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St Vincent – St Vincent

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St Vincent – St Vincent

Posted on 14 February 2014 by Conal Dougan

Art rock stalwart St Vincent, aka Manhattan’s Annie Clark, recently revealed that she tries to live ‘at the intersection of accessible and lunatic’. If her latest, eponymously titled, album is anything to go by, this is something she achieves with great success.

saint-vincent-new-album

Fans of St Vincent’s 2012 collaboration with David Byrne on the excellent Love This Giant LP will be pleased with much of her new material. Album opener Rattlesnake and single Digital Witness feature the same exuberant, chopped up percussion and cheerful brass and synths, albeit lacking Byrne’s nerdy, longing vocals to complement Clark’s more wispy voice. The energy in the tracks is matched only by their refusal to settle into a groove, pleasingly tugging the listener into new directions whenever it feels like it.

Elsewhere on the album, Clark effortlessly switches between melodic ballads, garage rock and numerous other musical styles. Huey Newton combines, bizarre as it may sound, low-fi hip hop tunes with marching band percussion and, eventually, electro-grunge. Prince Johnny and I Prefer Your Love feature Clark in Kate Bush mode, heartfelt lyrics juxtaposed with choral backing and soaring synths. These are the album’s most moving tracks.

It is Clark’s ability to leap from one idea and musical theme to the next while keeping the listener engaged that is her real selling point. She does this by creating memorable, bold melodies to latch on to fizzing backing tracks, and several of the songs do an excellent job of sticking in the listener’s mind for days. Lyrically, Clark switches from the melancholy – describing her work as party music “you can play at a funeral” – to the mundane. Birth in Reverse runs details her morning routine, including taking out the rubbish and masturbating, and calls to mind Nick Cave’s ability to juxtapose lyrics on everyday happenings with emotional intensity.

While it is unlikely that Clark will ever gain mainstream popularity – something she is certainly not looking for – it remains the case that she produces consistently engaging, challenging material, and this latest album bears testament to that. Her UK tour takes her only to London and Manchester, something which may disappoint her fans from further reaches. However, they are compensated here in this album with new bold, eccentric and memorable material that Clark is so deft at deploying.

8/10

by Conal Dougan

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David Byrne & St.Vincent – Love This Giant

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David Byrne & St.Vincent – Love This Giant

Posted on 17 September 2012 by Dorian

Collaborations are something to approach with caution, for every example where the combining artists bring out the best in each other (Iron & Wine and Calexico) there is another where the worst of both is brutally exposed (the appalling Lulu by Lou Reed and Metallica). The good news is that Love This Giant, the work of David Byrne and Annie Clark AKA St.Vincent, falls firmly into the former category and may well be my favourite album of the year so far.

Love This Giant

Love This Giant has the sound of a true collaboration, both artists seemingly having an equal role in the creative process and performance here. There are a couple of moments where each could be guesting on the others record, ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Outside of Space and Time’ being the only songs credited to just Clark or Byrne on the album. On most tracks the sound is so cohesive that you’d think the pair had been working to together for much longer than the two years that it took to take this album from idea to public release.

Both artists come from an art school background, and have displayed tendancies in the past to let the concept crush the execution in their music, something that often leads to records that are moreinteresting than enjoyable. Love This Giant, from the opening seconds of the brilliant ‘Who’ shows itself to be a fun, high quality, set of pop music. It is clever and sophisticated, but never in a way that stops the music being accessible.

The decision to work with a brass band throughout proves to be a masterstroke, giving the album a clear identity. Combined with some brilliant guitar from Bryne and Clark, and some subtle drum programming you have an album that really does sound like nothing else you’ll hear this year.

It is hard to pick out key tracks on an album of such a consistantly high quality, but ‘The One Who Broke Your Heart’, featuring the Dap Kings and Antibalas, has “should have been a top 10 hit” written all over it.

Both parties seem to have been inspired by the collaboration, Clark sounds more natural and less mannered than on her solo work and this is the best thing that Byrne has done for years, even putting his most recent Eno collaboration in the shade.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Top Ten Glastonbury Festival Gigs (2011-2016)

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Top Ten Glastonbury Festival Gigs (2011-2016)

Posted on 19 June 2017 by Joe

With five Glastonbury Festivals, from 2011 to 2016, under our belt we decided to have a look back at some of our favourite gigs over that time. Feel free to mention your favourite Glastonbury performance in the comment section below or let us know if you also saw any of these acts.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Pyramid Stage 2013

Cave and co were scheduled before trustafarian folksters Mumford and Sons on the Pyramid Stage. The Bad Seeds promptly took ownership of the iconic main stage and presented the waistcoat wearing fops with one of the festival’s greatest ever ‘follow that, arseholes’ sets.

Resplendent in silk black suit and paisley shirt Cave provided a master class in how to perform at a festival. Each soft moment perfectly placed among the dangerous, violent lyrics and tales of murder that Cave has excelled at throughout his career. The brooding epic Jubilee Street became an instant live favourite, as were older classics such as Mercy Seat and a spellbinding encore of Red Right Hand.

The real highpoint though was Stagger Lee, as Cave embarked on one of two attempts to crowd surf/schmooze. As he screamed at those he made contact with about all the things he was going to do to poor Billy Dilly in the song suddenly this pre-Raphaelite looking women appeared. She kept resolute eye contact with Cave throughout as he ended up singing directly to her. This kind of thing is cheesy when someone like Bono does it, but not when Cave gives it a go. As far as I’m aware the U2 singer has never looked into an audience member’s eyes, held her hands and screamed “I’m going to fuck Billy Dilly up his motherfucking ass.”

Billy Bragg

Leftfield Stage 2016

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg, Glastonbury 2016

I often go to Bragg’s regular Friday night set at this stage that he helps curate but this set, just hours after the shocking Brexit vote outcome was announced, was by far the best.

The crowd’s roar after hits like Milkman of Human Kindness and Sexuality was “just what I needed”, he said, after the day’s testing events. We needed it too. Even Bragg admitted towards the end that this had been one of his best ever gigs and certainly it was the busiest I’ve ever seen the Leftfield in five years as a regular.

There Is A Power In A Union sing-a-long was intense with its added topicality and New England was dutifully rousing. Activism was duly recharged.

St Vincent

Park Stage, 2014

St Vincent

St Vincent, Glastonbury 2016

St Vincent provided one of the most astounding show of 2014’s event. Dressed in gold and black she moved around the stage like a android doll who has just discovered rebellion. Coordinated dancing, theatrics and two of the most insane crowd surfing moments I’ve witnessed were incredible on their own and that’s without mentioning the superb music and her sensational guitar playing.

