Swear I'm not Paul: 30/11/2008

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Best Albums of 2008: Countdown 50-41

And now continues our countdown of the 50 Most redundant Channel 4 Top 50 Countdowns...

50. Tindersticks - The Hungry Saw
2008 was the year where I finally got into the Tindersticks. I had heard people calling them boring before, and thus never really gave them a chance. Then I met a man who loved them more than life itself. He gave me this incredibly encapsulating album, and all has changed. I'm converted.

49. Nada Surf – Lucky
Lucky was one of those records that went under the radar. You listened it a lot when it was first released, and then left it on the shelf for a while. But those of us who returned to it found something to keep us coming back for more. Not their best record, but then again most bands don't have albums as good as Nada Surf.

48. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
I loved the first Kings of Leon reocrd. I hated, and I mean hated, the next two. It was like they sold out. This band that I had embraced had been taken from me, and replaced with clean shaven stadium-friendly rockers. But on their fourth album, they combined their grittiness with the mass appeal, and made a superb return to form.

47. Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst
Bright Eyes made one of my favourite records of the last decade, then Conor came along and made one just as good to follow-up. Then he did something strange and went solo. But wasn't he more or less solo all along? Not exactly. These tunes are more stripped back than the Bright Eyes stuff, and show Oberst at his most raw. An engaging record, filled with clever lyrics and beautiful melodies

46. The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement
Everybody should have heard what the Last Shadow Puppets is: a collaboration between a Monkey and a Rascal. The Arctic Monkeys didn't release anything this year, and instead we received this record. There are a few tunes on it that should've been the Bond theme. But the main question that I find myself asking is: how can Miles Kane make an album this good when his own band are so, so rubbish?

45. Dan Tyminski – Wheels
<Had I gone too long without a country record? Dan Tyminski is perhaps best known, or maybe not know at all, for being the singing voice of George Clooney's Soggy Bottom Boy in O Brother, Where Art Thou?. He's been releasing great records for years with Union Station, and on Wheels, he really comes into his own. If you liked 'Man of Constant Sorrow', and who doesn't, then you'll love this record.

44. Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
I won't lie, I liked X&Y, it was my first "hey this band are good" glimpse at Coldplay. I had come late to the party. But by that time the party had moved elsewhere (my anti-Kings of Leon). However, through the excellent production duties of Brian Eno, Coldplay have created their masterpiece. And the follow-up EP is pretty good too.

43. Shelby Lynne – Just a Little Lovin'
These songs are not new. They're Dusty Springfield covers. However, sometimes covers albums are better than new material. Expect for those Jesse Malin and Cat Power records this year! Shelby Lynne is a country singer who has been around for a couple of decades and has experienced enough heartache to bring a whole new dimension to these classic tunes.

42. Bloc Party – Intimacy
Another return to form album this one. It starts off shakily, but builds and builds into an excellent record, which is even better live. Kele is finally becoming a great frontman, and is now much more comfortable on stage, and also on this album. They should have a very interesting career. I can't wait to see what they do next.

41. Mark Pickerel & His Praying Hands – Cody's Dream
In addition to my love for country, I really love Americana. Perhaps even more. I never was the biggest Nick Cave fan, but the best way to describe Mark Pickerel would be as the "Americana Nick Cave". This is a wonderful album of stories fulling of stirring tales as well as haunting melodies. It'll be one to return to in fifty years and play to your grandkids. It has that timeless quality while remaining rooted deep in the heart of America.

Lists: BBC Sound of 2009 Longlist

The fifteen act longlist for the BBC Sound of 2009 has been announced and includes my favourite Marcus Mumford's Mumford & Sons. Hopefully he'll be massive. He deserves to be.

The shortlist of ten will be announced, as always in the first week of January.

Read the fifteen here:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Best of 2008: Countdown 60-51

Over the next week I'll be unveiling my massive countdown of the top 60 albums (in my opinion) of 2008. Expect a few ones that are on every list, expect a few Irish records to make the cut (it was a great year for Irish music), and expect a few ones you've never heard of. But don't expect me to post at the same time every day!

60. Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life
A lot of the time, rock stars’ kids tend to be absolute wasters, living off their parents. Kind of like Hugh Grant’s character in About a Boy, or like Peaches Geldof or Nicole Richie. Then there are people like Damian Marley, Rufus Wainwright, and Justin Townes Earle. With Steve as his dad, and “Townes” as his middle name, how could he go wrong? A glorious country record, and proof that sometimes talent is hereditary.

59. Glasvegas – Glasvegas
Knife crime is rampant in Britain these days. Or so the Sun newspaper would have us believe. People can’t leave their houses without the risk of a Streets of Rage-style knife-wielding bad guy walking into them. They’ve also embraced Glasvegas as the anti-knife crime band. Or something. That aside, this is a great debut, and once you’ve decoded what James Allen is saying when he sings, you’ll hear that the lyrics are even better than the music.

58. Los Campesinos! – We are Beautiful, We are Doomed
This started off as an EP, but made it into a full album. However, like their debut Hold on Now Youngster, it’s filled with short, sparky, spunky, pop tunes. It retains the feel of an EP, and never outstays its welcome. Not bad for their second album in the space of a year. And it proves that Wales can actually make good music, unlike Stereophonics and Tom Jones.

57. Chad VanGaalen – Soft Airplane
Chad VanGaalen is essentially a pop artist. However, his pop tunes would never find space on the radio alongside the circuses of Britney Spears and Take That. VanGaalen infuses a sort of madness into his records that makes them appealing for some, but turns away many. Have a look at that cover art? Think it interesting? Then this may be for you. Think it’s awful, “a child could do better”? Then maybe that new Britney record is actually what you’re looking for.

56. PAS/CAL – I Was Raised on Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura
Dave Greenwald from RawkBlog introduced me to this record, and for that I must thank him. It’s a breath of fresh air. Perfectly summery, and on first listen a decent pop album. However, on subsequent listens, the true texture of the album comes to the fore. The music is much more complex than it first seems. It doesn’t require multiple listens to appreciate, but if you give it a chance, you’ll be greatly rewarded.

55. Mick Flannery – White Lies
Mick Flannery is either the Irish Ray LaMontagne or the male Lisa Hannigan. But isn’t Damien Rice the male Lisa Hannigan? I’m sure we can deal with two, as I doubt we’ll see a new Damo album this side of the London Olympics. A fantastic storytelling album, and a fine follow-up to the exceptional Evening Train.

54. Leona Naess – Thirteens
Yes, you did read that incorrectly the first time. It’s not Leona Lewis’s Spirit (released about six different times at this stage), but Leona Naess’s wonderful folk-pop. If she had been an actress too, there’s no doubt that Leona Naess would be as big as Zoeey Deschanel of She & Him fame.

53. People in Planes – Beyond the Horizon
While not as good as their last album, As far as the Eye Can See, People in Planes’ latest record is another rock accomplishment from a vastly underrated band. This one is more straight-up rock than the last, and really should have been their catapult to success. There’s no justice.

52. Noah and the Whale – Peaceful the World lays Me Down
Any band that takes its name from the a film as good as The Squid and the Whale is worthy of praise in my book (it’s why I have a soft spot for Duran Duran!) Noah and the Whale are closely associated with another of my favourite new English acts, Laura Marling. So it all adds up to an enchanting folk debut.

51. Sun Kil Moon – April
This is a difficult record to explain, but isn’t that why I’m here? To introduce you (or remind you of) excellent albums such as this. It’s a grower rather than a shower, and definitely requires a lot of your attention. And after the fifth listen (or so), you’ll realise how great an album this really is. Just don’t forget to thank me for the music.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Album News: Morrissey - Years of Refusal

Not so much news as such. Well, the album comes out February 16th, perfect for Valentine's weekend. But I do think this album cover is amazingly hilarious...

Morrissey - Years of Refusal

Review: Bon Iver at the National Stadium, Dublin, 3 December 2008

Third time this year that Justin Vernon has played in Ireland, but the first time ever I got to see him. I would've saved some money if I had have went to either of the other two gigs, but I doubt they were this good.

Justin stated at the start that this was the first time in three years that he was doing a mostly standing gig, and we were all the better for it. I must admit I had certain preconceptions about what a Bon Iver show would entail. I expected it to be whingey and slow, this is a man who has made his name from a heartbreak-infused record after all.

The man himself was chatty throughout, and the show was much livelier, and heavier, than expected. And I loved every second. Good news hardcore fans, he played all four songs from the upcoming Blood Bank EP (which was available from the stall out front on vinyl!), of which 'Babys' and 'Blood Bank' were highlights. He sings rather than wails on the new songs, and dare I say it, 'Blood Bank' may be the best he's ever done.

The idiot behind me claimed when the show was over that "he played the album to death", but with only one release, what did he expect. He played all the songs you'd expect from it, engaged the crowd in a singalong on 'Wolves', and did a neat solo performance on 'Re: Stacks'.

There were many highlights for me, 'Skinny Love' and 'Flume' were amazing. He skipped the encore walk off, and "came back" for a treat of 'Babys' and a ripping 'Creature Fear' that built-and-built until it could build no more.

(Oh and I couldn't find my camera, so if anyone has any photos let me know!)

Best Albums of 2008: Irish Blog Roundup, part 1

Like LargeHeartedBoy's worldwide list, I intend to make a list of every Irish best of I see. Email me at swearimnotpaul@gmail.com or leave a comment if you want yours added!

Alan Whelan's Top 50 Albums
IndieLimerick's Top 10 Albums
State Magazine Top 25 Albums
UCD University Observer Top 3 Albums

Best Albums of 2008: Sarah Siskind's favourite record

Sarah Siskind with Paul Brady

Former Grammy-nominee Sarah Siskind provided excellent support for Justin 'Bon Iver' Vernon last night at Dublin's National Stadium, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to ask her about her favourite album of 2008 after the gig.

Sarah admitted to being "caught on the spot" and after discussing how she had listened to "a lot of Nashville albums this year, especially Mason Jennings", she finally settled on Swedish singer Ane Brun's Changing of the Seasons.

Sarah said that she loved the lyrics on the record, and said that the album was the most beautiful she had heard in a long time.

Oh and in case you didn't know, Ane Brun's cover of 'True Colours' is currently being used to advertise Sky HD over here.

Ane Brun - Changing of the Seasons album cover

Setlist: Bon Iver, National Stadium, 3 December 2008

Great gig last night. Expect a review shortly...

In the Woods >
Lump Sum
Skinny Love
Beach Baby
Blood Bank
Re: Stacks
I Believe in You
For Emma
Wolves (Acts I and II)
Creature Fear

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stream: Neil Young - Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House

I'll be doing a best Live Albums list for 2008, so luckily I got to hear this before I made the list.

It's so much better than his 2008 Malahide show!

Stream it in full here:

Download: The Raveonettes - Come on Santa

Stop with your dirty mind. It's the equivalent of 'Hurry up Santa'! It's taken from their Christmas EP Wishing you a Rave Christmas, which I've previously promoted. Why? I just love Christmas! That's three mentions of a proper Crimbo in three successive posts!

And isn't that new tree on O'Connell Street horrible?

You can buy the EP here:

The Raveonettes - 'Come on Santa'

Album News: an Indiecater Christmas

An Indiecater Christmas cover

There's nothing I love more come December-time than Christmas music. And apart from the Wizzard and John Lennon tunes, I love new Christmas music. So therefore imagine my delight when I heard our good friends over at Indiecater Records were releasing an all-new (well except 4 tunes) Christmas compilation featuring some of the finest artists around.

1) The Cloud Room – Melody, Like Snow
2) Nina Hynes – Twinkle
3) Kill Krinkle Club – Songs Of Noel
4) Bill Baird – Christmas In Jail
5) Idaho – Santa Claus Is Weird
6) Venice Is Sinking – The Grey Line
7) Normandy – Merry Christmas, Blogosphere!
8) The Very Most - This Year, Christmas Came November 4th
9) Remington Super 60 – Here Comes Christmas
10) Jape – I Will Cry This Christmas
11) The Specimen – Wish It Would Snow
12) Nonstop Everything - There Is No Santa, Little Boy
13) My Teenage Stride – Is It Christmas Already?
14) Dora Flood – Coastal Winter
15) Loxsly – Santa Got The Spins
16) Track A Tiger – Once In The Wine
17) The Winks – Action Figures

Nina Hynes - 'Twinkle'

The album costs a bargain-basement €6.50, and can be bought here:

Live: Jason Mraz at the Academy

It's Mister A to the Z, or somesuch. Jason Mraz will play Dublin's Academy on April 9th, his first gig here in years. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, December 4th. It's December, when is too early to start listening to Christmas music, such as Sufjan's Christmas EPs?

I rant, tickets are €33 anywho.

Download: Bruce Springsteen - My Lucky Day

Today is your lucky day. Well all this week actually, as for this week only you can download another new song from Bruce Springsteen's upcoming album Working on a Dream, via both his MySpace and the Amazon page for the new album.

Download it here:


Monday, December 1, 2008

Live: Lily Allen at the Academy

Lily is back next year with a new album and a new Irish show. The woman has been a bit of a musical recluse lately, preferring going to bars than playing in them, but she will return to Dublin to play the Academy on March 16th.

Tickets cost €33 (wtf) and go on sale tomorrow, December 2nd.

'LDN' is still fantastic:

Cancelled: Jay Reatard Again

Lauren and Jim with the 4-1-1 here on Jay Reatard once again cancelling an Irish appearance. Will he ever come across the pond to us? It makes me want to take his album out of my upcoming top 50 (or 60 or 70 I haven't decided yet) list.

Maybe this article by Jim Carroll explains why:

This is what we're missing out on:

Torrent: Wilco, Vicar Street, 14 November 2008

Wow, what a great audience. Wilco's Irish date from 2007 is now available for download from etree, and features the following setlist:
Sunken Treasure
Remember The Mountain Bed
Muzzle Of Bees
You Are My Face
War On War
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
Pot Kettle Black
Handshake Drugs
Side With The Seeds
Radio Cure
Impossible Germany
Sky Blue Sky
I'm The Man Who Loves You
A Shot In The Arm
Spiders (Kidsmoke)
California Stars
Jesus, Etc.
Hate It Here
Heavy Metal Drummer
Red-Eyed And Blue > I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
Outtasite (Outta Mind)

Get it here: