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2010 review – music

This year has been a bit different for music I’ve listened to less new bands than ever before. The highlight probably was either the [Lostprophets] or the [Story of the Year] album. I did however really enjoy the Anberlin album and the Linkin Park album (which I still am ambivalent about). No matter what [last.fm] does not lie in what I’ve been listening to (it keeps track of what I play at home, on my ipod and work… and even what I stream online – no escape!). I’ve actually been listening to an increasing amount of “trance” which I’m not sure is very representative here though (lots of individual artists):
music2010_lastfm

What I’m listening to: “Lostprophets – The Betrayed”

Lostprophets - The Betrayed
Story of the Year – The Constant

Over the past couple of months I’ve spent quite a lot of time listening to the [Lostprophets’] latest offering – “The Betrayed”. Now this is not the best offering from the Lostprophets ever I still quite enjoyed it. Its got their usual sound but I dunno, I just feel something is slightly missing. I think my favourite track on the album is “It’s Not the End of the World, But I Can See It From Here” though you can really hear the Billy Talent coming through… then again I like that. So I’m not moaning. This is in contrast the to the more melodic “Where We Belong”. Proper Lostprophets is found on “Next Stop Atro City” – you might even be able to hear the Pontypridd origins coming through (that’s a Welsh accent in case you were wondering).
The album takes a bit of a turn then getting a bit more pop-punk, I think the best way to describe it is Fall-Out Boy like. After this you really start to hear the proper Lostprophets, the other tracks are worth listening to but if you want to remind yourself of the sound of the Lostprophets then you probably want to listen to the second half of the album. The album finishes really strong with the excellent “The Light That Burns Twice As Bright…”… the song is full of lovely texture and doesn’t miss a nice heavy percussion section. biggrin.gif
Overall I quite enjoyed this album.. offers a few different things but its not quite what I was expecting.

What I’m listening to: “Story of the Year – The Constant”

I thought its been ages since I actually wrote about some music so here goes.
Story of the Year - The Constant
Story of the Year – The Constant

The album I’m currently spending alot of time listening to is [Story of the Year] – The Constant. Though I’m not sure any of the tracks live up to their debut single (of 7 years ago), “Until the Day I Die”, its still quite nice. I feel that the music here shows a progression of age. There is definitely less screaming, that or maybe I just don’t notice it anymore. I quite like “Holding on to you” – resonates well with me at the moment. I guess its a bit “pop-y” and not very pop-punk. That probably describes my tastes quite well at the moment. Though if you are about to forget what Story of the Year are about you are hit with a wake up call in their next track “Won Threw Ate”. That really gets me going on the way to work. Overall I’m loving this album and was kinda-what I was expecting and I was pleased. Compared to some of the releases of other bands recently it was nice to have something that hit the nail on the head. “Eye for an Eye” nicely finishes off the album.. and normally by that point I’m ready to work.

Olympic Celebration in Calgary..

Last Saturday Calgary (well CTV) held a celebration for the start of the Olympic Games over in British Columbia. I have to say this is probably the coldest gig I’ve ever been to. It was fun though.. but still it was darn cold. Not sure if holding an outdoors gig in Calgary in the winter is ever a good idea… it was foogy too – such that you could just make the outline of the Calgary tower:
Is that the tower?
I got there in time to watch some local band called [“the Dudes”] who played a solid set of music. Not sure if they are really my thing but they are defineely worth a look out. Probably the best local band I’ve seen so far. I’ve not seen many though.
"The Dudes" play
Eventually, as it got darker, the Tower broke through the clouds and you could see the Olympic Flame burning brightly over Calgary…
Calgary Tower, olympic flame
The main attraction for me to go down to the event was to see the headline band, Simple Plan. They were definitely worth waiting around in the cold for (well it wasn’t so cold after I had a hot chocolate and then jumped around a bit).
Simple Plan at Olympic Celebration
Simple Plan at Olympic Celebration
.. but by the end of this and when I got on the C-train to go home I couldn’t feel my feet properly.. hmmm. Oh and here is a quick clip of the gig:

More photos from the gig can be found [on flickr].

My favourite music according to Last.fm

Over the last 2 years I’ve been using Last.fm to record the music I listen to. I know this is all rather geeky but if you know me then you will know I am indeed a geek, shocking eh! Anyway, enough of the obvious (though the rest of this post is probably also fairly obvious if you ever looked at my Ipod). Over the last 2 years last.fm has been mostly recording what I listen to, though of course it doesn’t have everything I’ve listened to (for example its only very recently that I’ve hooked up my ipod to it, so that probably means there are a fair few tracks missing) and that’s some 14,000 songs (the reason that I thought I’d do this post in the first place). According to last.fm my favourite band is Linkin Park (which is probably true) and is being rapidly caught up by Anberlin, of course my musically taste changes quite rapidly and this is just a snapshot over the last 2 years – I’m pretty sure that bands like Maximo Park, the Foo Fighters, RHCP, Ash, Muse and Greenday would all feature higher if we looked over a larger time base (then again so would Effiel 65 – you probably remember “Blue (Da Ba Dee)”?). Anyway, here are my top 20 listened to artists…
top20
Nothing particularly shocking about it in my opinion, maybe I would have expected Maximo Park (they are 28th) to feature. Senses Fail and Disco Ensemble really were the two bands I listened to heavily during my PhD work, though I’ve also listened to 30 seconds to Mars (34th) alot.. hmm. If we just looked over the last few months then its Rise Against, Linkin Park and Senses Fail – I think I’ve had a bit more angst in my life and Rise Against to provide a nice aggression release. Oh and my most listened to track is Linkin Park – What I’ve Done.

