Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Favorite Albums of 2010.

This gets harder and harder. Each year there seems to be more music released of competing styles, and all of these splinter genres seemingly have very little to do with each other, save for the fact that they are all based in recorded music. This year, I decided to include 40 albums that really moved me. They may not all be choices from the top critics at Rolling Stone or Pitchfork, but speaking as a musician who loves pop music, they were my favorites. Many of them I have written about before, so I will briefly illuminate you as to why these selections made the list, and why some were chosen over others. Let the party commense:

1) KYLIE MINOGUE--Aphrodite
My favorite offering of the summer came from this petite pixie from Australia who has been making great pop records for over two decades now. Whatever divine inspiration it took to get Stuart Price on this project really helped to give Aphrodite a gloriously unified electro sound. It would only be smoke and mirrors if the songs weren't there, but this is Kylie's most consistently pleasing collection of songs and melodies since Fever. "All the Lovers" was a lovely introductory single of immaculate beauty, yet wasn't the best song in the collection. The true test of a great album is when you have a difficult time choosing the best song, and my favorite seemed to change every week. "Everything is Beautiful", "Can't Beat the Feeling", "Too Much", "Get Outta My Way", and the title track always seemed to be fighting it out for best song for me, and there are still others I feel very positive about. When it came down to choosing number one, I recently put this record on my turntable (literally), and I felt so elated with the arrival of each new song. I realized it was perfectly mixed and arranged to provide a complete listening experience, which is why it trumps number two. This may be the first time I have chosen a Kylie album as my number one, and it's about time.

2) ROBYN--Body Talk

While Robyn tried to meet the modern release schedule nightmare head on by putting out three parts to this album, it left the project feeling a little scattered. The beauty in that, however, is that you are free to make your own playlist, so in effect, the Robyn album will mean something different to each individual, and while many of the songs are strong enough to have formed one solid version of it (which part three supposedly is), that isn't how the songs were presented. One day we may look back to how quaint this idea was, but all told, Body Talk is a kick ass collection of fantastic pop tunes, meaningful without taking themselves too seriously, fun without being disposable. "Dancing On My Own"=song of the year. Kudos Robyn--we missed you.

3) TAKE THAT--Progress

Some will probably disagree with this choice, but seriously, could anyone ever have predicted Take That would sound this fun, sophisticated, and energetic without succumbing to camp, cloying caricatures of themselves? The fact that Robbie Williams returns only adds to the intrigue (especially with the general lack of Gary Barlow's presence). Super-producer Stuart Price whips some immense songs into shape ("The Flood", "Kids", "SOS" to name a few), giving Take That a muscular sound more akin to that of Muse. Hopefully Robbie stays for a bit, but if not, this was a fantastic project that pushes Take That far beyond their simple, humdrum balladry and cheesy disco. Don't lose it!

4) PETER GABRIEL--Scratch My Back

I cannot think of an album that affected me more emotionally this year, and while Gabriel is singing songs all made famous by others, it is his unique interpretations that ripped at my heart. Just take a listen to "Book of Love" or "Mirror Ball" and you'll know. These are more than interpretations--they are reinventions, and Gabriel makes them his own in the way nobody else would think of. Most dramatic song--Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage". Wow.

5) JONSI--Go

This unfortunately rather overlooked solo album by the lead singer of Sigur Ros is quite frankly, one of the most ingenious records of the year. Jonsi continues to crank up the elation with intricately crafted songs like "Go", "Animal Arithmetic", and "Around Us", while other stately ballads like "Tornado" and "Grow Till Tall" elegantly balance the proceedings. Go shows just how technicolor Jonsi's world has become, and even though he sings English more than ever, there are still moments where I don't really care what he says. His voice is an instrument from heaven, and he is using it here in the best way. Look out Bjork--you are being put on notice for somebody stealing your crown for "most interesting Icelander".

6) SUFJAN STEVENS--The Age of Adz

I said quite a few things about this album in the last quarter, so let me just add that many are fawning over the accompanying EP that came out at nearly the same time, but the album is the true masterpiece. Challenging, uncompromising, gutwrenching--The Age of Adz is truly the work of an inspired individual. Maybe the last track could have been shorter that 25 minutes long, but why?

7) LAURA MARLING--I Speak Because I Can

Another extremely overlooked album (especially in the US) was this wonderfully intricate modern folk record by a 21-year-old female genius. I was not a Marling convert at first, and it took me a while to get into this, but by God, when I did, I was blown away. Joanna Newsom may have garnered all the headlines for her sprawling 3-disc (lengthy) album, but Marling has such a clear vision and a warmly woody voice, I felt like she really lived these songs, opaque as they may sometimes be. Her sometime backing band are new Brit-stars Mumford & Sons, and while they have attracted massive popularity (even stateside), Marling remains relatively unknown. It's time to change that.

8) GORILLAZ--Plastic Beach

A concept album for keeping the planet clean, not as many people seemed to click with this as they did with the first two Gorillaz albums, but I am so impressed with Damon Albarn's way of collecting and synthesizing so many styles and sounds into one record. How many albums before 2010 had Snoop Dogg and Little Dragon on them? Now other producers like Dave Sitek (Maximum Balloon) and Mark Ronson are trying to branch out into the world of many styles on one record, but the ace in the hole is Albarn's persistently depressed vocal, which inhabits songs like "On Melancholy Hill" and "Broken". "Stylo" was a killer single, adding a rap from Mos Def and a great vocal from the inimitable Bobby Womack (who also blows me away with "Cloud of Unknowing"), and Little Dragon's contribution to "Empire Ants" makes for one of the best songs on the record. Damon Albarn just announced Gorillaz will be releasing another album for free download on December 25th, inspired by his recent collaborations (new single, "Doncamatic" is very catchy). Even after, the Plastic Beach album will continue to grow in stature.

9) OMD--History of Modern

One of the best reunions of the year was the return of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys after over 20 years. While History of Modern may sound more like McCluskey's version of OMD in the 90's, there are definite touchstones to very early OMD, including the title track (in two parts) and the single "Sister Marie Says". Shades of Pet Shop Boys production turn up here and there, and "Pulse" might make a few fans chuckle, but songs like "New Babies, New Toys", "RFWK", and "New Holy Ground" are quintessential OMD, and highlights of their now extensive catalog of songs. What more could one hope for?

10) GOLDFRAPP--Head First
They finally did it. They made a total pop overthrow record. Another headspin from their last album, Seventh Tree, Goldfrapp are absolutely restless when it comes to offering up new styles and sounds. Here, pop was on the menu, and while their label seemed a little lost in knowing what to do with it, Head First was super sexy & super fun. "Rocket", "Alive", "I Wanna Life", "Head First"...need I say more? The only point is docked for being rather short at nine songs (with one practically an instrumental), and a general lack of B-sides or leftovers. Now without a label, the world is theirs.

