Friday, 26 December 2008

The '08 Tape Side B

We reach the end of 2008. You may have had a good year, conversely you may have had a shite one. Either way, it’s coming to an end and, like us, you’ve been informed that it’s The Festive Season. If you’ve needed an excuse for a party then this is it. There’s been hundreds upon hundreds of lists telling you what you should have been listening to in the past 12 months, but for some reason have no-one’s given you a compact little playlist that you can just stick on at your Xmas/New Year party. One that fits on CD or tape would be handy wouldn’t it? We’re not hosting MP3s here at the moment, but you can find most of these through The Hype Machine, or failing that to buy from 7Digital.

And as promised, today we finish our End of Year roundup with Side B of the ‘08Tape now. It features our Top 11 songs of the year in ascending order (from #11 as Track 1 to #1 as Track 11). It was going to be our Top 10 but there was room for one more on the tape. We start the countdown with a perfect single from a band that parted ways this year, and follow it with the most epic moment yet from a group who have every right to claim this year as their own. It’s then onto what is undoubtedly the years best Number One single and it’s followed with a blast of pure POP and a single from Britain’s perennial underachievers, which in turn is followed by perfection from some critical darlings. Only then do we get to our Top 5, featuring: a highlight from the best album of 2008, Star Wars synth-pop, a bass lead rocker from our favourite band, a twee chant-along and finally a song that we think sums up all that’s great about current pop music…

‘Guilt’ – The Long Blondes
‘One Day Like This’ - Elbow
‘Sex On Fire’ – Kings Of Leon
‘What Is Happening’ – Alphabeat
‘The Beginning Of The Twist’ – The Futureheads
'Time To Pretend' - MGMT
‘No Lucifer’ – British Sea Power
‘I Told Her On Alderaan’ – Neon Neon
‘Bad Blood’ – Supergrass
'Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’ – Los Campesnios!
‘Turn Tail’ – Young Knives

Again, if anyone’s really desperate for a copy of this mixtape then by all means contact us and we’ll try and work something out


Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The '08Tape Side A

We reach the end of 2008. You may have had a good year, conversely you may have had a shite one. Either way, it’s coming to an end and, like us, you’ve been informed that it’s The Festive Season. If you’ve needed an excuse for a party then this is it. There’s been hundreds upon hundreds of lists telling you what you should have been listening to in the past 12 months, but for some reason have no-one’s given you a compact little playlist that you can just stick on at your Xmas/New Year party. One that fits on CD or tape would be handy wouldn’t it? We’re not hosting MP3s here at the moment, but you can find most of these through The Hype Machine, or failing that to buy from 7Digital.

Firstly there's Side A of the ‘08Tape, featuring some select awesome. There’s the best opening song from the year, a storming track from a Scottish super-group and then the years best cover. We've got a brilliant obscure discovery and then a Number One single. There's the indie anthem that’s been heard by nowhere near enough people, a short ditty from a perfect album and a pop song that’s currently on its way to the top of the charts. There’s a comic return from one of our favourites, one of the years best newcomers and the song with the best video of 2008. We finish with what we think is the most perfect album closer of the year (although to fit on the tape you’ll need to cut off the hidden track)

'Kriss Kross' – Guillemots
'Joni' - Correcto
'Umbrella' – Manic Street Preachers
'Swan Lake' – Thomas Tantrum
'Viva La Vida' – Coldplay
'Do The Indie Kid' – MJ Hibbett & The Validators
'The Loving Kind' – Girls Aloud
'She Doesn’t Belong To Me' – Pete And The Pirates
'Addicted To Drugs' – Kaiser Chiefs
'Hitten' – Those Dancing Days
'Pork And Beans' – Weezer
'Waiting For The Beat To Kick In…' dan le sac Vs. Scroobious Pip

If anyone really desperately wants a copy of the tape then by all means get into contact and we'll see what we can do. Side B will be up in the next few days


Saturday, 13 December 2008

Best of 2008: Albums Part 3

This is the final part of the Keep/Pop/Loud album countdown, chronicling the best releases of 2008. However, before the countdown of the TOP 10 there’s one album that we’ve enjoyed too much to merely mention in the honourable mentions list, but didn’t think was actually good enough to feature in the TOP 20.

x) Kaiser ChiefsOff With Their Heads

We love Kaiser Chiefs here, and have done since they first came about. However this album, whilst being about 2/3 fantastic is also about 1/3 laughably awful. Take the single ‘Never Miss A Beat’, which has epic choruses and fantastic instrumentation yet manages to pack in some of the worst lyrics in pop music (“What do you want for tea? / I want crisps”). Such is the album, we have brilliance like ‘You Want History’ but shite like ‘Good Days, Bad Days’. Whilst we thing Mark Ronson did a good job in production it feels somewhat rushed overall, with ideas half-baked. Had the band spent more time ironing out early misfires they could have had a record of the year here, it makes it the more sad that they didn’t.

