One of the fun presents I recieved at Christmas off my parents was a Christmas tie – they are normally quite cute and play some funky seasonal music but this one (though plays the music) is far from cute… its plain and simply scary! It even has the text “Do you want to sit on Santa’s lap?” above the scary santa… look at it below, I’m sure you will agree (with the red flashing LEDs it would make children cry!):
So then, its that time of the year – the end! I can’t believe another year has passed, it doesn’t feel like 5 minutes since we started this one. It has been a successful one and since I constantly listen to music whilst I am working I feel the need to think about my favourite music from the last year… and here we go… this is my top 20 albums, I don’t have time to do anymore (or the singles like I once did). All of these albums have been released in the last year (at least in the UK I should say).
20. The Bravery – The Sun and The Moon
19. Sum 41 – Underclass Hero
Like the Bravery, Sum 41 slightly disappoint with their latest album, its good but no where near what I would have expected from their past work. My fav track has to be their opening track… goes a bit downhill from there, unfortunately.
18. VA – Transformers: The Album
Ok, this is really not a “proper” album but the film was kick-ass and so is the soundtrack! Plus it was the first time I came across ‘Armor for sleep’ and trust me with the amount of played them this year they deserve an include – this album also has wicked track on it by a band much higher up the listings….
17. HIM – Venus Doom
Yet another solid album from my favourite ‘heavier’ band. HIM are often referred to as a “love metal” but are probably better described as a cross between Gothic rock and early heavy metal. Glorious guitars and singing throughout this one. Oddly they also came 17th last year…
16. Anberlin – Cities
Anberlin really do know how to make me rock and I think I’ve spent as much time jumping up and down in the bedroom listing to this as I have through any other activity this year… ;-p I think Godspeed is my fav track but I’m not entirely decided, depends on the mood.
15. The Academy Is… – Santi
Not as good as their debut album (was 4th in my charts, last year) but then again the first time I heard this was at the Reading festival – it can’t have been all that bad as I decided to keep watching them over the Red Hot Chilli Peppers!
14. Chris Cornell – Carry On
“You know my name” I remember hearing him shouting before he went onto that song at the Birmingham Academy this year, great live – oh and the album well, it opened my eyes to his music, bit lame that I really have only just started listing to him I know. Oh well.
13. New Found Glory – From the Screen to Your Stereo Part II
12. Thirteen Senses – Contact
11. My American Heart – Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather
The start of this album at first put me off… “boys! grab your guns”, hmmm.. but the track improves after about 2 seconds and the album just grew on me instantly…. so “boys! grab your guns, its all in good fun!”
10. Ash – Twilight of the Innocents
Do they need that woman playing guitar? After this album I would definitely say HELL NO! Great album (not quite as good as Meltdown, which came 6th in my charts of 2004), good to see them back with some good music – oh and they played a great set at Reading (did I mention I went to the reading festival?! :-D)
9. Editors – An End Has A Start
8. Good Charlotte – Good Morning Revival
Good Charlotte return with another mix of “dancey” beats and some rocky overtones. Great album, I think this is probably my favourite of theirs. Oh and they still have time for some beautiful songs, I particularly think the words in “Beautiful Place” are quite nice.
7. Avril Lavinge – The Best Damn Thing
I know this is a bit teeny but so be it, I quite enjoy Avril… and yes that also includes “Girlfriend”, I’m really not sure why though… oh well. 7th is much higher than in 2004 where her album “under my skin” was 19 – so either I have regressed to being a teen girl (something I could never be)… or I have been hanging around a certain young lady too much… (:p)
6. Fall Out Boy – Infinity on High
A cracking album, full of songs that you can dance to – well that I can jump up and down and look like I am dancing. Did I mention that I saw them at Reading this year? 😀 Its a really good album though like in most of the cases this year I’m not sure its as good as their earlier work but if you ignore a few of their more, I want to say ‘rappy’ (but that’s not right), crap songs then its a good one. Hallelujah!
5. Funeral for a Friend – Tales Don’t Tell Themselves
We start of in Oblivion and eventually we end up in a nice sweet place. A lovely album – with some really energetic moments. I’m quite happy relaxing to this or letting it get me nice and motivated. They did a brilliant set at Reading, probably my highlight of the festival looking back at it with time as my perspective.