Your Lips Are Red and a tender version of Prince Johnny were among many highlights of an incredible masterclass in performance and music.

John Grant

John Peel Stage 2016

John Grant

John Grant, Glastonbury 2016

Poor John had flu but this somehow made his performance at the John Peel stage better, with the crowd urged to sing-along and wave their arms around to keep him going. He has come along way as a performer since I last saw him at Glastonbury at the Park Stage in 2014 and he is now a proper diva, albeit one in a country and western shirt and a massive beard.

Queen of Denmark, Greatest Mother Fucker were highlights but Glacier blew the whole gig apart with its emotional brilliance.

Pentangle

Acoustic Stage 2011

Bert Jansch (centre) performing with Pentangle at Glastonbury 2011

Pentangle, Glastonbury 2011

Reformed for this special gig at the Acoustic stage, folk super group Pentangle excelled during a set that  featured the full original line up of guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, singer Jacqui McShee, drummer Terry Cox and bassist Danny Thompson. For a folk fan like me this was a very special occasion.

Even though they’d barely rehearsed together the old magic was still there. Watching Renbourn weave his intricate guitar playing around Jansch’s riffs and Thompson and Cox’s jazz folk rhythms was one of my favourite musical moments at the 2011 festival. They seemed delighted to be there as they swept though tracks such as ‘Hunting Song’, ‘Bruton Town’, ‘House Carpenter’ and ‘Cruel Sister’. This was an experience to cherish.

Tragically it was also the last chance to see Jansch, who sadly passed away just two months later. Renbourne is also no longer with us and the loss of these two pioneers of British folk music makes this chance to have seen them even more special.

Ron Sexsmith

Acoustic Stage 2015

Ron Sexsmith

Ron Sexsmith, Glastonbury 2015

Ron Sexsmith appeared in 2015 to celebrate two decades of music, but up until his engaging set his music had completely evaded me somehow. Through a career spanning set, including Strawberry Blonde and There’s a Rhythm to the more recent Getaway Car, he had me hooked. For a week later I was still humming these tracks, that I had only heard once – that’s how good a song writer he is.

La Femme

William’s Green Stage 2015

La Femme

La Femme, Glastonbury 2015

Another sensational performance at the 2015 event was Parisian eccentric surf-dance-you name it-pop act La Femme. At their William’s Green set there was crowd surfing, crazy dancing and wonderful banter. This is a fun party band who were on top form as they showcased tracks from their just released debut album Psycho Tropical Brazil.

Wilko Johnson

Acoustic Stage 2015

Wilko Johnson

Wilko Johnson, Glastonbury 2015

Like a crazed bird Johnson made a mockery of the cancer that the previous year threatened to take his life, as he weaved around stage, machine gun-chording the audience with his trademark Fender telecaster. He and his regular bassist Norman Watt-Roy are a sheer joy to watch.

Franz Ferdinand and Sparks

John Peel Stage 2015

FFS

FFS, Glastonbury 2015

For my final act of Glastonbury 2015 I ventured over to the half full John Peel Stage to see Franz Ferdinand with Sparks, who were competing with the Chemical Brothers and The Who. This didn’t stop them putting on one of this year’s best sets as they ripped through each other’s hits and showcased their remarkable and fun joint album from 2015.

Highlights included Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael’s endearing acting during the splendidly ironic Collaborations Don’t Work. Top moment though was the surprise sight of Ron Mael emerging from behind his keyboard to laugh and dance for a quick 30 second mesmerising burst of pop history. Not bad dancing skills for a man for whom John Lennon once said “bloody hell, its Hitler on TV.

Ok Go

John Peel Stage 2011

Ok Go

Ok Go, Glastonbury 2011

I love a band that makes a bit of an effort and Ok Go certainly do that. Known for their inventive videos this US pop rock are equally impressive live. With each member dressed in a bright coloured suit,  I was left impressed with both their showmanship and song writing.

Squeeze are the nearest comparison as OK Go  as put in for me the performance of the 2011 festival, featuring great versions of ‘Here it Goes Again’ (the one with the treadmill video) as well as ‘This Too Shall Pass’ and ‘Sky Scrapers’ from their then most recent album Of The Blue Colour of the Sky. It was a masterclass in audience engagement too, with a member of the crowd joining them on guitar duty.

Words and photos by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival 2014

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Glastonbury Festival 2014

Posted on 30 June 2014 by Joe

Everyone has their own Glastonbury experience. It’s so vast, with 200,000 people and thousands of acts scattered across two large Somerset farms that this giant muddy city is able to offer something for everyone. There are those that like the big name acts of the Pyramid and Other stages, some who can dance all night at Shangri-La and Arcadia and then there’s some like me who enjoy finding new bands and watching music in the many smaller, more intimate venues.

Storm clouds over the Pyramid Stage

Storm clouds over the Pyramid Stage

I was attending this year as a judge for this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition so was especially keen to catch up with some of the finalists. During this review I’ll cover each of my day’s trek around the storm hit, mud strewn site’s smaller venues to bring some new acts to your attention.

Friday

After discovering it was Kaiser Chiefs not my dream of Prince playing the surprise slot opening at The Other Stage I headed to this year’s best venue, William’s Green, where new bands rub shoulders with more established acts looking to play a second, more intimate gig. Ralfe Band were first on and provided the perfect start with Oly Ralfe’s accomplished Baroque pop on keyboards and acoustic guitar putting in great versions of tracks such as Crow and Ox.

Ralfe Band

Ralfe Band

As I made my way over to the BBC Introducing stage I stopped off to watch a little of Blondie. I knew it would be a soul destroying experience for this fan and was proved right. Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and one of the world’s best drummers Clem Burke remain from the original line up but they were supplemented with some rent a rock session musicians and were now very clearly a spent force. Harry shouted rather than sang her way through the classics like Hanging on the Telephone and their bland ‘new ones’ were met with groans and sighs from the crowd. Is it time to call it a day? In Blondie’s case, definitely.

Wood Burning Savages

Wood Burning Savages

Over at the BBC Introducing stage Dan Hyde proved a welcome antidote, backed by cello and giving a new take on the skinny jeaned young singer songwriter genre. Derry’s Wood Burning Savages were next and immediately looked like a band destined for bigger things. Every track in their short 20 minute set of fast paced indie rock sounded like a single, especially Lather, Rinse, Repeat. In singer Paul Connolly they also have a great frontman; part Bono, part Danny Kendall from 1980s Grange Hill.