10) Los Campesinos!We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Los Campesinos! have definitely turned out to be the band of the year here. With two phenomenal releases under their belt and being one of very few acts who seem to have an innate understanding of just what ‘indie’ and independence means. Their second album is very much the sound of a band who know exactly what they’re doing, the song writing is incredible and the instrumentation can even be described as skilled.

9) Alphabeat This Is Alphabeat

The best straight up pop album of the year. Yes, it may be heavily indebted to some of the worst music of the 1980’s, but with this set of songs on offer we couldn’t resist. This originally came out in Denmark a while back, but having found out what worked and what didn’t, Alphabeat ditched the chaff, recorded new stuff to replace it and then went ahead and re-recorded some of the good songs too. As a consequence it feels a little like a compilation. But an awesome compilation of great pop singles.

8) GuillemotsRed

For some it seems that Red was something of a disappointment, especially after 2006s Through The Windowpane. However, whilst we do think that Guillemots debut was superior, we think that there’s much to love about this record. It’s a highly ambitious collection of pop songs, there’s tonnes of exotic sounds and influences going on, from the harsh clashes of synthesised strings on ‘Kriss Kross’ to the Chinese influenced ‘Clarion’ via the ‘80s pop of ‘Big Dog’. There’s a lot going on but rarely is it messy, and shows the incredible talent of Fyfe, MC Lord Magrão,
Aristazabal and Greig.

7) Pete & The PiratesLittle Death

It came out quiet early in the year but we’ve not forgotten about Pete And The Pirates. We were lured in by the irresistible scruffy indie of ‘Come On Feet’ and ‘Knots’, but on Little Death we found some of the most heartfelt little pop gems of the year. This is quiet simply a beautiful record, that creates its own little world that anyone can relate to. It’s a crying shame that this has been ignored by the record buying public in favour of rubbish like The Courteeners.

6) The Long Blondes“Couples”

We wont lie here, we don’t think that this is a patch on their debut. However it was the sound of a band taking strides in a different direction. There was more of an electronic influence, and the lyrics sung by Kate Jackson (who was on very fine form here) were slightly more abstract than the kitchen sink of what we were used to. Now, whilst ‘Round The Hairpin’ was overlong and slightly naff, there was still The Long Blondes ever-present glamour here and ‘Guilt’, ‘I Liked The Boys’ and ‘Century’ are examples of a fantastic band on top form. We’re very sad that they split up because of guitarist Dorian Cox’s stroke as this isn’t the sound of a band who are anywhere near finished. Maybe too arty at times but this here is pop, will all the elements we crave: glamour, brains, sex appeal, art, talent and brilliant songs.

5) Young KnivesSuperabundance

“Wow” is really the only way to sum up this record. After the stripped down angular post-punk of their debut we really wasn’t expecting such an epic record. There’s an orchestra providing the backing track to many of the albums high points (such as song of the year ‘Turn Tail) whilst at other times they go back to the indie dancefloor anthem of ‘Terra Firma’. This is apocalyptic in the same was as Muse (see ‘Current Of The River’), whilst retaining the humour of Britpop. A tripumph in every way.

4) dan le sac Vs. Scroobious PipAngles

On paper this doesn’t sound too good. It’s a mixture of spoken word and electronic music, following a novelty hit of a couple of years ago (‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’). The reality is that these two disparate characters have bought all manner of influences to the table to create an eclectic yet cohesive pop album. There’s a couple of tracks of filler but that doesn’t detract from the album as a whole: there’s big pop songs like ‘Look For The Woman’, hip-hop in the form of ‘Fixed’, and the Radiohead sampling ‘Letter From God To Man’. Mainly tackling the themes of death, love and loss, this is a chronicle of modern life.

