Tuesday, 1 February 2011

"I have a talent, a wonderful thing, cause everyone listens when I start to sing" Abba

I went into town. It rained, there were a lot of people and my tights had a very flaccid and thus irritating gusset. I came home. Sometimes its safer just to stay in, I'm beginning to think agoraphobics have the right idea.

When I got home, I added some more songs to my Christmas Nano and it got me thinking about how much I love music. Some of my best memories are based around music. I remember as a child at christmas, listening to the Phil Spector album (on blue vinyl!) and I remember dancing around the front room with my Dad to Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume 1 album. He used to let me stand on his feet as he moved around the room. My Dad, not Elton John. And then after my mother left and my Grandmother came to stay with us for a while to help my Dad look after us, I remember doing little dance shows for her on the rug to Abba. What a treat for her! And what a show off I was. I remember how excited I was after buying my first 7 inch (record...) , it was a toss up between Madonna's 'Borderline' and Diana Ross' 'Chain Reaction'. Madonna won that contest. Then I remember, my first album, Madonna again and 'Like a Virgin'. I was 9 years old and I remember my Dad being pretty annoyed about it, which wasn't helped when I asked him what a virgin was. He didn't tell me. I remember as a teenager going to a friends house and learning all the words to Charles and Eddies' 'Would I lie to you?', and the first time I saw Beck on Top of The Pops. Beck actually got me expelled from the Brownies. (TOTP clashed with the Brownies, subsequently I was late every week and eventually got asked to leave. I'd been there over a year and only managed to get the 'Homemakers' badge which involved lighting a match and then making a cup of tea. Pointless).

I still love music and the memories it can evoke and the way it can make you feel. For example, whilst I was trudging around today in the rain, with a baggy undercarriage, feeling a bit ill and worrying about the freehold, as soon as I put the Nano on, I instantly felt better. I would go so far as to say, I felt lifted. I think my dream job would be a singer, I recall saying to my friend not that long ago, that if I could have one wish, it would be to be in Girls Aloud. Thinking about it now, wine was probably involved in the conversation, but I still think it would be pretty amazing to be in Girls Aloud. Or The White Stripes. If I had the choice of either being an amazing painter for example, or being able to sing, I would definitely love to be able to sing.

So in the spirit of sharing, here are my top 5 albums from last year. I don't think they were all released last year, but that's when I heard them first:

Plan B - The Defamation of Strickland Banks
iTunes classes this album as 'rap', but I'm not too sure about that. I usually class rap as shouty sweary music, which I don't like, but this album is awesome. It's the kind of album that if you listen to it on your headphones it gives you goose bumps and makes you walk faster. Sometimes, when I listen to it, I pretend I'm in a pop video. Ha! Typing that just made me laugh out loud. So, I'm a loser, so what.

The thing about this album is that its almost like an opera or a piece of 'musical theatre'. There's a story that takes you through the album which I think is pretty clever. Plan B (singer Ben Drew) is a good old East End boy who went to school in Ingatestone, near where I grew up, so he is obviously a good egg. He has an amazingly soulful voice which is in quite a contrast to what he sings / raps about on this album but that's part of its charm I think. I would definitely recommend this album and score it 9 prison cells out of a possible 10.


Broken Bells - Broken Bells
I first heard of Broken Bells while listening to Spotify and instantly fell in love with their song 'The High Road'. It took quite a bit of sniffing around to find out who they were and had to order the album on Amazon, but it was definitely worth the wait. Broken Bells are a collaboration between Dangermouse and the singer from the Shins, James Mercer, both of whom I like. It's a really interesting album and quite hard to explain the type of music it is. iTunes classifies it as 'alternative' which isn't particularly helpful, but some of it sounds quite 80's to me and there isn't one duff song on the album in my opinion. I would rate this album 8 dongs (dongs of the bell . . .  Poor I know) out of a possible 10. I couldn't find the proper video but below is a link to 'The High Road' accompanied by a boring black and white photo.


Mark Knopfler + Emmylou Harris - All the Roadrunning
I'm not really into Country Music (which iTunes says this is), but this album is another great collaboration. I think this album is a few years old but it was another gem from Spotify at the end of last year. Its a good album to stick on after dinner, I think it must be good for digestion it's so laid back. A couple of the tracks are a bit 'Dire Straitsy' but most of them are pretty good, for something different. I would rate this album 7 cowboy hats out of a possible 10. Again, please see below an awful link.


Ellie Goulding - Lights
This album is a real grower. I wasn't too keen on 'Starry Eyed' but kept seeing posters up for the album and read some very good reviews, so caved in and bought it. At first I only liked about 3 songs but I'm glad I stuck with it as I now I pretty much love the whole album. Its good old fashioned pop and good cleaning music that I sing a long to having learnt all the words (sorry neighbours). Also, I'm a sucker for a talented female singer. I give 'Lights' 8 bulbs out of 10. Not sure what the video below is about but don't let that put you off.


Erik Hassle - Pieces
Now, I'm not really sure how this snuck into the top 5, but I think its more to do with the fact that firstly Erik Hassle is Swedish, secondly his name is Erik Hassle (genius) and thirdly he looks like a wonky faced, permed ginger Napolean Dynamite. Amazing. Google image him. I have no idea how I stumbled across him and what was going through my mind when I actually purchased this album but it's a total guilty pleasure/dirty secret. If Ellie Goulding is good for cleaning then the Hassle is excellent gardening music. It really gets you pumped up for an afternoon of weeding. It's poptastic. There are probably only about 5 songs I can listen too on this due to the appallingly cheesy lyrics but his first language isn't English so I'll let him off. He certainly sings better in English than I do in Swedish.  'Love me to pieces' is the best song on this album. I give this album 5 smorgasbords out of a possible 10 (4 for the hair and 1 for the cheese).


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