9 Best Summer Party Songs

Best Summer Party Songs

Henry: Michael, how are you finding popular culture this summer? I was pleasantly surprised by The Wolverine when we saw it – and it seems everyone else was too.

Michael: To be perfectly honest, I’ve missed more than I should. I’m fairly sure I’m the last person on Earth not to have seen Man of Steel! That said, Wolverine was much better than I expected and I’ve been loving Ray Donovan.

H: Wolverine’s brother! For real, I re-watched Wolverine’s X-Men Origins film  the other day … yeesh. Onto happier news, and we thought we’d cover a final summer installment for the year.

M: Literally so excited that that stunning link was a happy accident! And yeah, you only need so many types of summer songs so here are the last of them. [Read more...]

The Best New Music of 2013

bestmusic2013

This is not particularly summery. It rained today in London.

 

M: Sixty percent of the year is up already and so Henry and I felt that it high time for us to take a look at the best music of the year so far. Caution, despite its title, One Direction’s ‘Best Song Ever’ won’t be making the cut.

H: I was in HMV on Oxford Street and checked out the chart music for this article and boy is there some stuff out there at the moment so now seems as good a time as any to filter through some of it. Oh, and yes I’ve watched OD’s ‘Best Song Ever’ and it makes me feel so many things – none of which were the creators’ intention I am certain.  [Read more...]

The Best Debut Albums

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We made ALL of this

Michael: While some artists have gone on to do bigger and better things than their debuts, most of those that pull off great debuts plunge into mediocrity (or worse). But for today, we’ll freeze these artists in time, at the peak of their powers. Heads up: Commercial success does not justify a good debut so don’t expect Tom Odell and Bastille featuring.

Henry: Yup, and while not all these artists have continued to artistic mediocrity, there was something fresh and unexpected about their debut that made them truly memorable. And another heads up: We’re not mentioning The Strokes because we’re not everybody else.

Youth & Young Manhood – Kings of Leon

H: It is so hot right now which – apart from a transition to wifebeaters (only one of us is guilty of this) – means that a lot of Kings of Leon is played in my sweltering London room. It’s got a sweaty, Southern edge (evocative of SEASFIRE’s Heartbeat) that makes it a perfect backdrop to my current state (and I am quite literally, going Back Down South this October for a cousin’s wedding). And as Kings Of Leon have only just begun to release new music, it’s been a fairly incisive look through their back-alogue and especially their really-quite-fantastic, but really-quite-overlooked debut album (in fairness the NME called it the one of ‘the best debuts of the past ten years’). And I’m not bashing KoL’s latest efforts (I have the vinyl for Come Around Sundown), Youth & Young Manhood burst onto the scene with a fresh and gnarly take on Southern Discomfort. It was bottled rock n’ roll, taking no prisoners angst. And while that’s definitely present in their subsequent albums (of which Because Of The Times marks a highlight), it was somewhat streamlined. When they reached their commercial peak with Only by the Night – there was a whole summer of just ‘Sex on Fire’, ‘Use Somebody’ and ‘Revelry’, it wasn’t disappointing so much as frustrating that people were buying into a band at their most generic. Take a stumble back to their debut and you’ll find them rough-cut and unadulterated. ‘Wasted Time’ is quintessential KoL swag, while ‘California Waiting’ is a mumbly, staggering joy-ride of a song.

M: I came to Kings of Leon a touch late and missed their debut (to be fair, I was 9) only arriving for The Bucket and Aha Shake Heatbreak  the following year. That said, after Only By The Night kind of disappointed me and felt like a backwards step for the band, I decided to take a couple back myself and listen to their debut. And right now, in the middle of a ridonculous heat wave (it’s 32 degrees yo!) , I am very glad I did. It is literally perfect, everything that makes Southern rock so refreshing. ‘Molly’s Chambers’ is an absolute belter as well.

Kings Of Leon – California Waiting

Silent Alarm – Bloc Party

M: They may now have fallen into a deep musical and creative abyss but once, Bloc Party were the most exciting band in British music since The Cure. Kele Okereke delved into romance, drugs and politics as he produced lyrics that really tried to truly represent life in twenty-first century Britain as a young man, most of the time, very successfully. On top of this, the music Bloc Party created to compliment Kele’s passionate vocals was simply out of this world, and paved the way for a new type of dance movement. Although Bloc Party followed up Silent Alarm with the strong sophomore effort A Weekend In The City, they would never again even attempt to reach the heights they did on their perfectly imperfect debut. Listening to Four literally depressed me after writing this.

H: Eek, do you think Bloc Party just refresh and re-read the Wikipedia for Silent Alarm and remember the good ol’ days? I like Silent Alarm a lot but some of it (notably ‘Like Eating Glass’) runs into Hard-Fi territory for me, in its generic sounding, rushed-vocals mannerisms. I think that’s what you mean by ‘most of the time’ and in fairness, it’s only because it anticipated long, dark years of British landfill indie. For the most part, it’s a well-crafted debut that boasts all the trademarks that Bloc Party would become known for. It might be soppy but ‘Blue Light’ was always my favourite.

Bloc Party-Like Eating Glass

19 – Adele

H: Before she was 21, she was 19 and before she was commercially streamlined for mega-success, Adele possessed this uncut, unedited London cheeky charm. And look, 21 is a great album and much less produced than you’d expect (or remember) but 19 was tender and moving and sweetly imperfect. ‘Chasing Pavements’ became the hit but ‘Hometown Glory’ is one of the most beautiful singles that Adele has ever produced and it’s her at her most vulnerable and unprotected.

