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Top 100 Albums (90-81)

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Top 100 Albums (90-81)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

Everyone has their own Top 100 Albums list, but this is ours based on our love of alternative and independent music over the years. There are some albums here that you will have seen on many lists before but we’ve also opted for some obscurities with the aim of highlighting some different music for you to seek out.

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday.  Here’s the first instalment (100-91) We hope you enjoy this second instalment. Also, for  more great albums visit our  Classic Albums section

90. Pere Ubu – The Modern Dance

Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance

Pere Ubu were one of oddest punk bands to come out of the scene in late 70s America. Lead by the caterwauling vocals of Oliver Hardy lookalike David Thomas they made a noise unlike anyone else. The rhythms were tight, the guitars fierce and the songs absurd and poignant at once. They have released a dozen excellent records through a long career, but their debut is still the best of the bunch. They manage to set a standard for punk, art rock and avant-pop in one fell swoop. From the fierce yet catchy assault of ‘Non-Alignment Pact’ to the more challenging ‘Humor Me’ this is a groundbreaking and fascinating record.

89. Darren Hayman – Pramtown

Ex-Hefner frontman Darren Hayman is one of the UK’s best folk artists, although as he points out on his Facebook site “everybody else would say indie”. This first part in a trilogy about Essex, which topped our Albums of 2009  list, focuses on Harlow. The town provides an excellent backdrop for his  stories about love on Essex commuter trains and those living in its sterile new town estates.  The follow up Essex Arms, which focuses on the county’s rural life, is wonderful as well, but as the first in the trilogy this will always have a special place in our hearts.

88.  New Pornographers – Twin Cinema

The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema

Carl (AC) Newman is the best songwriter you’ve never heard of. With his band, the New Pornographers, he has released a string of power pop classics that have delighted the critics but evaded the public consciousness. Twin Cinema followed two brilliant albums but managed to raise the bar in terms of quality alternative guitar pop. Aided by Neko Case (who is the best guitar pop singer since Debbie Harry), Destroyer’s Dan Bejar (who contributes a downbeat counterpoint to Newman’s sweeter melodies) and an ensemble of superb musicians the quality stays high from start to finish. There isn’t a bad song on the album but the coupling of ‘We Are The Fables’ and ‘Sing Me Spanish Techno’ takes some beating.

87. Howe Gelb – Sno Angel Like You

In 2006 Giant Sand frontman Howe Gelb travelled to Canada, teamed up with Arcade Fire drummer  Jeremy Gara and the Voices of Praise gospel choir and made this breathtaking album. Blending gospel with Gelb’s more traditional bar room Arizona tunes was a masterstroke as Voices of Praise’s vocals drift in and out, even taking the listener by surprise at times. Great tunes, great vocals and one of the best mixes of genres in our list.

86. Thin White Rope – Sack Full Of Silver

Thin White Rope - Sack Full of Silver

How Thin White Rope didn’t end up being an alternative household name like Nick Cave or The Flaming Lips is one of the mysteries of modern music. Lead by the fierce vocals of Guy Kyser they produced a desert rock sound that fitted with the mood of Green on Red or Giant Sand, but was altogether darker and more psychedelic. Sack Full of Silver, their fourth album, was their most coherent and fully realised set of songs. The album sounds like it was recorded lost on the road in a desert, and the feeling of loss and desperation make it a challenging listen. This is tempered but a beauty to the music and a sense of hope. ‘Triangle’ is the centrepiece of the album and one of the great lost songs of the 1990s, sad, weird and beautiful all at once.

85. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion


This 2009 album catapulted Animal Collective into the big time, giving their oddball take on electronic music a whole bunch of new fans and  mainstream credibility for the first time. It is a  success  that is well deserved as tracks such as ‘My Girls’ and ‘Summertime Clothes’ emerge as wonderful alternate reality pop hits. Warm and melodic amid the bleeps and swirling loops this album is part Flaming Lips, part Beach Boys, part Ibiza club and is another example of how well genres can be merged.

84.  Super Furry Animals  – Guerilla

Super Furry Animals  - Guerilla

Super Furry Animals came along at the tail end of Britpop but their distinctly Welsh mix of psychedelia, 60s pop and dance music had little in common with their contemporaries. Guerrilla is an eclectic mix of all their influences which manages, against the odds, to sound like a cohesive album. The trio of singles, ‘Do Or Die’, ‘Fire In My Heart’ and (best of all) ‘Northern Lites’ are as good as anything that hit the charts in the late 1990s. The fact that this album has another 10 top quality songs shows how strong a record it is.