Carnabells from Leeds were next at BBC Introducing and were brought on stage by fan Steve Lamacq. All giant hair, paisley shirts and velvet jackets they play rock and roll with a huge dollop of indie rock and did Steve proud.

The beauty of the BBC Introducing stage is it is next to the Gully Outer National stage for world music as well as John Peel for the more established BBC 6 Music style acts. Birmingham’s Eternal Taal – Bhangra Entertainment Team were hard to ignore with their energetic crowd participation act at Gully as were Temples over at John Peel with their carefully crafted late 1960s psychedelic rock. It’s a little Tame Impala light but they still do this genre justice.

Carnabelles

Carnabells

Following a brief burst of sunshine some menacing clouds began to appear. I sought shelter back at William’s Green to see We Were Evergreen. Anyone who has heard Canada’s Rural Alberta Advantage will be impressed by this smart, Parisian electro pop act.

The next event was the weather, with a truly frightening electrical storm bringing the festival’s music to a brief close due to health and safety fears. Everyone at the festival will have their tale to tell of where they were when this intense rain came down. For me it was in The Leftfield where Neonfiller.com favourites The Tuts were just getting going in their punk pop set when the generators were shut down. Billy Bragg, who is curating proceedings at The Leftfield apologised but audience didn’t care though as they launched into a Cliff Richard at Wimbledon style sing-along to Bohemian Rhapsody. The guitar solo bit was particularly funny.

Young Knives

Young Knives

Back at William’s Green and the electricity back on, Young Knives played a storming set, filled with tracks from Neonfiller.com top 20 album of 2013 Sick Octave and an incredible performance from lead singer Henry Dartnell as he snarled, barked and jerked around the stage.

Billy Bragg’s Friday night Leftfield show is a tradition of the festival. Tonight it was just him and telecaster and acoustic guitar, belting out his hits and reminding us of the late Tony Benn, who was a regular at the festival. It’s a political venue so the politics is ramped up through tracks such as Between the Wars and There is Power in a Union. But he’s also a preacher with heart and Handyman Blues about his father was among many tearjerkers. Bragg always puts on a good show, but there’s something special about his Friday night Leftfield slot.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

My evening ended with two Somerset based bands, Flipron and Nick Parker and the False Alarms who share members and played a great joint set at Avalon Café. Both Parker and Flipron frontman Jesse Budd were playing a number of times at the festival but you’d never know they were probably wrecked from exhaustion as they belted through their most festival friendly tracks. There was even dancing amid the tea drinking.

Nick Parker

Nick Parker

Saturday

John Peel openers Black Tambourines were one of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition finalists this year and left me impressed during their short set at the Pilton finals in April. It was great to see a full set from this Falmouth act, which owes a lot to the 1960s garage punk and mod sounds of the Unrelated Segments and other obscurities from that era.

The Black Tambourines

The Black Tambourines

At BBC Introducing by coincidence another Falmouth act, Polly Money, is proving that the Cornish music scene is in fine voice. Her intricate acoustic guitar work and looping vocals show she is another accomplished, emerging talent. After a surprise gig at BBC introducing from Little Dragon I headed back over to William’s Green for the billed psychedelic rock segment of the weekend, which started with the Nirvana-esque grunge-sters The Wytches, Brisbane’s Blank Realm, Smoke Fairies and Dinosaur Jr’s favourites Bevis Frond.

The Wytches

The Wytches

All these William’s Green acts were great in their own separate ways from Smoke Fairies’ style of dressing in designer white outfits, Bevis Frond’s love of life, Blank Realm’s insane vocals and The Wytches massive hair.

The Smoke Fairies

The Smoke Fairies

The evening was spent in the company of two great songwriters. Watching Nick Lowe sing What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding with his perfect pitch and intonation is one of those ‘things to see in music before you die’ moments. He was especially suited to the beautiful Acoustic tent with its hanging red drapes and giant disco ball.

John Grant

John Grant

John Grant at the Park was as amiable and fun as he appears to be on disc, with his clever lyrics and liberal swearing. As joints were being passed around at the front Grant dazzled us with tracks such as Mars and GMF, perhaps his greatest song. On the way back home that night (I live near the site and was popping in each day) I managed to catch the Arcadia landing show, an outstanding spectacle of fire breathing giant space spider pyrotechnics.

 

Arcadia

Arcadia

 

Sunday

The Black Tambourines and Wood Burning Savages prove the festival has emerging talent that has seemingly arrived fully formed. But some of today’s BBC Introducing stage acts showed that some have a little way to go in terms of stage presence. Glastonbury Emerging Talent finalists FURS have the right look and sound but fell into the trap of not looking like they wanted to be there. Kagoule have their chops around a distortion pedal but while excellent musically they looked nervous and were smile-shy.

Kagoule

Kagoule

We are told by the BBC DJ who introduced singer songwriter Lapsley that she will be one of those acts that will be making a swift move from the BBC Introducing to a main stage swiftly. It does happen, with Ed Sheeran playing the stage in 2011 and bagging a Pyramid slot this year. Lapsley could do well with her  haunting electronica. She has some nice touches to her act as well, especially through voice manipulation gadgets. But she’ll have to do a lot of work on her stage presence to follow Sheeren’s lead. She looked  like she was on work experience at an office, desperately trying to pluck up the courage to ask a manager where the coffee machine is, rather than at a music festival.

Gallery Circus

Gallery Circus

Gallery Circus though showed these acts how it should be done. This Newcastle duo of twins Graeme and Daniel Ross play sibling blues rock in the White Stripes vein and are  sensational live; Graeme’s frantic drumming especially. After seeing the energy they put into playing live I want them to get wider attention and a main stage slot that so many on the BBC Introducing are touted for but today only Gallery Circus deserve.

After the storms of Friday and Saturday the mud was thick and getting about the site was tough work. I decided to stick to one area for the duration, even if that meant missing the Festival’s buzz act Dolly Parton. The Park was my venue and provided the best segment of the festival as well as the best live act I’ve seen since Nick Cave’s astonishing Pyramid Stage set in 2013.

M+A

M+A

Phosphorescent brought the songwriting talents of Matthew Houck and key tracks, such as Song For Zula and Ride On/Right On from his Neonfiller.com Top 20 album of 2012 Muchacho, to the Park. He had a little wobble early on, having a hissy fit with a mic, slamming down the stand in disgust. Perhaps realising that this made him look like an utter knob he backtracked, thanked the sound engineers for their hard work and the gig resumed.

Ahead of next act Yoko Ono with Yo La Tengo I popped up to the Rabbit Hole, the crazy bar near the Park’s ribbon tower to catch a second gig from Glastonbury Emerging Talent winners M+A. Their blend of European pop and electronic trickery was superb in this tiny venue and they proved worthy winners of this competition.