11) ARCADE FIRE--The Suburbs
Fantastic return by top Canadian band. Just missed the top 10.
An ex-Pipette and Mark Ronson's galpal goes one better and comes up with an endearing indie record that conjures images of the Sundays and Siouxsie Sioux at the same time!
13) CEE LO GREEN--Cee Lo Green is the Lady Killer
Gnarls Barkley frontman delivers another classic single ("F**k You") and his best album yet.
14) SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS--Disconnect From Desire
Brilliant sophomore album of haunting witchery and intertwining vocals.
15) ELVIS COSTELLO--National Ransom
Another great album from a master of songwriting. This plays like a history lesson of lost souls.
16) HURTS--Happiness
Critics seem to hate them, but their ability is undeniable. Graceful and glorious retro pop.
17) JANELLE MONAE--The Archandroid
One of the most incredible debuts in recent years. She is unstoppable.
18) MARC ALMOND--Variete
His return to original songwriting was a welcome development. Hopefully it's not the last.
19) MARINA & THE DIAMONDS--The Family Jewels
Every song on her album seemed like a single. A fantastically unique pop debut ("Shampain" is the best song ABBA never recorded).
20) ELLIE GOULDING--Bright Lights
The rerelease of this album added 7 tracks, and made it even more wonderful. Another incredible debut.
21) BELLE & SEBASTIAN--Write About Love
One of their best, after a three year wait. Guests include Norah Jones and actress Carey Mulligan).
Another solid effort from these New York sophomores that stayed fresh all year. "Holiday" was everywhere at Christmas.
23) THE NATIONAL--High Violet
If people still bought records like they used to, these guys would be up there with R.E.M.
24) PIPETTES--Earth vs. the Pipettes
Again, most critics didn't like their change to an 80's band from a 60's band. I thought it was inspired, and "Stop the Music" was an incredible and virtually unheard single.
25) YEASAYER--Odd Blood
They truly ride the line between poppy and quirky. This album was much better than their first.
26) SLEIGH BELLS--Treats
One of the craziest albums of the year, and most fun. Sleigh Bells gave us something new and different. What will they do next?
27) ALPHABEAT--The Beat Is...Alphabeat
A critics target, this album was so much better and more fun than their first. More keyboards make this the most 90's sounding album of the year (in a good way). "DJ" being ignored was a serious pop injustice.
28) UNDERWORLD--Barking
They discovered melodies again! Working with superstar DJ's seems to have opened them up.
29) VIOLENS--Amoral
New York art-rockers make an unusual and unusually great debut. Not your typical indie, and very well produced and put together.
30) CARL BARAT--Carl Barat
An ex-Libertine finally makes good by going solo and taking inspiration from Scott Walker. Excellent (sorry Libertines purists).
31) TRACEY THORN--Love and Its Opposite
The Everything But the Girl singer creates some lovely moments (and songs) of her own.
32) JAMES--The Morning After the Night Before
Releasing the Robyn way as a two-part EP, one rather quiet and the other upbeat and poppy, this was eventually put together as an album. Some of the best songs James have ever written.
33) KELIS--Flesh Tone
Kelis divorced Nas and found her groove, becoming the black Robyn. More please.
34) NITZER EBB--Industrial Complex
They return after 15 years away to make their best album. Listen for the tunes!
35) FUTUREHEADS--The Chaos
Possibly the best pop-punk record of the year. They are working on an acapella album next.
36) DELPHIC--Acolyte
Since New Order won't be New Order anymore...
37) BRYAN FERRY--Olympia
This was his best solo record since Bete Noire in 1989--even if it took an army of contributors to do it.
38) SIA--We Are Born
Sia found some energy this year and made one of her best records. Too bad she had to write for Christina Aguilera's flop album and develop Graves disease in 2010.
39) SILENT FILM--The City That Sleeps
If Coldplay and Muse had a excellent debut.
40) FYFE DANGERFIELD--Fly Yellow Moon
A few years ago, the Guillemots frontman found himself at the top of this list. This was still a pretty darn good album, with production help from ex-Suede guitarist, Bernard Butler.

Other great albums of note:
BROKEN BELLS--Broken Bells
THE SCHOOL--Loveless Unbeliever
LUKE HAINES--21st Century Man
THE LIKE--Release Me
MARK RONSON--Record Collection
MAXIMUM BALLOON--Maximum Balloon
HOT CHIP--One Life Stand
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM--This is Happening
DIVINE COMEDY--Bang Goes the Neighbourhood
SADE--Soldier of Love
THE DRUMS--the Drums
KIM WILDE--Come Out & Play
BLACK KEYS--Brothers
NICK CAVE--Grinderman II
KELE--the Boxer
BADLY DRAWN BOY--It's Not What I Am Thinking

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Q3: I can't frickin' believe September is gone...

This year is flying by unbelievably fast. Maybe it's just my age. One thing I must admit is that, after a flurry of fantastic and exciting new releases in the first half of the year, things slowed down a bit over the late summer. That's not to say there aren't some most excellent things out there--just fewer of them. Without further ado, here is an examination of the dog days of summer, 2010:

1) SUFJAN STEVENS--The Age of Adz

This is a unique choice for me, and I'll be the first to admit it. I've never been much of a Sufjan fan, as I found some of his down home folk-isms a bit silly, and his state homages uber-pretentious. Stevens has taken five years to break away from the state-history concept, and in that time, has learned how to find a way out and reinvent himself. The Age of Adz is the first album featuring a heavily synthesized texture, and while at times it may seem like everything and the kitchen sink, mostly it works masterfully. Stevens knows how to layer sound to create magic, and there are some soaring moments here that show his compositional prowess better than anything he has previously committed to record. Lengthy and expansive, AoA is an album made by a child of the Radiohead generation, and it shows. It also belies a certain Bjork Homogenic/Vespertine influence, and I cannot think of more fantastical things to be compared to. Just check out the final track, the 25-minute epic, "Impossible Soul", to see what I mean. It remains to be seen where he goes from here, but at the moment, Sufjan, you finally won me over.

2) ARCADE FIRE--Suburbs

Another odd choice for me--am I resorting to some untraveled indie-land lately? Arcade Fire's third record is not only their best produced album, it is also their best from beginning to end. Gone are some of the mock pretensions of the previous Neon Bible album, and in are some wonderful songs that play like a story about the disillusion of the suburban lifestyle of North America (the Fire are based in Montreal, after all). Suburbs is also the album they learn to make the best of their shortcomings, as lead female Renee never had the loveliest voice; here they manage to integrate it to good use, especially on songs like "The Sprawl II", where she is juxtaposed with a heavily melodic keyboard texture and undulating rhythms. Songs like "City With No Children" and "Suburban War" feel like the most important songs they've ever recorded. Do not pass this one up!


