Wednesday, 23 January 2013

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards

The nominations for this year's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards are...

  • Nic Jones
  • Sam Lee
  • Jim Moray
  • Karine Polwart
  • Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts
  • Hannah James & Sam Sweeney
  • O'Hooley & Tidow
  • Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
  • Bellowhead
  • Lau
  • Treacherous Orchestra
  • The Unthanks
BEST ALBUM [Public vote with five nominees]
  • Broadside – Bellowhead
  • Ground Of Its Own - Sam Lee
  • Race The Loser – Lau
  • Skulk - Jim Moray
  • Traces - Karine Polwart
The Public vote for Best Album has now closed.

  • Blair Dunlop
  • Luke Jackson
  • Maz O'Connor
  • Rura
  • Ross Ainslie
  • Duncan Chisholm
  • Sam Sweeney
  • Kathryn Tickell
  • Luke Jackson
  • Graham Mackenzie & Ciorstaidh Beaton
  • Thalla
  • Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar
  • Lord Douglas by Jim Moray
  • Tha Sneachd‘ air Druim Uachdair by Kathleen MacInnes
  • Unknown Air by Duncan Chisholm
  • Wild Wood Amber by Sam Lee
  • Hatchlings by Emily Portman
  • King of Birds by Karine Polwart
  • Tailor by Anaïs Mitchell
  • The Ballad of Andy Jacobs by Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman
I'm backing the wonderful Karine Polwart.

Monday, 21 January 2013

BBC 6 Music's 100 greatest hits

BBC radio 6 Music is celebrating 10 years (actually nearly 11 by now) as a radio station by asking people to choose their favourite song from a list compiled by staff and presenters from March 2002 to the end of 2012. Interesting idea. You can vote here.

My own shortlist (from the shortlist) is....
  • Coldplay - Clocks (from the best Coldplay album, back when they knew how to write songs)
  • Elbow - One Day Like This (as long as it's the album version and not the shorter single)
  • Fleet Foxes - Mykonos
  • Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out (the best song they've made and still wonderful)
  • Johnny Cash - Hurt (a heartfelt rendition of the Trent Reznor masterpiece by a timeless genius)
  • The Killers - Mr Brightside (one of my favourite mood-lifting songs)
  • Kings Of Leon - Molly's Chambers (the only KOL song I like - and a great pop song)
  • Laura Marling - Sophia
  • LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends (not as great as Losing My Edge or the Pretentious version of Yeah but still great)
  • Midnight City - M83
  • Mumford & Sons - The Cave (between this and Little Lion Man)
  • The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio (as close to perfect as it gets)
  • Noah & The Whale - Five Years Time (for Laura - and because it's more perfect pop)
  • Richard Hawley - Tonight The Streets Are Ours (sublime)
  • Sigur Ros - Hoppipola (uplifting, mesmerising and beautiful - one of my Desert Island Discs)
  • The White Stripes - Seven Nation Army (awesome)
There is no Bat For Lashes as Daniel is better than the more recent Laura. No Black Keys as I Got Mine is better than Lonely Boy. Later Florence & The Machine is better than anything from Lungs, i.e. What The Water Gave Me. Likewise Goldfrapp has to be A&E over Strict Machine. Kasabian should be from the début or Empire instead of Fire and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds should be Breathless or I Call Upon The Author or Hiding All Away and Gold Lion is the quintessential Yeah Yeah Yeah's song.

And too many bands and artists missing to mention. Death Cab For Cutie,  to mention one.

I voted for Sigur Ros but could have gone for The Killers, The National or Laura Marling.

Voting closes on Friday 25th February 2013.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

David Bowie - Where Are We Now?

I've never been a huge David Bowie fan but at the risk of jumping on an already packed bandwagon, this new single, accompanied by a 'creepy' surreal video which isn't quite as odd as it could have been, is rather magnificent. You can see it all here.

This is Bowie's first new song in ten years and this nostalgia trip back to Berlin grows into a cinematic work of genius, subtle and unassuming with a delicate vocal contrasted with huge orchestral music.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

BBC Sound of 2013 Shortlist and winner!

