This is not my Top 100 Songs of the Noughties or anything like that. Just a hundred (if I've done my arithmetic correctly and that’s far from a given!) tracks not featured on any of the albums above, that I've enjoyed enough these past ten years to make a note of them...
SSRI – Akatombo (Unconfirmed Reports LP, 2009) Unconfirmed Reports is the latest album from Paul Thomsen Kirk, a Japan-based Scot who was formerly on Colin Newman’s Swim label. It’s dark and dense, but in the middle there’s this funky soundtracky number which has definite shades of Barry Adamson. It’s not exactly typical of the album, but excellent all the same.
Slow Roller - Appliance (Six Modular Pieces LP, 2000)
I came across Appliance supporting Wire in 2002. I only caught the end of their set but it was enough for me to make my way to the merchandise stand. What a good decision that was. Six Modular Pieces was one of my most played albums a few years back, with Slow Roller, the closing track, being the highlight.
Kangaroo Heart – Archie Bronson Outfit (Declaration Of Independence – The Sound Of Domino Records LP, 2004)
I knew nothing about who The Archie Bronson Outfit were, or whether there really was an actual Archie Bronson, when I first heard them on this NME cd. I knew straight away that this was my cup of tea though, coming on like some swampy take on The Nightingales.
Mish Fadliak – Natacha Atlas (Ayeshteni LP, 2001)
Ayeshteni is another album I played to death. Mish Fadilak opens with an almost 80s dance beat before things go off in a typically Arabic manner with some fabulous string arrangements and a perhaps unusually catchy chorus.
Adam’s Lullaby – Natacha Atlas (Something Dangerous LP, 2003)
Adam’s Lullaby opens Something Dangerous with a beauty beyond words and is reason enough to buy this record by itself. Other highlights included Simple Heart, one of the more up-tempo, dancey numbers, with Natacha wailing about 'the greatest joy' over an insistent yet almost stop-start beat.
Whatever Happened To My Rock & Roll (Punk Song) – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Single, 2001)
I first heard this in a local Virgin shop (blimey, that dates it!) and liked it so much that I asked the staff what it was. This is probably less JAMC than some of their other early moments, but it packs a real exciting punch all the same. Their Burn Your Love glam racket single deserves a special mention here, too.
Awaiting An Accident (Lali Puna Remix) – Boom Bip (I Thought I Was Over That LP, 2005)
I Thought I Was Over That is a fabulous 2 CD set of Lali Puna tracks and remixes. I could have picked any number of tracks, but this one just nags and nags at you and simply demands inclusion.
Like a Motherfucker – Brain Donor (My Pagan Ass B-side, 2003)
As much as I love Julian Cope, I don’t always get on with his Brain Donor stuff. After all, heavy rock is not exactly my genre and endless wailing guitar solos definitely isn’t, but Like A Motherfucker with its Sunspots type riff intro is excellent. And at the risk of sounding like some spotty teenager who gets off on hearing naughty words on records, Julian’s endless "Like A Motherfucker" rant somehow makes it even better!
Stronger – Brave Captain (Better Living Through Reckless Experimentation EP, 2001)
The title of this EP might suggest that this sounds like some bleak early 80s industrial noise, but nothing could be further from the truth, because this – one of the first releases by ex-Boo Radley Martin Carr released under the Brave Captain moniker – is, as they say in these parts, nowt of the sort. It’s a pop gem with touchingly self-effacing lyrics and some nice, occasionally abstract arrangements. The EP’s lead track is worth a listen too - another good pop song, but with a dirty Stooges type riff popping up in the background.
Astral – Calla (Televise LP, 2003)
Televise, with its doomy guitars, is one of those low-key sounding albums that kind of creep up on you. Astral sounds not unlike a modern-day Marquee Moon which is kind of ironic given the album’s title.
Hurt – Johnny Cash (Single, 2003)
The word poignant doesn’t do this justice. The video, where we cut from Cash in his prime to the old man he was when this was recorded is heartbreaking, particularly when you see his wife June Carter watching from the wings. The fact that she then went a few months before him only adds to the heartbreak.
Dead Man In My Bed – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Nocturama LP, 2003)
Nocturama was nowhere near as good as Cave’s previous couple of albums, but then again not many records are. Still, it did feature his two wildest tracks in YEARS in this and Babe I’m On Fire which amazingly has something like 40 odd verses (I counted them once!) Fortunately, our Nick knows how to write a lyric or two.
Easy Money – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (Lyre of Orpheus/Abattoir Blues, 2004)
This double set was a real return to form after the rather disappointing Nocturama above with this track and O Children sounding especially heartfelt.
