this is attack music

After spending a few weeks with it, I've come to the conclusion that These New Puritans' 'Hidden' succeeds in every possible way. It delivers on the promise of single "We Want War" - and there was plenty of promise in "We Want War" - and then some in ways that I couldn't even have imagined. We're only a few weeks into 2010 but so far this is the album to beat - and it's going to take quite a bit to beat it.

And then.

Today in the mail: the UK vinyl pressing. Good lord, this thing is gorgeous: 180 gram virgin vinyl, textured outer sleeve with a thick PVC sleeve over that, printed inner sleeve, free digital download accessible even in the US - a win all around.

Now, I like listening to vinyl. I find it very aesthetically appealing and love the occasional bursts of surface noise. That said, I've never really bought in to the whole "vinyl sounds warmer/purer/truer/better" argument - I get where that line of thinking comes from but I've never really personally seen it. Perhaps it's because my hearing is pretty much shot to hell and/or the use of not exactly top of the line equipment, who knows. However - HOWEVER - the second I put the needle on this one, I totally got it.

Not to get all audiophile wankerish on you, but this. sounds. AMAZING. The beats really do sound like they're going to make your head explode. It really does have a more - ugh - full sound to it and is bringing out sounds in the mix I hadn't heard before - obviously compared to the mp3s, but even to the CD pressing.

I apologize, but damn. I can't recommend this one enough.

Oh, and "Attack Music" had better be the second single:



wait, what?


In trying to see if the b-sides to the These New Puritans "We Want War" 10" were available digitally in the US - hint: they're not - I came across something...not really interesting, just something.

On February 15th, No Bra will release a new single featuring a TNP remix on the b-side.

Wait. No Bra? That No Bra? Yes, that No Bra - who apparently never went anywhere.

It was shit the first time around and is still shit, but good for her for hanging on. I'm not going to lie, I'm curious as to what this is all about...sort of.

As a reminder, the "big single" "Munchausen" - completely unsuitable for mixed company and, really, human consumption:



the dream factory

It's been a long time coming but Rhino is finally ready to release a deluxe edition of The Monkees' fifth LP - 'The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees' - to go along with the first four they gave us a few years back. Perhaps to make up for the wait - or, perhaps, so they could justify the expense - it's coming out on the Rhino Handmade imprint, which means it is really, really nice. Excessively nice, you could say.

The sessions for the album famously went on for ages and provided the group with the beginnings of many songs that would be used to fill up albums throughout the rest of their career. I'm no great Monkee historian but looking at the 88-strong track listing spread over the three discs of this thing, it appears they've covered pretty much everything worthwhile from the sessions. More importantly, we are also finally getting the long-elusive mono mix of the album - we've been told for years that it is noticeably different from the stereo mix and now we get to hear for ourselves. [Judging by the 30-second sample on the Rhino Handmade website, "Auntie's Municipal Court" - supposedly the song with the biggest differences in the mix - features more prominent percussion throughout.] You can check out the full track list there - there's a ton of good stuff. Acoustic versions of "Magnolia Simms" and "Tapioca Tundra"? A Mike vocal version of "Auntie's Municipal Court"? The 1968 versions of "Through The Looking Glass" and "Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again" so we can re-create the initial proposed running order?

I can't wait to dig into this one.


2010 Q1 shopping list

These New Puritans - Hidden - 2xCD & LP [UK release - US in March]

Hadouken! - For The Masses - CD [UK release - US probably never]

[week off]

02/09 [first super Tuesday of the year]:
Massive Attack - Heligoland - CD [no LP release? weak.]
Sade - Soldier of Love - CD
Arcadia - So Red The Rose [Deluxe Edition] - 2xCD&DVD
Hot Chip - One Life Stand - CD/DVD

Pet Shop Boys - Pandemonium On Tour - DVD/CD [UK release - US release unknown]
Blur - No Distance Left To Run [Documentary] & Live at Hyde Park - 2xDVD [UK release - US release unknown]

Alphabeat - Hole In My Heart - single [Sound of Arrows remix!]
Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh [I'll believe it when I see it]
La Roux - Fascination - German only single [is this still happening?]

Alphabeat - The Spell - CD [UK release - US release probably never]

Christina Aguilera - Bionic - CD [Aggie + Ladytron? I'm curious.]

The Cure - Disintegration - 2xCD/DVD [we can finally lay these Cure remasters to rest]

Duran Duran - Duran Duran & Seven and the Ragged Tiger 2xCD/DVD re-issues in March

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
Battles - LP2
!!! - LP4
LCD Soundsystem - LP3

all supposedly coming in Q1.

Later on:

School of Seven Bells!
Duran Duran album whatever number we're on!
Sound of Arrows debut!

2010 is shaping up to be an expensive year.



Alright, let's get this show on the road. My 20 favorite albums from 2000-2009.

Aaaaaand, go!

20: Super Furry Animals - Mwng [2000]
[what's Welsh for "amazing"?]

