Sunday, 27 October 2013

Favourite 100 Albums

It has perhaps not created as much debate as they'd have liked, but the issue of NME that's in newsagents this week features a countdown of their Top 500 Albums of All Time. It's not actually a bad list in the context, but suffers from the 'compiled by committee' predictability of the top end.

What was more interesting however was the list that former NME writer / current Kerrang editor James McMahon posted of his 500 Favourite Albums. It was fantastic reading this list and seeing what little sense it made outside of his subjective taste. bis alongside Slayer: why not? It's clearly an honest picture and very much worth a look.

Inspired by this I thought I'd have a crack. But sadly I don't really feel I've heard enough albums to be able to tackle the behemoth that is a 500-strong list, so I downsized to a Top 100 (and was quite strict about what constituted an album). The result is below.

It's subjective, weighted towards the last decade, and is probably missing something key. But as it is now I'm pretty happy with it.

001: Different Class – Pulp (1995, Island)
002: Someone To Drive You Home – The Long Blondes (2006, Rough Trade)
003: Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand (2004, Domino)
004: We Validate! - MJ Hibbett & The Validators (2006, Artists Against Success)
005: Permission To Land – The Darkness (2003, Must Destroy / Atlantic)
006: Waited Up 'til It Was Light – Johnny Foreigner (2008, Best Before)
007: Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen (1975, Columbia)
008: The Lexicon Of Love – ABC (1982, Neutron)
009: The Decline Of British Sea Power – British Sea Power (2003, Rough Trade)
010: Through The Windowpane – Guillemots (2006, Polydor)
011: Our Earthly Pleasures – Maxïmo Park (2007, Warp)
012: Bang, Bang, Rock And Roll – Art Brut (2005, Fierce Panda)
013: Elastica – Elastica (1995, Deceptive)
014: We Are The Pipettes – The Pipettes (2006, Memphis Industries)
015: His N Hers – Pulp (1994, Island)
016: Coles Corner – Richard Hawley (2005, Mute)
017: Romance Is Boring – Los Campesinos! (2010, Wichita)
018: Parallel Lines – Blondie (1978, Chrysalis)
019: Everything Must Go – Manic Street Preachers (1996, Epic)
020: Road To Rouen – Supergrass (2005, Polydor)
021: The '59 Sound – The Gaslight Anthem (2008, SideOneDummy)
022: Construction For The Modern Idiot – The Wonder Stuff (1993, Polydor)
023: 1977 – Ash (1996, Infectious)
024: Employment – Kaiser Chiefs (2005, B-Unique)
025: Neon Bible – Arcade Fire (2007, Merge)
026: Blur – Blur (1997, Food)
027: Alligator – The National (2005, Beggars Banquet)
028: This Is Hardcore – Pulp (1998, Island)
029: Crack The Skye – Mastodon (2009, Reprise)
030: Do You Like Rock Music? - British Sea Power (2008, Rough Trade)
031: The Futureheads – The Futureheads (2004, 679)
032: The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance (2006, Reprise)
033: Another City, Another Sorry – The Answering Machine (2009, Heist Or Hit)
034: Capture/Release – The Rakes (2005, V2)
035: Dear Catastrophe Waitress – Belle And Sebastian (2003, Rough Trade)
036: A Certain Trigger - Maxïmo Park (2005, Warp)
037: Copper Blue – Sugar (1992, Creation)
038: Elephant – The White Stripes (2003, XL)
039: It's A Bit Complicated – Art Brut (2007, Mute)
040: Document – R.E.M. (1987, I.R.S.)
041: Harmonies For The Haunted – stellastarr* (2005, RCA)
042: Sam's Town – The Killers (2006, Island / Vertigo)
043: Angles – dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip (2008, Sunday Best)
044: Heartthrob – Tegan And Sara (2013, Warner Bros.)
045: Reading, Writing And Arithmetic – The Sundays (1990, Rough Trade)
046: Voices Of Animals And Men – Young Knives (2006, Transgressive)
047: The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars – David Bowie (1971, RCA)
048: Give Blood – Brakes (2005, Rough Trade)
049: Pinkerton – Weezer (1996, DGC)
050: Suck It And See – Arctic Monkeys (2011, Domino)
051: I Should Coco – Supergrass (1995, Parlophone)
052: Hold On Now, Youngster... - Los Campsinos! (2008, Wichita)
053: American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash (2002, American / Universal)
054: Grace And The Bigger Picture – Johnny Foreigner (2009, Best Before)
055: Flight Of The Conchords – Flight Of The Conchords (2008, Sub Pop)
056: Beautiful Freak – Eels (1996, DreamWorks)
057: My Best Friend Is You – Kate Nash (2010, Geffen / Fiction)
058: Funeral – Arcade Fire (2005, Rough Trade)
059: The Jarvis Cocker Record – Jarvis Cocker (2006, Rough Trade)
060: Free All Angels – Ash (2001, Infectious)
061: The Bright Lights And What I Should Have Learned – Duels (2006, Nude)
062: “Couples” - The Long Blondes (2008, Rough Trade)
063: You Can't Hide Your Love Forever – Orange Juice (1982, Polydor)
064: Hot Fuss – The Killers (2004, Lizard King / Vertigo)
065: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips (2002, Warner Bros.)
066: Hands – Little Boots (2009, 679 Artists)
067: Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever – The Cribs (2007, Wichita)
068: Actually – Pet Shop Boys (1987, Parlaphone)
069: You Could Have It So Much Better – Franz Ferdinand (2005, Domino)
070: It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back – Public Enemy (1988, Def Jam)
071: The Remote Part – Idlewild (2002, Parlaphone)
072: In Our Spacehero Suits – Those Dancing Days (2008, Wichita)
073: Achtung Bono - Half Man Half Biscuit (2005, Probe Plus)
074: Thunder, Lightning, Strike – The Go! Team (2004, Memphis Industries)
075: This Is Alphabeat – Alphabeat (2008, Copenhagen / EMI)
076: This Is Christmas – Emmy The Great & Tim Wheeler (2011, Infectious)
077: Silent Alarm – Bloc Party (2005, Wichita)
078: Inform – Educate – Entertain – Public Service Broadcasting (2013, Test Card)
079: Chutes Too Narrow – The Shins (2004, Sub Pop)
080: The Uber Set – MJ Hibbett (2005, Artists Against Success)
081: Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys (1966, Capitol)
082: Sound Of Silver – LCD Soundsystem (2007, DFA / Capitol)
083: The Crane Wife – The Decemberists (2006, Rough Trade)
084: Murmur – R.E.M. (1983, I.R.S.)
085: Stainless Style – Neon Neon (2008, Lex)
086: We Love Life – Pulp (2001, Island)
087: Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything – Johnny Foreigner (2011, Alcopop!)
088: At The Club – Kenickie (1997, EMIdisc)
089: Tigermilk – Belle and Sebastian (1996, Electric Honey)
090: Modern Apprentice – Ikara Colt (2004, Fantastic Plastic)
091: The Bones Of What You Believe – CHVRCHES (2013, Virgin / Goodbye)
092: You See Colours – Delays (2006, Rough Trade)
093: Where The Humans Eat – Willy Mason (2004, Virgin)
094: Tangled Up – Girls Aloud (2007, Fascination)
095: Curses – Future of the Left (2007, Too Pure)
096: Absolution – Muse (2003, Mushroom / A&E)
097: Europe – Allo Darlin' (2012, Fortuna Pop!)
098: We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise  – Nosferatu D2 (2010, Audio Antihereo)
099: The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks (1968, Pye)
100: Endtroducing... - DJ Shadow (1996, Mo Wax)

