Welcome back and a very Happy New Year to you both! Been putting this off for a while now but should be back on track for a weekly post if all goes well. As a lover of lists I'm a sucker for the end of year lists published in the music press. I've not been reading the press as much this year, but did buy a decent selection of the Christmas editions, and have subsequently compiled an extensive list of "must-have" albums. Not being paid to sit around all day listening to music and drink tea* I don't get to hear quite as much brand new music as your average Music Journo, but I've never let that sort of thing get in the way of knocking up a quick Top 5. (* Anyone that knows what I do would probably dispute that statement quite vociferously!).
1. Arcade Fire "Neon Bible" - Having picked up on Arcade Fire's debut "Funeral" just a little too late to catch them live, I was high on anticipation by the time "Neon Bible" was released. Initially it struggled to live up to my expectations, but as often happens the more I listened the more I found to enjoy. For 3 or 4 months in the middle of the year I probably played it every day. The album is darker in places than their sonically uplifting debut, but the contrast between the more accessible songs (such as "Keep The Car Running" or "No Cars Go") and the darker or more subtle songs ("My Body Is A Cage" or "Ocean Of Noise") make it an album you want to play from start to finish.
2. Les Savy Fav "Let's Stay Friends" - Every year I discover some new band that I think could be the "New Pixies". Having finally got around to buying some Les Savy Fav I think my search could be over. "Let's Stay Friends" was lauded as Les Savy Fav's most accessible album to date and it didn't disappoint. To some extent I wish I'd got involved a bit earlier, but now I'm just looking forwards to working backwards through their catalogue.
3. Noisettes "What's the Time Mr Wolf?" - This is real, old fashioned, power trio, rock. They have been name checked by the style dictators, but there's something about the Noisettes that makes me think they'll never quite break the big time. Proper musicians with a sound that's never going to fit comfortably to the latest supposed trends. A drummer who gets the sort of big sound out of his kit that John Bonham would be proud of, a guitarist who combines the best of his blues, rock and jazz influences and best of all a singer with a voice that will blow you away.
4. Bloc Party "A Weekend In The City" - Art rock wank? Maybe. I've a soft spot for these boys though. The first album was more straightforward Indie Rock, but had an edge to it I liked. "A Weekend In The City" pushed the boundary a bit further on. Lead single "The Prayer" sounded awkward when I first heard it, but within the context of the album somehow falls perfectly into place. Unusual time signatures and difficult vocal ranges, make this an album that won't be to everyone's taste, but somehow clicked with me on first listen. The bass riff on "Song For Clay" is up there with The Cure's "A Forest" in my all time favourites, something you could really bounce along to down the front.
5. Black Lips "Good Bad Not Evil" - Throughout 2007 I was regularly listening to a number of podcasts from GaragePunk.com. So many bands I know little about but enjoy listening to as I try and work my way through the best of Garage Rock, R&B and Punk. A couple of years back I was introduced to The Sonics and it changed my life. The Black Lips are nowhere near the same league as The Sonics, but they did have an album out in 2007. It's a good album, which I like a lot, but they've really only made my top 5 as a nod to GaragePunk in general.