The Music's No Good Without You - Cher (Single, 2001)
Now I’m sticking my neck out on the line here. "Cher?" you ask. "She hasn’t made a decent record since Gypsies Tramps and bloody Thieves." Well of course she hadn’t – till this. I’m telling you - if this had been Daft Punk, everyone would be going on about how great it was.
Gringo Blues – Christophe F / Black Sheep (Heathen Frontiers In Sound LP, 2009)
First the former Universal Panzies chap re-emerges as a member of Julian Cope’s Black Sheep combo, the next thing he’s given the main billing on this collection of modern folk songs with added weird noises and thunder effects that you would expect on a Cope album these days. Imagine the Violent Femmes if Gordon Gano had a Geordie accent and a Hawkwind fixation.
Strange – The Cogburns (Bob EP, 2004)
I remember thinking that Strange, with its thumping beat and crunching guitars, had a similar feel to Iggy Pop’s then recent Skull Ring album. Whatever, it’s a great opener to the Bob EP, and with its tasty riffs and a deliciously moronic ‘la la la la‘ bit, is a chant-along-fave after just a couple of listens.
Eccentrifugal Force – Julian Cope (Rome Wasn’t Burnt In A Day LP, 2003)
At last. Julian started releasing ‘proper’ albums again! And there are some great tracks on this - King Minos has a neo-glam feel and The Way-Luv-Is is a lovely latter-day Cope classic, but it’s the lengthy closing Eccentrifugal Force that steals the show. Now I'm not normally into that squiddly guitar shit, but it sure works on this wild and epic wig-out.
I Can’t Hardly Stand It – Julian Cope (Citizen Cain’d LP, 2005)
I’ve got to say that this album gets better with age. I know the lengthy closing I Will Be Absorbed is the epic track and Feels Like A Crying Shame features Julian’s best vocals in years, but I love this with its Raw Power like production – you can almost see all those dials flickering in the red zone. And I love the way that whereas Iggy would have sung "I Can’t F***ing Stand It", Julian’s English middle class white boy upbringing appears to betray him. I Can’t Hardly Stand It! Still, this is the man who once wrote what was has been described as the least rock’n’roll lyric ever when he penned the classic ‘Consequently my reaction was getting rather strange’ line in Treason. ‘Hardly’? ‘Rather’? You've got to love him!
Zoroaster – Julian Cope (Dark Orgasm LP, 2005)
Dark Orgasm isn’t my favourite Cope album by any means but Disc 1’s opening and closing tracks – Zoroaster and I Don’t Want To Grow Back respectively – are excellent, with the former just edging it. Disc two contains just the two tracks – The Death & Resurrection Show (1) and The Death & Resurrection Show (2) . The first lasts almost twenty one minutes, the second a mere thirty six seconds. I think that’s pretty typical Julian!
I Wanna Know What’s In It For Me - Julian Cope (Preaching Revolution single, 2008)
Limited edition 7” single – on red vinyl! Blimey, that takes you back! The lengthy Preaching Revolution, best described as a ‘protest song’, takes up side 2 whilst side 1 features three numbers with this little gem smack in the middle. It’s an acoustic number with that big drum sound and a real singalong chorus. I guess it’s fair to say that 2008 was the year Julian re-discovered melody in a big way.
Too Long – Daft Punk (Discovery LP, 2001)
The little wags! They called a record that goes on and on Too Long! But then I suppose if you’re dad was in Ottawa, you would have to have a sense of humour. Altogether now… D.I.S.C.O…
Ghost-Faced Killer – The Dead 60’s (Single, 2005)
I couldn’t stop playing this wonderfully upbeat ska number after I saw them in sunny Wrexham one summer’s night in 2006. Anyone who ever liked The Specials Gangsters will love this.
Our Mutual Friend – The Divine Comedy (Absent Friends LP, 2004)
Most folk had stopped caring about the Divine Comedy by the time Absent Friends was released, but if you ever liked Hannon’s take on the Walker Bros, then there’s some good moments here with this track an absolute corker.
Satellites - Doves (Last Broadcast LP, 2002)
This has a similar sort of neo-gospel feel as I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For…
The Last Dance - Dreadzone (Sound LP, 2001)
Sound is a bit of a mixed bag. Two of the opening four tracks are pretty so-so, but then it goes from strength to strength until we reach this, the final track, which is as good as anything off their mighty Second Light album.
Fall – Editors (The Back Room LP, 2005)
A band I dismissed as Interpol copyists when I first heard their singer indulging in yet more Ian Curtis-like lowdown crooning, but this album was a real grower – and this, the album's slowie, was the pick of the lot for me. Sadly it all seemed to be down-hill from here with Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors being particularly irksome although the recent Caged Baby Remix of You Don’t Know Love from their last album is a truly splendid return to form.