3) SupergrassDiamond Hoo Ha

They’re our favourite band here at KPL so it’s no real surprise to find Supergrass somewhere at the top of our list. There’s not much we can say other than this is a brilliant rock band fully on form and going back to their glange (grunge/glam) roots and writing an album with not one duff song on it. Superb

2) Los Campesnios!Hold On Now, Youngster…

Debut of the year from the band of the year. There’s not much to add to what we said about WAB, WAD, other than whilst this is not as well recorded this album has the songs by the bucket load: ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’, ‘You! Me! Dancing!’, ‘Knee Deep At ATP’ and ‘Death To Los Campesinos!’ could all have ended up on our end of year best of tape. Again, this is the DIY side of what Keep/Pop/Loud is about.

1) British Sea Power Do You Like Rock Music?

So, how come a POP blog has named a self declared rock album it’s album of the year? Well, because it’s thoroughly brilliant, that’s why. This is romantic, intelligent and intricate. Rock music that appeals to the heart and to the brain. It makes us want to learn about the things British Sea Power sing about. This to us is what rock music should be in the 21st century – not the regressive macho rubbish that Guns and Roses are peddling, but six minute long riff based tracks about light pollution. Whilst doom is hinted at on DYLRM? it’s never shown to be the course we’re stuck on. Basically, this album gives us hope, and makes us feel. So, we may be a Pop blog but we do like Rock Music, the raw power of it that makes us feel we can achieve anything. And whilst BSP have a more epic sound that traditional rock n roll, they manage to sum it up perfectly whilst making it so very contemporary.

That’s part of the reason why Do You Like Rock Music? by British Sea Power is our album of the year, and easily one of the best albums of the decade.


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Best of 2008: Albums Part 2

Now, there’s a lot of albums that have been released this year that we’ve yet to hear. Some of them we want to, and would probably have made this list if we had (Weezer for example). If there’s any that people feel have been criminally left out then please let us know.
And now to the countdown (Numbers 20-11)

20) The Cloud Room –
The Cloud Room

Originally released in America about three years ago, the UK finally got a new version of this brilliant indie record, complete with new songs. It’s a glimmering pop gem managing to sound huge and understated at the same time.

19) Elbow –
The Seldom Seen Kid

Elbow took their place at the top table with their fourth record, where the band create some amazing ethereal soundscapes using bog standard instruments, whilst Guy Garvey’s angelic vocals and brilliant lyrics enable crystal clear visualisations of Elbows world.

18) Girls Aloud –
Out Of Control

It may not be quiet as good as their previous album but that Girls Aloud have made it to album number five is somewhat extraordinary. It’s let down by one or two duff songs and it’s not as cohesive as it could have been, but the strength of its high points keep the girls in the top tier of bands in the country.

17) Fleet Foxes –
Fleet Foxes & Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

Yes, we’ve put two albums on the same spot on our countdown. This is because to us both fulfil the same musical need we have, yet both do it in completely their own way. Fleet Foxes created one of the most sonically stunning records of the year, filled to the brim with beautiful exotic sounds and amazing vocal harmonies. Coldplay, on the other hand released possibly their most ambitious album to date, focusing on textures rather than on the stadium anthems they’re known for and achieving a glorious technicolour spectacle. We can’t believe we just wrote that. Sorry

16) The Futureheads –
This Is Not The World

Back to the full throttle of their debut, This Is Not The World rocks rather hard whilst also being filled to the brim with hooks. We’ve spent the year shouting along to these songs, and will continue to do so for many more years to come

15) Neon Neon –
Stainless Style

As well as putting out one of the best pop songs of the year, Gruff Rhys put out his best album since Super Furry Animals Phantom Power (2003). Blending together everything from indie to pop to hip-hop under a shiny ‘80s banner, this tribute to John DeLorian was the most surprising and varied records to reach a pop crowd this year. Oh, and there’s a Star Wars reference, which always earns major points here at KPL

14) Delays –
Everything’s The Rush

Delays treading water is still better than most bands can manage in their careers. Their third record is a superb blend of the dreamy indie of their debut and the dance pop of its 2006 follow up. Where bigger bands have stalled on the ‘difficult third album’ Delays have succeeded, and although it’s not even as good as we’re sure they can get.

