Friday, December 23, 2011

Rock The Vote - Best albums of 2011 - final top-20


Last night the final top-20 was revealed in Bios and also on my Thursday show at Poplie radio, Preludes and Nocturnes. The top positions were not too surprising although I must say I am impressed by the number of points that PJ Harvey managed to gather in regard to the rest.  I have six albums from my list in this one (the ones in italics)! Well done and let's do it again next year.

Here is my radio show Preludes & Nocturnes:

Top 20 Blogovision 2011

01.   PJ Harvey "Let England Shake"
1272
02.   Bon Iver "Bon Iver"
796
03.   John Maus "We Must Become The Pitiless Censors Of Ourselves"
680
04.   Radiohead "King Of Limbs"
633
05.   EMA "Past Life Martyr Saints"
628
06.   Florence & The Machine "Ceremonials"
601
07.   Girls "Father Son Holy Ghost"
522
08.   James Blake "James Blake"
502
09.   Danger Mouse & Daniele Lupi "Rome"
473
10.   M83 "Hurry Up We're Dreaming"
432
11.   Tom Waits "Bad As Me"
421
12.   Weeknd "House Of Balloons"
410
13.   Wild Beasts "Smother"
400
14.   Nicolas Jaar "Space Is Only Noise"
393
15.   Tori Amos "Night Of Hunters"
392
16.   Anna Calvi "Anna Calvi"
390
17.   Washed Out "Within And Without"
369
18.   Cults "Cults"
355
19.   Adele "21"
348
20.   Dirty Beaches "Badlands"
341

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rock the vote - best albums of 2011 - from 50 to 21




Here are the results for the tallied voting of all participants in blogovision 2011 - positions 50-21
The top-20 albums will be announced tonight at the party in Bios - see poster above.
In the list below are four albums of the ones I had in my top-20 - those underlined.

144 bloggers voted
753 albums were voted

21. Lykke Li “Wounded Rhymes” (26 bloggers)340
22. Feist “Metals” (26 bloggers)338
23. Jamie Woon “Mirrorwriting” (20 bloggers)329
24. Arctic Monkeys “Suck It And See” (23 bloggers)326
25. Kate Bush “50 Words For Snow” (20 bloggers)325
26. Boy “Ηλιοθεραπεία” (15 bloggers)324
27. Rapture “In The Grace Of Your Love” (26 bloggers)281
28. Iron & Wine “Kiss Each Other Clean” (19 bloggers)280
29. Mogwai “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will” (22 bloggers)274
30. Bjork “Biophillia” (18 bloggers)269
31. Fleet Foxes “Helpnessness Blues” (27 bloggers)251
32. Kills “Blood Pressures” (20 bloggers)238
33. Josh T. Pearson “Last Of The Country Gentlemen” (17 bloggers)236
34. Still Corners “Creatures Of An Hour” (17 bloggers)233
35. Horrors “Skying” (20 bloggers)226
36. Peaking Lights “936″ (16 bloggers)226
37. Raphael Saadiq “Stone Rollin’” (12 bloggers)214
38. Crystal Stilts “In Love With Oblivion” (16 bloggers)212
39. Battles “Gloss Drop” (12 bloggers)211
40. Vaccines “What Did You Expect From” (20 bloggers)205
41. Gang Gang Dance “Eye Contact” (12 bloogers)201
42. Zomby “Dedication” (16 bloggers)199
43. Kasabian “Velociprator” (12 bloggers)198
44. Men “Leave Home” (13 bloggers)198
45. Austra “Feel It Break” (17 bloggers)190
46. Antlers “Burst Apart” (18 bloggers)189
47. Foo Fighters “Wastin Light” (9 bloggers)182
48. Tune Yards “Who Kill” (10 bloggers)181
49. Foster The People “Torches” (16 Bloggers)171
50. Real Estate  “Days” (14 Bloggers)167

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top-20 countdown - my best albums for 2011

So the countdown has arrived at the end for one more year. It was a blast again. So much fun, not only in picking one's list but also discovering new music through other people's lists (lots of work to do there), feeling happy when a favourite took a high place in someone else's list or piqued when it didn't. The final results of the total tally from the 151 (maybe more, I'm not entirely sure about this number) bloggers participating, will be announced tomorrow night (Marcos and Panayiotis are still tallying as I write this post) at a great party in Bios in Athens. Until then, here is my final list - and also a nice musical Christmas tree of all the covers from the 20 albums on it - the bottom one is no.20 and then you go up starting always on the left side of each row (click on the image to see it bigger). Have a great holiday season and I sincerely hope to repeat this next year!


01. Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
02. Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
03. Tori Amos - Night Of hunters
04. Feist - Metals
05. Florence + The Machines - Ceremonials
06. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
07. Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You
08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.01


Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow



Having a second Kate Bush album released in the same year as the previous one (even though Director's Cut was full of new versions of older tracks of hers) sounds outlandish even to the ears of her most ardent fans (in fact it has happened once before, back in 1978, with A Kick Inside and Lionheart being release in February and November of that year; the gap between is a personal best for her this time around, May to November). Yet she is here with us, with original material this time. And what material this is.
A wintry record, seemingly simpler than her previous ones, more organic and spontaneous. Not one of the seven songs (with more than 7 minutes duration for each) of the album is lacking from the rest. You want to listen them again and again, each time discovering something different, travelling to places far away, which in turn become familiar and closer because of her. With the help of collaborators like the prolific Elton John (who seems to be re-discovering his youth here), acclaimed actor Stephen Fry but also her son Bertie, Kate gives us her tenth album just as if she never was away from us. And we hope that she keeps on doing this in the future too.


Most of the text above has been first published as a review for free-press magazine FAGazine, issue 03












So far:

02. Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi
03. Tori Amos - Night Of hunters
04. Feist - Metals
05. Florence + The Machines - Ceremonials
06. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
07. Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You
08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.02



Anna Calvi - Anna Calvi


"London born, with an Italian father that instilled into her her first musical memories, from Maria Callas and Debussy to Rolling Stones and blues, she studied violin at first, then guitar. Influenced by many musical genres and artists, encouraged by none other than the grand Brian Eno and Nick Cave, produced by Rob Ellis (known from his P.J. Harvey productions) and the collaboration of Mally Harpaz on keyboards and Daniel Maiden Wood on drums, her first record proves to be a diamond of rare beauty and very possibly one of the best records of the year".
I was writing that at the beginning of the year in my review for the free-press magazine Screw (issue 25). It proved me right. And I am looking forward to hear what she does next.




So far:

03. Tori Amos - Night Of hunters
04. Feist - Metals
05. Florence + The Machines - Ceremonials
06. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
07. Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You
08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.03


Tori Amos - Night Of Hunters




In contrast with her unintentional nemesis, Kate Bush, Tori presents us with new records regularly, not always with the best results. Having raised our hopes high with her two latest ones, she scores from afar and securely with this one. Inspired from classical music (Debussy, Chopin etc.) and with a concept of a dark and fantastic story, the ghost of a relationship ending but also a twin personality framing her, Tori returns to her beloved piano and grasps us from the strings of our hearts, never letting them go until the album finishes. The surprise gift here is her daughter's participation in the vocals of some of the songs. If you still love her, do not miss this.

This review was first published in free-press magazine FAGazine, issue 01.






So far:

04. Feist - Metals
05. Florence + The Machines - Ceremonials
06. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
07. Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You
08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.04


Feist - Metals



It took some time for Leslie Feist, better known by just her last name, to give us one more album, after the gorgeous The Reminder, which rocketed her to the top and made her music known to a wider audience (1234 in an Apple commercial). Instead of picking the easy way, serving us one of the same, Feist clammed up, trying to detoxify from her constant contact with music. Achieving a sort of catharsis then, she began to write songs again, this time more esoteric, more personal, more particular. Metals is not a difficult record, Simply, it is not just pop or just folk - I do not believe Feist was or is pop. Some may say it is cantankerous, deprived, wanting. It is not so. As she needed patience to regain her ability to write music, the same is needed for the listener to discover all that she has to offer in this metal box of hers.

This review was first published in free-press magazine FAGazine issue 02




So far:

05. Florence + The Machines - Ceremonials
06. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
07. Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You
08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.05



Florence + The Machines - Ceremonials



The second album is always a trap for an artist. They must achieve the success of the first one but also move their oeuvre forward by one or more steps. At the same time they have to face the absence of the pleasant surprise of their "discovery". Does Florence succeed in all of these with the grandiose Ceremonials? I would say enough. It surely will be as successful as lungs. It definitely welcomes us pleasantly with exceptional compositions that find her and her group in form. We have to do with a solid album, imposing, impressive. At the same time though, she does not seem to move forward, evolve artistically, open up more to us - at least not as much as I think she should. Of course it is her right to do so. But I hope this does not prove to be a trap for her career next. But let's have fun with her. In the end, it is not a small thing to procure one of the best records of the year. Go Flo.

