In Love With A View

Sometimes you just have days that rock.  Nothing more can be said about them really.  Yesterday was one of those days.  The Kays were at the Wee Red Bar finishing off the record.  Well, recording the last 2 tracks that still needed to be put down.  Many of you will know this, but recording can be a stressful process.  You need to get things right.  You need to have everyone playing to their maximum.  It can be a long and tiring day and it can ultimately end in frustration.  Recording the Kays album has, at times, been a long lonely process.  For the most part I’ve recorded it alone, with only Neil or Neil and Graeme for company.  This was really through circumstance because our line up was changing dramatically at the time we started to put it all together. It’s not an approach I’d like to take for any future Kays recordings.  Yesterday we had everyone recording.  It was the first time we’ve all recorded in the same place, at the same time and it was so much fun.  It was so nice to be surrounded by the others and to top it all off Halina and her friend from Canada Alex stopped by to watch and hang out.  I know they were worried that they were a distraction, but I have to say that their presence was very welcome indeed.  They added fun to proceedings which in turn lead to a much more relaxed atmosphere and, I think, ultimately a really great session.  To top it off, we managed to get them singing on Thinking of Strangers as well which was sounding really sweet.  All in all, yesterday left me feeling very positive again about the record.  We’re getting there.  Bits and pieces to finish off and then we can start to mix.  When we reach that stage I know I will feel a tremendous weight lift from my shoulders.  I started this 13 months ago.  It’s been 4 years since the Kays released something.  It’s about time we changed that.  I can’t wait until we do.

The Antlers – Hospice

In a similar fashion to the Peter Broderick record, this is a 2009 release, but once again I’ve been a bit slow on the uptake and getting my hands on the thing.  I have to admit, I’ve been downloading records a bit more, simply cause they are cheaper.  But I feel a little dirty.  As somebody who really likes to own the product rather than simply the data, I do find it extremely hard to not just buy the cds.  However, as money is a little tight at the moment, I decided to buy some things as mp3 albums which works out at about half the cost of a cd or less.

It’s really hard not to get excited about this record.  In the first instance it’s a brave piece of music making in my mind.  It cannot have been easy or comfortable to write a whole record about the death of a loved one at the hands of cancer.  Even harder to take such an emotional and dark subject matter and not make the record a bleak, horrible listen.  And I admit that one of my concerns about this record prior to listening to it was the subject matter at hand.  Was it possible to not make such a difficult topic anything but difficult to listen to?  And the answer is an overwhelming yes.  This is a stunningly beautiful record which deals with death, loss and pain in the most subtle and wondrous way.  I guess the subject pushes the artist into a very uncomfortable place and perhaps this is what I love about this record.  The challenge of creating something so beautiful from something so tragic.  And at no point whilst listening to this record do I feel sad.  ‘Kettering’ is one of the most sublime songs I’ve listened to in a long, long time.  The true beauty of this record is that despite the words and content being dark, the music is never anything but uplifting.  It addresses the sadness with real and intense beauty.  The dark with light.  And it works on every level.  I have listened to it on repeat constantly since the weekend.  I am blown away with the brilliance of this record.  Not only as a piece of music dealing with such an emotive issue, but as a piece of music in its own right.  It wasn’t on my top 10 list that I sent to Peenko for his overall bloggers top 10, but I really do think that it deserves a place on a revised top 10 for this blog.  Both this and Peter Broderick’s record have made my weekend a wonderful place musically.  You can check out The Antlers here.  Enjoy.

