shotofbeauty

Albums: The Ten Of 2009

In review|BOOK on January 6, 2010 at 11:41 am

By Jonathan Dadds

Grammatics – Grammatics

The debut album of Leeds based Grammatics, released back in March, was easily one of the highlights of my musical year. Starting off strong with the brilliant Shadow Committee, the album starts with a fairly upbeat tone. The use of a cello as a main instrument and the slightly irregular timing may seem a bit odd to some people at first, but the songs still sound fresh after a silly number of listens, and I have no doubts they still will this time next year.

Marmaduke Duke – Duke Pandemonium

I was amazed to see this album released finally. Originally planned for 2006, the closure of original record label Captains Of Industry meant that it seemed unlikely that this would ever see the light of day. Thankfully, picked up by 13th Floor, the album was finally released, with far more marketing than the band, comprised of Sucioperro’s JP Reid and Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil, could have hoped for, which ended with Radio 1 airplay and major press getting involved too. Compared to their previous effort The Magnificent Duke, the album is considerably more listenable, the band this time trying their hand at pop music. It’s a good attempt too, with songs like Je Suis Un Funky Homme and Everybody Dance being highly infectious songs.

Manchester Orchestra – Mean everything to nothing

Manchester Orchestra have recently been picking up a lot more fans and I think this fantastic new album may be to blame. Starting with the up beat The Only One the album starts in great form, before moving on to my highlight of the album Shake It Out which is for the most part the most rock-out song the band have done, although it takes a more serious swing at the end. The album ends with a fairly weird combination of relationship states; the first being the title track Mean Everything To Nothing, in which frontman Andy Hull claims the person the song is about means everything to nothing, except him, and the second being The River in which he tells them he will leave them the first chance he gets. A bit confusing, but overall a wonderful album with some particularly amazing vocal performances.

Bombay Bicycle Club – I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose

Bombay Bicycle Club are a band who I had never heard of until I stumbled in front of the main stage at this years Offset Festival, and was just blown away instantly. I decided I had to pick up a copy of this, their debut album, as soon as I could. It didn’t disappoint. The guitars are amazing and it’s hard not to love Jack Steadman’s vocals. Lamplight is one of the highlights of the album, with it’s soothing indie sound that still retains originality. The fun riff of It’s Always Like This saw people dancing (read: swaying from side to side with their hands in their pockets) when it was played live, and it definitely transfers well to record.

The Xcerts – In The Cold Wind We Smile

When I checked out this album in September upon realising they were to be supporting Idlewild on their UK tour, I must admit I had high expectations (Scottish band, supporting Idlewild, go figure!) so when I was blown away, I knew I was onto a winner. Starting with an instrumental (which now translates to “Daddsy, turn your hi-fi up!”), the album then hits home with the amazing Home Verses Home, and doesn’t really lose pace throughout. The highlight has to be the amazing Crisis In The Slow Lane, which contains probably the best sing-along chorus of the year. If there was one album on this list I’d say you need to have a listen to, this would be it.

Biffy Clyro – Only Revolutions

After being disappointed by their previous album, Puzzle, I was hoping that this would be the Biffy Clyro album that brought them back to their old sound, and in that respect the album’s a bit of a letdown. It has nothing on Vertigo Of Bliss. So why is it in my top ten? Well, ignoring the fact that the band have released better albums, it’s a brilliant album in its own right. The horn section on The Captain is brilliant, and the way That Golden Rule is just riff after riff is brilliant. I’m a sucker for the production on Boom, Blast & Ruin, and Cloud Of Stink is also great. It’s not quite as complex as their older material but it still does what it should do, it’s a great rock album.

Mew – No More Stories Are Told Today…

This album starts in the weirdest way possible, with some kind of crazy reversed vocals. Maybe it was written as a deterrent, to keep people who dismiss an album on its first song away from the goods within. Then again, even with its weird vocals, this song still sounds amazing. By the time the album gets going in Introducing Palace Players the guitars keep the weirdness going, but thankfully the vocals return to normal, letting us enjoy Jonas Bjerre’s vocals and wonderful lyrics.  Their single Repeaterbeater is another display of the talent of the band, the choruses a mass of noise, although still very listenable. The album ends with the incredibly calm track Reprise, which feels like a five-minute goodbye. A beautiful album.

And So I Watch You From Afar – And So I Watch You From Afar

And So I Watch You From Afar are an Irish band who like their big riffs and loud guitars, and this album demonstrates that perfectly. With the perfectly named opener Set Guitars To Kill the band start off well, with many riffs, loud distorted bits and a sudden “woo!” thrown in for good measure. The slightly long I Capture Castles is at times beautiful, and then suddenly it will turn into a wall of sound. On the strength of this album I can’t wait to see them live.

We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls

Like a lot of albums this year, I brought this album on the strength of their live show. When I saw them the brilliant vocals were a highlight for me so it’s good to hear the strength of Adam Thompson’s voice transferring to record. It’s good musically too though, with tracks like Quiet Little Voices and It’s Thunder and It’s Lightening standing out.

Tubelord – Our First American Friends

With quite a following behind them now it was good to see Tubelord’s first full length released. Starting with the calm and quiet intro to Your Bed Is Kind Of Frightening the band then burst to life. The album has quite a poppy feel to it, although quite how they’ve managed it throwing in odd time signatures and some fantastic guitar work is beyond me. I particularly love Propeller, which is pulled along with some fantastic bass playing, and nice vocals. I Am Azerrad is my standout track from this album. It’s an amazing track, named after journalist/writer Michael Azerrad (read his article on this here: http://www.spin.com/articles/lyrical-assassin , it’s a pretty good read), in which they announce “I’ll kill today, I’ll kill you, Azerrad.”

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