28 Nov 2014

VAPOUR TRAIL'S ALBUMS OF THE YEAR (Top Ten)

In the first bit of our albums of the year (see 40-11 here) we counted right down from the periphery of our top 40 to 11, where Ty Segall's latest effort sits. Here, we've got our top ten. 

10. More Than Any Other Day - Ought
Ought, that is Ought as in you ought to listen to this fucking amazing Canadian band and their sensational debut album More Than Any Other Day. Formed in Montreal, Ought are an artsy band of intellectual punks, who already seem to be permanent fixtures of ATP events. Ought's sound probably fits itself into the genre of art-punk, but it's far too versatile to pigeonhole into just one genre. This genius album begins with the stunning clunk of the opener; Pleasant Heart. It's infectious stop start riff and vocal snarl hark back to the likes of The Fall and Pere Ubu, and it's instantly memorable. The second track, the title track is much more Husker Du - the singer sounds just like Bob Mould during the band's peak. A slow building intro poises the track brilliantly for its explosive verses; lyrics like "TODAY! More than any other day, I am excited to go grocery shopping" are just ridiculously uplifting. Elsewhere on the album, Habit is a much more perfect post-punk pop gem, and Clarity! is stunning. So many bands around today lack the brilliance of Ought and their charismatic charm. This album is certainly a listen for anyone, and it amazes me that Ought aren't huge, like huge huge.

9. No Time - The Soft Walls
The Soft Walls are one of the most amazing psych bands around at the moment. Fronted by Dan Reeves, owner of the Faux Discx record label (who put out Hookworms' self-titled EP) and member of the band Cold Pumas, The Soft Walls' No Time is their second album after 2011's self-titled. No Time, laced with Hookworms' MJ's mixing, is a fine sophomore album. Ten tracks long, it ranges from sprawling krautrock rhythms to short buzzy psychedelic pop. The undoubted highlight comes from Side 1, with the motorik Never Come Back Again. Never Come Back Again spans 6 minutes, and is dreamy as, but still manages to be rallied along by a rugged 4/4 Dinger drum line. It's undoubtedly a highlight, and live, well, it just becomes something else - an ascending cosmic set closer, that I could listen to over and over. The Big Nod is ethereal and submersive, and album opener Won't Remember My Name gets the ball rolling straight away in an amazing fashion. And it doesn't really stop 'til the very end, this is one truly amazing album. 



8. Revelation - The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Anton Newcombe and his ever-evolving band of shamanic psych under-lords are one of music's finest driving forces in the world today, and have been since the mid-nineties. Very few bands manage to keep such a consistent level of output as the BJM, and Revelation just carries that on. What You Isn't's intertwining melodies are so hypnotic - classic BJM - and Newcombe's vocal swagger radiates brilliantly. And Vad Hande Med Dem? opens the LP in a way that kind of sounds like everything you wish The Strokes still sounded like, if The Strokes had a Swedish guest vocalist. But Newcombe's extensive influences shine through; Goodbye Butterfly sounds a bit Spiritualized, whilst Memory Camp is kind of krautrock. This album on the whole is polished, self-produced, and another flawless addition to the Brian Jonestown Massacre's amazing back-catalogue.

7. The Dawn - The Wands
Another amazing psych band who made a splash this year is the Copenhagen based band The Wands. Formed around the songwriting duo of Christian Skibdal and Mads Gras, The Wands make retro psychedelia powered by organs and wandering guitars. It's just heavenly. I think maybe the best way to sum this band up is that their debut single is called Hello I Know The Blow You Grow Is Magic, which is just brilliant. Their debut album, The Dawn came out this October, and I fell in love with it. Skibdal's robotic voice is pretty Roky Erickson, and the whole album is so vibrant. From woozy opener, Sound Of The Machine, where the organ sounds pull the track all over the place like some kind of keysy puppeteer, to the 13th Floor Elevators style She's Electric (no relation to the Oasis song) this is a stunning debut. They reach their most mystical on the closer, Name Of The Mountain, which is half Revolver psych-pop, half Gnod freak out. This album didn't reach as many people as I thought it would, but The Wands' perfectly polished psychedelia is such an essential listen.


6. Plowing Into The Fields Of Love - Iceage
Last year, Iceage smashed it with the explosive You're Nothing album, which was a pretty life-changingly great record. Wire-come-Joy Div post-punk had new life breathed into it by these antagonistic danes, and it was probably one of the albums of the year. This year they're back, and where before there were malicious 2 minute ditties, there are drawn out, angry Bad Seedling punk songs that span an average of about 5 minutes. Before Plowing Into..., Ronnenfelt and co's albums didn't actually top half an hour, but this, THIS is almost an hour in which the Danes force you to feel every negative emotion under the sun. The Lord's Favourite is almost ecstatic, but that doesn't last long; On My Fingers is militant, Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled is furious, and Against The Moon sounds like the tortured last whims of a doomed soul. Mind you, Simony is pretty generic, fairly happy indie-rock, but it's a one off - this is a seriously bleak album. In all honesty, you'd be mad to expect anything else from Iceage, but in terms of dark, dark albums, Plowing Into The Field Of Love just takes the biscuit. This is yet another progression from one of the best bands around at the moment.