The First Crusade
19: Jakobinarina - The First Crusade [2007]
[if Ash came from Iceland - I still have no idea why I love this one so much]

Hello Doctor
18: Gravy Train!!!! - Hello Doctor [2003]
[we wore our little pleated skirts and hiked them up to show our goods]

New Amerykah Part One: Fourth World War
17: Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One: Fourth World War [2008]
[middle fingers proudly raised]

Free All Angels
16: Ash - Free All Angels [2001]
[this shouldn't exist, let alone be as good as it is]

Mississauga Goddam
15: The Hidden Cameras - Mississauga Goddam [2004]
[indie-pop's very own 'Very']

Girls of War
14: Die Monitr Batss - Girls of War [2004]
[at least someone was able to get the no-wave revival right]

La Roux
13: La Roux - La Roux [2009]
[are we too close to it? maybe. regardless, the album is synthpop perfection]

Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
12: PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea [2000]
[the least-PJ Harvey like album of the decade was also her finest]

Swallowed A Star
11: Daníel Ágúst - Swallowed A Star [2005]
["Bambi" to the nth degree]

10: Dragonette - Galore [2007]
[dirrty-girl pop done very right - marvellous]

The Invisible Deck
09: The Rogers Sisters - The Invisible Deck [2006]
[a consolidation of their strengths - sadly, also their swan song]

X Marks Destination
08: The Whip - X Marks Destination [2008]
[the New Order of the 00's would have killed for just one of these tracks]

Weather Underground
07: Geneva - Weather Underground [2000]
[not to be like that, but where Radiohead should have gone post-OK Computer]

The Seldom Seen Kid
06: Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid [2008]
[a heartbreaking work of staggering genius]

05: School of Seven Bells - Alpinisms [2008]
[aural bliss]

Rings Around The World
04: Super Furry Animals - Rings Around the World [2001]
[they raised the stakes so high even they couldn't answer to them]

Asleep In The Back
03: Elbow - Asleep In The Back [2001]
[deliciously out of time, they never sounded like this again]

Title TK
02: The Breeders - Title TK [2002]
[Kim Deal proves how unfair her advantage is - she did more in the two minutes of "Son of Three" than most contemporary bands can do in a lifetime]

The Smell Of Our Own
01: The Hidden Cameras - The Smell of Our Own [2003]


thirty-three-and-one-third albums from the last decade that I quite liked

So, here's the thing:

I was originally trying to put together a list of my fifty favorite albums from the last decade. It seemed reasonable enough - we're talking about ten years of music after all, so it basically boiled down to my five favorite albums from each of the last ten years. Essentially. [Obviously something like the suck-fest of 2002 was going to have less and something like the amazing-ness of 2003 was going to have more...or so I thought.] So I started with a shortlist of about 75-80 albums and started weeding from there.

Once I got it down to fifty that I was happy with, it was time to start numbering. First place was obvious - and, honestly, had been decided from the second I first heard it - and the rest of the top 5 fell into place kind of nicely. Filling out a top twenty got a little tough - is this my sixteenth or seventeenth favorite album? Do I like it slightly more or slightly less than my fifteenth favorite? And so on and so forth - and then I just got tired of it and threw everything else into a pile. Also, as I was compiling I realized I had left out two albums that I couldn't say that I liked fifty other albums more than, but I also couldn't find two albums I liked slightly less to cut. So it turned into a top 52, which is an odd ball number and that made me sad.

So I did a little re-jigging of the list and came up with 33 1/3 albums -
the 1/3 of an album being an EP- that I would like to round out the top 50-ish. The top 20 I came up with a pretty satisfying order, but after that it was an exercise in futility.

So for right now, I present the other 33 1/3 in order of release year - you can consider each of them my 21st favorite album of the past decade.

Science & NatureXTRMNTR
The Bluetones - Science and Nature
Primal Scream - XTRMNTR

Halloween EPVespertine
One Touch
Ben Tramer - Halloween EP
Björk - Vespertine
Daft Punk - Discovery
Destiny's Child - Survivor
Sugababes - One Touch

OnI To SkyPurely Evil
Imperial Teen - On
JJ72 - I To Sky
The Rogers Sisters - Purely Evil

Cast of ThousandsGrey Will FadeD-d-don't Don't Stop The Beat
Elbow - Cast of Thousands
Charlotte Hatherley - Grey Will Fade
Junior Senior - D-d-don't Don't Stop The Beat

Uh Huh HerThree FingersSonic Nurse
PJ Harvey - Uh Huh Her
The Rogers Sisters - Three Fingers
Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse

OmniThe Bright Lights & What I Should Have Learned
Leaders of the Free WorldEmployment
Yr Atal GenhedlaethLove Kraft
Acid Casuals - Omni
Duels - The Bright Lights & What I Should Have Learned
Elbow - Leaders of the Free World
Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
Gruff Rhys - Yr Atal Genhedleath
Super Furry Animals - Love Kraft

The Deep BlueEmpireRudebox
Charlotte Hatherley - The Deep Blue
Kasabian - Empire
Robbie Williams - Rudebox

MirroredBishop Allen & The Broken String
Battles - Mirrored
Bishop Allen - Bishop Allen & The Broken String

This Is AlphabeatMountain Battles
Midnight BoomBeat Pyramid
Alphabeat - This Is Alphabeat
The Breeders - Mountain Battles [album art of the decade for sure]
The Kills - Midnight Boom
These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid
Van She - V

The Boxer Rebellion - Union
Pet Shop Boys - Yes

Or something like that.

Top 20 soon.