Category Archives: five of the best

Five of the Best: #9: Me

Well, I finally got around to putting this up. I have had it virtually complete for weeks, but due to various complications and wonderful distractions, haven’t been able to post it online. When I sat down to write it, I had no idea how difficult it would be, so I really appreciate all of the other writers who took the time and effort to donate their Fives. I’ve enjoyed reading all of them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing my own.

Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump (2000)







When I first heard it

I think it was in 2000, a couple of months after its release. I got Underneath the Weeping Willow on a free cd with either Q or Select and from there, went out and bought the album. I had been getting really into the Beta Band in the year previous to it, which prepared me well for this. I was 15 or 16 at the time and I was simply blown away. I loved everything about it: from the name, to the artwork and, of course, the music. I played this album almost continuously for a year and it still sounds as fresh now as it did then.

Why I love it

It’s ramshackle, beautiful, funny, happy, sad… I could go on. Jason Lytle is a country singer trapped in a skater’s body. He combines the heartstring-tugging balladry of Gram Parsons with the kaleidoscopic vision of Wayne Coyne. These are love songs written for robots, machines, household appliances, aeroplanes, dial-a-views and humanoids. I guess they must be taking the piss on some level, but the songs are so sad and beautiful, it’s impossible not to be taken in by them.

I remember there was a sticker on the cover quoting a magazine’s review: “Easily the equal of OK Computer,” and whilst most of you will think this is OTT, I have to agree. This is one of the most complete albums I’ve ever heard and almost ten years on, I still can’t make it past the first track without breaking into a broad grin. I can’t say that about Airbag.

What it reminds me of

Being a teenager, with a head full of artificial angst. This album reminds me of being grounded and stuck in my bedroom. It reminds me of taking hours over chores that really should have taken five minutes, like hovering the landing or cleaning the bathroom. When I play it really loud, I keep expecting to hear a voice coming up the stairs, telling me to turn it down. It reminds me of lying in my bedroom, leafing through back issues of Q, Select and Hot Press. I used to sprawl out on the bed with this on repeat, probably when I was supposed to be revising for GCSEs or something. I remember lending it to some school friends, who couldn’t get my enthusiasm for it. I didn’t get enthusiastic about much when I was 16, so this must be pretty special.

Standout track

For different reasons I toyed with saying Underneath the Weeping Willow, Jed the Humanoid or Broken Household Appliance, National Forest, but ultimately, I can’t look past the opening track. He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s The Pilot. Quite simply, the finest opening track of an album I’ve ever heard. It’s a little synthy indie rock opera…

“How’s it goin’, 2000 Man?”

Anything else?

I love all of Grandaddy’s albums, but none come close to matching The Sophtware Slump. Lead singer Jason Lytle returned this year with a new album, Yours Truly, The Commuter, which is his best work since.

Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights (2002)







When I first heard it

I didn’t get this album when it first came out. In fact, I only bought it after I’d heard the follow up, Antics. It was during the last year of my degree in 2004. If any one album has soundtracked my decade, it’s this one. I must have averaged three listens a week since I got it. I was surrounded by people listening to The Killers and Snow Patrol. This came as a godsend.

Why I love it

Played from start to finish, this is one of the most powerful, intense albums you’ll ever hear. I rarely use this word, but it’s awesome. The unforgettable opening bars of Untitled introduce you to an utterly hypnotic world of anxiety, tension and shadows.

In a way, Interpol were the flip side to much of the hyped New York scene of the time. The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs etc, are all great bands, but Interpol offered an alternative view of their city. A dark and sinister, but also a lovely view; away from the revelry and merry-making. The musicianship here is fantastic, the songs are complex, layered and brilliant, and the vocals are delivered starkly and coldly.

I love how Paul Banks can shift his voice from composed and tranquil, to frenzied and terrifying at the drop of the hat. I love how this album is completely loaded with paradoxes. It’s confident and self-contained, yet at the same time, seems wracked with doubt, caught up in a maelstrom of confusion, like the swirling, paranoiac guitars on The New. As a singular composition, this is as close to perfect as I’ve heard.

What it reminds me of

Leaving university and moving to Scotland. When I first went to Edinburgh, my old flatmate and I would often play TOTBL from start to finish at about 7am, after parties. We’d hardly speak a word, coming down with our heads tossed back, nodding to the music. It reminds me of looking out the big bay windows of our Haymarket flat, over the rooftops of Edinburgh, the sun slowly creeping up over the chimneys. There aren’t many sights that can match that, and even the thought of it is enough to give me goosebumps to this day. Unforgettable.

Standout track

The final track Leif Erikson is the perfect conclusion; desperate and resigned, a beleaguered Banks lays down some of the best vocals of the decade.

“It’s like learning a new language…”

Anything else?

When I interviewed the guitarist Daniel Kessler, he was a real prick and sneezed all over himself.

Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)







When I first heard it

I think around the time I started working in a bar job at the Caledonian Hilton Hotel in Edinburgh. I had been reading lots about Arcade Fire and hadn’t gotten around to hearing Funeral. When I did, I was completely hooked.

Why I love it

At first, I didn’t pay much attention to what this album was about. I was sold on the tunes, the melodies and the enthusiasm, which are incredible. But eventually, it’s impossible to ignore the themes. This is a devastating record, and one that anyone who has lost someone close to them can relate to. I know I can.

There are two ways you can react when something like that happens. You can wallow in self-pity… everyone does this to an extent. You can dig yourself into a little hole and brood over how shit things are, wondering how you’re going to make it through… thinking: “Why me?!”

Or you can take the Arcade Fire route. Bad things will happen. Loved ones will pass and people will move on. But rather than dwelling on losing someone, celebrate the time you had with them. If ever there was a more sparkling tribute to life than Funeral, then it must be pretty fucking spectacular.

What it reminds me of

To me, this is winter in Edinburgh. It reminds me of walking home from work at 6am and waking up and it being dark again. I don’t think I seen more than a few hours of daylight that winter and despite the fact that I was working in a shitty job, surviving hand to mouth and living on my tips, I struggle to think of a time when I had more fun.

Standout track

Neighbourhood #1: Tunnels pretty much sums up why I love this album. It encapsulates the bittersweet, happy-sad dynamic, and is a brilliant tune to dance to.

Anything else?