5. Commune - Goat
Goat are the most interesting band in the world right now. Their alleged backstory, of emerging from a commune (called Goat) in northern Sweden is nothing short of enthralling. The fact that no-one really knows who they are, apart from the band's occasional spokesperson Christian Johanson, makes them nothing short of spectacular. They've gripped me before they've even played a note. But of course, these costumed Swedes are more than just costumed Swedes. With World Music, their 2012 debut, they emerged as driving forces that were already transcending their psychedelic peers. Commune takes that a step further, whilst it's probably not as good as World Music, it's more of the same in a more sophisticated manner. Lead single Hide From The Sun exhibits the jumpy vocals of the female singer, as well as a hostile riff that explodes into a fuzzy freakout. The musical force that is Goat don't stop there, though. Throughout, the classic Goat percussion and swirling guitars make this such a danceable record, it makes you wonder why 'dance' is a genre term that summarises bands that aren't Goat. The LP opens with a chime before the slow burning groove of Talk To God bleeds through. From there, the album doesn't stop impressing until the escalating Gathering Of Ancient Tribes (an acronym?) reaches it's psyched-out climax. And then, like the ever-so-complete album it is, you hear the chime you heard at first. This is such a well rounded LP, and it just affirms the fact that Goat are just the most amazing thing in the world.

4. Honeyblood - Honeyblood
Two-pieces have been quite the talking point in 2014. I mean, Royal Blood are bloody everywhere, aren't they? But it's okay because in 2014, there are many more interesting emerging two pieces and all is well. The best of these is the amazing crunch-poppers Honeyblood, whose debut LP is amongst my favourite of the year. Honeyblood are fronted by the wonderful Stina Tweeddale, whose luscious voice and upbeat guitar lines make Honeyblood both angry and melodic. On this record she's joined by founder member Shona McVicar, who left the group earlier this year. Honeyblood itself is an incredible album; 12 songs, and all of them could have been singles. The first of these is the Breeders-esque Fall Forever, which serves to showcase the immense talents of Stina. From there the album just progresses perfectly - Killer Bangs is a candidate for song of the year, Bud is the perfect pop single, and Choker is a 6music favourite is a stunning track. Although the two members of this band have split, they're still alive and kicking, and any future material is an exciting prospect.

3. Annabel Dream Reader - The Wytches
The Wytches have pretty much owned 2014, and Annabel Dream Reader is just proof of that. 13 menacing bleach-soaked, mud-doused tracks see the Brighton-based three piece lay down one of the finest albums of 2014. Fronted by the enigmatic Kristian Bell, this album is full of fully-formed characters hidden deep in heavy riffs and rumbling basslines. ADR has a very grungey sound, so you wouldn't be far off with Nirvana comparisons. But a tight Rumsey-Honey rhythm section that's reminiscent of Les Pattinson and  Pete DeFreitas in 1982, add to Bell's Bleach-era guitar sound to make The Wytches fantastic indeed. Their debut album has so many highlights that it's hard to quantify. Summer Again is sprawling, heartbreaking and Bell sings his heart (and throat) out. Wire Frame Mattress is heavy, doom-laden, and spiralling perfection. And Gravedweller scurries along incredibly fast as Kristian Bell's Verlaine-style guitar makes it a dramatic, fantastic grunge-pop hit. I think the only thing that stops this being album of the year is possibly the production; live, The Wytches are hectic, raw, and heavy. But here, despite the brilliance of the songs, the band sound too contained, too caged in. Still, it's a must-hear, and The Wytches have done an amazing job.



2. Eagulls - Eagulls
Eagulls are fast, angry, and fronted by the most amazing, charismatic frontman of recent times George Mitchell. Their debut is probably the most remarkable record of 2014, and I couldn't recommend it more highly. It's angry all the way through, driven by a brilliant downstroke-only basslines and some wall-of-sound of guitars. Most of it is Joy Division-inspired post-punk, and it really thrills. Opener Never Endings is tetchy and anxious, but brash, and Hollow Visions, Soulless Youth and Fester/Blister (all on this album) are the only other songs that rival it for sheer bleakness. Eagulls' debut is mostly bleak, like their post-punk influence but Tough Luck (one of the many amazing two word chorus songs on this album) brings the mood on the album right back up in mood; oddly uplifting, it kinda reminds me of Dreams Never End by New Order. The smash hit single, that wasn't a smash hit single but just sounds like it should be a #1, Possessed, is also pretty uplifting - it's a passionate, woozy punk song that leaves you thinking "wow, is that guy even singing in English?" But overall, this is ten perfect songs in one package, and the best debut of 2014. 



1. The Hum - Hookworms
Last year saw Hookworms conquer all with their amazing debut Pearl Mystic - a hypnotic mash of fuzz psych and reverbed vocals that was just the perfect release from everything else around in early 2013. This year, a mere 18 months later, the Leeds noisemongers have bounced back with a new album, The Hum, and God is it great. The band said about it that "it's us, with the fat trimmed off", and I couldn't agree more. Opener The Impasse is a 2 minute storm of noise that takes the band back to their US punk roots, whilst lead single Radio Tokyo is so explosive, whilst still sounded like Hookworms. Elsewhere, bits still sound like PM. Off Screen is long, forlorn, and fuzzy, whilst On Leaving is a beautifully hynotic and based on a two chord motif. What makes this album genuinely perfect is that each and every song is the absolute definition of perfection. Every song is amazing, and I can't imagine anyone hearing it for the first time without being blown away. Its final track, Retreat is possibly my highlight: think Modern Lovers meet Tom Verlaine. It's triumphant, mesmeric, and perfectly caps our album of 2014.

VAPOUR TRAIL'S ALBUMS OF THE YEAR (40-11)

2014 has been a hell of a year for new album releases - we've been running this blog a while, and you'd need at least 4 hands to count the number of great album releases since this blog started. Like most publications, Vapour Trail Blog also has an Albums Of The Year post for everyone to argue with, and between you and me I think we've hit the nail on the head with this list. Here's Part One, a countdown to the top ten.