TSP Grade = A

Peter Broderick – Music For Falling From Trees

Think I’m a little late reviewing this record.  It is a 2009 release for sure, but I’ve only got my grubby little paws on it now and I’m pretty sure it was released much earlier this year.  Anyways, I am a pretty big Peter Broderick fan.  His previous album ‘Home’ was stunning and his work with Horse Feathers is equally beautiful.  And then of course he went and signed with Erased Tapes who are home to some fabulous artists including TSP favourites Olafur Arnalds and Finn.   This is a slight departure from the previous Peter Broderick record simply because it’s fully instrumental.  Whilst ‘Home’ delivered pop gems that sparkled and shone like little diamonds, this record has a whole different ambiance and atmosphere about it.  Classically trained on the violin (i think) Broderick is known for his string arrangements on the Horse Feathers records, and his ability to beautifully arrange instrumentation come to the fore on this startlingly dark and haunting piece of work.  Similar in style to label mate Arnalds and clearly nodding towards influences such as Max Richter,  Johann Johannsson and even, to a certain degree, Ludovico Einaudi, this is a really fascinating change in pace from the young Scandanavian.  I’m a sucker for simplistic piano.  For dark, lush string arrangements.  I love this particular style of classical.  It’s not over blown.  In fact it’s completely understated.  But Broderick adds his own twist to the pot.  Sometimes jarring, sometimes dischordant but always retaining the beauty and always underpinned by a beautiful warmth.  It really has been the perfect record for me at the end of a long, tiring week.  My head hurts tonight.  As I sit and listen to this, with a nice glass of red wine I can just feel that pain melting away.    Check out Peter Broderick here.   And buy his records here.  Enjoy.

TSP Grade = B+/A-

Trampoline Artist Profile: Lady North

Following on from the Jill Leighton profile we have another band lined up to play Trampoline on 12th December.  They are really newbies on the Edinburgh music scene, but I think they will become very popular, very quickly.  I present Lady North.

Lady North are pretty new arrivals on the Edinburgh music scene.  The Kays recently played with these guys when we supported Vessels.  It was their first gig.  I was simply blown away.  Sounding like a Scottish version of Battles, these guys just let rip from the word go and watching them perform was a really captivating experience from start to finish.  The band is made up of 2 members of Dupec on bass and drums and a guy known only as ‘Rogue’ on guitar.  It is instrumental music.  Mental being a good word to describe it!  It really is incredible to witness live.  When I spoke to ‘Rogue’ after the show I specifically asked how he comes up with the tunes.  His answer….”i just write the noises and sounds in my head”……that must be some head he’s got going on there.  It’s brilliant!!  There’s not much more I can say about these guys at this point in time.  Just make sure you get along to check out this exciting bunch.  In  the meantime, check them out here.  Enjoy.

Trampoline Artist Profile: Jill Leighton

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Ok, so it’s build up time for Trampoline on Saturday 12th December.  As with every month from now on, the Steinberg Principle will be doing a profile on each artist down to play Trampoline each month.  First up for the December show is Glasgow’s very own Jill Leighton.  This is not an opportunity for me to ramble on and on about an artist, but a brief introduction to them.  The onus really is on you lot to take the opportunity to explore them more and see how diverse and eclectic a line up we have put together on the 12th December.  I for one cannot wait.  Here we go.

Jill Leighton’s pedigree is there for all to see.  Having spent time in the United States singing with such people as Ryan Adams backing band The Cardinals among others, she is an obvious talent.   Upon hearing her country tinged tunes, you’d be forgiven for wondering if she’s really from Glasgow, but then the same could be said about local favourites Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers.  However, similar to those raggamuffins, there is a distinctive Scottishness to Jill’s bluesy, folksy songs, which I really can’t wait to see in a live setting.  Perhaps, it’s not the kind of music that we’re used to or expect here in Edinburgh, or indeed Scotland.  Perhaps, it is more suited for the US of A? Or perhaps we need to accept that good country music, with an American tinge can, and does, come out of Scotland.   Anyways, there’s a lovely feel to the music that actually, as I listen to it again tonight, makes me glad I’m inside on this wet and windy evening.  It’s homely.  And comforting.  And perfect for this time of year.   Blessed with a gorgeous voice and songs to match hopefully 2010 will be a big year for her whether that is on our shores or further afield.  Another find thanks to the guys at Glasgow Podcart,  Jill will be opening the Trampoline All Day Event on the 12th December.  Loaded with a whole bag of new tunes, so I am lead to believe, she is the perfect opening act for a day I hope is going to be magic.  Keep an eye out for her work here and come along on 12th to get the live experience.

What’s The Point?

I just read some really bizarre comments over on songbytoad.  Matthew had written a really interesting piece on end of year lists basically highlighting how he really couldn’t fathom how anyone could sit and put together a top 50 list from the past decade.  I understand that completely.  I felt the exact same emotion when I read NME’s top 50.  The thought of sitting and thinking about records on such a large scale was actually quite terrifying.  The only reason that I even bothered to tackle it was that, firstly, it sounded fun, and secondly, I spend a lot more time in the house at the moment than I used to cause of the wee man, so have a lot more time to sit, write and think about music.

I guess ultimately a music mag like NME has the luxury of having a whole team of writers to sit and deliberate and discuss such issues and that creating such a list is something that is an obvious and important feature for a music magazine.  It’s kind of expected isn’t it?  However, contrary to the opinion of others over on songbytoad I actually think that such an exercise is very interesting and worthwhile.  For a start, it got a reaction out of me.  I was shocked that the Strokes were number 1 and the Libertines were number 2 and if I’m honest I’m pretty sure that it got the same reaction from those who “don’t see the point in such lists”.  Well I guess the point is that they are fun and cathartic in a way.  There is no right or wrong answer at the end of the day, it’s all about personal taste and opinion.  And like Matthew said, it’s often about what an album meant to you at any given moment in time.  That’s really important!  Surely??  I love knowing why a record means something to somebody.  I really do.

I fear that in dismissing end of year lists you might as well dismiss the whole exercise of reviewing music and having an opinion on music full stop.  What is the point in me reading Matthew’s blog or anyone elses blog for that matter other than to read their opinion?  It’s because I value his opinion (can’t believe I’m admitting that) about music that I read in the first place.  I love how he introduces me to new music.  And I believe that there is value to anyone’s opinion on music whether it be the new Julian Casablancas album or indeed the top 100 albums of the last 1o0 years list.  It’s not only interesting in my eyes but it’s essential and it’s also informative.  Just cause a lot of people will have heard of all the albums on my list doesn’t mean everyone will have.   Hopefully I’ll have opened some people up to artists, or albums that they had not heard before and that they will investigate further.  I see a point.  I really do.  And I don’t understand people who dismiss them so readily.  I can 100% guarantee that people are actually really interested to know what Matthew’s top 10 of 2009 consists of and of course the lists of other bloggers too.  Perhaps not mine.  That much is edivent.  But I know I am keenly anticipating reading what others think of records released this year and which albums have made them tick most.  And I always will look forward to such lists.  I might not try such an experiment again given the enormity of the task.  But I will look forward to lists by those who do try.  Always.

Erm………WOW.

Really not sure what to say but thank you.  Nicola at Glasgow Podcart has reviewed our recent show for them here.  Not really sure what else I can say about this other thank you.  It feels like we’re getting a wee bit of recognition and attention at the moment which, as well as being a nice feeling, is great news in the lead up to the release of our album next year.  So anyways, Nicola thank you so much for the amazing words.  I’m a little overwhelmed if I’m honest.

Also, the picture is by Lis Ferla.  Check her pics here.  Oh, and there are more pictures taken by Ally Burton, one of which is used in the podcart article, which you can see here.  Enjoy.

Interview#1: Anna-Lynne Williams.

Anna-Lynne Williams is one half of the wonderful Trespassers William.  She also has a solo project called Lotte Kestner.  She is featured on The Chemical Brother’s song “Hold Tight London” from their album, Push the Button.  She has also worked with artists such as Au Revoir Borealis, Anomie Belle, Minotaur Shock, Phononoir, AFI, and Robert Gomez.  When she came over recently to the UK and Europe for the Trespassers William tour, she stopped off in Edinburgh to play a show for Trampoline and The Kays also supported Trespassers the next night in Aberdeen.  Though we didn’t have a chance to speak at length whilst she was here we have become good “internet friends” since and she has very kindly taken the time to answer some questions I put to her in a new interview feature for the Steinberg Principle.  Check out Trespassers William . And Lotte Kestner here.  Enjoy.

TSP: On facebook recently, you left a post stating that most of your favourite artists were from Europe and asking for nominations for the best bands to come out of the USA. Who then would you say are your favourite European artists (not influences) and why do you think that Europe produces more of the music that you love than the USA?

ALW: I could make guesses and say that it has something to do with my parents being British and playing lots of Beatles and Elton John in the house when I was young. But I think there are really just different sensibilities and moods that come from different locations. I think I changed my own approach to songwriting when I moved just from Los Angeles to Seattle. How can it not affect someone to have snow on the ground, or rain making sounds around the house? And every artist is affected by the artists they meet and what they’re exposed to. And I think there’s just something magic that’s been going on in England for decades. And recently in Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, and Norway. There are tons of great American artists, certainly. Especially solo folk artists. But my own sensibility is inherently European, I guess. And that’s where my own music is best received.

As for my favorites… (from Iceland) Sigur Ros, (from Sweden) Kent, The Knife, (from Denmark) Under Byen, (from Norway) Kings of Convenience, (from Scotland) Cocteau Twins, (from England) Elbow, Radiohead, Kate Bush, Talk Talk, James, Goldfrapp… this is an endless list.

TSP: You’ve just returned to the USA from your UK/European tour. How was the experience for you?

ALW: Honestly the best time of my life. The company we kept, the quiet of the audiences, the turnout of people in cities I’d never even heard of before, the intimacy of playing as a three-piece for the first time (with Rich Knox from Glissando joining us for six weeks), the Swiss Alps, small French bakeries… It was the best holiday I’ve ever been on and the hardest I’ve ever worked. We had an aggressive touring schedule and a lot of ferry rides back and forth. I felt like our music had taken over like a vine, somehow, without us being around to see it. We hadn’t been to Europe in years, and we came back and were welcomed so amazingly. I was inspired.

TSP: You mentioned that on this tour Europe had stolen your heart. Where was your favourite place to play, and what was it about the culture of each place that particularly affected you in such a positive way?

ALW: Yeah if the world allows, I think I’m going to spend a good part of next year in Europe. I’m really missing it now that I’m home. We only get to have little glimpses of each city and I’m still curious, plus we met a good dozen people that I can’t wait to see again. Driving through Switzerland made us all feel euphoric, it was so beautiful. And certain cities like Prague and Paris made me really want to delve into the city far more than I had time to do. But my favorite shows were at Paris Syndrome in Leipzig, at the Steinbruch in Duisburg, and both of our shows in London (at the Luminaire and Wilmington Arms). Besides those ones having an overwhelming turnout of really attentive people, the venues were beautiful and sounded great, and there was something magic that happened on those nights. We also played one house show on the tour, in Madrid, which was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had playing for people. Lots of chatting, and no microphones.

TSP: Do you find that you have a larger audience in the United States or in Europe?

ALW: It’s hard to gauge that since the US is such a huge place. We recently did a very brief West Coast tour and we always love playing in those cities; it’s like going home, and people are good to us. But there’s a huge expanse of the US that it just seems unnecessary to go to. I wish we could get out to New York more, but that’s hard to work into our tours, logistically.

There’s a very different attitude in Europe toward bands, that I really appreciate. Promoters really get to know the bands. Audiences seem to care more about the music than about drinking or talking. I don’t know if it’s because we’re from another country, that we’ve come a long way and we might seem a little exotic, that people are so kind about showing us around and making an effort to talk to us about our music. Whatever the reason, it’s good. And we sold out three of the shows, which is incredibly surprising and sometimes can move us to tears.

TSP: Can we expect to see either Trespassers William or Lotte Kestner back on our shores in the near future?

ALW: Yes please. If I do some traveling, I’ll try to fit in some Lotte Kestner shows. And I think it’s inevitable that Trespassers will tour Europe around the same time next year (fall). Assuming we get our album finished. It’s quite a good incentive, getting to play Europe again.

TSP: On this blog, and indeed at Trampoline shows, one of the things I like to focus on is promoting the best new unsigned or upcoming Scottish music. Are there any underground acts in Seattle or indeed the USA that you would recommend people check out?

ALW: Hmm… I wish I was a bit more excited about the music scene in Seattle. It’s hard to feel attached to Seattle when I don’t feel like what’s going on here creatively speaks to me. Which I feel bad saying, but it’s true. There are certainly interesting things going on in New York and Texas though. In Denton alone there are some gorgeous songwriters like Sarah Jaffe, Jeremy Buller, Matthew Gray, and Robert Gomez.

And I’m always going on and on about my friend Sergius Gregory, who lives in Alaska. And who I’m quite sure is going to release the most beautiful album of 2010. We might do an EP together next year, I think that might knock it out of the park.

TSP: Earlier you mention the Cocteau Twins as your favourite band from Scotland. Are there any other Scottish artists that are stand outs in your mind?