The winner of the BBC Sound of 2013 is LA sister trio HAIM. Great to see a band winning (so many solo artists have topped the shortlist in recent years) and such a strong female-oriented line-up. The top five are:
  1. HAIM
  2. AlunaGeorge
  3. Angel Haze
  4. Laura Mvula
HAIM create a combination of retro-80s pop rhythms, a bit of R&B and plenty of big guitars. There are definitely echoes of 'Tango In The Night' era Fleetwood Mac on big single Don't Save Me...

You can read about the winning band here.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

BBC Sound of 2013 longlist round-up

The BBC Sound of 2013 longlist has been published. The artists are:
  • A*M*E
  • AlunaGeorge
  • Angel Haze
  • Arlissa
  • HAIM
  • King Krule
  • Kodaline
  • Laura Mvula
  • Little Green Cars
  • Palma Violets
  • Peace
  • Savages
  • The Weeknd
  • Tom Odell
The five artist shortlist is being announced a day at a time and the first in the top five are Glasgow electro-pop trio CHVRCHES. Number four in the shortlist is Birmingham's Laura Mvula. Seeing the longlist for the first time, the immediate stand-out artists based on what I heard in 2012 are AlunaGeorge, Kodaline, Palma Violets, Savages and Tom Odell.

The electronic-infused garage-soul of AlunaGeorge, aka Aluna and er... George, from London is slightly quirky and interesting. Single Your Drums is both compelling and annoying while You Know You Like It is better. The juxtaposition of styles is a great concept.

Kodaline is a quartet from Dublin, with the gorgeous vocals of Stephen Garrigan, who released their début eponymous EP this year including the psychedelic ballad Lose Your Mind. Influences are easy to hear, from The Beatles to Radiohead but Kodaline immediately sound like a band destined for big things. There is also a bit of Dry The River (on the stirring Pray) which is no bad thing.

Palma Violets, a furious and frustrated quartet from London caught my attention on Later... with Jools when they performed Tom The Drum - a complete shambles of a performance but with raw intensity and plenty of passion, and just a bit of retro guitars. Another band who need songs and a strong début album.

Savages, another London four-piece are more rooted in the dark electronica of the 80s and recently followed Flying To Berlin/Husbands with the live EP I Am Here while Tom Odell, again based in London, is the strongest of the five with an impressive début Songs From Another Love, backed up with a heartbreaking vocal and emotive piano.

As for CHVRCHES, they certainly deserve a place in the top 5 - vibrant keyboards and Lauren Mayberry's chirpy pop vocals make The Mother We Share a great single and the live performance of We Sink (at Maida Vale for the BBC) shows that electronic music is not all pre-constructed and a great example of a band embracing technology within the excitement of a gig. You can see it here...

Laura Mvula has found a wonderful combination of narrative song writing, clear vocals and soulful instrumentation, delicate at times then softly explosive. She talks on the BBC website about her love of voice and piano, simple arrangements and intimate stories.

As for the rest, self-confident 18 year old A*M*E, who recently signed to Gary Barlow's label, really needs Barlow to write her some decent songs if Play The Game Boy is anything to go by. That said, her clear (if over-produced) vocals, attitude and swagger is out there. Angel Haze is likely to go far - a no-nonsense female rapper from New York while Arlissa's only work to date is a duet with Nas which is like an upbeat take on Dido and Eminem.

Haim comprise three sisters from LA who have gone 'solo' from their family band - and an interesting mix of R&B influenced vocals, pop rhythms and sublime guitars, while another young Londoner, King Krule (previously Zoo Kid) really sounds like he doesn't want to be singing - think a morose angst-ridden Billy Bragg, if that's possible.

The final three of the BBC Sound Of 2013 longlist are another Dublin band Little Green Cars - like Mumford & Sons with big guitars, Peace - Birmingham's answer to the stutter-rock of Foals or Friendly Fires, and Toronto's The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) whose début album of 'mixtapes' Trilogy yields the largest body of work (occasionally brilliant but often dull and anonymous R&B) for any artist on the longlist.

Who will make the top 3? We will know by Friday.

Music Chart - December 2012

The end of the year chart is here! A strong finish with some great new albums from Julia Holter, Martin Rossiter, Melody's Echo Chamber, Willy Mason, The Unthanks (again), The Staves, Green Day (again, again, again!), James Iha, Pond and Singing Adams.

Dry The River were the early contenders for best album of the year and it was never bettered. Mumford & Sons, Jake Bugg, Sigur Ros and First Aid Kit forming the impressive top 5.
  1. Shallow Bed by Dry The River 
  2. Babel by Mumford & Sons 
  3. Jake Bugg by Jake Bugg
  4. Valtari by Sigur Ros
  5. The Lion's Roar by First Aid Kit
  6. Sugaring Season by Beth Orton 
  7. Carry On by Willy Mason
  8. Bloom by Beach House 
  9. Traces by Karine Polwart
  10. Ssss by Vcmg 
  11. The Defenestration of St Martin 
  12. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind by Ben Folds Five 
  13. The Haunted Man By Bat For Lashes 
  14. Company by Andy Burrows 
  15. Look To The Sky by James Iha
  16. Psychedelic Pill by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
  17. Generation Freakshow by Feeder
  18. Celebration Rock by Japandroids
  19. The 2nd Law by Muse
  20. Cut The World by Antony & The Johnsons 
  21. Oshin by Diiv 
  22. Silver Age by Bob Mould 
  23. Electric Cables by Lightships 
  24. New Wild Everywhere by Great Lake Swimmers 
  25. Standing At The Sky's Edge by Richard Hawley 
  26. The Ghost In Daylight by Gravenhurst 
  27. Born And Raised by John Mayer
  28. Coexist by The xx
  29. Sun by Cat Power 
  30. Strangeland by Keane
  31. Do The Struggle by Franz Nicolay
  32. ¡Tre! by Green Day
  33. Lost Songs by And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead 
  34. A Conversation Well Rehearsed by The Birthday Suit
  35. An Awesome Wave by Alt-J
  36. The Blossom Chronicles by Philter
  37. Battle Born by The Killers
  38. Sweet Heart Sweet Light by Spiritualized 
  39. Moves by Singing Adams
  40. Ghostory by School of Seven Bells
  41. Charmer by Aimee Mann
  42. ¡Uno! by Green Day
  43. Dead & Born & Grown by The Staves
  44. Like Drawing Blood by Gotye 
  45. Observator by The Raveonettes
  46. Now For Plan A by The Tragically Hip 
  47. III by Crystal Castles 
  48. Songs From The Shipyards by The Unthanks
  49. Race The Loser by Lau
  50. Southern Air by Yellowcard 
  51. Dead End Kings by Katatonia
  52. Banga by Patti Smith
  53. Instinct by Niki And The Dove
  54. Human Again by Ingrid Michaelson
  55. Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! by Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  56. Privateering by Mark Knopfler
  57. The Unthanks with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band by The Unthanks
  58. 20 by Kate Rusby
  59. Close Up, Vol. 4 - Songs Of Family by Suzanne Vega
  60. Even On The Worst Nights by Mixtapes 
  61. Koi No Yokan by Defones
  62. Unknown Rooms by Chelsea Wolfe
  63. Oceania by Smashing Pumpkins
  64. Blood Speaks by Smoke Fairies 
  65. Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem
  66. Beard Wives Denim by Pond
  67. Forward/Return by The Album Leaf
  68. Stardust by Lena
  69. The Light The Dead Can See by Soulsavers 
  70. Hello Hum by Wintersleep
  71. Sounds From Nowheresville by The Ting Tings
  72. Lonerism by Tame Impala 
  73. Allah-Las by Allah-Las
  74. Mutual Friends by Boy 
  75. Devotion by Jessie Ware 
  76. Ekstasis by Julia Holter
  77. Would You Stay by Steffaloo
  78. Moth by Exlovers
  79. Tramp by Sharon Van Etten 
  80. KU:PALM by Photek
  81. WIXIW by Liars 
  82. My Head Is An Animal by Of Monsters And Men
  83. Young Man In America by Anais Mitchell 
  84. Given To The Wild by The Maccabees
  85. The Sister by Marissa Nadler
  86. Americana by Neil Young and Crazy Horse 
  87. Unearth by Grasscut
  88. Little Broken Hearts by Norah Jones
  89. Gold Dust by Tori Amos and Jules Buckley 
  90. King Animal by Soundgarden 
  91. Melody's Echo Chamber by Melody's Echo Chamber
  92. Hot Cakes by The Darkness
  93. Synthetica by Metric
  94. Words And Music by Saint Etienne
  95. Wonky by Orbital 
  96. Crown And Treaty by Sweet Billy Pilgrim 
  97. Shrines by Purity Ring
  98. Internal Logic by Grass Widow
  99. ¡Dos! by Green Day
  100. Here Come The Bombs by Gaz Coombes
  101. Tough Love by Pulled Apart by Horses
  102. Interstellar by Frankie Rose
  103. New Relics by Errors 
  104. An Omen EP by How To Destroy Angels
  105. Dead In The Boot by Elbow
  106. Wild Peace by Echo Lake
  107. Dub Egg by The Young
  108. Born Villain by Marilyn Manson
  109. Let It Break by Gemma Hayes
  110. Life Is Good by Nas
  111. Living Things by Linkin Park
  112. Beacon by Two Door Cinema Club 
  113. Oh No I Love You by Tim Burgess
  114. Underwater Sunshine by Counting Crows
  115. Manifest! by Friends
  116. Clear Moon by Mount Eerie
  117. Tree Bursts In Snow by Admiral Fallow
  118. Human Don't Be Angry by Human Don't Be Angry
  119. The Family Tree: The Roots by Radical Face
  120. Weapons by Lostprophets
  121. Blues Funeral by Mark Lanegan Band
  122. A Monument by Tu Fawning
  123. Aufheben by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
  124. Have Some Faith In Magic by Errors
  125. Hello Cruel World by Gretchen Peters
  126. Voyageur by Kathleen Edwards
  127. Pale Fire by El Perro Del Mar
  128. Long Live The Struggle by The King Blues
  129. Fossil Of Girl by Sarah Donner
  130. Blunderbuss by Jack White
  131. Here I Am by Oli Brown 
  132. Spirits by Plankton Wat
  133. Visions by Grimes
  134. Come Home To Mama by Martha Wainwright
  135. Tales From The Barrel House by Seth Lakeman 
  136. Dark Black by Kristina Train
  137. The Temper Trap by The Temper Trap
  138. ¿Which Side Are You On? by Ani Difranco
  139. Eighty One by Yppah
  140. Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen
  141. First Serve by De La Soul's Plug 1 and Plug 2
  142. Kin Con by Alex Winston
  143. Gossamer by Passion Pit 
  144. The Afterman: Ascension by Coheed and Cambria
  145. Siberia by LIGHTS 
  146. Ocean Roar by Mount Eerie 
  147. Europe by Allo Darlin' 
  148. North by Matchbox Twenty
  149. The Something Rain by Tindersticks
  150. Something by Chairlift
  151. The House That Jack Built by Jesca Hoop 
  152. Mirage Rock by Band Of Horses 
  153. The Savage Heart by The Jim Jones Revue
  154. Who Needs Who by Dark Dark Dark
  155. Anxiety by Ladyhawke
  156. Fear Fun by Father John Misty
  157. Transcendental Youth by The Mountain Goats
  158. Fragrant World by Yeasayer 
  159. Shields by Grizzly Bear
  160. California 37 by Train
  161. Break It Yourself by Andrew Bird
  162. Reign Of Terror by Sleigh Bells
  163. The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do by Fiona Apple
  164. Through The Night by Ren Harvieu
  165. Personality by Scuba 
  166. Not Your Kind Of People by Garbage
  167. Storm by Sam Russo
  168. America Give Up by Howler
  169. Black Light by Diagrams