Yoko One and Yo La Tengo

Yoko Ono and Yo La Tengo

I was not expecting Yoko Ono to be good. I was mostly there for the novelty of seeing such an well known figure of modern culture and had always been of the opinion that her and Lennon’s preaching was more pretentious than heartfelt. There was pretension, but she is such an engaging personality I can see why so many listened to her and husband back in the day. Before she came to the stage people with flowers in the hair went around the crowd handing out labels to write down wishes and hand back in a bucket. Then Ono arrived, tiny, focused and full of smiles backed this time by Yo La Tengo as the Plastic Ono Band.

Packed full of tales from her own life, including the tragic loss of her daughter due to a marriage break up and artists visiting her and Lennon, the audience immediately warmed to her. Musically it was pretty fine too. Backed by Yo La Tengo’s indie rock, Ono throat warbled her way through tracks such as We’re All Water and Mind Train as the audience beamed back at her.

St Vincent

St Vincent

St Vincent provided one of the most astounding show of the weekend. Looking sensational in gold trimmed black dress and stiletto boots she moved around the stage like a android doll that is smirking as it discovers rebellion and music for the first time. Coordinated dances with the band, a move onto a giant white pedestal, a coordinated roll back down it and two of the most insane crowd surfing moments I’ve witnessed then followed.

St Vincent being helped into the crowd

St Vincent being helped into the crowd

The crowd surfing was particularly impressive, still playing guitar she struggled through the mud in her heels, had to be helped up by security staff, fell over a number of times, jumped on people, managed to borrow a flat cap and then popped back on stage still in android doll character as if nothing had happened. How she managed to still look cool after that I’ll never know. Your Lips Are Red and a tender version of Prince Johnny were among many highlights of an incredible masterclass in performance and music for some of the emerging acts here to take note of.

dragon

Words and Pictures by Joe Lepper. All pictures are copyrighted to News and Features Ltd, if you would like to use any please email joelepper@newsandfeatures.co.uk

To see more photos from the weekend head over to our Facebook page.

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Glastonbury Festival 2014 – Ten Must See Acts

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Glastonbury Festival 2014 – Ten Must See Acts

Posted on 04 June 2014 by Joe

Away from the Pyramid and The Other Stage, the Glastonbury Festival offers an array of venues of all sizes, packed full of emerging talent and more well known bands looking for a more intimate gig. From the Leftfield Tent, where Billy Bragg helps curate a political and talented musical line up, to the BBC Introducing Stage, where regional radio DJs showcases their favourite local acts, there is plenty to see away from the BBC cameras.

For the third year running we will be attending and have compiled this list of our recommended acts away on some of the festival’s smaller stages, with West Holts and Park Stage the largest we will focus on.

glastonbury

In our list we have an Emerging Talent competition winner, one of Somerset’s best bands as well as more familiar names that are performing at the festival for the first time or are back again after impressing before. So for those looking to avoid the stadium rock of Metallica and Kasabian here is our pick of the ten must see acts across the festival site.

M+A

For the second year running we were delighted to be among the judges for the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent competition. This year’s deserved winners put in an incredible set during the finals in April in nearby Pilton, Somerset, and we are keen to see much more of their exciting, fun and packed full of humour take on pop music when they open Sunday‘s proceedings at West Holts.

John Grant

IMGP9050

Everyone we recommend Grant to turns round and says “wow!” Yes, he’s that good and has that much of a wide appeal. Across his two albums Queen of Denmark and Pale Green Ghosts, Grant has emerged as an excellent song writer and performer and is part of an impressive line up at the Park Stage this year. He is due on around 9pm on Saturday night.

St Vincent

We stick with the Park Stage with our next recommendation, art rockster St Vincent. Her collaborations with David Byrne and Andrew Bird left us impressed and so too has her recent self titled album. Judging by her live performances recently The Park Stage crowd are in for a treat on Sunday evening.

Public Service Broadcasting

Public Service Broadcasting's J. Willgoose Esq

Public Service Broadcasting’s J. Willgoose Esq

Crazy dance music and pop backed by clips from wartime information films has proved a winning conceit for Public Service Broadcasting duo, J. Willgoose Esq and Wrigglesworth. We saw them at onef the smaller Glastonbury Festival stage William’s Green  last year and they put in an exciting show, backed by a  giant TV on stage and full of humour,  with all banter carried out through pre-programmed robot responses. Their reward for last year’s excellent gig is a move to the far larger West Holts Stage on Sunday afternoon.

Parquet Courts

Just as alternative guitar music looked to be in the doldrums up popped Parquet Courts last year with their Neonfiller.com Album of the Year, Light Up Gold. They have attitude in abundance with their exciting take on the music of Pavement, Wire and The Fall and are yet another excellent addition to The Park Stage’s Friday late afternoon line up.

The Tuts

The Tuts were one of the highlights at last year’s Indietracks and we are delighted that they’ve secured a Friday evening slot at the Leftfield Tent this year. Appearing on the Friday evening they ooze pop appeal and are a slick bunch live, thanks to a support slot on Kate Nash’s tour last year. They kindly let us use their song Tut Tut for this video diary we made for last year’s Indietracks festival.

 

Wolf Alice

New-Wolf-Alice-500x333

Another band to impress us at another festival, is Wolf Alice, a highlight of 2013’s The Great Escape. We predict they will be one of the most talked about of the John Peel stage’s acts, where further acclaim beckons. We also named them as one of out Top Ten Bands to Watch Out for in 2014 and guarantee you won’t be disappointed. They are due on stage around 4pm on the Saturday.

Dry The River

We’ve been banging on about this London folk rock band for years now, after seeing them at Glastonbury and Great Escape in 2011. Live they put on an incredible show both times and are tailor made for a festival crowd with their big sound and stage presence. Be sure to catch their set when they take to the John Peel Stage on Sunday afternoon.

Flipron

Formerly based in London now of Glastonbury, the town that is, they are one of the Festival area’s best  local acts and with a national following as well. They blend a range of genres from folk to rock to pop to ska, but above all they are fun and are a great live act full of invention. In recent year’s they’ve even teamed up with Specials man Neville Staples and are due to perform at the Bandstand around 7pm on the Friday and are penciled in for around 11pm at the Avalon Cafe on the same night.

Young Knives

Young_Knives_Grey_Lunch

How good are Young Knives live? Very much so, according to two of our reviewers who saw them on their own headline slot in Brighton this year as well as supporting The Flaming Lips in May. The fact that they nabbed the Lips support gig proves they are a force to be reckoned with on stage. Fun, quirky, inventive are just some of the adjectives we have used to describe this Leicestershire trio. Pop along and see them at the small but wonderful William’s Green stage early Friday evening.

To plan your festival Clash Finder have this useful timetable with stage times filling up as the get confirmed.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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UK Music Festival Guide 2013

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UK Music Festival Guide 2013

Posted on 27 February 2013 by Joe

With Glastonbury back after a year off, 2013 is set to be one of the busiest for UK music festivals. Some of our favourite small festivals are also still going strong as we take you through our guide to the best festivals in the UK. We’ve also found space to showcase possibly the worst festival line up we have ever seen. Sadly this year is the first where we will no longer be endorsing the All Tomorrow’s Parties events. With the line-ups becoming increasingly predictable and question marks still lingering in our minds over a recent festival postponement and financial woes we’ve decided that there are better and more reliable options elsewhere.

The Great Escape

May 16-18

great-escape-2013-500x303

Taking place at venues across Brighton and Hove, on the Sussex coast, you have to be very queue tolerant for the more popular acts. The event does include a lot of leg work to flit between venues but such minor ordeals are worth it for this festival, which prides itself on showcasing the best new talent around as well as a sprinkling of familiar names. This year’s line up includes Merchandise, Bastille and Phosphorescent. Once again we will be reviewing this event. For more information click here.

Glastonbury

June 26-30

glastonbury 2012

As usual tickets sold out swiftly for this year’s event, especially after it took a break last year to give the fields at its Worthy Farm, Somerset, home  a break. It’s worth checking the website though for details of returned tickets that usually become available around Easter. So far this year the line up rumour mill has been churning faster than ever with David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and Arctic Monkeys all in the mix for a headline slot. After attending our first Glastonbury in 2011 we were amazed by the sheer breadth of music on offer, with the new band-focused BBC Introducing Stage and the John Peel Stage among our favourites. Whatever the bill it promises to remain the best festival for music fans on offer this year. As with 2011, we will be once again be covering the event. This year will be extra special for us as our co-editor Joe Lepper has been one of the judges in the festival’s emerging talent competition, which has a main stage slot as its prize. For more information click here.

Indietracks

July 26-28

web_indietracks

New bands, twee-pop and steam trains. That’s the quick review of this excellent small festival that we have attended at its Midland Railway, Butterley, Derbyshire location for a number of years now. Over the years Neonfiller.com favourites such as Teenage Fanclub, Allo’ Darlin’, Tigercats, Darren Hayman and Pains of Being Pure At Heart have graced the stages scattered around its steam railway museum location. For more information click here.

Greenman

August 15-18, 2012

greenman

Set in Glanusk Park, Wales, this three-day event offers an enticing blend of folk and alternative acts. This is another we are looking to attend this year, especially as the line up includes the likes of Veronica Falls,  Edwyn Collins, This Is The Kit, The Pastels and Fuck Buttons. For more information click here.

End of the Road

August 30 – September 1

End Of The Road

The laidback setting at the Larmer Tree  Gardens, North Dorset makes this one of the best located festivals on the UK circuit. Nestled at the end of the summer holidays the weather tends to be drier (although don’t hold us to that) and this year’s line up is one of the best we have seen. Headliners are Sigur Ros, Belle and Sebastian and David Byrne & St Vincent, with other notable acts already booked including Matthew E White, Jens Lekmen and Frightened Rabbit. For more information click here.

Festival Number 6

September 13-15

the prisonner500

As stunning locations go they don’t get better than this festival, which takes place across the welsh seaside town of Portmeirion, where The Prisoner was filmed. With events taking place in bandstands and other famous settings, there will also be  lots of Prisoner worshippers (above picture by Arthur Hughes) on hand in addition to an eclectic mix of old and new acts. Be warned though, festival goers at last year’s inaugural event warned us that camping conditions, on a rather unsettling slope, could do with some improvement. At the time of writing the line up for 2013 had not been unveiled, but with New Order, Spirtualized, British Sea Power, Field Music and Stealing Sheep among those who played in 2012 we are expecting a similarly impressive line up for 2013. For more information click here.

And this year’s worst UK festival line up….

V Festival

August 17-18

v-festival-line-up-2013

V Festival, seemingly the music festival for people who hate music, has outdone itself with its traditional line up of mediocrity this year. Not only do we not want to see a single act, but we would actually pay not to go. With Beyonce and Kings of Leon headlining the organisers are no penny pinchers but certainly have questionable taste. Elsewhere for those festival goers looking for something bland for the car stereo there’s Beady Eye, Jessie J, The Script and Olly Murs. To top it off Scouting For Girls, who I always thought were a joke band, are also on the bill….albeit a little lower down and nestled next to Deacon Blue and Ocean Colour Scene. If this appeals then feel free to visit their website here.

Compiled by Joe Lepper

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Top 20 Alternative/Independent Albums of 2014

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Top 20 Alternative/Independent Albums of 2014

Posted on 16 December 2014 by Joe

Welcome to our annual celebration of the year’s best independent and alternative albums. Many of our releases are  by artists you may not have heard of. If that’s the case we urge you to read our full reviews, visit their websites and Youtube channels and go and see them live and buy their albums if you like them. There is some great talent out there on independent labels and we are proud to do our bit to help bring them to a wider audience. So sit back, pull up a gig guide, get Youtube on standby and enjoy our favourite independent and alternative releases of the year.

20. Junkboy – Sovereign Sky

Come take a barefoot run across the Sussex Downs, sandals in hand, kaftan lapping in the wind as we head with Junkboy down to the coast. These are the images that this hidden 2014 gem from brothers Rich and Mik Hanscomb conveys with its echoes of flower-power California and good old fashioned British folk and pop. Read our full review here.

junkboy500

 

19. Steven Malkmus and the Jicks – Wig Out At Jagbags

One of the most accessible and satisfying releases from the former Pavement man and his band, who has learnt to curtail his fret meandering leanings in recent years. One of the year’s most solid indie rock releases. Read our full review here.

Wig Out at Jagbags

 

 18. Co Pilgrim – Plumes

Nestled in Winchester is Mike Gale, one of the UK’s brightest song writing talents.  This third album with his band Co-pilgrim is full of beautiful alt-country, Beach Boys harmonies and Pernice Brothers and Teenage Fanclub indie alternative melodies and is a gem. We think its about time you started to discovering Gale’s wonderful music. Read our full review here.

copilgrim

 

17. Avi Buffalo – At Best Cuckold

Four years on and California’s Avi Buffalo have finally released an album to match their breakout single What’s It In For. Full of 1960s pop references and sunny West Coast melodies Avi Buffalo, now of Sub Pop, have arrived as a major creative force in independent music. Read our full review here.

Avi-Buffalo-at-best-cuckold

 

16. John Howard – Live at the Servant Jazz Quarters

You can’t get more independent than John Howard, the singer songwriter who’s first career in the 1970s with CBS stalled before it began. Now from his home studio in Spain he writes, records, arranges, distributes and promotes each release with fierce independence. Here is a fantastic introduction to his work past and present that re-energised our appreciation of the live album.  Read our full review here.

John Howard at the Servant Jazz Quarters, London, 2013.

John Howard at the Servant Jazz Quarters, London, 2013.

 

15. Owen Pallett – In Conflict

Following a tour with The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle, who specialises in autobiographical lyricism and story telling, Pallett has taken a more personal approach with this album. Gone is the fantasy imagery to be replaced with his most personal release to date. As you’d expect from a multi-instrumentalist who is equally at home conducting an orchestra or behind a synth the music is beautiful.  Read our full review here.

Owen-Pallett-In-Conflict-500x500

 

14. New Mendicants – Into the Lime

The New Mendicants are a harmony-pop supergroup of sorts formed in Toronto by Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub/Jonny), Joe Pernice (Scud Mountain Boys/Pernice Brothers) and drummer Mike Belitsky (The Sadies). It will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the work of any of their bands to hear that Into the Lime is a string of melodic pop gems with beautifully sung vocal harmonies. Read our full review here.

The New Mendicants - Into the Lime

 

13. Bob Mould – Beauty & Ruin

With Jason Narducy on bass and Superchunk and Mountain Goats man Jon Wurster on drums Bob Mould arguably is now in his best ever band. This is the second solo Mould album recorded with the pair and shows a veteran performer re-energised and at the top of his game. If you liked Sugar you will love what Mould is doing right now on this album and last year’s Silver Age.

Bob-Mould-cover

 

12. St Vincent – St Vincent

Art rock stalwart St Vincent, aka Manhattan’s Annie Clark, recently revealed that she tries to live ‘at the intersection of accessible and lunatic’. If her latest, eponymously titled, album is anything to go by, this is something she achieves with great success. Read our full review here.

stv-600

 

11. Hospitality – Trouble

This second album is as stunning as their self titled debut and shows a band progressing well, with guitars and synths powering them through an album full of influences from the 1970s world of progressive rock. As with their debut they have some darn fine tunes too. Read our full review here.

hospitality_promo

 

10. Guided By Voices- Motivational Jumpsuit

Each year we lose count of how many albums Robert Pollard puts out, either solo or with his legendary band Guided By Voices. For sake of argument let’s say its about 20 albums a year. This was the pick of his 2014’s releases and sadly one of the last releases by GBV, who’s brief reunion ended this year. Read our full review here.

Motivational Jumpsuit

 

9. Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita

Despite having 20 years experience under their belts this 13th album from the San Francisco punk act manages to give the impression it is a debut by a group of youngsters. Its bold, enthusiastic and packed with a gigantic palette of genres like a band starting out and finding their feet in the world. Read our full review here.

Deerhoof

 

8. New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

Hailed as a return to form by many reviewers, we say that the Canadian power-pop supergroup never lost their form. It’s another superb release from Carl Newman, Niko Case and co as they continue to pack a punch. Read our full review here.

Brill Bruisers

 

7. Withered Hand – New Gods

If you have yet to discover the songwriting talents of Scotland’s Dan Willson you’ve been missing out. But there’s still time, just buy this fantastic latest release from the singer songwriter, go see his shows and then discover his back catalogue. One of many jewels on indie label Fortuna Pop’s roster. Read our full review here.

withered-hand

 

6. The Phantom Band – Strange Friend

By coincidence with stick with Scottish talent for the next release in our annual run down of the best albums. Listen to the stunning indie rock, pop and synth magic of this album and then join us in wondering why they aren’t one of the UK’s biggest acts around. Read our full review here.

CHEM207-Banner

 

5. Alex Highton – Nobody Knows Anything

Now signed to fledgling UK label Gare Du Nord, Cambridgeshire based singer songwriter Alex Highton has taken his honest folk style to new levels for his second album. One of the most ambitious folk albums you will ever here. Read our full review here.

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4. Happyness – Weird Little Birthday

This album from London based trio Happyness  quickly established itself as one of our favourite debuts with its sardonic wit and Pavement indebted take on indie rock. Among highlights are the superb ‘Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same’. Read our full review here.

Weird Little Birthday

 

3. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

It’s quite an ability to write 11 songs about grief and death and make it one of the year’s most uplifting releases. On each of the songs on Benji, Mark Kozelek, under his Sun Kil Moon moniker,  takes us through some downright horrific tales of loss, but we emerge at the end treasuring life and ultimately happy. Arguably Kozelek’s best album to date. Read our full review here.

Benjisunkilmoon

 

2. Eyelids

When Robert Pollard chose to bring his Boston Spaceships project to an end (the band that released our favourite album of 2011) the core of the band stayed together and formed Eyelids. Headed up by Chris Slusarenko and John  Moen the band play a classic hook laden rock that evokes Big Star, The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub and Velvet Crush across yet another debut to grace our list. Read our full review here.

Eyelids 854

 

1. Papernut Cambridge – There’s No Underground

Two years ago the Tigercats topped our end of year list with Isle of Dogs, a perfect collection of songs about urban London life. Here Ian Button, formerly of Death In Vegas, has created the perfect suburban pop album to complement it. Full of the imagery of his native south east London suburbs and packed with musical influences spanning the last forty years this is one of  the most life affirming,  feel good rock and roll albums of recent years. It is also the second on our list to be released on Gare Du Nord, the label that Button is a founder of. Read our full review here.

outside cover

Compiled by Neonfiller’s writers.

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Alternative Top 40 – Summer 2014

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Alternative Top 40 – Summer 2014

Posted on 31 July 2014 by Universal Horse

The Alternative Top 40 is a regular music chart shared across multiple music blogs, and a great way of discovering music you might not have heard elsewhere. We are delighted to be among those blogs involved in sharing this list, which is created from nominations from you and compiled by the website Universal Horse.

