Top 40 albums

…AND YET MORE LISTS

Top 10 Singles of 2009 (with Spotify links/some kind of link when not available) 1. Shakira – She Wolf(I’ve said a lot about this already: it’s the latest in a long line of songs reinvigorating my interest (and belief) in Pop Music this year. Found out recently this was written by Sam Endicott, the guy from- flashback time- The Bravery.)2. The Horrors – Who Can Say(Researching this list is creating a lot of weird discoveries. I didn’t know the spoken-word part of this track- definitely the reason I pick it out of an album I liked, but didn’t listen to enough- was taken wholesale from a 60s boy-band song. Not sure whether that pleases or unsettles me. Like Primary Colours, this is something an ‘anticipating future me’ choice, but I specifically remember grinning uncontrollably to it strongly enough that I know exactly where I was. I don’t know how many times I’ve listened to it since.)3. Lady Gaga – Paparazzi(The song that let me finally get Lady Gaga. So glad.)4. Los Campesinos! – The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future(To which I’ve listened loads but only recently realised, in the middle of its gloom-fest, lie the lyrics “to left and right a crazy golf course”. One day I’ll actually write about how Los Campesinos! are what Emo promised to my young mind, before I actually heard Emo*.)5.Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll (A Trak Remix)6. Major Lazer – Pon De Floor(Both of which I discovered like 10 days ago. This list is skewed, kinda purposefully to what’s in my head now. ‘Cus that’s the nature of singles, right? Also worth noting that Major Lazer actually sounds better in my mind, making those ears-submerged-in-the-bath laser sounds.)7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero8. Lonely Island – On A Boat(I went a bit mental about this for Redbrick and overstated a little, I reckon, about what it does. Still, for a lowly comedy song, it sounds really good, and is as listenable as it is singable as it is quotable.)9. Camera Obscura – French Navy(I’ve listened to My Maudlin Career many, many times now and as far as I’m concerned this song is still everything Camera Obscura have ever done.)10. Black Eyed Peas- Meet Me Halfway(This is the one I’m going to regret saying, isn’t it? But it just feels so epic. The video hardly hurts, but that bit where he’s all “Build a bridge- to the other side”. That just feels so comic book. Gave me the Ex Machina hard-on I’m missing having not read any of this year’s Ex Machina.)11. Are You Gonna Bang Doe – Funky Dee(Apologies to anyone on the end of my fever for this ludicrous, ludicrous song the last few days. Powered me through the 2009/2010 transition without sleep- largely thanks to its first 3 seconds “You should know about me/You should know about me/I’m Funky Dee”. I’ve never learnt, in my music journalist training, how to describe how unexpectedly choppy that is, and subsequently how funny. Holy, in its shallow way.) *Almost definitely my favourite album of 2010, about which I’ve already had as a rich a conversation as anything from 2009. And I haven’t even heard it yet. Top 5 Albums of the DecadeJust to give you a glimpse of how the Redbrick Top 40 might’ve looked, if I’d been given free reign. Not necessarily what I voted for there, largely because I was being tactical and sneaky. Because that’s how I operate. #5 Daft Punk – Discovery#4 Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster#3 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell #2 Arcade Fire – Funeral(The only one of these I didn’t get to write about. I always remember it as a safe choice, and then go back and actually listen to it again and, bam.)#1 Radiohead – Kid ATop 5 Comics of 2009 #5 League of Extraordinary Gentlement: 1906(Pretty much a token mention; it was my discovery of the series at large that really defined the year. It’s a brilliant idea, which happened to link up perfectly with a lot of my university reading list.)#4 Batman & Robin #3 Invincible Iron Man(Just good superhero comics. But something about it- and I’m not quite sure what- felt special. A cut above. Which allows me to excuse picking this when I’m still not quite up to date with the 12-part epic that was World’s Most Wanted.)#2 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe(One of the two cultural artefacts that kicked this blog into life back in March- along with Britney Spears’ Circus album. I said a lot about it then. IT HAD A SHINY COVER!)#1 Phonogram 2: The Singles Club(The single thing off all these lists which will, I suspect, sit heaviest on my brain for the longest. Got to a point where I don’t even necessarily enjoy Phonogram that much, it’s just necessary sustenance- there’s a reason the only thing I (directly) wrote about it this year focused on consumption. As I work with my own music/prose experiments, it’s for seeing how in-line Gillen’s thinking is with mine**, and where he’s ahead of me, and where I should go, and where he’s using ideas I had for my own stuff. Enjoyment can come later.)I lost track of a lot of comics this year. I’ve already mentioned Ex Machina and Invincible Iron Man. But also Secret Warriors, Chew, Mighty Avengers, Young Liars… I never finished Umbrella Academy: Dallas. Hell, I really liked the first couple of issues of that X-Men Noir thing. It was a year for reading around comics- continuing to dive back into the history and back-catalogue; discovering writers (Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman all broke into my consciousness) and learning how to write about comics. But truth be told, off the top of my head, I can barely remember what I actually read this year. A bit of a twin to my year in music, actually. **Worth noting is that I suspect I might be the Laura Heaven […]

It’s been a long time, shouldn’ta left you…

Without some dope words to step to.* It’s been my birthday- a week-and-a-bit long extravaganza of partying, consumption of food and alcohol, and occasional self-harm. Which means I’m 21- taking stock of my life time, I suppose. But more importantly, each day flowing into the next and threading an endless canvas of hangover, I haven’t been able to update here. And I’ve got some really stuff kicking around on the internet, and specifically at my beloved Redbrick. First up is (co-produced with beautiful co-ed Erica A Vernon), my 60-minute round-up of 2009’s singles. Generally speaking, the best, but sometimes just the most important-seeming. I say a lot of vaguely controversial things like “DIZZEE RASCAL – DIRTEE CASHYeah, it’s not Bonkers (overplayed) or Holiday (failed single pushed until people believed they must like it). There’s a little something more to Dirtee Cash; the playful Rascal of old striking out at the world at a speed that mean you don’t notice. And that title can be only be a dig at the haters.” Though our photo-collage doesn’t seem to have been put up online, trust me when I say it was beautiful. Read the lot here. (And in the interests of multi-media content, a complete Spotify playlist.) Even more excitingly, our Top 40 Albums of the Decade comes to a close. It kicked off back in October, all the way back here. But if you’re just looking for a quick fix, and find out who was #1, check here. (For anyone keeping track, I wrote #21: The Libertines – Up The Bracket #19: Los Campesinos – Hold On Now, Youngster… #14: Daft Punk – Discovery #4: Radiohead – Kid A) I’m really proud of this list; it had a few WTF moments, I suspect, while the top end of the list was probably a bit generic (which is not to say wrong), but there are some really good you-should-listen-to-this-becauses on there. And you should listen to most of them. *A quick Google to double-check the lyrics (before bending them) proves that this is pretty much the go-to heading for ‘haven’t posted in a while’ blogs. I am no beautiful, unique snowflake.

Like an evil twin…

Welcome to the bi-weekly comeback.I’m posting this from my once-broken laptop. Damn it’s good to have my baby back. As usual, been busy editing the hell out of Britain’s best-looking student paper Redbrick. Still, I’ve had time to write up a fair few things, and now the time has come…to link to them!First up, my visit to Eurogamer Expo ’09 bears further fruit. I equally gush and rant about my look at forthcoming 360 sneaky-shooty-game Splinter Cell Conviction. I’m getting the hang of this preview business… “After a very smooth opening cutscene, showing Sam Fisher interrogating some generic evil-doer by smashing his face into urinals as information gained was projected on the wallls, Fisher runs out into a civilian-packed street. Pulling his gun out causes a panic, people running away and shouting, allowing Fisher in a very Assassin’s Creed-esque moment to slip amongst them unnoticed by guards. The game might have gone “back to the drawing board” a year or so ago, but its certainly kept the initial mission statement, a game about hiding in plain sight.” Spot the internal battle raging, to stop me just constantly repeating the word ‘smooth’ throughout. Read the rest here. Second, a (late, as usual) return to the Moneyless Gamer feature for Gamersyndrome.com. With slightly less immediate enthusiasm than my usual posts, I basically link to experimental weird-out game . The post is probably the most normal thing I’ve ever written, but I’m trying a bit of an experiment (to match the game). Hint: There’s more to come… “Less a game than a mass experiment, Dungeon is nevertheless worth playing. I’m a bit afraid I don’t have the necessary reach here to get discussion rolling the way the game really needs, but there’s no way I can’t talk about it. Created by Swedish one-man prolific indie-game machine Jonathan Söderström (aka Cactus).” If you play it (and I heartily endorse giving it a go), please, post on the article and tell me what you thought of it. Here.Meanwhile, in my other life: The Redbrick Top 40 best albums of the 21st Century (that’s right, the whole damn’ millenium.) It’s starting to get really interesting, as all the classic choices pop up. I’ve even written a few entries for it. Start here, and you should be able to click through to where we are now (#’s 20-16 should be going up in the next day or so).Alternatively, you can pick your starting point by going here. I’ve also argued out the Hot(ish) Topic of band reunions with my co-ed Erica Anne Vernon. She likes ’em, I think they’re a force for evil. FIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!This post carved out of the very flesh of its brother.

What I Did With My Weekend…

I’ve been away awhile but I’m b-b-BACK. Don’t call it a comeback. In that time, I’ve battled a broken laptop, edited the hell out of a few issues of Britain’s hottest* student paper Redbrick, and attended a games-expo. It’s been a pretty fun time. Somehow, during all that, I found the time to write up a coupla articles for y’all.First up, it’s a (late) return to the Moneyless Gamer feature for the lovely yet-MMO-keen people at Gamersyndrome.com. I talk about joyous crayoned-in speed-platformer, Runman, and just why YOU should play it. Because it’s the best, that’s why. “Level names like ‘The Awesome Zone’ reveal exactly what the game is about (apart from having a genuinely funny and warm personality): making you feel damn awesome. The very best sugar-rush speed moments match that of the Burnout games, and as your little yellow mascot cheers encouragement (WOO! OH SNAP!), you’re going to have to smile along with him.” Click here and you can be awesome too. Second, the fruits of my visit to Eurogamer Expo ’09 begin to flower. I write about the PS3’s next-big-thing, point&click thriller Heavy Rain. “The comparison to film is important- Heavy Rain is gaming’s equivalent to the thriller. Obviously so; it wears the trappings of a Se7en or Usual Suspects, but more importantly it captures the central feel of them- the thrill. Until now, games have looked like a thriller- see Condemned for a game example- but they’ve never played like a thriller- Condemned had dark moody atmosphere and the occasional jump, but it was more akin to a survival horror than a true thriller.” Yup, it’s one a’ them there revolutionary games**. Do I crown it gaming’s Citizen Kane, or noble failed experiment? There’s only one way to find out. Finally, I haven’t technically written anything for it yet (I’m the curator), but we’ve got a Redbrick countdown going on, of the 40 best albums of this whole millenium. Where the hell is your favourite? Good question: check it out/complain here. *By hottest I mean most-attractivest. Obv. **There’s a beautiful video of what the game is capable of (or more excitingly, was capable of in 2006) here.