4. Madina Lake – From Them, Through Us, to You
“Here I Stand!” the album screams from the start, the first time I heard this I was presently surprised by having such a brilliant opening track, no messing about – straight into it. I have to say I do find myself listening to the first half of the album much more than the second part, but I do like “Pandora” – the later tracks just don’t really have the energy of the earlier ones. Still though, a great album very deserving of 4th.
3. Paramore – Riot
A girl screaming her lungs out and a guitar being played rather aggressively… now what could be wrong with that? In my opinion not much. Paramore’s second album is brilliant and I think a massive improvement on their first (which I loved by the way). I’m still a bit annoyed with myself for missing a large part of their set at Reading (due to me wanting a fry-up for breakfast!) but I’m going to see them at Brum academy (in Feb, I think). Oh, they aren’t all shouting – they do have some nice, quieter, more melodic tracks – which really complement the strengths of their singer.
2. Maximo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures
Maximo Park are the band I have seen the most, I’ve actually lost count on how many occasions I’ve seen them (its definitely in the teens). Their second album does not disappoint. Frankly its fantastic. Something for every mood. I think my favourite song has to be “books from boxes” – and its probably because I love the intro. I’ve seen them twice this past year and both of their sets have been really good, mixing both this and the first album together. I can’t wait for a third. It was really hard to choose between this and the eventual winner….
1. Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight
Without a doubt this is my favourite album by them since their first, its great. Nice mix of classic metal beats and some of their earlier work. “Bleed it out” is a great example of this, I just love the rhythm this song has. I also like the fact that this is quite a long album, with lots of tracks – and none are really just there as filler.
Yesterday I travelled down to London with Lizzie and her family to go see the Lord of the Rings show at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. It was absolutely stunning, the set was really cool with it rotating moving up and down and changing rapidly. Very impressive. Oh and here is a pic of what it looked like at the start before the curtain (yep thats the curtain!) went up…
There were many aspect that I loved about the show and I would urge any LOTR fan to go see it, I’m not going to say too much now as it would just spoil it. I have to say though, that I loved the way the riders looked and how the fireflies were done.
Oh since we were in London we also popped to Trafalgar Square….
Using the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument NASA’s Cassini spacecraft scientists have been able to produce the best observations of the magnetic field of Saturn. From these observations you are able to clearly see the plasma and radiation belts (the bit us radio astronomers are interested in). Like in the case of Jupiter it is one of the planet’s moons that produce a main source of the plasma in the ring current (in the case of Jupiter this is Io) – for Saturn this comes from the gas vented by geysers on the moon Enceladus.
This is an artist’s concept of the Saturnian plasma it shows Saturn’s embedded “ring current,” an invisible ring of energetic ions trapped in the planet’s magnetic field. Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL
As you might be aware Comet 17P Holmes has given us a great show over the last few months with at its best being a clearly visible object in Perseus. It has now faded but if you have a decent-ish telescope and a camera you can still image it. Some people have done this to great detail and I think the best collection of images (with time) I have seen to date have been produced by [Simon C Smith]. The montage presented on this page is just wonderful showing the comet as it moves across the sky becoming dimmer and more defuse. Lovely.
I’m sure there are many people out there who seriously think when they pay there £50 that they actually name a star! Well I hate to say this but you don’t… the IAU does that. So instead of this how about you go out and name a complete galaxy, trust me you can(!)… oh and its free! Go on – [www.nameagalaxy.com]… you know you want to!
Last night we went to see “In the Shadow of the Moon”. This is documentary follows the American side of the space race and has some fantastic images and video of the early space age. It also has interviews from many of the Apollo astronauts which was worth seeing alone. It was a nicely put together visualisation of a story most of us know pretty well. If you want to see a good movie at the moment and not have it dumbed down or full of inaccuracies then go watch this. More info at [www.intheshadowofthemoon.com]
… holiday’s are coming….
I can’t believe the cuts that are about to happen to the UK astronomy community… just when I thought that the government actually believed that getting kids to do physics was a good thing. What sort of message does it send when you cut the cool things that inspire kids – and its not like in a global context its a lot of money (how much did we waste on Wembley, the millennium dome – two recent wars..) – also we want is another £80 million… it is really not that much – not even a £1 per person per year – oh and so you know its not just astronomy but particle physics, nuclear physics and large facilities… argh!
Oh and you probably should take a look at some other webpages for a bit less biased comment – a good description of what is going on can be found at: [newscientist.com]