Today I fancied listening to something a bit chilled so I dug out this album from the iPod archive. I’m pretty sure we have all bought albums on the strength of one track, and in this case it was The Finest because it features Alexander O’Neal and was produced by Jam and Lewis. It has that classic 80’s jazz funk/soul sound with deep bass lines and electronic drums which I would normally enjoy but I have to say I found this album a bit of a tough listen. I’m all for a bit of moodiness but for me many of the tracks edged too far into the dreary. The lead vocal is almost stand-offish and I can’t quite get the feeling behind it. Still if this sounds like your thing then give it a try, maybe it just wasn’t the right day for it.
Standout track: The Finest
Finally got to see Haim live last night! To celebrate their new album they held a a special one-off gig at the Electric Ballroom in London, and it was fantastic! Definitely one of my favourite shows ever, and the album is pretty great too. It continues to blend indie rock, pop and RnB with their unique harmonies making a sound that is their own. I like a band whose music isn’t easily defined because you get interesting albums like this with tracks that mix up and cross genres. It means you get an album with a cohesive sound that you can identify without a bunch of same-sounding tracks. I also liked the breezy feel that their debut album had, maybe because of it’s sunshine Californian heritage, something that this album retains. Make sure you also listen to the percussion and melodies – just great!
Standout track: Walking Away
For me Stanley Road is a summer album. I don’t know why but it just sounds good in the sun, however there is a darker tone to the album that you can hear in some of the tracks. Paul Weller referred to this album as perfect, and its difficult to disagree with so many great songs and it’s hard to pick a favourite among them. The drumming is particularly excellent on tracks like Whirlpools’ End and the melancholy of You Do Something to Me betrays its love song disguise. The way Weller captures emotion in these songs is wonderful and shows how brilliant a song writer he is. I can’t believe it was released in 1995!
Standout track: Time Passes
Egotistical, self-deprecating, angry, melancholy are all reasons why I like Robbie Williams and this album is my favourite of his. His later stuff hasn’t grabbed me at all but this album has loads of great tracks on it. The self-referential nature of his songs is attractive. Someone trying to analyse their life and feelings is something I can relate to, after all we are all trying to find meaning in our lives aren’t we? This sounds a bit deep and it is, but its wrapped up in ballads and faster-paced pop tunes that are great to listen to. A lot of his albums do have a similar sound and style so I can understand that some people just don’t like his music, but as with most artists who I really like its the people as much as the songs that get me listening.
Standout track: Nan’s Song
Sandi Thom became what is referred to as an “internet sensation” in 2006 when she streamed live over 21 nights from her basement flat. I was unaware of the controversy that overshadowed this publicity and led to her getting a lot of flak, but I was more interested in her debut album as I loved the title and the debut single that went to number one. She reminded me of KT Tunstall as apart from them both being Scottish female singer/songwriters they both have a guitar-based folk-ish sound with catchy hooks. As a debut album I think the lyrics aren’t as mature as KT’s, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s quite a short album for the morning tube ride but its upbeat and a nice listen. Sandi is one of those artists that I should really catch up with to check out her her newer stuff.
Standout track: Little Remedy
I know that some people don’t like Adele’s music, that’s inevitable, but its hard not to like Adele for being Adele. Last night at Wembley she proved (again!) what a superb artist and person she is. Despite having a croaky voice regularly soothed with honey and lemon, she gave a flawless performance of every song she sang. I don’t know if people generally consider her as a soul singer, but she has got a great soul voice and 21 is really a great soul record. She has such a depth to her voice and this album captures the real angst of her relationship breakup at the time. The stripped down feel in some tracks allows her vocal and lyrics to shine, but whatever track you listen to her voice powers through in feeling, not just in volume. There is a real authenticity to her performance that you don’t always get.
Standout track: Take It All
Pop music is often snobbily dismissed as not being “real” music, but I disagree. A well crafted pop record is as good as any brooding rock band track. One of the best girl bands are The Saturdays and to my mind they haven’t received the level of acclaim that other groups like Little Mix have. Their debut album is a brilliant pop album and there really isn’t a bad track on it. From the catchy dance tracks to the ballads they aren’t throwaway fluff. They have decent lyrics that have some depth and carry some emotion in them. Yes, it is pop so don’t expect political assertions or such like but it is great pop, and Chasing Lights is up there with the best pop albums and I never get tired of listening to it.
Standout track: Chasing Lights