To contribute to the next #AltTop40 all you have to do is suggest your favourite tracks of the moment to Universal Horse via their online form – or email them at alternativetop40@gmail.com by Saturday 4th October. Here’s this month’s edition:

1. Jack Adaptor – Get It Right First Time

Get-it-Right-First-Time-packshot

2. Noura Mint Seymali – Tzenni

3. Hazel Winter – YDFLM

4. Swans – She Loves Us

5. Lana del Rey – West Coast

6. Parquet Courts – Bodies Made Of

7. Rabit – Red Candles

Boxed Vol. 2 by Rabit

8. Jemima Surrender – My Little Brother

9. St Vincent – Your Lips Are Red

10. Kogumaza – NB / Kолокол / Ursids

L&S025 Kолокол LP by Kogumaza

11. Patrick Duff – Thought Birds / +
12. SJ Esau – Frustrating / +
13. Fingersnap – Blackbirds / +
14. Tune-Yards – Gangsta / +
15. Alicia Catling – Mighty Fine / +
16. Laurel Halo – Supersymmetry / +
17. Sia – Chandelier / +
18. Julie Fowlis – Ged a Sheol Mi Air M’aineol / +
19. Bob Mould – The War / +
20. Marilyn Manson – Disposable Teens / +
21. Happyness – Great Minds Think Alike, All Brains Taste the Same / +
22. Daisy Victoria – Macbeth to my Lady / +
23. Tape Waves – Looking at the Sun / +
24. Roddy Frame – Postcard / +
25. Steve Mason – All Come Down/ +
26. Robert Plant – Little Maggie / +
27. SJ Esau – Soul II Skull / +
28. Carla Bozulich – Lazy Crossbones / +
29. FKA Twigs – Two Weeks / +
30. Jemima Surrender – Anathema / +
31. Michael O’Neill – Cheetham Hill Speed Scene / +
32. Melt Yourself Down – Fix My Life / +
33. Mankind – Blood Sugar / +
34. Shacklock Meth Party – Johnny B Goode/ +
35. Manic Street Preachers – Europa Geht Durch Mich / +
36. Patrick Duff – Maria / +
37. Tune-Yards – Left Behind / +
38. Path – Apocalyptica feat. Sandra Nasic / +
39. Camper van Beethoven – It Was Like That When We Got Here / +
40. Archie Bronson Outfit – In White Relief / +

Compiled by Universal Horse.

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Top Ten Albums of 2014…so far

Top Ten Albums of 2014…so far

Posted on 02 June 2014 by Joe

Welcome to our  regular early run down of the best albums released  from January through to the end of May.  This year we have our first live album to make one of our best of lists and just one debut album with the bulk of our list taken up by more established acts, who have either returned to form or never lost it. To read a full review of each album click on their title. So without further ado, settle back and enjoy 2014’s best albums…so far.

10. John Howard – Live at the Servant Jazz Quarters

 

John Howard

John Howard

9. School of Language – Old Fears

 

school_of_language_old_fears_album-500x500

 

8. Guided By Voices – Motivational Jumpsuit

 

Motivational Jumpsuit

 

7. The Voluntary Butler Scheme – A Million Ways to Make Gold

 

The+Voluntary+Butler+Scheme+VBS

 

6. Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Wig Out at Jagbags

 

Wig Out at Jagbags

 

5. St Vincent – St Vincent

 

stv-600

 

4. The New Mendicants – Into the Lime

 

The New Mendicants - Into the Lime

 

3. Hospitality – Trouble

 

hospitality_promo

 

2. Withered Hand – New Gods

 

withered-hand

 

1. Sun Kil Moon – Benji

 

Benjisunkilmoon

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers.

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Top 20 Albums of 2012

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Top 20 Albums of 2012

Posted on 07 December 2012 by Joe

The  culture of illegal downloading and Spotify playlists have conspired to give the album a torrid time this year.  According to latest figures from industry body the BPI, album sales fell by 13.8 per cent during the first half of the year and in the second week of August Rhianna’s album Talk That Talk became the lowest selling UK number one album when it  shifted just 9,758 copies.

Albums are arguably becoming a more niche  purchase among consumers, which is why there will be a whole bunch of albums in this best of list that you will have never heard of and by bands whose names will be new to you. But that doesn’t mean the quality of these albums is diminished. We have at least one enormous seller, a couple of concept albums as well as some stunning debuts by brand new bands. Above all all those on our list are interesting, have tales to tell and are showcasing artists doing interesting things with music. Album sales may be down, but the quality of music produced this year shows that critically at least 2012 was a great year for the album. Sit back, get your Christmas lists ready and enjoy Neonfiller’s Top 20 Albums of 2012.

20.North Sea Scrolls

North Sea Scrolls is an album that brings together two celebrated musical grumps, Luke Haines and Cathal Coughlan, along with journalist Andrew Mueller, to create an alternative history of the British Isles. That’s right its a concept album, but one that has a worthy place on our list due to its notion of a Britian where the broadcaster Chris Evans is ritualistically sacrificed, 60s producer Joe Meek is culture minister, Enoch Powell is poet laureate and Ian Ball, the kidnapper of Princess Anne, has a crisis of identity in Broadmoor about Ian Ball the singer from Gomez. (DR) More

19. Jack White  – Blunderbuss

We are proud to admit that foppish indie bands who struggle to shift a few thousand CDs are our usual review fodder. It is unheard of for us to review an album that is top of the UK and US albums charts at the time of writing. But for Blunderbuss, the stunning solo debut of former White Stripes man Jack White, we will make an exception. (JL) More

18. Lambchop  – Mr M

As Lambchop albums go Mr M lurks somewhere between the soulful sound of Nixon and the intimacy of Is A Woman.  Its tender subject matter and strings give the impression that Lambchop leader Kurt Wagner is drifting up to heaven with Vic Chesnutt, the late singer- songwriter and friend to Wagner who the album is dedicated to. One of the most beautiful albums of the year. (JL) More

17. Shearwater – Animal Joy

Shearwater have come along way since they were formed by Okkervil River man Jonathan Meiburg as a folky side project. Now signed to Sub Pop  and with Meiburg long departed from Okkervil River, they are a fully fledged indie rock band in their own right. This is arguably their most accessibly release yet, with Meiburg’s fiercely environmental lyrics blending well with a raft of powerful and thought provoking indie rock tracks, with Breaking the Yearlings and centrepiece Insolence among many highpoints. (JL) More

16. The Shins – Port of Morrow

The Shins - Port of Morrow

James Mercer’s Shins are back and getting regular play on alternative and mainstream radio stations alike.  There aren’t many acts that can appeal to such a large demographic, but then not all acts are able to expertly serve up one of the best summer pop music albums of the year. Mainstream music with an alternative edge doesn’t  get better than this. (DR) More