13) Vampire Weekend –
Vampire Weekend

We didn’t want to like this record. ‘A-Punk’ just got in our heads and we couldn’t shake it. Then we fell for the charms of the rest of the album. For something so hip it draws on some rather un-hip influences, and overall comes across as pretty leftfield. Either way, aside from ‘One’ shite song, Vampire Weekend is a record that it’s so easy to love

12) Ida Maria –
Fortress Round My Heart

KPL would have loved this record no matter how old we were when it came out. Luckily it’s at a time when we’re able to appreciate how fully FUN this music is. There’s nothing overly complex about these pop-punk concoctions but couples with Ida’s weird voice and charisma we really fell for this album. That it’s catchy as hell and goes quietLOUDquietLOUD is also highly appreciated.

11) Those Dancing Days –
In Our Space Hero Suits & Thomas Tantrum – Thomas Tantrum

Two sides of the same coin, and we love them equally. Both fulfil the needs we have as pop lovers in making delightful, life-affirming pop music. Both are brilliantly talented bands fronted by ladies with amazing voices. Those Dancing Days are the Swedish teens who make Northern Soul influenced indiepop which tugs are the heartstrings. Thomas Tantrum on the other hand make jittery artpop that’s a much superior alternative to The Ting Tings. Plus they sit next to each other in our CD library.

Numbers 10 to 1 is to follow at some point in the next week


Supergrass @ The Plug

We saw Supergrass at The Plug in Sheffield last night. Needless to say, it was amazing. Well, seeing the best band in the world would be wouldn't it. We didn't take any photo's so you'll have to live without overexposed, blurry images of Gaz Coombs fantastic sideburns, Santa setting off a confetti cannon or third Coombs brother Charlie boosting the band to a five piece.

They didn't play all of the songs we may have liked them to (no 'Grace', 'Lenny' or 'Alright') but we did get 'She's So Loose', 'Richard III', 'Mary' and 'Pumping On Your Stereo' so we didn't feel short changed at all. If you're eager for a full review then head over to This Is Fake DIY at some point in the next couple of days and there should be one up then.


Monday, 8 December 2008

Best of 2008: Albums Part 1

Here’s a list of the albums that we’ve been enjoing this year at KPL. They’re not the best albums from the year – that list is to follow. However, all of these albums are rather darn ace. It’s the Honourable Mentions, if you like. Alphabetical order obviously.

The Automatic –
This Is A Fix
Blitzen Trapper –
Bromheads Jacket –
On The Brain
Correcto –
Duels –
The Barbarians Move In
Feeder –
Silent Cry
Hot Club de Paris –
Live At Dead Lake
The Hot Puppies –
Blue Hands
Kaizers Orchestra –
Keane –
Perfect Symmetry
The Killers –
Day & Age
Kings Of Leon –
Only By The Night
The Last Shadow Puppets –
The Age Of The Understatement
Late Of The Pier –
Fantasy Black Channel
Leon Jean Marie –
Bent Out Of Shape
Midnight Juggernauts –
Mystery Jets –
Twenty One
Noah And The Whale -
Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
Ra Ra Riot –
The Rhumb Line
Sons & Daughters –
This Gift
The Subways –
All Or Nothing
We Are Scientists –
Brain Thrust Mastery
The Yell –
Down With The Yell

And as a bonus here's a list of the best non-studio albums of the year in ascending order

5) Muse -
HAARP: Live at Wembley
Brilliant live album from one of the world's greatest rock bands. There's some tracks left off the CD release, which is a shame and prevents this from being higher on the list.

Moshi Moshi Singles Club: A-Sides
Fantastic compilation, showcasing the many types of pop music that we love here. From the noisy rock of Dananananaykroyd to Kate Nash's first pop forays to Slow Club's twee and even some electronic treats.

3) The Long Blondes -
Dearly departed under unfortunate circumstances. They left us with two great albums and this collection of early material. All of which is essential

2) Ash -
1977 Deluxe Edition
Beautiful re-issue of one of the best albums of the 1990's. Enough unreleased tracks to keep even the most die hard Ash fan happy. It includes the album
1977, mini-album Trailer, two live sets and 23 b-sides etc. That's a whopping 66 songs in total.

Juno OST
A soundtrack to one of our favorite films ever turns out to be one of our favorite CDs. Who'd have thought it.