Now this might be something you'd expect me to recommend, but I'm not doing it just because I've loved them forever. I'm doing it because it's a damn fine album, and the best record they've made beginning to end since 1982. OMD released their first album in 1980, with the core duo of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys splitting up in 1989, leaving McCluskey to carry on with the OMD name. In 1996, McCluskey released the last OMD album, Universal, and, unhappy with the commercial reception and his place in the pop world, retired from making and performing music to create teen pop sensations (in the UK) Atomic Kitten. That only kept his interest for a little while, and in 2006 the original OMD lineup reconvened, with this album being the eventual product. And what a product it is. The 2-part title tracks alone are worth owning this album, and while some songs see them stretch a bit, most are in the expected grand style of classic OMD, with little bits taken referenced from all periods of their history. I especially like the Kraftwerk tribute, "RFWK", and the final track, "The Right Side?", which sounds like OMD's own take on Kraftwerk's ambling electronica. Simply smart, classy, and elegant.

4) HURTS--Happiness

Speaking of smart, classy, and elegant...this album is the definition. While they get compared to everything 80's, from Pet Shop Boys to Johnny Hates Jazz, Hurts seem to be filling a certain void existing in pop music now, namely, polished and produced sad balladry with an electronic edge. Depeche Mode may be a touchstone, but Hurts are far too conventional for that, and don't have the wry wit of PSB nor the blandness of JHZ. They are purveyors of mood and melody, and have crafted some of the most beautiful sorrowful ballads in recent memory. Theo Hutchcraft's voice was made for music like this, and it positively soars against these achingly yearning backdrops. If you like your music big and important, here you go.


Once in a while, a voice and album come along that seem quite special and somehow timeless. Rose Elinor Dougall's debut has that sort of feel. With a voice that seems like a spectral mix of Siouxsie Sioux and Harriet Wheeler (Sundays), and music that mostly echoes indie-Britain (think Sundays and Cocteau Twins), this rather unexpected release from a former Pipette never ceases to amaze. Rose has a way with harmony which must have been partially influenced by her former group, and Without Why is a bold and rather uncompromising leap into something new for her. She has become so well-respected that UK super-producer Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse) has enlisted her vocal duties for some of his most recent album. Hopefully Rose will be able to pay some of the bills now.

6) PIPETTES--Earth Vs. the Pipettes

Poor Pipettes. Since their first album was an underground indie hit in 2007, they lost two of the three singers (one being the aforementioned Rose Elinor Dougall), gained two new ones, and lost another upon finishing the recording of this album (lead singer Gwenno and her sister Ani remain). The de-facto Destiny's Child of British indie, Pipettes found a way to soldier on by moving from the 60's to the 80's, and while some may bristle at the shift in direction, EvtP is actually still quite melodic, and just as fun. Getting their CD released has been a chore as well, as they were dropped by their US label, and have had to find a new home, with the album coming out in the fall, even though it has been readily downloaded (aka STOLEN) for over two months at the time of writing. PLEASE, if you like this band AT ALL, BUY a copy when it is officially released (it may be out in England already) if you ever want to hear from them again. It's an amazingly good record if you ever liked 80's bands like Bananarama or Wham.

7) MAXIMUM BALLOON--Maximum Balloon

TV on the Radio are a band I admire, but don't really love, and Dave Sitek has contributed to lots of production jobs in the past, but here he lets his party flag fly, and he's all the better for it. A loosely collected album featuring vocals from Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeah's), Little Dragon, members of TV on the Radio, and even David Byrne(!), Maximum Balloon is a well-produced party record that actually sounds like Talking Heads at their party best at times, but also echoes Berlin-era Bowie with that Eno influence. If you want brainy music that you can tap your feet to and not feel guilty about it in the morning, here you go.

8) INTERPOL--Interpol

I really want to like Interpol, and have for a long time. I loved their first album, liked the second a lot, and found myself being rather ambivalent to the last one. Even still, I've seen the band live, and while I was impressed with their sound, I find it difficult sometimes to enjoy them as a band. Their latest record has done a lot to rectify this distance I feel, as the dark textures are really represented well again. Every time "Lights" begins, I get chills. This self-titled record which marks their return to an indie label may be their most claustrophobic album, but I'm finding that's how I like them the best.

9) JAMES--The Morning After the Night Before

I don't know if this really qualifies as an album as it really functions as two long EPs, one rather hushed (Morning); the other more pumped (Night), but I like it. While I think some song shuffling may be in order depending on your mood (the Morning disc tends to be a bit quiet for a long time), the material here ranks with some of their best. Inspired by the death of Tim Booth's mother, some of the new material is especially heartfelt, and benefits from that sense of purpose. Their last album, the reunion of Hey Ma, was quite good, but this one goes even one step better. Will somebody please explain to me why they aren't as popular as U2 yet?

10) UNDERWORLD--Barking

Another rather unconventional choice, as I had somewhat given up on Underworld around the time of Two Months Off. Oblivion With Bells was just too somber for me, and it seemed to signal creative burnout for a band that had existed for nearly three decades, but had lost their DJ member, Darren Emerson, a few year prior. Emerson makes a bit of a return here, as do other famous names like Paul van Dyk, much to the benefit of the record. Barking is the most alive sounding Underworld have been in years, and my God, there are even the beginnings of TUNES here! If you liked this band but had given up on them, give this a try. You won't be disappointed (or shouldn't be, anyway).

Other albums of note I quite enjoyed:

HUNDRED IN THE HANDS--Hundred in the Hands
KIM WILDE (!)--Come Out & Play
THE DRUMS--The Drums
MARK RONSON--Record Collection
DAVID SYLVIAN--Sleepwalkers
PAUL HEATON--Acid Country
MONARCHY--Monarchy (this isn't coming out now til 2011?)
CHROMEO--Business Casual
ROBYN--Body Talk Pt. 2*
*(This may still get a higher ranking once the third and final part is released in November)

Records I found disappointing:

I know, this is supposed to be the slow, downtempo cousin of last years FABULOUS Junior, but can we find a pulse here? A vocalist here & there would have been nice too. Bah-ring (sorry guys).
I was really looking forward to this for once, but other than the single, no go.
HOOSIERS--Illusion of Safety
A bit too far into pop territory, perhaps. Hopefully it sells, guys.
I like about 70% of this album, so it isn't all that bad, but a bit flawed. I find this continual Vegas talk getting a bit tiring, so songs like "Only the Young" actually work for me, while the more referential ones don't. I get that he wants to make it his private New York, but even Sinatra gets tiresome whenever THAT song comes on. Hey Brandon, next time, why don't you sing more about your emotions and who you are, not who you saw get arrested and where you are (but no more lyrics about dancers).
So close but yet so far, this is the best Weezer record since Maladroit. No, really. Plus, everybody thinks it's Jorge Garcia's album.
Not so intrigued.

There are a lot more disappointing albums, but I chose to only refer to the ones I had high hopes for personally. Maybe next time???

Albums to get excited about: Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Human League (!), Alphaville (!!), KT Tunstall, Annie Lennox (Christmas), Duran Duran (prod. by Mark Ronson--will you PLEASE do a Boy George record next?).