15. Efterklang – Piramida

Efterklang - Piramida

This is the least orchestrated album the Danish band has produced. It takes time to reveal itself, but it is worth the initial persistence to let it unravel its charms. It is not an album that will appeal if you are looking for catchy melodies or a sing-a-long chorus, the songs brood and build and work their way into your brain over time. (DR) More

14. The Mountain Goats – Transcendental Youth

As you would expect from frontman John Darnielle’s writing there is still a hell of a lot of lyrical self-help, with the track Until I Am Whole a fine addition to the Darnielle survival songbook. But with the birth of his son Roman this year he has presumably less time to wallow, as his life fills with even more hope and optimism. The use of brass, arranged by Matthew E White, across the album probably best typifies the uplifting feel, particularly the trumpets on the relentlessly upbeat Cry for Judas and the sumptuous horn arrangement on White Cedar. Another great release from the man many believe is one of America’s greatest living lyricists. (JL) More

13. Darren Hayman and the Long Parliament – The Violence

In the final instalment of the former Hefner man’s trilogy about his native Essex he turns his attention to the horror of the county’s 17th century witch trials. This double album is packed full of history, subtle melodies, powerful images and above all a sense of humanity typifies so much of his songwriting. The Violence has been a huge hit among critics this year who admire Hayman’s attempt to find Albion, a quest  that has been in decline in the music industry since the 1960s and early 1970s heyday of The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention. A modern folk classic. (JL) More

12. Hospitality – Hospitality

Central to the success of this Brooklyn indie-pop trio’s self titled debut album is the singing and songwriting of lead singer Amber Papini. Her turn of phrase, effortless vocals and keenest of ears for a catchy single are only hinted at on opener Eighth Avenue, a kind of Belle and Sebastian rip. But as the album progresses track after track of hook laden, memorable, potential singles follow. If you don’t believe us, then maybe Rolling Stone will convince you. The magazine has named it among their Top 50 albums of the year. (JL) More

11. Beach House – Bloom

Beach House’s fourth album is called Bloom for good reason, as it emerges spring like from the icy cold wintery pop of 2010’s breakthrough album Teen Dream. As with Teen Dream, Bloom is still full of wonderful dreamy synth and guitar pop but the duo, of singer and keyboardist  Victoria Legrand and guitarist Alex Scally, are no longer walking with snow crunching under foot. They are now in a sunlit meadow somewhere gazing at the dandelions and marvelling at the world. (JL) More

10. Django Django – Django Django

Good old-fashioned pop with some modern art rock sensibility is key to Django Django’s appeal. Storm and the insane Duane Eddy-meets-astronaut-meets-Cairo market trader single Wor are included and are immediate standouts. But there’s plenty more pop up the sleeves of this London based band that topped our Bands to Watch Out for in 2011 list and met while studying art in Edinburgh. (JL) More

9. The Walkmen – Heaven

To use an REM comparison, The Walkmen’s latest album Heaven is their Lifes Rich Pageant moment. Just like that fourth album by REM, Heaven is an album by a band on top of their game in life and career and enjoying every moment. Some fine work behind the production desk by Fleet Foxes, Modest Mouse and Built To Spill producer Phil Ek has helped create this joyous sound. He’s not only added some pastoral Fleet Foxes moments, but has also roped in the Foxes’ Robin Pecknold for backing vocal duties. Think Fleet Foxes with balls. (JL) More

8. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

The road to Nebraska is littered with the ghosts of Americana and getting there demands a humble homage to the stoic wraiths of bearded plaid shirts to navigate its precise route. It’s rare for outsiders to succeed and unknown for the path to start from suburban Sweden, yet First Aid Kit have majestically transposed their whimsical folk deep into the mid-west, repairing the genres often passive conservatism, to redefine the contours of alt-country. (DN) More

7. Bob Mould  – Silver Age

The former Hüsker Dü and Sugar man has gone back to basics for his first album in three years. Amid an eclectic career, which has included devising TV wrestling shows and DJing, Mould has returned to what he does best for this album; fronting a three piece indie rock band with his gigantic voice and crunching guitar. (JL) More

6. Frankie Rose – Intersteller

Well this was  a surprise. There we were bracing ourselves for another standard indie-pop release from former Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls member  Frankie Rose when this pops into our in box . Turns out she has created not just one of the best indie-pop release of the year, but one of 2012′s best pop albums. More

5. Field Music  – Plumb

Field Music Plumb

If you haven’t been sold on Field Music by any of their previous releases you are unlikely to be converted here, but you are clearly a lost cause. If you love their previous work you may find Plumb takes some time to reveal its brilliance, but once it does you’ll be hooked by their XTC and King Crimson-style riffs and quick fire pop. (DR) More

4. Guided by Voices – The Bears For Lunch

Release the Bears is an excellent record by a seminal 1990s act enjoying their productive renaissance. This is album number three for the band in 2012 alone and is the best of the bunch. Sure, there are a couple of underdeveloped tracks and throwaway numbers, but us die-hard GBV fans wouldn’t have it any other way. (DR) More

3. Tame Impala  – Lonerism

It was no surprise to see MGMT, Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridman credited with applying the finishing touches to Tame Impala’s second album of psychedelic pop. Largely recorded by Tame Impala frontman Kevin Parker at home, in hotels, studios and even a plane, Fridman has added that final pop savvy touch, just as he did to the band’s stunning debut Innerspeaker (2010). The end result is something that perfectly blends the care free attitude of a bedroom recording act  with the swagger of a seasoned old pro behind the mixing desk. (JL) More

2. David Byrne and St Vincent – Love This Giant

Love This Giant

Collaborations are something to approach with caution, for every example where the combining artists bring out the best in each other (Iron & Wine and Calexico) there is another where the worst of both is brutally exposed (the appalling Lulu by Lou Reed and Metallica). The good news is that Love This Giant, the work of David Byrne and Annie Clark AKA St.Vincent, falls firmly into the former category. Love This Giant, from the opening seconds of the brilliant ‘Who’ shows itself to be a fun, high quality, set of pop music. It is clever and sophisticated, but never in a way that stops the music being accessible. (DR) More

1. Tigercats Isle of Dogs

 

Our only 10/10 score for a new album this year and our only ever top mark from our co-editor Joe Lepper for a new album. As an indie-pop album goes this is as good as it gets. It’s teaming with radio friendly, infectious hooks, especially on Full Moon Reggae Party, Easter Island and Banned at the Troxy. It also has a sense of completeness as the band take us on an indiepop road tour across the east end of London. This is an album that may take time  to find a wider audience but over the next decade will gather more and more fans. (JL) More

Reviews by Joe Lepper, Dorian Rogers and David Newbury

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