Crop Dust – The Fall (Are You Are Missing Winner? LP, 2001)
Are You Are Missing Winner? isn’t exactly the best Fall album. To be honest, I don’t really like the second half that much, but there’s plenty to enjoy amongst the first six or seven tracks including Crop Dust which is currently my latest fave ever Fall track! My Ex-Classmate’s Kids is another fab one and the version of R Dean Taylor’s Gotta See Jane is pretty entertaining, too.
Blindness - The Fall (Peel Sessions Boxset, 2005)
How cool is it that one of the greatest moments on this 6 CD set is from the band's final Peel session in 2004 – some 26 years after their first.
Reformation – The Fall (Reformation TLC LP, 2007)
As John Peel famously said, "The Fall are always the same, yet always different". And he was right. This awesome track is a case in point. On the one hand, you feel moved to describe it as vintage Fall, and yet it’s not merely re-treading the past by any means. The riff growls on and on, whilst MES does his stuff over the top. And even if you’ve never heard the track, you’ll have a pretty good idea how he pronounces the word ‘reformation’! Still, not everyone was so enamoured by it. I read somewhere that MES slurs in embarrassing way on this track. Come on, what did they expect – some Scott Walker-like crooning a la Repetition or a spot of the Gladys Knight-ish soul that Smith did so well on Industrial Estate?!!
Wolf Kidult Man – The Fall (Imperial Wax Solvent LP, 2008)
Like a lot of Fall albums, there’s some filler here. But there’s an awful lot of good stuff, too, with this growler being just one of 3-4 real Fall classics present and correct.
18 Is Dying – FM Bats (Everybody Out…Shark in the Water EP, 2005)
18 Is Dying kicks off the wonderfully named Everybody Out…Shark in the Water EP with a scuzzy guitar, a foghorn bellow and a dirty, swampy sound that reminded me both of the little known The Gories and their splendid Alex Chilton produced album I Know You Fine But How You Doing, and to give a more contemporary slant, a less polished Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Wonderful.
Too Much Space – Lisa Germano (In The Maybe World LP, 2006)
I’m not sure that In The Maybe World will appeal to everyone, but with Germano’s quiet, slightly eerie voice, I did flippantly suggest that depressed Kate Bush fans might like it! There are some great tracks here and Too Much Space is one of the best, finding Germano singing in that half-whispered voice over a pretty piano before some kids' voices burst in to eerie effect on a number that occasionally brings John Cale’s contribution to the Velvets to mind.
Water Door Yellow Gate – Ghost (Comets Ghosts & Sunburnt Hands Uncut LP, 2007)
Comets Ghosts & Sunburnt Hands is a fabulous CD given free with the January 2007 edition of Uncut magazine. As the title would suggest, apart from Ghost who are not to be confused with the indie act Ghosts, it also features Comets On Fire and the fabulously named Sunburned Hand Of The Man, but this probably sneaks it. Talk about a dramatic entrance! That pounding dum-da-da-dum beat could be the soundtrack to any intense movie moment you could care to think of. And it doesn’t let up when the singer starts hollering over that drumming and some distant wailing as if his life depends on it. I’ve got no idea what he’s on about as apart from the title and the odd word here and there it’s virtually indecipherable, but whatever it is...I know he means it!
To Have And To Hold – Githead (Headgit Mini LP, 2004)
Colin Newman, his wife Malka and mate Scanner get together to make a great six track mini album that boasts great basslines and Newman’s distinctive way with a tune, boding well for the future as you will see...
Raining Down – Githead (Profile LP, 2005)
Starting off like a sinister electro version of Bolan’s The Slider, this is right up my street and I could have gladly listened to this steady beat and heavy throbbing bass for hours. And it seems like it’s heading that way as, punctuated only by some slashing guitars and a couple of piercing notes that rear their occasional heads, it continues on its not so merry way for ages. It’s something of a shock then when a great psychedelic sounding chorus pops in from nowhere after almost four minutes. Actually, I can’t help wondering if Wire-man, Colin Newman, ditched the verse on this one because it does have an unusual structure, sounding like extended intro, chorus, intro break, chorus, and end. But far from leaving me thinking, "Where’s the bloody verse gone?", it works.
Drop – Githead (Art Pop LP, 2007)
Art Pop is an absolutely splendid album, with Colin Newman on top form in a melodic A Bell Is A Cup sort of way. There’s some great bass playing from his wife Malka, too, especially on this track, Drop, which featured what had to be THE bassline of the year. No wonder Colin said "Anyone who doesn't think that bassline is awesome really doesn't get what Githead are about." He could just as easily have said "Anyone who doesn’t think that bassline is awesome is actually a bit of a dork".
(I Don't Need You To) Set Me Free – Grinderman (Grinderman LP, 2007)
OK some of the Grinderman record, such as the singles Get It On and No Pussy Blues, are more raucous and straight-ahead than the average Bad Seeds track, but Set Me Free is a classic Cave song fit to feature on any Bad Seeds album.
So Many Things – Francoise Hardy (Tant De Belles Choses LP, 2004)
This might have a melody that is strikingly similar to like Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own, but it’s a beautiful, beautiful number.
Next Exit – Interpol (Antics LP, 2004)
Funereal beat, mournful deep vocals and chiming guitars. I can’t for the life of me think why I like it!
You Rock My World – Michael Jackson (Single, 2001)
Jacko was such easy game, it was easy to forget to listen to the music – after all it’d had been a while since he released a genuinely great single before this. His best since Scream at least.
Volcano Mono – Junkboy (Three LP, 2008)
Think Pet Sounds instrumental Let’s Go Away For Awhile as this is almost lounge type music with added Wilsonesque weirdness. A fabulous eight minute opening track.
Getting Down - The Kills (Midnight Boom LP, 2008)
Midnight Boom has turned into one of those really ENJOYABLE albums. You know, one of those LPs that you know isn’t exactly going to change the world, but you don’t half enjoy it when it’s on! And I simply love Getting Down’s rather daft repeated "uh uh uh uh" refrain.
Hide U – Kosheen (Single, 2001)
I can pretty much take or leave the bog standard version of this, but the John Creamer & Stephane K remix that charted with its throbbing and insistent bass is sublime.
Expo 2000 - Kraftwerk (Single, 2000)
Apparently this was rush-released in the end. Seriously! After all those years... Anyway, this is one of the best singles of the century thus far for me, and one that still hasn’t got the credit it really deserves.
Winter: Lux Aerta – Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch Collection Uncut LP, 2000)
There’s so much crap on these free CDS, but every now and again you stumble across something great like this, a beautifully mournful classically tinged track from the Requiem For A Dream soundtrack that was, perhaps surprisingly, composed by former Pop Will Eat Itself frontman Clint Mansell.
Losing My Edge - LCD Soundsystem (LCD Soundsystem LP, 2005)
Losing My Edge is the one where the singer claims to have seen Can in Cologne in 1968, played Daft Punk to the CBGB’s crowd, and best of all, told Beefheart he wouldn’t sell many records sounding like that. All delivered in a lovely laconic style, over a great beat.
Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem (Sound Of Silver LP, 2007)
As if that excellent single with the classic "we’re just North American Scum" hookline wasn’t enough, Sound Of Silver also included Someone Great which sounded like a slightly updated Dare-era Human League. I just wish James Murphy had gone the whole hog and got Phil Oakey in on vocals.
Spires - The Longcut (Call & Response LP, 2006)
I liked this album when it came out, but with time it seems even better. Spires is the epic instrumental with a Day Of The Lords-like bassline that closes the set.
Canada – Low (Trust LP, 2002)
This paved the way for Low’s next album, Great Destroyer, in that it’s noisier than their usual (beautiful) stuff. It almost rocks out, maan! But as always, there’s a great tune, and there’s also a bassline of almost Sidewalking proportions.
Dark Is Rising – Mercury Rev (All Is Dream LP, 2001)
Although All Is Dream doesn’t quite match up to the mighty Deserters Songs as a whole, Dark Is Rising with its big dramatic strings is beauty itself. It even made the charts!
Gone - M83 (Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Souls LP, 2003)
Dead Cities… is a fine album which I’ve previously described as sounding like Sigur Ros with cheesy synths. This is beautiful - my favourite on the album.
Human Being – Morrissey (You Have Killed Me B-side, 2006)
A New York Dolls cover version with a relentless border-line glam-like beat. I wouldn’t bet my house on it, but I think it’s also the first Moz track to feature a sax solo on it!
I’ll Never Be Anyone's Hero Now – Morrissey (Ringleader of the Tormentors LP, 2006)
One of the highlights of the excellent Ringleader album, this is a Moz slowie, with the ‘devious, truculent and unreliable’ one reaching for those high notes and generally putting in yet another great vocal performance.
Gang Lord – Morrissey (The Youngest Was the Most Loved B-side, 2006)
This, one of the tracks on The Youngest Was the Most Loved CD single, is something of an epic Moz track. I love great b-sides, bonus tracks, etc, but in the current pop climate, it almost seemed wasted here. Indeed, I reckon it’s fit to stand next to anything he’s done. "There’s a clock on the wall, makes fun of us all," he sings rather beautifully over a powerful backdrop. There’s a great organ fade-out, too. Now available on Swords, the 2009 collection of Morrissey B-sides from the last few years.