Where are your albums?: Kraftwerk, Darren Hayes, Justice, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Amy Winehouse, George Michael (will it ever happen?).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Q2: What else could possibly top the first half? Seriously?

Another half a year gone, and seriously, could it feel like I am crusing into my forties more excited about music than I was at 16? There has been some incredible stuff released this year (and of course, some stinkers). Some will not share the feelings I have...after all, it is all subjective. But I think over so many years of listening and being exposed to music non-stop, I have a pretty good grasp of what's good and what is shit. Thus beginneth my judgment regarding the top albums from April through June 2010. And what a list it is(!)...

1) KYLIE MINOGUE--Aphrodite

Alright, technically speaking this album doesn't release until July 5 (a Q3 effort then), but it is rampantly circling the internet as I speak, and is widely available for perusal. So, I will refer to it as the icing on the cake that was Q2 2010, as I will be holding one in my hot little hands within a day or two. Simply put, this is the best dance pop album released by anybody so far this year (sorry Goldfrapp--your album was great too, if a little short), and possibly the best since Pet Shop Boys unleashed Yes just over a year ago. Whoever had the stroke of genius to bring Stuart Price in to oversee the executive production on Aphrodite should be knighted immediately, as it pulls together all the Kylie elements that people admire into one shining package--soaring tunes, pumping beats, electro magic, and above it all, her perky personality. Not bad for somebody who had her somewhat lowly beginnings as a pimply tomboy on a second-rate soap opera nearly 25 years ago! I could do a track by track rundown of how glorious the songs on Aphrodite sound, but I will let the listener discover them for the moment (or read about them on the numerous web forums), and provide a more thorough examination at year's end when I have had more time to live with the album and extol its true virtues. That is not to say that I am making a hasty ruling here--after all, this is Kylie's best album since Light Years, the album that made me love her all over again. I just have a feeling I will be able to articulate my feelings more clearly with time. Way to go Kylie--you've done it again! Now, can you break America again with a more extensive tour this time?

2) LAURA MARLING--I Speak Because I Can

Talk about a record that could not exist in a more distant place opposite the previous entry. I had never give Laura Marling much thought until I heard "Devil's Spoke", and was immediately transfixed by her gloomy ruminations on love. It is a piece of the highest order of English folk music coming from a very talented and wise beyond her years 20-year old. The fact that I am generally not a big fan of this kind of music makes it even more alarming that I would respond to such a dark and haunting album of this genre. Marling's voice is so unique and personal, you feel as though she is speaking directly to you. The arrangements on this album feature surging string sections, bluegrass-y banjo, ghostly choirs, and is so maturely written, it makes Suzanne Vega (someone who I feel has written a great deal of wonderful music) seem elementary in comparison. If you are looking for a true and trasformative folk music experience, it's all right here. Can you imagine how she'll sound in ten years time?

3) JANELLE MONAE--The Archandroid

I didn't pay much attention to Janelle when she released a debut EP in mid-2008. That EP, released by Diddy's Badboy Records, served as the first of a three-part suite based upon the film Metropolis, and is thematically continued with the following two suites on the Archandroid. Sometimes an album comes along that is so sprawling stylistically, it leaves the listener wondering who the artist is and how to quantify their art. Surprisingly, the opposite is in effect here, as Monae's debut album displays a dazzling range of songs and styles that the listener is left in a headspin, knowing more about Monae than a one-dimensional record could convey. The first half of the album could be called the quirky, retro-soul half, featuring songs which flow together effortlessly, like the quickly rapped "Dance or Die", moving into the big-band jump of "Faster", to the Stevie Wonder-soul of "Locked Inside". They are so seamless, they really do blend into different parts of a suite, leaving the listener to wonder where one song ends and another begins. A particular highlight and a should-be chart-topper, "Tightrope" (and its quirky Big Boi featured video) should have created a whole new dance craze, while "Come Alive" plays like a freaky party song for skeletons on Halloween. The second half of the album is more grand and orchestral, sampling Claude Debussy on "Say You'll Go", while maintaining the freaky on the Of Montreal-assisted "Make the Bus". "Babopbye Ya" (much better than its title would suggest) is the epic nine-minute closer, sitting somewhere between a James Bond theme and jazz, and it really shows off Monae's fabulous vocal range to stunning effect. In effect, this is one of the most affecting debut albums by any artist in the past twenty years. Take note NOW.


How ironic that the Scissor Sisters return to fabulousity comes at the same time Kylie unleashes Aphrodite, as both records were executive produced by the ever talented Stuart Price (check out his own band, Zoot Woman--their last album was great). While Night Work may not display the single-mindedness of the Kylie album, I'll say that it functions just as well in many ways, mainly by bringing them back to life after the somewhat lackluster Ta Dah(2006), and back to the dancefloor. "Fire With Fire" has its naysayers, but I recommend it wholeheartedly as an uplifting synthpop anthem, one that sits closely to Price's production work on the Killers' "Human", and shows that Jake Shears can sing an effective song without resorting to falsetto posturing (even if it does resemble Elton John). This album shows a progression from the full-on 70's vibe of the last record, acting more as a bridge between the 70's and 80's--a much more interesting time for music as well. Tracks like "Any Which Way" (which features Minogue on backing vocals) recall the best of disco Bee Gee's, while "Invisible Light" is the best song Frankie Goes to Hollywood never released (and thanks for the Ian McKellen guest vocal--Vincent Price is spinning in his grave). Maybe not as completely great as their first album, but a definite return to form, and a growth and maturation has occurred without losing the fun. Another great party record.

5) MARC ALMOND--Variete

I am surprised at how little discussion and recognition this album has been receiving across the interblogs, as I was sure some diehards were going to at least mention it. So let me do the honors. Marc has returned with what may be his best album since Tenement Symphony, and definitely his most personal work. That is saying something, as he is closing in on thirty years of recording and about twenty albums in that same amount of time. The general sound of Variete harkens back to his mid-80's period, using mostly Mother Fist (the upbeat songs) and Torment & Toreros (the darker, downbeat songs) as sonic touchstones. Marc has said this would be his final album of original songs (although he has now stated that he meant it would be his last album about these decadent types of characters), but hopefully he has more music in him, whatever the subject matter, as these are fantastic songs by an artist in full control of his writing and production. While the cabaret-isms may not be to everybody's taste, some of these songs are quite affecting. The upbeat drive of "Nijinsky Heart" and "Variete" are pure Marc, while "The Exhibitionist" and "Sandboy" portray the darker sides of his performance art. There are some songs that feel like the most important things he's ever written: the autobiographical "Trials of Eyeliner", haunting "Lavender", defiant "But Not Today" and declamatory "Swan Song" will go down as some of the finest songs he has ever written, and are, of course, all immaculately sung. I will have more to say about this by the end of the year, but if you ever liked Marc Almond at all, Variete is some of his strongest work ever, and is a love letter to his life and art.