Anberlin Gig

Last night I got to see one of my favourite bands, [Anberlin], at the [Birmingham Barfly]. They were supported by Data Select Party and Furthest Drive Home. Data Select Party were really good and I think I will have to buy their CD – I probably should have last night but I wasn’t really thinking when we left the venue.
Anberlin Gig 6Data Select Party Warming up the crowd.
Anberlin did a storming set. I very much enjoyed myself. I’ve not been to gig in a while and it was really good to be at a gig with a good atmosphere and not too many people along. The Barfly is much smaller than the Birmingham Academy and so you get a more intimate feeling. Anberlin seemed quite overwhelmed by the response of the crowd – to the point that they did 2 encores! I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before (I guess I may have at a big festival, but I can’t pinpoint a moment). I was worried at the start of the gig, the typical american band not being able to voaclise well live was going through my head… but after a couple of songs he really got into it and the sound engineers obviously noticed it and sorted it… either that or I just stopped bouncing… probably a bit of both. It was a great gig – if they are coming to a venue near you – go see them. If they are not and you haven’t heard them, go listen. I personally like quite a range of their music but I think that their second album “Never Take Friendship Personal ” is their best. Here are a couple of shot of them during the gig…
Anberlin 3
Anberlin 5
We walked back past St. Martins and the Bullring to the bus stop and I took a couple of shots of the Christmas lights in Birmingham, I really like the blue and white.
St Martins
Birmingham Lights 3

Download Festival 2008

I know it was almost two weeks ago now but I’ve finally gotten around to having some time to write up on here what I thought of the [Download festival]. It was indeed my first time at this festival and I have to say I was very impressed. It was also the first festival that I have been to that we drop to and from every day. Donnington isn’t too far from Birmingham so its easily feasible and is the first thing I was very shocked about. I was expecting since we were driving each day to have to wait in long traffic queues. Nope, it appears that the place was very well organised and the longest we had to wait was 10 minutes when we left on the second night, now that’s not bad! Anyway onto the music…
Highlights:
– seeing Kiss, they were great showmen
– a certain song by Motorhead, this time I was not waiting for the young lady to come of the loo!
– HIM, they were excellent but I have to say I was really shocked by the numbers of people watching them, I guess they were all off watching the Offspring…
– The Offspring, we saw half of their set and wow they were great, shame they didn’t really do much of an encore but then again we were expecting an half an hour extra gig off them after Kiss…
– The rock (and peg) game, see below for pictures – essentially a game of deception when you end up with about a ton of rocks in your bag.. well Alice did!
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– Simple Plan, we caught about half of their set and they were great!
– The storm troopers that got me and Sean…
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– Ash, solid set!
– Clean toilets… actually coming home to have a shower every night was very nice!
– Free Muller rice, “eat it cold, eat it hot, eat it free”… we had a lot of these.
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– The crazy guys on bikes, wicked show (yep the guy is upside down in a ball in the second pic, at one point they had 3 guys in there!)!
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– Lostprophets… great set, but I just don’t think they are a headline act…
– Airbourne, great set… really got the crowd going!
– oh and meeting 001… we got a pic with Sean… I missed out 😦
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Disappointments:
– seeing Kiss, they really disappointed me by not playing a certain song… they also went on a bit!
– the price of the food.. but what do you expect
– Incubus, they were good but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
– Kid Rock not turning up… oh wait I didn’t care this is was a highlight! 😀
– having to put up with Sean the whole darn weekend!
– how cold it was on the first day… having to buy a new jumper.. not that I really minded!
– the fact that Lethal Bizzle was there… we walked past to have a game in the EA hub and he was on, there were lots of people there. I think a lot were booing but a number (more than the people who saw HIM) were jumping up and down… argh! If your band don’t play their own instruments then get off the stage.
Saying all that, overall it was a great festival and it was a lot more spread out and relaxed than Reading… I think I will be going back to Download.. especially if they keep the quality of the bands like there was this year!
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Check out – Disco Ensemble

I can’t believe, well I can since they a Finnish post-hardcore/punk band, that I had not come across Disco Ensemble before playing FIFA 2008…. yes FIFA can be a good place to find music.. trust me! Anyway, back to Disco Ensemble – there second album First Aid Kit is the one I’ve been listening to pretty continuously recently – well worth a listen [Disco Ensemble]

Albums of 2007

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

bravery
I have to say I was very disappointed by the second album by these guys, I was expecting much more – still its a pretty solid record and I feel it deserves to just make it into the charts.

[www6.thebravery.com]

19. Sum 41 – Underclass Hero

sum 41
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.

[www.sum41.co.uk]

18. VA – Transformers: The Album

transformers
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….

[transformersalbum.com/]

17. HIM – Venus Doom

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…

[http://www.heartagram.com/]

16. Anberlin – Cities

anberlin
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.

[www.anberlin.com]

15. The Academy Is… – Santi

acadmeyis
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!

[www.myspace.com/theacademyis]

14. Chris Cornell – Carry On

Chris Cornell
“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.

[www.chriscornell.com]

13. New Found Glory – From the Screen to Your Stereo Part II

nfg
Ok its not a ‘proper’ new album from NFG but still you have to love it…. “oh, kiss me…” 😀 . This follows on from their last ‘proper’ album (“Coming Home”) coming 3rd in my charts last year.

[http://www.newfoundglory.com/]

12. Thirteen Senses – Contact

13sensest
“Follow Me” says it all about this album, lovely melodies and strong singing – really does give me a feel good factor. Oh and in 2004 their first album made 16 in my charts….

[www.thirteensenses.co.uk]

11. My American Heart – Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather

myamericanheart
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!”

[www.myspace.com/myamericanheart]

10. Ash – Twilight of the Innocents

ash
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)

[www.ash-official.com]

9. Editors – An End Has A Start

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The second album from the Editors does not disappoint and they follow on quite nicely from their first album. Though it hasn’t made quite as much impact as their first album did on me.

[www.editorsofficial.com]

8. Good Charlotte – Good Morning Revival

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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.

[www.goodcharlotte.com]

7. Avril Lavinge – The Best Damn Thing

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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)

[www.avrillavigne.com]

6. Fall Out Boy – Infinity on High

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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!

[www.falloutboyrock.com]

5. Funeral for a Friend – Tales Don’t Tell Themselves

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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.
[www.ffaf.co.uk]

4. Madina Lake – From Them, Through Us, to You

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“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.

[www.madinalake.com]

3. Paramore – Riot

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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.

[www.paramore.net]

2. Maximo Park – Our Earthly Pleasures

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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….

[www.maximopark.com]

1. Linkin Park – Minutes to Midnight

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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.

[www.linkinpark.com]

Links to past years:
Albums 2006 – [here]
Singles 2005 – [here], for some reason I did not have time to do albums this year…
Albums 2004 – [here]

Reading Festival 2007

Reading Festival 2007
I know it is a while ago that this happened but I’ve been too busy to think.
Anyway here is a quick summary of the festival.
– Travel, took way too long the driver got lost in Coventry (we weren’t supposed to go there!) and drove around aimlessly not finding the coach station – eventually we got there!
– Dry, not wet, bit damp in places but not at all bad…
reading_2007_6
– Fun as always, though it wasn’t fun being woken up at 4am to here someone breaking into my tent and grabbing my bag.. shame for them that they left their phone behind and my bag only had my coat in it. They came back for their phone.. I was naked and I got my bag back – really seemed like a surreal dream.
– Bands, how many did I see… 40 in total – not bad really.
– I saw:
On Friday: The Pipettes, The Sounds, The long blondes, Manchester Orchestra, Aiden, The Draft, Plain White Ts, Jimmy Eat World, Maximo Park, Interpol, Enter Shikari, The Subways, Brand New, Ash
I think the highlight of this day was probably Aiden and Jimmy Eat World. Aiden were quite a surprise and very enjoyable. Jimmy Eat World were just fantastic! I should also mention that, like always, Maximo Park and Ash played great sets!
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On Saturday: Paramore, Dead 60, Kids in glass houses, Mute Math, The Shines, Nine Black Alps, Angels and Airwaves, Cobra Starship, Panic at the disco, Bloc Party, The Twang, Biffy Clyro, Battles, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Academy Is…, Hot Hot Heat
The disappointment of the festival came with the Chilli Peppers – I got annoyed and decided Hot Hot Heat were a better bet.. and they were. Mute Math were pretty cool doing some rather interesting drumming… Cobra Starship put on a good gig and I think Lizzie enjoyed them.
reading_2007_50
On Sunday: Stalker (I think), Gym Class Heroes, Hellogoodbye, Billy Talent, The Used, Funeral for a friend, Fallout Boy, Lost Prophets, NIN, Smashing Pumpkins and New Found Glory.
This was a good day for music (apart from the Gym Class Heroes!). Billy Talent were great, I really enjoyed their set but the gig of the day (and probably the festival for me) had to go to the Lost Prophets who played a kick ass set, really good music and they got the crowd going! I think I would have probably enjoyed New Found Glory more if it wasn’t for me feeling a tad ill…
Oh and here is the Moon over the arena…
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