Here are Musick's top 5 predictions for big things in 2009. Actually, let's call them the 'top 5 new acts that deserve to be big in 2009' because, let's be honest, it would be pretty easy to predict who will be big in 2009; Alexandra Burke, JLS, Eogchxen Qiuigigig, some choir from some TV show, a reformed S Club 7.
Let's fill some space with a random list (in no particular order) of Musick's favourite tracks of 2008 (by 'tracks' we mean 'singles', but they don't really exist anymore).
In no way am I running out of ideas. No way. Not even close. Lists do not signify a dearth of great ideas. Oh no.
'Nattura' Bjork feat. Thom Yorke 'Closer' Ne-Yo 'Dream On' Robyn & Christian Falk 'Two Doors Down' Mystery Jets 'Run, Run' Those Dancing Days 'Paris Is Burning' Ladyhawke 'LES Artistes' Santogold 'Kids' MGMT 'Ready For The Floor' Hot Chip 'Paper Planes' MIA 'The Loving Kind' Girls Aloud 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)' Beyonce 'Sandcastle Disco' Solange 'The Rip' Portishead 'Another World' Antony & The Johnsons 'House Of Cards' Radiohead 'Quicksand' La Roux 'Kids' GoldieLocks 'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You' Black Kids 'Womanizer' Britney Spears 'Machine Gun' Portishead 'Love Lockdown' Kanye West 'The Race' Cajun Dance Party 'Tell Me What It's Worth' Lightspeed Champion 'We Almost Had A Baby' Emmy The Great 'The Boy Does Nothing' Alesha Dixon 'Red Sock Pugie' Foals 'Little Bit' Lykke Li 'Oxford Comma' Vampire Weekend 'Green Light' John Legend (feat. Andre 3000) Diplo remix 'I Know Your Girlfriend Hates Me' Annie 'On My Own Again' thecocknbullkid 'No Air' Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown 'Universal Mind Control' Common feat. Pharrell 'Crying Blood' VV Brown 'Superstar' Lupe Fiasco 'Divine' Sebastien Tellier 'Meddle' Little Boots 'Run' Gnarls Barkley 'White Winter Hymnal' Fleet Foxes
I've always found Beyoncé strangely fascinating. There's something about that steely-eyed determination, that get-there-at-all-costs smile and those claws that have no doubt grazed the face of some poor Destiny's Child reject. Plus, if you happened to see her on X Factor then you'll know that her performance basically won the whole show for Alexandra Burke, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your views on JLS/Xmas/Jeff Buckley, etc.
One thing Beyoncé has always lacked though is a certain humility, as if she is literally superhuman, some kind of pop superstar robot that was manufactured in China. She needs the Cheryl Cole factor, some kind of tragic event that can be spun into a life-defining moment for her to re-emerge from, Phoenix-like and with Platinum sales. For the time being, however, she's releasing two more singles from her increasingly confusing double-album scenario, I Am...Sasha Fierce.
This is the slow jam. It's called 'Halo' and was apparently written with Leona Lewis in mind but Beyoncé basically stamped her stiletto heal until they gave it to her.
It's like a Tampax advert or something.
Then there's the Sasha Fierce side of Beyoncé, one that's all ghetto and bling and in your face 'n shizzle. This is 'Diva' and it's pretty awful.
So, there you have it. Great pop star x one great song + lots of filler + brilliant live performances at award shows/reality TV shows = Beyoncé.
OK, so every other music blog worth it's salt on the internet mentioned this album about three months ago, but here at Musick we like to take our time and make sure the product we're pushing is up to scratch. Of all the albums coming out in the first quarter of 2009, few will generate as much excitement (not to mention music press) as The Spirit Of Apollo by N.A.S.A. (aka producers Sam "Squeak E. Clean" Spiegel and Ze "DJ Zegon" Gonzales), which is out in February.
The album features a roll-call of musical talent so huge and varied that it may in fact be Pitchfork's wet dream in musical form. The combinations of artists is quite something - Karen O and Ol' Dirty Bastard, anyone? One of those people is dead, right? Here's the full list of contributors:
M.I.A Kanye West David Byrne Karen O Chuck D Tom Waits Kool Keith Santogold Lykke Li RZA Method Man Ghostface Killah George Clinton Lovefoxxx (from CSS) Nick Zinner (from Yeah Yeah Yeahs) Spank Rock G4* One True Voice* Sinitta* JLS* The short one from MN8*
* still unconfirmed
The reason Musick was holding back can be summed up in two words; Psyence Fiction. Back in 1999 UNKLE released their very own guest-filled opus, with James Laville (one half of UNKLE, along with DJ Shadow) talking it up to be the best thing since Vivaldi. Unfortunately, bar Thom Yorke, all the guests thought the same and the whole thing collapsed under the weight of its own importance.
BUT things are looking good for this project. Here's why...
'Gifted' features Kanye, Lykke Li AND Santogold, which in all fairness is Musick's wet dream right now. The song is - to use the parlance of the young - fuckin' bangin' ya hear?
You can download it for free right here and listen to 'Money' here.
As you may or may not know by now, it's nearly Jesus' 25,000th birthday and to celebrate lots of mediocre singers are booking studio time to hurt us aurally for sinning this past year. Everyone from The Killers, to Peter Kay, to Terry bloody Wogan are queuing up to massacre some old shit or come up with their own brand of Christmas cheer. Plus, you've got old favourites like that Mariah Carey one or the one by those drunks that's mildly amusing when you too are drunk. A more recent phenomenon has resulted in the 'race for Christmas number 1' now being contested by just one person, and this year it's the turn of Alexandra Burke who came out on top last Saturday via lots of tears and a roof-raising, ear-splitting, sugar-overdose-inducing duet with Beyonce. Her version of that song from Shrek, 'Hallelujah', is a dead cert for number 1 on Sunday, but what else is about for those seeking something less, well, 'polished'?
Sufjan Stevens has released a rather lovely 5-disc boxset of Christmas songs, which features covers of old standards as well as brand new recordings. It's probably only about a tenner these days and that's pretty good value for about 40 songs, even if you will only listen to it for a few days each year (that's more then that copy of Leftism that everyone said was a classic but you've never really got).
Here's a lovely sad song called 'That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!':
And another heartbreakingly lovely one called 'Sister Winter':
Not to be outdone, Bright Eyes has also taken a slice of the yuletide cheer with his Christmas album. Here's a skeletal, nay anorexic, version of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas':
God, who knew Christmas was so depressing? Here's something to cheer us all up...
OK, confession time...I steal from work. Now, I'm not talking pens, pads or blank CDs (though some of these do find their way into my bag) but albums. People sometimes leave them lying around on desks or hidden away on shelves and miraculously they kind of end up coming home with me. More often then not they're by bands I've not heard of, which makes it all the more exciting. The rubbish ones go in the bin or sometimes I take them back, just to be nice. Sometimes, however, a real gem is discovered and now I have this blog so I get to share this gem with you, dear reader.
The album in question is called Superioryouareinferior and it's by Rae Spoon, a Canadian who, according to his myspace page, was one of the first transgendered country singers. Who dares say Musick is one-dimensional in the acts it features?
Superioryouareinferior mixes elements of folk with some very basic electronica, all battered synths and rudimentary violin. Plus, Spoon's voice is utterly arresting, although it can sometimes sound like one of the more mental X Factor auditionees, you know the ones that sound like sheep bleating. But the album has an undeniable charm and honesty that usually comes from artists making music they think no-one is listening to.
Now, I like Patrick Wolf, but I can definitely see why a lot of people would find him incredibly annoying. It's the way he dresses like an Edwardian Shoreditch twat, or that mannerism of tilting his head to one side when he's talking about something, you know, really deep and meaningful, or the way he's such a tortured, gender-ambiguous elfin creature that prowls the dark recesses of his own mind so that we don't have to. BUT he also makes some very brilliant music, things like 'The Magic Position', 'Tristan', 'The Libertine' or 'Bloodbeat'.
Anywho, Patrick's back with a brand new album called Battle, which will be out at some point next Spring. The album features music made with Alec Empire from Atari Teenage Riot, so expect something quite visceral and bordering on the unlistenable (that does rhyme, yes). The album is to be released in a very unique way (yeah, cheers Radiohead!), in that it will be partly funded by the fans who can donate money to the project through Bandstocks, who will then in turn give you money back if the album sells well. In this time of economic uncertainty, will you be investing in an album by an artist who has never cracked the top 40? Give what you can people.
You can watch a little video from Patrick here. Please don't watch it if you dislike Patrick Wolf. It will lead you to enact violent acts upon your person and those around you.
I hope you enjoyed / endured our little countdown of the top 20 albums of 2008. It's funny because it was such an original idea and so far I haven't read any other album countdowns anywhere else. I genuinely believe that we've touched on something pretty unique in the world of music, so that's always nice...
As a way of apologising for the lack of posts recently (I think we all needed a little break, right?), here's the new video by Lily Allen. The song is called 'The Fear' and is a nice little ditty about being famous and being a young lady who is famous and who sees other young ladies who want to be famous but aren't and gets all sarcastic as young ladies can be sometimes, especially famous ones:
She does look a bit like Bjork in the 'It's Oh So Quiet' video, you're right.