Arcade Fire are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. Watching them at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow is one of the most electrifying performances of my life. And their cover of Naïve Melody manages to give the Talking Heads a run for their money… no mean feat.

The National – Alligator (2005)







When I first heard it

I didn’t hear Alligator until I seen it popping up on a few End of Year Lists in 2005. I got it in December of that year and listened to it regularly for the next six months.

Why I love it

From the first time I listened to it, right up until now, I can be sure that if I listen to Alligator closely enough, it will reveal something new to me. Matt Berninger, the lead singer, with his gangly posterior and baritone voice, reminds me of some sort of mad professor. A tortured soul, a should-be-bedroom-bound geek, a fucking serial killer, even, who has somehow manifested himself as the whisky-sodden singer of a great rock band. I once read a review of this comparing him to House, the eponymous character of the tv series, and whilst there may be some physical similarities, I think Berninger is much more awkward… much too dark.

He’s the most unlikely of heroes; listening to him give out about his father in law, “ballerina-ing on a coffee table, cock in hand”, demanding his girlfriend to “serve him the sky with a big slice of lemon”, or claiming, in what you interpret as delusion, to be “the Great White Hope”, you can’t help but fall in love with the guy, and initially, he is why I loved Alligator. And that’s before you dissect the musical brilliance on the record. Each of the songs has a central melody, but is embossed with nuance upon nuance of excellence. The curious percussive patterns, the woodwind flourishes, the restrained guitar licks… all of these combine to create a subtle masterpiece.

What it reminds me of

This reminds me of getting the ferry back to Ireland from Stranraer to Belfast. It also reminds me of a massive fall out amongst friends a few years back, soundtracked by Alligator: the loveliest angry record ever to have graced my lugs.

Standout track

As with the others, I could have plumped for any one of half a dozen, but I always keep coming back to Daughters of the Soho Riots. It’s the first National song I play to anyone who hasn’t heard them. Mostly, they love it.

Anything else?

Seeing the band live only confirmed everything I thought about Berninger. He pranced about the stage like an eejit and owned the place. He was the absolute star of the show. It was a shame the tent was empty, but everyone that was there was nodding away with a knowing smile on their face.

Midlake – The Trials of Von Occupanther (2006)







When I first heard it?

I got a free mp3 of Roscoe from Pitchfork and fell in love with it. From there, I got into the album.

Why I love it

Midlake filled a Grandaddy-sized hole in my life. I’ve already written about the Sophtware Slump, and this album reminds me of it a lot (as does their fist album, Bamnan and Silvercork). It doesn’t sound massively like it, and thematically, they’re poles apart – as opposed to robots and gadgetry, Midlake are more preoccupied with 19th Century woodcutters.

But both albums are constructed around the nuances of a society neither band could have had any idea about. They hone in on little, seemingly inconsequential parts of these worlds and fill them with colour. Van Occupanther… has got a real warmness to it: it’s comforting. Tim Smith’s voice is like syrup over the gentle, 70s soft-rock music. The harmonies are understated, everything’s pretty simple, but it’s lovingly and expertly put together. The instrumentation (flutes, piano, violin) is lush – not in a grand, overbearing way, but I guess in the same way a forest is lush…fresh, organic even – which, I think, is exactly what they were going for. This is certainly the most serene, lovely album I’ve heard over the past ten years.

What it reminds me of

Although I’ve played this album regularly, it’s crept into my psyche subconsciously. There was never a time when I was listening to it constantly, but I guess that’s what I love about it… its subtlety. I seen them at Indian Summer in Glasgow in 2006 and Andrew Bird played violin with them. It was one of the best festival performances I’ve seen. I interviewed Andrew Bird a couple of hours later and I think he got a bit pissed off at me because I kept asking him about Midlake.

Standout track

Van Occupanther: probably the simplest song on the album, but a great one nonetheless. The lyrics are inspired.

Anything else?

I was out in a bar once and heard a surprisingly brilliant remix of Roscoe, Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve mix.


Choice Cut Video: The National – Daughters of the Soho Riots

http://www.youtube.com/v/v3_YrOULNY0&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

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Five of the Best: #8: Alexis Somerville

The second last in the Five of the Best series is from Alexis Somerville. Alexis is a journo who has written for Plan B, Aesthetica and Nude. Some great albums in here, my own will follow (hopefully tomorrow). Happy New Year!

Radiohead – In Rainbows (2007)



When I first heard it

A Saturday night in November 2007, drunk and wondering where I was (incidentally: on the 13th floor of a skyscraper in Taipei, Taiwan at about 3am).

Why I love it

I have to admit, I’d almost forgotten about Radiohead. After obsessive listening to OK Computer, Kid A etc. as a college student, I developed new obsessions and Radiohead slipped my mind for a while. So I wasn’t even excited when they released a new album, though it captured my attention for its unusual payment options (what? You can pay as much or as little as you like to download it?!) which clearly worked to their advantage as it entered the US Billboard charts and UK album charts at number one.

I heard about all this and yet I still didn’t download it as I was living approximately 6,000 miles from home without the internet. And then I went to an indie disco (appropriately named Idioteque after the Radiohead song) and found someone who owned it. Initially I listened to it not once but several times in a row.

I was shocked and slightly ashamed. How could I have forgotten about Radiohead?! They were always impressive, let’s face it, and now… an album of exquisitely beautiful songs which are both interesting and oddly accessible. Not proggy experimentalism or guitar-heavy rock (though they do those impeccably well too) but pared down, lyrically astounding platforms for Thom Yorke’s voice and the band’s ability to create an atmosphere.

What it reminds me of

A strangely unfestive yet magical Christmas in Taiwan, listening to it on repeat forever and never getting bored.

Standout track

Reckoner

Beirut – Gulag Orkestar (2006)







When I first heard it

When exploring a friend’s computer for exciting music two or three years ago.

Why I love it

Zach Condon’s voice, the instrumentation, the melodies, the atmospherics and the fact that it’s a ridiculously impressive debut. Surely at 20 Condon didn’t have the life experience to make music which sounded like it had been recorded by a seasoned, virtuoso Eastern European gypsy… but somehow he pulled it off.

What it reminds me of

My friend Lewis bragging about how he was going to listen to it on a solo trip from Poland to China by rail. It seemed the perfect setting and I was insanely jealous. Although he got his MP3 player nicked by Manchester United fans in Russia so it didn’t all pan out.

Standout track

Postcards from Italy

Geoff Muldaur – Private Astronomy: A Vision of the Music of Bix Beiderbecke (2003)







When I first heard it

When I raided my dad’s CD collection a few years ago.

Why I love it

It introduced me to the music of Bix Beiderbecke and has its own delightful take on the 1920s jazz musician’s work. Featuring the likes of Loudon Wainwright III and Martha Wainwright alongside Muldaur’s chamber arrangements and extraordinary vocals, some jazz purists hate it simply for not being Beiderbecke. But it manages to avoid gimmickry and is respectful in its tribute while injecting something new into the diverse mix of instrumentals and vocal tracks. Muldaur employs a mix of exceptional classical and jazz musicians and the album as a whole is a creative, intelligent homage to the jazz innovator.

What it reminds me of

Family Christmases in York and adding my favourite track – There Ain’t No Sweet Man, with guest vocalist Martha Wainwright – to every mix CD I made for a while.

Standout track

There Ain’t No Sweet Man

Low – Things We Lost in the Fire (2001)







When I first heard it

At university in Leeds in 2005. Someone put Sunflowers on a compilation for me and I went out and bought the album immediately.

Why I love it

They do so much with so little, and make melancholy beautiful. This record should be depressing, it should be too slow for comfort. But instead it’s chillingly ambient and engaging. The songwriting is weirdly brilliant and the sparse instrumentation perfectly fitting.

What it reminds me of

Being blown away by their live set at All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2007.

Standout track

In Metal

Feist – The Reminder (2007)







When I first heard it

On a Singapore Airlines flight to Taiwan in September 2007, having just bid goodbye to my friends and family for the last time in what would be over a year.

Why I love it

Leslie Feist’s voice and the elegant simplicity of her melodies. Also, The Reminder was written on the road and inspired by brief stays in various global hotels, a theme which was particularly easy for me to identify with at the time.

What it reminds me of

The beginning of my time in Taiwan. The plane journey as I drifted in and out of sleep, catching occasional glimpses of pretty Singaporean air hostesses and far-away seas. Sitting outside a restaurant in the intense October heat as my friends plugged in their speakers to the outdoor power supply and The Reminder soundtracked our meal. Settling into my new apartment with its huge balcony and views of temples, rundown skyscrapers and misty mountains.

Standout track

So Sorry

Choice Cut Video: Beirut – Postcards From Italy

http://www.youtube.com/v/RjzVbXeD_8E&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

Five of the Best: #7: Dave Kerr

Just a couple more of these to come now, and this one is from Dave Kerr, Music and Online Editor of The Skinny and Commandant of the checked shirt brigade. Despite being the busiest man in the Northern Hemisphere, Dave occasionally finds the time to squeeze out some words for Drowned in Sound, The List and The Big Issue. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas.

At the Drive-In – Relationship of Command (2000)

When I first heard it

September 2000. I bought the One Armed Scissor single after hearing it in the old Virgin in Dundee and – judging by the state of the songs they dared to call b-sides – it was obvious an exceptional album was in the post. Britpop was over and nu-metal had become depressingly dominant in its wake. Rage Against the Machine had just called it quits, but here was this punk band with a similar energy on this crusade to stop circle pits. My mate Brian brought the album over to my house with a few cans the week it came out; he was well acquainted with it by Friday and played Rolodex Propaganda all night (the tune with Iggy Pop ghosting Cedric Bixler and Jim Ward over the chorus).

Why I love it

With the exception of The Doors, Cream, Hendrix and James Brown, this album opened my eyes to music that was much older than I was. I enjoyed a lot of grunge as a teenager, but most of its proto-punk influences left me cold until these guys came along. Bands like MC5 and The Stooges somehow made more sense once I’d taken in ATD-I’s back catalogue, it was all in the attitude.

What it reminds me of

The worst post-gig tinnitus I’ve ever had – The Arches, Glasgow, December 2000.

Standout track

Quarantined.

Deftones – White Pony (2000)

When I first heard it

Utterly steaming, some time in late 2000. An old girlfriend had gotten me into Deftones a few years before and although I was blown away by Around the Fur in its day I just didn’t enjoy much metal at the time — ‘nu’ or otherwise. But a good friend and accomplished musician who exclusively listened to the Beatles up until that point came rolling in the door clutching this new piece of plastic one day, professing White Pony to be “the next level.” How could I not listen to the album that single-handedly jolted this man out of the 60s?

Why I love it

Forget King Diamond’s kick-in-the-balls falsetto, this is the closest thing to a heavy metal opera I’ve ever heard. Terry Date’s production is characteristically clean, which helps project these profound impressions of terror, violence, tragedy and euphoria. Chino Moreno’s basically chasing you down with a scalpel for 53 minutes and you live to tell the tale, soundtracking that ordeal is a band making progress on its own terms; hiding the ball and distancing itself from the other players. Their drummer Abe Cunningham once told me they were in the business of “making hits for another time”, as though they were only presently misunderstood. Their debut might not have aged well, but White Pony still feels like a thing of the future.

What it reminds me of

American Psycho. Also, seeing them play Edinburgh Corn Exchange a few months after the album came out. The band walked on to Laura Palmer’s Theme and it’s the only time I’ve felt as though the clinical ambience of the venue somehow lent itself to the occasion — chills for weeks.

Standout track

Knife Prty.

DJ Shadow – The Private Press (2002)

When I first heard it

June 2002, I recall buying it from the old Dundee FOPP the day before buggering off to work in Arizona for the summer. I’d converted every penny I had into dollars but wasn’t sure I’d find many decent record shops out in the desert, thus parted with 13 of my last 20 British pounds.

I was pensive on first listen. Having spent so much time hammering Endtroducing, UNKLE, the Cut Chemist collaborations and anything I could find by Quannum, Shadow was up on a pedestal in my book. The late 90s were a bit light on great music but this guy had a palette that could soundtrack any aspect of your life, so expectations were weighty. At the same time, I couldn’t quite see how Shadow would find a way to stay relevant in 2002 because so many copyists had come and gone since ‘96. Before warming to it (considerably), first impressions were – in all my hip-hop purist snobbery – that Josh Davis was making a play for Moby’s king of the coffee table anthem status. The 02 advert didn’t help.

