Monday, December 29

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 12 to No. 1

12. The Envy Corps 'Dwell' (Vertigo)
When I saw this lot last summer at the Water Rats in London I figured they were good, had some strong singles, but would never climb too high in my musical mind of greatness. 'Dwell' however, enables such. Some strong singles? Every track on here could be, stocked by means of shear soulful and atmospheric sensibility. Like Modest Mouse with Doves as a backing band. What happened between last summer and now I don't know, but they've certainly found the right tools in order to produce the goods, such as with 'Keys To Good Living', 'Before The Gold Rush', 'Rooftop' and 'Baby Teeth'. The Envy Corps are here to gladly remind us of the difference between The Feeling and Keane, exhibiting that good old indie flag like few others.

11. Elbow 'The Seldom Seen Kid' (Polydor)
These have been around for ages. 'The Seldom Seen Kid' is in fact their fourth album, and there's not many bands out there who better themselves record after record. Elbow haven't done that, because the one before the last one, 'Cast of Thousands', was better than the last one, 'Leaders of the Free World'. So, discounting the last one, Elbow have very much bettered themselves record after record, and this is by far the best thing they've ever done. The world has only just gotten over 'In Rainbows', is waiting impatiently for 'Viva la Vida Or Death and All His Friends', and then Elbow go and throw this at us. Aside from the really unnecessary 'The Fix' which features Richard Hawley probably just for the hell of it, 'Starling', 'Grounds For Divorce', 'Weather to Fly', 'The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver', 'Some Riot' and 'Friend of Ours' are faultless to the bone. The most pleasant of surprises.

10. The Walkmen 'You & Me' (Gigantic)It's kinda interesting how some bands get tied down by their one-hit wonders. Especially when they're relatively talented. Think of The Walkmen, you think of 'The Rat'. And on that first album there was at least four-worthy singles, it's just strange how they never quite shooted up with the likes of The Strokes or BRMC. 'You & Me' is further evidence of their talent, almost every track a kind of Pogues-bitten nugget with a catchy chorus. 'On The Water', 'In The New Year', 'Long Time Ahead Of Us', 'New Country', 'If Only It Were True' - All of these could've caught the UK's attention of released as a single, with a bit of promo. Maybe the band don't want the success, after what happened last time.

9. Vampire Weekend 'Vampire Weekend' (XL)
With reference to 'Oxford Comma', if it wasn’t for Columbia Uni’s ‘Students for the Preservation of the Oxford Comma’ society and accompanying Facebook group, Ezra and the gang may never have sculptured one of this century’s finest slabs of afro-pop. Such defence of the ever- disputable punctuation mark was what initially roused New York’s most bookish to think up ‘Oxford Comma’, and in due course make their first foray into the UK Top 40 Singles Chart (at No. 38). But it’s the bourgeoisie-poking queries of “Why would you lie about how much coal you have? Why would you lie about something dumb like that?” plus sweet-guitar-glazed pipe organ breakdown that verifies this song a bona fide gem. Now somebody go tell Ezra about Cambridge’s ‘Annual Rally for the Protection of the Solidus’. And the album's fucking brilliant too.


8. Cajun Dance Party 'The Colourful Life' (XL)
The music press have been way too harsh on these with their debut. NME couldn't get over the fact they're all below the age of 20, and Drowned In Sound figured they were just too posh. I, however, think this is one of the best albums shelved out to us all this year thus far. Minus their ages and minus their background, 'The Colourful Life' is a brilliant debut, overflowing with herds of pop nuggets as body-tingling as watching Gavin and Stacey for the first time (Season 2, that is). It couldn't start more perfectly with the carefree flow of its title track, all before new single 'The Race' hits you via the finest outtro since, er, White Lies' 'Death' or something.'The Next Untouchable' and 'Amylase' aside, 'No Joanna', 'Buttercups' and 'The Hill, The View & The Lights' too ride the right side of bright and shiny pop. This is the album I hoped they would make.

7. Bon Iver 'For Emma, Forever Ago' (4AD)
I am ashamed. So, so ashamed. Utters of the name 'Bon Iver' were thrown my way months back, but I never caught on enough to venture out in to the world external of Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons to figure, "Hey, wait a minute, Wisconsin seem to be pretty good at this whole alt.folk thing too." Not only the setting of relatively funny American TV sitcom 'That 70s Show', and also Watford FC centre back Jay DeMerit, Wisconsin USA is the place the creator of one of this year's best albums calls home too. Bon Iver himself calls it 'neo-soul'. Shout And Twist totally agree, whilst too getting a little teary eyed-causing lo-fi tranquil acoustic Iron & Wine-but-better cogency from 'For Emma, Forever Ago' as well. If there's one more record you plan to lose yourself in this year, make sure it's this one. God I sound like HMV.

6. British Sea Power 'Do You Like Rock Music?' (Rough Trade)
The thing with the first British Sea Power record is that for every rock-powering classic like 'Remember Me', 'Carrion' and 'Blackout', there was just as much flaff like 'Something Wicked', 'The Lonely' and 'Apologies To Insect Life'. The second one wasn't that much of a progression, apart from single 'Please Stand Up'. But 'Do You Like Rock Music?' is no question their best album to date, which is something reflected even by it's Top 10 chart entry. In a time when bands simply have to release the best flipping debut they can, BSP have finally produced what they always dared to three albums in. 'All In It' is the perfect way to begin, 'The Great Skua' is the best thing Sigur Ros have never made, and 'No Need To Cry' is the greatest song BSP have ever created. DYLRM? is exceptional, and the Arcade Fire comparisons are unfair. Unfair on Arcade Fire that is.

5. Pete and the Pirates 'Little Death' (Stolen)
There's a reason this lot were in my Top 5 'Next Big Things' at the beginning of the year. They are simply magnifico. In a musical sphere currently over-stocked on Korg-keys, guitar grime and folk cats, the straight up strings and pretty jangle of what has packed 'Little Death' to the brim is genuinely refreshing. Made evident by the already noted 'Come On Feet', 'Knots' and 'Mr Understanding', it turns out P&TP only know how to make good guitar pop songs, and nothing else. 'Ill Love', 'Lost In The Woods', 'Moving', 'Humming', and 'Bright Lights' are too evident of such pretty, witty talent. Nation domination may not be on their list of things-to-do but judging by this debut that'll be just one of the many spin-offs.

4. Bloc Party 'Intimacy' (Wichita)
'Rush-release.' That is the term being endlessly flung around in attachment to the description of this album. Thing is though, I have an inkling this was by no means a rush-release whatsoever, especially as far as Bloc Party were concerned. It is kinda revolutionary (and probably typical of this lot) how they simply chucked up some news on their site just days before it came out, while their coevals from the 04 art-rock shift are either in the middle pages of the music press trying to solve an identity crisis (See under The Killers), following all else by releasing two records in one year (See under Kaiser Chiefs), or taking flipping ages perfecting their third album in the backwaters of Scotland (See under Franz). Though the essence of what 'Infinity' endeavors to put across is much less thought-provoking than the previous two, here they've plainly reveled in their own euphonic class. They are no longer the Gang Of Four-fanatics that once earned them the cover of NME. They are the band who'll clutch you and I into an unknown sweep of sonic blares we'd otherwise dare scope out. And I don't want anyone else to take me there. Bloc Party: The New Radiohead.

3. Glasvegas 'Glasvegas' (Columbia)
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but for about fifteen minutes in late June this year I was holed up in a radio studio with the four members of Glasvegas. All year I'd heard nonstop superlatives slapping them as 'The most exciting British prospect since the Arctic Monkeys', or 'The most important debut record since 'Definitely Maybe', not forgetting 'The best band to come out of Scotland. Ever.' It seemed that hype hadn't got so heated since Turner and co blasted off three years ago. Then it happened. The moment in which I too jumped on the bandwagon of hysteria to claim Glasvegas as something a little more than just special. It came after the band played 'Daddy's Gone', and band leader James Allan trodded over to the corner of the studio, held his head in his hands, and took a few moments to clear his head before he could take off again. The effect the words had on him, the passion that evoked from his voice afterward, and just the shear tenacity of emotion songs like that can have - it was all so mesmerising. There's not one or two highlights from 'Glasvegas'. The whole thing is spectacular.