83. That Petrol Emotion Manic Pop thrill


Formed in 1984 and including former Undertones brothers Damien and John O Neil, Northern Ireland’s That Petrol Emotion were one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK alternative music scene at the time.  It took a couple of years for this their debut album to be released but it was worth the wait. Pop savvy song writing, matched with inventive guitar playing and lead singer Steve Mack’s energy made this a stunning debut. Highlights include the single ‘It’s a Good Thing’ and centrepiece track ‘Lifeblood’.

82. Beulah – When Your Heartstrings Break

Beulah - When Your Heartstrings Break

Beulah are part of Elephant 6 collective (read more about that here), but they stand apart from the other bands by demonstrating a talent for simple classic pop. The first song I heard from this their sophomore album was the brilliant ‘Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand’ and I was blown away by what I heard. A slow dreamy intro moves into fuzzy guitars, before a Dexy’s style horn section ties everything together. The rest of the album is just as good and manages to achieve the feat of sounding completely new and classic all at once.

81. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak


US punk/indie rock outfit Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have released six studio albums since 1999 but Hearts of Oak from 2003 remains  their best, most consistent album. There’s some great singles on this, such as ‘Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone’, but it’s the power and passion of Leo’s writing and vocals as well as the mix of reggae, ska, politics and punk across the  tracks that make this such a stunning listen.

by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

Top 100 (100-91)Top 100 (80-71)

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Top Ten Songs About Parenthood

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Top Ten Songs About Parenthood

Posted on 14 December 2010 by Joe

As rock stars get older the angst fades and they often look towards home  and their  kids for inspiration. While for some it is the sheer joy of parenthood that is  inspiring, for others being a parent carries some serious emotional baggage that needs airing. We’ve got some tracks by some great folk artists, angry punks, the chameleon in chief of modern music and XTC – practically our house band at Neon Filler. Sit back, pull up a fairy cake and enjoy Neon Filler’s Top Ten Songs About Being A Parent.

1. Animal Collective – My Girls

We’ve gone for one of the most recent songs about parenting for our number one slot. Here Animal Collective’s Panda Bear sings about the most basic of parenting emotions of  providing a safe and loving home for his family.

The My Girls in question are wife Fernanda Pereira and daughter Nadja. “I just want four walls and adobe slats (red roofing tiles in Portugal where he lives) for my girls,” he sings. Panda Bear’s girls have since been joined by a son, who was born in June 2010, who now also enjoys the family’s four walls and tiles.

My Girls features on Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009) read our review here.

2. XTC – Holly Up on Poppy

As our Top Ten Bands that Changed our Lives feature explains XTC are the kind of band you can grow up with. From their teenage roots as new wavers in Swindon to becoming family men XTC’s chief song writers Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding always come up trumps when singing about the every day important issues of life. Parenting is a theme that crops up in many of their songs but Partridge’s song about his daughter Holly riding on her rocking horse perfectly sums up the joy a parent has watching their child play.

Quoted on the excellent Chalkhills XTC web site Partridge explains that the song’s beauty is its simplicity. “Originally the song was titled ‘Holly High on Poppy’ but people thought it was about drugs. Even now someone’s said it’s about dying of cancer and taking drugs to ease the pain. But it’s really about my daughter and her rocking horse.”

Holly Up On Poppy features on Nonsuch (1990)

3. Squeeze – Up the Junction

Up the Junction is a classic for so many reasons. It’s a weepie about a foolish alcoholic man looking back at his regrets. It’s a rare hit that has no chorus. But for me it is the few lines about the protagonist’s joy of becoming a parent that make this a classic about parenthood. “This morning at 4:50 I took her rather nifty, Down to an incubator, Where thirty minutes later, She gave birth to a daughter, Within a year a walker. She looked just like her mother, if there could be another.” Wonderful stuff.

Up The Junction features on Cool For Cats (1979)

4. Ben Folds – Gracie

Ben Folds has written for both his son and daughter but it is this tribute to his daughter Gracie that really caught our attention. Folds perfectly captures the special bond between parent and child, as he sings that “you will always have a part of me nobody else is ever going to see.”

The innocence of being a kid is also wonderfully summed up, with Folds showing genuine emotion describing the everyday events of a child’s life as he sings to Gracie, “with your cards to your chest walking on your toes, What you got in the box only Gracie knows.” Ahhh.

Gracie features on Songs For Silverman (2005)

5. David Bowie – Kooks

Kooks is a great tribute to a newborn. Written just after his son Zowie Bowie was born it shows Bowie imagining life as a parent, hoping he does a good job. Among the many splendid lines is this beauty about his son’s school life to come. “Don’t pick fights with the bullies or the cads, Cause I’m not much cop at punching other people’s Dads. And if the homework brings you down, Then we’ll throw it on the fire,And take the car downtown.”

