30. Elbow – Cast of Thousands: Elbow’s second long player is criminally under-rated. This really is a fantastic record which built on the ideas of Alseep in the Back, with perhaps a more delicate approach. It’s fabulous. End of, or as my friend Tom would say, FACT.
29. Stephen Fretwell – Magpie: I discussed in another post seeing Stephen Fretwell play Henry’s Cellar Bar in Edinburgh. This would definitely be one of my favourite gigs I have been too. It was great. And so is this album. Opening with a stunning track Mr Fretwell really immediately reminded me vocally of the lead singer of Sunhouse. He is not the leadsinger of Sunhouse. None of this matters though because what we have here is an excellent debut record from another under-rated artist. His follow up never grabbed me by the balls if I’m honest, but this did. Great stuff.
28. Frightened Rabbit – Midnight Organ Fight: Mmm, this was a toughy. I think Frightened Rabbit deserve to be in my top 50 records because I love them. However, it really was a toss of the coin between Sing The Greys and this record. It could have gone either way. I do think that this album maybe has more stand out tracks than the debut but then I think the debut is edgier, rawer and everything I fell in love with. Oh so torn. I think what swayed it was ‘Fast Blood’…..what a track. What an album.
27. Withered Hand – Good News: I don’t have much more to say about Dan Willson. I have said so much about how brilliant he is on many occasions. Fabulous album. You must check him out. Do it!!
26. Ryan Adams – Love Is Hell Parts I & II: Ryan Adams. Ryan Adams. Well my opinion of this man is that if he took his time and released albums less frequently he’d have 2 or 3 of his records in my top 50. However, he releases records as frequently as men dispel urine after drinking 5 or 6 pints of lager. And in my opinion this has been to his detriment. Not to say I don’t appreciate him putting stuff out there for his fans, merely that he could be considered great, rather than really good if he took more time. This record (2 eps put together) is still my favourite and features some absolutely gorgeous songs.
25. Kings Of Leon – Because Of The Times: I never really liked Kings Of Leon. Well, I liked them, but not obsessively. I thought of their first 2 albums as good time, party records, nothing more. I didn’t want to listen to them on a regular basis. And then this record dropped and quite frankly stunned me. A serious piece of excellent song writing from start to finish. Where their new record falls down is trying to follow on from this record because it’s just too good. We once did a show in Aberdeen and on the drive up and back this is all we listened to as a band. Great stuff.
24. Tom Waits – Real Gone: There is no piano on this record. There is madness in the form of Mr Waits beatboxing. There is his son on decks. There is all sorts of genius. Following on from my favourite ever Waits album and indeed one of my all time favourites ‘Mule Variations’, this was always going to be a difficult record for me. And excluding the piano from proceedings was hard to get past. But get past it I did and I am so glad I did because this is an under-rated Waits album. I’d really recommend it to anyone professing an interest in his work. It kept him, for me, at the forefront of experimental music. As being somebody who embraced musical styles and crossed genres in an attempt to doing something fresh and different from before. And that has to be respected. Always.
23. Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism: The song ‘Transatlanticism’ is something special. It underpins this record and everything I love about Death Cab. But there are so many little gems on this album. I like Plans and wasn’t that keen on Narrow Stairs, the follow ups to this but I heard their track for the new Twilight soundtrack and it sounded like a step back in the right direction. For me though, this is the defining moment for the band. Hopefully there will be more like this to come.
22. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes: I never got into Fleet Foxes when the hype started. Like all bands who get over hyped I tried to avoid listening to them simply because I wanted to listen with fresh ears. Actually, it’s cause I always do that. Rebel against what people say I SHOULD or WILL like. But I fell in love with this record after Roddy was born in February and I had to make frequent trips to and from Edinburgh Royal. It was the album I grabbed for the journeys to and from hospital and I’ve been in love with it ever since. It is quality but it also has real sentimental value attached to it and always will.
21. Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans: I love this record. It’s not the over the top theatrics of more recent outings. It’s simple, understated and overwhelmingly beautiful. I have been known to listen to this for weeks on end and nothing else. I also love the art work. I know it’s religious in its lyrical content, but that’s not obvious and does not detract from the quality of the songwriting which is something wonderful. As most of his albums are if I’m honest.