Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Best of 2009

The last couple of January's I've blogged my 'best albums' of the previous year. This year I'm doing it slightly different and it also ties in with the 'annual Christmas lads meet up' (oh ok, piss up!)... and what a great turn out this year I might add, as well as the regular 'locals' we managed to get Paul T down from London, John F down from Brighton and Terry H down from Leicester! Top work!

Each year this event has some sort of theme (don't ask me why, I can't actually remember anymore!! It just does OK!), we've had top ten films, desert island discs, top 10 debut albums etc etc. This year, E. F Rice hit on the genius idea that we all create a CD made up of your favourite tunes from the last 12 months, burn enough copies for everyone and then dish em out. The rules were simple, all of the tracks had to either:

a) be taken from an album released in 2009; or

b) from an album you bought in 2009

Either way, the CD was to contain songs that had shaped 2009 for you. I was pleased with part 'b' of the rules, as at my age, I seem to be delving more and more into the back catalogue. It also meant I was able to bend the rules slightly and apply them to albums I already owned pre-2009, but for one reason or another, purchased again during the last year... thus every single Beatles album was in contention, as were the double CD re-releases of the Damned's late 1980's albums. Banned though was adding a track from an album purchased prior to 2009... no matter how much you may have listened to it recently!! The final part of the rules was a ban on track-listings... initially at least. The idea was to avoid any preconceptions and fast forwarding of tracks you'd already made up your mind on before hearing! So here is the run-down of Pileys Spicy New Year Revolutions 2009!

1. Marc Almond - Day And Night
Taken from 'Orpheus In Exile - The Songs Of Vadim Kozin' (released September 2009)

Marc released his second album of Russian folk songs last year (the first being 2003's 'Heart On Snow'), and just like the first one it's a real treat. His intense style of performance suits these songs perfectly... they could almost have been written especially for him! The orchestration and production is just stunning. 'Day and Night' is set to a unwilting marching tempo, and captures the excruciating hell of being in the Russian army....

2. Lady GaGa - Again Again
Taken from 'The Fame' (released January 2009)

Yes really! I warmed to the bonkers one over the year and in particular found the coverage of her Glastonbury performance extremely entertaining. The biggest shock was discovering that this gal can actually sing too! 'The Fame' is a cracking little album with more of a nod to electro-glam and Bowie than you might initially expect. This little gem is tucked away right at the end of the album (if you're lucky... it doesn't even appear on some re-issues) but beats everything else on there for my money.

3 Martin Gordon - Interesting Times
Taken from 'Time Gentlemen Please!' (released July 2009)

I think my love of this album has been pretty well documented on the blog already (check out the Dec 09 archives if you missed it!). Insanely catchy, intelligent tunes, that deserve far more exposure than they probably get.

4 Jace Everett – Bad Things
Taken from 'Jace Everett' (released March 2006)

2009 was the year of the vampire series True Blood. I loved everything about it, and that included the gloriously trashy country\rockabilly twang of the theme tune. I googled it immediately, and by the 3rd episode I had this album! It's OK, although there's nothing else on there to match this. Just love the subtle organ sound that's in there too.

5 Seasick Steve - Never Go West
Taken from 'Man From Another Time' (released October 2009)

This guy has grown on me over the last 2 or 3 years. I always thought he sounded OK, but nothing particularly revolutionary or different. This new album has a polish to it that is not on any of the previous ones, and it benefits tremendously from it.

6 The Caper Story - I Wish I Did
Bit of a cheat this one, as The Caper Story don't actually have a record deal. However, based on the demo of theirs I was passed during the last year, it won't be too long before they have one! I Wish I Did is the band at their psychedelic, Mod-tastic best!

7 Martin Gordon - You Can't See Me
Taken from 'Time Gentlemen Please!' (released July 2009)

Martin Gordon in Pink Floyd shocker!! Amazing song! See number 3 above!

8 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Zero
Taken from 'It's Blitz' (released April 2009)

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs just get better and better. The first two albums are both belters, but this is their best yet. There is a maturity to the sound of this one, and Karen O's vocals are just incredible!

9 The Rolling Stones – Rough Justice
Taken from 'A Bigger Bang' (released September 2005)

I was on a right royal Stones buzz back in September and October of 2009. So much so that I finally caved in on my 20 year old policy to stop buying their albums after Steel Wheels in 1989. A trawl round Amazon 'new and used' enabled me to pick up the last 20 years worth of albums for literally pennies (I paid 10p for this their most recent album, A Bigger Bang!). The biggest shock was that they weren't all completely shit! This track is an absolute stormer, sneak it on the end of Sticky Fingers or Exile on Main St, and many wouldn't bat an eyelid. Best Stones track in a quarter of a century!

10 Fleet Foxes – Sun It Rises
Taken from 'Fleet Foxes' (released June 2008)

Ok, Ok... so it came out in 2008!! But I didn't buy it until about March 2009. It's been a real grower too. Initially I just found the album quite pleasant, but the more I played it, the more I found their CSN\Beach Boys'y\Simon and Garfunkel'y sound strangely addictive. A truly beautiful album, and I can't wait for the follow up later this year.

