British Albums Of The Decade: Blogger Choices

on Thursday, December 24, 2009
So here are the blogger choices for the British Albums Of The Decade list I published the other day, along with some blurbs which I judiciously edited to ensure this wouldn't be the longest post ever. Thanks again to everyone who took part and keep a look out for the wider poll results that I've conducted.

Tim, funfunfun
1) Bullet Union – Ruin's Domino (Essential listening: 'Three Cherries Straight', 'Yak Yak Yak You're Fired!')
I love the sound of this record. The satisfying thud of drums, the scratchy intensity of the guitars and that croak every time lead singer, Jodie's, voice strains too hard. Every second packs in more energy than a case load of Red Bull. Ruin's Domino has given me wings since 2004.


2)The Streets – Original Pirate Material
The heady summer of 2002 was soundtracked by 'Original Pirate Material'. My brother bought it in the airport on the way to a two-week, family holiday in Corsica and the sounds of Mike Skinner and a two-step beat filled every rented-car journey. At times epic ('Turn The Page', 'Weak Becomes Heroes'), at others witty ('The Irony Of It All', 'Don't Mug Yourself') Original Pirate Material is album of its time that still sounds vital today.

3) Thom Yorke – The Eraser (Essential listening: 'The Clock', 'Black Swan')
It took a year or so for 'The Eraser' to make sense in my head but, now, I think its fantastic. Those opening piano chords to the title track, the spitting-rain drumbeat that kicks off 'The Clock', every song has a touch of magic about it and Yorke's vocals were laden with melancholic hopefulness. Not just Radiohead offcuts.

Matthew, The Pigeon Post
1) Tom Vek - We Have Sound (Essential listening: 'Nothing But Green Lights', 'C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)')
He's an enigma, and when he is going to follow this masterpiece up, nobody knows. But it still sounds fresh, which is wonderful - 'Nothing But Green Lights' pops about with the same vigour as if it was going to be released next week, and despite the fact it's nearly 5 years old, it's more advanced than anything you're likely to hear now.

2) Forward, Russia - Give Me A Wall (Essential listening: 'Twelve', 'Thirteen')
The sound of my later teenage years. It was fast, furious and filled with some of the most ambitious and ambigous lyrics around. On record, they were excellent, in the flesh they were phenomenal - and the story of 'Give Me A Wall' completely encapsulates everything great about the DIY ethic. 'Give Me A Wall' still sends shivers down my spine.

3)The Libertines - Up The Bracket

See British Albums Of The Decade list.

Jamie, Music Fan's Mic
1) Radiohead - Amnesiac (Essential listening: 'I Might Be Wrong', 'Pyramid Song')
Perhaps accounting Thom Yorke at an absolute low, with less flow but more bona-fide songs than 'Kid A', but ten times more terrifying at times. A b-sides album this is not.

2) Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim (Essential listening: 'Ghosts', 'Cross Your Fingers')
I just get the sense that Laura Marling going to grow and grow into a really respected artist and that 'Alas...', her debut, will be looked upon as a flawless starting point. A bruised, delicate affair on growing up.

3) Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

See BAOTD list.

David, And Everyone's A DJ
1) Primal Scream - XTRMNTR
Coming out at the very start of the century, I remember thinking at the time that this was what I'd hoped rock'n'roll would sound like in the future. 'Accelerator' was a screaming punk beast what held no punches, and was played with a ferocity that made you bleed. 'Swastika Eyes' was an STD-ridden, disco romp, with a Sophie Dahl starring video that was dangerous, sexy and political all in one go.

In fact politics around the turn of the century was a common theme that ran through this record, from this, 'Blood Money' and the title track, even through to the albums artwork and decision by the band to include literature regarding the false imprisonment of Satpal Ram in the liner notes, for a 17 year old it was the first time I'd seen a band get political and still remain musically interesting.

2) The Streets - Original Pirate Material

See BAOTD list.

3) Tim Burgess - I Believe
While The Charlatans make what could be easily described as meat and potato guitar rock, this is a breezy, laid back acoustic adventure, taking influences from Gram Parsons, early-Beach Boys, Motown and soul. Stand-out tracks like 'Oh My Corazon', 'Years Ago' and 'Po' Boy Soul' are deliciously drenched in Americana, while album closer, 'All I Ever Do', could have easily been cut by Berry Gordy in 1965. 7 years on, and this record still sounds great to me.

JC, The Vinyl Villain
1) Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight (Essential listening: 'Fast Blood', 'My Backwards Walk')
The best new band to emerge from Scotland this decade. And this is their best record to date. Not since The Smiths released 'The Queen Is Dead' have I metaphorically played a record to death - ie at least three times a week in its entirety for about six months in a row. And even now, I still cant tell you what my favourite track is as it depends on how happy/sad/drunk/melancholy I am at any particular time. Quite simply.....a record I know I will still be enjoying in its entirety until my dying day.

2) Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

See BAOTD list.

3) Maximo Park - A Certain Trigger (Essential listening: 'Graffiti', 'Going Missing')
'A Certain Trigger' is an LP without a bum tune across its 13 tracks and 39 minutes - and one that made me want to pick up my tennis racket and jump round the bedroom just as I did when I was partying back in 1976/77. Pop-punk of the finest kind.

Will, The Cold Cut
1. Patrick Wolf – Lycanthropy
A precocious teenager with an obsession for Werewolf mythology arrives with a fully formed debut album. From the deeply disturbing 'The Childcatcher' and introspective 'London' to pop-tinged 'Bloodbeat', it heralded Wolf's arrival in style.

2) Arctic Monkeys- Favourite Worst Nightmare (Essential listening: 'Teddypicker', 'Fluorescent Adolescent')
The Sheffield superstars progressed from their fantastic debut in the only way they knew how, by beefing up their sound. Alex Turner's lyrics were still verging on genius, and the rest of the band added momentum on heavy tracks including 'Teddypicker'.

3) Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
One of the best bands in recent memory emerged with their most comfortable sound to date. Recent efforts have eschewed their indie roots, but 'Banquet' and 'Helicopter' had serious crossover pedigree, emerging as club favourites.

David, It's Getting Boring By The Sea
1) The Libertines - Up The Bracket (Essential listening: 'Time For Heroes', 'I Get Along')
Everything a 15 year old from a provincial seaside town thinks rock n roll is. Romantic, exciting, dangerous and beautiful.

2) Dizzee Rascal - Boy In Da Corner (Essential listening: 'I Luv U', 'Fix Up Look Sharp')
The sound of the underground made real. Aggressive but thoughtful, funny and smart this album bursts with innovation, beats and wit. Countless have tried to follow but nobody gets near.

3) Jamie T - Panic Prevention (Essential listening: 'Salvador', 'Calm Down Dearest')
You could listen to this 1000 times and still come away with something new each time. So much going on and every song has it's own unique identity. Essential.

Anna, Flying With Anna
1) Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim

See BAOTD list.

2) Bat For Lashes - Fur And Gold (Essential listening: 'The Horse And I', 'Sad Eyes')
This is an album I never get tired of, Natasha Khan is without a doubt one of the most creative and original artists of the last 10 years and this album shows all of that off.

3) Mumford And Sons - Sigh No More
I loved Mumford And Sons for over a year before this album came out and had already seen them live 3 times, so I had high expectations for this album. And it completely lived up and went beyond my expectations. From the gorgeous harmonies in the starter track 'Sigh No More' to the gentle whisperings of 'After The Storm', this album is perfect.

Tara, The Music Journal
1) Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
Probably not the most original choice, but you can't deny that this first album of haphazard guitars and stunningly well-crafted lyrics was beyond spectacular. Like Blur and Pulp before them, in this album Arctic Monkeys captured the hearts of people with their insightful social commentaries, ridiculously good riffs and that boyish naivete. Needless to say, Arctic Monkeys were probably the most exciting thing to happen to British music this decade, finally bringing some decent alternative rock into the mainstream.

2) Mystery Jets - 21 (Essential listening: 'Hideaway', 'Two Doors Down')
From sugary pop songs, '80s style power-ballads, dirty electro to beautifully introspective songs with quivering vocals, this album seemed to go one step on from debut album, 'Making Dens', keeping their bizarre, quirky Mystery Jets sound whilst picking up several other genres and excelling beautifully at them. It shouldn't work, but it really does, and considering this decade seems to have dedicated a lot of time to harking back to the 1980's, this album serves as a fine exemplar for just what this decade in British music was about.