40. Lost In The Dream - The War On Drugs
As far as I can see, The War On Drugs' third album is the most acclaimed album across the board this year, and I can see the appeal. It is a very good album, and a listen to the first two tracks would probably point you in the direction that this is one of the greatest albums released this year. Opening the proceedings is Under The Pressure; it's a teetering tottering epic that spans 8 uncertain minutes of motorik rhythms and a crisp piano motif. And it's followed by a stunning single called Red Eyes which is just electrifying. But from there, the album doesn't quite live up to the high standards set by the first two songs. And this wouldn't normally be a huge problem, but take away those openers and you're left with 45 minutes of filler. And that is a hell of a lot. Eyes To The Wind is 6music's WOD song of choice at the moment, and it's just very dull. But still, The War On Drugs probably deserve all the success they get from this LP because the great bits, they are great bits.

39. Lacuna - Childhood
Stunningly unique, Childhood have had quite the year. Their own headline tour, playing a bunch of major festivals, a tour with Johnny Marr and of course, the release of this fantastic album. It's individuality comes mainly from a crazy wide range of influences. When listening to them on record, you pick up bands like The Stone Roses and early Velvet Underground, but live, it's almost like modern shoegaze takes over. Of course you have the rockier and dancier side to it, but their 5 minute breakdowns between songs are what really make this band special. Overall, this debut album lives up to what you'd expect from this young band, and I wish them all the luck in their future releases.

38. Disgraceland - The Orwells
Riotous, chaotic and mental. Three words to sum up The Orwells and their explosive debut album. Laced with every element of teen rebellion and angst but wrapped up in catchy rhythms and sing-a-long choruses. Stand outs include Dirty Sheets, Who Needs You and Let It Burn for the sheer FUCK YOU attitude they possess so beautifully. Certainly a band you need to see live at least once, nothing compares to the care-free attitude of Mario Cuomo and his band throwing themselves around the stage, climbing lighting towers and literally tearing up venues. 

37. Shelter - Alcest
Alcest are a French band that have undergone a huge metamorphis since their inception. Whilst they started off by combining a sort of Deafhaven-style metal with shoegaze, they've moved away from the heavier routes to make a dreamy record that is just gorgeous. To show just how much more shoegaze-orientated they are for this record, Alcest's Niege has recruited Neil Halstead, the Slowdive frontman to sing on Away. As you'd imagine, the results are sufficient in that they're enough to send you to sleep, but send you to sleep in some kind of beautiful cloudy dreamworld that's somehow better than reality. The rest of the album does this too, and if you're the kind of person that's just as excited as me about Slowdive and Ride reforming, this album is 100% for you.


36. Syro - Aphex Twin

Aphex Twin, probably the most prolific maker of ambient and electro music like ever dropped his first album since 2001 this Autumn. It's surprisingly catchy, and although personally I've only been able to listen to it a couple of times, it's already an electronica classic. Aphex Twin has made a conscious effort to not be sound like anything else - "the Holy Grail" he says, "is to hear music from another planet, that has not been influenced by us whatsoever". And although he's wandered amongst us mortals for a good proportion of his life, this is as close to that as anyone has really come so far. The song titles are all a bit like they've been taken from the offcuts of the million monkeys trying type out a Shakespeare sonnet, (what is "fz pseudotimestretch+e+3 [138.85]", what does it mean?) but Aphex's first effort in thirteen years is anything but the offcuts of an earlier project. Unlike the new Pink Floyd album.

35. Crush Songs - Karen O
Crush Songs is a compilation of bedroom recordings rather than an actual bona fide studio album, with each one being up to 8 years old. But despite the fact that the material certainly isn't fresh out the packet, Karen O's solo album has certainly come out at the right time. It sounds fresh because it embodies a beautiful lo-fi sound harking back to the early eighties, where bands would release their music through a self-recorded cassette. But through the low fidelity emerges Karen O's vulnerability, and her beautiful raw emotions shine through. Through songs like the opening pair Rapt and King, Karen O's gorgeous voice seeps vulnerability and heartbreak.



34. Mess - Liars

The fast paced electronica stylings of New York trio Liars's Mess is one of 2014's most interesting albums, and probably the one with the best cover art. For their 7th studio album the post-punk band draw influence from Aphex Twin and early-Daft Punk alike, with a tinge of Neu! and Faust. The dark sounding Pro Anti Anti is a must listen, as well as Left Speaker Blown which does exactly what it says on the tin.

33. Sunbathing Animal - Parquet Courts

Album three for the band who hate all things not putting-out-a-record or going-on-tour is one of their strongest. Punchy, quick and clever, with all the different styles they've tired out drawn into fast-paced record that gets you going. Definitely a better band to see live, the energy doesn't always come across on record but nevertheless, still a fantastic LP.



32. Soused - Scott Walker + Sunn O)))

Someone call in the zombie apocalypse, because we've got ourselves a soundtrack to the extinction of humanity. Since it was announced that soul master-turned-avantgarde artiste Scott Walker and drone metal band Sunn O))) announced they'd be collaborating, everyone has been exceptionally excited, and well, they weren't disappointed - it's exactly as you'd expect. Walker's stunning voice over the top of loud, dissonant metal is so dark that you can't help but love it. It's exactly what you'd expect, but it is stunning and well worth a spin.