This shows a wonderful warmth that was sadly not replicated in Bowie’s odd choice of name for his son. With a name like that there’s no need to pick a fight with a cad, they’ll come flocking. Thankfully Zowie is now Duncan Jones and a fine director to boot.

Kooks features on Hunky Dory (1971)

6. Guided By Voices – My Son Cool.

Having a cool dad is par for the course being a rock star’s son or daughter and they don’t come much cooler than Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard. An indie music stalwart, prolific song writer, influencer of many and a former college sports star as well. Pollard is cool as you get. It is with a certain knowing air that he shuns his own coolness and says to his son Bryan, no, it is you that is cool. Now off you go son and do you own thing.

As Pollard said in 2005 about parenthood. “I’ve at least allowed my children to pursue their own interests without too much interference, and I think they both turned out pretty good.” A proud dad indeed.

My Son Cool features on Alien Lanes (1995)

7. John Martyn – My Baby Girl

Sometimes songs need little explanation; the lyrics and title say it all. That’s the case here with My Baby Girl, written by the late John Martyn in the mid 1970s. Its sugary, its syrupy and there’s nothing wrong with that. This line in particular shows how much Martyn and his daughter need and inspire each other. “Daddy will you sing for me, Daddy try to swing for me, Daddy play your strings for me, Daddy don’t you cry for me, Daddy will you fly for me, Daddy will you try for me.”

My Baby Girl features on  Sunday’s Child (1975)

8. Joni Mitchell – Little Green.

Mitchell gave her daughter up for adoption in 1965, explaining some years later that , “I was dirt poor. An unhappy mother does not raise a happy child. It was difficult parting with the child, but I had to let her go.” Writing about this tragic part of her life is no mean feat, but in 1967 after a number of rejigs she finally managed to deliver Little Green, about the toddler she never knew. While Little Green is one of the saddest tracks on our list, the real life story has a happy ending of sorts, with Mitchell being reunited with her daughter Kilauren Gibb in 1997.

Little Green features on Blue (1971)

9. Wilco and Billy Bragg – Hoodoo Voodoo

Being a kid is silly, being a parent can be silly. Sometimes there are big issues to sing about, but sometimes as on this Woody Guthrie track re-imagined by Wilco and Billy Bragg, there is a lot of fun to be had. Here Guthrie’s odd nonsense rhyme for his kids is given the music it deserves. How can you not like a song with the lyrics “Hoodoo voodoo, Chooka chooky choochoo; True blue, how true; Kissle me now.”

Hoodoo Voodoo features on Mermaid Avenue Vol 1. (1998)

10. Hamell on Trial – Inquiring Minds

I’d never heard of Ed Hamell until I put out a request on Facebook for ideas for songs about parenting. Turns out I’ve been missing out on not only one of the best songwriters around but one of the best songwriters about being parent. Hamell sings whole albums about being a parent. It is this excellent track Inquiring Minds that was recommended to us, where Hamell expertly bluffs his way through some of the embarrassing questions more investigative kids might pose.

Inquiring Minds features on Parents Who Enjoy Drugs (2006)

compiled by Joe Lepper (with help from Neon Filler’s  friends on Facebook and inspired by his sons Dylan and Charlie)

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Animal Collective to curate All Tomorrow’s Parties

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Animal Collective to curate All Tomorrow’s Parties

Posted on 27 October 2010 by Dorian

Animal Collective have been confirmed as the curators of the May 2011 All Tomorrow’s Parties festival weekend. Unlike previous years there will only be one weekend ATP festival in May.

Much loved by the critics, their 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion made it in many of the ‘best of 2009’ lists, the bands sound is a mix of psychedlia, electronica and Beach Boys influenced pop. The line-up of the festival is sure to be an eclectic, left-field mish-mash.

The first announcements chosen by Animal Collective for the line-up are:

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
GANG GANG DANCE
LEE SCRATCH PERRY
ARIEL PINK’S HAUNTED GRAFFITI
BROADCAST
BLACK DICE
MEAT PUPPETS performing Up On The Sun
THE FROGS performing It’s Only Right & Natural
IUD
OMAR-S
PRINCE RAMA
SPECTRUM
DENT MAY
GROUP DOUEH
THE BROTHERS UNCONNECTED
SUBLIME FREQUENCIES DJs + Films
DERADOORIAN
ZOMBY
VLADISLAV DELAY

The weekend will be held on the 13th to 15th of May at the Butlin’s Holioday Centre in Minehead. Tickets go on sale on Friday 29th October.

For more details go to the ATP website.

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