This review was first published in the free-press magazine FAGazine, issue 03.






So far:

06. Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting
07. Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You
08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.06


Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting



The singles & EPs he released before his first album wet up the appetite for its content from way too early.  His music, a special mix of soul and electronica is particularly seductive. Sometimes rhythmic, sometimes melancholy, he tries to keep the listener's interest irreducible, something he generally manages impeccably. Hopes for a new huge discovery in the future of dub-step were wildly exaggerated. Of course that does not mean he's bad: on the contrary. He just has to try a little more. And he's the more human at that. Which I really really like. If he manages to write more really exceptional songs (like Night Air) to match the level of his soundscapes, we will have something really incredible in our hands. So Jamie, we are counting on you.

(Part of the text above was first published as a review for free-press magazine Screw, issue 29)






So far:

07. Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You
08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.07



Acid House Kings - Music Sounds Better With You



There must be something in Swedish water. How else to explain the sheer number of excellent groups coming out up there all the time? Acid House Kings release their fifth studio album and sound as fresh as if they formed just yesterday. Pop like only Swedes know how to make, strong, with rhythm, a woman's voice that captures the listener (Julia Lannerheim) and melodies that make you sing-along the whole day through with a stupid smile on your face. Like you're in love. 

(review was published first in free-press magazine Screw issue no.27)



Ver todo videoclips Acid House Kings


So far:

08. Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.08

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact


I was not fond of Gang Gang Dance from their beginnings. They sounded too noisy for my taste back then. But they did evolve, moving their music forward by implementing influences from various other forms of their art and cultures too. And it seems they're onto something serious here. No, don;t be afraid, I do not mean it in a stiff, uptight manner. They even sound more relaxed than ever. But their music is now more coherent as a whole. Uplifting. Still weird though - in that good, organic, guttural way. They sound pop but this is not what one would call pop, no sir. Rather, they use pop stuff to punctuate their more abstract and far-out music in ways that make it sound more familiar and friendly. Spiritual even. "Our dreaming space is open" is one of the lyrics of their songs here. It is indeed. And we're in it to dream along.







So far:

09. When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie
10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Monday, December 12, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.09

When Saints Go Machine - Konkylie


If you wondered how would the child of Andy Bell (of Erasure) and Anthony Hegarty (of Anthony & The Johnsons) sound like, you get your answer here: Nikoladj Vonsild has this magical voice that can melt your heart when listening to When Saint's Go Machine songs. And what songs. An electronic, synth-pop landscape that verges on neo-classical sometimes, without any beats to crush that voice, reminding me a lot of Cocteau Twins and a male Elisabeth Fraser - only this time more pop-oriented. Sometimes you get the sense that it is all about the singing, not the songs or the stories. But what singing indeed.






So far:

10. James Blake - James Blake
11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.10

James Blake - James Blake


What can I say for someone who has done covers of two of my all-time favourite artists (Joni Mitchell and Feist) with incredible results? Who writes songs that find their way into your heart in a nanosecond? Whose music has an aesthetic aspect that you identify so much with? This album, although not perfect, is a gorgeous debut that bodes so well for his future. Even though people said it was a bit disappointing compared to his many EPs that proceeded it, I find it unique, haunting, exceptional.




So far:

11. Little Dragon - Ritual Union
12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top-20 countdown - no.11

Little Dragon - Ritual Union


Little Dragon come from Sweden, like so many other exceptional musicians. They took their name from the nickname of their Swedish/Japanese singer Yukimi Nagano's nickname (she got it because of the way she defuses during recordings). Their music is seductive: electronic, synth-pop, with soul and chill-out elements, it hypnotizes you, driving you where it wants to take you. This, their third album, continues the tradition of the previous ones, with beautiful, well-made songs, that when you listen to them once, stick in your mind and haunt you. It is not simply luck that successful series like Grey's Anatomy or Gossip Girl pick Little Dragon songs for their soundtracks.

(this was first published as a review of the album in the free-press Fagazine issue 02 for November 2011)




So far:

12. P.J. Harvey - Let England Shake
13. Scott Matthew - Gallantry's Favorite Son
14. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
15. Patrick Wolf - Lupercalia
16. Gotye - Making Mirrors
17. Austra - Feel It Break
18. Soley - We Sink
19. Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
20. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy