My Top 20 Tracks of 2016

best-songs-of-2016

Ok, heading from the bottom to the top, here are my top 20 songs of 2016. Objective? No. Subjective? Yes. A great listen? Of course. I will be playing these on my radio show on http://www.seahavenfm.com on Thursday 29th December at 7-9pm. It will be great if you can come along for the ride.

  1. Catfish & The Bottlemen – Soundcheck (The Ride 2016)

They won their first Brit Award for British Breakthrough act on 24 February 2016. On 27 May 2016, they released their second album, The Ride. This was the single. You can’t help liking it.

  1. In Camera – Realise (Realise Single 2016)

   18.  Jo Ash – Embers (Embers single 2016)

EP releases Lucid Dreams (2014) and Locked In (2015) gave us a taste of the talent that lurks here. Jo is in the process of recording her first solo album; the first single from the album – Embers – was released on 16th July 2016. Memorable.

  1. Viola Beach – Boys that Sing (Viola Beach 2016)

The great lost and tragic story of 2016. The band’s final line-up consisted of Kris Leonard (guitar and vocals), River Reeves (guitar), Tomas Lowe (bass guitar), and Jack Dakin (drums). All four, along with their manager Craig Tarry, died in a car crash in Södertälje, Sweden, on 13 February 2016.

Posthumously, their album went to Number 1 and Coldplay played one of their tracks in tribute at Glastonbury. What might have been doesn’t even come close.

  1. Rationale – Fuel to the Fire (Single 2016)

His debut EP Fuel To The Fire,  won over the likes of Pharrell and Justin Timberlake and he’s on countless ‘Ones to Watch’ lists. This explains the case.

  1. Ray Blk (ft Stormzy) – My Hood (Durt Mini Album 2016)

This is the real south-east London. RAY BLK’s soaring bittersweet ode to it cuts both ways. Exhilarating – all chicken shops and sportswear and nights you’ll never forget – and then it turns, to babies having babies and police raiding you for your dinner. Then Stormzy pops up, telling us how “the woman in the Caribbean shop is always rude”.

  14.  Spring King – The Summer (Tell Me if You’d Like to 2016)

Spring King began as a solo project in 2012 of songwriter and producer Tarek Musa who sings and plays drums. He may also start collecting awards.

  1. Matt Corby – Wrong Man (Telluric 2016)

His debut album Telluric has been ten years in the making with six EPs keeping his fans at bay in the meantime. The album is out now and there is no longer any excuse not to nominate this man for a Mercury Award.

  1. The Lapelles – Seventeen (Seventeen Single)

Gary Watson, the frontman of rising Scottish band the Lapelles died after falling into the river Clyde in Glasgow. The singer was due to celebrate his 22nd birthday the day after the accident occurred. The second tragic entry on the list. Sometimes the best eulogy is simply to listen.

  1. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – I Need Never Get Old (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 2015 in US, 2016 in UK)

Perfect soul and RnB from Missouri. Released in the US in 2015, but so keen was I to include this that I have used the fact it was released in this coutry in 2016 as an excuse to include this track played in tribute to the ‘died too young’ members of the list.

Bonus tracks not on the list, but loved and will be played on the 29th.

Christine & The Queens – Tilted (Chaleur Humaine 2016)

Camp Claude – All This Space (Swimming Lessons 2016) 

Hour Two:

  1. Frances – Don’t Worry About Me (Don’t Worry About Me Single 2016)

In August 2014 she sang lead on “Fire May Save You” for the French music label Kitsuné. In July 2015 she released the EP “Grow” for Communion Records. Then in October 2015 she released the EP “Let it Out”.

In November 2015 she was shortlisted for the 2016 BRIT Awards: Critics’ Choice Award. In December 2015 she was nominated for the BBC Sound of 2016. Listen and learn why.

  1. Primal Scream – Where the Light Get In (ft Sky Ferreira) (Chaosmosis 2016)

Part of the Indie scene’s rock royalty.

Chaosmosis is the eleventh studio album by Scottish band Primal Scream. It was released on 18 March 2016 on the band’s First International label, through Ignition Records. The album’s lead single, “Where the Light Gets In”, was released on 1 February 2016 and features American singer Sky Ferreira. She and Bobby Gillespie have created a superb modern male/female duet with feeling.

Bonus track – not on the list

Kings of Leon – Waste a Moment (Walls 2016)

  1. Damien Jurado – Exit 353 (Visions of us on the land 2016

This guy is a virtual veteran with 11 albums prior to this behind him. This was its first single. I now have 11 albums to go out and buy.

Bonus track not on the list

Kaiser Chiefs – Hole in my Soul (Stay Together 2016)

Kaiser Chiefs released their newest album: Stay Together on the 7th October and it sounds exponentially, their best yet. This is brand new. Not on the list, but demands to be played.

  1. Radiohead – Burn the Witch (A Moon Shaped Pool 2016)

Originally written in 2000 Radiohead did not promote the album until the week before its release, when they released the singles “Burn the Witch” and “Daydreaming”. They didn’t need to. It was the fifth Radiohead album to be nominated for the Mercury Prize, and was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song (for “Burn the Witch”) at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. It topped the charts everywhere, becoming Radiohead’s sixth number-one album in the UK and a bestseller on vinyl. It was certified gold in the UK on 24 June.

  1. The Coral – Miss Fortune (Distance Inbetween 2016)

‘Distance Inbetween’ is The Coral’s eighth full-length studio album by English indie rock band The Coral, their first for five years. This was a single. A brilliant return.

  1. St.Paul & the Broken Bones – I’ll Be Your Woman (Sea of Noise 2016)

Paul Janeway’s lyrics sifts through racial violence and political unrest, considering how it affects his intimate relationships and asking tough questions about how to respond as a compassionate person and a man of faith. Listen to this and you’ll understand why the Rolling Stones regularly turn up to their gigs.

  1. Laura Mvula – Overcome (The Dreaming Room 2016)

In January 2016, Mvula released “Overcome”, a collaboration with Nile Rodgers, and the lead single from The Dreaming Room. She also launched the #SheWill campaign, aimed at breaking down the barriers that prevent millions of girls worldwide from attending school. That’s the way to start a year.

  1. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World (Love and Hate 2016)

Another Communion Records signing. He has been compared to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Randy Newman, Terry Callier, and Otis Redding, as well as Van Morrison and the Temptations. In the future they may be compared to him.

  1. Gregory Porter – Take Me to the Alley (Take Me to the Alley 2016)

Porter’s fourth album, Take Me to the Alley, was released on 6 May 2016. This is the title track. He imagines God returning to earth and spending his time in alleys and ghettoes. Down to earth and celestial all at once.

  1. The xx – On Hold (I See You 2016)

In 2010, the band won the Mercury Prize for its debut album. Their second album, Coexist, was released on 10 September 2012. The band’s third studio album, I See You, will be released on 13 January 2017. Jamie and the band quite simply never release a record that is anything less than sublime. They make it look easy. It isn’t.

This list formed the basis of a radio show on http://www.seahavenfm.com hosted by me on the 29th December 2016:

The two hours can be listened to here:

Blue Skies – a radio show with songs about hope

Songs to take you into the wild blue yonder

The Beatles, ELO, Jamiroquai, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons, Tom Baxter – they’ve all written inspiring songs about the sky. In our cloudy, overcast lives we need to explore beautiful blue skies and optimistic horizons. A whole show in two one hour instalments  about skies and hope.

Originally broadcast on 96.3 Seahaven FM on the tenth of May 2012 and on www.seahavenfm.com – The Whole Nine Yards with Roy Stannard every Thursday 7-9pm.

 (Theme) Renegades of Jazz – Cascade 4.16

 Supergrass – Sun Hits the Sky 3.41 (In it for the Money 1997)

Supergrass were an English alternative rock band from Oxford. The band consisted of brothers Gaz (guitar and lead vocals) and Rob Coombes (keyboards), Mick Quinn (bass and backing vocals) and Danny Goffey (drums and backing vocals). Gaz Coombes, Mick Quinn and Danny Goffey formed Supergrass in 1993 in Oxford with Gaz’s brother Rob Coombes officially joining the band in 2002. The band signed to Parlophone records in 1994 and produced I Should Coco (1995), the biggest selling début album for the label since the Beatles’ Please Please Me. Their first album’s fourth single Alright was a huge international hit that established the band’s reputation. Since then the band have released five albums: In It for the Money (1997), Supergrass (1999), Life on Other Planets (2002), Road to Rouen (2005) and Diamond Hoo Ha (2008), as well as a decade-ending compilation called Supergrass is 10 (2004).

In August 2009 they signed to Cooking Vinyl and began work on 7th studio album Release the Drones. It remained unreleased and unfinished as, on 12 April 2010, the band announced that it was splitting up due to musical and creative differences. The group disbanded after four farewell gigs, the final one at La Cigale, Paris on 11 June 2010.

“Sun Hits the Sky” is a song by the Britpop band Supergrass. It was the third single from the band’s second album In It for the Money. It was released in June 1997, and reached #10 in the UK Singles Chart. The B-side “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” is a cover of The Smiths’ song of the same name, and is a slightly more rock based version than the original.

ELO – Mr Blue Sky 5.04 (Out of the Blue 1977)

“Mr. Blue Sky” is a song by English rock group Electric Light Orchestra, featured on the band’s seventh studio album Out of the Blue (1977). Written and produced by frontman Jeff Lynne, the song forms the fourth and final track of the “Concerto for a Rainy Day” suite, on side three of the original double LP. “Mr. Blue Sky” was the second Billboard Hot 100 top-40 single to be taken from Out of the Blue, peaking at number 35 in the United States. The single also reached number six on the UK Singles Chart. The song was played as a wake-up call to astronaut Christopher Ferguson on Day 3 of STS-135, the final mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

In a BBC Radio interview, Lynne talked about writing “Mr. Blue Sky” after locking himself away in a Swiss chalet and attempting to write ELO’s follow-up to A New World Record:

It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks.

The song’s arrangement has been called “Beatlesque” bearing similarities to Beatles songs “Martha My Dear” and “A Day in the Life”.

Yellowcard – Light up the Sky 3.37 (Paper Walls 2007)

Yellowcard is an American pop punk/alternative rock band formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1997, and based in Los Angeles, California since 2000. Their music features the use of a violin, unusual for the genre. They are best known for their songs “Ocean Avenue,” “Way Away,” “Only One,” “Lights and Sounds,” “Light Up the Sky,” and “For You, and Your Denial.” The band went on to a two-year hiatus then announced their return in August 2010 and released their latest album, When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, in mid-March 2011.

“Light Up the Sky” is the first single from Yellowcard’s album Paper Walls. The live acoustic version was first heard on March 30, 2007, at their concert at the Troubador in West Hollywood, California. It was then played electric in later shows. On May 15, 2007, the fully mixed album version was put on their Myspace page. It was released on iTunes on June 5, 2007, and it was the most added single to US Alternative/Modern Rock radio stations for the week ending June 8, 2007, and peaked at number 41 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song also reached number 32 on the Adult Top 40 chart.

We The Kings – Skyway Avenue 3.25 (We The Kings 2007)

We the Kings is an American Power Pop band formed in 2005 from Bradenton, Florida, currently signed to record label S-Curve Records. The group released their self-titled full-length debut album in 2007, which peaked at No. 151 on the Billboard 200. Their second full-length album, Smile Kid, was released in December 2009, and the band has since completed a variety of tours. The band released a new album on July 5, 2011 entitled Sunshine State of Mind, achieving minor commercial success. They have toured extensively, playing in music festivals as well as supporting other acts. We the Kings also host their own miniature series of webisodes, entitled “The King’s Carriage”, detailing life on their tour bus.

We the Kings is the self-titled debut album by American pop punk band We the Kings. It was released on October 2, 2007. The album peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers chart, and at No. 151 on the Billboard 200. We the Kings was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for the shipment of 70,000 copies. Three singles were released from the album. The second single, “Check Yes Juliet”, was featured as “The iTunes Single of the Week” in early 2008, and it peaked at No. 84 on the Pop 100 and No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US,[7] and No. 26 in Australia where it was certified platinum by the ARIA.

The Calling – Anything 4.05 (Two 2004)

The Calling is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California, best known for their hit single, “Wherever You Will Go”. The group formed in 2000 and have released two albums. They have been on an indefinite hiatus since 2005.

Two (also stylized as II) is the second studio album by American rock band The Calling, released on June 8, 2004 through RCA Records. The record only features original members Alex Band and Aaron Kamin along with a variety of session musicians.

Despite radio-friendly singles and relentless touring by the band, the album was viewed by many as under promoted by the label and disappointing compared to the success of their first album.

Owl City – To the Sky (All Things Bright and Beautiful 2011 – Bonus Track)

All Things Bright and Beautiful is the third studio album by American musical project Owl City. It was released on June 14, 2011

The album sees for the most part Owl City leader Adam Young staying true to his synthpop roots; however, he also dabbles in indie rock, folk, European trance in “Galaxies” and on “Alligator Sky”, rap. Guest musicians on the album include Shawn Chrystopher, Matthew Thiessen, Lights, Breanne Düren and Adam Young’s mother, Joan Young.

The album was originally planned to have a worldwide release date of May 24, 2011. It was then changed to May 17. On April 6, however, Young posted on his official site that the release date had been bumped to June 14, 2011. He stated that the reason for this was, “In an attempt to better connect the dots and ensure that every cloud in the sky is stitched together with its own special silver lining”, and “with school finally out for the summer, it’ll be a perfect time to sit back and watch the fireworks.” Along with this post were previews of four tracks from the new album, each being 1:30 long. The previews posted were of “Alligator Sky (ft. Shawn Chrystopher)”, “Deer in the Headlights”, “Galaxies” and “Dreams Don’t Turn to Dust”.

On the introductory track to “Galaxies”, entitled “January 28, 1986” (the date of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster), Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union speech is sampled.

Jigsaw – Sky High 2.53 (Sky High 1975)

Jigsaw were an English pop music group, fronted by the singer-songwriter duo of Clive Scott and Des Dyer. In Australia the group was called “British Jigsaw” due to the existence of a local band of the same name.

Originally a six piece band, formed from musicians in Coventry and Rugby by Tony Campbell in April 1966, they went on to score a number of hit singles around the world. They also released thirteen albums. The group was partly influenced by fellow British musicians The Beatles, at times sounding Beatle-esque, especially their ballads, which show leanings towards Paul McCartney’s musical and vocal arrangements.

Their first single for their new label, entitled “Sky High”, was recorded for the film The Man from Hong Kong, a 1975 martial-arts action movie starring George Lazenby. Splash pressed a couple of hundred promotional copies and reaction to the song was good, especially from Radio Luxembourg which began playing the song with high rotation during its nightly English pop music broadcasts to the UK. “Sky High” subsequently made the UK Top 10 in November 1975. Chelsea Records released it in the U.S. (where Splash had no pressing plant) and it was a hit there, going to #3. It charted all over the world and was #1 in Japan. A famous Mexican wrestler called Mil Mascaras used “Sky High” as his theme tune. He would walk to the ring with the song playing in the background. His popularity in Japan helped “Sky High” to become a hit twice over in that country in consecutive years.

Their album also entitled Sky High sold very well too, especially in Japan, and the next single “Love Fire” was another hit, although not in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, “Love Fire” was followed by two new albums, one for the British market called Pieces of Magic and another for the American market simply named after the band, Jigsaw.

Sky High is the name of a 1975 single by British pop music group, Jigsaw. The song, the main title theme to the film entitled The Man from Hong Kong, was a world-wide hit in the latter part of 1975, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States and #9 in the UK Singles Chart.

Two years later the song gained more striking commercial success in Japan, peaking at the #2 on the Oricon singles chart and selling approximately 570,000 copies. There are two versions of this song, the latter being almost three minutes longer. A remixed version of the original Jigsaw cut by PWL remixer Pete Hammond was a minor dance hit in the U.S. in the spring of 1989. On the 1975 Australian record it displayed “British Jigsaw” because there was an established and popular local band called “Jigsaw”.

Sade – The Moon and the Sky 4.28 (Soldier of Love 2010)

Sade (pronounced /ʃɑːˈdeɪ/ shah-DAY) is a British smooth jazz band that formed in 1983, named after their lead singer Sade Adu. Their music features elements of R&B, soul, jazz, and soft rock.

Sade’s debut album, Diamond Life, was released in 1984, reaching No. 2 in the UK Album Chart, selling over 1.2 million copies in the UK, and won the Brit Award for Best British Album in 1985. The album was also a hit internationally, reaching No. 1 in several countries and the top ten in the US where it has sold in excess of 4 million copies. In late 1985, Sade released their second album, Promise, which peaked at No. 1 in both the UK and the US. It was certified double platinum in the UK, and quadruple platinum in the US. In 1986 the band won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Sade’s sixth studio album, Soldier of Love, was released worldwide on 8 February 2010, and peaked at No. 4 in the UK, and No. 1 in the US. In 2011, the band won their fourth Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Sade’s US certified sales so far stand at 23.5 million units according to Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and have sold more than 50 million units worldwide to date. They were ranked at #50 on VH1’s list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

Soldier of Love is the sixth studio album by the English group Sade. It is their first album of original material since Lovers Rock (2000). The album was initially released on 5 February 2010 in Germany, and it was released worldwide on 8 February 2010 and in the United States on 9 February 2010. The first single “Soldier of Love” premiered on 8 December 2009 on the group’s official website.

The album debuted at number four on the UK Albums Chart, becoming their highest debut since Stronger Than Pride (1988). It also debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 502,000 copies in the United States, making it Sade’s first US number-one debut, and topped music charts in several other countries. Upon its release, Soldier of Love received generally positive reviews from most music critics and won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The band promoted the album with their first concert tour in ten years, Sade Live.

Bonobo – Walk in the Sky (Feat. Bajka) 4.35 (Days to Come 2006)

Simon Green (born March 30, 1976), also known by his stage name Bonobo, is a British musician, producer and DJ.

Green has recorded and performed solo DJ sets under the name Barakas, and together with Robert Luis from Tru Thoughts as Nairobi and Barakas.

Days to Come is the third album of original studio material from British musician Bonobo. It was released on 2 October 2006 on the Ninja Tune independent record label. It has been released in two versions – a standard 1 disc edition (ZENCD119) and a limited edition (ZENCD119X) with a second disc containing instrumental versions of the album’s vocal tracks. The album was voted Album of the Year in the 2006 Worldwide Awards on Gilles Peterson’s BBC Radio 1 show. The track “Ketto” was used in the commercial for the launch of the Citroen C4 Picasso in 2007.

Kid KuDi – The Sky Might Fall 3.41 (Man On The Moon: The End Of The Day 2009)

Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi (born January 30, 1984), better known by his stage name Kid Cudi ( /ˈkɪd ˈkʌdi/ KID KUD-ee), sometimes stylized KiD CuDi, is an American alternative hip hop recording artist, singer-songwriter, guitarist and actor. He first gained major attention after the release of his debut mixtape A Kid Named Cudi. In 2009, his single “Day ‘n’ Nite” reached the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. “Day ‘n’ Nite” was included on Cudi’s debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day, which was later certified Gold. In 2010 he released his second studio album Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager, preceded by the release of two singles “Erase Me” and “Mr. Rager”. In October 2010, Cudi announced that he would be forming a rock band with Dot da Genius tentatively called ‘Wizard’, later renamed WZRD. Their self-titled debut album will be released on February 28, 2012. Kid Cudi has sold over 4.6 million digital singles and has worked with Kanye West, Common, David Guetta and other artists signed to the GOOD Music label.

In 2009 Cudi, along with record producers Patrick “Plain Pat” Reynolds and Emile Haynie launched their record label, Dream On, in partnership with Kanye West’s GOOD Music and Universal Motown. On February 26, 2011 Cudi took to his Twitter account to announce that the label had been dissolved due to differences.

In April 2011, while performing at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom Kid Cudi announced he was launching his own label: “Wicked Awesome Records”.

Man on the Moon: The End of Day is the debut album of American rapper Kid Cudi, released September 15, 2009, on GOOD Music. A concept album, it follows the release of his first mixtape A Kid Named Cudi (2008). Production for the album took place during 2007 to 2009 and was handled by several record producers, including Cudi, Kanye West, Emile Haynie, Plain Pat, No I.D., Dot da Genius, and Jeff Bhasker, among others.

Man on the Moon: The End of Day spawned three singles–”Day ‘n’ Nite”, “Make Her Say” and “Pursuit of Happiness”–that attained chart success, including the former, which became a US platinum-certified hit single. To further promote the album, he toured with Asher Roth and Lady Gaga. Upon its release, Man on the Moon: The End of Day received positive reviews from most music critics, who praised it for its music composition and different approach to being a hip-hop record. Aside from being included on music critics list of the best albums of the year, Man on the Moon: The End of Day received three Grammy Awards nominations.

The album debuted at number four on both the US Billboard 200 and Billboard Top Rap Albums chart, selling 104,000 copies in its first week of release in the United States. It later became certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments exceeding 500,000 copies in the US. Outside of the US, the album was less commercially successful, generally peaking outside of the top fifty positions of album charts.

Jamiroquai – Blue Skies 3.51 (Rock Dust Light Star 2010)

“Blue Skies” is the second single from British alternative group Jamiroquai’s studio album, Rock Dust Light Star.[ The single was released via Digital Download on November 1, 2010. The song was written by band frontman Jay Kay and Matt Johnson. It is the band’s second single to be released under Mercury Records. The single did not receive an official physical release due to the fact it was released on the same date as the group’s album. It appears that the Jamiroquai logo typeface has been stretched vertically for this release. The video for the single was made available on the group’s YouTube account on September 25. The track peaked at #76 on the UK Singles Chart.

Elton John – Skyline Pigeon 3.53 (Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player – originally 1972 then re-issue as a bonus track in 1995)

“Skyline Pigeon” is a song by Elton John with lyrics by Bernie Taupin. It is the eighth track off his first album, Empty Sky. It was originally released in August 1968 as a single on the Pye label by Guy Darrell and simultaneously by Roger James Cooke on Columbia Records. It was also recorded by Deep Feeling, a short lived band formed by Jim Capaldi and Luther Grosvenor, in 1970.

In 1972, John re-recorded the song with his band (Dee Murray, Nigel Olsson and Davey Johnstone) during the sessions for “Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player.” The new recording featured piano instead of harpsichord, and strings and oboe arranged by Paul Buckmaster.

Originally issued as the B-side of the hit-single “Daniel”, it first appeared on CD in 1988 as part of the DJM issue of the “Lady Samantha” compilation album, then just a few years later in the U.S. and abroad on the 1992 Mercury release Rare Masters, and finally as a bonus track on the 1995 reissue of Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player.

Tom Baxter – Skybound 6.41 (Skybound 2007)

Tom Baxter (born Thomas Baxter Gleave, 29 October 1973) is an English singer-songwriter based in London. He was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and grew up in Cornwall with his sister Vashti Anna, two brothers, Jo Spencer and Charlie Winston, and parents Jeff and Julie Gleave (who were regulars on the folk music circuit in the late sixties and early seventies). Tom and his siblings use their middle names as stage surnames.

After moving to London at age 19 to attend music college, he spent many years on the gig circuit before successful residencies at Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush and The Bedford in Balham brought him to the attention of record labels.

A self-titled EP was released by Sony Music through the Columbia Records label in May 2004 and included the tracks “Joanna”, “Half a Man” and “My Declaration”.

His debut album, Feather and Stone, was released by Columbia in October 2004 to critical acclaim, and was a regular on the BBC Radio 2 playlist. Singles from the album included “This Boy” and “My Declaration”. The album release was followed by a headlining UK tour. He also supported Nerina Pallot on her UK tour in January 2007.

His second album Skybound (released 7 January 2008) was recorded independently and released on the revived Charisma Records label through EMI [1] after he split with Sony in 2007. The first single, “Better”, was released in January 2008 and was subsequently used on the soundtrack for the motion picture Run Fatboy Run. “Miracle” was used in its entirety by the BBC to cover the final montage of their Olympics and Paralympics coverage. The second single was “Tell Her Today”.

 

Hour Two

Lily Allen – Mr Blue Sky 3.38 (It’s Not Me, It’s You 2009)

Lily Rose Beatrice Cooper (born 2 May 1985), better known as Lily Allen, is an English recording artist, actress and fashion designer. She is the daughter of actor and musician Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen. In her teenage years, her musical tastes evolved from glam rock to alternative. Allen abandoned school and concentrated on improving her performing and compositional skills. Afterwards, she created several demo songs and, near the end of 2005, she created a profile on MySpace where she made some of her recordings public.

A contract was signed with the label Regal Recordings, as the views on MySpace rose to tens of thousands. In 2006, she began to work on completing what would be her first studio album and its first mainstream single “Smile” reached the top position on the UK Singles Chart in July 2006. Her debut record, Alright, Still, was well received on the international market, selling over 2.6 million copies and brought Allen a nomination at the Grammy Awards, BRIT Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. She then began hosting her own talk-show, Lily Allen and Friends, on BBC Three.

Her second major album release, It’s Not Me, It’s You, saw a genre shift for her, having more of an electropop feel, rather than the ska and reggae influences of the first one. The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and the Australian ARIA Charts and was appreciated by the critics, noting the singer’s musical evolution and maturity. It spawned the hit singles “The Fear” and “Fuck You”, popular mostly in Europe. Allen and Amy Winehouse have been credited with starting a process that led to the media-proclaimed “year of the women” in 2009 that has seen five female artists making music of “experimentalism and fearlessness” nominated for the Mercury Prize.

During the autumn of 2010, Allen opened a fashion rental shop “Lucy in Disguise” with her sister Sarah, followed by the 2011 launching of her own record label.

The Beatles – Dear Prudence 3.56 (The White Album 1968)

“Dear Prudence” is a song written by John Lennon, and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was released by The Beatles as the second track on their 1968 double-disc album entitled The Beatles, commonly known as The White Album.

The subject of the song is actress Mia Farrow’s sister, Prudence Farrow, who was present when The Beatles went to India to study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Farrow became so serious about her meditation that she “turned into a near recluse” and “rarely came out” of the cottage she was living in. John Lennon was asked to “contact her and make sure she came out more often to socialize”. As a result, Lennon wrote the song “Dear Prudence”. In the song Lennon asks Farrow to “open up your eyes” and “see the sunny skies” reminding her that she is “part of everything”. The song was said to be “a simple plea to a friend to ‘snap out of it'”. Lennon said later that “She’d been locked in for three weeks and was trying to reach God quicker than anyone else”. According to Farrow: “I would always rush straight back to my room after lectures and meals so I could meditate. John, George and Paul would all want to sit around jamming and having a good time and I’d be flying into my room. They were all serious about what they were doing, but they just weren’t as fanatical as me”.

Lennon did play the song for Farrow while they were in India together. According to Farrow, “I was flattered. It was a beautiful thing to have done”. The lyrics of the song are simple and innocent and praise the beauty of nature in the lines: “The sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful, and so are you”.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Purple Haze 2.50 (are You Experienced? 1967)

“Purple Haze” is a song written in 1966 by Jimi Hendrix and recorded in 1967, released as the second single by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in both the United Kingdom and the United States. It later appeared on the American version of the band’s 1967 album Are You Experienced. “Purple Haze” has become one of the “archetypical psychedelic drug songs of the sixties” “Purple Haze” has been identified as possibly the first heavy metal hit and Hendrix’s virtuosic techniques would be emulated by many metal guitarists.

The single was released in the UK as Track single 604001 in March 1967; it entered the charts at number 39 and peaked at number three, spending 14 weeks in the chart. It was released in the US as Reprise single 0597 in June 1967, where it peaked at number 65, spending only eight weeks in the chart. In March 2005, Q magazine ranked “Purple Haze” at number one in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. Rolling Stone magazine placed the song at number 17 in their “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.

“I dream a lot and I put a lot of my dreams down as songs,” Hendrix said in a 1969 interview with the New Musical Express, “I wrote one called ‘First Around the Corner’ and another called ‘The Purple Haze’, which was all about a dream I had that I was walking under the sea.”

The term “purple haze” has been used to refer to LSD, due to the form sold by Sandoz, called Delysid, which came in purple capsules. The phrase itself appears in print as early as 1861, in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, chapter 54: “There was the red sun, on the low level of the shore, in a purple haze, fast deepening into black…”

Although, Hendrix himself stated that the song was partially in reference to a sci-fi story entitled “Night of Light” by Philip José Farmer. In it, “purple haze” is used to describe the disorienting effect of sunspot activity on the inhabitants of a planet called Dante’s Joy.

A common misheard lyric in the song is “excuse me while I kiss this guy”. The actual line is “excuse me while I kiss the sky”. In fact, it has even been documented that Jimi Hendrix himself perpetrated this mondegreen by actually using it as a joke while singing “Purple Haze” live in concert, particularly at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. In Cheech & Chong’s film Nice Dreams, the line is parodied as “excuse me while I kiss this fly”.

The Horrors – Endless Blue 5.15 (Skying 2010)

The Horrors are an English band formed in Southend on Sea in 2005. Their debut Strange House, was released in 2007 and reached number thirty-seven on the UK Albums Chart, their second album Primary Colours was released in 2009 and peaked at number 25 in the UK. In July 2011 The Horrors’ third album Skying was released, and reached number five in the UK album chart.

Skying is the third studio album by British band The Horrors. The album was released on 11 July 2011 in the UK and on 9 August 2011 in the US on XL recordings. Recorded by the band in their self-built London studio, it is the first record the band has produced themselves. Two months prior to the album’s release the song “Still Life” was premiered on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show as his ‘Hottest Record in the World’ where it was played in its entirety. This was the first track to be released from the album and the first indicator to fans of the direction the album would take.

Pink Floyd – Goodbye Blue Sky 2.48 (The Wall 1979 Disc 1)

Pink Floyd—The Wall is a 1982 British live-action/animated musical film directed by Alan Parker based on the 1979 Pink Floyd album The Wall. The screenplay was written by Pink Floyd vocalist and bassist Roger Waters. The film is highly metaphorical and is rich in symbolic imagery and sound. It features very little dialogue and is mainly driven by the music of Pink Floyd. The film contains fifteen minutes of elaborate animation sequences by the political cartoonist and illustrator Gerald Scarfe.

Lyric: In a brief prologue, birds are heard chirping peacefully. The sound of approaching bombers catches the attention of a child (voiced by a young Harry Waters), who states, “Look mummy, there’s an aeroplane up in the sky”.

The lyrics go on to describe the memory of the Blitz: Did you see the frightened ones? Did you hear the falling bombs? Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter when the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?… The flames are all long gone but the pain lingers on. Goodbye, blue sky.

Alan Parsons Project – Sirius/Eye in the Sky 6.27 (Eye in the Sky 1982)

The Alan Parsons Project was a British progressive rock band, active between 1975 and 1990, consisting of singer Eric Woolfson and keyboardist Alan Parsons surrounded by a varying number of session musicians.

Behind the revolving lineup and the regular sidemen, the true core of the Project was the duo of Parsons and Woolfson. Woolfson was a lawyer by profession, but also a composer and pianist. Parsons was a successful producer and accomplished engineer. Almost all songs on the band’s albums are credited to “Woolfson/Parsons”.

Englishman Alan Parsons met Scotsman Eric Woolfson in the canteen of Abbey Road Studios in the summer of 1974. Parsons had already acted as assistant engineer on The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be, had recently engineered Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, and had produced several acts for EMI Records. Woolfson, a songwriter and composer, was working as a session pianist; he had also composed material for a concept album idea based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe.

“Eye in the Sky” is a 1982 song by the Alan Parsons Project from the album Eye in the Sky. Possibly the most successful song the group has ever had, it hit #3 on the Billboard charts in the United States in October 1982 and #6 in Canada and New Zealand. Says Parsons of the song, “…I hated the song when we first started recording it — I was quite ready to drop it altogether. Then we hit upon the hypnotic guitar chugs and it all came together.” However, it did not fare as well in the UK.

The song is in part a reference to George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, regarding a possible future in which individual privacy is virtually non-existent due to the ever-watching eye of Big Brother. In the novel, citizens are constantly monitored by hidden video recording equipment.

It has also been noted by Eric Woolfson, the songwriter and vocalist of this song, spent a lot of time in casinos and in commercial districts, fascinated by the hidden security cameras that monitor gamblers and shoppers, hence the theme of the song. See “Eye in the Sky.”

Goldfrapp – Melancholy Sky 4.29 (Single Melancholy Sky on The Singles 2012)

Goldfrapp are an English electronic music duo, formed in 1999 in London, England, UK, consisting of Alison Goldfrapp (vocals/synthesizer) and Will Gregory (synthesizer).

Despite favourable reviews and a short-listing for the Mercury Prize, the ambient sound of their 2000 debut album Felt Mountain did not chart highly. Goldfrapp’s second album Black Cherry, which incorporated glam rock and synthpop sounds into their music, was released in 2003. The album influenced the same dance-oriented sound of their third album Supernature which took Goldfrapp’s work further into dance music, and enjoyed international chart success. It produced three number-one US dance singles, and was nominated for Best Electronic/Dance Album at the 49th Grammy Awards. Their fourth album Seventh Tree placed a greater emphasis on ambient and downtempo music, drawing inspiration from nature and Paganism, while their fifth album, Head First, found the group exploring 1980s-influenced synthpop, and brought the formation a Grammy Award-nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album in 2010.

Some of their charting singles include “Utopia”, “Strict Machine”, “Train”, “Black Cherry”, “Number 1”, “Ride a White Horse”, “A&E”, “Happiness” and “Ooh La La” – their most successful single to date.

Aha – Minor Earth, Major Sky 5.25 (Minor Earth, Major Sky 2000)

A-ha (spelled “a-ha” in lower-case on their releases) was a Norwegian pop band formed in Oslo in 1982. The band was founded by Morten Harket (vocals), Magne Furuholmen (keyboards), and Pål Waaktaar (guitars). The group initially rose to fame during the mid 1980s after being discovered by musician and producer John Ratcliff and had continued global success in the 1990s and 2000s.

A-ha achieved their biggest success with their debut album, Hunting High and Low, in 1985. That album peaked at number 1 in their native Norway, number 2 in the UK and number 15 on the U.S. Billboard album chart, yielded two international number-one singles, “Take on Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.”, and earned the band a Grammy Award nomination as Best New Artist. In the UK, Hunting High and Low continued its chart success into the following year, becoming one of the best-selling albums of 1986. In 1994, after their fifth studio album, Memorial Beach which failed to achieve the commercial success of their previous albums, the band went on a hiatus.

Following a performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 1998, the band returned to the studio and recorded their sixth album, 2000’s Minor Earth Major Sky, which was another number-one in Norway and resulted in a new tour.

A seventh studio album, Lifelines, was released in 2002, and an eighth album, Analogue, in 2005, was certified Silver in the UK — their most successful album there since 1990’s East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Their ninth album, Foot of the Mountain, was first released on 19 June 2009 and returned the band to the UK Top 5 for the first time since 1988, being certified Silver there and Platinum in Germany. The album peaked at number 2 in Norway (their first not to reach number 1 in their home territory). On 15 October 2009, the band announced they would split after a worldwide tour in 2010, the Ending On A High Note tour. Thousands of fans from at least 40 different countries on six continents congregated to see A-ha for the last time.

The band have sold over 36 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide In less than a year, during 2010, the band earned an estimated 500 million Norwegian Kroner on touring tickets, merchandising and release of a greatest hits album, making them one of the 40-50 largest grossing bands in the world.

Morten Harket – Scared of Heights 3.22 (New single 2012 from album Out of my Hands) Ex A-Ha

Morten Harket (born 14 September 1959) is a Norwegian musician, best known as the lead singer of the Norwegian synthpop/rock band A-ha, which released nine studio albums and topped the charts in several countries after their breakthrough hit “Take on Me” in 1985. A-ha disbanded in 2010. Harket has also released four solo albums. Before joining A-ha in 1982, Harket appeared on the Oslo club scene as the singer for blues outfit Souldier Blue. In April 2012 Harket released his new solo album, Out of My Hands in both Norway and Germany.

Nelly Furtado – I’m Like a Bird 4.05  (Whoa, Nelly! 2000)

Nelly Kim Furtado (born December 2, 1978) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. Furtado first gained fame with her debut album, Whoa, Nelly! and its single “I’m Like a Bird”, which won a 2001 Juno Award for Single of the Year and a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Her second studio album, Folklore, was released. It was less commercially successful in the US but produced three international singles: “Powerless (Say What You Want)”, “Try”, and “Força” (the theme of the 2004 European Football Championship. Her third studio album, Loose was her biggest success worldwide. It produced the number-one hits “Promiscuous”, “Maneater”, “Say It Right” and “All Good Things (Come to an End)”. After a three-year break, she released her first full-length Spanish album, Mi Plan For this Furtado received the Latin Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. Furtado’s fourth English-language studio album, The Spirit Indestructible, is set for release on June 19, 2012.

Ben Howard – Keep Your Head Up 4.25 (Every Kingdom 2012)

Ben Howard (born 24 April 1987) is an English singer-songwriter, born in London. He moved to Totnes, Devon when he was 8 and is currently signed to Island Records and Communion Records. Howard was raised by musical parents who exposed him to several of their favourite records from singer-songwriter artists from the 1960s and 1970s including Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, by whom he was strongly influenced.

Ben Howard signed to Island Records in 2011, due to the label’s history of UK folk singers, including Nick Drake and John Martyn. After singles “Old Pine” and “The Wolves” were released in 2011, Howard recorded his debut album entitled Every Kingdom, which was released on 6 October 2011.

In 2012, Howard launched his music in America with Every Kingdom being released on 3 April 2012, and appearances at SXSW in Texas and a US tour confirmed. His song “Promise” was featured at the end of Season 8, Episode 12 of TV show House.

Ben Howard is confirmed to play at the 2012 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. [6]. He has also been confirmed to be performing at the 2012 T in the Park music festival in Scotland, as well as Beach Break Live 2012 in South Wales. He is also confirmed to play at Splendour in the Grass 2012, no other Australian dates have been announced.

The Bible – Skywriter 4.35 (Eureka 1988)

The Bible are an English rock band. The band released two critically acclaimed albums in the mid 1980s and are best known for the independent chart hits “Graceland” and “Mahalia”. Lead singer Boo Hewerdine has also maintained a solo career since the band’s first split in 1990.

In 1985 Hewerdine and his bandmate Kevin Flanagan from earlier ensemble The Great Divide, formed The Bible, recruiting jazz drummer Tony Shepherd (who had previously drummed for Freddie Starr) and bassist Clive Lawson. The band released the mini-LP Walking the Ghost Back Home in 1986 on the independent record label, Backs Records, giving them a top-ten hit on the UK Independent Chart, staying in the chart for ten weeks. This was followed by the first release of “Graceland” as a single, which gave them a minor hit in the UK, after which Lawson was replaced by Leroy Lendor.

After follow-up single “Mahalia”, which reached number 15 on the UK Independent Chart, Flanagan left, to be replaced by Dave Larcombe, with guitarist Neil MacColl (brother of Kirsty MacColl and formerly a member of The Roaring Boys) also joining. The album was well received by music pundits, and this brought the band to the attention of Chrysalis Records. Signing to Chrysalis, “Graceland” was re-released as a single in February 1987, but only charted slightly higher than the original release. Greg Harewood joined on bass guitar, replacing temporary member Constance Redgrave.

In January 1988, the band’s second album, Eureka, was released. It peaked at number 71 on the UK Albums Chart. Two singles taken from the album failed to chart, but a re-recorded “Graceland” gave them their highest charting single, reaching number 51 in the UK in April 1989. “Honey Be Good” gave them a second hit later that year, reaching number 54. In 1989, Hewerdine decided to leave the group and pursue solo projects. The remainder of the group renamed themselves Liberty Horses.

In 1993, The Bible reformed for a tour and released the Dreamlife EP in 1994. Tracks for a new album were recorded but the band split up again before this could be released. The album was eventually released posthumously in 2000, under the name of Dodo.

In late 2011, The Bible announced that they had reformed again (with a lineup including Boo Hewerdine, Tony Shepherd and Neill MacColl) and performed two concerts (at the ABC 1/2 in Glasgow on September 29 and The Grand in Clapham, London on September 30) to promote the new Red Grape Records reissue of Walking the Ghost Back Home. The band are also apparently writing new material together.

Andrew Belle – Sky’s Still Blue 3.22 (The Ladder 2010)

Andrew Belle is an American singer-songwriter. Andrew (born Drew Fortson) is originally from Wheaton, Illinois. Andrew moved to Nashville in 2009. He is currently touring clubs and universities across the country, and is also a member of the critically acclaimed national tour Ten Out of Tenn. He has shared the stage with numerous artists including Ben Folds, Brian Vander Ark (The Verve Pipe), Greg Laswell, Barcelona (indie rock band), and Boyce Avenue (band).

Andrew released his debut EP All Those Pretty Lights in September 2008, containing songs featured in hit TV shows including CW’s “90210”, MTV’s “The Real World”, CBS’s Ghost Whisperer, and E!’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”. His debut full-length album The Ladder was released in February 2010.

Songs from The Ladder have been featured on hit TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy and CW’s The Vampire Diaries and One Tree Hill and ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game . His song “Sky’s Still Blue” was featured in a Microsoft commercial/documentary promoting the Windows 7, Windows Live and Windows Phone 7 exosystem. It was made available as a free download from Microsoft. His songs have garnered nationwide airplay including Chicago’s WXRT, Nashville’s WRLT, Philadelphia’s WXPN, Indianapolis’s WTTS, and Los Angeles’s KCRW. Andrew was named “Best Breakout Artist, Chicago” by MTV in 2009. His music and vocal stylings draw comparisons to Coldplay, The Fray, and John Mayer. He recently announced in February 2012, that he is engaged and plans to marry in June of 2012.

Hour One Here:

http://www.mixcloud.com/roystannard/blue-skies-1-tw9y-with-roy-stannard-10512-wwwseahavenfmcom/

Hour Two Here:

http://www.mixcloud.com/roystannard/blue-skies-2-tw9y-10512-with-roy-stannard-on-wwwseahavenfmcom/

Sunshine Follows You

Sunshine Follows You

 

I first heard Terry Carvey performing this track in a back street bar in Worthing, West Sussex. It was a ‘no mic’ night and everything was pared back, unadorned and raw. Terry had written ‘Sunshine Follows You’ for his wife Sally and it was written with love and affection, but lacked an arrangement, and Terry had yet to produce a full instrumental context for the song. However, I could hear a great melody and memorable lyrics through the chatter, banter and room echo.

I suggested immediately to Terry that he get together with a producer friend of mine, Owen Vyse, who is no mean R’nB performer in his own right. Owen added lead, rhythm, bass, drums and keys and magically realised the full soul glory of this song. It exudes Isleys, Bell Records, Stax, Sam Cooke and a touch of Paul Weller.

It could be the song of the Summer. Who is going to get to it first?

http://soundcloud.com/roystannard/terry-carvey-sunshine-follows

 

The Other Half of my Heart

The Other Half of my Heart

The Other Half of my Heart

 

You’re the other half of my heart

The love that burned from the start

You’re the time between the hours

You’re the colour in the flowers

(Chorus)

 

I loved you from the start

We’re not made to be apart

You’re the other half of my heart

 

You’re the completion of my soul

The part that makes me whole

You’re the end of the race

You’re the smile on my face

(chorus)

 

You’re the safe place inside

The difference between loss and pride

You’re the laughter in the rain

You’re why I’m whole again

(chorus)

 

You’re every bird that sings

All the hopes I have with wings

You’re the promise that came true

You’re the dream that finally flew

(chorus)

 

You’re the start and the happy ending

You kissed me when I needed mending

You’re the daybreak every time I wake

You’re the love it took a lifetime to make

 

(c) Roy Stannard  5.12.11

 

Christmas is a time the distance that separates people who love one another should magically be made to disappear.

There are songs that deal with this theme, but none that really connected with me, so I wrote some lyrics. My good friend Nigel Black suggested I send them to him – and he and his singing partner Tom Heaton worked the lyrics into a song. Another friend, Owen Vyse, who is a consummate musician in his own right, kindly allowed us to use his home studio equipped with Qbase and then added some instruments and flourishes of his own.

Christmas is no time to be on your own. Thanks to all my friends, new and old, this Christmas I haven’t been.

 

Listen to the song on Soundcloud here:

http://snd.sc/swo4M4

Roy Stannard’s Top 15 Albums of the Year 2011

My Top 15 Albums 2011

Roy Stannard’s Top Fifteen Albums of 2011

  1. The Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
  2. Smith & Burrows – Funny Looking Angels
  3. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow
  4. Radiohead – The King of Limbs
  5. Bon Iver – Bon Iver
  6. Adele – 21
  7. Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX – We’re New Here
  8. James Vincent McMorrow – Early in the Morning
  9. Wild Beasts – Smother
  10. Yuck – Yuck
  11. The Decemberists – The King is Dead
  12. Feist – Metals
  13. James Blake – James Blake
  14. Frank Ocean – Nostalgia/Ultra
  15. The Weeknd – House of Balloons
  1. 1.     The Fleet Foxes:

A wonderful testament to West Coast harmonies, courtesy of six Seattle guys who patently grew up on a staple main course of CSNY and America. An masterly patchwork of guitars, harmoniums, bells, woodwinds and Tibetan singing bowls that expands on their debut, Helplessness Blues is equipped with signature vocal arrangements that sound out of this world – except that the voices you hear here are grounded and real. This is a wonderful move on from their debut, deeper, more heart-felt and in the title track seriously contending for the title of one of the best songs ever recorded: Check it out, where Robin Pecknold laments growing up while a skyward rush of harmonies makes it clear his sense of wonder is vibrant, poetic and still operating at full force.

  1. 2.     Smith & Burrows

A Christmas album that caught us old cynics unawares when it came out in late November – with Tom Smith from the Editors and Andy Burrows (ex Razorlight and nowadays with We Are Scientists) – it may be just be the best seasonal album ever apart from one or two ill advised covers. ‘When the Thames Froze’ is magnificent with tramp-soulful vocals lamenting the state of the economy, young men sleeping in fields and the process of getting older. The spirit of Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life permeates the album with references to Jimmy Stewart and even a cover of the Black song ‘Wonderful Life’. Careworn but caring and absolutely mesmerising.

  1. 3.     The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars are a duo consisting of John Paul White, hailing from Florence, Alabama and Joy Williams, originally from Santa Cruz, CA, but now residing in East Nashville. They have already altruistically shared a free concert album “Live at Eddie’s attic” which remains available on their My space site for those of you seeking fine new music and now we have this wonderful debut album “Barton Hollow” to tantalise our aural tastebuds. The word which best epitomises this record is “passionate”. Check out the performance of the swampy folk title track and try not to be smitten by its drive and force whereas ‘To Whom it May Concern’ is quite simply one of the most affecting tracks of the year with its refrain:

“I missed you
But I haven’t met you
Oh but I want to.”

  1. 4.     Radiohead

The eighth studio album from the rock band that no-one can second guess has a misleading restraint: lush electronics, thickets of digitally tweaked percussion and cryptic lyrics, sung in a prayerlike daze. At 38 minutes, it sounds unfinished and quietly perverse, even more anti-rock than Kid A – at first. Repeated immersion, though, reveals a seductive concision and insistent undertow: the space-alien-Beach Boys effect of “Bloom,” the dark, muted-treble blues of the guitars in “Little by Little,” the nimble charge of “Separator.” This was a record that insidiously crept up on your subconscious throughout the year and then took over.

  1. 5.     Bon Iver

The second album from Wisconsin’s Justin Vernon thrives in an unlikely sweet spot between Nick Drake and Peter Cetera. Bon Iver deploys horns, banjos and Auto-Tune amid Vernon’s Möbius-strip lyrics, which luxuriate in emotional vagueness. Vernon’s private world is a soft-rock heaven of the mind.

  1. 6.     Adele

“Turn my sorrow into treasured gold,” cried Adele Adkins on “Rolling in the Deep.” It was a confession and a prophecy. 21 was this year’s most stunning pop success, transmuting the young Brit’s personal sorrow – the collapse of an 18-month relationship – into a 13-million-selling smash that leapt across borders and oceans and united everyone from teeny-boppers to baby boomers to hip-hop-heads. The sound is state-of-theart retro soul, with touches of Motown, bossa nova and 1970s piano pop. But at its heart was that voice: giant, classic-sounding, promising emotional depth way beyond its years. More than any other album this year, 21 made you feel its pain – from the triple-hankie tear-jerker “Someone Like You” to ripsnorting revenge songs like “Rumour Has It,” where Adele rides a roiling groove and flattens everything in her path.

  1. 7.     Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX

Rather than being passed around from remixed to remixer, ‘We’re New’ Here benefits from the focused attention of Jamie Smith of The xx.

Scott-Heron’s original album of 2010, produced by XL head-honcho Richard Russell, let the poet’s crack-ravaged vocals do all the talking, lo-fi production hiding in the wings. Eschewing this, Smith uses Scott-Heron’s vocals as illustration to his industrial and innovative production. It’s his subtle, back-lit percussion which gives The xx their edge, and this album lets Smith turn things up a notch to create a bass-driven collection the dancefloor in Hoxton.

Last year witnessed dubstep implode, but from its ashes an exhilarating selection of electronic music emerged. Chameleon-like, Smith assumes many of these styles, makes them his own, and produces a sonic snapshot of dancefloors across the UK. NY is Killing Me pays homage to the original movement, carrying the dark swagger of early Benga, whilst the clangourous and spare percussion of Home and My Cloud shares a sound channelled by Mount Kimbie and early James Blake. The thuggish UK Funky of Lil Silva is present in Running, before it gives way to the 8-bit sound Ikonika spearheaded. The tripped-up beats and ephemeral melodies of The Crutch feels like a relative of Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder family – but this is not just an onslaught of club tracks. Moments of lightness appear in interludes and the exceptional euphoric endnote, I’ll Take Care of You.

Just like the radio that switches between frequencies in the opening of Ur Soul and Mine, Smith’s use of sampling tunes the listener in and out of his musical predecessors. He rewires a personal musical canon into something utterly contemporary. As Scott-Heron says in an interlude: “The spirits are your parents, your bloodstream moving through you constantly, because they want you to live on and because they want to live on too, they are trying all the time to tell you s*** and if you just listen to yourself, you will hear them.”

Those approaching this release as fans, exclusively, of either Scott-Heron or The xx might be at a loss, but this collection works on separate level. Whilst I’m New Here marked an introspective turn from Scott-Heron, this set offers a multi-layered retrospective of the music which bore and surrounds Jamie xx. It’s not merely a rehash of the original, but a cohesive, considered masterpiece in its own right.

  1. 8.     James Vincent McMorrow

A few of the artists that have influenced McMorrow’s style include Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and The Neptunes. In fact, Donny Hathaway is one of the primary motivations for McMorrow to basically take 3 years off to learn how to sing more convincingly. He then banished himself to a secluded beach house in Ireland and for 6 months created this art now titled Early in the Morning. For those familiar with the story behind Justin Vernon’s recording, this could be another reason why McMorrow is compared to Vernon.

It will come as no surprise to those who hear this album that McMorrow describes himself as a “quiet individual.” Early in the Morning is filled with tracks like “Breaking Hearts” and “From The Woods!!” that will get you hooked and keep you listening, not because of the complexity of the harmonies but because of the simple integrity of the songs. Recorded in a cabin with one mic and no professional production equipment or personnel within hundreds of miles, the album couldn’t have more integrity.

  1. 9.     Wild Beasts

Smother was created in relative isolation, in Wales, and it sounds like it: on Deeper, Tom Fleming sings that “all else falls away”, and while in the company of this record it’s entirely likely that the outside world will, indeed, fade into insignificance. It’s that sort of special collection, one that manifests an entirely believable, almost tangible soundworld which one can’t help but inhabit alongside its creators. And it’s only a few steps forward before the first rabbit hole blocks the path, into which a stumble is inevitable. Hayden Thorpe introduces Lion’s Share atop a synthesised throb; but it’s when the plaintive piano begins that the piece commences its hypnotic charm, and one becomes deeply enveloped. “What are you running from?” asks Fleming, here taking the lyrical spotlight more frequently than on the past two albums. Truth is that we’re not running from anything at all. Rather, we’re racing towards the band, eager to discover what’s around the next compositional turn.

Lion’s Share is gorgeous, no question about it. A simple, seductive song that opens an album which, largely, continues in a similar vein: here lies mystery, romance, tall tales told by men who surely wouldn’t just make this stuff up. It’s there in their eyes, the reality of the experience and the sincerity of their stories. Again, Thorpe’s thematically entrenched in a loved-one’s undergarments on more than one occasion: Bed of Nails is one such number, albeit with lines like “surround me like a warm bath” conveying a more emotional connection than the borderline smut of their last LP, Two Dancers. Plaything is a little more teasing, rather more distant with its affections – although it discusses uncertainty with what its protagonist’s paramour is thinking, suggesting tentativeness where once there was thrust and swagger. Invisible is wholly different – Fleming, flanked by understated instrumentation, seems lost in melancholy, offering farewells to “things I thought I’d want”; its final line, a literal kiss-off, is devastatingly exquisite. The song is another tender, almost unsettlingly touching moment on a collection replete with them.

  1. 10.  Yuck

Two of Yuck’s members, singer/guitarist Daniel Blumberg and guitarist Max Bloom, used to play in Cajun Dance Party: ambitious and typically spazzy post-Arctic Monkeys NME faves who issued a Bernard Butler-produced debut album, The Colourful Life, in 2008 on XL. Together Blumberg, Bloom, drummer Jonny Rogoff, and bass player Mariko Doi, joined on certain tracks by part-time backing singer Ilana Blumberg, have taken a giant step forward. As Blumberg sang with his old band, the one he started as a 15-year-old, “This is now and that was then.” Or as he sings now, on instantly searing album opener, “Get Away”: “I can’t get this feeling off my mind.” Teenage Fanclub meets Nirvana and produces something spinetingling in its own right.

  1. 11.  The Decemberists

The Decemberists’ first Number One album was their easiest to love at first spin, a smart step back from the ornate-epic reach of 2009’s The Hazards of Love. Singer-songwriter Colin Meloy packs his storytelling eccentricities into popsong packages of verse, hook and country-Smiths jangle, arranged with the introspective simplicity of Neil Young’s Harvest. It is hard to believe that Meloy was already planning a long sabbatical before this album was made. The earthy texture and economic buoyancy of “Calamity Song” and “Down by the Water” ensure that he – and his band – will be missed.

  1. 12.  Feist

“Get it right, get it right, get it right,” sings Leslie Feist on her fourth album. Romantic strife is the theme, running through the shivery folk rock of “Comfort Me” and a series of tough-minded ballads. Hooks surface in unexpected places, and Feist’s supple voice pushes toward gospel – the promise that, someday, she’ll get it right.

  1. 13.  James Blake

The James Blake album is where Dubstep came of age. On The Wilhelm Scream, the lyrics about being suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by love are gradually submerged beneath crackling static and chords that start out echoing blues and gospel but turn increasingly dissonant, while I Never Learnt to Share’s tale of family dysfunction – summed up in one, mournful, endlessly repeated line – is set to music that seems to have been blown apart; the sounds don’t properly connect with each other. More often, however, working out exactly what he’s driving at is like trying to grasp vapour, not least on I Mind: three minutes of incomprehensible vocal loops speeding up and slowing down, slipping in and out of time with the backing track, which unexpectedly shifts from the usual agonised crawl to a kind of pattering, vaguely Latin-American rhythm midway through. It’s worth pointing out that its incomprehensibility isn’t a failing. Even at its most impenetrable, the album leaves you in a state of ecstatic bewilderment with no idea where the man might go next.

  1. 14.  Frank Ocean

New Orleans born songwriter Christopher Francis Ocean established himself as a solo artist of Worldwide acclaim in 2011. The 24 year-old OFWGKTA member moved from Louisianna to Los Angeles following hurricane Katrina to work on his first album, and legally changed his name from Christopher “”Lonny”” Breaux shortly after.

In L.A. the singer soon hooked up with the Odd Future collective and began work writing for the likes of Brandy, John Legend and most recently Beyonce on I Miss You. Ocean was also called up to work on two tracks from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne.

Collaborations aside, it was Ocean’s solo work which garnered most praise. Signed to Def Jam in 2009, Ocean delivered his debut mixtape nostalgia,ULTRA earlier this year, winning fans on both side of the Atlantic, including Zane Lowe, who debuted tracks from the release on Radio 1 in November. World class in one short hop – his peers must be feeling sick

  1. 15.  The Weeknd

Yes on the surface it doesn’t look auspicious. The work of Toronto singer Abel Tesfaye and producers Doc McKinney and Illangelo (Drake producer Noah “40” Shebib, is not, as has been reported, involved in the project), it should be a standard sub r n’ b project, but it isn’t. House of Balloons is a remarkably confident, often challenging work that excels at both being forward-thinking, genre-mash-up dance music and good old-fashioned songwriting.

What makes this whole thing work in an album context is that all the thematic and sonic pieces fit together – these weird, morning-after tales of lust, hurt, and over-indulgence (“Bring the drugs, baby, I can bring my pain,” goes one refrain) are matched by this incredibly lush, downcast music. Not since the xx’s debut has there been a more moody, sheer sky-at-night release.

Fifteen of the best here:

http://www.mediafire.com/file/sy3j2bmfqf82zc3/Roy%20Stannard%20Top%2015%202011.zip

Songs to make you cry

Here are the Top of the Blubs

  1. Brian Kennedy – Captured
  2. Jade – Fly on Strangewings
  3. Van Morrison – Coney Island
  4. Joni Mitchell – A Case of You
  5. Clifford T Ward – Home Thoughts from Abroad
  6. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
  7. Tom Baxter – Almost There
  8. Wendy & Lisa – The Life
  9. Tracey Thorn – By Piccadilly Station I sat down and Wept
  10. Indigo Girls – History of Us
  11. Simply Red – Maybe Someday
  12. Mount Desolation – Coming Home
  13. Amy Macdonald – What Happiness Means to Me
  14. Olafur Arnalds – 3055
  15. A Certain Ratio – The Big E (I won’t stop loving you)
  16. Bob Dylan – Workingman Blues #2
  17. Cat Stevens – Lilywhite
  18. Cathy Burton – Hollow
  19. Clare Maguire – Hope there’s someone
  20. Damien Rice – Cold Water
  21. Five for Fighting – 100 Years
  22. Fleetwood Mac – Landslide
  23. Gerry & the Pacemakers – You’ll never walk alone
  24. Horse – Careful
  25. Leon Russell – A Song for You
  26. Level 42 – It’s Over (remix)
  27. Mike Scott – What do you want me to do
  28. Renaissance – Northern Lights
  29. Shelagh McDonald – Stargazer
  30. Something Corporate – Konstantine
  31. The Fat Lady Sings – Arclight
  32. The Hollies – He ain’t heavy
  33. The Psychedelic Furs – The Ghost in You
  34. Guillemots – We’re Here
  35. Willie Nelson – you were always on my mind

Nick Clegg recently admitted that he sometimes cried when listening to certain pieces of music. In the same interview he also said that he didn’t want to become a ‘human punchbag’ for the Coalition Government. It is not recorded whether the two things are connected. As someone who is urging us to put on a brave face as his Government do a ‘repair job’ on the economy, I would ask which of his two faces should we emulate? Anyway, as CS Lewis put it, we are sometimes ‘surprised by joy’ in our everyday lives and this can include music, inducing tears and other forms of emotion. An experience triggered by strong memories, the loss of a loved one, the start or end of a relationship or by just experiencing the wonders of nature on a beautiful Spring day whilst listening on an iPod. For the first time, Nick set me to thinking. Which songs have moved me to tears of exhilaration as well of sadness? Tear smudged and peppered with sparkles of happiness they follow below:

  1.  Brian Kennedy – the most beautiful male voice in the world kills you in the last refrain
  2. Jade – for a moment in the Sixties everything was possible..
  3. Van Morrison – ‘Why can’t it be like this all the time?’
  4. Joni Mitchell – Joni the woman sings Joni the girl. The insight of age tugs at you.
  5. Clifford T Ward – a small death abroad, Keats, Browning and other romantic poets..
  6. Tracy Chapman – We’ve all driven a fast car and left people behind.
  7. Tom Baxter – A relationship that didn’t quite make it. Exquisite.
  8. Wendy & Lisa – Not just any life, the Life.
  9. Tracey Thorn – The saddest voice in the world singing about crying. Perfect.
  10. Indigo Girls – Don’t listen to this alone. The references to Paris will pierce your soul.
  11. Simply Red – Mick Hucknall knew how to manipulate your heartstrings. On this he means it.
  12. Mount Desolation – Keane with emotion. Come home.
  13. Amy Macdonald – Happy and sad all at the same time.
  14. Olafur Arnalds – The sole instrumental. You’ll understand why it’s here.
  15. A Certain Ratio – Manchester in the rain. You won’t stop loving this.
  16. Bob Dylan – A hymn – or an elegy to the working man?
  17. Cat Stevens – Once we were all lilywhite..
  18. Cathy Burton – One of the saddest post-breakup songs ever – and she’s from Littlehampton, the other LA.
  19. Clare Maguire – sings Anthony Johnson in a style so intimate and sad you can hear her crying inside.
  20. Damien Rice – As cold as it gets. The strings alone will destroy you, even before the ‘If I lost you’ refrain and the eery reverse vocals.
  21. Five for Fighting – a commentary on getting old. ‘Fifty, there’s still time for you.’ Phew.
  22. Fleetwood Mac – On the impossibility of rebuilding lives and relationships. Stevie Nicks should know.
  23. Gerry & the Pacemakers – It’s a football thing…
  24. Horse – Unimaginably beautiful Scottish voice. She’s a secret few people know about. Never has being captured sounded more liberating.
  25. Leon Russell – four decades on, this gets me every time..
  26. Level 42 – Beautiful and unbearably melancholic lament to the end of a relationship.
  27. Mike Scott – Whispers ‘I’m listening’. Who to? God, of course.
  28. Renaissance – ‘The Northern Lights are in my heart and my mind, they guide me back to you..’ Beautiful song, beautifully sung by Annie Haslam.
  29. Shelagh McDonald – a choir of what sound like monks join in and create havoc with the emotions
  30. Something Corporate – 9 minutes of angst. By now you’ll be able to handle it..
  31. The Fat Lady Sings – ‘When you shine, you burn me down..’ The Irish always do this sort of thing best..
  32. The Hollies – Yes, it was used for a beer ad. No, Neil Diamond hasn’t written anything better.
  33. The Psychedelic Furs – There’s a ghost in all of us.
  34. Guillemots – Making the most of every day. We’re here. It’s as simple and as profound as that.
  35. Willie Nelson – Even when he’s happy, Willie still sounds sad. This song will finish you off.

Sad, yes, but all these songs are emotional in a good way. Keep your ‘kerchiefs handy, crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy the emotional slalem.

http://www.mediafire.com/?ayf3spnvm6nix51

A Place in the Sun – my love affair with Tracey Thorn

Seashells and carousels – Tracey Thorn in The Marine Girls
I first stumbled across Tracey Thorn on the Cherry Red compilation ‘Pillow and Prayers’ in 1983. She had three songs on the album under her own name, The Marine Girls and Everything but the Girl. I was astounded by the maturity, magical resonance and mellifluous marshmellowness of her voice. I also loved the feeling of walking along Springtide beaches staring into rockpools that her voice conveyed.

I was at the leftish University of Sussex, camping out on the Vice-Chancellor’s lawn, protesting in a kind of self-harming way by occupying the Administration Block and thwarting attempts to distribute student grants (remember those?) to indigent students.  I would hang out in the Pulse Cafe at Sussex University, making out as a callow proto-revolutionary in Mandela Hall, visiting the Vinyl Demand record shop off Trafalgar Street, dipping into the vaguely seditious Solstice Bookshop (run by contemporary Paul Bonett, now a successful avant garde Estate Agent in Brighton) and engaging in some highly self-indulgent pirate radio activity.

Solstice Bookshop in the late 70s, Trafalgar St, Brighton

For a boy from Southend, transplanted to the exciting and Graham Greeneian Brighton landscape, Tracey Thorn’s melancholic voice accompanied this Bohemian existence perfectly and I rushed out to buy as much of her work as I could.

The all-female Marine Girls were formed by Tracey with her schoolmates Gina Hartman and Jane Fox in Hatfield, Herts England in 1980. At first, Tracey Thorn played guitar, with Gina on vocals and Jane on bass. There was a drummer shortage so the band applied necessity to invention and pursued a minimalist approach to arrangements. Gina Hartman sang on ‘A Place in the Sun’  and recorded the first album, ‘Beach Party’ before leaving (voluntarily) and was replaced by Jane Fox’s younger sister, Alice Fox on vocals. This was before Tracey Thorn first put voice to mic. The original trio recorded a tape called ‘A Day by the Sea’ and sold it to their mates. The Marine Girls eventually released two albums in the UK – 1982’s ‘Beach Party’ and 1983’s ‘Lazy Ways’. ‘Lazy Ways’ was produced by the band’s mentor, Stuart Moxham of Young Marble Giants.

The video for early single  ‘A Place in the Sun’ was shot on Brighton Beach and features some background footage of the now derelict West Pier. I looked in vain in the video for a glimpse of me with a crocodile of 100 German foreign language students – a Summer job I had at the time.

Whilst at Hull University, Tracey began writing her own material as the logistics of getting back south to write with the rest of the band was difficult between university breaks. The Marine Girls broke up after Tracey and Alice Fox fell out following a concert in Glasgow in 1983. Tracey then recorded her solo album ‘A Distant Shore’ which influenced Curt Cobain and others, before joining Ben Watt in Everything but the Girl. In 1997 Cherry Red Records packaged the two Marine Girls’ albums onto one CD and 4 years later spinART reissued the albums in the US.

 “We never really paid much attention to these so-called ‘rules’ about what a band was supposed to be,” Tracey said. “We didn’t know anyone who played drums, for example, so we just formed a band without a drummer.”
 
The very minimalism of the sound, instead of placing the album in an envelope between post-punk and the advent of the ‘Twee’ (Altered Images etc) movement, creates a timeless voice from the eighties bedsit low-fi chamber. Tracey’s unique voice remains a siren call from the caves of the southern isles which forever recreates the hours spent listening to these albums on headsets and Walkman on the stony, yet strangely comforting beaches of Brighton, Hove and Worthing.

Play these albums now and enjoy the waves gently lapping at the toes of your imagination.

Credits:

Bass – Jane Fox (tracks: 1 to 31)
Guitar – Tracey Thorn (tracks: 1 to 31)
Percussion – Alice Fox (tracks: 15 to 31), Gina Hartman (tracks: 15 to 31)
Saxophone – Timothy Charles Hall (tracks: 1 to 14)
Vocals – Alice Fox (tracks: 1 to 31), Gina Hartman (tracks: 15 to 31), Tracey Thorn (tracks: 1 to 31)

Notes:

Lazy Ways (Tracks 1 to 14)
‘Originally issued in album format 1983 BRED 44, and as a double play cassette with Beach Party C BRED 44’
Beach Party (Tracks 15 to 31)
‘Originally issued in album format 1981, Licensed from Whaam Records reissued on Cherry Red Records 1987 BRED 75′

Track Listing:

Lazy Ways

1. A Place In The Sun (2:31)
2. Leave Me With The Boy (1:50)
3. Falling Away (1:46)
4. Love To Know (2:52)
5. A Different Light (2:22)
6. Sunshine Blue (2:05)
7. Second Sight (2:58)
8. Don’t Come Back (2:01)
9. That Fink.Jazz-Me-Blues Boy (1:32)
10. Fever (2:14)
11. Shell Island (2:27)
12. Lazy Ways (2:42)
13. Such A Thing.. (2:22)
14. You Must Be Mad (2:02)

Beach Party
15. In Love (1:53)
16. Fridays (2:03)
17. Tonight? (1:19)
18. Times We Used To Spend (1:41)
19. Flying Over Russia (2:05)
20. Tutti Lo Sanno (2:21)
21. All Dressed Up (1:46)
22. Honey (2:02)
23. Holiday Song (2:12)
24. He Got The Girl (1:24)
25. Day/Night Dreams (1:10)
26. Promises (1:29)
27. Silent Red (1:33)
28. Dishonesty (2:16)
29. 20,000 Leagues (2:23)
30. Marine Girls (1:39)

31. The Lure of the Rock Pools (1:50) 

Marine Girls – A Place in the Sun – original video shot in Brighton 1982 – featuring rare footage of the West Pier and Peter Pan’s Playground:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kjABf474jw

http://www.mediafire.com/?tzgmwntjz55