Why I love it

Of course, I look like an arsehole saying that now; I’m listening to the album for the first time in a few years as I write this and still hear fresh nuances dripping from every cut. Anyone who can evoke the energy of Run DMC (Walkie Talkie) with John Carpenter (Mongrel… / …Meets His Maker) in quick succession deserves a platinum medal. The Private Press opened up a new world of found sounds to explore, in the same way a few fragmented samples from Endtroducing made me want to hear more from Kurtis Blow or watch Prince of Darkness. Sample-rich albums like these say a lot about the obsessive nature of crate digging and remind me that I’d do well to even scratch the surface of what’s out there in a lifetime.

What it reminds me of

Studying. The Private Press stayed with me through third year and made a comeback during fourth year uni finals. Nothing brings the skull back to its centre quite like a bit of You Can’t Go Home Again.

Standout track

Blood on the Motorway.

Anything else?

I wonder how much he’d charge to do a funeral.

Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf (2002)

When I first heard it

Circumstances of my first encounter with this album couldn’t have been more appropriate, save for a naked Indian on peyote stepping out from behind a cactus and handing me a copy. I bought Songs for the Deaf one night in August 2002 while making the long drive back to Tucson from Scottsdale – proper desert terrain – with my friend Glover (sadly, no relation to Danny). The album wasn’t due out until the next day, but it was past midnight and we imagined some eager retailer would be stocking. So we stopped by almost every garage with a CD stand for 130 miles until arriving at the unlikely site of a 24 hour Borders (RIP). Glover ran around the shop like Anneka Rice until he found the only copy they’d ordered in. The remainder of the trip home was bittersweet – we had the album on the car stereo but it wasn’t yet mine, goddammit.

Why I love it

Rated R (2000) is a disheveled beauty and it’s difficult to rate this above it. I do so because a) I Think I Lost My Headache ends R on an endurance test and b) Songs for the Deaf is undisputable proof that supergroups can be far greater than the sum of their egos. At risk of sounding pretty auld, there’s a danger to this album that I’ve rarely heard in a band since. I’m sure they were blissfully unaware at the time, but this incarnation of the Queens smells like four remarkable talents (Homme, Oliveri, Grohl and Lanegan) finding a way to reach their collective zenith in an awesome moment they couldn’t possibly sustain.

What it reminds me of

Climbing the walls after a troublesome encounter with the philosopher’s blend.

Standout track

The Sky is Fallin’.

Johnny Cash – IV: The Man Comes Around (2002)

When I first heard it

I was cold (knackered central heating) and skint in late 2002. The album came out not long after I finished reading his autobiography; though it was the first full Cash LP I’d spent any real time with and was worth the £15.99 import price HMV sold it for. Once I learned about the fascinating life the man had lead and read about the optimism that the second wind he’d found in his elderly years gave him it made me want to hear much more.

Why I love it

When I first heard Johnny Cash covering Beck and Soundgarden in the mid-90s I put it down to a bizarre novelty and have since heard people criticise the American series as Rick Rubin’s tasteless document of the man in black’s slow decline. But somewhere in-between, I’ve yet to see a more poignant music video than Mark Romanek’s treatment for Cash’s rendition of Hurt. In the context of American IV – alongside the glorious second coming implied by the title track’s biblical references and the inherently optimistic war time classic We’ll Meet Again – the effect is an uplifting counter-balance.

What it reminds me of

Trying to come to terms with the death of my good friend Brian Robertson.

Standout track

The Man Comes Around

Choice Cut Video: At The Drive In – Quarantined

http://www.youtube.com/v/SqsNR5pI6bw&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

Five of the Best: #6: Milo McLaughlin

Milo is the author of the excellent Products of a Gaseous Brain, a blog that combines music, technology and general musings on life. It’s well worth checking out. He also contributes regularly to The Skinny and various technology websites. So, I’m chuffed that he’s taken the time to share his favourite five albums of the 2000s.

The Fall – The Real New Fall LP (formerly Country On The Click) (2003)








When I first heard it

This was the first Fall album I really got into. I was in a weird kind of comedy band at the time called Swivel Chair and we’d been described as a cross between The Fall and Kraftwerk but I’d never really listened to either band with my full attention. A girl at work gave me a cassette with some of their older stuff on and I liked it. But it was this album that persuaded me of the genius of Mark E Smith.

Why I love it

I was converted from the very first second that Green Eyed Loco Man snarls into existence. Sparta FC is the best football song ever (not that there’s much competition). Smith apparently recruited the band who play on this album from hanging around youth clubs or something, so they’re all about half his age and not even proper musicians. And then there’s his surprisingly attractive (and presumably extremely patient) wife on keyboards. Anyway due to the younger influence this is a pretty energetic and straight down the line punk rock album in many ways, so is probably their most accessible album. Of course there is still the requisite rambling stream of consciousness from MES that makes it uniquely ‘The Fall’. I’ve listened to most of their studio albums now and I reckon this one still stands up as one of their best.

What it reminds me of

Has to be the gig they played at Edinburgh’s much-missed shithole The Venue in February 2004. It was mainly this album they played, and me and my pal got ridiculously drunk and dived into the mosh-pit (I’m too old for that kind of thing these days). MES even looked like he was having a good time and didn’t storm off early or anything, which I’ve seen him do since. Just one of those gigs that always makes you smile when you think about it.

Standout track

For me, Contraflow because it makes for a brilliantly cathartic singalong for somebody who spent his teenager years going slightly insane in a thatched cottage in the middle of rural Ireland (the chorus goes “I hate the countryside so much, I hate the countryfolk so much”). I don’t really mean it of course but Mark E Smith can get away with saying that kind of thing.

James Yorkston – The Year of The Leopard (2006)








When I first heard it

This choice won’t be much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, God knows I banged on enough about it at the time. I was given a copy to review for The Skinny and was immediately bewitched by Yorkston’s dulcet tones.

Why I love it

It’s produced by Paul Webb who did the Beth Orton solo album, and he seems to be amazing at creating a really warm and intimate atmosphere, and of course Yorkston’s songs are beautifully crafted, with great lyrics. Put this on and you just instantly feel more relaxed. Like the audio equivalent of a roaring open fire and a bottle of red wine. In fact, it has such a dramatic effect on me I think it actually makes me more of a gentle, kind person. If everyone in the world appreciated this album, it would probably bring about world peace.