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Lego: Five Minifigures We'd Like To See

Since this image of an apparently forthcoming Batgirl minifigure appeared online debate has been occurring as to whether it's a convincing custom or due to appear in one of Lego's 2014 Batman sets. We can't help but wonder if the confusion is partially down to the fact that Batgirl is.. well... a girl. After all, Lego doesn't have the best reputation for gender equality in its licensed themes and what's more, there's no excuse for it. Off the top of our heads, here is five women that'd we'd like to see immortalised in Lego – regardless of Batgirl's fate.

Padmé Amidala (Naboo Battle Gear)
The Star Wars theme celebrates its 15th Anniversary next year, and despite being the female lead for an entire trilogy Padmé Amidala has only appeared in Lego a small handful of times, with a 10 year gap between her first appearance and her next minifigure availability. This year's Republic Gunship finally gave us the chance to own a copy of the character in her Episode II battle fatigues... but only if we had the money to shell out on one of the most expensive sets in the range. With Lego's sights now set on Episode III we're going to have to brace ourself for a donzen boy-friendly variants on the eternally available Clone Trooper before we see Amidala in bricks again.

The collectable minifigures range is, largely, doing much better at gender gender representation than the licensed themes are, but that doesn't mean that there's no room for improvement. Series 11 saw a Scientist, but this step forward was sorely needed after the Trendsetter figure included in Series 10. One traditionally male-dominated area that's often seen depicted in city sets is a pilot character, and with a male character appearing in this guise in Series 3, perhaps it's time we saw a woman take to the brick-built skies.

Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat)
Not only is Shadowcat the heart of the current incarnation of the X-Men, but her phasing power lends itself perfectly to the Lego format. Uniform goes in Shadowcat's favour here, meaning that should Lego chose to produce our favourite X-character they'd likely be able to re-use the torso for a number of Kitty's team-mates (Jean Grey, for example). However, not being a household name means that the only way we're likely to see a Shadowcat figure is if a full range of sets is made available to tie-in with the Days of Future Past movie. Realistically this means the 2014 X-Men sets will probably just be another Wolverine-centric bloke-fest.

Captain Marvel
The most interesting character in the Marvel stable at the moment is the former Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, who under the authorship of Kelly Sue DeConnick has gained a devoted fan following and been the lead in one of the best series that the publisher has been putting it's name to. Sadly, her pilot-inspired jumpsuit has yet to gain full recognition over her old swimming costume in some of the fanboy dominated sections of the community. Should we be lucky enough to add this top-ranking Avenger to our assembled figure collection it's likely that she'll only be appearing in her cartoon Ms. guise. We won't be holding our breath on this, there are only 3 widely available female minifigures in the Marvel theme - that's less than the number of different Iron Man suits.

Mara Jade
Easily the best and most iconic Star Wars character to have never appeared in the films (sorry Thrawn fans), it's safe to say that a Mara Jade figure would ensure a set sells like hot cakes. Just check out her popularity as a custom/MOC. Luckily we wouldn't bet against her appearing in the forthcoming Rebels TV series, and if Lego's relationship with it's Clone Wars forerunner is anything to go by an appearance in this ensures dead-certain minifigure translation. On top of this we've seen a marked increase in Expanded Universe sets appearing in recent years; perhaps a Thrawn Trilogy inspired set isn't out of the question...