31. World Peace Is None Of Your Business - Morrissey

Morrissey's sort-of-comeback album was received in a multitude of ways. Some people thought it was absolute genius and possibly the best album he's ever made, and the rest thought it was a little bit naff. I am somewhere in the middle. The good tracks are incredible, I mean that title track is something special, but the bad tracks, are really quite bad and a little bit throw-in-an-album-filler for me. Not saying it isn't a good album, I think it's brilliant, but rather than having a 18-track long album with some mediocre tracks, shorten it to 12 magnificent songs one after the other. Highlight is 100% the last song, Art Hounds. Possibly one of my favourite songs Morrissey has done as a solo artist.

30. Midnight Sun - The Ghost of A Sabre Tooth Tiger
Since seeing them at End of the Road a month ago, these guys have been my obsession. Comprised of the superstar couple Charlotte Kemp Muhl (bassist - model, actress) and Sean Lennon (guitarist/vocalist - son of a fella called 'John' and his little known girlfriend 'Yoko') The GOASTT are a band that live up to all the expectations that might be swimming around in your head after hearing about the members. Their sound on their first 'proper album' Midnight Sun is almost unique; they mix an Americana-gypsy sort of sound with a neo-psych edge. The single Animals is really catchy, and although it's a bit hazy, and a bit creepy it's a flawless pop song that would make Papa John proud. Golden Earrings is just as haunting and Poor Paul Getty is pretty damn dark, and it shows that this band are renowned for more reasons than just because they're related to the Beatles, or whatever.

29. Departure - The Vacant Lots
Full of swirling Spacemen 3 drones, Departure  the 2014 offering from BJM tourmates, The Vacant Lots. Whilst they first came to my attention on the Sonic Cathedral Psych For Sore Eyes compilation, this year The Vacant Lots and their distinctive cover art have been everywhere. The album's Loop-style reverb driven shoegaze with elements of the conventional pop song fused in. Merged with low-mix vocals and repetitive Ride-reminiscent nonchalant choruses, this LP is the perfect example of a stunning shoegazing psych-pop crossover. Tracks like Never Satisfied and Mad Mary Jones show that this LP is one of the best in the shoegaze-revival cannon.

28. Dude Incredible - Shellac
Shellac are the band of the legendary Steve Albini, who is perhaps most famous for the production of In Utero and Surfer Rosa, or for being the angry angry frontman of seminal noise-makers Big Black. Either way, he's had a relatively great career. On this album, Albini returns to his roots; it's a furious celebration of riffs and the band go right for the jugular, and god is that man angry. Throughout, there isn't a weak track; but The People's Microphone is especially fantastic.

27. Salad Days - Mac DeMarco
Stunningly chilled for a man who causes so much carnage at his gigs, Mac's newest album -although not as good as the previous one- is something to be praised. The occasional off-key notes in his melodies and his beautiful lyrics match up to create this album, home to what I would say is one of his best songs ever. Chamber of Reflection is truly something special and it -as does the rest of the album- shows his extreme progression from so called 'slacker' to a very talented artist, all in the short space of two years. 

26. Rips - Ex Hex
Just over a year ago, this formidable three-piece had only just played their first show, so it's safe to say that Rips came along pretty quick. Although the members have played in pretty prolific groups before, Ex Hex are a totally new band here to blow your mind. Furiously fast, the debut release from this all girl trio is one of the more exciting indie rock records of the year - debut single Hot and Cold is especially essential, a pummelling garage rock track that would make the Yeah Yeah Yeahs jealous.

25. Alvvays - Alvvays
Canadian band Alvvays are sun-bleached indie kids who really know their shit. There's combinations of so many different genres in this album, all centered around their love for indie rock. Breezy psych pop plus a bunch of reverbs, with a sprinkling of synth and although the album is a mere 9 tracks long, it covers the topics of love, awkward social moments and intelligence. And it's flagship track, the one that everyone loves, Archie Marry Me and it's witty twee lyrics make for one of 2014's best indie moments.

24. The Physical World - Death From Above 1979

Canadian two-piece Death From Above reunited in 2011, and this is their comeback album. The Physical World is a masterpiece, showing the world that a bass-drums combo can be an omnipotent force, not just a tacky commercial band making mediocre Zane Lowe-friendly dross. Lead single, Trainwreck 1979 is probably the highlight, featuring some pulsating riffs and a genius chorus. Elsewhere, The Physical World is a closing track akin to a dance-punk Vapour Trail, whilst Government Trash is an absolutely blistering that leaves you just in awe of how amazing Death From Above still are.

23. III - Bo Ningen
The tenacious Japanese quartet's aptly titled third release hit record stores last month. Although it packs the same punches of ferocious basslines, psyched out jams and punchy-sounding Japanese lyrics as the rest of their output, III offers plenty of fresh sounds to fans of the group. The LP features a reprisal of 2010's Psychedelic Misemono Goya, and the band's collaboration with Jehnny Beth of Savages. What is, however, essential to the band's third album is punch, ferocious lead single DaDaDa - the best song the band have put out since Koroshitai Kimochi. (which is the one everyone knows with that riff)

22. Say Yes To Love - Perfect Pussy
Perfect Pussy are a stunning punk band who were described by Pitchfork as "a five-piece that sound like a hardcore band fronted by Joan of Arc". Whilst I'm not quite sure what this means exactly, but politically empowered frontwoman Meredith Graves is just about the best in the business, and this band are just something else. Say Yes To Love is about 25 minutes long, and it's relentless throughout. It's brash, but very together, and through songs like Interference Fits and Advance Upon The Reel are so intense that they can't not be a couple of my favourites of the year. Despite a name that might put a couple of people off, Perfect Pussy are a band that everyone I know would probably love. A great debut by a great band.