6) KELIS--Flesh Tone

Another record that arrives in the US the first week of July (although it has been available elsewhere since mid-May), Flesh Tone is to Kelis as Ray of Light was to Madonna. Working with some of today's hottest producers, Miss K (former wife of rapper Nas), has come out of her divorce with a new baby and a new outlook. She wants to go out and have a great time, and Flesh Tone is the perfect album to do that with, albeit with moments of reflection and introspection. Namely, "Acappella" (the first single), a winning melody set to a throbbing trance beat, a song that should erase the memory of "Milkshake" from the minds of the masses for at least a couple minutes. Kelis' newfound sense of self awareness pervades this album and its themes, and now that America has passed the date of the longest war it has ever been involved in, "Fourth of July" can only inspire us to put our cares away and dance. "Home", "Brave" and "Song for the Baby" are equally empowering anthems that will fill dancefloors across the globe this summer. More, please, more.

7) TRACEY THORN--Love and It's Opposite

On the other side of the Kelis album, Tracey releases her third solo album, following Out of the Woods in 2007. While Love and It's Opposite is more downbeat than her previous effort, it features production from the same producer of that album (Ewan Pearson), and contains similarly wonderful songcraft, albeit in more intimate and stripped down arrangements. Let's face it, Thorn could sing me the phone book and I'd be OK with that, but let's just say that the quieter arrangements sometimes lead to more direct magic, as the opener "Oh, the Divorces" will attest to (is your relationship with Ben OK?). While there are no club bangers like "It's All True" or "Grand Canyon", songs like "Why Does the Wind" and "Hormones" do feature insistent beats that allow Thorn's voice to come through more personally. While I have loved both recent solo albums, I am left to wonder what Ben has been doing with all his time (certainly not just running his record label), and think about what wondrous things he may have written since Everything But the Girl went on hiatus over a decade ago. Temperamental was an excellent album, and it would be nice to see Ben & Tracey revisit some of that territory soon. Now that their kids are getting older, we shall see...

8) JONSI--Go

One of the most beautiful albums of the year comes from Jonsi, the lead singer of Sigur Ros (this is the year of solo records, with Julian Casablancas recent effort, Brandon Flowers upcoming record, and other recent efforts from Kele Okerke, Fyfe Dangerfield, and Andy Bell). Just listen to the surge of a song like "Go Do" or the haunting Thom Yorke-isms of "Tornado", and Jonsi's first mostly-English sung album is a real treat, and more direct than anything he's done with his band. The arrangements flutter in and out at breakneck speed, and his soul really takes flight when his music is allowed to sing through his extensively gorgeous vocal layering. Sigur Ros fans may respond negatively to the happiness here, but your soul has to be good and dark not to enjoy what Jonsi puts on display. So good, I even bought it on vinyl.

9) DIVINE COMEDY--Bang Goes the Knighthood

I have come to the conclusion that Neil Hannon cannot be stopped. And I don't want him to be. One of the wittiest writers of our generation, Hannon is an elf-prince of the highest order, penning gloriously silly songs here like "Can You Stand On One Leg" (an ode to his children, I presume). There is plenty great for adults here as well, such as the namechecking single, "At the Indie Disco" (Blur, Cure, Wannadies, etc.), and the seriously haunting "When a Man Cries", which sounds like it really comes from personal experience. "The Complete Banker" wryly points a finger at those who created the recent economic disaster, while "Have You Ever Been in Love" is one of the most lovely little ballads I've heard in a while (I'd love to hear Kylie cover this--could they ever do an album together?). My real favorite gem of the album is the opener, "Down in the Street Below", which goes through a couple tempo changes and even adds ambient street noise at the end. It's knowing stuff without being overly pretentious, as an air of self-deprecation always deflates Hannon's balloons. Brilliant once again. Don't make us wait so long next time!

10) SIA--We Are Born

I always liked Sia, but had a hard time loving her. That has changed with her new album, We Are Born. Her Zero 7 collaborations were fantastic, and while Colour the Small One was a very good album (especially "Breathe Me", which found fame on the finale of Six Feet Under), her last effort, Some People Have Real Problems, was a mostly downbeat affair that seemed directly marketed at Starbucks patrons (it was even released on their label). Somewhere in the past couple years, Sia rediscovered her mojo. Whether it was writing for Christina Aguilera or collaborating with the Bird & the Bee (member Greg Kurstin produced We Are Born--most famous for his work with Lily Allen, Kylie, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Rilo Kiley, Dragonette, etc.), Sia does seem reborn as a more energetic version of herself. While she always penned beautiful and affecting ballads, most of those have been given to Christina for her latest album, leaving only "I'm In Here" as the sole token Sia-ballad. So much the better, as "Clap Your Hands" and "You've Changed", the first two singles from the album, feature great beats to tap your feet, and fun and quirky videos to make you laugh. It's a more celebratory Sia this time around, and she will always have those beautiful ballads to sing in concert. We Are Born comes in like a breath of fresh air.

Other albums of note:

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM--This is Happening
PAUL WELLER--Wake Up the Nation
THE SCHOOL--Loveless Unbeliever
LUCKY SOUL--A Coming of Age
LUKE HAINES--21st Century Man
V.V. BROWN--Travelling Like the Light
KELE--The Boxer
FOALS--Total Life Forever
DEVO--Something for Everybody
BLITZEN TRAPPER--Destroyer of the Void
THE LIKE--Release Me
CLUB 8--The People's Record
YOUNG VEINS--Take a Vacation
KENT--En Plats i Solen
ROBYN--Body Talk Pt. 1*
*This would have likely performed better had it been the full album. Judgment is being withheld until part 2 and/or part 3 are released.

Albums I missed from Q1 and earlier that I discovered late:

LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION--Life is Sweet! Nice to Meet You...
This took me by surprise. He's grown quite a bit. Nice if you like Morrissey, Elvis Costello, or Luke Haines.
Excellent Swedish dance/electronic/R&B stuff.
This would have possibly made an earlier list, but it's a bit TOO big--triple discs are hard to take. Still, she is very talented, and has gotten much better to my ears.
Weird. Different. Good.

OK albums:
STARS--Five Ghosts
KAREN ELSON--Karen Elson
DONKEYBOY--Caught in a Life
AQUALUNG--Magnetic North
JAMES--The Night Before EP
HOT HOT HEAT--Future Breeds
HOWARD JONES--Ordinary Heroes

Disappointing albums (I think these need some explanation):

DELAYS--Star Tiger Star Ariel
OK guys, when are you gonna knock my socks off again? Valentine still amazes.
RUFUS WAINWRIGHT--All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu
Rufus' voice needs more than just piano backing--it brings out all his annoying vocal tics
BIRD & THE BEE--Interpreting the Masters: a Tribute to Hall & Oates
If you're gonna reinterpret the masters, bring SOMETHING new to the table
CODEINE VELVET CLUB--Codeine Velvet Club
Fratelli thought he could jump on this bandwagon, which Lucky Soul and the School do better
Do I have to?
This was far too long and boring--the rhythms all blend together--where is the Fatboy touch?
KEANE--Night Train EP
Worst thing they've done by a mile. So talented, and so miscalculating.
KATE NASH--My Best Friend Is You
Mansion Song. Nuff said.
MORCHEEBA--Blood Like Lemonade
Tepid return with Skye back in the fold. She should leave again.
It's funny how I think 70% of the songs from this album are acceptable to great, but the album itself is a trainwreck. Here's a definite case for resequencing of an album for an iPod. (i.e. no Not Myself Tonight or Woohoo).