Schadenfreude – Movement (Demo, 2006)
Now defunct Manchester band’s finest moment with a great driving beat, neat basslines and an almost Pere Ubu-like influence to the vocals c/o Karl Starchild who has since re-surfaced as the bass player in The Witches, a band [sic] Magazine recently described as ‘Manchester’s true best kept secret’.
My Broken 101 - The Drones (Onehundredandonedrones EP, 2009)
Anyone who likes Loop, Spacemen 3, The Stooges, and Suicide will love this album. Keep those bands in your head and then imagine legendary New Zealand band Snapper playing Get It On and you’ll have some idea how this track sounds.
Crystal – New Order (Single, 2001)
I don’t think Crystal got the plaudits it deserved. People seem to have a problem when a legendary band/artist releases something new, because their expectations are so high. And then a few years later, people start raving about it and using it as another example of how truly fab and wonderful that person/group really is. There’s a hole in my theory here, however. As this is much better than Regret, I thought people would have been talking about it being a great New Order single by now, but I seem to be strangely alone here. Whatever, although the remixes are pretty decent, it’s the ordinary single version that does it for me with its dub style keyboard momentarily adding another great layer to it. And hearing Hooky’s bass lines again brought a big grin to my face – honestly it was like meeting up with an old mate again.
Devil In the Details – The Nightingales (Single, 2005)
This is The Nightingales flexing their muscles, going for an almost Pistols-like power, whilst Robert Lloyd adopts an almost Iggy-like drawl on top of it all. My Single of 2005.
Rocket Pool Via Rough Hills - The Nightingales (Out Of True LP, 2006)
Silver Machine-like noises over an Eddie Cochran riff and a beat to die for from their then new drummer Daren Garrett. Wonderful stuff!
Get In Line Caroline – Greg Parker (On The Break EP, 2004)
I’m not normally into country music, but On The Break is a great EP. It opens strongly with Get In Line Caroline, a lovely little number that doesn’t so much take you down those country roads as lead you to some mythical 50s utopia. It’s old-fashioned for sure, but it’s a great song with beautiful vocals and big echo-ey guitars.
Miracles – Pet Shop Boys (Single, 2003)
Hurrah! The Petties put away the acoustic guitars and decide that writing Oasis songs is the Gallagher’s territory and not theirs! This doesn’t just sound like how a PSB’s single should, it was a real return to form. The other track on the single, a cover of We’re The Pet Shop Boys, is excellent, too.
Little Electric Chair – Iggy Pop (Skull Ring LP, 2003)
Skull Ring was lauded as Iggy’s best album in years in some quarters, but truth be told it's not a classic by any means. Like most of his latter day albums, there's a fair amount of filler, but as always there's at least one track worth having. Like the absolute classic Mask on the otherwise dodgy Beat ‘Em Up album, Skull Ring’s killer track is the one that opens proceedings. I thought at the time that it was probably no coincidence that the best track here was one of the Stooges numbers - it's the "woo's" and handclaps that does it for me! – although sadly they weren’t to reach these heights again on The Weirdness comeback album that followed a few years later.
We Carry On – Portishead (Third LP, 2008)
I’m still not totally convinced by this so-called difficult third album, but this track hit me more or less straight away with its almost Joy Division-like feel and beats.
Shoot Speed Kill Light – Primal Scream (XTRMNTR LP, 2000)
As if having the mighty Swastika Eyes (a genuinely EXCITING record) wasn’t enough, the vowel shy XTRMNTR album also features this track which had one of the best bass riffs since Mantronix’s Got To Have Your Love and which sounds like Neu 75 played by the Pistols.
Autobahn 66 – Primal Scream (Evil Heat LP, 2002)
Evil Heat featured two of my favourite singles of 2002. Miss Lucifer with its Suicide / Swastika Eyes feel was my initial fave - a glorious two and a half minute ride that certainly livened up Top Of The Pops. Imagine a Suicide where Alan Vega says he wants to sound like Bolan and not Elvis, a Suicide who want to be produced by Giorgio Moroder, a Suicide doing a Stooges cover, a Suicide that's just heard Krautrock for the very first time. Like Kowalski and Swastika Eyes it was a genuinely exciting 45. However, I’ve now decided that Autobahn 66, where the sometimes rather daft Bobby Gillespie stops pretending to be Mick Jagger and decides he should have been in Kraftwerk instead, is even better. There’s a great relentless beat and, at the risk of sounding environmentally-unfriendly, it’s worth driving down motorways just to listen to it.
There There – Radiohead (Single, 2003)
I can pretty much take or leave most post-Bends Radiohead, but the way this, with its almost tribal drums, builds up and up to breaking point is superb. My Single of 2003.
You Say You Lie – The Raveonettes (Pretty In Black LP, 2005)
Love In A Trashcan might be a great song (and believe me, it is!), but this sneaky little number pushed it all the way.
Aly Walk With Me - The Raveonettes (Lust Lust Lust LP, 2007)
A truly fab opening number. With its slow deep and dirty bassline and slightly more experimental feel, it’s hardly The Raveonettes-by-numbers, and yet it could be no-one else. I’ve said this a thousand times, but if Sune and Sharin were from New York rather than Scandinavia, people would be far more forthcoming in their appreciation of this classic pop act.
Russian Roulette – Rihanna (Single, 2009)
There I was in the closing stages of last year, taken hostage by the rest of the family, and forced to endure one of the closing episodes of the last series of X Factor...I was doing my best not to grumble, and moan about how shite the last few remaining contestants were and try to enjoy it for what it was – a living soap opera based around a talent contest. And then the 'special guest' Rihanna came on. Sure she’s got years of experience compared to these bland wannabes, but immediately you were struck by the fact that she was the real deal. A proper pop star. Not everyone thought it was a great performance – there were murmurs that she was slightly out of tune, but to me this was a victory for feeling over technique. It probably won’t be many people’s cup of tea here, but it’s my favourite mainstream pop single in ages.
Rain Fall Down – The Rolling Stones (A Bigger Bang LP, 2006)
Rain Fall Down was the first single from the Stones most recent album, A Bigger Bang, and therefore their first in some time. It’s also their best in donkey’s years. OK, that’s not saying much I hear you cry, but that’s not to take anything away from this funky little effort. The album might have a few troughs, but I love this.
Breathe Me (Four Tet Remix) – Sia (Four Tet Remixes LP, 2007)
Four Tet Remixes is two CDs worth – one where Kieran Hebden does the remixing, the other where he gets the treatment from others himself. It’s probably no surprise as someone who rates Hebden highly that I prefer it where he’s enhancing other folks work, and this - c/o former Zero 7 singer Sia back in 2003 - is the pick of the lot. A thing of beauty.
Bulk - Silo (Alloy LP, 2001)
Apart from the classic Templates on their fabulous late nineties debut, Instar, this is probably this Danish act's finest track. Relentless, throbbing, hypnotic post-rock. Apparently the press release reckoned there were only three people in the world that could dance to this. Where’s the other two?
Let Me Kiss You – Nancy Sinatra (Single, 2004)
Nancy’s excellent version of a track from Morrissey’s You Are The Quarry LP, complete with Mozzer warbling in the background, just beats his own version for me. It sounds like the sort of classic 60s pop that he so reveres.
World Hold On – Bob Sinclar Feat Steve Edwards (Single, 2006)
Yes, the dancey one with the whistling on it! Hugely uplifting!
Keep Some Steady Friends Around – Smog (Rain On Lens LP, 2001)
I just knew I was gonna get into Smog sometime - you just get a feeling sometimes. And as soon as I heard a couple of tracks from this LP, I knew I was right. My first Smog album. It was not to be my last.
Ambition – Smog (Supper LP, 2003)
One of Bill Callahan’s finest moments, featuring some fabulous stabbing guitar.
Scheherazade - Sparks (Balls LP, 2000)
By the time that Sparks released Balls, most of their contemporaries had either been lost to the great jukebox in the sky, or worse still, cabaret, but these brothers have not just kept going, they’ve been releasing some stunning albums.
I Can't Believe That You Would Fall For All the Crap In This Song – Sparks (Exotic Creatures Of The Deep LP, 2008)
Early listens to this album suggested that it wasn’t quite as great as their last few (although that wouldn’t exactly have been an insult seeing as they have been pretty remarkable!), but those repetitive and catchy little ditties soon wormed their way into my brain. This snappily titled number, however, sounded like a winner straight away mind – don’t be put off by the title that suggests that this is going to be Sparks at their most clever-clever, because this is actually something of a throbbing electro stomp that brings Goldfrapp to mind. As for the rest of the album…well, most of it would sound at home on their last couple of albums, Lil Beethoven and Hello Young Lovers, although there’s times when those operatic bits do sound a bit 1975. Still, if like me you were a fan of 10cc’s The Original Soundtrack, that shouldn’t be a problem. The neo glam track Lighten Up Morrissey, meanwhile, could just have had the best song title of the year.
