Nicest Albums of the Year

posted on January 2nd, 2007 by Anthony

I would like to point out that a lot of the albums I hammered this year were actually released in 2005 – People like the prolific Quantic (my fave discovery in years!), MIA, Architecture in Helsinki, The Rakes, and Art Brut could have made this list, except they are too old!

Also The Klaxons would have made it, but they only released an EP… I’ll wait till the album to put them in next years… which they probably will, the lovely noisy hoover playing ravers…

10. Lily Allen – Alright, Still

Lily Allen - Alright, Still

Ok… I like this album… a lot.

There, I said it.

I assure you that deep down in the darker reaches of my music geek brain there is a little man screaming as I tell you this. This was the same little man that laughed with glee when I dug out dusty vinyl gems from the backs of charity shops. (The day when I found a copy of the live version of ‘The Bottle’ by Gil Scott-Heron was a particularly good day for that little fellow…)

Miss Allen is the kind of poppy fare I just couldn’t stick in my youger days. Especially the singles. But you get force fed them on the radio (when your iPod dies) and you start to like them, then you get the album and realise there songs are full of wit, charm and slightly annoying pseudo Chav Yoof chatter…

Plus the girl has lovely voice. Dammit.

Zero 7 - The Garden

9. Zero 7 – The Garden

Zero 7 hit the big time with their first album (which I never liked, but loads of people did), then dived into sonic wallpaper for the next one (which nobody liked).

Everyone thought they’d shot their sonic bolt.

Then they released ‘The Garden‘. Ooooh what a lovely little album it is.

Back in June I described it so:

This time it’s less wallpaper and more, well no walls really. It’s more of a lush, organic, dew glistened field of greenery with azure blue skies.

Sums it all up really. A brilliant summer soundtrack.

8. The Rapture – Pieces of the People We Love

I wasn’t expecting too much from this. I like some of bands work, but had never been over enamoured with their albums. I was very pleasantly surprised.

The Rapture - Pieces of the People We Love

I previously said:

… ‘Pieces of the People We Love‘ is a wholly more rounded and listenable affair. They have achieved a much more balanced sound to their music, there is less of a mechanic feel to most of the tracks, and quite a bit more soul.

It’s also more firmly focused on the dance floor. ‘Whoo Alright Yah Uh Huh’, for example, is packed with more energy than a Duracell factory. I like dance tracks I can’t help it, and when it’s mixed so well with live instruments I’m powerless to resist.

There’s no point repeating myself!

CSS - CSS

7. CSS – CSS

Playful electronic and guitar mischief from bunch of Brazilian girls and a bloke with a moustache. (Apparently when they started out none of the girls could play an instrument and it was all a bit of a laugh.)

When I first started listening to their self titled album I genuinely thought would be ranking much higher in this list. With a dirty electro sound, plus dirty tounge in cheek lyrics… but I have to be honest and say that some of the tracks have started to grate a little.

Overall, though, it’s still a cracking bit of bubblegum electronica.

And they are called CSS. I think we should start a tribute band called XHTML.

6. Dirty Pretty Things – Waterloo to Anywhere

Dirty Pretty Things - Waterloo to Anywhere

I never really got the whole Libertines thing. I just missed the boat completely, so this album hadn’t really even appeared on my radar.

Fortunately it still managed to wind up in my playlist. It’s a great balls out, basic rock music in the Great British mould. No frills, but plenty of substance, even that substance of stretches to 36 minutes!

You F*cking Love It.

Enough Said.

5. The Zutons – Tired of Hanging Around

Claire and myself love The Zutons. They’re our local band innit. Claire even managed to purloin a real life drumstick used by Sean Payne himself at their last awesome gig in Liverpool.

Tired Of Hanging Around is the guys difficult second album. Fortunately it’s also rather good. OK, it lacks some of the obvious stand out hits their debut bestowed on us, but given time it still delivers a bucket load of goodness.
It’s a much more subtle album, with a lot more layers of sound weaved together. Not least from Abi, the bands saxophonist. This time her sax is used to provide texture, rather than sharp stabs and it gives the band a more accomplished sound. Her singing is also coming on too!

As I’m writing I’m looking through the tracklisting to try and pick a stand out track. But they’re all bloody good.

I can’t wait until their next.

4. The Arctic Monkeys – Whatever Peolpe Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

The Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

Do I really need to say anything here?

Am I trying to be cool having them only at 4?

Or has their impact been lessened by being out for a whole year already.

Whatever, a sooper album!

3. Tapes ‘n Tapes – The Loon

Tapes 'N Tapes - The Loon

I stumbled on this lot by accident, hearing them on a XFM lunch time show when I was off work.

It was Insistor that I heard and it positively throbbed out of my DAB radio.

The album was promptly sought out and my ear buds were treated to their off beat lyrics, riffing and their tunes that build to cracking crescendos.

Back in August I spouted this gibberish:

I’m finding it hard to describe what they actually sound like. It’s very familiar fare, yet some how sounds very fresh. It has a very DIY feel to it. In fact some of it sounds like it has been recorded on actual tapes… not new tapes either, but ones that have been used over and over again to capture long passed Peel sessions.

But this is a good thing. The ghosts of those old sessions lend their presence to the album.

Gibberish, but it pretty much sums it up. Cracking album.

The Raconteurs - Borken Boy Soldiers

2. The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers

This has been the dictionary definition of a Slow Burner.

When I first listened through the album I enjoyed it. Then it got sort of forgotten about it. However it stayed in the playing rotation for months, and months, and months.

In fact it’s been played regularly since I got hold of it, and it seems to get better every time.

This was hammered home when we had the pleasure of seeing them live. That is one tight band. Brendan Benson is a smooth mofo, Jack White is a living legend. Easily the slickest band I’ve ever seen. (Including a great cover of ‘Bang, Bang’)

The album is more impressive seeing as it is only a side-project for all involved… imagine what they could achieve when they really put their effort in.

1. The Fratellis – Costello Music

The Fratellis - Costello Music

Already I’ve seen a lot of negative stuff written about these guys in the music press.

Bollocks to it all.

What they have delivered here is a riotous, no-nonsense, happy, bull shit free slab of gold.

No it doesn’t provide incisive commentary on the state of contemporary Britain. No it does nothing truly new, or unique, or clever. Nor does it pretend to.

Here we have three (apparently too posh) lads from Glasgow who unashamedly belt out happy, raw, energetic, rock music.

They proclaim their love of T-Rex and the 70’s rock era, and they take that sound, strip it down, tweak it for themselves and deliver an album that makes you want to get up and dance and shout from the very first twangs of Henrietta.

Music doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful, sometimes you just have to enjoy it for what it is.

I make no apologies for this one. Costello Music is one my favourite albums. Full Stop.

2007 Hopefuls

Some bands looking to hit the charts next year…

Also we’re hoping to see the return of Howie Payne. The Stands were a great band that split up just as they were going to break the big time. From the ashes of their split front man (and would be genius) Howie is back with most of the original cast to try again. We’ve seen them live twice recently, they are very, very good.