21. I'm In Your Mind Fuzz - King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
Aussie 7-piece King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard released their first UK LP this year, after a few records that haven't been available to hear here got them a record deal with Heavenly. King Gizzard are kind of like a revamped 60's surf band, with added psych influence. The way their album races along plunging into a whole new sonisphere with crazy sounds coming at you left and right. The first four tracks on this LP especially (I'm In Your Mind, I'm Not In Your Mind, Celophane,I'm In Your Mind Fuzz) are all brilliant, non-stop surfadelic madness; King Giz and The Wiz Liz should be everyone's favourite new thing. 

20. Clear Lake Forest - The Black Angels
There's a case, I'd argue, that The Black Angels are the greatest band of the twenty-first century. Album after album of solid, dark psychedelia has made The Black Angels pretty much without any fault at all; I've never heard a song by them I didn't like, and I'd rate each and every album (Phosphene Dreams is particularly great) very highly. Clear Lake Forest is the latest release, and although it was originally just a RSD 10', it was so fucking great that they had to give it a full scale release to every member of the music-buying public. This record is just as refined as last year's Indigo Meadow, but is still one of the finest psych records of the year.

19. Measures of Joy - Virginia Wing
When I saw Virginia Wing support Hookworms, I was kind of knocked sideways. What is this meaningless noise? What does it mean? But through a bit of persistence and the realisation that they were absent of their drummer, Virginia Wing were a band I understood, and then got into. Measures Of Joy is their debut album, and it's a collection of perfect, if not a little quirky, electronic pop gems. The highlight though, is probably Marnie, which is a three second blast that reminds me a little of Broadcast, which is just about the best thing for anything to remind anyone of. This debut is one of my favourites from a new favourite band of mine.

18. Lazaretto - Jack White
The main selling point of Lazaretto was the extremely cool piece of vinyl that it came on. The 'Ultra LP' had special features galore and even when you take away all the magic created by the vinyl, it's still a very strong album. Not only is the title track an absolute stroke of genius, but other songs like High Ball Stepper and Would You Fight For My Love? reiterate that Jack White has not lost his talent for creating a masterpiece.

17. Rhubarb Rhubarb - The Voyeurs
Last year's debut Clarietta saw The Voyeurs sounding bouncy, vibrant, and full of a  unique CBGB's influence that most their peers could do with copying. This time, although the NYC punk still there in bulk, the band have added an array of new influences to their music; most notably Ray Davies, as you can hear a bit of Davies in Boyer's lyrics. Songs like Pete The Pugilist carry a sharp wit that just wasn't there before, and Train To Minsk is a brilliant track to bop to, whilst lead single Stunners has a brilliant swagger to it.

16. Sun Structures - Temples
I first heard this in January, and god, was I disappointed. Temples' strong, faultless singles appeared on here and all the new material seemed a bit naff, and a bit samey. But as time has wore on, it's charming gems of vintage psych-pop have grown on me hugely. Whilst Shelter Song is a faultless track any which way you look at it, the new songs Golden Throne and Sand Dance are matched only in elegance by magnificence. The whole album has a pretty retro feel to it, and although there are no new standout singles on it, it's certainly a very, very good effort. Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve remixed the whole thing earlier this Autumn, and its beauty still wows me every time, what a great redo of the album that is.

15. Cheatahs - Cheatahs
One of Captured Tracks' few British artists, Cheatahs are a band that have been pigeonholed haphazardly as shoegaze by just about every music journalist like ever. Though there's a lot of reverb, and a lot of distortion, I'd probably say they take more influence from the 80's psych of Loop and the Spacemen 3 than anything else. Unlike their influences, however, a lot of energy surges through this album. Geographic is an explosion of sound, Loon Calls is a modern day slacker classic, and Kenworth sounds like musical perfection via Ned's Atomic Dustbin influence. Cheatahs are one of the single coolest bands on the scene at the moment, and their debut is a perfect showcase of their capabilities. 

14. Luminous - The Horrors
Psychedelic garage goth trailblazers, The Horrors' really, really eagerly anticipated fourth record is yet another cosmic advance on their already fast evolving sound. On Skying, they worked in some electronica to the raucous shoegaze of Primary Colours, and here it looks like they've advanced their synth-driven sound to make an all-conquering euphoric sound. At first, it was hard to get into Luminous, but it's so much more interesting than anything that similar bands could muster. The m b v-esque Jealous Sun is stunning, In And Out Of Sight is stunning, and the euphoric escalating I See You was the perfect to unveil the sparkly new Horrors to the world.

13. Don't Say That - Superfood
One of the grooviest, funkiest, let-get-down-and-dance albums of the year, this debut album by B-Town band Superfood deserves a spot in our top 15. It's feel good vibes and summery mood makes even the darkest of winter days feel like festival season again. Containing the incredible singles TV, Right On Satellite and Superfood, as well as a handful of new sun-kissed Bripop inspired gems, Superfood have not disappointed one bit. If you fancy a dance or need a pick-me-up, this is the album for you. Absolutely incredible debut from an absolutely incredible band. 


12. Everybody Down - Kate Tempest
Kate Tempest, first and foremost, is an incredibly talented, incredibly articulate poet, who on record raps her way through some of the best lyrics written by anyone in music today. The best example of this might just be on the intropective Circles, one of Everybody Down's finest moments; "I go round in circles/Not graceful, not like dancers/Not neatly, not like compass and pencil/More like a dog on a lead, going mental" she raps brilliantly. And on top of lyrics that just sound great together, Tempest works bleak, doomed characters from the underworld into her work, like the wonderful raconteur she is, whilst rapping superbly in her London accent that is probably comparable to, but oh so much better than, Jamie T.