11 The Bravery - Adored
Taken from 'Stir The Blood' (released December 2009)

I've loved this band right from the off, having seen their first UK show at the Metro Club in Oxford Street. I was blown away with their enthusiasm and sheer electric showmanship, and for a while they were the darlings of the music press, set to be the band that The Strokes never quite became. They disappeared from the radar of the music press pretty quickly, but I've always kept a keen eye on their career. Stir The Blood is the Bravery's third album, and much like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, there is a real maturity and sophistication to the sound on this outing. They are also experimenting a little more electronically, and the result is pure dynamite!

12. White Denim – Shake Shake Shake
Taken from 'Workout Holiday' (released June 2008)

A great little trio from Austin, Texas. This instrumental track has a real urgency about it, and quite a 60's garage feel. The album (again, I didn't get it until last year) is a cracker, fusing Blues, 60's garage and rock all in one go!

13 Marc Almond - My Fire
Taken from 'Orpheus In Exile - The Songs Of Vadim Kozin' (released September 2009)

See 1 above for full details!

14 The Baddies - Colin
Taken from 'Do The Job' (released September 2009)

Local boys done good, the Baddies produced one of the best debut albums of the year (not to mention one of my gigs of the year too). I honestly could have included just about any track of their high octane, new wavery... but 'Colin' is pretty much as good as it gets.

15 The Damned - Sanctum Sanctorum
Taken from 'Phantasmagoria' (originally released July 1985. Re-released Feb 2009)

Actually, the Damned album that I played the most last year was without a doubt 'So, Whos Paranoid?'. But as I did buy it in 2008 (and it made my 'best of 2008' post) I had to play by the rules. However, 2009 saw the re-release of my 2 least favourite Damned albums ('Phantasmagoria' and 'Anything'), so I was still able to shoehorn my favourite band in! The lure of an extra disc of bonus material on each of these albums was enough to tempt me to part with my hard earned on 'em once more, but giving them another spin after such a lengthy break, I was actually pleasantly surprised... I had certainly forgotten what a gothic gem Sanctum Sanctorum was, complete with it's delightfully OTT church organ fanfare and thunder-clap sound effects!

16 Adam Green - Morning After Midnight
Taken from 'Sixes and Sevens' (released March 2008)

Again, another pre-2009 release. I stumbled on it this year by picking up a pair of headphones on a listening booth in the Rough Trade shop in Green Street. It appealed to me instantly. Have now started to investigate his back catalogue and there is some amazing stuff there... this track is great fun though!

17 Red Light Company - With Lights Out
Taken from 'Fine Fascination' (released March 2009)

My good friend Keano tipped me off about these. There's nothing really original about them (I've been around indie-rock too long!!), but I love the mix they have here... it's a bit Suede, bit Radiohead, bit MGMT, bit Editors etc etc. It's even a bit Coldplay in places, but fortunately there's enough influence elsewhere for them to get away with that!!

18 Beatles - I Want You (She's So Heavy)
Taken from 'Abbey Road' (originally released September 1969. Re-released September 2009)

I bought more albums by the Beatles in 2009 than any other artist, having taken advantage of the re-mastered re-releases. I've never owned any Beatles on CD (all LP up to now), so thought this promotion was a good excuse to finally do so. The trouble with the Beatles is that they are just too good... Everyone knows pretty much all of their songs regardless if they are a 'single' or album track, so it's impossible to find a hidden gem like you can with other artists. So I went for this track as it's perhaps a lesser played one - and also clocks in as the longest ever released Beatles song... and thinking about it, that's probably why it's a lesser played track! It certainly isn't anything to do with the quality, and it's actually one of my favourite fabs songs. It's got more balls than a lot of their 'popier' tunes, and I find that I can get completely lost inside its hypnotically repetitive bluesy haze.

19 The Baddies - Pisces
Taken from 'Do The Job' (released September 2009)

Nope, I couldn't quite chose just one track from this album! See 14 above.

So there you go... 19 songs that helped to shape 2009 for me. My CD actually had 20 tracks on it, but the final song will be appearing in its own post in the next week or two.



Simon said...

Hmm, interesting choices which I will have to investigate more of.

My top ten for 2009 went into the voting for a festive fifty on the YakYak forum but none of them made the final chart! I waffled a bit about them here: http://llamafriend.blogspot.com/2009/12/music-for-masses.html where details of YakYak can also be obtained!

Mondo said...

Mine was a bit 'vintage heavy' - so may redress the balance with A best new bits for the next hook up. It's probabaly that I'm used to doing mixes that mostly use archive tunes, so forgot to include contemporary faves from last year.

Kolley Kibber said...

I hadn't expected to see The Bravery in amongst that lot! I went to see them about five years ago, and was ashamed at how much I enjoyed them. I haven't heard quite a few of the others, so will have a good listen (skipping the Beatles track though.).

