Saturday, 26 December 2009

Vampire Weekend

They're back!

After a short and well deserved break from the hard graft of promoting their astounding 2008 debut, Vampire Weekend are back with the same preppy, ethnically diverse indie with more than a spring in their step. With a first album globally heralded to be one of the finer LPs released this decade, many have doubted whether the NY boys would deliver the same result in their follow up. Thankfully, by the sounds of the tracks that the band have leaked thusfar, it definitely won't diappoint.

Vampire Weekend released tracks Horchata and Cousins as free downloads not too long ago, and have since been happily clocking up the plays on my iTunes with their moreish charm . Horchata is more of what you've come to expect from the posh so and so's: there's the same African drumming, crisp harmonies and off the wall lyrics ( 'In December drinking Horchata I'd look psychotic in a balaclava'-errm, ok then) but it still sounds as refreshing as ever. It's almost like they've never been away.

Cousins meanwhile, is possibly one of my favourite songs of the year, which for a late contender is quite impressive. It's bouncy and a proper feel good song, definitely what we need to warm up those icy nights of crap TV and stale Quality Street. Cousins also, oddly enough, manages to encapsulate both a Christmassy vibe and hazy summer ambience almost effortlessly, without so much as raising an eyebrow. Love it.

If you haven't heard their first album, put that on your shopping list in the January sales. Then go to and download Horchata for free. It's awesome.
New album Contra is out on January 11th.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Just Like Christmas

So tomorrow will be Christmas Day 2009. Has it really been a year since the last one? If you're feeling all warm and full of Christmas cheer then I salute you. If not, then you find yourself in a similar position to myself. I've always loved Christmas but this year it just feels wrong. Not that I haven't tried to get in the mood: I've sung carols, made paper chains, listened to hour upon hour of Christmas music (The Real Group and Muppets' Christmas albums are both great to check out if you want to capture some of the Christmas spirit.) and even argued with my parents, and yet it doesn't seem like Christmas.

Still, I'm not going to be a Scrooge about it; Christmas seems to be the one time of year that everyone briefly forgets how crap their lives are in order to gather around a roaring fire and exchange gifts of socks and, well, socks. It's the one time where we can look to the future and not be terrified and/or angered by it: the year is nearly over and the days are going to get longer. There's something on the horizon at least. And if that's enough then that's fine by me.

In this year's audio stocking I have a couple of gems, definitely more chocolate coins than old satsumas. The first is a cover of Low's Just Like Christmas by new country/indie upstarts Kill It Kid. They've put their own unique twist to the song and conjures up the image of what Christmas must be like for those Southerners in the US of A. Or something like that. It's good anyway.

The next track is a choral version of my new favourite Scottish export (excluding whisky), Frightened Rabbit with their Christmas track they recorded last year, It's Christmas So We'll Stop. It's completely acappella and somehow reminds me of Santa laughing (the ah's at the start sound more like HO HO'ing to me). This track is brilliant for creating a festive atmosphere, it's so easy to lose yourself in this. I would also recommend checking out the original version of this track too, it's still chilled but has a subtle hint of bitterness that make this accessible to everyone, whatever their mood at this time of year.

The last track is one you may have heard on the radio over the past few weeks. Strokes' frontman Julian Casablancas has penned a catchy, rollicking Christmas song to rival Mariah Carey in the cheese stakes. I Wish It Was Christmas Today is what I imagine my little brother to sing in the first few weeks of December, though I think I can say Casablancas does it much better. I love pretty much everything he's ever done so I may be a bit biased, but I think this track is a cracker.

I'm sorry, it had to be done(!)

So, whether you're into the whole Christmas thing or not, forget about swine flu, ice and exams for a bit and have a good one. Eat, drink, be merry and listen to some brilliant tunes.

Merry Christmas from Yours Truly

Saturday, 19 December 2009

OCD Time

Ok, so this isn't exactly original, ground breaking citizen journalism, but I thought I should make the most of my OCD ninja powers and give you my interpretation of the year that was 2009.

So, I guess, this being a music blog and all, we'll start with the choons. Innit.
Lady Ga-Ga

  • Frank Turner- What can I say? His second album was phenomenal and has currently overtaken The Smiths in my most played. This should speak for itself. If you ever get the chance to see this man play live you'd be only foolish, FOOLISH I TELLS YE to miss it. Frank takes the singer songwriter niche to another dimension with shouty, rambunctious music designed to make you smile.
  • Lady Gaga- At the start of this year I really hated her. I mean, REALLY hated her. Just another boring talentless drone who loves making a tit out of herself. Now, in December, not much has changed (I'm actually stunned at some of the outfits she's come out with this year) but musically I think she's been one of the most refreshing artists to come out of this year and indeed decade. Say what you like, but we ALL know you've been singing along to Pokerface, don't try and deny it. But then who can blame you? Lady Gaga is an example of pop at it's weirdest and most wonderful.
  • Mumford & Sons- Is it wrong that I herald these guys as the Fleet Foxes of 2009? I hope not, I adore Fleet Foxes. For me they made the winter months at the start of this year that much more bearable with their warm, cosy melodies and beautifully folky harmonies. But Mumford & Sons have somehow managed to bring the whole low fi country to the kids. They're getting daytime airplay on both Radio 1 and 6, and it's only a matter of time until the NME jumps on the bandwagon and starts singing their praises too.

All together now.. GHOSTBUSTERS!