Needless to say, I am very excited about what the second half of 2010 has to offer with all this great stuff already behind us. Looking forward to: M.I.A., Arcade Fire, OMD(!), Interpol(back on Matador!), Royksopp, Hurts, Hoosiers, Daft Punk (Tron soundtrack), Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Brandon Flowers, Pipettes (an actual release), and supposedly 2011: Lady Gaga, Saint Etienne, and Dubstar!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Could it really be the last???

I am not usually one for posting very often, but let it be said that Marc Almond has just set the release date for what is supposedly being called his final album of original songs. Named VARIETE, it is set for release in the second week of June (7th supposedly), and is a double album. This is the first published tracklist I have seen from a fairly reputable source (and it has yet to be posted on Amazon, although you can preorder it in deluxe or regular formats, whatever that may mean):

Bread and Circus
Nijinsky Heart
The Exhibitionist
The Trials of Eyeliner
Soho So Long
It's All Going On
Cabaret Clown
My Madness and I
But Not Today
Swan Song
Sin Song
My Evil Twin
A Lonely One
Cat Dancer
Criminal Lover
I Am No One
Kiss the Ghost (Goodbye)

Hopefully this will not really be his last album of original material as suggested. Marc brings so many colors to the world in his writing that others may copy but just don't surpass. He hasn't toured the US in 10 years, yet his fanbase remains loyal as ever. I, for one, cannot wait!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Q1/10: Where does the time go?

Hard to believe another winter has come and gone, and the first quarter of 2010 is coming to a close. Sadly, there was seemingly a lot less music released this winter compared with 2009, although a string of really good albums were unleashed upon the (un)willing masses. I am providing a quick rundown of how things stand for me and my collection at the end of March...

1) PETER GABRIEL--Scratch My Back

The prospect of a covers album is always a bit dubious. There are many ways an album of this nature can go, and none really very appealing. Take for instance, the artist who wants to show their love for certain songs, but done their way...Duran Duran's Thank You was a disaster. Covering a Bowie or Roxy Music song when there is a tradition of New Romanticisms is one thing, but digging up "911 is a Joke" by Public Enemy was preposterous. Erasure were fine with an ABBA tune, but their full length Other People's Songs is likely their worst album. Then there are those who wish to stay true to the originals. Sharleen Spiteri's recent movie album is generally where this is headed, containing mostly dire readings of songs which sound as if she was locked in some karaoke hell. Another recent disappointment is Bird & the Bee's rendering of Hall & Oates' greatest hits, which taken in small doses would be fine, but over the course of an album, I find myself examining the fact that they are faithful to a fault, with almost every note and squiggle of phrase duplicated to the point that it renders the exercise pointless--just buy the originals already. And the less said about Sinead O'Connor's big band covers album, the better. In effect, finding a covers album that ticks all the boxes is nearly impossible.

Imagine my worry when I saw the news that our beloved PG was releasing a covers album, his first recorded output in eight long years. While I probably would have wanted an original album instead, Scratch My Back functions well as a covers album AND as an original one. Somehow he manages to walk that fine line between tribute and personal creativity that makes this one special. Maybe it is the sensitive orchestrations and sparse arrangements that highlight Peter's sensitive vocals, or the fact that this juxtaposition of sound emphasizes the lyrics in ways that I never would have dreamed before. For instance, the Talking Heads' song, "Listening Wind", which was written over 30 years ago, depicts the story of an Arabian child who takes up the cause of terrorism by strapping a bomb to themselves and heading for a crowded area. The original was a woozy drone with a hypnotic beat, pushing David Byrne's vocals deep into the mix, while Peter's update here allows the listener to really inhabit the story, with the instruments there in support of the voice, as opposed to giving both equal billing. This exposure of the lyrics only serves to highlight the fact that this type of horrifying act of murder/suicide, which was being perpetrated by their own people decades ago, still exists to this day.

So, Peter earns my honor of the best record of the first three months of 2010. It can be depressing. I cried the first time I heard it, and the second. While Scratch My Back isn't exactly upbeat, there are some lovely moments of relief in "The Book of Love" and "The Power of the Heart", songs which could make the most hardened criminal sob. This project may also have served as a way for Peter to unblock some creative jam he had while readying his next original project, as he seems to be his worst critic and an ultimate perfectionist (see Kate Bush, Sade, Green Gartside, Mark Hollis, David Sylvian, etc.). Here's a tip for Peter--the world doesn't want perfectionism, because the world isn't perfect either. All it wants is his voice singing music from the soul, as he has proven here. Now that Scratch My Back is out there for the world to hear, let's hope he gets the original album done soon. Fingers crossed.

2) MARINA & THE DIAMONDS--The Family Jewels

Living in America, I find it difficult to understand all the hubbub regarding the Marina backlash. It seems like several people in the UK find her brash, pushy, shouty, snarky, and a turnoff. This saddens me greatly, as I think The Family Jewels is one of the best things to come out of Wales in a good long while (sorry Duffy). This album is not only chock full of great songs ("I Am Not a Robot", "Oh No!", "Obsessions", etc.), but there is a real strong character at the center of them. I am unsure anybody else could pen songs as unique yet inviting as "Hollywood" and "Mowgli's Road", as she brings such a personal slant to what could be faceless in lesser hands. "Shampain" in particular is quirky, slick, and has one of the greatest choruses ABBA never recorded. Even late into the album, songs like "Rootless" and "Numb" seem quite special. Time to wake up to a special talent then...

3) GOLDFRAPP--Head First

I know it almost seems like a copout choosing Goldfrapp at this point, but they really do still make some of the most wonderfully conceived pop music around. While I may not have completely bought into the perky 80's-express nature of these proceedings, there is no denying the seductive qualities of "Rocket", "Alive", and "I Wanna Life", all shiny and Top Gun-ned. While only "Shiny and Warm" is too reminiscent of what has come before, and "Voicething" something better left to a B-side, the highs here are quite high. Now Goldfrapp need to be careful they do not step any closer into pastiche, or the joke will be on them.

4) EMILIE SIMON--The Big Machine

Yes, this was on my 2009 list, but it came out late in the year only in France, and finally got a UK release in February when I finally got my CD. What an excellent album this is. Anybody who loves Kate Bush really needs to rush out and listen to the whole thing right now, as I don't think I have ever heard anyone sing closer to KB in their vocal delivery (including early Tori Amos). Simon comes up with many quirky winners here, and comes off as a darker, edgier version of Marina. This is her first all-English effort, and she recorded much of it in New York. Funny enough, it all still sounds very Emilie, and this is her best album yet.

5) DELPHIC--Acolyte

Poor Delphic. These days, expectations run so high for your first album, that there was really no way they were going to please everybody. What they did release, however, is a very stylish post-alternative album full of sparkling electronica flourishes, and some catchy melodies to boot. "Doubt", "Halcyon", and "Counterpoint" would be fine additions to anyone's canon (even New Order), and some of the instrumental parts allow them to stretch out a bit musically. As I said about Marina, if this is their debut, I cannot wait to hear what comes next.

6) HOT CHIP--One Life Stand
Another band that has suffered at the hand of many-a-critic, HC's latest effort is, in my estimation, their best yet. They have always seemed like a group of nerds that really wanted to create some deep grooves, and they do that here on nearly every song, even when the grooves are slow. While "Thieves in the Night" gets things off to a sprightly beat, and "Hand Me Down Your Love" keeps things up house-style, songs like "I Feel Better" are slow burners, with "Slush" being especially reflective. "Brothers" is a special ode to the love of a group of guys (how sensitive!), and the title track along with "We Have Love" and "Take It In" are some of the best indie-dance songs you'll hear this year. My personal fave though? "Alley Cats". It's like one of those unassuming little ballads you could hear Tracey Thorn singing. Just sayin'.

I wasn't sure they could pull off a round two, but darn if this isn't one of the most fun and put together of records this year. While "Cousins" is a bit of a crazy little calling card of a single, this album will become more known for songs like "Horchata" and "Giving Up the Gun", and "Holiday" has that must-be-a-single poppiness written all over it. "Diplomat's Son" is supposedly about Joe Strummer as well. What more could you ask for?

8) SADE--Soldier of Love
We got two major summer albums in the middle of snowmageddon this year in the form of Vampire Weekend and Sade. Talk about somebody who takes a long time to make a record. A mere ten years since her last, and with nine years separating the previous two, Sade is the mistress of slow work rates. It's the kinda thing that will really piss off the major label in an economic downturn such as the current state. Fortunately, Sade is always quality, and SOL is no exception. While the martial title track got our attention, songs like "Morning Bird", "Bring Me Home", and "The Safest Place" are what make Sade truly special. Even "Babyfather", a song which could be cringeworthy in 99% of the remainder of female R&B singers hands, has an endearing quality that very few can muster. Please don't wait ten years next time--YOU ARE GETTING OLDER.

I tried to resist her charms many times, but finally fell for them. While I think her girlishness is an acquired taste, and I also don't think she quite has the unique quirkiness of Marina, Ellie is a special, young singer-songwriter who has made one gem of an album. There is not one duff track to be found here (the ladies are really workin' it recently). While "This Love (Will Be Your Downfall)" is probably my favorite here, there are many great songs. Why they could not put the title track on the CD though is anybody's guess. Marina did the same thing. Last year it was Little Boots. Can we please have the TITLE TRACKS ON THE CDs from now on...please???

10) ALPHABEAT--The Beat Is...
Yes, this album is not selling well. Yes, they changed the name of it at the last minute, after months of delays. Yes, the album leaked nearly five months prior to its release, killing its sales potential. Dammit if I don't love this record. Alphabeat do not ape the 90's dance scene--here, they inhabit it. This record is so damn catchy, it's like a bad cold. I don't even know where to begin--"DJ", "The Right Thing", "Always Up With You", "The Spell", "Heat Wave", "Hole in My Heart"--ALL great. And that's only the GREAT songs! There are at least five more winners--my fave non-single? "Chess".

Other great albums of Q1:

DAN BLACK--((un))
GORILLAZ--Plastic Beach
BROKEN BELLS--Broken Bells
SHAKESPEAR'S SISTER--Songs from the Red Room
TWO DOOR CINEMA--Tourist History
RADIO DEPT.--Clinging to a Scheme
ATHLETE--Black Swan

Still digging: Dragonette, Annie, Gaga, LaRoux, Little Boots, Pet Shop Boys, Cheryl Cole, Cribs, Florence, Mary Onettes, Sally Shapiro, XX.

Can't wait for the summer! The ladies are coming! MIA! Robyn! Kylie! Sophie Ellis-Bextor! Kelis! Sia! Pipettes!

Also next quarter: Keane, Andy Bell, Lucky Soul, Tracey Thorn, Hoosiers, Marc Almond, Jonsi, MGMT (actually just heard it--hmmm), the National.

Albums I would buy, but will they ever make one?: Hurts, Sound of Arrows, Penguin Prison, Golden Filter, OMD(this year?), Human League (also this year?), Casey Spooner, Scissor Sisters.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I know this blog is usually used for music purposes, but damn if this snowmageddon 2010 hasn't put a damper on everyday living. Luckily I was able to get physical copies of Sade, Hot Chip, and Massive Attack before the hammer came down. We have gotten over four feet in the past week, making it the biggest snowfall in West Chester, PA recorded history. Our store was closed for the second time in a week, and if the owner hadn't died last month, this surely would have killed him. Here you can see my deck table after two apocalyptic snowstorms within four days of each other, and the view outside my window. Brrrr....

Saturday, January 30, 2010


While I have been trying to come to conclusions about my favorite records of all time, I thought it might be enlightening just to list the top 300--yes, 300! As someone who has worked in and managed record stores for over 25 years, I've heard a shitload of music, and these are the ones that resonated with me the most. I am also a child of the 80's, so take that into account.

I will soon be posting a list of the top 50 or so in order--and these lists always change as time marches on--but as of early 2010, these are the contenders. Prepare to be overwhelmed...