ALW: I’m sure I have a lot of Scottish music and don’t realize it. I love the Trash Can Sinatras and Mogwai.

TSP:  You’ve obviously worked with a number of other artists, most notably the Chemical Brothers. How did that come about, what was the experience like and if you had the opportunity, which artist would you most like to collaborate with in the future?

ALW: Someone had made a mix disc that one of the Chemical Brothers heard, our song “Alone” was on it. We were already planning to tour the UK that year, and they were in the studio, and it all lined up perfectly. They sent me the instrumental track and I wrote three different sets of lyrics and melodies, tracked all three for them in their studio, and waited to see what they chose to use. It was early morning. I remember that they offered me cookies and Guinness. I only did one take. It was a big deal when their album came out and they’d kept the track…

I generally like to collaborate with my friends. Feeling comfortable and safe when you’re writing and trying new things out is important. So I worship Leonard Cohen and Thom Yorke, but I don’t think I’d want to sit in a room with them and write songs. I spent several weeks of this past year with Robert Gomez, making an album, and now I’ve been spoiled and wouldn’t want anything less than that: equal and productive and hilarious.

I met some good bands on this last tour and I’m planning on doing some collaborating with several of them. Makes me feel like I’m still in Europe and doing something different every day.

TSP: You mention the location of an artist directly influencing musical output and identity.  I agree, I cannot imagine your sound coming out of California!  In this respect though is there any particular time you feel at your most creative? 

ALW: I usually write in the evening, when there’s nowhere left that I need to go, and it feels like everyone else is sleeping. I heard that the mind gets more creative after midnight, when you haven’t had any sunlight for a certain amount of time and certain parts of your mind are just shut down. It seems to work for me.

And, of course, I write the most when I’m falling into or out of something. When my life changes. I live the feeling for a bit first, and then I write about it. I usually don’t write anything when I’m truly overwhelmed.

TSP: Finally, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco had a profound impact on me and the direction I wanted The Kays Lavelle to take.  Would you say there was a record, or musical moment where you stopped and just new what Trespassers William was all about?

ALW: Hearing Wish at a young age definitely made me feel like there was a place for the sort of subject matter I wanted to address with music. He was singing about all of his faults and patterns, about getting drunk and saying the wrong things, about making a fool of yourself for someone and going too far. It was beautiful and dark, and I feel like I’d sort of been spinning in circles and that that album is where I stopped spinning…

eagleowl – Sleep The Winter

I love eagleowl.  I really do.  ‘For The Thoughts You Never Had’ was a beautiful piece of slow core which sparkled like a little diamond in the dark.  We’ve waited a long time for a follow up.  I think the expectation would probably have been an album (which I think  may still be in the offing).  Instead though, we are presented with a 7″ single entitled ‘Sleep The Winter’.  It doesn’t get more gorgeous than this either.  It’s dark and brooding with haunting strings, as you would expect from eagleowl.  The hushed, cracked vocals of Bart Owl are complimented as beautifully as ever by the sweet tones of Clarissa Cheong.  The double bass and violin play off each other wonderfully to add to the gorgeous dark electric guitar.  Then all of a sudden the song is flooded with warmth, as the chorus kicks in.  I say chorus loosely ofcourse as eagleowl are too subtle to have an obvious chorus, for me it’s just an uplifiting of mood and spirit.  It’s a gorgeous little change.  And it’s a goregous little song.  A wonderful release for this time of year.  Lets be honest, once you hear it, you know I was never going to do anything but love this song.  Please check out eagleowl.  The ‘Sleep the Winter’ release show takes place at the Bowery, Edinburgh on December 11th.  Do go along.  Enjoy.

Ps. the picture is art from the poster by Ola Rek……see, I can do it.

Top 50 Of The Decade – 10 To 1.

 10.  Aidan John Moffat – I Can Hear Your Heart:  This is a truly astonishing piece of music.  It was simply shocking when it first dropped wasn’t it?  How could it possibly be real?  We all knew Arab Strap were miserable realists writing about what  life is truly all about.  But this was a step further than ever before, than imaginable.  It broke down the musical barricades and created a spoken word piece set against a musical backdrop.  Sounds shit right?  Wrong.  It’s simply mind blowing.  It’s absolute genius.  Yes it’s rude.  Yes it’s shocking.  No it will never get the publicity it deserves.  Yes it deserves to be in the top 10 albums.  When you’re talking about ground breaking records.  About pushing the boundaries of what is popular music and what is really creative genius.  Of challenging music, look no further than this brilliant piece of Scottish miserablism.  It really is wonderful.

 9.  Midlake – The Trials Of Van Occupanther:  Midlake were something of a random find for me.  I never had, nor do I own, their earlier records.  I had just read a review of this record and decided to take a punt on it.  The weird title and cover art certainly drew me in.  Thankfully I was not disappointed in my purchase.  From the moment ‘Roscoe’ starts, this is quite clearly a great record.  Lyrically it never fails to make me smile.  It’s got a really floaty feeling to it.  I wouldn’t say summery, cause it doesn’t feel like sunshine pop.  It’s got an edge to it.  It kind of drifts into Flaming Lips, Grandaddy territory for the most part.  But it has something extra.   It’s hard to pin point what it is exactly that I love about this album other than it just rocks.  It really just rocks.  Constantly on my stereo.  Cannot wait for the new album in 2010.

 8.  Fionn Regan  – The End Of History:  I first saw Fionn Regan support Damien Rice at the Carling Academy.  Actually, that’s not true, because of our guitarist Graeme, I missed him.  But I bought his ‘Hotel Room EP’ and fell in love with it.  It’s brilliant.  But this album betters it.  It really does.  And it was not something that I had been expecting.  Early promise on EPs often leads to disappointment when a debut album is released, but Fionn Regan delivers a debut of real quality.  When you talk about lyrical quality there are few who match Mr Regan.  When you talk about quality guitar playing there are few who match Mr Regan.  And if he can deliver a follow up album of the same quality, which excitingly is imminent, then he will firmly establish himself as a true modern folk master for our times.  I know he’s touted as the new Bob Dylan.  I think we’ve all heard that far too often about a variety of artists.  I genuinely think Fionn Regan may actually fit the bill.  Time will tell.

 7.  Arcade Fire – Funeral:  My mate gave me this album one time after hockey.  He said he really wasn’t sure what to make of it.  Wasn’t sure it was very good.  I stuck it on and the opening track was absolutely mind blowing.  It starts slow and then builds and gets more and more frantic until the climax.  This album, and indeed this band, are very good at this.  They create a great racket that sometimes sounds shambolic, sometimes sounds absolutely monsterous.  It’s great.  There’s a real Neil Young-esque sound to the vocal as well which I love.  I hadn’t listened to it in a long time until I started putting this list together.  I listened to it the other day at work and all these happy memories came flooding back.  The fondest memory of all is the Kays nights out in Glasgow at the ABC dancing like madmen to Rebellion(Lies).  Such good memories provided by such a good album and such a good band.

 6. Sparklehorse – It’s A Wonderful Life:  Wow, wow, wow.  This album leaves me speechless at times.  Moments like ‘Gold Day’ and the amazing ‘Eye Pennies’ featuring PJ Harvey are simply sublime.  Getting Tom Waits to write a track, well, at least contribute to a track, is also something pretty impressive.  I was massively dispappointed with Mark Linkous’ follow up to this record and I think the reason for this was that this album is just so good.  I was lucky enough to see him live touring this record at King Tut’s and it was a special gig.   It’s a special album, from a special artist, who I hope rediscovers his touch on his next outing.  In the meantime I can content myself with listening to this record again and again and again.  And I frequently do.

 5.  Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel The Illinoise:  Is this Sufjan Stevens best work?  I’m not definite on this but what I do know is that it’s my favourite of his albums.  It scares me slightly that his out takes album ‘the Avalanche’ taken from the Illionise sessions is also simply brilliant.  The young man’s output is quite sensational.  This record is over the top.  It’s theatrical.  It’s highly flamboyant.  It’s brilliant.  It makes me smile whenever I hear it.   Is there any more to say about it?  Mmmmmm……………….buy it.  Buy it now!

 4.  The National – Boxer:  I’m a late comer to the National, I must admit.  This is the first record of theirs I owned.  I subsequently went back to ‘Alligator’ and ‘Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers’ but it’s Boxer which I absolutely adore.  I love the words.  I love the music.  I love the vocal.  I love the off kilter drums of ‘Fake Empire’ and I love the sublime beauty of ‘Slow Show’.   I love this bands ability to really rock out and show some true aggression but then to reign it all in within a few songs and provide some of the most beautiful moments on record by any band. 

 3.  Radiohead – Kid A:  Radiohead are one of my all time favourite bands.  OK Computer is one of my all time favourite albums.  When this dropped, everyone was confused.  I think even some of the band were confused by the direction taken on this record.  I admit, I was a little confused as well.  But I was excited and fascinated and more than a little willing not to dismiss it as some sort of artistic breakdown.  ‘Everything In It’s Right Place’ is just an amazing start to an album.  ‘National Anthem’ is a pounding attack on the senses, no vocals, a total shock for a Radiohead tune.  ‘Idioteque’ is just amazing.  It’s an album which undeniably shocked and challenged Radiohead fans.  It pushed the boundaries.  It was almost a “Fuck You” to the music industry which demanded hits, hits, hits and an OK Computer mark II.  This is not an OK Computer mark II.  It couldn’t be further from that if it tried.  Despite the doubters, this is just a brilliant album and behind OK Computer my favourite Radiohead record. I know I’ll never convince those who just don’t get it.   But I don’t care.  Magic.

 2.  Elbow – Asleep In The Back:  Elbow are another of the biggest musical influences in my life.  When ‘Asleep in the Back’ came out I was just blown away.  I don’t know if there are many better songs than ‘Newborn’ or ‘Scattered Black & Whites’ kicking about.   If I had to name a band who influenced my own songwriting most it would definitely be Elbow.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Seldom Seen Kid may have earned Elbow the Mercury Prize in 2008, but it is this album which defines them as a band.  Will they ever better this record?  I’m not sure they ever will.  Not in my eyes.  It would have to be one piece of brilliant songwriting, that’s for sure.  So yeah, if you are getting into Elbow or looking for a starting point, do not start with the Seldom Seen Kid, start with this absolutely brilliant record.  If there is a more wonderful voice than Guy Garvey’s out there I would be surprised.  Man, I’m going to listen to this right now!

 1. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot:  Where do I start with this record?  Well, I first discovered Wilco whilst surfing for porn on Sky TV’s German channels.  Fact.  I know, I know!  Anyways, I was flicking through the channels and all of a sudden there were Wilco on stage at some European Festival.  There they were playing songs like ‘She’s A Jar’ and ‘Shot In The Arm’ and there I was absolutely captivated by the performance and, all of a sudden, porn became very unimportant that evening.  The following week I went out and bought ‘Summerteeth’.  I was not disappointed.  Absolutely amazing.  It instantly became one of my favourite records and a regular on my stereo.  Nobody listened to me.  I kept talking about them and nobody was listening.  Wilwho?  I got a bit fed up of it.  And to make things worse, I had to wait a while for this record. 

If you’ve ever seen ‘I Am Trying To Break Your Heart’ you’d understand why it took nearly 4 years for the emergence of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.  If you’ve never seen that film by Sam Jones, buy it, enjoy it, do it now!  Anyways, I bought this record and sat down in my parents music room to listen.  I remember it so well.  I was stunned.  Shocked.  Perhaps a little bit disappointed?  I think so.  Where had the Wilco of Summerteeth gone?  They’d been absolutely destroyed.  Torn apart.  Thrown away.  Reshaped.  Reconstructed almost.  If there is a moment in my musical life that defines where I wanted to go with music.  How I wanted the Kays to sound.  A piece of music that shaped everything for me.  This is it.  This is the record.  This is the moment.  Nothing will ever compare to this record.  It’s a wonderful piece of songwriting.  It’s a pefectly pieced together record.  It has a strong start, a strong middle and a strong end and the rest is brilliant too.  It’s perfectly formed and delivered and I cannot imagine another band coming along an topping this.  For me it is the definitive moment in my musical life.  Not only my record of the decade, but the best record I’ve ever heard.  I LOVE it.  I’ve waited a long time to write about it too!  Can you tell?!  I reckon I could write a proper essay on the importance of this record to me.  hahaha.  Anyways, I hope you check it out if you’ve never heard Wilco.  Enjoy.

And here’s one of my favourite tracks from the album as taken from the film ‘I Am Trying To Break Your Heart’.