Monday, 31 December 2012

Top 10 albums of 2012

10. Tom Williams & The Boat - Teenage Blood
Tunbridge Wells band, Tom Williams & The Boat have appropriately made waves this year with their latest album, Teenage Blood. With its mixture of melancholic songs but also some surprisingly uplifting numbers, the whole album is a masterpiece of different styles, and makes for easy listening. Stand out track, Too Young, with its jazzy piano riffs and catchy melody, proves why the band have become so popular of late - their simple and pure guitar music is a refreshing change from the many rock bands trying to make it today.

9. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Practically unheard of before the start of 2012, Alt-J crashed on to the music scene with their debut album, An Awesome Wave, in May. Immaculately produced, combing heavy bass and gentle melodies,  it's hard to exactly define the album within a genre. However, this is perhaps a strength of the album - Alt-J has the ability to easily move from soaring vocals to psychedelic melodies whilst still retaining its own distinct personality within each song.

8. Kyla La Grange - Ashes
Due to all the Lana Del Rey hype during 2011, it seems that Kyla La Grange was pushed to the side, and has only recently been receiving the recognition that she deserves. However, to compare the two singers would be a disservice to La Grange, who fortunately lacks the simpering tones of Del Rey. Instead, she has an edge to her songs with heavy guitar and drums anchoring her soulful voice.

7. The Temper Trap - The Temper Trap
Best known for Sweet Disposition, which featured on the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack, The Temper Trap have returned with their second album. After receiving so much praise for their first album, it was always going to be difficult creating the follow-up, but the Australian group seem to have successfully managed it. With more of an 80s vibe, the album is definitely more energetic than their previous offering and shows a clear development in their sound, whilst still sticking to their roots of rousing melodies to sing along to drunkenly.

6. The Maccabees - Given To The Wild
On their third album, Given To The Wild, lead singer, Orlando Weeks' delicate voice adds mystique to the glittering guitars riffs, particularly on stand out track, Feel To Follow, where close-harmonied vocals are swiftly followed by full-on guitar madness. This can be said for much of the album where dulcet melodies are combined with a contrasting harsher guitar, meshing beautifully to make 13 wonderful tracks.

5. Beach House - Bloom
For those waiting for a follow-up to Beach House's stunning album, Teen Dream, 2012 proved to be a good year,with the band  receiving wide praise for their latest offering. They may have remained firmly in the territory of electronic melancholy, but why change a formula that works so well? Bloom encompasses everything that is good about a Beach House record,with breathy vocals and slide guitar aplenty.

4. Django Django - Django Django
 The infectious funk of Django Django sound tracked the summer, with the release of their eponymous debut album which has been a long time in the making. With big bass lines and enough synths to satisfy even the hippest of hipster's needs, their almost chant like vocals melt into a wonderful sea of colourful noise, making them one of the most exciting bands of the moment.

3. Francois & The Atlas Mountains - E Volo Love
Hailing from Bordeaux, Francois & The Atlas Mountains released their debut album this year, which has proved to be a success not only in France, but on English shores as well. Although the Channel may only be 20 miles across at its narrowest, it's rare that French acts make the difficult transition into the British music scene. However, Francois Marry and pals, with their African influenced drumbeats, and charming mix of French and English lyrics have brought someoverdue Gallic energy to our music scene.

2. Dry The River -Shallow Bed
The haunting voice of Peter Siddle soars over the album with a tender solemnity, as violins weave in and out of electric guitars and crashing drums, and though at times the songs are rather mournful, there's no denying that it's a stunning effort. It's not only the musical elements that create such a wonderful record though. The lyrics are gloriously poetic - nostalgic for ancient lands with King Solomon and Rehoboam referenced on No Rest, whilst Shield Your Eyes talks of the 'Phrygian lion'. In many ways, Shallow Bed is much like the Greek myths it appears to be emulating, with an epic feel throughout that bewilders and astounds.

1. Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny - Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
From the bizarre name of her debut album, it's easy to guess that Beth Jeans Houghton likes to stand out from the crowd. Opening track, Sweet Tooth Bird confirms this suspicion, with its trumpet fanfares and almost operatic vocals. However this is far from being a pretentious record. Yes, it's different and unexpected, but triumphantly so. The feeling of exhilaration that spans across the album never disappears, constantly taking surprising twists and turns with the gentle tones of Dodecahedron greatly contrasting with the fast paced, almost frantic excitement of Atlas that follows it. 

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Top 10 Singles of 2012

10. Breezeblocks - Alt-J

9. Five Seconds - Twin Shadow

8. Trembling Hands - The Temper Trap

7. Sun - Two Door Cinema Club

6. Les Plus Beaux - Francois & The Atlas Mountains

5. The Waves - Villagers

4. Laura - Bat For Lashes

3. Life's A Beach - Django Django 

2. Atlas - Beth Jeans Houghton

1. Cough Cough - Everything Everything

What have been your top singles of the year? Write in the comments below!

Monday, 24 December 2012

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

This Christmas season has been sound-tracked by the sweet sounds of Andy Burrows and pals, created for The Snowman and the The Snowdog, sequel to The Snowman. The half-hour film was shown on Channel 4 this evening, but I'm sure it will be up on 4OD soon.

Light The Night - Andy Burrows

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