Monday, December 21, 2009

British Albums Of The Decade

Recently I got asked by Saam of Faded Glamour blog to submit my 3 British albums of the decade for a blogger's poll he was compiling.

It took me a while to work out where I stood on this. As mentioned, I've been putting some thought into my albums of the decade - and as you'll find out, it doesn't really include many UK acts (I haven't finalised it yet, it still migh do).

Anyway, after much consideration, I settled on my three. Unsuprisingly, none of them have made the final list, so Saam posted my choices up on his blog. I won't spoil his thunder so head over to see what I chose:

It says something that only one album is available on Spotify. That album is also available to download free, which you can do so HERE

Soundtrack to this post: Tegan & Sara, Woods

Spotifriday (On Monday)

I meant to do this with the posts on my favourites of 2009, and then before the weekend - and then I got prodded by a few friends, so here we are - a selection of Spotify playlist links to keep you entertained over the festive periods:

and finally, here is the link to a playlist with stuff I'm listening to at the moment. This will change over time, possibly bite me on the arse, and be forgotten about at somepoints. But for now it might make some interesting listening

whiskas playlist (Dec '09)

Soundtrack to this post: Jay-Z, Olfar, Maccabees

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Albums Of 2009

Here's the second part of my year in lists - my favourite albums of the year.

This should probably come with a few proviso's
I feel guilty for not including Merriweather Post Pavillion (Animal Collective) and Veckatimest (Grizzly Bear) but I'm just not that in to you
I feel like I should have listened to Tarot Sports (Fuck Buttons) and These Four Walls (We Were Promised Jetpacks) more
In a few weeks, Beast Rest Forth Mouth (Bear In Heaven) would probably chart a lot higher

1. Röyksopp – Junior

Royksopp feels like an odd choice, but it is an album that really has so muched. Prompted to listen by collaborations with Fever Ray and Lykke Li amongst others, it seems to do master the duo's famous electro sound, and with some awesome contributions create some dark, dance-pop masterpieces

2. Magnolia Electric Co - Josephine

It was hard to work out how to place Josephine, another great album from Jason Molina, but without perhaps as much of a focal point as some previous albums, and a slightly more 'blissed out' feeling. Upon consideration, it's still better than pretty much anything else this year

3. The XX - XX

XX is certainly the hipsters record of choice - they were everywhere in Berlin earlier this year. It's rare an album and band create such an atmosphere on a record, and this album does more than that, backed up with some haunting gems with a unique (I said it) mix of sounds

4. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

From breathless start to finish, the size of tunes on this album is massive, with a beatiful interlude in the middle with the atmospheric two-parter Love Like A Sunset. Grammy nominated it as always seems a shame they haven't been able to breakthrough quite so much in the UK - Phoenix are the indie-pop band we need

5. Swan Lake - Enemy Mine

The first of two Spencer Krug contributions, despite this album being very much a side project affair, and suffering from the potentially schizophrenic contributions of numerous writes, this is a quirky Canadian indie at it's best, and filled a whole in my world for a while

Listen to 'Enemy Mine' on Spotify here

6. Rock Plaza Central - ...At The Moment Of Most Needing, Or If Only They Could Turn Around, They Would Know They Weren't Alone

Rock Plaza Central's follow up to 2006's 'We Are Not Horses' would've been hard matched to improve on that, and 'At The Moment' takes a more laid back approach, further away from the psycadelic imagery of it's predecessor. In the process it gains a level of subdued beautiful to revel in

7. Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca

Truely there is like no other as Dirty Projectors' immense vocal acrobatic harmony's. Sometimes distracting, always enticing, the melody's really are like no other

Listen to 'Bitte Orca' on Spotify here

8. Sunset Rubdown - Dragonslayer

Sunset Rubdown's Dragonslayer, Spencer Krug's true sole side project, was a veritable mix sounds and songs, that grew with every listen and utterly bombastic live