3) Bat For Lashes - Fur And Gold

See BAOTD list.

Simon, Sweeping The Nation
1) Life Without Buildings - Any Other City
See BATD list.

2) Mclusky - Mclusky Do Dallas (Essential listening: 'To Hell With Good Intentions', 'Gareth Brown Says')
Andy Falkous briefly became a cause celebre earlier this year for his blog after Future Of The Left's album leak, but he should have been paraded around every town and city long ago just for being the most spiteful, funniest, angriest and most compellingly, sarcastically misanthropic British frontman in years, perhaps decades, maybe ever. With Steve Albini recording everything ends up louder than everything else, lyrical barbs and madness abound, and even the ballad's called 'Fuck This Band' ("cos they swear too much").

3) The Futureheads - The Futureheads (Essential listening: 'Le Garage', 'First Day')
Many went all angular during the decade, but none did it with the skill, speed, wit or add-ons - the four-part harmonies, the breakdowns, the almost complete lack of standard verse-chorus-verse structure and, yeah, alright, the ingenuity with a cover version - of the Mackem majesties' debut.

Jehan, Shattered Satellite
1) Elle Milano - Acres Of Dead Space Cadets (Essential listening: 'The Nightclub Is Over', 'Wonderfully Wonderful')
A record of decaying, apocalyptic beauty defined by contradictory attitudes. Complete post-modern disdain for rock 'n' roll, the "industry" and everything in between coupled with a thrilling example of the possibilities of 'rock 'n' roll' in the 21st century. Watch out for the ever-prolific Adam Crisp and his new project, Entrepreneurs. Their deranged, glitchy hip hop sound will hit the airwaves in 2010.

2) The Libertines - Up The Bracket (Essential listening: 'Death On The Stairs', 'Up The Bracket')
I never realized it was my favourite album until it I just couldn't stop playing it. Of course by this time, it was late 2004 and the band had already thrillingly dissolved. This probably only preserves the mystique further, as every other band I've wanted to see over the last decade I have. 'Death On The Stairs' is my favourite, it has a delicate poise about it that gently hints at the imminent maelstrom but kindly keeps schtum.

3) Electric Soft Parade - The American Adventure (Essential listening: 'The American Adventure', 'Chaos'
The Electric Soft Parade's criminally underrated murky prog pop masterpiece takes the bronze. The sprawling seven minute centerpiece of a title track is in my mind the best three-songs-in-one to emerge from these shores since 'Paranoid Android'. The canon that kicks in just shy of four minutes is sheer stereo perfection.

Tim, The Blue Walrus
1) Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (Essential listening: 'Take Me Out', 'Darts of Pleasure')
They really started the movement to bring clever, engaging, danceable indie back into fashion and this album was one that I never got bored of listening to it over and over again on my gap year.

2) Jamie T - Kings & Queens (Essential listening: 'Hocus Pocus', 'Emily's Heart')
I thought about putting 'Panic Prevention' on here, as Jamie T is one of my top three artists of the decade, but 'Kings & Queens' is better as it is more than overly polished versions of his fantastic demos. This shows off the breadth of his influences to a better extent.

3) The Maccabees - Colour It In (Essential listening: 'Latchmere', 'First Love')
A brilliant mixture of ballads and danceable pop about love, life and swimming pools.

David, Separated By Motorways
1) Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

See BAOTD list.

2. Life Without Buildings - Any Other City (Essential listening: 'The Leanover', 'The Sorrow')
Although I can't say I've listened to it that much, considering it was released in 2001, the fact it was the only proper album they ever made before splitting up makes this half spoke/half sung art pop album something I could repeatedly listen to over and over again.

3. The XX - The XX (Essential listening: 'VCR', 'Crystalised')
Despite only being out a couple of months, this is an album I can see me still reguarly listen to in a decades time when every other band will be citing them as a major influence.

