Tag Archives: Kate Nash

In with the new: a hasty look at the most interesting albums of 2009

back in 2009So you’re sick of reading end-of-the-year polls are you? Me too. I’ve already exorcised that demon. With nowt else happening as the nation sinks into the collective food and drink binge known as Christmas, maybe it’s a good time to have a quick peek at what musical treats next year has in store…

Only a handful of release dates have been announced so far, so it’s impossible to preview the year as a whole, but what do we know about already?

In late January, if all goes to plan, Animal Collective will have critics all a-flutter over their new album Merriweather Post Pavillion. I wasn’t too keen on last album Strawberry Jam, but you can guarantee this will be nothing if not experimental. On the same day Andrew Bird releases his eleventh album, Noble Beast, which I’ve already heard a muso friend describe in glowing terms.

A week later and we have a big new album closer to home to get excited about. Franz Ferdinand return after three years with Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. You’ve probably heard one of the singles – Lucid Dreams or Ulysses – and it sounds like the stylish Glaswegians are aiming straight for the indie disco, if indie discos still exist in 2009. Also on this day The Strokes’ bassist Nikolai Fraiture releases his first album as Nickel Eye. I’ve already heard the promo: it’s alright.

Into February and Montreal’s latest buzz band Handsome Furs bring us their second album Face Control. It’s being put out by Sub Pop, which means it must be good. Fact. An early contender for album of the year also arrives in the form of Hush by Asobi Seksu. I’ve heard it already and it’s rather good – poppier than Citrus but as epic as ever.

Commercially, the big album of February will most probably be Lily Allen‘s follow-up to the six times platinum  Alright, Still. Called It’s Not Me, It’s You, expect more ‘witty’, ‘edgy’ lyrics from the mouthy LDNer.

In March The Decemberists return with The Hazards of Love. Can we expect more sea-shanties and literary singalongs from these Pitchfork favourites? Time will tell.

And that’s about the point where all firm dates for your diary dissolve and we are left with lots of TBA-style conjecture. But others virtually guaranteed to come up with new music in 2009 include these notables: The Strokes (they’re expected to return to the studio in February), Outkast, Rufus Wainwright, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, The National, Morrisey, Matisyahu, U2 (yawn), The Fray (yawn), Kate Nash (yawn), Lionel Ritchie (yas!), Papa Roach (yawn), The Rifles (meh) Lady Sovereign (meh), The Feeling (YAWN!!!) and Kylie Minogue (yawn).

But all these pale into insignificance in comparison to what will surely be the album of the year: X Hits, the long-awaited greatest hits collection from failed reality TV show group Liberty X! Get in!

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T in the Park: Saturday roving report

Eddy Grant opens the Main Stage

With memories of a litter-strewn airstrip and 80,000 dancing, drinking, singing, colliding, wretching, cavorting, exposing, stumbling, pissing people fading as fast as my sunburn, it’s time I posted my second annual T in the Park roving report…

Straight off the trusty shuttle bus – via the bar, of course – we decide to sample some sounds, so off to the Main Stage.

The sight of a 60-year-old man playing guitar with his crotch and posterior makes for uncomfortably embarrassing viewing. But Eddy Grant compensates for this rockstar faux-pas with a grin-inducing clutch of reggae hits. ‘Electric Avenue’ may be the crowdpleaser, but it’s the off-beat reggae grooves like ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance’ that get the early afternoon crowd bobbing on the spot.

Grant can still put on a sprightly show, but he was clearly surprised by the reception: “I don’t know how you have so much energy. It must be the oats!” No Eddy, we suspect it’s something less wholesome.

One lager later and with the early afternoon proving unsurprisingly bereft of must-sees, it was time for a casual mosey on down to the T Break tent. Haight Ashbury, the Glasgow band named after the San Francisco hipster area, were obviously aiming to recreate something of that whole 60s vibe with their steel guitar and wispy hair. But their moody, plodding indie was just too morose for this phase of the festivities.

Blinking in the intermittent sunshine, I then find myself wandering past the main stage as Kate Nash does her spoken/uh-oh/Topshop-angst thing far away on stage. With her set-up resembling a submarine school disco, it was kinda appropriate, if not satisfying, that the music that billowed over our heads sounded like a carefully orchestrated fart in the bath.

Which only left one option: Will Young. A swift appraisal of his Pet Sounds Arena set revealed a surprisingly enthusiastic crowd of onlookers singing along to his soppy hits. The standard-issue R’n’B backing band didn’t look the least bit embarrassed by having to play with the Pop Idol warbler, but one song was really all we needed to hear. Such high hormone levels in such a confined space cannot be good for the health.

MGMTA bit later and with a full tent, the stage is set for a triumphant show by MGMT. Bandanas and sunglasses play into their exotic prog-rock allure, and ‘Electric Feel’ injects some energy into a sluggish start, but just when they’re about to assail us with readymade anthem ‘Time To Pretend’, the low-end of the soundsystem audibly explodes. The crowd stay on-side for the remainder, but this could have been so much better.

With one and a half album’s worth of recorded music in the can, The Twilight Sad are a strange choice for the T Break tent. But instead of acting all complacent and ‘T broke’, the band are in typically uncompromising form: a few new songs are tantalising, but ‘Cold Days From the Birdhouse’ is one of those shut-eye, unforgettable festival moments.

My only trip to the terminally uninspiring Radio 1/NME Stage is inspired by The Raconteurs. On the back of Consolers of the Lonely, they are a band gleefully indulging in their American-ness, with bluegrass fiddle on ‘Old Enough’, stadium rawk on ‘Salute Your Salution’ and Detroit pop classicism on ‘Many Shades of Black’. It’s unfair to lay all their success at the winklepickers of Jack White of course, but his scintillating talents upgrade many an average song tonight.

Rage Against The MachineWith the poor, misguided ones herded towards the Kaiser Chiefs, the enlightened among the hoards swarm to the Main Stage for one of the most exciting T headliners of recent years: Rage Against the Machine. And they were rewarded with an awesome band on awesome form. De La Rocha’s defiant posturing and Morello’s jaw-dropping guitar playing belie the passage of time that’s elapsed since their 90s heyday, and blistering tracks like ‘Guerilla Radio’, ‘Know Your Enemy’ and, of course, ‘Killing In The Name’, inspire scenes of bodily carnage from where I’m standing a few yards from the front. De La Rocha’s anti-Bush rant (“When I said George Bush should be assassinated, I meant he should be tried as a war criminal and hung as a war criminal!”) is the only respite in a scintillating show.

I stumble towards the Edinburgh bus queue tired, cold, drunk and mud-splattered. The journey home is going to be rough, and the random girl who sits next to me and asks – constantly – if I unerstaun her wasted ramblings isn’t helping.

Versions of these reviews were written for The Skinny

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