First delivered to me in 2007 by the hands of Biffy Clyro (I plugged them as a Band For 2008), it took a while getting released, but it's riffs are the size of massive bollocks only these screams could emanate from

10. School Of Seven Bells - Alpinism

Strictly released in late 2008, before a re-release this year - one of the most intense live bands I saw this year, the sonics and songs make me warm and fuzzy inside

...and the best of the rest:

11. Tegan & Sara - Sainthood / 12. Wild Beasts - Two Dancers / 13. Fanfarlo - Reservoir / 14. Grammatics - Grammatics / 15. Sometree - Yonder / 16. Editors - In This Light And On This Evening / 17. Sonic Youth - The Eternal / 18. Bear In Heaven - Beast Rest Forth Mouth / 19. Blue Roses - Blue Roses / 20. Riceboy Sleeps - Jonsi & Alex / 21. Micachu & The Shapes - Jewellery / 22. Monsters Of Folk - Monsters Of Folk / 23. Karen O & The Kids - Where The Wild Things Are Soundtrack / 24. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Bavarian Fruit Bread / 25. Fever Ray - Fever Ray

And, finally, looking at my forever interesting Last.FM stats, my actual most listened to albums released in 2009, are the following:

1. The XX - XX
2. School Of Seven Bells - Alpinism
3. Rock Plaza Central - ...At The Moment Of Most Needing
4. Magnolia Electric Co - Josephine
5. Röyksopp – Junior
6. Swan Lake - Enemy Mine
7. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
8. Grammatics - Grammatics
9. Sometree - Yonder
10. Bat For Lashes - Two Suns

With a little note to say that Kong's 'Snake Magnet' would be at #8 in the last fm list, had I not recieved it in 2007!

Soundtrack to this post: Bear In Heaven

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There's No International Trust

Here's another picture special - not great shots, but fun shots.

On Friday night, my friend's band INTERNATIONAL TRUST played their last gig - they will be sorely missed. If you don't know them, all you really need to know is that they are a lot more fun than your band. Enjoy their festive hit "Let's Have A Dance" and click on the photos to enlarge

Soundtrack to this post: Radio 5 - 606

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tracks Of 2009

Hello, and welcome to the first of a few posts where I tread the well travelled 'best of' path. To follow are my favourite albums of the year, my favourite albums of the decade - and then the compulsory 'tips' for 2010 - hopefully. These are all subjective of course, one man's gravy is another man's porridge and all that.

I wasn't gonna write some bunf about each song, but I wrote that were the same "great song, had it in my head all year" - so I'll just leave you to listen

Without further ado, here are my Top 10 tracks of 2010:

1. Phoenix - 1901

2. Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move

4. Grammatics - Double Negative

5. Florence & The Machine - You Got The Love (XX Remix)

6. Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks

7. Three Trapped Tigers - 6

8. Sometree - Conundrum

9. Wild Beasts - The Fun Powder Plot

10. Sunset Rubdown - Idiot Heart

Close but no cigar: Editors - Bricks & Mortar / The XX - Crystalised / The Antlers - Two / School Of Seven Bells - Iamundernodisguise / The Maccabees - No Kind Words

And, finally, looking at my ever interesting Last.FM stats, my actual most listened to tracks released in 2009, are the following:

1. Local Natives - World News
2. Phoenix - 1901
3. Grammatics - Murderer
4. Animal Collective - My Girls
5. School Of Seven Bells - Iamundernodisguise
6. Passion Pit - Better Things
7. The XX - Crystalised
8. Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move
9. The Horrors - Sea Within A Sea
10. Swan Lake - Spanish Gold, 2044

See more here

Soundtrack to this post: Shearwater, Karen O & The Kids, Japandriods

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Friends Before Glory

I'm putting plans in motion to step up the Honour Before Glory activity in the coming months. Not actually stepping it up yet, as I'm still snowed under with a few bands I've recorded over the last month, but planning to.

First off, in preperation for returning to the studio over the festive period, I'm giving away Broken Bottles, Empty Hearts via download when you join the Honour Before Glory mailing list

Secondly, I'm putting the band together, which is exciting and daunting at the same time. The friends who I want to be involved are all busy people, so it an Honour Before Glory gig will be a rare occurence, but hopefully a special one.

We'll be playing our first gig in March, but to warm up, I'm hosting an evening at Nation Of Shopkeepers in Leeds. Fran Rodgers will be playing her own set, and we'll be joined by other people who contributed to the tracks I recorded, and playing some special versions of Honour Before Glory songs. Sam Airey will open up - I've been recording his EP recently and it's very special.

Details in full:

A Nation Of Shopkeepers, Leeds
Honour Before Glory + Fran Rodgers + Sam Airey + Special Guests
Free Entry / early start : early finish

Soundtrack to this post: Leftfield, Dananananaykroyd, Department Of Eagles, Beach House

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sometree Restgeräusch Session

As mentioned while on tour in Germany, Sometree filmed a short session set at a studio just outside Munich. My blog of the day (generally involved trying to catch up with football, and eating chocolate) is HERE

The session is now online and look pretty stunning

Soundtrack to this post: Samuel & The Dragon

Friday, December 4, 2009

Lions (acoustic)

On the last day of the German tour in Leipzig, Sebastian Sometree filmed me playing a song backstage at Moritzbastei. It was inspired by the Blogotheque videos unsuprisingly

I like the idea of Lions of acoustic, as most of the songs that will come to pass, are zuped up versions of acoustic style songs - this is an acoustic version of a song that was never intended as such

After a few weeks sans Honour Before Glory, the next couple of weeks will hopefully start the get up in to some new songs, and a new live 'experience' - so stay tuned

Soundtrack to this post: Julian Plenti, Tori Amos

Monday, November 30, 2009

Three Trapped Tigers

Last Thursday, on a rare free night, I ventured to the Brudenell to see Three Trapped Tigers, who I first mentioned over a year ago. Described as Battles meets Squarepusher in many quarters, and ticking lots of math rock meets f*cked electronica boxes, I was still pretty suprised by the live 'show' - the best, most exciting thing I've seen for a long while.

The ferocity the music was played with, rigidly hooked into mechanical grooves, seemed to sum up to me the evolution of a musical style that can so often lack focus and point of interest. They are not pretenders to anyone, but masters of what others can only try and accomplish. Decide for yourself anyway

Soundtrack to this post: Bear In Heaven, Three Trapped Tigers

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Whiskas Story

As mentioned as a frequent amend-um to talk of studying my Masters degree, I have also been known to partake in the odd guest lecture at LMU and infact a few other educational institutions. Traditionally these have been my anecdotal recollection of how I started Dance To The Radio, and talking about Forward Russia.

In the last few weeks, however, I've been lucky enough to talk on a variety of specific subjects, such as production techniques, label / producer relationships and songwriting. However, I still got wheeled out to talk on what LMU dubbed 'the whiskas story'

The idea behind this lecture, as part of the music industry module, was to give an idea to the students of what you can achieve through building connections, and also that sometimes you need to pursue a variety of different paths to make a living in the music industry. LMU filmed it and stuck it on YouTube - so I thought I'd write a bit more about it and put it in context.

I've never actually thought about what I've been doing, and quite often just doggedly followed a path that I've ended up on, and in hindsight, a lot of things come across a lot more thought out than they were at the time. As I say in the lecture, it isn't telling people how I did something, it's not me bragging about what I've done - it's a story about what I did with a few ideas and some friends I guess

Soundtrack to this post: Johnny Cash

Friday, November 13, 2009


I've been meaning to blog all week, but have lacked sufficient time and inspiration to post something truely worthwhile. And lo - I come to muse and notice it's the 100th post!!

First -
THE NEWS. Am very confused to be trying to operate in the real world, though that is currently manifesting itself in recording bands which is good. Some good stuff coming up when I get chance to finish it!

I'm enjoying being in the studio, but need to find time to work on some new Honour Before Glory stuff, and I keep missing some really good gigs. Tonight, I'm missing Dinosaur Pile-Up + Eureka Machines, La Roux (feat. Will Bowerman) and pAperchAse + Vessels. My appearences for FC Lokomotiv have also been severely reduced. Anwyay, I said enough of the self-indulgence

Secondly, this blog has really turned self-indulgent, so it seemed the right time to plug some NEW MUSIC I'm enjoying:


This is no bullshit "best band in Leeds" / "these guys are going to be huge" post, but this is a band who are more than worthy of your attention.

The story goes, I was sat in the bar of the Brudenell and was convinced I was listening to a big headline band soundcheck, only to realise later it was these boys opening up an alldayer. I knew the songs cos they're not precious about their digital media and have most of their recorded tracks up for download on their blog. Cool eh?


I'm never quite sure about Tegan & Sara, but damn I do enjoy listening to it. Just the right mix of pop, shoegaze, riffs and tune-age. New album Sainthood 'blew up' in their native Canada I do believe

Soundtrack to this post: Tegan & Sara

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Next... Damien Jurado & More

Sorry, this blog isn't 'supposed' to turn into one completely about Honour Before Glory, but it's the centre of musical universe at the minute... well just about. I hit the studio next week with two new band, more of which soon

First thing for Honour Before Glory is a gig at Brudenell Social Club supporting the wonderful
DAMIEN JURADO, mentioned previously on this blog here. The gig is, as I write tonight - Wed 4th Nov 2009. So maybe of more significance in the past tense

But this may be the last time I play solo in the style I've worked out that enabled me to go on tour with Sometree. Now that is complete, the next time I do something I can hopefully work on collaborations with people who've contributed to the recordings I've done. This will be better I'm pretty sure! And a step to 'putting the band together' - something that I'll be trying to do when I go into the studio to record the next set of songs, which I've already started demo-ing. For now though, I have to have one eye on the real world

Soundtrack to this post: Tegan & Sara

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Honour Before Glory in Germany - Day 8/9

I'm back home in England now, trying to establish something resembling normality. The last few days in Germany were just as fun as everything else. It is nice to be home, but I will miss the Sometree guys!

I left the story in Regensbourg after zero sleep and a drive to Dortmund. I wasn't playing this night as it was a Visions Magazine Anniversary Party. This also meant Sometree were supporting the awesome Robocop Kraus, and lots of other things were happening, including Biffy Clyro play across time

So not much to tell, as I generally felt like a spare part for the initial part of the day before heading off to go watch Biffy, who'd flown in from Dublin for the show. It's always interesting to see bands you know well play to a foreign audeience, and the crowd went crazy for the Puzzle / Revolutions heavy set. Afterwards, I suprised the guys back stage, leading to a ridiculous backstory explanation - like, what the hell I was doing in Dortmund. Good to see them and their's though!

But unfortunately I managed to miss Sometree who played one of the best shows on the tour apparently. Had a relatively early night at our rock star filled hotel, and up for another long drive to Leipzig, fully refreshed after an awesome shower experience (you know, great temperature controls, really powerful)

With all the driving over the last few days, I'd finally got to working on some new bits and bobs for songs I've been playing acoustically to record 'fuller' versions in the studio. Was good, and hopefully I'll get in to the studio again by the end of the year

Anyway, Leipzig. Today we were joined by Tobias aka And The Golden Choir. With an early curfew, time was pushed, and we had to bail on watching Schalke v Leverkusen. The gig was great though, and everyone tore it up afterwards. 'Helium Man' made an appearence, people dissapeared, we danced to bad metal, and at somepoint we managed to make it back to the hotel

The next morning we bid a tearful, no, hungover, farewell. Sometree & Tobias headed off to Cologne, while I wandered wearily for some food before the trip to Berlin and home. Thanks guys! It was hella fun. We should do it again sometime

Soundtrack to this post: Sometree, And The Golden Choir, Throwing Muses

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Honour Before Glory in Germany - Day 7

A severe lack of W-LAN has thrown the blog out of kilter, so this blog was written on Friday after the Vienna show. I'm posting it from Leipzig as the gig is about to start. Will probably fill in details of Dortmund & Leipzig when I'm home now...

