11 Jan 2015

Vapour Trail's albums of the decade so far (Part Two: Poppy's)

10. What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? / The Vaccines (2011)
From the second you press play, the phenomenal debut album from the Vaccines explodes with the frenzied opening Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra.) Containing a mass of classic indie rock hits such as If You Wanna, Wetsuit and Post Break-Up Sex as well as short but definitely sweet gems like Norgaard and Under Your Thumb. The album is exciting, reckless and full of raging teenage hormones, which is exactly why it's one of the best albums of the decade. 

9. Born To Die / Lana Del Rey (2012)

When Lana Del Rey burst onto the scenes in 2012, people wondered where the hell this captivatingly dark darling appeared from. Her music quickly spawned criticisms with many people calling her 'depressing' and 'music to slit your wrists to.' It only took someone with a brain to realise how stunning her music really is. Born To Die contains some of the memorable chart music there has ever been, songs like Born To Die, Blue Jeans and Video Games flew over the heads of critics and cynics alike, to be appreciated by music fanatics and adoring fans. This album was a turning point for music, and Lana deserves far more appreciation and accolade than she currently receives. 

8. Ceremonials / Florence + The Machine (2011)
Hauntingly beautiful and often forgotten, Florence + The Machine's 2011 album is euphoric and hypnotic, her dreamy voice taking you on a journey through her captivating imagination. Soundtracked by some of the biggest hits from that year, such as Shake It Out, Never Let Me Go and Spectrum, alongside some hidden gems such as the album opener, Only If For A Night. Florence is one of the most innovative artists around with her music from this album alone covering an enormous range of genres and inspiring bands and DJ's alike, with one of the sounds of the summer from 2011 being a Calvin Harris remix of Spectrum. Ceremonials is whimsical whilst still being musically exceptional, an absolutely sensational record.

7. Skying / The Horrors (2011)
The third (and probably my favourite) album from skinny-legged goths, The Horrors, Skying is leaps and bounds away from what you'd expect from this band. It's electro-poppy and synthy, while still inkeeping with the Horrors' hazey shoegazey feel, as well as being home to one of the most loved singles, Still Life. The rest of the album flows perfectly from one dreamy song to another, with the true standouts being Still Life, Moving Further Away and album opener, Changing The Rain. Long gone are the Strange House and Primary Colours days, the Horrors moved onto bigger and better things, with this album being the starting point for their electro obsession which became incredibly apparent on their 2014 release, Luminous. Nonetheless, Skying is still a musical treasure. 

6. Lonerism / Tame Impala (2012) 
Five long-haired and always stoned Australians burst onto the music scene in 2010 with their debut album, but Lonerism, their second album, is where the true hits are found. Apocalypse Dreams, Feels Like We Only Go Backwards and Elephant are all from this 2012 masterpiece and the rest of the album is equally as breathtaking. Tame Impala are so unique and individual, yet they aren't always taken as seriously as they deserve because of their hippy image. These guys are seriously talented musicians, and this album is a true display of their skills. 

5. Honeyblood / Honeyblood (2014)
When Honeyblood released their debut album, it was a shock to a lot of people to find out there was only two of them.  The fact that this amount of noise is created by two girls with a guitar and a drum-kit is exceptional, even more so when the noise they are making happens to be a 12 track album full of incredible songs.  Containing one of the best songs from 2014, Killer Bangs, alongside a catalogue of hits like All Dragged Up, Bud, Super Rat and Choker, this album will in time, be cited as spawning the generation of fiery girl bands.

4.  TOY / Toy (2012)
Any album that opens with a song as strong as Colours Running Out and ends with Kopter  promises to be amazing. Toy's self titled debut came in 2012 and completely shook up the music industry. Following in the footsteps of The Horrors, TOY put a modern spin on shoegaze and brought it into the electronic 21st century. The songs are long and full of reverb, feedback, build-ups and breakdowns, but nonetheless they are all exceptional. The album as a whole flows magnificently, and it's one of those records that you don't ever want to end. It is, in short, a spiritual experience of the shoegaze persuasion. 

3. The Next Day / Bowie (2013)
When Bowie announced he would be releasing a new album, I amongst thousands of others was absolutely ecstatic. The release of the title track from said album only furthered this excitement. All my expectations were blown away when the album itself was released. It's everything you could hope for from a new Bowie album. It's innovative, meaningful, emotional and creative. This was recorded and released when Bowie was 66/67, and for a man who's career has spanned 45 years to still be putting new music out is amazing, and for it to be of the standard that The Next Day reaches, it's exceptional. Where Are We Now, (You Will) Set The World On Fire and Dirty Boys are the highlights of this stunning album and if it turns out to be the last full album Bowie ever puts out, then he should be extraordinarily proud. 

2. Annabel Dream Reader / The Wytches (2014)
Dark, dirty, gravelly and messy. Four words to sum up the best release of 2014. The Wytches blew up in 2014 and they totally deserved it. The release of their debut album created a massive hype surrounding this band and despite constant comparisons to Nirvana, their music is fully unique and it seemingly knows no boundaries. Digsaw ensures the chaos erupts from the second the album begins, and Wide At Midnight into Gravedweller keeps it all going. Gravedweller contains a thudding bassline throughout and this paired with the catchy lyrics, it makes for a wonderfully dark single. The albums contains so many hits it's difficult to keep track, but the one that stands out the most is second to last track, Crying Clown. I'm aware of how many times I have written about the riff in this song, but c'mon, it's absolutely incredible. Finished off with the sad wailings of Track 13, Annabel Dream Reader is spectacular, and deserving of our #2 spot. 

1. 180 / Palma Violets (2013)
180 by Palma Violets was released in 2013 and rapidly exploded amongst the indie community and further. By playing crazy live shows and making a name for themselves before even putting their album out there, the pre-release hype was enormous. 180 hits all the expectations and so much more with its sheer chaotic feel, but as you listen to it more and more, you realise just how musically talented these boys actually are. 

The record opens with their first proper single, Best of Friends. One of PV’s greatest talents is writing songs that are manic and riots, yet you can still sing-a-long and dance to them. This song is exactly that. It’s a pop song, but collided with garage rock and punk elements. The result? The most rhythmic yet rocky PV song out there. An explosive album opener to say the least. Following Best of Friends comes the equally influence-combing Step Up For The Cool Cats. It’s in this song that the talent in the band begins to truly bleed through. The ability to not only play their instruments way beyond their years, but their simple ability to write a fucking good song. There are ups and downs and fasts and slows and the lyrics themselves are a work of art. “you got me dancing in the sun”  is wailed by Sam Fryer with backup screeches from the bassist Chilli Jesson, before the drum rolls complete to kick off one of the biggest mosh-spawning drops you’ve ever heard.

Next comes a slight break from the chaos as the start of All The Garden Birds kicks in. Don't shoot me down/Don’t shoot me down/All the garden birds/All you need is love” is sung over a seemingly calm melody, before the chorus brings the song alive with thrashing drum beats and a bass rhythm which holds the song together. The rebellious nature increases with the song’s pace, and the number of yells from Chilli follow suit, before the last 10 seconds calm it down again, preparing the listening for the madness that comes next.

“RATTLESNAKE HIGHWAY, I WANNA GO/ TO THE PLACE THAT I KNOW” is shouted in unison as their regular live-set opener begins. The drums are fast, the guitars are faster, and the lyrics are equally as manic. Up there with my favourite songs from this album, it’s another one of their tracks that is stunningly poppy, yet somehow rocky and disorderly. It’s 2.37 of melodic turmoil. Next comes their most sing-a-long track; Chicken Dippers is heavily drum based, but the words “and you made me feel like I’m the only one” come before 6 seconds of frenzy, that always ensure the crowd go absolutely batshit crazy.

Last Of The Summer Wine follows suit, with a slow opener before re-starting the reckless rhythms that give PV that perfectly individual sound. Probably one of their poppiest songs, which brings side 1 of the record to a wonderful close. Side 2 begins with Tom The Drum. The credit for this masterpiece lies fairly heavily on Pete Mayhew's shoulders. His work on the keyboards and organs in some cases is which brings this song from just a good song, to a fucking great song. 

Next comes Johnny Bagga Donuts which is the most musically fantastic, yet wild song on the album. Again a lot of the credit falls down to Pete, but it's the chemistry between Sam and Chilli that truly bring this song alive. It's the sort of song you'd find pissheads jumping around to in the height of summer, it's a song that makes you feel alive. "OHH PLEASE/ OHH PLEASE/I REALLY WANT TO KNOW" is shouted by the band and fans alike the final section of this song, before going into what is possibly the most loved PV song.

We Found Love is nothing short of one of the best songs I have ever heard. Everything Palma Violets have experienced and been influenced comes into play in this song. It's rock, it's pop, it's early Libertines meets the Sex Pistols meets Jamie T. It's indescribably good. Just listening to it now gives me chills. Nothing comes close to this song live. A sheer work of art and the best thing PV have ever done. What comes after this is the calm and collected, Three Stars. Sam's vocals are strong and asserting, the melodies behind him are harmonious and consistently pleasing. It's the perfect predecessor to the album closer, 14.

The opening chords to 14 continue to give me as many chills as they did the first time I heard them. It's the sing-a-long song of the decade. It's nostalgic and takes me back to my last days of high school, back when I first heard this song. "Oh 14/Oh 14/Take me home" is howled over riffs and rhythms to die for, making this the absolutely perfect ending to an absolutely perfect album. As it comes to a close, the reverb continues, and just as you think it's the end, A Brand New Song begins. It's one final chance for the listening to hear the talents, the chaos and the sheer love for music from this band. It's clear they love what they're doing, and plan to have as much fun with it as they can.

As I write this, I’m spinning the record of 180 and I’m reminded of why it was my favourite album of 2013. Prior to writing this post I was watching some live videos of the first time I saw them and at that point I was reminded to why it’s my album of the decade so far. Palma Violets are one of those bands which you hear as a teenager, and they just change you. I’ll always remember the first time I heard their music, the first time I saw them live, the first time I got the talk to them and thank them for the music. 180 is nothing short of a masterpiece, the work of musical geniuses who are wrapped up in 20-something boys having the time of their lives. A truly special album which is completely and utterly deserving as my number #1 album of the decade, and possibly of all time. 

(written by Poppy Marriott)