What it reminds me of

Basically just spending time with my girlfriend, chilling out, plus going to see him playing live in numerous intimate venues. In fact we saw him play to a half empty field (he was on very early in the day) at the first Connect Festival at Inveraray Castle near Loch Fyne, so it reminds me of that beautiful setting, a lot of mud, and seeing Bjork later on in the day. Good times.

Standout track

Wow. This is hard, because Woozy With Cider, which is an amazingly personal spoken word piece accompanied by a subtle electro backing, is probably the one that grabbed me first, and drew me into the album – but I have to vote for I Awoke because it’s the most heartbreaking and beautiful song ever written about infidelity and relationships. I’m welling up now just thinking about it.

Arcade Fire – Funeral (2005)








When I first heard it

I met Sean Michaels from saidthegramophone.com at a meeting for the short-lived Scottish magazine Noise (a precursor to The Skinny) and he told me about The Arcade Fire, a band he loved from back home in Montreal. A short while later they appeared on Jools Holland and I was blown away. I got the album as soon as I could.

Why I love it

Others will no doubt have written more eloquent descriptions of just why this album is so good, but for me it’s just a powerful, positive, onslaught of passion, drama and energy. I didn’t get into their follow-up as much but this still stands alone as an amazing debut.

What it reminds me of

My friend Sean, and going to gigs in Glasgow a lot. Seeing them live in Princes St Gardens where they supported Franz Ferdinand and blew them away.

Standout track

This is one of those records which for me stands up as an entire album, and it’s a beast. I don’t want to pick a single track that I prefer.

Sufjan Stevens – Illinois (2005)








When I first heard it

I can’t exactly remember, but I heard the track For the Widows in Paradise; For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti from his Greetings From Michigan album on a Rough Trade compilation and I was instantly smitten. Then this album came out and I had to admit the guy was sickeningly talented.

Why I love it

I was reluctant to choose this because it’s so obvious, but when it comes down to musicianship, it’s head and shoulders above almost everything else I’ve heard. In fact, I should hate it, because it almost put me off making music myself as there was no way I would ever be able to create anything this gorgeous musically in a million years.

Okay so I admit it, I just love the banjo.

What it reminds me of

Christmas. Even though he also did a Christmas album, this has the same kind of feel about it. You know, cheerful and colourful and all that kind of stuff that you’re only allowed to be once a year.

Standout track

Chicago

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell (2003)








When I first heard it

I’m pretty sure I bought it when it first came out. I remember making up a compilation for a bunch of folk and including about 5 tracks from the album on it. I also included some tracks by the band Electric Six on that compilation but I probably shouldn’t admit that as the YYYs have aged considerably better.

Why I love it

It’s hedonistic, ridiculous, sexy, and it oozes belligerent, youthful, energy from every pore, and it barely lets up, with one track after another slamming the message home. And Karen O is clearly a superstar.

What it reminds me of

Seeing them at Glasgow Barrowlands. The songs from this album had the entire place jumping, from the first row to the back row – one of the best gigs I’ve been to.

Standout track

Has to be Maps really doesn’t it – though it is the least representative, its a gloriously unique and heartfelt ballad that still completely retains the unique YYYs sound. It might just be perfect.


Choice Cut Video: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps, Acoustic

http://www.youtube.com/v/VJf2FQDl8Ig&hl=en_US&fs=1&

Five of the Best: #5: Ally Brown

Ally writes for The Skinny, Drowned in Sound, Clash, Popmatters, Chordstrike and Blogcritics. Before it ceased to exist, he was a writer for the excellent Stylus. So I am delighted and surprised that he’s found the time to contribute the fifth selection of albums to mark the passing of the decade.

Portishead – Third (2008)

When I first heard it

I almost never download leaks, but for some reason I wanted to hear this one ASAP. I wasn’t particularly a Portishead fan and of course no-one had much hope for this because it was 11 years since the album before. I remember sitting at my desk in my office — which is unfortunately where I hear most music for the first time now — and being totally struck, from the first listen, with a sense of terror. Most albums need a couple listens to sink in, I tend to take two or three passive listens before I actively listen out for bits or lines or sections or moods that emerge. But this hit me straight away. As the booming sirens faded at the end of the final song, I banged my head down on my desk. I was utterly stunned.

Why I love it

I think it very subtly — but very clearly — conveys a sense of fear and horror that’s really overwhelming. I mean, it doesn’t take any easy routes, it doesn’t use any gimmicks to achieve this, and some of the songs or sections don’t seem to follow this theme. But that’s how it is in a film: an expert horror film doesn’t need to use gimmicks or gore, and it isn’t constantly trying to scare you; it needs periods of apparent normality for the scary bits to really hit hard. People always say that OK Computer is about the fear of where technology is taking us, and I think of Third as OK Computer taken to its apocalyptic conclusion.

What it reminds me of

Reading “The Day Of The Triffids” at school. I hope I never forget seeing them at Coachella in 2008, particularly when they unleashed “Machine Gun” and I wanted to duck.

Standout track

I could quite easily say “Machine Gun” but I’ll go for… “The Rip”. And I’ll change my mind if you ask me again.

The Twilight Sad – Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters (2007)



When I first heard it

Don’t remember. It didn’t strike me immediately. But I remember after I’d already submitted a 4-star review to The Skinny feeling compelled to play it again. Usually when I’ve reviewed an album that’s it sown up, so to speak, I put it away and don’t go back to it for months. But I played this again and again and again and had to phone Dave (my editor) up to tell him to change it to a 5 before we went to print.

Why I love it

This is harder to pin down. I love the way it flows. It seems to have perfect pacing and balance, rising and falling in volume and size and energy all the way through. I love James Graham’s vocals — when he loses it you know he’s really losing it — and his lyrics just need a few vivid images here and there to let you know what’s going on. We can fill in the rest ourselves. And I love the guitar textures. The critic in me knows it’s just a well-executed anthemic indie-rock record, and that perhaps I should prioritise other albums, more innovative or ground-breaking albums say. But I think Mirrored is a load of wank (“Atlas” apart). This record is totally invigorating to me every time I play it, and the blogger in me says “best” is really just a fancy word for “favourite”.

What it reminds me of

Ha, this is an odd one. I was going in for an operation, so I remember lying on a hospital bed waiting for them to wheel me downstairs, listening to this on headphones, thinking “fucking brilliant!” Wasn’t scared about the op at all. Then they gave me two valiums and I listened to Sam Cooke singing “Cupid”, I was in heaven!

Standout track

“And She Would Darken The Memory”

Burial – Untrue (2007)

When I first heard it

I remember first hearing it thinking – wtf is this? I didn’t get it at all. I didn’t know any dubstep and this was totally alien to me. I later found out that this isn’t really what most dubstep sounds like.

Why I love it

Because it’s so unique – or it is to me, at least. The atmosphere it creates is so stark. I think the snatches of disembodied vocals are what do it – walking home in headphones you’re looking around, down alleys and between bushes, thinking “where did that come from?” But, it’s also pretty funky. It’s a dance record which keeps you on your toes because your senses are heightened by fear.

What it reminds you of:

People always say it’s evocative of walking through the East End of London at night but I live in Edinburgh so that’s meaningless to me! But walking along King Stables Road, under the bridge on a freezing cold night; right, I get it now.

Standout track

“Archangel” perhaps? But I don’t really think any track is a standout, it’s a real album in the old-fashioned, rockist sense.

Primal Scream – XTRMNTR (2000)

When I first heard it

Four or five years after it came out. All I knew of Primal Scream was Screamadelica, and I heard this and was stunned.

Why I love it

It’s very close to being an archetypal album for my own tastes when it comes to rock. The rhythms are all-important, the propulsion, the energy, the aggression. It’s much more like a dance record than a traditional indie-rock record, it’s closer to the Chemical Brothers than something like Blur (and there is a Chems mix on it too). It’s also sequenced brilliantly. The anarchistic themes are a little silly, some of the lyrics sound like they were written by the wee boy who introduces the whole thing. But I can get past that fault when the energy is just so damn exciting. I want to start making my own music now and I want it to have rhythm like this.

What it reminds me of

I was going through a musical dry spell having listened to a lot and had nothing grab me, for ages, and I was starting to worry that I was growing out of it (a day I hope never arrives). This knocked me dead. It was a huge relief.

Standout track

Could easily go for “Swastika Eyes” or but I LOVE the drumming of “Blood Money”, that song pretty much encapsulates why I love this album.

Joanna Newsom – Ys (2006)

When I first heard it

I’d walked into Paisley town centre, to the only decent music shop in town (now closed of course), and plunked a tenner on it without first hearing it because all the contrasting reviews had intrigued me so much. I got home and put it on loud on my big speakers, my Dad came home and looked at me and said “Ally, what is this?”, with a troubled look on his face. I was all “I know, huh!”, furrowed brow, what a riddy. I’d have been less embarrassed to be caught wanking.

Why I love it

I still have a look like that on my face when I play it, but now it’s because I’m stopping myself from welling up.

What it reminds me of

Every so often a record challenges your tastes so much you have to redefine them. It’s like: the first time I tasted beer I thought it was minging; and I still don’t like red wine. My first reaction to this wasn’t just apathy, it was antipathy. But with each subsequent listen my stance softened until I became an awe-struck, whimpering mess. I can understand why some people hate it, and my 15 year old self is frankly disgusted that I have any time for this at all. But I broke through that wall of machismo. It also made me think about: how many listens does an album deserve if you hate it first time? Well, you can think about why you hate it. Some albums are within your normal taste range but seem somehow incompetent, while others are a little outside the kind of thing you usually listen to, and so need a bit of getting used to. Those ones are worth persisting with; case in point.

Standout track

“Emily” I think, but it’s close between all five.

Choice Cut Video: The Twilight Sad – And She Would Darken The Memory

http://www.youtube.com/v/QBHnESrmmM0&hl=en_US&fs=1&

Stuart Braithwaite Tweets His Top Ten Albums of the Decade


I sometimes wonder why I bother with a Twitter account. I don’t tweet much; rarely learn anything interesting from it, and use up hours of my time that could undoubtedly be spent doing something much more productive. And then I find something like this.

I’m sitting at my computer, wondering what The Guardian has to say for itself and reading inane tweets from the Brighton Argus, and a steady stream of tweet updates start coming through from @plasmatron… aka Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai.

The first one read:

“Sponsored by mars bar ice cream here is my top 10 albums the of the decade of records that probably won’t be on anyone else’s lists

My senses were alerted, I began noting them down thinking they’d fit perfectly in the Five of the Best series. And since it is Stuart, why not let him have the ten? I’m not sure what the law is about regurgitating people’s tweets, so if I’m in the wrong, somebody let me know!

Ten of the Best: Stuart Braithwaite’s (unedited) Top Ten Albums of the 2000s

10. Desormais – iambroken and remade iambroken (total glitch masterpiece)

9. Alan Sparhawk – solo guitar (Alan from Low’s make instrumental album of the decade)

8. Super Furry Animals – mwng (only welsh language album by SFA, their best record)

7. Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle

6. Lightning Bolt – Ride the Skies

5. Afrirampo – A (amazing band featuring 2 girls from Osaka)

4. Growing – The Sky Runs into the Sea (one of my favourite bands goings debut)

3. Arab Strap – monday at the hug and pint

2. Jack Rose – Red Horse White Mule (mind blowing guitar player)

1. Malcolm Middleton – 5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine (low on laughs but a truly amazing record. for a ginger)


Mogwai – New Paths To Helicon Part One
http://www.youtube.com/v/EnDqalVWeSk&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

Five of the Best: #3 Alan Timmons

Alan is a writer, a drawer of buildings and the former frontman of superstar Wicklow outfit the Hecklin’ Howlers. He’s the person I credit with my introduction to Gillian Welch (read more below), and as such, his music taste is exemplary. Here are his five favourite albums of the past ten years.

Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator) (2001)

When I first heard it

I got Soul Journey first (probably around 2003) and then quickly collected her previous albums. They are all brilliant but this one is exceptional. I went to college with a nut who knew everything about music. I gave him Soul Journey and he gave me Time. Deal.

Why I love it

Deceptively simple, haunting and patient. David Rawlings plays guitar here (also produces I’m sure) and the acoustic instrumentation is incredible at times. There’s not many that can pull off a 14 minute final track but I Dream a Highway carries you along on a melancholic aching journey. The harmonies with Rawlings add another layer, like a ghost in the back of Welch’s mind. You won’t find anything like this anywhere. If you do, let me know please.