Le Grand Guignil – Soft Cell (Beauty Without Cruelty LP, 2002)
Not all re-unions are shit. Not all of them are successful either, as Soft Cell’s comeback album sadly failed to trouble the UK charts and the excellent Monoculture single entered spent one week at a lowly 51 before promptly disappearing. If you liked the single, you really should check out the 10 minute Playgroup Remix.
The Ballad Of Richie Lee - Spiritualised (Amazing Grace LP, 2003)
Some people hated this more direct approach from Jason and gang, but if we’re being totally truthful it’s not really exactly lo-fi is it?!!
Dream Baby Dream – Bruce Springsteen (10” Single, 2008)
I suppose when you think about it, Brucie covering a Suicide song shouldn’t be such a surprise seeing as he and Alan Vega come from the same part of the world and probably grew up listening to the same sort of music. Both definitely have early rock'n'roll in their bones, it’s just that they took these influences off in very different directions. Anyway, I'm not a Brucie fan by any means, but hats off to the guy…this stripped down, almost relentless thing of beauty is a top notch cover.
Love Is Here - Starsailor (Fever B-side, 2001)
What a disappointment this lot proved to be considering they were named after one of Tim Buckley’s most uncompromising albums. The over-earnest, whiney vocals certainly got a trifle wearing over the course of their debut album and I gave up on them after that. This B-side (the album version is very much a poor substitute), however, is a thing of real beauty and features what is probably the best crack in a vocal performance since Michael Jackson on She’s Out Of My Life.
Outer Bongolia – Stereolab (The First Of the Microbe Hunters LP, 2000)
The ‘Labs, as they would be nicknamed if they were a rock band, were probably my fave group at one point in the mid 90s. Mars Audiac Quintet, Music For The Amorphous Body Center, and Emperor Tomato Ketchup were more than funny names for albums – they were genuinely great records. Things then got a little more patchy – indeed First Of The Microbe Hunters isn’t a great album at all, but this lengthy opening instrumental with its cheesy organ sound reminds me why I loved them so much in the first place. It just keeps building and building and somehow being wound tighter and tighter until you’re expecting it to snap in half. OK it doesn’t and it just goes on and on, but that’s beside the point. It’s wonderful.
Double Rocker – Stereolab (Sound-Dust LP, 2001)
Double Rocker is basically two songs - hence the title I guess, though neither could really be classed as 'rock'. It starts as a dreamy, pretty number before leading to a frothy poppy number with a truly great groove. I guess it’s typical Stereolab, and I’m a sucker for it. And though I don’t know what they’re singing – it’s probably in French after all – it'll always be "happy, happy, happy, happy love" to me.
Three Women – Stereolab (Chemical Chords LP, 2009)
I don’t like Chemical Chords as much as Margarine Eclipse, which seemed like a proper return to form for me, but there’s still much enjoyment to be had here. The emphasis is more on lounge than motorik with Self Portrait With Electric Brain sounding very Burt Bacharach. Highlight for me though is Three Women with its great brass arrangements!
The Modern Age – The Strokes (45, 2001)
I was hooked as soon as I heard The Modern Age with its David Watts riff, Velvets feel (and early Lou vocals!) and Tom Verlaine guitar. Well why wouldn't I be with those references? And the other two tracks on the debut 45 were great too. Indeed, one – Last Nite – was so good, it was later released as a single itself in much the same way as How Soon is Now? and, ahem, Brown Girl In The Ring previously had been. The album, however, was something of a disappointment to me – even The Modern Age sounds sort of muffled on it compared with the single. Not a disaster – just not quite the classic that it had been built up to be.
Heavy Deeds – Sun Araw (Seeing For Miles CD, 2009)
Seeing For Miles (12 Amazing New Psych Rock Classics) was a free CD with last October’s Uncut, and it really is rather good with great tracks by the Wooden Shjips, Sleepy Sun, and Deradoorian, but this is even better. I really need to investigate further!
It's Not the End Of the World? – Super Furry Animals (Rings Around The World LP, 2001)
I first heard this track on Later and was struck by its Beach Boys-like beauty. Indeed, it’s probably the best Brian Wilson song that Brian Wilson never made – and one that convinced me (an occasional purchaser of their singles) to take the plunge and buy my first SFA album. Incidentally, this was also released as single and was in the charts the same week as Mercury Rev – two classic tracks nestling amongst the boyband/girlband hell we call the top 40 in what was described as the worst month ever in chart history.
Sweet Release – Tindersticks (Can Our Love.... LP, 2001)
Another great Tindersticks album. I could easily have picked the fabulously titled Chi-lite Time, but this just swung it.
Step Across the Edge – Transglobal Underground (Yes Boss Food Corner LP, 2001)
Yes Boss Food Corner was probably the best TGU LP in a while, and I say that as someone who likes them all. Secrets And Distant Lands is another highlight here.
