Wednesday, December 23, 2009

life, you know it can't be so easy

Top 10 Albums Of The Decade

9. The Doves - The Last Broadcast (2002) (bedshaped)

A sullen sounding singer and stories of depression, loss, death, fear, buildings and life. Not much positivity in the vocals here, but the stories themselves are great and the music is awesome.

The drums aren't hit, they're beaten. The basslines are delivered thick and heavy. The guitar twangs it's way through each track with great effect, leaving lots of Earworm hooks in it's path. And then you've got keys, piano, strings, brass, triangles, xylophones, bells, name it. All the instruments melt together so well.

This is a much more confident album than their debut, showing how they'd grown their sound. It's filled with haunting melodies, anthemic sounds of gigantic proportions and track after track of excellent songs. You can tell they had some decent money behind the production of this album too. It's a very lavish and warm sound. Essentially, they are a three piece, but they do a damn fine job when they play the songs live. And I think that's where a lot of the beauty for this band comes from. You can tell, they absolutely love what they do. This is an album delivered with love, passion and honesty.

It took me a long time to get into their latest album, but previous to that, each of their albums had been an instant hit with me. They are consistently great. Their debut album was great, and the album that followed this one; Some Cities was equally as good, but I think they really found their 'sound' and production on The Last Broadcast.

I hope they haven't peaked just yet. But if they have, then it's a shame they will mostly be known as the poor man's Elbow. Not that that's a particularly bad place to be, anyway.

Favourite track: Caught By The River. There Goes The Fear set the benchmark for the album, when it was released as lead off single. Gaining a huge reaction and tonnes of airplay, this pushed Doves much more into the mainstream. And deservedly so. But the best track by far is Caught By The River. Acoustic guitar intro, then add a little vocals, then some tambourine....all the time building layers into the depth of the sound. The guitar gets very interesting at times. I guess it's a pretty standard mellow indie song, but it's just so damned infectious. Very 'instant' feeling. What more can I say?

Listen To: Caught By The River

9. Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf (2002) (Swisslet)

I saw Queens of the Stone Age playing at Rock City in late 2002 as part of the BBC’s One Live in Nottingham event. Without a shadow of a doubt, barring perhaps only Metallica, I think that was the single best concert that I saw all decade. Why? Quite simply because they rocked like beasts.

Dave Grohl, who drummed on the album, was absent, but Josh Homme, Nick Olivieri and Mark Lanegan were all present and correct, and it was one of those old-fashioned Rock City nights where sweat dripped from the ceiling (which, since they replaced the air conditioning, you simply don’t get any more). Superb. I bought the album itself on a whim. I picked it up half thinking that it was going to be too thrashy for me, and although it certainly is thrashy in parts, with Nick Olivieri screaming his way through opening track You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire, it’s far more tuneful than that.

Yes, it’s heavy throughout, but Homme and Lanegan have a sharp ear for a tune: No One Knows and Go With The Flow are both pop songs barely concealed by thundering drums and guitars. I think what makes this album stand out is the atmosphere it creates throughout: all the songs are loosely strung together by snippets of radio dialogue as an imaginary listener works his way through the dial. It’s a conceit that just about works, but it’s the music that makes the album fly: it is dark and it is atmospheric, especially on the tracks sung by gravel-voiced Mark Lanegan. Hanging Tree in particular sticks in the mind, with its image of doomed lovers Swaying in the Breeze. The best rock album of the decade bar none.

Listen to: No One Knows

9. Thirteen Senses - The Invitation (2005) (LB)

I'll be honest - it is a bit soppy and lightweight this album, and you could easily get from start to finish without ever realising it had been on at all. However, there's something really special about The Invitation that meant, after several listens recently that I had to include it in my list.

When I moved out of my home and separated from my ex-wife, there were two albums I listened to more than any other. Both were newish releases at the time, and whilst the other album is #3 on this list, Thirteen Senses provided the other.

You might remember Into The Fire or the superb Thru The Glass but I actually really love this record from start to finish. It 's an odd one, really, as there is nothing tremendously special about it, and it translated pretty appallingly when I went to see the band lie in Nottingham in 2005. It's slow and acoustic in places but is much, much better than a lot of people gave it credit for, and it is a real shame that they basically fluffed their 'comeback' with a dodgy second album.

It barely appeared on the radar, this one, but I love it nonetheless.

Listen to: Thru The Glass

2 Discussions:

Blogger bedshaped said...

Aah, excellent choices guys!
Love the Thirteen Senses album, LB. I bought it after seeing them in a support slot for, I think, The Magic Numbers. Not amazing visually, but musically very strong live. The guys voice is....lovely.
The Queens album is noisy, grungy, grumpy and loud, and that's just how I like them. Great choice, Swisslet.

9:47 PM  
Blogger swisslet said...

13 senses were terrible live, and suffered from being too lightweight and a little bit post-Coldplay, but I think this is a good album too (even if the sticker on the cover billing them as the next Radiohead seems a bit ambitious!). The Doves record I like too, although I've never really given it the listening justice that it deserves.
As for QOSA - ah, ROCK!

12:28 PM  

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