What it reminds me of

I love Dylan and this reminds me of early Dylan in terms of its style and aspiration. It’s probably a bit better even, more confident, assured and better produced.

Standout track

I’m going to say the title track but that’s a reluctant choice. Elvis Presley’s Blues maybe. Red Clay Halo…ah I don’t know. Too difficult to choose. There’s three for you.

Anything else?

I saw Welch and Rawlings live in Vicar Street Dublin around 2003/4. Front row. To this day I’ll say it was the best gig I was ever at. She’s covered all over the place too. You’d be surprised.

 

Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (2005)

When I first heard it

Early 2005 sometime. I wandered into HMV, as I often did, looking for some escape from my lunch break and the job that begrudgingly afforded me the luxury. I never felt comfortable at those listening stations, trying to hold the oversized headphones on like one of the eegits from Band Aid. My embarrassment was often compounded by catching myself nodding along to whatever shit of the week was being played. If I’m being honest I was really just pretending to listen while I watched girls around the shop. Pervert, I know, what are you gonna do! And then one day I heard a story about a woman falling from an airplane and I listened intently. When the song kicked in I took off the headphones and went straight to the counter and purchased this album.

Why I love it

Maybe my favourite album. Big talk, I know and not everyone’s cup of tea but definitely mine. Two sugars and just a drop of milk. Full of stirring little tales sometimes stark with just acoustic guitar, sometimes backed by peddle steel, piano and some brass. The songwriting and lyrics are mature and considered.

What it reminds me of

Some dusty folk outpost where an older generation, unsure of themselves and the world, watch their children play with sticks and built dreams from the earth.

Standout track

Land Locked Blues. The poetic lyrics throughout. If you walk away I’ll way away, first tell me which road you will take, I don’t want to risk our paths crossing some day, so you walk that way, I’ll walk this way. Backing vocals by Emmylou Harris. Shivers.

Anything else?

If I gave this album to someone and they said they didn’t like it I’d have to tell them then that we have nothing in common.

Josh Ritter – Golden Age of Radio (2002)

When I first heard it

A friend in college (the same music nut) gave it to me at the same time as I was trying to get my hands on Damien Rice’s O. Jesus no man, he said, listen to this. And so I did. Good job too.

Why I love it

It’s everything I love about folk. I saw him live a few times around after the release of this album. When he told his stories, I believed him. I believed the smirk, the shy voice, the bad suits. This album grabbed the lapels of my student get-up and said: get that blazer jacket off you nerd, find yourself a check number and get on a train.

What it reminds me of

Hotels, buses, leaves, rivers, laughs, rambling, rolling, leaving….but most of all…trains.

Standout track

Me & Jiggs. I’ve heard him ramble on with two completely different stories about this song, one about taking a girl to a dance and another about some mongrel dog that he befriended. I believed them both.

Anything else?

I was torn between this album and Hello Startling. His first album Josh Ritter is brilliant too, raw, simple and elegant.

 

Jesse Malin – The Fine Art of Self-destruction (2002)

When I first heard it

November 2004. I listened to it on repeat for the whole month. I think I broke it up sometimes with Highway 61.

Why I love it

Because it’s just a really good debut album. And it’s all New York. I hear echoes of Springsteen, The Clash and Elvis Costello.

What it reminds me of

New York of course. But also: Crisp November Mornings…Grand Canal Dock….The Dart…A coat that wasn’t warm enough….Lonely beaches in my dreams…Last year’s girl creeping down my world…The Unbearable Lightness of Being…Desolation Row.

Standout track

Brooklyn. It had me at the two chord down-strummed intro. When the piano kicked in my eyes were closed and I was walking along the Bridge. There are two versions here, one ‘with band’ which is only slightly inferior to the other.

Anything else?

I’ve been sadly let down by subsequent albums where the songwriting has too often strayed towards cliché and easy rhymes which is just lazy writing! There have been some good songs since but no album to come close to this one. And dare I say it but sometimes I think he’s sold out to commercialism, trying to write cheesy pseudo-rock songs. Not a good endorsement of the man, I know, but this album stands alone.

Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress (2004)

When I first heard it

An island somewhere in Thailand 2006: I’m hanging out with this Norwegian guy, a journalist and would-be writer. We get a load of beer and batteries for dodgy speakers, go to the beach and he plays an unending stream of great music till the night gets so dark and drunk we can’t sea the water. If there is any comparison to be made between Thailand and Micah P. Hinson then it’s something to do with the sublime and the ridiculous.

Why I love it

The drole voice, bleak lyrics. Lazy slide guitar, dulcimer & piano. It’s atmosphere I crave, air and space.

What it reminds me of

Not Thailand. A barn in the middle of acres and acres of corn. The wind is blowing and threatening rain. The ripe heads sway and rattle endlessly for miles around like ripples in a lake.

Standout track

This is a tough one. Candidates are The Possibilities, Don’t you and the opening track Close Your Eyes. But my personal favourite is Patience. A four chord repeated verse and chorus looped over a building narrative of noise. He’s pissed and running out of patience; he’s packing up his night bag and he’ll be on his way.

Anything else?

If my taste has annoyed some people, that’s life.

Choice Cut Video: Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)

http://www.youtube.com/v/dey-K1OcjVQ&hl=en_GB&fs=1&

Five of the Best: #2 Finn Scott-Delany

Number two in the series features Finn Scott-Delany, a music critic who writes for Drowned in Sound and Alternative Ulster. He also plays a mean guitar and occasionally, sports a killer quiff.

Grizzly Bear – Yellow House

A steady fixture on album of the year lists in 2006, the drip-drop of critical praise eventually led me to buy Yellow House. An enveloping mood piece, it has been part-relegated by the excellent, chirpier follow-up Veckamist. But to my mind this edges it as one of the most unlikely great albums to get lost in, the abstract and fantastical sonic imagery making it a rare album that commands intensive listening alone. The intro to ‘Reprise’ seems to suck back inside itself before emerging in all its dawn chorus glory.
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

Surely the best modern dance-based album, this also works as an indie crossover because it doesn’t compromise on either. Song-based but mix-led, In Ghost Colours ebbs, pulsates and swoons, a collection of expertly compiled pop songs that knows when to make you dance and when to stand hands aloft. The climax arrives when the driving clatter of ‘So Haunted’ bottlenecks into the set-up for the euphoric ‘Heart on Fire’. In thrall to 80s aesthetics but undeniably fresh.
Common – Be

Kanye West might have made my personal top-5, but since Be is his greatest effort behind the desk, it will do just fine. Spoiling us with a rich palette of deep soul and retooled funk and jazz, Be works as a loving tribute to the black musical canon. Standing proud among his best efforts, Common is streaming with a mature, laidback wisdom. A master class in rhythmic en Pointe delivery, ‘The Corner’ is Common at his most expressive.
The Streets – Original Pirate Material

Being a middle-class kid was no barrier to revelling in the (sub)urban witticisms of Mike Skinner. With too many great lines to quote, this “day in the life of a geezer” was set to homemade two-step beats, normalising a much-pilloried sub-genre. A real memory-jerker, Skinner articulated modern culture on Original Pirate Material in a way he hasn’t done since, ‘Weak Become Heroes’ a poignant celebration of a misspent youth: “But this ain’t tomorrow and for now I still love ya”.

Radiohead – Amnesiac

The second release from the Kid A sessions, Amnesiac has all the progressiveness of its predecessor, but is less bogged down in the post-Ok Computer landscape. As a teenage Radiohead devotee, I would have lapped up almost any release, but this stands out handsomely. ‘Pyramid Song’ is archetypical Radiohead with its discordant piano chords, cut-up time signatures and swirling Thom Yorke vocal.

Choice Cut Video: Cut Copy – Hearts on Fire


Five of the Best: #1 Mark Sheerin

The first in this new series on the blog is with Mark Sheerin. Mark is a music and arts journalist for Culture 24 and Art & Music magazine. You can read more of his work here.


Sonic Youth – nyc ghosts & flowers (2000)


Why I love it

This took a lot of listens to get used to, but I love the way it just keeps growing on me. Some of the tracks are pretty lengthy, so they creep up on you. There’s a lot of spoken word lyrical content which sits comfortably with the musical sprawl. A slowburn classic.

When I first heard it

I had a boxy room with a cheap stereo in a shared house in Oval London. When Sonic Youth toured the album I went with a friend to see that too. Remember being glad at the time to see them play all their “hits”. They treated us.

Standout track

Probably the title track. Thurston attempts poetry and, I think, gets away with it.

Anything else?

This was kind of the gateway to all of the band’s later releases, for me. It’s probably cooler to like punkier stuff, but I love the more post-rock material of which ‘ghosts’ was the first.

The Television PersonalitiesMy Dark Places (2006)


Why I love it

This record is either so bad it’s good or so good it brings tears to your eyes. The TVPs had gone quiet for about a decade and various rumours were circulating about lead singer Dan Treacy. They all turned out to be true, which makes the album a triumph out of adversity.

When I first heard it

It reminds me of commuting and hating my job (2006). They also played it at the 100 Club, which was shambolic, but I did get to meet Ed Ball, whose other bands include The Times, who are also wonderful.

Standout t
rack

No More I Hate Yous. I love everything about this track, from its illogical premise through to the closing sample from movie Brighton Rock, via lovely harmonies from Victoria Yeulet.
It’s a love song, probably, but as much as anything else it’s a sad tribute to the death of the 60s, as they died a second time round in the late 80s! At least that’s a theory.

Anything else?

It’s worth exploring the back catalogue if you don’t al
ready know this band. The Painted Word from 1983 is their masterpiece, I reckon. There are many dark places in Treacy’s ouevre.

Wooden Wand and The Sky High Band –
Second Attention (2006)


Why I love it

Drawling hypnotic songs full of dark Biblical imagery. How could anyone not like that? It’s got a timeless quality, this album. There’s not a lot of tonal variation, but the repetition is what makes it interesting.

When I first heard it

Wooden Wand were playing at a festival which I had tickets for so I picked this up in the interests of homework, shortly after it came out. We never made it to the festival, so the record reminds me of being a bit disappointed.

Standout track

Mother Midnight. It’s one of the more epic moments.

Anything else?

Check out the sleeve art. It’s an oddly faithful recreation of the cover to Stormbringer by John Martyn

Wilco – Sky Blue Sky (2007)


Why I love it

Sky Blue Sky has this warm seventies feel, which I’m a sucker for. The songwriting and the musicianship are both classy, but it’s so MOR in places you can feel a bit guilty listening to it. But a few of the tracks are such classics you can’t help but do so.

When I first heard it

They pre-released the title track online, so Wilco fans such as myself were chomping at the bit when this came out. It was one of the highlights of an otherwise forgettable year.

Standout track

Hate It Here. It’s enough to make you wish for a failed relationship.

Anything else?

That is all.

Spoon Ga ga ga ga ga (2007)


Why I love it

Although it’s only 36 minutes long and I’ve played it to the point where most albums would have expired, I never tire of it. This is largely thanks to Britt Daniels’ amazing voice and his surreal but highly affecting lyrics. Call it short and bittersweet.

When I first heard it

The first time I connected with the songs on this record was when I saw Spoon live in 2007. There were all these kids in the audience and I was beginning to feel old. But the adolescent angst must have been infectious. The band’s performance took years off me.

Standout track

You Got Yr Cherry Bomb. I still don’t know what a cherry bomb is, but it makes for a really good listen.

Anything else?

Spoon take their name from a track by Can, which surprises a lot of people when they hear this album. It’s quite poppy, really.

Choice Cut Video: Spoon – You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb


Five of the Best – an Introduction


How do you succinctly summarise a decade in music in a few paragraphs? Well, you don’t, in my opinion. The last ten years have seen so many zeitgeists, so many trends and so many amazing moments in music, it would be futile to try. What’s been good and what’s been bad is of course completely subjective: everybody has their two cents to throw in. And whilst we’ll all read, dissect and argue over the lists that appear online and in print over the coming two months, they’re unlikely to represent any one person’s decade in music.

This is a series I’ll be running on the blog which will give individuals whose musical opinions I respect the chance to do exactly that: to tell us what music they’ll be taking forward from the noughties. What albums have resonated with them more than others? What records remind them of a particular time in their lives over the past ten years? They may not be the best albums of the past decade, but what albums were important to you?

Please feel free to leave comments after the posts. What albums would you have chosen?