A-HA--hunting high & low
ABBA--super trouper
ABBA--voulez vous
ABC--how to be a zillionaire
ABC--lexicon of love
AIMEE MANN--bachelor no. 2/magnolia soundtrack
AIMEE MANN-whatever
AIR--moon safari
ALCAZAR--disco defenders
ALPHAVILLE--forever young
ANNIE--don't stop
ARCADIA--so red the rose
ARCTIC MONKEYS--whatever people say i am that's what i'm not
ARMY OF LOVERS--gods of earth & heaven
ARMY OF LOVERS--maximum luxury overdose
BANANARAMA--deep sea skiving
BARRY ADAMSON--moss side story
BASEMENT JAXX--kish kash
BEATLES--abbey road
BEATLES--magical mystery tour
BEATLES--sgt. pepper's lonely heart's club band
BEATLES--white album
BILLIE RAY MARTIN--deadline for my memories
BILLY MACKENZIE--transmission
BLACK BOX RECORDER--facts of life
BLANCMANGE--mange tout
BLONDIE--parallel lines
BOOK OF LOVE--book of love
BOY GEORGE--martyr mantras
BRONSKI BEAT--age of consent
CHEMICAL BROTHERS--dig your own hole
COCTEAU TWINS--blue bell knoll
COCTEAU TWINS--heaven or las vegas
COCTEAU TWINS--victorialand
COLDPLAY--rush of blood to the head
CULTURE CLUB--colour by numbers
CURE--head on the door
CURE--kiss me kiss me kiss me
CUT COPY--in ghost colours
CYNDI LAUPER--bring ya to the brink
CYNDI LAUPER--she's so unusual
DAFT PUNK--discovery
DARREN HAYES--tension & the spark
DARREN HAYES--this delicate thing we've made
DAVID BOWIE--aladdin sane
DAVID BOWIE--hunky dory
DAVID BOWIE--scary monsters
DAVID BOWIE--station to station
DAVID BOWIE--ziggy stardust & the spiders from mars
DAVID SYLVIAN--brilliant trees
DAVID SYLVIAN--gone to earth
DAVID SYLVIAN--secrets of the beehive
DEAD CAN DANCE--into the labyrinth
DEAD CAN DANCE--within the realm of a dying sun
DEAD OR ALIVE--youthquake
DEPECHE MODE--black celebration
DEPECHE MODE--music for the masses
DEPECHE MODE--some great reward
DEPECHE MODE--violator
DIVINE COMEDY--absent friends
DIVINE COMEDY--victory for the comic muse
DOVES--last broadcast
DURAN DURAN--duran duran
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN--ocean rain
ELBOW--cast of thousands
ELECTRONIC--raise the pressure
ELVIS COSTELLO--king of america
ERASURE--i say i say i say
EURYTHMICS--sweet dreams
EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL--amplified heart
EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL--walking wounded
FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD--welcome to the pleasuredome
FRANZ FERDINAND--franz ferdinand
FROU FROU--details
GARBAGE--version 2.0
GEORGE MICHAEL--listen without prejudice
GIRLS ALOUD--out of control
GIRLS ALOUD--tangled up
GOLDFRAPP--black cherry
GOLDFRAPP--felt mountain
GOLDFRAPP--seventh tree
GORILLAZ--demon days
GRACE JONES--hurricane
GRACE JONES--nightclubbing
GUILLEMOTS--through the window pane
HEAVEN 17--luxury gap
HEAVEN 17--penthouse & pavement
HOWARD JONES--dream into action
HOWARD JONES--human's lib
IMOGEN HEAP--speak for yourself
JAPAN--gentlemen take polaroids
JAPAN--tin drum
JENS LEKMAN--night falls over kortedala
JULEE CRUISE--floating into the night
k.d. lang--ingenue
KAJAGOOGOO--white feathers
KATE BUSH--aerial
KATE BUSH--dreaming
KATE BUSH--hounds of love
KEANE--hopes & fears
KILLERS--hot fuss
KIRSTY MACCOLL--tropical brainstorm
KRAFTWERK--computer world
KRAFTWERK--man machine
KRAFTWERK--trans-europe express
KYLIE MINOGUE--impossible princess
KYLIE MINOGUE--light years
LA ROUX--la roux
LADY GAGA--fame monster
LIGHTNING SEEDS--dizzy heights
LIGHTNING SEEDS--jollification
LILAC TIME--lilac time
LILY ALLEN--alright, still
LILY ALLEN--it's not me, it's you
LOVE & ROCKETS--earth sun moon
MADONNA--confessions on a dance floor
MADONNA--like a prayer
MADONNA--ray of light
MARC ALMOND--enchanted
MARC ALMOND--fantastic star
MARC ALMOND--mother fist and her five daughters
MARC ALMOND--open all night
MARC ALMOND--stars we are
MARC ALMOND--stories of johnny
MARC ALMOND--stranger things
MARC ALMOND--tenement symphony
MARC ALMOND--torment & toreros
MARC ALMOND--vermin in ermine
MASSIVE ATTACK--protection
MORRISSEY--vauxhall & i
MORRISSEY--viva hate
MORRISSEY--you are the quarry
MORRISSEY--your arsenal
NENEH CHERRY--raw like sushi
NEW ORDER--low-life
NEW ORDER--technique
NICK DRAKE--five leaves left
NINE INCH NAILS--downward spiral
NINE INCH NAILS--pretty hate machine
OASIS--definitely, maybe
OMD--architecture & morality
ONE DOVE--morning dove white
PET SHOP BOYS--actually
PET SHOP BOYS--behaviour
PET SHOP BOYS--bilingual
PET SHOP BOYS--fundamental
PET SHOP BOYS--nightlife
PREFAB SPROUT--steve mcqueen
PRIMAL SCREAM--screamadelica
PRINCE--around the world in a day
PRINCE--purple rain
PRINCE--sign o the times
PROPAGANDA--secret wish
PULP--different class
PULP--we love life
R.E.M.--automatic for the people
RADIOHEAD--kid a/amnesiac
RADIOHEAD--ok computer
ROBBIE WILLIAMS--i've been expecting you
ROISIN MURPHY--overpowered
ROISIN MURPHY--ruby blue
ROXY MUSIC--avalon
ROXY MUSIC--country life
ROXY MUSIC--stranded
SADE--diamond life
SAINT ETIENNE--foxbase alpha
SAINT ETIENNE--tiger bay
SAINT ETIENNE--tales from turnpike house
SCISSOR SISTERS--scissor sisters
SCRITTI POLITTI--cupid & psyche 85
SHRIEKBACK--big night music
SHRIEKBACK--oil & gold
SIGUR ROS--med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust
SINEAD O'CONNOR--lion & the cobra
SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES--kiss in the dreamhouse
SMITHS--louder than bombs
SMITHS--queen is dead
SMITHS--strangeways, here we come
SOFT CELL--art of falling apart
SOFT CELL--cruelty without beauty
SOFT CELL--non-stop erotic cabaret
SOFT CELL--this last night in sodom
SPARKS--hello young lovers
STEVIE WONDER--songs in the key of life
STONE ROSES--stone roses
STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE--strawberry switchblade
SUEDE--coming up
SUEDE--dog man star
SUZANNE VEGA--solitude standing
SWING OUT SISTER--kaleidoscope world
TALK TALK--colour of spring
TALK TALK--spirit of eden
THE THE--dusk
THE THE--infected
THE THE--mind bomb
THIS MORTAL COIL--filigree & shadow
THOM YORKE--eraser
THOMAS DOLBY--flat earth
THOMAS DOLBY--golden age of wireless
THOMPSON TWINS--into the gap
THOMPSON TWINS--(quick step &) side kicks
TIL TUESDAY--everything's different now
TORI AMOS--boys for pele
TORI AMOS--from the choirgirl hotel
TORI AMOS--little earthquakes
TORI AMOS--to venus & back
TORI AMOS--under the pink
TRACEY THORN--out of the woods
U2--achtung baby
VENUS HUM--big beautiful sky
WOLFGANG PRESS--bird wood cage
WOLFGANG PRESS--funky little demons
YAZ(OO)--upstairs at eric's
YAZ(OO)--you & me both
YELLO--you gotta say yes to another excess

Told ya it was long! Up next...the sorting...