real return to form but the Next Day Extra EP (more a second full album) from whence this comes, was in a different league altogether. James Murphy’s remix is inspired, particularly the referencing  of ‘Ashes to Ashes’.

Scroll down for Andy’s nomination, or click here to catch up on the rundown so far

2013 so far – a Brits antidote.

Wasn’t The Brits the most mind-numbing yet?

All very professional and that, but really about as engaging as one of those corporate events where they give awards for Salesperson Of The Year. Come to think of it, in the case of One Direction they did just that. Anyway, it seemed to exist in a parallel universe to what I am listening to. Elsewhere on the blog are what Andy, Roy and I felt to be the best songs of last year, but 2013 is already shaping up to be a great year, so I thought as an antidote to the Brits I would put up some of my favourite tracks of 2013 ‘for your consideration’. They are in no particular order, we’ll leave that for the end of 2013 when many of these may well have been eclipsed by what is to come. Some of these have featured on my ‘This Is My Jam’ feed, but nice to have them all in one place.

Pride of place goes to John Grant’s Pale Green Ghosts. A breathtaking and epic single that reminds me of early ‘The The’ mixed with an unsettling Twin Peaks feel to it. Quite stunning and radically different to his Queen of Denmark album. What will the album be like?

 

Next, the surprise return of David Bowie. On initial listening I liked it but it did remind me a lot of Achting Baby U2 – perhaps it’s the reference to Berlin landmarks. However the vocals on the chorus are just heart-breakingly vulnerable. I like it more each time I hear it.

 

Appropriately enough another returning act is Suede, very much Bowie acolytes. Barriers was a great come back, and this single kicks it up a notch. Easily on a par with their (impressive) back catalogue. Check out their Maida Vale session on the 6 Music website

 

Pulp also made a surprise return. No album seems to be imminent, but there is this one-off , recorded with Mr LCD Soundsystem, James Murphy. Like Suede, very classic in its sound.

 

OK, enough of the comebacks, here are a few newer bands. Firstly Villagers with ‘Nothing Arrived’. A lovely, poignant video. Does he win the lottery or not?

 

From Foals, a classic pop song, almost insanely catchy. A student disco staple for 2013 I am sure:

 

I Am Kloot have been around somewhat longer, but this is a great anthemic single from the Manchester band.

 

We have just had a new Eels album. A fine collection that bizarrely got to no 14 in the official UK album chart last week. Here is the title track: ‘Wonderful, Glorious’. And it is.

 

A bit of 90s-style indie rock from the Joy Formidable, from the album Wolf’s Law:

 

I thought I’d end with a couple of piano instrumentals. I am a sucker for a an echoey piano. This first is by German pianist/composer Nils Frahm. Apparently he broke his thumb, so wrote the album from which this comes whilst convalescing, carefully picking out the notes with remaining fingers, which gives a pleasingly minimalist style. If you like this track you can download the whole album for free, legally here – the link is at the bottom of that page

 

And second in our echoey piano pairing is exits by L. Pierre. He used to be called Aidan Moffatt and was in Arab Strap. This comes from the Album ‘The Island Come True’. No accompanying video so just shut your eyes and listen..

 

So that’s it so far for 2013. let me know any suggestions for things I may have missed – I am sure there are many! As you made it all the way to the bottom, here is a rare clip of Spinal Tap getting a bit confused about the Eels winning best newcomer in 1998: