Sunday, December 02, 2007

My charts of 2007...

The practice I had last year notwithstanding, compiling such a list is certainly no easier than it was last year. I have however decided to attempt it slightly earlier this year but – things being as they are – it is again a rather nebulous concept of a ‘top ten’ so there is certainly no way that I’m going to attempt to put them in any order other than alphabetical by artist and without additional comment.

Here goes…

Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse
Candie Payne – I Wish I Could Have Loved You More
Client - Heartland
Dolores O’Riordan – Are You Listening?
Electrelane – No Shouts, No Calls
New Young Pony Club – Fantastic Playroom
Seabear – The Ghost That Carried Us Away
Siobhan Donaghy - Ghosts
Stephanie Dosen – A Lily For The Spectre

To keep the list to just ten (it really should be more like a bakers’ dozen) I have avoided including any albums that have not had a bona fide UK first release in 2007 and, hopefully without any very glaring compromises, also tried to reflect the kind of albums I like at the moment. The inclusion of Siobhan Donaghy’s second solo album, Ghosts, is not merely a token major-label entry even though I have only previously mentioned it before it was released. I really like her first album, Revolution In Me, but my already high expectations were exceeded and I really can’t see why this was not more of a commercial hit. The cover artwork of promotional copies has an interesting twist on that of the commercial release in which, while the strangely upholstered chair is still there, she is nowhere to be seen…

There are more that I’m also very tempted to add, including a couple that I haven’t really listened to enough to come to an opinion that is reasonably stable. Then there is the vexatious question of whether to include EPs and mini albums (I haven’t but see below) and that is important.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that, when it comes to the EPs I’ve bought this year, My Manic And I (a 4-track 45 rpm 7”) is definitely top of a field that is not without serious competition and so I suspect EMI will have a major artist on their hands when Laura Marling’s debut album is released in February and, furthermore, that she will also be one of the “must see” live acts of 2008.

That said 2007 has not been short of memorable singles and in the charts a certain pop revival may even be detected. The following are a fairly mixed bag from 2007, pop taken in the widest sense of the meaning, that I just happened to like and that is ultimately what pop singles are all about. 2007 has also been the year in which legal downloads entered the UK chart reckoning for all legally-downloaded songs, which has certainly altered the dynamics of the UK ‘Top 40’ singles. On balance I think that it has done no harm whatsoever but my Luddite inclination still leads me still to prefer real ones (and on vinyl if possible) but it has also been a good year for that kind of thing too and, as an aside, here is another one, 'Follow Me Down', that is somewhere between a EP and a full-blown album consisting as it does of six tracks.
There isn’t a bad track on 'Follow Me Down', in my opinion, but it is an apparently diverse and yet quite artless wonder of the kind that that has eluded many bands that have enjoyed long and successful careers. At the moment my second favourite track from it is Lips Of Cleopatra, which somehow slightly reminds me, not that I mean this to detract from it in any way whatsoever, of something Wishbone Ash forgot to write and record in their heyday – Pilgrimage (1971) and Argus (1972) – except that Wishbone Ash didn’t use keyboards until their fourth album, Wishbone Four (1973) so perhaps it rightly belongs there instead! It does have a sound and song-writing style, in both music and lyric, that although not in any obvious way derivative is still almost uncanny.
This track is immediately followed by a song that almost any artist, including the most successful, would simply love someone to write and then to offer to them to record: the pop-noir of Gracelin is breathtaking in its inspiration and deceptively simple execution. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to discover that Poppy & The Jezebels are on the set list of at least some of next summer’s best festivals.

Gracelin would have made my list of favourite singles (see below) had it been released as a single. It wasn’t but, the again rather different-sounding, Nazi Girls was and it is available on vinyl too. If 2008 sees the above release followed by a full length LP then there’s no doubt that I’ll be buying a copy as soon as I can.

Below, again merely in alphabetical order but with the odd additional comment, are a few 2007 UK chart singles that have particularly caught my attention:

Arctic Monkeys – Fluorescent Adolescent (10” vinyl mix)
Calvin Harris – Acceptable In The 80s
Freemasons – Uninvited (a cover of the 1998 Alanis Morisette song, featuring Bailey Tzuke on vocals)
Hoosiers – Worried About Ray
Kate Nash – Foundations
Mark Ronson – Valerie (a cover of the Zutons track, featuring Amy Winehouse on vocals)
Plain White Ts – Hey There, Delilah
Robyn – With Every Heartbeat
Sugababes – About You Now

And here are a few more that didn’t bother the charts unduly but, in my opinion, really should have done…

Dragonette – I Get Around
Remi Nicole – Rock ‘n’ Roll
Stefy – Chelsea

Talking about charts, here’s something of an eye-opener. If you think that Europe is anything like an integrated place, when it comes to music, just looking at the charts of the constituent countries would suggest otherwise. The following site helpfully provides listings for many countries, including some beyond Europe, updated weekly:

As there is still almost the whole of December 2007 to go I’m still reserving the right to make late additions or even maybe even alterations but, unlike the former, the latter is quite unlikely. The next question is what will be the trends in 2008? Well, I’m thinking about it as best I can…

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