So, as reported, after the Frankfurt gig we had to drive 9 hours to Vienna, and by the time we arrived, we were all a bit flaked out. We did manage to amuse ourselves by watching Ultravox's Vienna video - although Falco apparently has a more famous song about the City.

The main source of pre-gig entertainment came from the largest / busiest kebab shop / restaurant I have ever been to. From the street, a normal kebab shop, but stretching back and back (including a winter & summer garden) it must have seated about 200 people. And it was full!

I was expecting something amazing food-wise, and it was ok, but not amazing. The best thing, was the big screen showing Turkish soap opera. Something truly to marvel - especially the the mustaches.

The venue was quite a small one for the tour and Sometree really struggled to all fit on stage. No such problem for me of course, though I struggled with the fact that the venue was in a railway arch and the U-Bahn passed over every few minutes. In fact everything about the venue was a bit noisy

No time to party tonight, as we had to jump straight back in to the van and drive 4 hours to Regensbourg to enable us to get to Dortmund in good time today. Tired face

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Honour Before Glory in Germany - Day 5/6

This report feels pretty hard to write, as we've just driven 9 hours to Vienna, which has been pretty hardcore. We have to drive back north after the show tonight as well, so it's a long day ahead still

Frankfurt was a mixed bag for us, upon arriving on Tuesday, we didn't really do anything good with our time. We did get some good grub though (although it was probably the most garlic I've ever tasted in a meal), and then found a "traditional" Irish Pub to watch Man Utd vs Barnsley. It all could've been so much better...

Had a walk around Frankfurt on Wednesday, and got to the venue nice an early. It was in the middle of an industrial area, and part of a strange media complex, that was more than a little bit weird, so it really took us a while to get into the feel of the night

The crowd, were great though and I had my best gig - although the amount of crap I talked would have made a Forward Russia crowd cringe. Sometree again rocked hard, and demolished their way through numerous bottles of red wine in the process. I'm the only beer drinker on the tour, so it's always slightly depressing at the end of the night as I can see how much I've consumed in exacting detail. At least when there are numerous empty wine bottles around 4/5 people are responsible, but with the empty beer bottles it's all down to me

Anyway, a question came up. Why do the English call Bayern Munich so? Munich is the English word for Munchen, but Bayern is the German work for Baveria. And yes, I pretty much have talked football all time on the tour - with brief respites to mention the Yankee's reach the world series, the Celtics beat the Cavs and the Wembley NFL game (a good week for Boston-born "5th member" of Sometree, Sean). Oh yeah, and the obligatory attempt to explain cricket.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Honour Before Glory in Germany - Day 4

It was a pretty relaxed journey to Stuttgart, and everything was done with a decent amount of time, checking into our hostel and loading the venue - the veritable maze of rooms.

While Sometree soundchecked I went for a walk around the city, which is supposed to be one of the richest in Germany - so lots of boutiques, and it's always cool to see a totally pedestrianised city centre.

The funniest thing for me though, was seeing a German Christmas Market, selling the kind of Bratwurst and Gleuwien found in Leeds & Manchester city centres every year. The Sometree guys found my amusement pretty funny - it's just that it was exactly the same as we have in Leeds. Surely there's no 'novelty' in having it in Germany?

The gig was a really good one tonight, the crowd came down early and were really kind to me and seemed to listen so I felt a bit more confident. Sometree got an amazing reaction tonight, even getting two encores and vinyl and CDs were being signed for quite a while after

This morning we had a lazy morning, with breakfast and internet check-up, before the light drive to Frankfurt. The gig that was supposed to be in Frieberg has been cancelled unfortunately, so we have a day off - but it will be valuable rest as we have to traverse the long journey into Austria on Thursday!

Soundtrack to this post: Grammatics, Throwing Muses