Past Mistake – Tricky (Knowle West Boy LP, 2008)
Knowle West Boy is a really enjoyable LP, sounding lighter in mood than a lot of Tricky’s stuff and ideal for driving to on those rare summery days! This is very 90s Bristol, but arguably sounds more like something off Massive Attack’s Protection than a Tricky LP.
See Tha Light – Alan Vega / A.R.E. Weapons (Single, 2009)
As I never tire of mentioning, I bet A.R.E. Weapons couldn’t believe their luck getting the mighty Alan Vega on vocals on this excellent one sided 12” single. One of the best things I heard last year. The other track, War, isn't bad either.
No Game To Play – The White Hills (They’ve Got Blood Like We’ve Got Blood LP, 2005)
A superb relentless track with almost Stooges-like riffing by US underground band The White Hills, released in the UK on Julian Cope’s quaintly named F**k Off & Di label.
The Wickedest Man In the World – The Wild Swans (Liquid Mercury B-side, 2009)
With a melody strong enough to get stuck in my head after the band's July live shows, I was really looking forward to hearing a recorded version of Liquid Mercury. And I was not to be disappointed – the song was every bit as good as I remembered and it had been given a great production with some gorgeous slide guitar c/o Mr Michael Mooney. But as if that wasn’t enough, the spoken word b-side The Wickedest Man In The World is fabulous, finding Simpson talking about Liverpool of yore and how his ambitions are evaporating and things are getting harder over some lovely tinkling piano, bubbling bass and yet more slide guitar. "Each year the stars are a little more distant", he muses. It brings a tear to my eyes, but don’t worry, Paul. Carry on this like and you’ll be holding those stars in your hands.
List Of Demands (Reparations) – Saul Williams (Saul Williams LP, 2004)
Intense stuff. I loved List of Demands the first time I heard it on MTV’s 120 Minutes. The rest of this LP is well worth a listen too.
I Don't Understand – Wire (Read & Burn 01 EP, 2002)
I Don’t Understand, with its duel guitar riff and swaggering beat, was my favourite track on the first Read & Burn 01 EP. However, although Wire were still playing it live on their last tour (and often ending their set with it), it was one of the few tracks on the first two R&B’s not to find its way onto their Send album. So, if you want it, you’ll have to get this EP. You won’t regret it.
I’m Watching 4 U – Wire / Britney Spears (Dinbot Mix, 2003) I’m a sucker for a good mash-up and this is what happens when some bloke on the internet mixes Britney singing Slave 4 U over Wire’s Being Watched. It shouldn’t work, but it does - Wire even sent a congratulatory message! A quick word of caution, though. Be careful when you play it as you’re likely to spend the next few hours afterwards going around singing “I’m a slave” in a ridiculously high voice which can come with problems.
23 Years Too Late - Wire (Read & Burn 03 EP, 2007)
Well this was a lovely surprise! Read & Burn 3 was one of those things that seemed like it was never gonna happen, and with Bruce Gilbert’s exit a couple of years earlier, Wire seemed to be a thing of the past. And then all of a sudden this EP came from virtually nowhere. Highlight of the EP is the atmospheric spoken word opening track 23 Years Too Late and not just because of the line about "Copyists" which is apparently from Graham Lewis tour diary and refers to meeting the Wire fans from the Ideal Copy fan list at Brighton. And as I was one of the said Wire fans/Copyists there (I enjoyed a very enjoyable pint with Graham and Bruce!) I’m happy to announce that this track – albeit indirectly - mentions ME!! Whatever – and I apologise for that pathetic look-at-me name-dropping - it’s a great track with Graham Lewis speaking the verses in that deep, almost plummy voice, before Colin Newman’s distinctive cockney tones burst in for the punkier chorus. The other three tracks are excellent, too with No Warning Given deserving a mention just for its bass riff.
One Of Us– Wire (Object 47 LP, 2008)
I was looking forward to hearing the recorded version of this, as the chorus – with duel vocals from Colin and Graham – was firmly lodged in my mind after their live shows earlier that year. This was the one that demanded being released as a single, or at least would have done in the past. Nowadays, in the age of the download things are done differently, of course, and so it was that this was the track the band chose to give fans a sneak preview of the album (via Wire’s Pink Flag website). Graham’s vocals seem to be missing on the recorded version, but that’s just a minor gripe because this has a chorus to die for. And frankly, the word ‘rue’ doesn’t appear in modern music often enough for me.
Maps – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Single, 2003)
"They don’t love you like I love you." Heartbreaking.
And that’s your lot.
Happy birthday, Brendan!