sounds of 2008 (so far) part II

Part II

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Dig!!! Lazarus! Dig!!!

There's a lot of boring music out there. I know because I own some of it. To keep things interesting I'm thankful for Mr Nick Cave. A man who can turn his hand to anything. A brooding reflection on Australia's violent past in his screenplay for The Proposition, and now he produces the goods on Dig. Lyrically entertaining, the combination of Cave's highly unusual vocals (think nasal chant) and great backing from the Bad Seeds combine to create one of the most interesting albums of the year.

Elbow - The Seldom seen Kid

Elbow, like British Sea Power, deserve much more attention than they usually receive. I first heard them when someone on Radio 1 was raving about them; sort of counting down the days until the release of the next album. I was intrigued by the sound of genuine enthusiasm. Seldom Seen Kid does not disappoint. It's a record devoid of swagger and Elbow clearly take an under the radar approach to marketing their carefully crafted tunes. It won't hit you between the eyes, but it gets under your a good way.

Coldplay - Vivia la Vida or Death and All his Friends

From Elbow's low-key approach we have Coldplay the colossus that bestrides the musical universe. It's hard to avoid them this month - I was waiting for Chris Martin to invade the stage at Glasto in solidarity with Jay-Z; sadly not. I got the free single and wasn't exactly excited, but after hearing a bit more on myspace I started coming round. That's what they do I guess, a melody here and a sing-out-loud in the car chorus there and hey presto you've got it on the ipod and the big guns of the music industry sleep just a little better. Well done Chris and co. No need for all the histrionics mind you!

The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely

Released on the sly in March, Jack White continues to churn out quality material with a seemingly carefree ease, although we shouldn't ignore Brendan Benson. I love the White Stripes, but I enjoy the variety here. I like the collaborative and carefree sound of The Raconteurs compared with the relational and musical intensity of the Stripes. I don't have Broken Boy Soldiers, but I listened to a few samples of Consolers of the Lonely and really liked it. I think the song 'Rich Kids Blues' was the tune that did it - great song and fantastic lyrics.

The Roots - Rising Down

While I don't consider myself a huge fan of hip hop, I actually have three albums by The Roots on my ipod. I just got this recently and I'm still working my way through this album, but unsurprisingly it's angry, political poetry built on a dizzying range of beats, samples and experimentation. I think I will be coming back to this one a lot.

the sounds of 2008 (so far) - part 1

I love itunes - no I hate itunes. It's just that they've made it oh so easy to buy music. Don't fancy driving to the store and discovering they don't have what you're after? Want to buy that one song that triggers great memories of the summer of 1996? Like to buy your music in your underwear, but don't enjoy getting arrested? Itunes will deliver? I guess my lack of self-control combined with the convenient memory of my credit card details is not always good. However, I'm delighted to report that the first 6 mths of 2008 have been pretty darn good for good tunes.

In no particular order, here's a few of my highlights:

Johnny Flynn - A Larum. This is a great album. If you don't always find yourself hanging out in the 'folk' section, think again. Julie and I heard Johnny Flynn and his band, The Sussex Wit, play with Iron and Wine in Belfast last year and really enjoyed them. The album is full of great melodies and wonderful lyrics and yes the occasional moment of folk genius!

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago. Sometimes it's the story that gets you. I was listening to BBC 6 music and heard them play Bon Iver's song Skinny Love. I liked it, but was really intrigued when the DJ mentioned how he had taken himself off to an isolated hunting cabin in North Wisonsin for 6 months to record the material for this album. Having a passion for isolated cabins in the woods I wanted to hear more. Bon Iver (aka Justin Vernon) has an unusual voice, but writes incredibly delicate songs that distill a sense of heartache and isolation that can only come after a few months in the woods.

British Sea Power - Do you Like Rock Music?. Perhaps it's because their guitarist is known simply as Noble, but this is one I keep coming back to. Like Elbow, British Sea Power and one of those bands who deserve 10 times the exposure they receive. Rock Music is their 3rd album and it's an accomplished and intriguing album - for me it passes two important tests Firstly, Return visits - since I got it in January I've been back to it on numerous occasions and secondly, Running tunes - I've listened to it a few times while dragging myself round East Belfast and it's got a good tempo for a run.

We are Scientists - Brain Thrust Mastery. I've liked We are Scientists since they first emerged in the UK. For some reason they are occasionally described as 'Geek Rock ' which is a ridiculous genre and seems to me to be a rather lazy catchall for critics who don't really know what to do with witty and intelligent pop rock. But Radio 1 has been a big champion for this band and they managed to enter the UK charts at number 11. It's a departure from their previous material, and has it's darker moments, but there are some great moments and it retains that odd combination of rocking guitars and danceable beats.

Part 2 to follow - bet you can't wait.

she was alright when she left here...

Apparently the Titanic will be making a return to Belfast - or at least a life size replica. BBC NI report:

"Suspended behind glass, the £64m scale model of the boat would incorporate a five-star hotel, an exhibition area and conference rooms.

The Odyssey Trust and Florida-based exhibition firm WLM Inc are seeking more than £39m in government funding.

The 100th anniversary of the tragedy in 2012 is expected to attract tourists."

I've always wondered about the Belfast's obsessive pride with the titanic, considering it's fate and all that. But I recently saw an ad for the some sort of Titanic related event (of which there are many) and noticed the poster included the great line: "She was all right when she left here." Belfast humour at it's best!

(Image of the replica above altered using picnik - my new favourite web tool.)


Just discovered this great new site called wordle. It's a site that allows you to create a word cloud from the text of your choice. Word clouds base the size of a word on the frequency of its usage. The one above is taken from Julie's latest blog post about her imminent french exam!

From Julie's exam we go to Hilary Clinton's concession speech.


Went to Radiohead in Dublin last night - epic show - truly amazing.

Set list from green plastic radiohead:

Malahide Castle - Dublin, Ireland
June 7, 2008 with Bat for Lashes

1. 15 Step
2. Bodysnatchers
3. Airbag
4. Bangers and Mash
5. Nude
6. Pyramid Song
7. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
8. The Gloaming
9. The National Anthem
10. Faust Arp
11. Videotape
12. Optimistic
13. Where I End and You Begin
14. Reckoner
15. Everything In Its Right Place
16. All I Need
17. There There

Encore 1:
18. Exit Music (for a film)
19. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
20. Climbing Up the Walls
21. Planet Telex
22. How to Disappear Completely

Encore 2:
23. Super Collider
24. You and Whose Army?
25. Idioteque

Counting down the hours until Dublin