11. Manipulator - Ty Segall
I tried to count via Wikipedia just how many albums Ty Segall's released over the past eight years. I think it's 20, give or take a few. So with such a wide range of material, and so damn much, it's an actual miracle that with 2014's offering, he's produced something so exciting, and well, so fucking perfect. Almost an hour long, with 17 songs that personify perfection, there's no way in the world to fault Ty Segall's latest effort. The precision of title track Maniplulator alongside lead single Feel are more orderly than we're used to with Ty Segall, but the T-Rex thrash that Segall sports so happily is really evident on the song Susie Thumb. The creepiness of The Clock and the slick strutting Faker are yet more highlights from one of Ty Segall's latest LP.

THE TOP TEN CAN BE FOUND RIGHT HERE

20 Nov 2014

VT MIXTAPES #1 / TEEN ANGST PREVAILS

Myself and Calum are the epitome of teen angst. (We aren't, we just like to think we are.) So we made this playlist for those times when you feel like screaming because your hormones are raging and you want to feel rebellious. Which for us is always. 


Anarchy In The UK / The Sex Pistols
What more than the most famous riotous punk band to get the teen rebellion blood raging through your veins. Blast this one extra loud to worry the family and come downstairs wearing ripped tights, a Sid Vicious shirt and safety pins in your lip to complete the look.

Hole / Royal Blood
A loud, guitary, rough and ready track to get you pumped up and match your angsty mood perfectly. How this song was only a B-side astounds me, it's fantastic.

Bloodsports / Drenge
Pretty much the kings of teen angst, another raucous, thrashy song that might make you want to punch someone. It probably will. Not sure if thats a bad thing.

Rattlesnake Highway / Palma Violets
Palma Violets' regularly wild set opener and the usual soundtrack to my angsty days, the manic yet awesome foursome will get you psyched up for a day full of insubordination.

View From The Afternoon / Arctic Monkeys
A track back from the days when AM were teens themselves and not slick dad-look-a-likes. One of their most rowdy songs from the debut and an absolute corker at that. Definitely one of their best songs ever written and it fits right in with this playlist.

Cigarettes and Alcohol / Oasis
One of the most classic mod-fer-it tracks by Oasis, even the title screams REBELLION. Whether you're a fan of the Gallagher boys whining about their rock and roll life style, you can't deny that this is truly a bloody good song.

Choke On Bones / Darlia
Darlia have been called the next Nirvana so many times I have lost count. Whether there are similarities there or not, Darlia are still great and this song especially is brilliant. It's a wild mosh pit waiting to happen.

Carnival Law / The Wytches
I couldn't make a teen angst playlist without includingThe Wytches. They're just full of rage and riot-ready-rhythms and Carnival Law from their early days just about sums all of that up perfectly.

Come As You Are / Nirvana
I was tempted to put the teen anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit in the place of this song, but it's a bit overdone and frankly, not the best song Nirvana have done. This is a lot better and much more grungey which I absolutely prefer. It also fits better on the playlist and I would much rather have this song on here.

Who Needs You / The Orwells
Finishing off this playlist is The Orwells set closer. Seeing this live was a near death experience and after they dedicated it to the NME (because who needs the f*cking NME?) it seemed the perfect way to finish off my playlist. Although less rocky than the others, it's got every element of teen angst summed up in Mario Cuomo screeching "YOU BETTER BURN THE FLAG/BECAUSE ITS NOT AGAINST THE LAW." Sheer genius.

19 Nov 2014

It's official, Ride are actually back together

19 years after they split up, two years before I was born, the almighty Ride - Oxford shoegazing legends - have actually reunited. Ride are quite possibly the greatest band of the shoegaze movement, I mean they're definitely my favourite, and it seemed almost logical that they should get back together and make some noise because these past few years have been truly prosperous years for shoegaze. Last year MBV dropped a new album, at the start of the year Slowdive got back together and Swervedriver are releasing a new album, SO the scene was undoubtedly set for the shoegaze lords of OX4 to return to the circuit.


Ride Reunite, Announce World Tour

Officially, as well as unofficially through all the many rumours, Ride have announced themselves a bit of a large scale tour. Starting with a date at the Barras, Ride are going to re-conquer the world step by step. It was first speculated about regarding Primavera Festival in Barcelona, but Field Day (where they'll also play) have too been dropping Ride reformation hints all day. Also, I called it. Just throwing that in there.

These are the dates Ride are set to play (so far)

May
22nd Glasgow, Barras
23rd Manchester, Albert Hall
24th London, Roundhouse
26th Amsterdam, Paradiso
27th Paris, Olympia
29th Barcelona, Primavera Sound Festival

June
2nd Toronto, DanForth Music Hall
4th New York City, Terminal 5
7th London, Field Day

These 9 dates are all Ride have planned for now, but it would be insanity not to go, wouldn't it? If the thought of seeing Ride play Drive Blind live isn't enough to draw you to the capital, I don't know what is.

(written by calum cashin)

18 Nov 2014

A Guide To Ride

calRight, OK, for me this is a long, rambly over-excited post about my favourite band in the world, ever, Ride. Earlier today, they kind of announced they might probably possibly be reuniting; they've popped up on twitter, (like Slowdive did about a year ago) they've erected a billboard that says 'RIDE' in that iconic font in Barcelona and their former record label Creation has Facebook-ed about the alleged '#RIDEreunion'. This is all really fucking exciting.

Ride, where to begin with them? They're my favourite band, and in my opinion probably the greatest band of the nineties, if not ever. I guess a lot of people reading this post won't be so aware about Ride's existence as some, so I'll start with an introduction to the band that has probably changed my life the most. This is the first of quite a few posts about a band that really changed my life - this one's more a Story Of Ride than anything else, because there's nothing more amazing than this band and introducing people to them.

They formed in Oxford, in 1988, with the founder members only just being old enough to leave college. They were formed of the fronting duo Mark Gardener (who did most of the singing) and Andy Bell (who was/is a real hotshot with the axe) as well as the bassist Steve Queralt and the drummer (the best drummer ever) Loz Colbert. All meeting at Cheney School, in the heart of Oxford, the duo of Bell and Gardener started to play together after learning about each other's shared love of music, et cetera, et cetera.

In 1989, the band started to play live more and more, building up a reputation as a brilliant band already, even though all of them were about 19. Creation Records boss Alan McGhee heard word of the band through Jim Reid, and followed them 'round the whole of the UK whilst they toured, until they signed to Creation - classic McGhee.

Ride's first release was a self-titled EP, which is pretty much essential listening. It's got hints of shoegaze, but it's really just a hard, fast indie record that leaves the listener hanging on for dear life all the way through. The first couple of tracks are amongst the most iconic in their whole discography; Chelsea Girl is pretty much a shoegazing punk song and Drive Blind is one of the coolest sounding things ever consigned to vinyl. You've honestly got to hear this record.


Then they released another couple of EPs; Creation Records top 40 singles charts entries. Play featured the track Like A Daydream which is pretty much the most perfect love song ever written. It's kind of anti-romance, and more lackadaisical than anything else. The next EP, Fall featured some darker tracks, and showcased Ride's capacity to write amazing automnal songs; Dreams Burn Down made their debut, but the EP also features the songs Nowhere and Here And Now, all three songs brilliant forlorn numbers that cannot be missed.

Then, the Oxford four-piece only went and released the fuckin' greatest album of all time, didn't they? Nowhere came out in the Autumn of 1990, and it's eight songs still take my breathe away each time I hear them. It starts at breakneck pace with Seagull (which Mark Gardener told me is named after the book by Richard Bach) which is a song with swirling guitar tones that leave the listener on the ropes for it's entire 6 minute duration. It features perfect pop songs, like Kaleidoscope and the euphoric Polar Bear, wispy forlorn numbers like Dreams Burn Down and Paralaysed and of course, it's rounded off with Vapour Trail - possibly the greatest song ever written. It's no coincidence that we named the blog after it. Nowhere as an album is so complete, no one could ever better it, and to hear it live would be just amazing. If you've not heard it before, I urge you to sit down and listen to it in full. Not only is it Ride's best effort, but it's better than anything their shoegaze contemporaries ever did, and that's far from an exaggeration.


After that, however, Ride just got bigger - in 1991 they toured the US, (the San Fran show was attended by the founder members of the Brian Jonestown Massacre) released another EP, Today Forever, which many people say is their favourite, and achieved a top 20 charting. Which is pretty great, for a unique band who deal in shoegazing and soundscapes.

1992 was their greatest year. It started with the single Leave Them All Behind - a nine minute sprawl of self-assured genius. It was the highest charting single for Ride, or any shoegaze band. It receieved limited airplay, but still reached number nine in the fuckin' charts. Ride. Nine minutes. Shoegaze. Top ten in the charts. That's crazy, that. Then, their second album Going Blank Again, a seminal record that's more euphoric indie pop than shoegaze was released to stupendous amounts of acclaim - it reached 5 in the charts, and it featured some songs that capture a euphoria no other band does; OX4 and Mousetrap being prime examples of this. And don't forget Cool Your Boots, a song that not only features a sound bite of Withnail and I, but also takes it's title from a thing what Paul McGann says in the film. I know I'm piling a lot of WATCH THIS, LISTEN TO THIS on anyone reading this post, but gosh you must watch Withnail and I.

 OH, and get this, they also shoegazed their way to the Reading Fest subheadline slot, playing the set before Public Enemy, the night before Nirvana. How fucking cool is that? They also made a concert DVD of a Brixton gig, and that itself is just mind-blowing...


So at this point, Ride had it all: success, a devout fanbase and the ability to carve unique sound after unique sound. In 1993, the band kind of slipped under the radar a bit; they played a few dates, but I think during that time the success got to their heads a bit. In 1994, they were set to release a new album, Carnival Of Light. Alan McGhee claimed it was to be the greatest record of all time, as he unveiled the Andy Bell-written Birdman single, which (although I love it, it's my favourite song on the album) was greeted pretty negatively. It's 6 minutes long and it's more classic rock, and the rest of the album was very much in a similar vain. Don't get me wrong, I love the Carnival Of Light album, but it was the first time Ride did something that sounded like someone else could have done it. Mind you, it's still definitely worth a listen, the first half of the album's songs are written by Mark and the second half of the album was written by Andy - it's generally worth a listen to compare the styles of the two.

After that, stuff kinda fell apart, and that really sucks. But the chemistry of Andy Bell and Mark Gardener was no more; they split during the recording of fourth album. Mark Gardener walked out of the recording sessions for Tarantula, and the rest of the band soldiered on. The result was almost a tragedy, with few interludes. There are a few good tracks on there, like Castle On The Hill, an acoustic track about the state of the band and Black Nite Crash, the lead single and a straight out rock 'n' roll track that also gives it's name to a superb record label, but Tarantula is largely an album to brush under the carpet. Creation brushed it under the carpet. Well, they officially deleted it from their back catalogue a week after it's release, and Ride were no more.

That's all very sad, but 3/4 of Ride stayed in music. Most notably, Bell formed a band called Hurricane #1 (who've now reunited without Andy Bell) and then joined Oasis, to see out the ten years of Oasis' career that probably didn't deserve seeing out. Mark Gardener did odd bits here and there, including a lot of solo work and the like. Loz Colbert joined the Mary Chain, who are probably the only band in the world as cool as Ride, and Queralt quit music altogether.

BUT NOW...

But now Ride seem like they might just be back, like contemporaries MBV and Slowdive. They look set to play next year's Primavera, and that means more stuff is on the cards. AGH. This is probably the most excited about a band's comeback ever, even Slowdive's, and like. Like. Wow, what could happen next, I hope you're all as excited as me.

More to follow



(written by calum cashin)

12 Nov 2014

The Greatest Film Soundtracks

Trainspotting
One of the most loved films soundtracks ever, the songs chosen to soundtrack this tale of extreme drug addiction seem as if they were written for this film. Never has a set of tracks fitted so perfectly. Lust for Life by Iggy Pop and Temptation by New Order come amongst the favourites, but nothing compares to the use of Lou Reed's Perfect Day to get audiences to understand the emotional side. Mile End by Pulp and A Final Hit by Leftfield are no exception, the tracks slotting perfectly into the storyline. Towards the end of the soundtrack only gains perfection; Born Slippy (Nuxx) by Underworld is ten minutes that conjures images of Rents running away with the drug money. And the very last song in the film is Closet Romantic by Damon Albarn and despite not being an Albarn fan, I couldn't think of a better way to finish off the film. 




Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Perks is the film being ~blamed~ for getting hundreds of young teenagers who saw this coming of age film in to The Smiths. It uses Asleep to fit to the spiraling depression that main character Charlie experiences throughout the film and it's done beautifully. Other songs include Come On Eileen by Dexys for a particular prom-time dance scene which will warm your heart. Teenage Riot by Sonic Youth, Low by Cracker and Temptation by New Order are all amongst the story, but possibly the most known from this film is Heroes by David Bowie. Cited as 'the tunnel song,' it's the track that the main characters are unable to identify until the very lovely ending - even if the song says the title copious amounts of times in the song. Never mind, it does make for a wonderfully happy ending alongside beaming teenage smiles and gorgeous shots of San Francisco by night. 




500 Days Of Summer
Another song to use the music of The Smiths, this tragic tale of love and woe is soundtracked brilliantly. Us and Hero by Regina Spektor, You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oats, Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap and She's Got You High by Mumma-Ra are personal highlights, with the songs fitting perfectly to the ups and downs of this film. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and Please, Please Please, Let Me Get What I Want are the two Smiths tracks used, before lead female, Zooey Deschanel's band (She & Him) cover Please... again to finish off the film. 






Control

Control is probably one of my favourite music based films ever. The story of Ian Curtis and Joy Division, sound-tracked by the Joy Division songs which fit the moment perfectly. Never has a song fitted so perfectly to a suicide than Atmosphere. All the songs link throughout the story line and make the story only more moving. It's a stunning film already and the story of Ian Curtis is of course a touching one and listening to the music of Joy Division works in the most perfect way. And and and, the soundtrack has 3 David Bowie songs on it, as well as a Velvets number and a bit of Iggy. 


Donnie Darko
This film, not the director's cut, (which is probably better overall) has some of the best uses of music in film, ever. Let's start with the start; you're greeted by a 60 minute snippet of soundtrack before one of the most iconic moments in cinema happens; the title character zipping through the countryside on his bike to The Killing Moon by the Bunnymen. It's just breathtaking. And of course, the soundtrack pieces are beautiful interludes to a great film. But the best bit must be the scene where Donnie Darko and his girlfriend (and my one true love) Gretchen Ross make out to Love Will Tear Us Apart. That scene is all the goals. There, I said it. 'All the goals'.



Reservoir Dogs
This film contains what can only be described as the best soundtracked scene ever. A torture scene including monumental amounts of blood and chopping off of ears, ALL SOUNDTRACKED BY STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU by STEALERS WHEEL. Is that not just genius? I mean Tarantino, I knew you were clever, but that's just incredible. The opening credits too, are just iconic; slow mo suited and booted cool guys walking down the street to Little Green Bag. Fuck me, it's just the coolest. Also in there is a Blue Swede song, Magic Carpet Ride by Bedlam and even Coconut by Harry Nilsson. A film thats genius must be watched to be believed. 



Juno
Juno, quite like 500 Days of Summer (but much less shit) (don't let Poppy tell you otherwise) is full of cute little indie numbers and suchlike. It's one of those films. But gosh, it has some great tracks on it's soundtrack, doesn't it? Let's start with Anyone Else But You by the Moldy Peaches (and again by the cast) that had limited exposure before the film; it's probably one of the cutest love songs ever written. It's so cute it makes me want to kill small children. And the rest of the soundtrack is just bliss; 60's classics Well Respected Man by The Kinks and I'm Sticking With You by The Velvets, as well as tracks by Cat Power, Belle & Sebastian and Mott The Hoople. OH, and it brought to light Sonic Youth's gorgeous cover of Superstar. (originally by The Carpenters - well not originally by The Carpenters, but it's The Carpenters' version they're covering) If that doesn't establish it as a classic soundtrack I just don't know what is.

















(written by Poppy Marriott / with help from Cal)