DISCLAIMER: This isn't supposed to be some superbly written entry or well thought out, it's a childish and poorly written shrine. I'm just incredibly antsy and excited and want to write that anticipation down rather than just sharing it with my own head over and over.
Just give me this now. Words cannot express how excited I am. New photograph sessions, music, artwork, tour dates and teasers are killing me. It's no secret that I'm a fanboy of The Maccabees and I just hope and wish that people give this third album, Given To The Wild, a really solid go despite how annoying it may be when I crowbar them into a lot of conversations. It can be hard to get heard around here amongst bands and genres of music that are more widely known or favoured, and that's understandable but if there was one thing I'd hope for, it would be that people really gave this new album a shot in January and really fell in love with them like I did many years ago.
Following the band from their early days, before their debut album existed and they had nothing but a rough EP (You Make Noise, I Make Sandwiches) which sounded abrasive and raw:
...to the more confident and structured sound of their debut album, Colour It In:
...and eventually progressing to a whole new level, introducing a brass section, more layers and a real understanding of their instruments and abilities on my current number 1 album of all time, Wall Of Arms:
...to now, with their third album so-close-yet-so-far away, I couldn't be more excited or impressed at how much they have evolved. Having said that they feel for the first time that they have found their own identity and created a record that sounds like "The Maccabees" and nobody else, it's clear they are ready for far more attention and exposure. Soundscapes, effects, introductions (!) and two years of writing have gone into Given To The Wild, and I have every faith that it will be another absolute favourite album of mine, even a sneaking suspicion that it will claim the top spot:
I'm incredibly devoted to this group of lads and forever will be, I really hope I can look forward to discussing their new record with a whole bunch of you come 2012. My year would be made.
It's been a while since I've posted a blog entry and I feel it's time I got more involved in doing so, especially becuase of the new version of AP probably helping the look and feel of them.
That being said I thought I'd talk about how there are certain vocalists who I am beyond jealous of. Their voices literally make me either melt with how perfect they are to my tastes or incredibly jealous that I don't have their tone and delivery. The minute I start thinking about favourite vocalists that are around today, I immediately think of the following:
Jack Steadman (Bombay Bicycle Club)
There's something about his broken delivery on various words or syllables mixed with his borederline baritone sound that makes me wish I had his voice. It lends itself perfectly to the rootsy folk-style of their album Flaws, to a point when Steadman's voice actually sounds "older" than he is. He sounds like a classic folk singer fm the '60s who hs been in the game for decades rather than a twentysomething London lad. On the flipside he is able to sing modern indie rock songs that sounds so fresh and are able to get crowds of hundreds or thousands chanting along with him.
It's his voice that brings a lot of the appeal to me because of how unique it sounds without being affected on purpose. I genuinely hold him as an inspiration vocally because I believe it's the quirks and individuality in vocals that can really make a band or artist that much more interesting. I'd rather lsiten to an artist with a unique voice that isn't pitch perfect than somebody who is so crisp and on point, because they can be thrown in the "forgettable pile" more often than not, for me.
Check out some examples of his vocals in different forms below. The Folk style of "Jewel" from their acoustic album Flaws and "What If" from their debut and "electric" album.
Orlando Weeks (The Maccabees)
This was going to be obvious choice but that's because I can't fault anything about this band. As an avid follower of them from before their debut album, I've loved every song they have released and adored seeing how the have progressed as band. The music has noteably moved forward and become something truly amazing (and continues to do so) but Orlando Weeks' vocals have just got better and better throughout the years. Starting out with an almost abrasive and confrontational spoken word style in their earlier post-punk influenced demos (and somewhat on their debut, Colour It In) he is now one of the strongest voices in British indie/rock music today.
Weeks possesses the ability to be a modern day crooner. Harmonising beautifully and demonstrating the softest tones both live and on record mixed with the urgency and big deliveries and long notes when necessary, it's hard for me to enjoy any other singer...ever (hyperbole, of course).
Listen to The Maccabees cover of Roy Orbison's "I Drove All Night" and the title track from their second album (my favourite record of all time too), "Wall Of Arms" below for perfect examples of all the gushing and fanboy adjectives I used above.
As I said, these are just a couple of singer's from the "now" who I adore, there is a plethora of others from many decades that I love, even more that are in bands nowadays that I enjoy, but these are the two that I always immediately think of from bands that are currently in existance.
This year has been a fantastic year for all sorts of reasons where music is concerned. I've discovered albums I normally wouldn't have heard due to both members of this site and becoming a "Member of Staff" (to both of which, I'm very thankful for), I've heard releases by artists that I have loved for a long time and they have blown me away and also heard new artists that have easily made their way straight into my Top 20. That being said, the list making process (at least this particular list) is always hard for me because I'm forced to slot albums into an order which causes me to have a mental fight with myself, but I can guess it might be similar for most people.
The other categories on this list are "optimistic collections", which is honestly very unusual and rare for me. God knows I'd love to sit here and list a bunch of things I hated and was disappointed by this year...but nobody is going to bother putting time and effort into checking something out that I loathe, plus I can assure you, it would take some time. So, I hope people read these and get something new from them. There's not a lot of outlandish artists on here that are really unknown by any means, but there are a whole bunch that don't get as much recognition as many other bands around here. So... enjoy and anybody that knows me, will know I cannot wait for the releases in 2011...
Produced by Markus Dravs, known for producing the past two Arcade Fire albums, this album sees The Maccabees elevate themselves from catchy and quirky, right into the heavyweights of British alternative music. The combination of Orlando Weeks' almost old-school, irresistable crooning vocals over the top of intricate layers of swelling guitars, endless bass hooks and energetic drums is a perfect marriage. This is an album which manages to balance pop sensibility with substance, atmosphere and heartfelt lyrics. It's hard to not be touched by the album or the songs, the openness and the dexterity on show or the subtleties and unexpected angles. An absolute favourite of mine and will always be. Key Tracks: "Love You Better", "No Kind Words", "William Powers", "Seventeen Hands"
Laura Marling-I Speak Because I Can (2010)
This second effort from Laura Marling not only matches the high bar she set with her debut, but it clears it by miles. A collection of beautifully delicate and enchanting folk songs that feel like they were recorded straight to vinyl in front of a log fire in a cottage. Laura Marling's voice feels even more intimate on this record, deeper and more assured. She manages to reel you in so close with her vocals, verging on whispers at times, as she tells tales of Greek mythologies, England's Winter and wartime love letters. Maintaining a true folk sound throughout, this album also adds lush strings, piano and banjo parts into the mix which make it feel fuller and more complete than her debut. An album you won't want to stop listening to over Winter. Key Tracks:"Made By Maid", "Blackberry Stone", "Alpha Shallows", "No Hope In The Air"
Blur- Best Of (2000)
Yeah, a compilation. This is easily my favourite Blur album, and that's coming from somebody who has been a fan before I'd even reached 10 years old. All of their albums are great of course, but their progression through their various different stages and sounds deserves to be taken in all at once on this brilliant mix. Showcasing material from their releases between 1990-2000, it's hard to not either fall in love all over again or for the first time with this band. Consistently brilliant and accessible pop music, there's everything here from anthemic and heartfelt sing-a-longs to fast and loose rock or American influenced drones. Showcasing influences from the likes of The Smiths, The Stones Roses and Stephen Malkmus, it's a must have in anybody's record collection. Key Tracks: "Beetlebum", "The Universal", "Tender", "Girls & Boys", "Coffee and TV"
Jamie T - Panic Prevention (2007)
"Like no other record since The Streets - Original Pirate Material, itís the sound of a pirate radio station you wish existed: a rag-bag of ska-punk, junk-shop hip-hop, DIY drum'n'bass and vocal interludes sequenced to flow like a mix-tape. On first listen, scrappy-sounding and instinctive, but 20 spins later, still pulling new tricks." - NME, I couldn't have said it better. It's so British in it's sound, particularly because of Jamie's distinctive voice but also the stories of the youth of Britain - binge drinking, fights, clubs, nostalgia, friends and love, at the same time there's something for everyone on this record. Key Tracks: "Brand New Bass Guitar", "Calm Down Dearest", "Operation", "Sheila", "Pacemaker", "If You Got The Money"