Phil Singer, There Goes The Fear
1) Idlewild - The Remote Part
I caught 'American English' on the radio and it simply set my ears alight, a gem of a tune that still sounds immense live after 7 years, and I immediately checked out the album and their back catalogue. The band had ditched their heavier sound of '100 Broken Windows' for a more mainstream sound, and I loved the anthemic nature of 'Tell Me Ten Words', 'You Held The World In Your Arms' and 'Live In A Hiding Place'. At the other end of the spectrum, 'In Remote Part / Scottish Fiction' is simply beautiful, a gorgeous closing tune that just caps off the collection.

2) Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

See BAOTD list.

3) Frank Turner - Love, Ire and Song
This is a relatively new addition to my record collection, only stumbling across Frank earlier this year. Insightful, eloquent and amusing, the collection is completely without a dud track. It's slightly folksy in places ('To Take You Home'), slightly mainstream in others ('Reasons Not To Be An Idiot'), shockingly well observed sadness ('Jet Lag') and wonderfully cathartic observations ('Long Live The Queen') mean that this hasn't been out of my iTunes playlists since January.

Matthew, Song By Toad
1) Radiohead - Kid A

See BAOTD list.

2) Blur - Think Tank (Essential listening: 'Ambulance', 'Out Of Time')
I think of Blur as one of the great 90s bands ('Parklife', 'Blur', '13', emphatically NOT 'The Great Escape'), but even without Graham Coxon to produce an album this good so long after their last recording, and despite Damon Albarn's dalliances with Gorillaz and so on, seems really rather impressive. Given all the Libertines and White Stripes hype, and the flashy comings and goings of shitty haircut bands who are no more than grist to the NME's relentlessly unimaginative mill, it seems reassuring that not one of these flash harrys managed to exceed the achievements of a band who I suppose you'd have to describe as old stagers these days.

3) King Creosote - Rocket DIY (Essential listening: 'Saffy Nool', 'Twin Tub Twin')
A record which embodies the most important trend in the music industry over the last ten years: the audience slipping from the grasp of the major labels, the childish Disney rubbish which has since taken over the Billboard Charts and the sudden opportunity for independent labels and unsigned bands to make a major impact on their own terms. King Creosote and Fence Records are just one such group, and if you ask me it's just about the most positive development I could ever have imagined when the first tremors of the Napster panic began to shake the establishment in 2000.

Robin, Breaking More Waves
1) Radiohead - In Rainbows

See BAOTD list.

2) Rachel Unthank And The Winterset - The Bairns (Essential listening: 'Blue Bleezing Blind Drunk', 'Fareweel Regality')
With 'The Bairns', Rachel Unthank and the Winterset set their stall out in tradition. That tradition was in folk music, and in particular Northumbrian folk music. From it they created something devastatingly gorgeous from songs passed down through the generations. With sparse instrumentation of subtle strings and mournful piano combining with the melancholy harmonies of Rachel and Becky Unthank, 'The Bairns' is a gut wrenchingly bleak but beautiful listen. Songs concerning domestic abuse, infant mortality and the loss of innocence may not sound like the most pleasurable of listens, but when every frosty note is arranged to such perfection, then they can become utterly and totally bewitching. 'The Bairns' is an incredible and timeless recording.

3) Girls Aloud - Chemistry
Of course it is easy to mock Girls Aloud, but here’s a funny thing - 'Chemistry' is actually a dizzyingly great pop album. It’s full of great electro pop production and big hooks, with lead single 'Biology' having about ten of them. With 'Chemistry' Girls Aloud did the unthinkable and produced something for those who were prepared to listen with open ears that was sassy, fun, sexy and packed full of brilliant tunes. It wasn’t meant for the dustbin.

Honourable mentions:
- Placebo - Black Market Music, Delays - Faded Seaside Glamour, Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires, Dogs Die In Hot Cars - Please Describe Yourself, The Sunshine Underground - Raise The Alarm, Los Campesinos! - Hold on Now Youngster (Phil, There Goes The Fear)
- MIA, Klaxons, Amy Winehouse, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Test-Icicles, These New Puritans (David, It's Getting Boring By The Sea)
- The Wave Pictures - Sophie, Meursault - Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues (Matthew, Song By Toad)

The complete results of the blogger poll (all 24 entrants and their submissions) are on Google Docs and should be able to view without signing in.

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