Mike’s Top 50 Albums of 2013

1. Daft Punk: Random Access Memories
2. Harleighblu: Forget Me Not
3. These New Puritans: Field Of Reeds
4. Kacey Musgraves: Same Trailer Different Park

5. Lady: Lady
6. Rudimental: Home
7. John Grant: Pale Green Ghosts
8. Vampire Weekend: Modern Vampires Of The City

9. Arctic Monkeys: AM
10. Hookworms: Pearl Mystic
11. The Stepkids: Troubadour
12. Fists: Phantasm

13. Laurel Halo: Chance Of Rain
14. Suede: Bloodsports
15. Disclosure: Settle
16. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba: Jama Ko

17. Sleaford Mods: Austerity Dogs
18. I Am Kloot: Let It All In
19. Alison Moyet: the minutes
20. Dawn Of Midi: Dysnomia

21. Matthew E. White: Big Inner
22. Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory: Elements Of Light
23. Bombino: Nomad
24. Ballaké Sissoko: At Peace

25. Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus
26. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: English Electric
27. Emma Sweeney: Pangea
28. !!!: Thr!!!er

29. Factory Floor: Factory Floor
30. John Wizards: John Wizards
31. Rokia Traore: Beautiful Africa
32. Mayer Hawthorne: Where Does This Door Go

33. Otis Taylor: My World Is Gone
34. Jessy Lanza: Pull My Hair Back
35. Beyonce: BEYONCE
36. Georges Vert: An Electric Mind

37. The Full English: The Full English
38. Boy George: This Is What I Do
39. Marc Reeves: Of An End
40. Forest Fire: Screens
41. Quadron: Avalanche
42. Mountains: Centralia
43. Little Boots: Nocturnes
44. Primal Scream: More Light
45. Darkside: Psychic
46. Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita: Clychau Dibon
47. Heidi Talbot: Angels Without Wings
48. Tamikrest: Chatma
49. Haim: Days Are Gone
50. The Strypes: Snapshot

Mike’s Top 100 albums of 2012

During 2012, I switched to working from home, after a spell of commuting to Leeds two or three times per week. Consequently, I listened to shedloads of new music. Hence, and no sniggering at the back please, a Top 100. (And if this seems excessive, be aware that the 100 was whittled down from a shortlist of 243.)

I’ve also compiled a Spotify playlist, featuring one track from each album, in ascending order of wondrousness.

1. Natalie Duncan – Devil In Me
2. Sam Lee – Ground Of Its Own
3. Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls
4. Actress – R.I.P.
5. Carter Tutti Void – Transverse
6. Dog Is Dead – All Our Favourite Stories
7. Loudon Wainwright III – Older Than My Old Man Now
8. Moritz Von Oswald Trio – Fetch
9. Goat – World Music
10. Laurel Halo – Quarantine
11. Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man In The Universe
12. Jessie Ware – Devotion
13. Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
14. Sleaford Mods – Wank
15. Spiro – Kaleidophonica
16. Django Django – Django Django
17. Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
18. Field Music – Plumb
19. Efterklang – Piramida
20. Tindersticks – The Something Rain
21. Saint Etienne – Words And Music By Saint Etienne
22. Kylie Minogue – The Abbey Road Sessions
23. We Show Up On Radar – Sadness Defeated
24. Beach House – Bloom
25. Matt Elliott – The Broken Man
26. Get The Blessing – OC DC
27. THEESatisfaction – awE naturalE
28. Rachel Newton – The Shadow Side
29. Batida – Batida
30. Tracey Thorn – Tinsel and Lights
31. Anna Cinzia Villani – Fimmana, mare e focu
32. Ragnhild Furebotten – Never On A Sunday
33. The Black Twig Pickers – Whompyjawed
34. Rumer – Boys Don’t Cry
35. alt-J – An Awesome Wave
36. Patti Smith – Banga
37. Cafe Iman Istanbul – Fasl-i Rembetiko
38. Troyka – Moxxy
39. Cornershop – Urban Turban
40. Calan – Jonah
41. Lone – Galaxy Garden
42. Roller Trio – Roller Trio
43. Bella Hardy – The Dark Peak and The White
44. Elton John vs Pnau – Good Morning To The Night
45. Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing
46. Cornshed Sisters – Tell Tales
47. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city
48. Dexys – One Day I’m Going To Soar
49. Ebo Taylor – Appia Kwa Bridge
50. Brad Mehldau Trio – Ode
51. Hello Skinny – Hello Skinny
52. Bee Mask – When We Were Eating Unripe Pears
53. Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made The Radio
54. Auntie Flo – Future Rhythm Machine
55. Esperanza Spalding – Radio Music Society
56. Bob Dylan – Tempest
57. Neil Cowley Trio – The Face Of Mount Molehill
58. Lindstrom – Smalhans
59. Punch Brothers – Who’s Feeling Young Now?
60. Dirty Three – Toward The Low Sun
61. Seu Jorge – Musicas para Churrasco, Vol. 1
62. Storm Corrosion – Storm Corrosion
63. Lee Fields & The Expressions – Faithful Man
64. Lau – Race The Loser
65. Icebreaker – Apollo
66. Plankton Wat – Spirits
67. Mungolian Jetset – Mungodelics
68. Red Baraat – Chaal Baby
69. Mala – Mala In Cuba
70. Roc Marciano – Reloaded
71. The Swans – The Seer
72. Hannah James and Sam Sweeney – State and Ancientry
73. Scott Walker – Bish Bosch
74. Bright Light Bright Light – Make Me Believe In Hope
75. The Unthanks with Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band – Diversions Vol. 2
76. Land Observations – Roman Roads IV – XI
77. Cooly G – Playin’ Me
78. Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself
79. The xx – Coexist
80. Jack White – Blunderbuss
82. Staff Benda Bilili – Bouger Le Monde!
83. Jonas Munk – Pan
84. R. Kelly – Write Me Back
85. Four Tet – Pink
86. Hilary Hahn & Hauschka – Silfra
87. Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny – Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
88. Chairlift – Something
89. Talabarte – Talabarte
90. School Of Seven Bells – Ghostory
91. The Touré-Raichel Collective – The Tel Aviv Session
92. Josephine – Portrait
93. Dean McPhee – Son of the Black Peace
94. Anywhere – Anywhere
95. Cody Chesnutt – Landing On A Hundred
96. Portico Quartet – Portico Quartet
97. Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream
98. Matthew E. White – Big Inner
99. The Invisible – Rispah
100. Anda Union – The Wind Horse

Mike’s favourite albums of 2011

1 PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

I’ve respected and admired PJ Harvey for many years – and I’ve got almost the complete set of albums to prove it – but until now, the respect and admiration has rarely translated into out-and-out love. It’s difficult to locate the precise reasons, but this latest reinvention of PJ as some sort of post-traumatised Cassandra – head-dressed and gowned, brandishing her auto-harp like a lyre, skipping across charred battlefields with ghoulishly unnerving gaiety – is compellingly complete, and perfectly timed.

2 Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise

We had booked a holiday in Goa, but K was too ill to travel, so we took a badly needed week in Cornwall instead. Acting on a recommendation, we checked ourselves into a split-level barn conversion, owned by the ex-wife of a rock legend. Although the design favoured form over function in a way that might have been irksome to some, we revelled in its minimalism. One bright morning, as Nicolas Jaar’s album reverberated through the barn’s high-spec, surround-sound kit (well, you’d expect nothing less), I found myself pacing around the double-height living space, experiencing each sonic element as a distinct, architectural plane (*), and realising that the building offered a perfect locational fit for Jaar’s equally sleek, pared-down, clean-lined approach. The association has stayed with me since, taking me back to my “happy place” with every repeat playing.

(*) No, I wasn’t on drugs. But I can see why you might think that.

3 James Blake – James Blake

My initial distaste for Blake’s fractured, treated vocals seemed insurmountable, but something kept pulling me back, as it sometimes does with records which I think I hate. It all clicked into place when Said The Gramophone posted James Litherland’s “Where To Turn”, covered by his son as “The Wilhelm Scream”. “Cover” is the wrong word, though. “Palimpsest” expresses it better, and really that’s what the whole album’s about: rubbing away at song structures and vocal lines, and smearing over the residues. It’s an approach which I’ve long valued in painting – think of Gerhard Richter, for example – and Blake’s album proves that it can work in music, too.

4 Origamibiro – Shakkei

There are seven albums from Nottingham acts in this year’s list, which is six more than there were in 2010. That’s partly because 2011 turned out to be a landmark year for the music scene in my home city, but it’s also because I finally sat up, took notice, and had my ears opened to what was lying right under my nose. I reviewed Origamibiro’s Shakkei for the current issue of LeftLion magazine; have a read, take a listen, and see what you think.

5 Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest

Music as scented candle? In this instance, I’m guilty as charged – for if there are darker undertows to be found in any of these songs, then I have remained contentedly unaware of them. Maybe it’s a careering-towards-fifty thing, but “soothing” is a quality that I seem to have started valuing more highly, and in this respect, Gillian Welch’s music has soothed more than most. I like the sparseness, the timelessness, the gentle intimacy, and the relaxed, unhurried mood, which transfers itself from artist to listener as the album progresses… even when the listener is equally focussed on reading the weekend newspapers.

6 Katy B – On A Mission

I only went clubbing three times in 2011, which is more than most men of my age would countenance, but the London gay scene can be quite accommodating to the older gentleman, and I still felt just about able to blend. Katy B’s style of club music didn’t feature on their playlists, so these places did nothing to help me place her music in its full context, but – just as with the terrific student house-share sitcom Fresh Meat – I can still find enough familiar elements to make the imaginative leap. Clearly a committed clubber herself, Katy succeeds in communicating her love of club culture to the rest of us, winningly combining the roles of shining-eyed evangelist, front-line reporter and dancefloor companion. At the two live shows that I witnessed, teenage girls dominated the front rows. I don’t see that too often – not with female artists, at least – and so it cheered me to think that this particular mission had, for once, hit its right and proper target.

7 Lou Reed and Metallica – Lulu

I almost felt bad about placing this year’s critical consensus choice at the top of my list, but the critical consensus and I didn’t always converge so happily, and here’s the prime piece of evidence. The Wire might have placed Lulu high in their year-end poll, and Wim Wenders might have raved about it, but these people are hardly my usual kindred spirits, and as for everybody else: what’s WRONG with you all, this is GENIUS, you blinkered FOOLS! OK, so it’s overblown and preposterous genius, which teeters at times on the brink of utter risibility, but what the HELL is wrong with THAT, for pity’s sake? This will be an unimpeachable cult classic in thirty years’ time, you mark my words.

8 Paul Simon – So Beautiful Or So What

His best since Graceland, they all say. Well, I’m no expert. Still, there’s no denying that this is a masterful blend of great songwriting and superb musicianship, beautifully arranged and produced. Fantastic live show over the summer, as well.

9 Robag Wruhme – Thora Vukk

A comparatively beatier, equally pleasurable companion to the Nicolas Jaar album, which shares its knack for interweaving atmospheric field recordings with understated arrangements.

10 Souvaris – Souvaris Souvaris

My last discovery of 2011, which I’ll be reviewing for the next LeftLion. It’s also the final album for Souvaris, who play their farewell gig at Nottingham Contemporary on the night of my fiftieth birthday. A shame that I’ve left it so late to discover them, but better late than never. To be filed under “instrumental post rock”, I guess, but this spans a wide range of moods, often within the same track.

11 Gallery 47 – Fate Is The Law

This was my most played album over the summer, while I was putting in the research for my Guardian feature on the rising fortunes of Nottingham’s music scene. Here’s what I wrote about it for LeftLion.

12 Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer

Thanks to a rigorously organised routine for scanning new releases on Spotify, Ron Sexsmith finally drew my attention, God-knows-how-many albums into his career. (I’d heard some of his work before, on the second Feist album, but unwittingly so.) Apparently, his choice of Bob Rock as producer ruffled a few loyalist feathers, but the high-impact immediacy of Rock’s production felt, to me at least, like a good fit for Sexsmith’s songs. A wonderful show at the just-revamped Rescue Rooms brought out the best in them as well, particularly the irresistibly hooky opener “Get In Line” and the achingly affecting closer “Nowadays”.

13 Wolf + Lamb vs Soul Clap – DJ-Kicks

Fifteen years ago, I was buying more mix CDs than single artist albums. In 2011, I bought just three. This was by far and away my favourite: a restrained yet purposeful set, which readily lends itself to home listening. It doesn’t get properly beaty until the second half, by which time I’m warmed up and ready to, um, twitch my toes, just ever so slightly.

14 White Denim – D

I’ve never been able to reconcile White Denim’s live sets with their recorded material, which doesn’t fully represent their looser, wilder on-stage brilliance. With D, the difference finally ceased to matter. Although they still feel to me like two distinct propositions, this is where the two sides finally evened up, quality-wise. Best track: “Back At The Farm”, which presses all the buttons that require pressing.

15 Little Dragon – Ritual Union

I was alerted to Little Dragon when interviewing John Grant, who has been spending a lot of time in their home city of Gothenburg. When assembling my Best of 2011 Spotify playlist (which I should make more noise about, because it’s great), I began to detect a certain stylistic mood, which runs through many of the picks, particularly on the more electronic (but still song-orientated) end of the spectrum. I can’t quite describe that mood for you now, but it’s very much present here.

(That John Grant interview was one of my highlights of the year, by the way. We were booked for fifteen minutes, but he ended up giving me forty-five. Oh, and then he played the best show that I saw all year. And if the rules had been set differently, then his Queen of Denmark would have been my album of the year, for the second year running. Yes, I’m quite the fan.)

16 Radiohead – The King Of Limbs

As with Loutallica, I feel out of step with Radiohead, whose album slipped out without much fanfare (at least when you compare it to In Rainbows), before slipping away again just as quietly. Once my favourite band, Radiohead had been losing me by degrees from Amnesiac onwards, but whereas the much-vaunted In Rainbows raised little more than a yawn, The King Of Limbs engaged me in a way that none of their work since Kid A has managed to do. Most played track: the skittering, enveloping off-kilter funk of “Morning Mr. Magpie”.

17 Forest Fire – Staring At The X
18 tUnE-yArDs – W H O K I L L
20 June Tabor – Ashore

21 Bella Hardy – Songs Lost & Stolen
22 Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know
23 Owiny Sigoma Band – Owiny Sigoma Band
24 Tom Waits – Bad As Me

25 Fatoumata Diawara – Fatou
26 Dirty Projectors & Bjork – Mount Wittenberg Orca
27 Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica
28 Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire

29 Tinariwen – Tassili
30 Panda Bear – Tomboy
31 Hhymn – In The Depths
32 Tamikrest – Toumastin

33 Swimming – Ecstatics International
34 Amira – Amulette
35 Trichotomy – The Gentle War
36 Ry Cooder – Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down

37 The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
38 Planningtorock – W
39 Manière Des Bohémiens – When The Road Bends
40 C-Mone – Dancing With Mirrors

Albums of 2010

1. Queen Of Denmark – John Grant
2. Hidden – These New Puritans
3. Seasons Of My Soul – Rumer
4. Ali & Toumani – Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate
5. Holkham Drones – Luke Abbott
6. Sky At Night – I Am Kloot
7. Ring – Glasser
8. Gothic Road – Jackie Leven
9. Genuine Negro Jig – Carolina Chocolate Drops
10. Timbuktu Tarab – Khaira Arby
11. We Love – We Love
12. One Life Stand – Hot Chip
13. Gift – Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
14. I Speak Because I Can – Laura Marling
15. Chamber Music Society – Esperanza Spalding
16. Dust – Ellen Allien
17. Head First – Goldfrapp
18. Through Light And Trees – Smoke Fairies
19. San Patricio – The Chieftains / Ry Cooder
20. There Is Love In You – Four Tet
21. Quadron – Quadron
22. Deep And Meaningless – Ron Basejam
23. Heartland – Owen Pallett
24. Handmade Life – Chris Wood
25. The ArchAndroid – Janelle Monae
26. Niwa – Ripperton
27. The Sea – Corinne Bailey Rae
28. Black Noise – Pantha Du Prince
29. I’m New Here – Gil Scott-Heron
30. Grey Oceans – CocoRosie
31. Relayted – Gayngs
32. Contra – Vampire Weekend
33. Afrocubism – Afrocubism
34. Swim – Caribou
35. Contact, Love, Want, Have – Ikonika
36. Measure – Field Music
37. En Fin Tid – Diskjokke
38. Wake Up The Nation – Paul Weller
39. Night Work – Scissor Sisters
40. Rising Sun – The Souljazz Orchestra
41. Acolyte – Delphic
42. Tradi-Mods vs Rockers (Alternative Takes On Congotronics) – Various
43. Transference – Spoon
44. She Was Coloured In – Solar Bears
45. Before Today – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
46. Soldier Of Love – Sade
47. I And Love And You – Avett Brothers
48. Praise & Blame – Tom Jones
49. Earthology – The Whitefield Brothers
50. LP4 – Ratatat
51. Your Future Our Clutter – The Fall
52. Womb Of Dreams – Fan Death
53. Sun Comes Up Again – I Am Arrows
54. July Flame – Laura Veirs
55. Hedonism – Bellowhead
56. Here Lies Love – David Byrne & Fatboy Slim
57. Blackmagic – Jose James
58. This Is Happening – LCD Soundsystem
59. Heligoland – Massive Attack
60. Lost Where I Belong – Andreya Triana

Tracks of 2010

As usual, I’ve restricted inclusion to tracks which I enjoyed as stand-alone pieces, rather than getting bogged down in endless favourite album tracks. Consequently, the vast majority of entries on this list were released as singles (whatever “single” means in this day and age), and the list as a whole is more slanted towards the more “pop” end of my taste spectrum.

UPDATE: Click here to listen to all 70 tracks on Spotify.

1. Invisible Light – Scissor Sisters
2. We Want War – These New Puritans
3. Fire With Fire – Scissor Sisters
4. Slow – Rumer
5. Tightrope – Janelle Monae ft Big Boi
6. Round And Round – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
7. Wut – Girl Unit
8. Celestica – Crystal Castles
9. Perfect Stranger – Magnetic Man ft Katy B
10. Coma Cat – Tensnake
11. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
12. Somebody To Love Me – Mark Ronson & the Business Intl ft Boy George
13. Soldier Of Love – Sade
14. She Said – Plan B
15. Night Air – Jamie Woon
16. Mirrorage – Glasser
17. Acapella – Kelis
18. The Gaudy Side Of Town – Gayngs
19. 4th Of July (Fireworks) – Kelis
20. Gettin’ Over You – David Guetta & Chris Willis ft Fergie & LMFAO
21. Them That Do Nothing – Field Music
22. Who Makes Your Money – Spoon
23. Lewis Takes Off His Shirt – Owen Pallett
24. Limit To Your Love – James Blake
25. California Gurls – Katy Perry ft Snoop Dogg
26. Mind Reader – Kingdom ft Shyvonne
27. Gawad Teriamou – The Sway Machinery & Khaira Arby
28. In The Sun – She & Him
29. Oh! The Divorces – Tracey Thorn
30. No Tears To Cry – Paul Weller
31. Rocket – Goldfrapp
32. One Life Stand – Hot Chip
33. Tremel (Astronomer Remix) – Glasser
34. CMYK – James Blake
35. Alejandro – Lady Gaga
36. Fuck You – Cee-Lo Green
37. Dancing On My Own – Robyn
38. Odessa – Caribou
39. Firework – Katy Perry
40. Window Seat – Erykah Badu
41. Aretha – Rumer
42. OMG – Usher
43. Alive – Goldfrapp
44. Stylo – Gorillaz ft Mos Def & Bobby Womack
45. Not In Love – Crystal Castles ft Robert Smith
46. Kupanda – Mice Parade
47. Drop The Other – Emika
48. Nothin’ On You – B.o.B ft Bruno Mars
49. Bloodbuzz Ohio – The National
50. I Need A Dollar – Aloe Blacc
51. Jeans – Quadron
52. Measure – Field Music
53. Club Can’t Handle Me – Flo Rida ft David Guetta
54. Promise This (Almighty Club Mix) – Cheryl Cole
55. Try Sleeping With A Broken Heart – Alicia Keys
56. Shutterbugg – Big Boi ft Cutty
57. Dynamite – Taio Cruz
58. Alors On Danse – Stromae
59. Like A G6 – Far East Movement
60. Find Me Out – Rose Elinor Dougall
61. Baptism – Crystal Castles
62. Back To The Fuck Yeah – Pulled Apart By Horses
63. Undertow – Warpaint
64. Follow – Crystal Fighters
65. (It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love – Manic Street Preachers
66. Stereo Love – Edward Maya ft Vika Jigulina
67. I Am Europe – Gonzales
68. Tenderoni – Kele
69. Pass Out – Tinie Tempah
70. Happiness – Alexis Jordan

Gigs of 2010

I attended a mere 34 gigs this year, which is down on the past few years. Links are to reviews on my journo-blog.

1. Oumou Sangare, T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou
2. Candi Staton
3. Crystal Castles, HEALTH
4. These New Puritans
5. Noisettes
6. Scissor Sisters, Hurts
7. The Stranglers
8. Hot Chip, Casiokids
9. Whitney Houston (no, really, I mean it – sounds like we caught her on her one good night?)
10. Rod Stewart
11. I Am Kloot
12. The Gentle Isolation, The Camerawalls, Your Imaginary Friends, Kate Torralba (two gigs, same line-up)
13. Tom Robinson (60th birthday), Chew Lips, Toumani Diabate, TV Smith, Nitin Sawhney, Eugene McGuinness etc
14. Avi Buffalo
15. Hadouken!, Unicorn Kid
16. Jackie Leven
17. The Invisible
18. Plan B
19. Rihanna, Pixie Lott, Tinie Tempah
20. Bella Hardy Trio
21. Sugarhill Gang
22. Chris Wood
23. Belleruche
24. Squeeze, Lightning Seeds
25. Miike Snow
26. Owl City, Lights
27. Beverley Knight
28. The Low Anthem
29. Ellie Goulding
30. Bridget St. John, Michael Chapman
31. JLS
32. Rufus Wainwright
33. Kele
34. Joy Formidable, Chapel Club

Note (1) – Any one of the top four deserves to be my gig of the year.
Note (2) – There were no out and out stinkers this year, just a few comparatively lacklustre evenings.

Singles and tracks of 2009.

As it has been a golden year for singles, I’ve had to expand my list to a Top 100. The vast majority of these tracks were issued as singles (as evidenced by the accompanying cover art on Spotify). As per usual, I only include favourite album tracks if they somehow took on a separate life of their own, outside the context of their parent albums. (It’s a peculiar rule, but it makes sense to me.)

All but twelve of these tracks can be found on this Spotify playlist, in ascending order. What better way to spend the next six and a half hours of your life?

1. The Fear – Lily Allen
2. Bad Romance – Lady GaGa
(Joint winner of my video of the year, along with #23)
3. Remedy – Little Boots
(I danced to this on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, along with #4, #5 and #12)
4. When Love Takes Over – David Guetta ft Kelly Rowland
5. Just Dance – Lady GaGa ft Colby O’Donis
6. You’ve Got The Love (Jamie xx re-work ft The xx) – Florence and the Machine
(N.B. Florence’s original version is a strong candidate for my most hated single of 2009, and her album was my most regretted purchase of the year. Which just goes to show what you can do with a good remix.)
7. Bonkers – Dizzee Rascal & Armand Van Helden
8. Wild Horses – Susan Boyle
(Oh, you can scoff. But for me, this was the standout vocal performance of the year.)
9. I’m Not Alone – Calvin Harris
10. Baby Can’t Stop – Lindstrom & Christabelle
11. Did You See Me Coming? (Unicorn Kid mix) – Pet Shop Boys
12. Bulletproof – La Roux
13. Russian Roulette – Rihanna
14. Aidy’s Girl Is A Computer – Darkstar
15. Raindrops – Basement Jaxx
16. Jetstream (Lindstrom remix) – Doves
17. The Howling – The Phantom Band
18. Love Etc. – Pet Shop Boys
19. Crystalised – The xx
20. Day ‘N’ Nite – Kid Cudi vs Crookers
21. Audacity Of Huge – Simian Mobile Disco
22. Kilometer (Aeroplane ‘Italo 84’ mix) – Sebastien Tellier
(I spent much of January and February obsessing over Aeroplane remixes, but this was the only one with a 2009 release date.)
23. How To Stay Alive – Gong
(Joint winner of my video of the year, along with #2. Please promise me that you’ll watch this in full-screen?)
24. Daniel – Bat For Lashes
25. You Belong With Me – Taylor Swift
26. Lion Hat – Unicorn Kid
27. Umbrella Beach – Owl City
28. My Girls – Animal Collective
29. Stillness Is The Move – Dirty Projectors
30. New In Town – Little Boots
31. Tirsdagsjam – Lindstrom & Prins Thomas
(I once mistyped this as Tirdgasjam. Arf arf.)
32. Love Me Like This (Nonsense Dub) – Floating Points
33. Zero – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
34. This Momentary – Delphic
35. Fireflies – Owl City
(Absolutely baffled by the almost unanimous hipster hate for this one.)
36. Wee Monsters – Unicorn Kid
37. Islands – The xx
38. Folk Song Oblivion – The Phantom Band
39. Omen – The Prodigy
40. Empire State Of Mind – Jay-Z ft Alicia Keys
(Oh God, have I become one of those people who lists token Jay-Z tracks in an effort to pretend that he still “keeps up” with hip hop?)
41. Boom Boom Pow – Black Eyed Peas
42. Tic Toc – Permanent Vacation ft Kathy Diamond
43. Runaway – Grum
44. Ready For The Weekend – Calvin Harris
45. Cannibal Resource – Dirty Projectors
46. Pretty Wings – Maxwell
47. Paparazzi – Lady GaGa
48. Basic Space – The xx
49. A Nightingale – Isolee
(B-side of the year, if there is still any residual meaning in the concept.)
50. From Africa To Malaga – JJ
51. Maybe So, Maybe No – Mayer Hawthorne
52. Moto Moindo – Staff Benda Bilili
53. Rushing To Paradise (Walkin’ These Streets) – House Of House
54. I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
55. Not Fair – Lily Allen
56. If You Ever Get Famous – The Duke & The King
57. These Are My Twisted Words – Radiohead
58. Poker Face – Lady GaGa
59. Hooting & Howling – Wild Beasts
60. Embers – Just Jack
61. Arrogance Ignorance And Greed – Show Of Hands
62. Get Fresh – Kid Sister
63. Young Forever – Jay-Z ft Mr Hudson
64. Kingdom Of Rust – Doves
65. In The Morning – Fuzzy Logik ft Egypt
66. Take Me Back – Tinchy Stryder ft Taio Cruz
67. Lisztomania – Phoenix
68. Let’s Go Surfing – Drums
69. Party Hard – Donae’o
70. One Day – The Juan Maclean
71. General – Buraka Som Sistema
72. Chasing Pirates – Norah Jones
73. French Navy – Camera Obscura
74. S’il Fallait Le Faire – Patricia Kaas
75. In For The Kill (+ Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Remix) – La Roux
76. Number 1 – Tinchy Stryder ft N-Dubz
77. Make It Better – Anoraak
78. Bad Habits – Maxwell
79. Ambling Alp – Yeasayer
80. We Are The People – Empire Of The Sun
81. Story Of A Heart – Benny Andersson Band
82. Never Leave You – Tinchy Stryder ft Amelle
83. Method Of Modern Love – Saint Etienne
84. 1901 – Phoenix
85. 11th Dimension – Julian Casablancas
86. Love Story – Taylor Swift
87. Hyph Mngo – Joy Orbison
88. Animal – Miike Snow
89. Holiday – Dizzee Rascal
90. For Your Lover Give Some Time – Richard Hawley
91. Halo – Beyonce
92. Run This Town – Jay-Z ft Rihanna & Kanye West
93. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
94. Bad Gyal – Ms Dynamite
95. Fire Burning – Sean Kingston
96. T-Shirt (+ Crazy Cousinz Vocal Remix) – Shontelle
97. It’s My Time – Jade Ewen
98. I’ll Keep On Loving You – Walter Jones
99. If I Had A Heart – Fever Ray
100. Restless – Buraka Som Sistema

Albums of 2009.

Here’s a Spotify playlist, containing a sample track from 33 of these albums.

1. Live In London – Leonard Cohen
2. Vertical Ascent – Moritz von Oswald Trio
3. Here’s The Tender Coming – The Unthanks
4. Tres Tres Fort – Staff Benda Bilili
5. The xx – The xx
6. Bitte Orca – Dirty Projectors
7. Warm Heart Of Africa – The Very Best
8. II – Lindstrom & Prins Thomas
9. BLACKsummers’night – Maxwell
10. Le Suivant – Smith & Mudd
11. Origin:Orphan – Hidden Cameras
12. Arc Light – Lau
13. Checkmate Savage – The Phantom Band
14. Yesterday And Today – The Field
15. Tarot Sport – Fuck Buttons
16. Merriweather Post Pavillion – Animal Collective
17. Troyka – Troyka
18. La Roux – La Roux
19. The Fame Monster – Lady GaGa
20. My Maudlin Career – Camera Obscura
21. The Glare – McAlmont & Nyman
22. The Middle Way – Keaver & Brause
23. Imidiwan: Companions – Tinariwen
24. Two Suns – Bat For Lashes
25. Inspiration Information – Mulatu Astatke & the Heliocentrics
26. 2032 – Gong
27. The Future Will Come – The Juan Maclean
28. Two Dancers – Wild Beasts
29. Vagarosa – CéU
30. Ready For The Weekend – Calvin Harris
31. Hands – Little Boots
32. Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast – Cornershop
33. JJ N° 2 – JJ
34. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Phoenix
35. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
36. Party Hard – Donae’o
37. See Mystery Lights – YACHT
38. Real Life Is No Cool – Lindstrom & Christabelle
39. The Glass Bead Game – James Blackshaw
40. It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen

Gigs of 2009.

Reviews of most of these can be found on my freelance blog.

1. Beyonce
2. Gong
3. Cliff Richard & the Shadows
4. Crystal Stilts, Wet Paint, Manhattan Love Suicides
5. The Unthanks
6. The Specials
7. Neil Young
8. Elbow, The Acorn
9. Gary Numan
10. Lau
11. Late Of The Pier
12. Bat For Lashes, Yeasayer
13. Eurovision Preview Night
14. Lionel Richie
15. Dizzee Rascal
16. Bellowhead, Belshazzar’s Feast
17. White Denim
18. David Byrne
19. Telepathe, Times New Viking, Rainbow Arabia, Icy Demons
20. White Lies
21. Unicorn Kid
22. The Nolans
23. La Roux, Heartbeat, Magistrates, The Chapman Family
24. Basement Jaxx
25. Fuck Buttons, Zun Zun Egui
26. Melanie Safka
27. Buzzcocks
28. Rhydian
29. The Phantom Band
30. Slaid Cleaves
31. Ungdomskulen
32. V Festival: Oasis, Lady GaGa, Athlete, Human League, Joe Lean, Miike Snow, Proclaimers, Bjorn Again
33. Glasvegas, Friendly Fires, White Lies, Florence & the Machine
34. Doves
35. Tinchy Stryder
36. Animal Collective
37. Frankmusik
38. VV Brown
39. Easy Star All-Stars
40. Okkervil River, Dawn Landes
41. Portico Quartet, Red, Natalie Duncan
42. The Magic Numbers
43. Alabama 3
44. Keane, Frankmusik
45. La Roux
46. Maximo Park, Bombay Bicycle Club
47. Kaiser Chiefs, Black Kids, Esser
48. Alesha Dixon

Mike’s albums of 2008.

Ah, what a list this is! From where I’m sitting, this has been a stunning year for albums, nudging me to conclude that 2008 has perhaps been this decade’s finest year for music.

(The one disappointment has been the lack of African music – but then I did rather take my off the ball in that regard, having Mali-ed myself out by the end of 2007.)

1. Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid

An album I rate from a genre I hate (middle-youth indie-lite mope-rock, to be precise). Piercingly honest, palpably heartfelt songs of love, loss, loneliness, friendship and second chances. Pitch-perfect performances, exquisitely produced. You owe it to yourselves to see them live. (But maybe not at Wembley Arena in March. I can’t see how the intimacy would scale up.)

2. Late of the Pier – Fantasy Black Channel

Local boys done good (for once). Everything that the Klaxons promised, but didn’t deliver. Rowdy and screechy and all over the place. Am I supposed to be too old for this sort of thing?

3. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

You have to be wary of albums which knock you out on the first listen, as this usually signifies a series of rapidly diminishing returns. And sure enough, I did reach a point over the summer where this felt somewhat played out. As it turned out, this was nothing that a couple of months of “laying down” couldn’t cure. An obvious pick, but the critical consensus got it right on this one.

4. Lindstrøm – Where You Go I Go Too

Perfect travelling music: epic, expansive, atmospheric, with slow builds towards intensely pleasurable peaks. (I want to say “soundscapes”, but it’s such a wanky word.) Is this Cosmic Disco, Nu-Balearica, or both, or neither? It’s so hard to keep track of these things. Shades of Jean-Michel Jarre and Jan Hammer along the way, and I never thought I’d be mentioning them in a positive context.

5. Hercules & Love Affair – Hercules & Love Affair

Smart, sexy, moody New York neo-disco, from the ones who got away on the gig-going front. (Did they HAVE to come to town on the same night as Public Enemy?)

6. Portishead – Third

I have to be in a Certain Mood for it, stark bleakness not being my strongest aesthetic suit. Consequently, this is my least played album in the top ten. But when the mood is right, the effect is staggering. If I were but starker and bleaker, this would have topped the list.

7. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

I’ve had to vault the bar of their Springsteen-isms, and it’s a bar which prevented me from getting to grips with their earlier work – but there’s something new here (an expansiveness? an authority? an added depth and weight?) which keeps pulling me back, and a seemingly bottomless lyrical and conceptual richness which should keep me returning in weeks to come. In this context, Craig Finn’s comment that “hopefully on someone’s 75th listen, they get something that they didn’t get out of the 74th” is most reassuring. There’s no rush. Give it time.

8. Lone – Lemurian

Woozy, hazy, sun-bleached wonkiness from Nottingham’s king of the wow and the flutter. An imaginary soundtrack for the summer that never was.

9. Barry Adamson – Back To The Cat

Did I just say “imaginary soundtrack”? Perplexingly overlooked film noir magnificence.

10. Bellowhead – Matachin

English folk done in a big band style, by a veritable supergroup drawn from folk’s new breed (Spiers, Boden, the boys from Faustus). Jollier than its more Brechtian predecessor, and hence my feelgood album of choice for that crucial first beer on a Saturday evening.

11. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
12. Solange Knowles – Sol-Angel And The Hadley St. Dreams
13. Grace Jones – Hurricane
14. Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir – Ten Thousand
15. Lau – Lau Live
16. The Dodos – Visiter
17. Geeneus – Volumes One
18. Amadou & Mariam – Welcome To Mali
19. The P Brothers – The Gas
20. The Bug – The Zoo

21. Laura Marling – Alas, I Cannot Swim
22. Joan As Polce Woman – To Survive
23. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
24. Martha Wainwright – I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too
25. British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
26. Goldfrapp – Seventh Tree
27. Neil Diamond – Home Before Dark
28. Paul Weller – 22 Dreams
29. Erykah Badu – New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)
30. Rokia Traoré – Tchamantché

31. Estelle – Shine
32. Lambchop – OH (Ohio)
33. Jamie Lidell – Jim
34. Benga – Diary of an Afro Warrior
35. The Breeders – Mountain Battles
36. Various / Fred Deakin – Nu Balearica
37. Mary Hampton – My Mother’s Children
38. Shearwater – Rook
39. Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak
40. Teddy Thompson – A Piece of What You Need

41. Drever, McCusker, Woomble – Before The Ruin
42. Faustus – Faustus
43. Kelley Polar – I Need You To Hold On While The Sky Is Falling
44. Camille – Music Hole
45. Various / Charles Webster – Defected presents Charles Webster
46. Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires
47. System 7 – Phoenix
48. The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
49. Scooter – Jumping All Over The World
50. The Rascals – Rascalize

And what were your favourites? Do tell.

Mike’s tracks of 2008.

1. If I Were A Boy – Beyoncé
2. Blind – Hercules & Love Affair
3. The Bones Of You – Elbow
4. What’s It Gonna Be – H “Two” O ft Platnum
5. Happy House – The Juan MacLean

6. Magpies – Joan As Police Woman
7. A&E – Goldfrapp
8. American Boy – Estelle ft Kanye West
9. Time To Pretend – MGMT
10. Do You Mind (Crazy Cousinz House Mix) – Paleface ft Kyla

11. Focker – Late of the Pier
12. One Day Like This – Elbow
13. Williams’ Blood – Grace Jones
14. In The Air – Perempay ‘N’ Dee ft Katie Pearl
15. Entropy Reigns (In The Celestial City) – Kelley Polar
16. Bongo Jam – Crazy Cousinz ft Calista
17. Paper Planes – MIA
18. The Bears Are Coming – Late of the Pier
19. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes
20. Viva La Vida – Coldplay

21. Spotlight – Jennifer Hudson
22. As I – Geeneus ft Katy B
23. I Decided (Part 1) – Solange Knowles
24. That’s Not My Name – Ting Tings
25. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa – Vampire Weekend
26. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyoncé
27. Ready For The Floor – Hot Chip
28. Weather To Fly – Elbow
29. I’m Right Here (Perempay ‘N’ Dee remix) – DJ MA1 ft Sophia
30. Space And The Woods – Late of the Pier

31. Pretty Amazing Grace – Neil Diamond
32. A-Punk – Vampire Weekend
33. Sandcastle Disco – Solange Knowles
34. Ghosts – Laura Marling
35. Blue Ridge Mountains – Fleet Foxes
36. Broken – Late of the Pier
37. Falling Again – Wookie ft Ny
38. Swagga Like Us – Jay-Z & T.I. ft Kanye West & Lil Wayne
39. Sequestered In Memphis – The Hold Steady
40. Devil In A Blue Dress – Donaeo

41. Paris – Friendly Fires
42. Skinny Love – Bon Iver
43. Oxford Comma – Vampire Weekend
44. Mercy – Duffy
45. Leviathan Bound – Shearwater
46. Veronica’s Veil – Fan Death
47. Love Lockdown – Kanye West
48. Green Light – John Legend ft Andre 3000
49. Bathroom Gurgle – Late of the Pier
50. Need U Bad – Jazmine Sullivan

51. Daddy’s Gone – Glasvegas
52. Divine – Sebastien Tellier
53. Stay Positive – The Hold Steady
54. He Doesn’t Know Why – Fleet Foxes
55. Time To Let Go – Perempay ‘N’ Dee ft Cleo Sol
56. Shut Up And Let Me Go – Ting Tings
57. African Warrior – Donaeo
58. Starlings – Elbow
59. The Devil Don’t Mind – littlelostdavid
60. In The Hospital – Friendly Fires

61. Wearing My Rolex – Wiley
62. Fools – The Dodos
63. Fuckaz – The Bug (ft The Spaceape)
64. Sabali – Amadou & Mariam
65. Human – The Killers
66. T.O.N.Y. – Solange Knowles
67. Great DJ – Ting Tings
68. Telephone – Erykah Badu
69. Sun Machine – The Shortwave Set
70. I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You – Black Kids
71. Jumping All Over The World – Scooter
72. Zero M2 – Benga
73. Gabryelle (D-Malice Refix) – DJ Technic
74. Waving Flags – British Sea Power
75. Put A Donk On It – Blackout Crew

Mike’s gigs of 2008.

1. Leonard Cohen – Manchester Opera House – June 19th (10)
2. Liza Minnelli – Royal Concert Hall – May 30th (10)
3. Elbow – Leicester De Montfort – October 16th (10)
4. Late Of The Pier, Fan Death – Chameleon Arts Café – November 30th (10)
5. Elbow – Rock City – April 14th (10)
6. White Denim – Bodega Social Club – July 7th (10)
7. The Dodos, Euros Childs – Bodega Social Club – September 14th (10)
8. Gary Numan (Replicas tour) – Rock City – March 5th (10)
9. Lou Reed (Berlin tour) – Royal Concert Hall – June 26th (10)
10. Gong – The Forum, London – June 15th (10)

11. Fleet Foxes, J.Tillman – Trent Uni – November 2nd (9)
12. Duran Duran, The Duke Spirit – Arena – July 6th (9)
13. British Sea Power, Make Model – Rescue Rooms – January 22nd (9)
14. The Breeders – Trent Uni – April 10th (9)
15. Girls Aloud, The Saturdays – Arena – May 20th (9)
16. Yazoo – Royal Concert Hall – June 11th (9)
17. Public Enemy – Rock City – May 28th (9)
18. Duffy – Bodega Social Club – March 7th (9)
19. Holy Fuck – Bodega Social Club – October 15th (9)
20. Glasvegas – Bodega Social Club – January 31st (9)

21. Lorna Luft: Songs My Mother Taught Me – Royal Concert Hall – February 11th (9)
22. Yazoo – Civic Hall Wolverhampton – June 12th (9)
23. The Hold Steady – Rock City – December 9th (9)
24. Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, Congregation – Bodega Social Club – August 13th (9)
25. Barry Adamson – Rescue Rooms – April 6th (8)
26. The Beat, Neville Staple – Rescue Rooms – March 6th (8)
27. Alison Moyet – Royal Concert Hall – January 23rd (8)
28. Laura Marling – Rescue Rooms – November 4th (8)
29. Show Of Hands with Miranda Sykes – Rescue Rooms – November 27th (8)
30. Nouvelle Vague, Gabriella Cilmi – Rescue Rooms – February 7th (8)

31. Human League, ABC, Heaven 17 (The Steel City Tour) – Royal Concert Hall – December 3rd (8)
32. Spiers & Boden – The Maze – September 15th (8)
33. The Temptations, YolanDa Brown – Royal Concert Hall – October 29th (8)
34. UK Eurovision Preview Party (Ani Lorak, Bucks Fizz, Sirusho, Nanne Grönvall, Laka, Maria Haukaas Storeng, Isis Gee, Morena) – The Scala, London – April 25th (8)
35. System 7 – Rescue Rooms – February 15th (8)
36. Faustus – Playhouse – September 11th (7)
37. Drive-By Truckers – Rescue Rooms – August 7th (7)
38. Vampire Weekend – Sheffield Academy – October 22nd (7)
39. Martha Wainwright, Angus & Julia Stone – Rock City – November 3rd (7)
40. CSS – Rescue Rooms – October 13th (7)

41. Joan As Police Woman – Rescue Rooms – December 10th (7)
42. Black Kids, Team Waterpolo – Rescue Rooms – July 2nd (6)
43. Y Not Festival (Whiskycats, The Rusticles, Esteban, The Moutown Project, The Fallout Theory, New Groove Formation, Max Raptor, Toufique Ali, Anthea Neads, Jackel) – Pikehall – August 1st (6)
44. Menomena – Rescue Rooms – February 28th (6)
45. The Twilight Sad – Bodega Social Club – March 25th (6)
46. Pete Burns – Nightingale Birmingham – April 5th (6)
47. The Rascals – Rescue Rooms – June 4th (6)
48. John Barrowman – Royal Concert Hall – April 9th (6)
49. Westlife, Hope – Arena – June 24th (6)
50. Laura Veirs – The Maze – February 12th (6)

51. The Ting Tings – Rock City – September 24th (6)
52. Here and Now Tour (Rick Astley, Bananarama, ABC, Paul Young, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Johnny Hates Jazz, Cutting Crew) – Arena – May 9th (6)
53. Heavy Trash, Powersolo – Bodega Social Club – September 30th (6)
54. Delays – Bodega Social Club – March 4th (5)
55. The Futureheads – Rescue Rooms – June 3rd (5)
56. The Orb – Rescue Rooms – May 15th (4)
57. Will Young – Royal Concert Hall – November 28th (4)
58. Seth Lakeman – Rescue Rooms – April 23rd (3)
59. Boy George – Royal Concert Hall – February 8th (3)
60. MGMT – Bodega Social Club – February 28th (2)
61. Seasick Steve – Rock City – October 9th (2)
62. Joe Lean & the Jing Jang Jong – Rescue Rooms – May 19th (1)
63. Dolly Parton – Arena – July 1st (1)

Mike’s albums of 2007.

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1. The UnfairgroundKevin Ayers
2. Sound Of Silver – LCD Soundsystem
3. Release The Stars – Rufus Wainwright
4. The Bairns – Rachel Unthank And The Winterset
5. The Good The Bad & The Queen – The Good The Bad & The Queen
6. Raising Sand – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
7. Because I Love It – Amerie
8. Hissing Fauna, You Are The Destroyer – Of Montreal
9. Stardom RoadMarc Almond
10. Aman Iman: Water Is Life – Tinariwen
11. Mirrored – Battles
12. The Reminder – Feist
13. Holy Fuck – Holy Fuck
14. Good Girl Gone Bad – Rihanna
15. Untrue – Burial
16. Apples – June Tabor
17. Late December – Maria McKee
18. Curse Of The Laze – The Laze
19. Cuilidh – Julie Fowlis
20. Overpowered – Róisín Murphy
21. Kala – M.I.A.
22. White Chalk – PJ Harvey
23. In Rainbows – Radiohead
24. The Miracle Inn – Euros Childs
25. Made In Dakar – Orchestra Baobab
26. Segu Blue – Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
27. Planet Earth – Prince
28. Comicopera – Robert Wyatt
29. Lady’s Bridge – Richard Hawley
30. Neon Bible – Arcade Fire


1. Body Language Vol.5 (Chateau Flight)
2. BBC Folk Awards 2007
3. The Rough Guide To World Party
4. Rough Trade Shops – Counter Culture 1976
5. Box of Dub Vol.2: Dubstep and Future Dub
6. Late Night Tales (Nouvelle Vague)
7. Good Times Vol.7 (Norman Jay)
8. Fabriclive 36 (James Murphy & Pat Mahoney)
9. The Triptych (Fred Deakin)
10. Hallam Foe OST


1. Ring Them Bells – Joan Baez
2. Mothership – Led Zeppelin
3. 101 70s Hits – Various

Duds of the Year:

Fantastic Playroom – New Young Pony Club
Theology – Sinead O’Connor
Another Side – John Barrowman
Brett Anderson – Brett Anderson

Delayed But Played:

1. Back To Black – Amy Winehouse
2. Sigil – Nuru Kane
3. Burial – Burial
4. Burlesque – Bellowhead
5. Beautiful World – Take That
6. The Letting Go – Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
7. Begin To Hope – Regina Spektor
8. Calcutta Slide Guitar – Debashish Bhattacharya
9. B’Day – Beyoncé
10. Song Of The Blackbird – William Elliott Whitmore

New Discoveries and Re-discoveries:

1. You – Gong
2. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight – Richard & Linda Thompson
3. Sweet Deceiver – Kevin Ayers
4. Good Morning – Daevid Allen & Euterpe
5. The Very Best Of Timi Yuro – Timi Yuro
6. On Land And In The Sea – Cardiacs
7. Odetta Sings Dylan – Odetta
8. Third – Soft Machine

Mike’s singles of 2007.

1. Your Love Is A Tease – Rod Thomas

2. With Every Heartbeat – Robyn with Kleerup
3. Atlas – Battles
4. 1234 – Feist
5. Out Of Control (Song 4 Mutya) – Groove Armada
6. Going To A Town – Rufus Wainwright
7. North American Scum – LCD Soundsystem
8. You! Me! Dancing! – Los Campesinos!
9. Let Me Think About It – Ida Corr vs Fedde Le Grand
10. Boring – The Pierces
11. Hate That I Love You – Rihanna ft Ne-Yo
12. All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem
13. I Found U – Axwell ft Max C
14. Love Is A Losing Game – Amy Winehouse
15. Take Control – Amerie
16. Umbrella – Rihanna ft Jay-Z
17. F**k It, I Love You – Malcolm Middleton
18. Jimmy – M.I.A.
19. Lil’ Star – Kelis ft Cee-Lo
20. Shine – Take That
21. Icky Thump – White Stripes
22. No Pussy Blues – Grinderman
23. Let Me Know – Róisín Murphy
24. D.A.N.C.E. – Justice
25. Starz In Their Eyes – Just Jack
26. Fluorescent Adolescent – Arctic Monkeys
27. Let It Go – Keyshia Cole ft Lil’ Kim & Missy Elliott
28. I’d Wait For Life – Take That
29. It Will Find You – Maps
30. Perfect Exceeder – Mason vs Princess Superstar
31. Valerie – Mark Ronson ft Amy Winehouse
32. The Creeps – Camille Jones vs Fedde Le Grand
33. Gotta Work – Amerie
34. Don’t Stop The Music – Rihanna
35. Call The Shots – Girls Aloud
36. Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse – Of Montreal
37. Overpowered – Róisín Murphy
38. Golden Skans – Klaxons
39. I’m A Flirt (remix) – R.Kelly ft T.I. & T-Pain
40. Do It Again – Chemical Brothers
41. Tonight The Streets Are Ours – Richard Hawley
42. The Worrying Kind – The Ark
43. No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
44. Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
45. The Magic Position – Patrick Wolf
46. Take It Like A Man – Dragonette
47. Boyz – M.I.A.
48. My Moon, My Man – Feist
49. Get Down – Groove Armada ft Stush
50. Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse
51. It’s The Beat – Simian Mobile Disco
52. The Sweet Escape – Gwen Stefani ft Akon
53. Acceptable In The 80s – Calvin Harris
54. Someone Great – LCD Soundsystem
55. Horse Riding – Euros Childs
56. Summer Wine – Ville Valo & Natalia Avelon
57. Uninvited – Freemasons ft Bailey Tzuke
58. Keep The Car Running – Arcade Fire
59. Männer Sind So Scheisse Sexy – The Admirals (ft. Seraphina)
60. Water – Elitsa Todorova & Stoyan Yankoulov
61. Potential Breakup Song – Aly & AJ
62. Candyman – Christina Aguilera
63. Destination Calabria – Alex Gaudino ft Crystal Waters
64. Sunday Girl – Erasure
65. I Wanna Love You – Akon ft Snoop Dogg
66. Same Jeans – The View
67. Tenderoni – Chromeo
68. Heart It Races – Architecture In Helsinki
69. Pogo – Digitalism
70. Beautiful Liar (+ Freemasons Remix Edit) – Beyonce & Shakira
71. About You Now – The Sugababes
72. Absolutely No Decorum – The Ark
73. Our Velocity – Maxïmo Park
74. Kingdom Of Doom – The Good The Bad & The Queen
75. Goodbye Mr A – Hoosiers

Mike’s tracks of 2007.

(As opposed to singles, which are on a separate list.)

1. The Dancing/Miss Lindsay Barker – June Tabor
2. Matadjem Yinmixan – Tinariwen
3. Our Life Is Not A Movie Or A Maybe – Okkervil River
4. Slideshow – Rufus Wainwright
5. Late December – Maria McKee
6. Hùg air a Bhonaid Mhòir – Julie Fowlis
7. Flying Over Bus Stops – Athlete
8. Over The Ice – The Field
9. Chelsea Rodgers – Prince
10. Walk On Water – Kevin Ayers
11. Race:In – Battles
12. The Ballad Of The Sad Young Men – Marc Almond & Antony Hegarty
13. Sea Song – Rachel Unthank & the Winterset
14. Us Placers – CRS (Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams)
15. A Sentence Of Sorts In Kongsvinger – Of Montreal
16. A Modern Midnight Conversation – Chemical Brothers
17. Baby Come Home – Kevin Ayers & Bridget St. John
18. Power On, Little Star – Maria McKee
19. I’m A Broken Heart – The Bird And The Bee
20. You Wanna F**k Me – Cocorosie

Mike’s gigs of 2007.

This year, I attended a whopping 58 gigs (compared with a mere 30 in 2006), and I thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of them. These were my absolute favourites.

1. From The Jam, Rescue Rooms, May
When the chants down the front changed from “We are the mods” to “Who needs Weller?” you knew Bruce and Rick’s gamble had paid off.

2. Beyoncé, Arena, June
Also the winner of 2007’s How Many Superlatives Can I Cram Into One Review Award. If only all Arena gigs were of this exemplary standard…

3. Cardiacs, Rescue Rooms, November
Revelation of the year! This lot have been together for 30 years, and yet I’ve only just discovered them. Proving that prog and punk CAN mix, and that songs with impossible time signatures can still be moshable.

4. Los Campesinos!, Social, March
In some respects, as traditionally “indie” as indie gets (shambling undergraduates in charity-shop cardigans, all very Peel Would Approve) – and as such, not something which would normally float my boat – but when it’s done as captivatingly well as this, I’m not about to argue.

5. Amy Winehouse / Mr. Hudson & the Library, Rock City, March
The wheels may have fallen off Amy’s wagon rather too often since, but we had it lucky: she was straight, sober and stunning. Having initially found Back To Black rather too mannered to convice, I emerged from this show fully converted.

6. Feist, Social, September
On the night that 1234 went Top Forty, the Social’s consistently ahead-of-the-curve booking policy gave us one last chance to experience Leslie Feist in a suitably intimate setting. A fine performance, with no lingering traces of dinner-party-friendly Hipster Norah Jones-isms (if that’s even such a bad thing in the first place).

7. Rachel Unthank & the Winterset, The Maze, November
Jollier, jokier and less austere than the second album might have suggested, but with none of their essential impact diluted along the way. If English folk is not your bag, then be prepared for a serious re-think.

8. Get Cape Wear Cape Fly / Kate Nash, Trent University, January
On the strength of this show, I had Mister Cape pegged as a major star by the summer, and Ms Nash as a Lily Allen wannabe who would sink without trace. What unfathomably strange creatures the British public can be…

9. Black Mountain / Evil Hawk, Rescue Rooms, December
Glistening Irridescent Shards Of Pure Unfettered Sound Alert! Crack open the Thesaurus, Mabel, this is a good ‘un! Black Mountain’s second album “drops” in 2008, and I for one shall be around to catch it when it falls.

10. Young Knives / Ungdomskulen / The Housewives, Rescue Rooms, October
OK, so the Young Knives were no more than OK – but the Norwegian prog-trash trio Ungdomskulen were a revelation, and duly pick up the Support Act Of The Year award.

11. Low, Rescue Rooms, April
One of those rare gigs where the band plays quiet, and everyone concentrates (see also Feist above). Rescue Rooms, I commend you. A truly spell-binding show.

12. Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Royal Centre, November
When it comes to the restoration of his muse to 2000-era Heartbreaker levels, the number of false dawns has been second only to Prince – but now, with his demons firmly dispelled, Ryan’s time could well have come at last. (That was a shit sentence, but I’m on me hols and temporarily past caring.)

13. John Martyn, Royal Centre, May
A grim start to be sure, but everything snapped into focus for the classic Solid Air album, which was played in full. What began as a dithery mumble ended as a passionate roar.

14. Euros Childs / Das Wanderlust, Social, September
Understated, self-effacing, alternately reflective and whimsical, effortlessly charming and melodically acute… no, it’s not Kevin Ayers, but Euros could be shaping up as his spiritual heir.

15. Joan Baez, Royal Centre, March
But I thought she was all pious and preachy? Volte-face of the year, as I finally twig just what makes La Baez one of the greats.

16. Donny Osmond, Royal Centre, October
The second of three occasions (the others being Jason Donovan and the Arcade Fire’s Win Butler) when a performer leapt off the stage and lurched determinedly through the audience, only to end up within touching distance of me. (My sister: “I’ve pulled Donny Osmond!”) What strange, unearthly magnetism do I possess, that compels these men to throw themselves at me?

17. Andy Williams, Royal Centre, July
The last ever show of his last ever tour, we were told. And with his show-stopping rendition of Macarthur Park, one hell of a way to bow out.

18. Fionn Regan, Social, October
I didn’t see this one coming at all. A quiet revelation, of the folk-meets-alt-country variety.

19. Cocorosie / Tez, Trent University, June
The French human beat-boxer Tez took the art to a whole new level, while Cocorosie turned their set around from smug aloofness to captivating brilliance.

20. Smokey Robinson, Royal Centre, July
Worth it for The Tracks Of My Tears alone, and with enough living-legend soulfulness to balance out the showbiz schmaltz (and the cheesy Miss Anglia Television 1978 backing dancers).

21. Palladium, Social, October
“They’ll be back and they’ll be big”, I said. Fashion victim stylings tempered by incongruously musicianly “chops” and some magnificently flashy Axe Hero diddling ‘n widdling.

22. Nuru Kane & Bayefall Gnawa, Lakeside, April
Playing for nearly three hours, Nuru Kane melded smoky desert blues, trance-like Moroccan “gnawa”, hypnotic Afrobeat, and a rhythmic propulsion which got even this predominantly academic arts-centre crowd on their feet and grooving.

23. From The Jam, Rock City, December

24. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Rock City, January
OK, so he lost it after the first hour – but what a magnificent first hour, all the same.

25. Maria McKee, Rescue Rooms, May
Just plain enjoyable, basically. Smiles all round.

26. Erasure / Onetwo, Royal Centre, September
Being on the front row was a bit weird, but MY GOD did I make the most of it. Knocked the arty-but-dull Pet Shop Boys show into a cocked hat, that’s for sure.

27. Tinariwen, Leicester De Montfort, May
More than good enough for me to forgive the repeated interview no-shows (of which there were several, CSS I’m looking at YOU).

28. Diana Ross, Arena, May
A bit all-over-the-place, but endearingly so – and when she hit it, she HIT it. The Boss! Ain’t No Mountain High Enough! ShizafookinSTAR! I can die happy!

29. Alabama Three, London Astoria, October
Not just a gig, but a mini-blogmeet to boot, as I twinkled my toes off down the front with Zoe and the Twat. ShizafookinSTAR! Et cetera, et cetera!

30. Foals, Rescue Rooms, October
Once you factored out the Trendy Wanker seen-em-on-Skins faction, who were more bothered with being seen in the right place than actually paying attention (and believe me, that took some doing), what we were left with was a rather promising little band. Impossible to tell whether the recordings will match the intensity of the live shows, but I’ll be keeping an optimistic ear out.

And these were the duds:

53. Manu Chao, Rock City, November
The only show this year that I walked out of – although to be fair, it was also one of the most deliriously ecstatic audiences that I’ve ever witnessed at Rock City, in 27 years of going there. God knows what they saw in him, but there you go.

54. The Sugababes, Arena, April
Characterised above all else by the total and utter lack of rapport between the three women on stage, each of whom performed in their own little bubble of disinterested disconnection.

55. The Verve, Arena, December
WHADDA FAKKIN LIBERTY! Sloppy, under-rehearsed, shit sound, duff vocals, bad attitude both onstage and off.

56. Bucks Fizz / Brotherhood Of Man, Royal Centre, June
Until you have seen the Brotherhood Of Man perform a “Seventies Medley” which includes the likes of Shang-A-Lang, My Ding-A-Ling and Remember You’re A Womble, you don’t know the meaning of true suffering.

57. The X Factor Live, Arena, February
Leona was fine, the Macdonald Brothers were tolerably entertaining… and the rest was desperate, exploitative, bargain basement shite, even down to the taped backing vocals and the pointless, milk-em-dry, text message competition.

58. Siobhan Donaghy, London Popstarz, June
Painfully off-key, lousy sound mix, zero charisma, and no-one even bothered to get rid of the software error message on the DVD backdrop. At least I could enjoy hating the X Factor show, but this was just dismal and depressing.

Troubled Diva’s best singles of 2006.

(Look, we’re all grown-ups here. YouTube, Myspace, you find the links and do the work. It’s all out there. And I have a hangover to contend with.)

1. crazy – gnarls barkley
2. young folks – peter bjorn & john
3. lloyd, i’m ready to be heartbroken – camera obscura
4. i don’t feel like dancing – scissor sisters
5. patience – take that
6. let’s make love and listen to death from above – css
7. we share our mother’s health – the knife
8. déjà vu – beyonce ft jay-z
9. the greatest – cat power
10. mama (loves a crackhead) – plan b
11. just like the rain – richard hawley
12. the ride – joan as police woman
13. harrowdown hill – thom yorke
14. when the sun goes down – arctic monkeys
15. i will stand – claudja barry
16. no no never – texas lightning
17. delirious love – neil diamond ft brian wilson
18. nth degree – morningwood
19. ain’t no other man – christina aguilera
20. on the radio – regina spektor
21. rehab – amy winehouse
22. smiley faces – gnarls barkley
23. sorry – madonna
24. a public affair – jessica simpson
25. eternal flame – joan as police woman
26. everytime we touch – cascada
27. minimal – pet shop boys
28. let’s call it off – peter bjorn & john
29. over and over – hot chip
30. pra ser sincero – marisa monte
31. country girl – primal scream
32. get together – madonna
33. monster – the automatic
34. last night i nearly died – duke special
35. let’s get out of this country – camera obscura
36. never be lonely – the feeling
37. ice cream – new young pony club
38. sexy love – ne-yo
39. all this love – the similou
40. weekend without makeup – the long blondes
41. fill my little world – the feeling
42. eleanor, put your boots on – franz ferdinand
43. black sweat – prince
44. put your records on – corinne bailey rae
45. standing in the way of control – the gossip
46. chelsea dagger – fratellis
47. supermassive black hole – muse
48. goodnight and go – imogen heap
49. me & u – cassie
50. running the world – jarvis cocker
51. downtown – peaches
52. analogue (all i want) – a-ha
53. once and never again – the long blondes
54. tornero – mihai traistariu
55. all time love – will young
56. love it when you call – the feeling
57. beware of the dog – jamelia
58. what you know – t.i.
59. temple of love – bodies without organs
60. from paris to berlin – infernal
61. pull shapes – the pipettes
62. get up – ciara ft chamillionaire
63. take me back to your house – basement jaxx
64. voodoo magic – bodies without organs
65. nothing’s gonna change your mind – badly drawn boy

Troubled Diva’s best albums of 2006 – the absolute, final, enough-with-the-tweaking-and-twiddling-already version.

1. savane – ali farka touré
2. real life – joan as police woman
3. writer’s block – peter bjorn & john
4. kinavana – kekele
5. whatever people say i am, that’s what i’m not – arctic monkeys
6. fundamental – pet shop boys
7. rodrigo y gabriela – rodrigo y gabriela
8. gulag orkestar – beirut
9. boulevard de l’independance – toumani diabate’s symmetric orchestra
10. let’s get out of this country – camera obscura
11. silent shout – the knife
12. love – the beatles
13. son – juana molina
14. 12 songs – neil diamond
15. the eraser – thom yorke
16. the warning – hot chip
17. awoo – hidden cameras
18. the greatest – cat power
19. lunatico – gotan project
20. the art and soul of the mande griots vol.2 – mandekalou
21. songs from the deep forest – duke special
22. st. elsewhere – gnarls barkley
23. ta-dah – scissor sisters
24. someone to drive you home – long blondes
25. cansei de ser sexy – css
26. back in the doghouse – bugz in the attic
27. voices of animals and men – young knives
28. abacabok – tartit
29. concrete – pet shop boys
30. twelve stops and home – the feeling

Delayed but played:
demon days – gorillaz
8 armed monkey – KTU
mulatos – omar sosa
you could have it so much better – franz ferdinand
late registration – kanye west
black mountain – black mountain
takk – sigur ros

Rockin’ Mike’s gigs of 2006.

1. Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Rescue Rooms, May.
Mexican guitar duo with thrash metal background (“We’re not fokkin flamenco!“) played very very fast indeed, while simultaneously using their guitars as percussion instruments. Metallica’s “One” bled seamlessly into Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”; the crowd went wild. For the encore, someone shouted out “Pink Floyd”, and the whole room sang along to a spontaneous cover of “Wish You Were Here”.

2. Secret Machines, Rescue Rooms, April.
The new album may have disappointed, but no other gig this year matched Secret Machines for sheer emotional intensity (shoegazing revival, anyone?) – or my subsequent knackered, drunk, overwhelmed review for pretentious purple prose. This was the gig where I learnt that precisely two pints of lager are needed to fuel a decent write-up; not a drop more, and not a drop less. I stuck to this formula rigidly for the rest of the year; it served me well.

3. Take That, Birmingham NEC, April.
The ultimate boyband bounced back as if they had never been away, and proved once and for all that yes, they really do have talent, personality, presence, warmth, and songs. Oh Boyzone, oh Westlife, how paltry do your achievements seem now.

Of course, Robbie Williams was still far to grand to share a stage with his erstwhile bandmates, appearing instead via the medium of hologram to beam in the first verse of “Could It Be Magic”. Oh, the honour. But that was eight months ago. As of today, Take That’s brilliant “Patience” is at #2 in the singles chart, whilst Robbie’s workmanlike cover of Lewis Taylor’s “Lovelight” is down to #120 in the download-only chart. In the album chart, Robbie’s patchy-at-best career destroyer Rudebox is down to #36, while Take That’s triumphant comeback album Beautiful World hangs on at #1.

You mark my words. Williams will be grovelling to Gary Barlow and the boys before 2007 is through. Grovelling, I tell you!

4. Imogen Heap, The Social, April.
Sampling herself as she sang and played, then immediately looping back the live samples in accumulating layers of sound, to sublime effect.

5. Pink, Nottingham Arena, November.
Suspended above the audience on a trapeze, and spinning around at high speed, upside-down, while doing the splits, and still delivering a note-perfect “Get The Party Started” – now that’s entertainment.

6. Greg Dulli & the Twilight Singers, Rescue Rooms, July.
Encore of the year, as another spontaneous Pink Floyd cover version graced the Rescue Rooms (see Rodrigo Y Gabriela above). The news of Syd Barrett’s death had just been announced, and so Dulli gave us a beautiful “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, which morphed into a heart-stopping version of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, as unspoken references to Dulli’s struggles with his own demons hovered in the air.

7. The Long Blondes, Rescue Rooms, October.
That Kate Jackson, phwooar! Total star. The songs make so much more sense live, away from the disappointing generic-indie-sludge of the debut album. High point: a totally art-pop “Giddy Stratospheres”.

8. The Feeling, Rock City, November.
That Dan Gillespie-Sells, PHWOOAR! Total dish. Nice music for nice people, stripped of the glossy production of their recorded material and sounding vastly better for it.

9. Three Strange Angels, Djanogly Recital Hall, September.
Serious music ahoy! This superb percussion troupe performed pieces by Steve Reich, John Cage and many others.

10. The Automatic / Mumm-Ra, Trent University, October.
The acceptable face of NME-sanctioned student-friendly mainstream indie rock. Mumm-Ra were a bit boring, but The Automatic’s flute-led cover of Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” won me over. (Yes, I know how awful that sounds on paper. You’ll just have to take me on trust.) Great to see Trent Uni re-launching itself as a regular venue for live music, as well.

11. Madonna, Wembley Arena, August.
Displaying, unless I’m very much mistaken, occasional faint signs of actually being aware that an audience had paid (through the nose, as it happens) to come and see her, and that perhaps she could deign to, you know, entertain them. Quelle breakthrough!

12. Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Rock City, November.
Their second visit of the year, in a substantially larger venue. The intimacy of the earlier gig may have been lost – but everything else scaled up just fine, and we were all still left gasping at their sheer manual dexterity.

13. Juana Molina, The Social, August.
Like Imogen Heap before her (see above), Juana Molina is another solo performer who samples herself as she plays. Subtly dissonant electronica underpinned her gentle wispy folksiness, to spellbinding effect. God, I’ve become such a hack. Hungover after seeing the New Year in, and I could carry on bashing this sort of stuff out all day.

14. Morrissey, Nottingham Arena, December.
He seems to have arrived at a happy place – which might blunt his edge, but perhaps full-on adolescent angst in one’s late forties isn’t such a good look. Highpoint: an incandescent “Irish Blood, English Heart”. Oh, and the ritualised ripping and tossing of not one but two nice smart shirts. Tart.

15. Bugz In The Attic, Rescue Rooms, September.
Their so-called “DJ” had by far the easiest job – not even pretending to play any records, but contenting himself with squeezing the occasional hooter and waving his arms around a lot. Nice work if you can get it.

16. Scissor Sisters / The Gossip, Nottingham Arena, November.
The Gossip’s Beth Ditto was a hoot, although her band fell way short of what was needed for an arena-sized gig. As, to a lesser but marked extent, did the Sizzah Sistahs. Much as I will always love them, they just aren’t a natural arena act, and little less mega-success would suit them well.

Also memorable for being told to sit down by the world’s most miserable woman in the seat behind, while the rest of the arena continued to bop gaily around us. Grr.

17. Hidden Cameras, The Social, September.
In 2004, they released my favourite album of the year and played one of the best gigs of the year. In 2006, the law of diminishing returns kicked in. Nice enough, and still in a different league from most, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Cameras were stuck in an underachieving indie rut, and treading water. (No, not a mixed metaphor. You can still tread water in a rut, if the rut is deep enough.)

18. Journey South, Royal Concert Hall, October.
Much enlivened by our proximity to Journey South’s mam and dad, who – once they spotted me taking notes – spun me the whole “proud parents” line as if I was Kate Bloody Thornton, bless ’em. And who wouldn’t? In many ways, this was actually the most entertaining show I went to all year. It’s just that not all of those ways were, you know, good ways. But at least some of them were, and one genuinely wishes the boys well.

19. Camera Obscura, The Social, October.
A potentially great gig was all but wrecked by the ridiculous heat inside the venue, as a packed crowd gasped for air and the band struggled to keep their instruments in tune. I ended up spending the second half of the set public-spiritedly propping the exit door open with my foot, and craning my neck round the corner to see the tops of the performers’ heads.

20. David Essex, Royal Concert Hall, September.
The very epitome of silver-foxiness. The old hits were fab, the vast swathes of new material markedly less so. Don’t read my review; it’s way too cheesy and it makes me blush. Hack.

21. The Osmonds, Royal Concert Hall, March.
Ooh, we had letters over this one! As MissMish remarked, it was all rather like being beaten repeatedly over the head with a Hallmark greetings card – although the six-song medley from The Plan, the brothers’ 1973 attempt at a deep & meaningful “concept” album, certainly rocked my world.

22. Guillemots / Joan As Police Woman, Rescue Rooms, June.
Joan’s understated performance, backed by various assorted Guillemots, fell flat with the annoyingly chatty crowd, while the Guillemots themselves were all tricksy clever-cleverness at the expense of emotional congruence, hem-hem.

23. ADULT. / Battant, The Social, February.
Battant were fun, but ADULT. were f**king dreadful. The glowstick-waving Nathan Barleys down the front lapped it all up, but the rest of us were merely nonplussed.

24. The Fallout Trust / Computerman, The Social, February.
Totally forgettable – as was my first ever review for t’local paper, which never actually made it to print. Not the most auspicious of starts.

25. Victorian English Gentlemens Club / Das Wanderlust, The Social, September.
Hanging around in an almost deserted Social, this was one of those nights where I questioned my calling. The acts did their best, but it was all rather futile.

26. Jools Holland, Chatsworth House, July.
This was my treat to K’s parents, in an attempt to give them a jolly night out after the sudden loss of their daughter. We all duly played the parts of people having a jolly night out, but it was all more than a little strained.

27. Hope Of The States, Rescue Rooms, June.
Retreating into generic “angular post-punk” (YAWN) was a daft move to make, and it came as no surprise when the band split up a few months later. You could see even then that their hearts weren’t really in it.

28. The Puppini Sisters, The Social, October.
The climax of an atrociously mis-conceived Halloween “burlesque” night, which once again fell foul of the Social’s malfunctioning air conditioning units (since fixed, I have been told). Far too late, far too hot, far too packed, and altogether the wrong venue for this grossly over-hyped novelty act.

29. Amp Fiddler, The Social, September.
Studiously tasteful soul-funk workouts, untouched by any notions of songcraft or musical variety. Started off as pleasant enough background music, before escalating in dullness to the point where only my professional duty kept me inside the venue.

30. Emmylou Harris, Royal Concert Hall, August.
Timid, listless, dull and worthy – and that was just the backing musicians. I’ve seen more passion and commitment at a supermarket checkout. Unburdened by any professional duty (I actually paid, gasp, real money for this one), I sailed out halfway through, and joined K down the pub (he had lasted all of twenty minutes).

(ADMIN: Later in the week, I’m going to retro-publish my Nottingham Evening Post reviews on the blog, back-dated as appropriate, and link to them from the list above. Because I’m completist like that.)

Update: Job done. All the old Evening Post reviews are up on the site, and back-linked from this list.

Troubled Diva’s Favourite Albums Of 2005.

As with the singles, I’ve awarded my #1 slot to the album which has given me (and K) the most enjoyment in 2005 – and their live show is dynamite as well. In fact, the only gig I saw this year which surpassed Amadou & Mariam was the artist at #2, the incomparable Rufus Wainwright. Madonna damn nearly swung it this year, but I’ve decided to value songcraft and musicianship above impact and spectacle. Wow, must be growing up at last…

1 Dimanche à Bamako – Amadou & Mariam
2 Want Two – Rufus Wainwright
3 Confessions on a Dance Floor – Madonna
4 Chavez Ravine – Ry Cooder
5 I Am A Bird Now – Antony & The Johnsons
6 Tender Buttons – Broadcast
7 Coles Corner – Richard Hawley
8 Orientation – Thione Seck
9 Kongo Magni – Boubacar Traore
10 Echu Mingua – Miguel ‘Anga’ Diaz
11 Held on the Tips of Fingers – Polar Bear
12 Funeral – Arcade Fire
13 Back To Mine – (mixed by) Pet Shop Boys
14 Ruby Blue – Roisin Murphy
15 M’bemba – Salif Keita
16 ’64 – ’95 – Lemon Jelly
17 Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas – Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas
18 Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens
19 Supernature – Goldfrapp
20 Ceasefire – Emmanuel Jal & Abdel Gadir Salim
21 Some Cities – Doves
22 Stars Of CCTV – Hard-Fi
23 Introducing Daby Balde – Daby Balde
24 OK Cowboy – Vitalic
25 Plat Du Jour – Matthew Herbert
26 A Certain Trigger – Maxïmo Park
27 Cru – Seu Jorge
28 The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
29 Love Songs of the Hanging Gardens – Kelley Polar
30 Feels – Animal Collective
31 How to Kill the DJ Vol.2 – (mixed by) Optimo
32 Clor – Clor
33 The Understanding – Röyksopp
34 Noah’s Ark – Cocorosie
35 Multiply – Jamie Lidell
36 In the Heart of the Moon – Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate
37 Get Behind Me Satan – White Stripes
38 Kitty Jay – Seth Lakeman
39 You Could Have It So Much Better – Franz Ferdinand
40 Come And Get It – Rachel Stevens

Delayed but played:
1 Amassakoul – Tinariwen
2 Bamba – Orchestra Baobab
3 Lagrimas Negras – Bebo & Cigala
4 The Art and Soul of the Mande Griots – Mandekalou
5 The Futureheads – The Futureheads
6 Tarefero De Mis Pagos – Chango Spasiuk
7 Kerrier District – Kerrier District
8 Legends of East Africa – Orchestra Makassy
9 The Rough Guide To Franco – Franco
10 Love Angel Music Baby – Gwen Stefani
11 Tekitoi – Rachid Taha
12 Buena Vista Social Club Presents… – Manuel ‘Guajiro’ Mirabal
13 Let It Die – Feist
14 The Living Road – Lhasa
15 Deb – Souad Massi
16 Seadrum/House Of Sun – Boredoms
17 Unclassics – (compiled by) Morgan Geist
18 Boomerang – Daara J