My squeeze and his Cheesy Chums do one of these a year too, and circulate them for comments and marks out of ten...the track he found the most divisive on his last effort was 'There Goes Concorde Again' by The Native Hipsters. Wonder what yours will be?

Piley said...

Hi Simon... had a look at your list and that was pretty diverse! Prodigy, Springsteen AND Pixie Lott?? Top work Sir! Hope you get a chance to try out some of my tracks.

Mondo - Stop beating yaself up about the Merry Mondo Mix! IT was all stuff you got into last year, so nowt wrong with it... and I'm sure we spotted at least 1 track from the 21st Century on there!! For what it's worth I loked your disc.

ISBW - I thought thr Bravery were incredible live in the early days... No shame there! Blimey, your other half wins 'hands down' in the diversity stakes!! To be honest I don't really think any of my tracks are all that diverse, but I guess I'm not the best person to jusge em! But they are all quite listenable n stuff! Let me know what you think?


Dan said...

A fine selection indeed, Sir. Downloaded, installed to MP3 player, and I shall be listening to that today at work.

Delighted to see a couple of Baddies tracks there - they're one of my top finds this year. Also very pleased to see Fleet Foxes on there for whom I have a lot of time - regularly walked to work in the summer listening to their stuff and arrived each morning, fresh, springy of step, and almost in what you might term 'a good mood'.

Finally, absolutely ecstatic to see you've picked what is undoubtedly my favourite Beatles song. Can't get enough of that track. An excellent choice, Sir. I salute you.

Piley said...

Cheers Dan... although you may want to hold back on the kind words a little til you've heard it all the way through!!!! You may hate it!!!

Obviously these things are very personal, so unlikely anyone will like the lot, but interested to hear your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

As you well know P i love music but i find so little to be enthusiastic about in todays scene. An interesting choice of tracks here. Many (the newies) i don't actually know. That said i have been impressed with what i've heard and seen of Seasick Steve ,a nice raw blues feel to his stuff and what a character he is , a really interesting life he's had. What has surprised me is that many of the people that are digging Steve have no blues leanings what so ever. A mate played me some Fleet Foxes only last Friday , i had always been put off by the Beach Boys (yuk) and Simon & Garfunkel (i like some tunes by em)comparisons and avoided them. I really enjoyed what i heard and liked the guys voice a lot , i'll be checking them out in the near future. I've always liked CSN&Y and i heard some of that in them. I was lucky enough to see The Bravery with your good self very early on and loved them , although i own no records by em they really were great that night and i should try a CD of em. It is your archive picks that naturally hit the spot for me (i'm living in the past lol). That Stones track is a winner , i was given a copy of that album and expected pure dross but there are some winners on it and as you say many other later Stones albums too(check out the tune My Love Is Strong another later day Stones belter). The MCA days of The Damned were for me their most boring period but i love the tune you have picked , what a winner with Vanian singing his arse off , fantastic. Abbey Road is my fave Beatles album (along with White Album)and you have picked the best cut from it , what a blinding tune with a real rock edge that i wish the Beatles had shown more of. Not heard the others , i do know i HATE the Yeah Yeah Yeah's though , saw em on TV at Glasto , kak (sorry :-). Glad to see your enthusiasm is still there and you found plentiy newies to love , i as ever take my hat off to you sir, i only bought ONE current album this year , Metallica and lets face it they are hardly a "new" band are they ?.

Rock On P.


Piley said...

thanks for your comments Carl.... You are right about Seasick. A very interesting story he has, and boy what a nice guy when you see him interviewed?! He has worked hard to get where he is, good luck to him. You are right that he seems to have crossed over to people who don't usually buy that sort of music - hopefully that's healthy, and could send some people off down a whole new avenue.

Glad you already liked some of my other picks, be interested to hear what you think of the other bits and bobs?


E F RICE said...

Hello Piley. I am really pleased with how the CD swap worked out and already have plans for this year to be even more organised ! Your CD is extremely diverse, I will admit to not liking all of it which is due to my lack of class in appreciating good music usually. For example I don’t like the Marc tracks (will you still speak to me !).

Although more opinions will be shared in the pub I must say how great the inclusion of the Essex Brothers was on your CD. A lovely kind of innocent track if you know what I mean, especially when you consider your family history associated with it. I must try and dig out some of my Grandad’s offerings as part of the Syd Uren Trio !

PS – What no Susan Boyle ?

sally said...

HI Was wondering if anyone has a picture of Syd Uren as I have recently found out that he was my grandad. I have found several people who knew him but nobody has a picture. Would be soo grateful. Cheers Sally.

Piley said...

thanks for the comment Sally! Will ask around to see if anyone has anything.

Feel free to e-mail me (link over on the right hand side)


Piley said...

Sally - I don't have any contact details for you, so can't get in touch. If you happen to pop back to this site again and see this them please e-mail me (link over in the right hand column) or put your email details in a comment, as I have good news for you re the pictures!


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