Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The Importance Of Diaries

I've never been a great user of my diary. This may explain why I arrived into work today at 8 o'clock, put in a good hour's work and then realised that it was my day off. Sheepishly grabbing my coat to howls of derision from my workmates I headed back, aware that the double shot of coffee an hour earlier would prevent any plan of climbing back into bed. A rather infuriating start to the day perhaps, but the freedom of an unexpected day off in a rather dismal and soggy London town has provided me with the opportunity to work on this online 'diary'. Every cloud etc...
Two months into the year, with crisp Spring just days away, it's a good time to reflect on the best (not much worst, it's a grim enough day as it is!) of the year so far in the world of music.
Following the post-Christmas music industry hangover, the release of the year's anticipated albums has started to pick up speed. The year's worth of hype surrounding the Klaxons resulted in a number one album, one which toyed with and then completely discarded the scene ('nu-rave') which apparently spawned them. The likes of 'Two Receivers' and the ubiquitous 'Golden Skans' showed that the London tykes are in reality an accomplished pop group in Day-Glo disguise.
The Hold Steady's literate Springsteen-esque tales of booze and broken dreams continue to thrill, the dumbed-down Thin Lizzy riffs which roar along underneath 'Boys And Girls In America' making the gutter glamour all the more alluring.
Bloc Party's reinvention as the Shoreditch Street Preachers shows all the self-regard and righteous anger required to make 'A Weekend In The City' the alluring pop protest it is.
Long term fans have been waiting like rabid wolfhounds for Lucinda Williams' latest, and 'West' the alt-country queen's new album proves her finest work since the Grammy-winning 'Car Wheels On A Gravel Road', released more than a decade ago.
Opinions on Patrick Wolf vary from 'new Bowie' (the gist of the NME review of 'The Magic Position') to 'stop mucking about with orchestras and home-made drum machines and write some real songs' (the gist of The Observer's review). The reality is that he's a prodigious home-grown talent (in need of reining in, perhaps) aiming for the stars, and what's wrong with that?
Proggy noise-mongers Explosions In The Sky have a newie out, filling that Mogwai/Sigur Ros gap for the time being. For those with slightly shorter attention spans, The Horrors will shortly be releasing 'Strange House', full of scary organ-led garage rock blasts, Screaming Lord Sutch covers and probably some indechipherable ranting (let's face it, he's not gonna be singing Eva Cassidy covers on X-Factor anytime soon) by Faris Rotter.

Now for a few that appeared on my radar too late to make the poll of 2006's best albums, but are well worth checking out (if you like the sound of what's in the brackets).

Beirut - Gulag Orkestar (Fragile, lo-fi songs hijacked by mad Eastern-European brass band)

The Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control (Taut, disco-punk hijacked by obese, lesbian diva possessed by Aretha Franklin)

Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury (The Neptunes' best productions in years hijacked by maniacal miscreants in a blizzard of cocaine - take that Bloc Party!)

Forthcoming albums of note:

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible (5th March)

Bright Eyes' new one (late April)

The National - Boxer (21st May)

We end on a positive note for Keanu Reeves, Russell Crowe and any other misguided actors silly enough to launch music careers - Jared Leto has trumped them all with his new project 30 Seconds To Mars. Can emo still be a counter-cultural force when embraced by thirty-something Hollywood actors?

Have a great March.

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