2008 was the year of patience being rewarded. Balding fans of guitar heavyweights AC/DC, Metallica and Guns ‘N Roses all saw their beloved bands release hugely underwhelming albums, a fact that lead fans of the latter to wonder, “what the fuck were you doing for the past fifteen years?” Bristol’s Portishead were guilty of the same tardiness, the difference being that they managed to not only avoid a stale re-hash of former glories, but also expand on a template that had seen a myriad of imitators in their absence. Being the oblique group of people they are, the band chose the industrial, nearly-unlistenable (but still amazing) ‘Machine Gun’ as the first single, a clever way of weeding out anyone expecting to pop Third on at a dinner party. Over the clattering, jackhammer melody sits the band’s true trump card, Beth Gibbon’s unsettling, elastic voice, an instrument so fragile it can feel intrusive just listening to it. Elsewhere, ‘The Rip’ is one of their best songs, transforming from a quiet, folksy intro into a Kraftwerk-esque electronic drone, Gibbon’s voice a thing of unimaginable beauty. Musically, Third acts as a new year zero, trying its hand at everything from prog to acoustic folk to psychedelica. It’s an abrasive, sometimes aggressive album that demands repeated listens, but once you’re hooked that’s it I’m afraid. Game Over.
Back home in New Zealand Ladyhawke is known by her human name, Pip Brown. Here in Musicsville, Ladyhawke has only gone and made one of the best debut albums in recent years, a collection of songs so deliriously enjoyable the album should come with a free copy of The Bell Jar to bring you back down after it’s finished. It also contains one of the best opening tracks of all time - or at least since Off The Wall – in the shape of ‘Magic’, a song so stupendous that listening to it makes you a better person (even you Rob). Elsewhere, it delivers the synthetic guitar rush of new single ‘My Delirium’, the John Hughes-soundtrack-escapee ‘Back of the Van’ and the synth-heavy ‘Paris Is Burning’, a song so catchy it’s practically illegal (“do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do, doo”). In many ways, Ladyhawke is the perfect pop star; an enigmatic youngster with oodles of talent that manages to take from the past (the odd Stevie Nicks steal here, a homage to the 80s there) and simultaneously hint at the future. Prepare to have your gob well and truly smacked.
For many, TV On The Radio were always going to struggle to eclipse 2006’s dense, prickly Return To Cookie Mountain, an album so good not even David Bowie could ruin it. What they didn’t realise, however, was that the band were only just getting started, Dear Science taking their art rock template and throwing in everything from Prince-esque funk (‘Golden Age’) to stadium rock balladry (well, relatively speaking) on ‘Family Tree’. Ubiquitous producer (and full-time band member) David Sitek buries surprises at every turn, be it the delicious handclaps that pepper the angry ‘Dancing Choose’, or the way Antibalas’ horn parts drive each song to new heights. Though the album appears more accessible on the surface, beneath lies an angry, pissed off core, with duel lead singers Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone taking it in turns to rail against everything from bad leaders to bad women. Too clever by half, Dear Science is an album by a band at the height of their powers, a true testament to what can happen when you question everything.
Much was made of Laura Marling’s age when she first emerged, Bambi-like, onto the music scene this year, as if anyone under the age of twenty making good music was some kind of freak. She also caught people’s attention because unlike many young female singers she didn’t sing in a mockney accent, or wear ball gowns with trainers, or pretend she was from Dalston and not a country pile in Berkshire. At the heart of Alas, I Cannot Swim’s success (it was nominated for this years Mercury Prize don’t you know) is Marling’s voice, an instrument that flits between vulnerability and steely emotion in the blink of an eye. Lyrically, she’s not afraid to deal with big topics, from imminent death on the deceptively jaunty ‘Cross Your Fingers’ to mental illness on ‘My Manic and I’, whilst musically it’s all swooping violins, rollicking drums and on ‘Crawled Out Of The Sea’ a drunken sea-shanty choir. ‘Night Terror’ perhaps sums the album up best, a fragile tail of nightmares that starts at a whisper before gaining in strength and confronting the demons.
Something tells me this isn’t the only album list Fleet Floxes will be appearing in this December. But sometimes an album’s quality is so undeniable – even at Musick, where beards are hugely distrusted - that you have to go with the pack. Fleet Foxes arrived as if from nowhere in 2008 (actually, it was Seattle), fully formed and with little fuss or bluster. So hot was their winning streak that they could afford to dump songs as good as ‘Mykonos’ onto an EP that prefaced their debut album. Not that it mattered, especially with songs as good as ‘White Winter Hymnal’, ‘He Doesn’t Know Why’ and the keening, dramatic ‘Ragged Wood’. Fleet Foxes, the album, is that rare thing; an album that carries with it a knowledge of the musical past (those Beach Boys-esque close harmonies, that autumnal, almost rustic feel), but with an unnerving sense of the present. It’s an album that creates memories, be they imagined or real, of a time spent sat around a campfire with your friends, toasting marshmallows and drinking beer. Whilst other bands tie themselves in knots trying to create genuine emotion and ‘vibe’- hello Arcade Fire – Fleet Foxes manage it first time.