M: Adele is just crazy talented. I mean ‘Hometown Glory’, a single that helped her debut album sell millions of copies, while showcasing her spectacular voice and gift for simple yet elegant lyrics, was written in ten minutes. I mean TEN MINUTES!? Are you kidding Adele!? 19 is packed full of her enveloping melodies and moments of genuine drama that make for a magnificently powerful record. And it all seems scarcely possible when you think she was still a chain-smoking teenager.

Adele – Hometown Glory

Turn On The Bright Lights – Interpol

M: “We’re not mentioning The Strokes”.. well we are, but only in passing. Their debut in 2001 Is This It drastically altered the music landscape at the time, showcasing New York’s thriving music scene to the world. After its release, the world came begging for more. Less massive party and more smoking in a dim lit room, Interpol, although from NYC, were very different from The Strokes. Paul Banks’ tortured lyrics and dark vocals evoked a string of comparisons to The Cure and, most importantly, Joy Division. Turn On The Bright Lights centres itself around untangling the complicated relationships of the band and gives, well, a fucking bleak take on them.  The brilliance of each song however, was in its nature as a snapshot, an expression of emotion around one moment not around a general state of melancholy. It is unapologetically honest but by no means are the band searching out sympathy. ‘Obstacle 1′ is one of the finest songs of the decade and Turn On The Bright Lights undeniably defined the decade, spawning clones everywhere. And while Interpol never quite found the same spark again and have slowly drifted away, it is hard to say that indie rock would be anywhere near the same as it is now without Interpol’s magic debut, even if it is not they who are reaping the rewards.

H: Interpol will never not remind me of my brother. Growing up, they were, in my Younger Brother Eyes, the coolest band to touch Earth. As such, I’ve always been slightly intimidated by them. Their debut is a brilliantly messy album that swerves from  gravelly vocals to intricate emotions masterfully. The video for ‘Obstacle 1′ was directed by Floria Sigismondi who’s also responsible for a handful of Katy Perry and The Raconteurs videos, too. But I’ve stumbled courageously on and fallen more and more in love with Interpol’s debut effort. ‘Say Hello To The Angels’ is a tender exercise in loss while ‘The New’ is just plain tender.

interpol-obstacle 1

Rise Ye Sunken Ships – We Are Augustines

M: This is, straight up, a perfect album. Now I know, by picking a relatively unknown debut, I have now given Henry some homework (which he really should have done already since I have been telling him to listen to We Are Augustines since the album came out) but I am confident he will thank me later. We Are Augustines were born out of the ashes of former band Pela with guitarist Billy McCarthy and bassist Eric Sanderson starting the new band at the end of 2010. Their debut in the summer of 2011 is one of the most breathtaking portraits of emotion you could ever hope to hear on a record. McCarthy’s experiences with his mother and brother, both of whom were diagnosed as schizophrenic, and then his brother’s suicide, are the core of the record. There is real emotion packed into every song and McCarthy’s soulful vocals make his words all the more poignant. The stunning tribute to his brother ’Book of James’ is an absolute highlight of one of the great debuts that somehow is yet to be universally heard and appreciated.

H: I scooped this out of the depths of my iTunes and I’m glad I did. ‘Book of James’ is a heart-breaking highlight of the album, bursting with loaded imagery. ‘East Los Angeles’ is so my kind of track as well: It’s a talky single in a non-annoying The Smiths mould. Actually the whole album sounds a lot like non-annoying Mumford, which is the right side of Mumford to be on.

We Are Augustines – Book of James

Everything All the Time – Band of Horses

H: This is an … odd choice because the band probably actually got better on subsequent albums but this is such an arresting debut album that I don’t care. An extension of their intial EP, Band of Horses built upon their sound which is best described as melancholic dream-indie-pop. ‘The Funeral’ haunted my teenage years (probably because of The O.C, maybe?) but ‘The First Song’ struck the closest chord for me which is rather fitting for an article about firsts. It’s a touch album for any sensitive indie-rocker, one that feels emotional but not self-indulgent.

M: With one of my favourite album titles of all time (taken from Radiohead’s majestic Idioteque and indeed our blog Whatsapp group name), Band of Horses set themselves up as masters of melancholia. While not quite The National (who ever will be?), their debut is a riveting record of foreboding build ups, released with epic choruses. As Henry rightly says, The Funeral is equal parts haunting and exalting and has only really been matched by the band in power with Is There A Ghost, the spiritual successor on the next album. It is an astonishing debut and no wonder then that the LP has found such a lasting place in both of our sonic hearts.

Band Of Horses – The First Song

 

 

 

 

The Best Summer Songs

 Best Summer Songs

25 more perfectly aligned summer tunes, from your favourite indie, rock and pop artists.

Because everyone (mainly us) enjoyed our last post about the 25 best summer songs, we’d thought we’d load you up with 25 more for your playlists. Because now that summer’s in full-swing in England, there’s no better time to blast out music related to living in California!

[Read more...]

The 8 Best Indie Summer Songs

Hunter S Thompson

He knows how to Summer

If you’re a Jack Kerouac or Hunter S Thompson reader, you need your indie summer playlist ASAP for your coming life-affirming misadventures over the next few months. Thankfully we’ve got eight tracks to get you on your way. [Read more...]

The 12 Best Deep House Songs

Hackman

The times, they are a-changing, and deep house has taken the mainstream by storm over the last year. I don’t want no music snobs coming and telling me deep house has been around since the 1980s, these are the twelve best deep house songs for 2013. [Read more...]

Get on the HYPE: Don’t Swallow the Cap – The National

The_National_2

Jonah has clearly left Can You Hear This based on his lack of content. Awks.. [Read more...]

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