The World
So, we've survived Swine Flu, MJ's death hysteria and the biblical flash floods of Glastonbury; not to mention nearly being sucked into a black hole by those crazy guys at the CERN. It's been a good old year really. But what we really want to know is what have been the best bits according to a bored 17 year old blogger?

- Jedward: Coming soon to a Butlins near you.

-Trafigura-Gate: A major step forward in the fight for free speech and shows just how powerful 140 characters can be.

- AS Exams: If ANYONE says that A Levels are getting easier next year I will personally make them pay.

- Star Trek: Yes there were major plot holes, but I've been waiting for a really good, engaging Star Trek film for ages. My name is Madison, and I'm proud to be a Trekkie.

-Kanye West being, well Kanye West: Funny for about the first five minutes, but I'm as tired of seeing pisstakes of this on the interweb as I am of those blasted Lolcats.

- Growing Up: When you've reached the point where you'd rather stay at home and watch Come Dine With Me marathons instead of getting pissed in the park, you know you're not a kid anymore. Midlife crisis at 17, who knew?

-Sartre: I never thought I'd fall in love with a French, communist, existentialist Philosopher. But there we go. Being and Nothingness is one of the most demanding books I have and will possibly ever read, but when it comes to trying to explain our existence, he makes a good point. Be who you want, do what you want, just make sure you know you're responsible for it. Some may call it depressing, I call it bloody brilliant.

Jack Whitehall

TV, Films, ET CETERA..
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: Thoroughly disappointing: it seems the director has lost their original vision of creating the alluringly bewitching world of witchcraft that every child dreams of, into just another mega budget Twilightesque romp. I'll still buy the DVD though, of course.
  • Which brings me to Twilight. I haven't seen the films but I've read enough of the books to know that it isn't worth the hype that the swathes of preteen girls seem to be creating. Seriously, if I have to hear about Jacob and fucking Edward ONE MORE TIME there will be blood. And there'll be nowt sparkley about that.
  • Misfits: Think it's just another variation of Skins? Think again. Take the unconventional superhero style that Heroes does so well and mix with a large dose of comedic realism of what it's like to be a young offender in Britain. Both the writing and acting are superb: Nathan's character is brilliantly loveable and I've found myself warming to even the chavviest of them throughout the series. A definite must-watch.
  • Dave: The saviour of Saturday nights. Where would we be without endless repeats of Have I Got News For You from 2008?
  • Comedy: This year has seen the likes of Michael Mcintyre, Russell Howard, Marcus Brigstock and Jon Richardson finally get the recognition they deserve. Jack Whitehall has also shown that us yoof can be funny too; I'm hoping that he will rise to the same heights that Howard and Frankie Boyle have over the past 12 months.

2009 has been one hell of a year. The lows have been gut wrenchingly grim, the highs have been utterly unbelievable and it's made me fucking RELIEVED I only have a few more months left before I can finally unleash the bonds of Bristol and see what lurks beyond the veil of childhood.

Monday, 14 December 2009

I really hope it snows this year; gives me the chance to play Laura Marling's new track, Goodbye England, to my heart's content.

I've never been a huge fan of Marling for some reason. As much as I tried, her debut album just didn't do it for me. I couldn't see what all of the fuss in the blogosphere was about. This song, however, has finally made me fall under her spell a little bit. It's poetic, wistful and just a touch Christmassy without even a hint of a sleighbell. I love it.
(The Powers that Be have declared I have to take down the track, sorry!)

Killing In The Name Of.. Good Music

Ok, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon. You may have heard of a reality TV programme called the X Factor. For those not in the know it's an annoying show where contestants compete for who has the biggest sob story, the judges fight over who can be the most controversial and Simon Cowell sees how much money he can rake in through week upon week of phone votes. Oh, and there's also a bit of singing thrown in too.

Now, every year that the X Factor has been on, the winner has gone on to receive the 'prestigious' title of Christmas Number One in the mainstream music charts. Bit boring really. Where's the competition if we all know already that whatshisface is going to win with his sappy vomit inducing cover of a Miley Cyrus song? Miley fucking Cyrus. Has it really come to this?!

So, there's this little campaign to offer an alternative to the X Factor winner's single, in the form of Rage Against The Machine's Killing in the Name Of. Of the millions of alternative songs that could have been chosen, I'm not too sure why they chose this one, but even so it'd be quite refreshing to see if it ends up in the chart- alongside that slushy song by the Soldiers and Mariah Carey.

Let's face it, music today is more about making money than acute craftsmanship. More about shifting units than penning beautiful, catchy melodies, at least when it comes to pop music (Lady Gaga being a possible exception). So why not have some fun with it?

If you want to join in this experiment that's already received praise from the likes of 6 Music and NME Magazine, then go buy it on iTunes or Amazon THIS WEEK.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A MUST Listen

Are you sitting comfortably?

Good, then I'll begin.

Just a quick one from me, (I've a million and one things to do this week) but I felt compelled to share this with you, my lovely readers on this cold winter's eve. Get some chocolate, sit by the fire if you can and just let yourself slowly become transfixed by this beautiful sound. If this doesn't chill you out, nothing will.

This has genuinely made my day.

Oh and while I'm at it, today marks
World AIDS Day. Just 40 cents/pence provides one day's treatment for a person suffering with HIV and AIDS. Whatever you can give will no doubt be very much appreciated and help to save the lives of those suffering with this horrible and rather unnecessary disease.
To donate click here.