2. Coldplay 'Viva La Viva or Death And All His Friends' (Parlophone)
“Everyone might not like this. We’re into it at the moment, so let’s just get it done,” declared soft rock’s most self-deprecating during the everlasting Viva sessions, shepherd by Brian Eno of all ambient daddies. Luckily for Chris Martin and his hypersensitive psyche, no such Coldplay counterblast went down, and the band’s fourth effort, which is in all likelihood the only record of 2008 to be fashioned in a one-time bakery, managed to fetch platinum disks the planet over. The Eno backdrops and less-is-more credo plainly shimmered through, but it’s still an album for the masses, and unmistakably Coldplay at heart. Martin may doubt his band’s supermassive stature yet it’s his compulsive desires that’ve resulted in their gutsiest record to date, and one of this year’s most complete.

1. Noah and the Whale 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down' (Young & Lost Club)
No matter how many a time '5 Years Time' gets spun to death on stations and channels nationwide, 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down' is undoubtedly the best debut album released this year. Harmony for harmony, horn for horn, heart-rending bowed violin string for heart-rending bowed violin string; there's just not a second-rate strain on here. Leader Charlie Fink's eggshell tones are spell-bounding, firstly laid out in the ever-intensifying '2 Atoms In A Molecule'. "If love is just a game, how come I've never won?" he appeals, pretty much gauging the temper of the next ten tracks. Best of all is 'Do What You Do', a poignant merge of stirring strings and Fink's call to just be yourself. Dark and intense wordplay seated above quite the opposite in soft and charming acoustic pop is what Noah and the Whale do best, and this record is everything early admirers could've hoped for. Long-time friend Laura Marling and her own awe-inspiring notes are evident throughout, though shine more than ever on 'Mary'. If this truly is the age of folk then Noah and the Whale are the absolute kings.

Saturday, December 27

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 25 to No. 13

25. Thomas Tantrum 'Thomas Tantrum' (Cool For Cats) - Lily who? Mouthy punky spitty angst with bounds of pop sensibility lagging behind.

24. Guns N' Roses 'Chinese Democracy' (Geffen) - 14 years and £13 mill for this? Actually it's good, not great, but good.

23. Fall Out Boy 'Folie A Deux' (Island) - Their best effort to date, sugar-packed with never ending hooks and so.

22. Lightspeed Champion 'Falling Of The Lavender Bridge' (Domino) - The year's weirdest transformation, but almost the best alt.folk piece of work.

21. Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip 'Angles' (Sunday Best) - Weird it hasn't truly taken off these two, more than just a 'Thou Shalt' wonder.

20. Sigur Ros 'Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust' (Geffen) - Nobody does it better. A brilliant album.

19. Foals 'Antidotes' (Transgressive) - Another brilliant album, math rock how it should be.

18. The Killers 'Day & Age' (Island) - 'Hot Fuss' was a dazzling first impression, 'Sam's Town' was them transmogrifying, this is them reveling in their own brilliance.

17. Death Cab For Cutie 'Narrow Stairs' (Atlantic) - A superb return, as well as a relief.

16. MGMT 'Oracular Spectacular' (Columbia) - Honestly, progressive isn't the word. Just one of the best pop albums of the year.

15. Hot Chip 'Made In The Dark' (EMI) - Really underrated, also their best effort so far.

14. Ida Maria 'Fortress Round My Heart' (RCA) - Just about rides the right side of the Adele/Duffy line. This girl's got it, for sure.

13. The Notwist 'The Devil, You + Me' (City Slang) - German's best import since the Staedtler eraser.

Thursday, December 25

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 39 to No. 26

39. Kanye West '808s And Heartbreak' (Roc-A-Fella) - That robotic voice thing gets annoying after time but still some solid tracks here.

38. Los Campesinos! ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ (Wichita) – This! Is! Even! More! Awesome!

37. William ‘Self In Fiction’ (Tough Love) – Very strong pop-squeezing debut from saath London’s punkiest trio.

36. The Futureheads ‘This Is Not The World’ (Nul) – Reputation restored.

35. We Are Scientists ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ (Virgin) – Again I think their music is as good as they are funny.

34. The Music ‘Strength In Numbers’ (EMI) – Before they were ahead, now their equals.

33. Mystery Jets ‘Twenty One’ (679) – Very strong second album which led them to mainstream success.

32. Kings Of Leon ‘Only By The Night’ (Columbia) – The big riffs and attitue is there, but it’s not perfect.

31. Santogold ‘Santogold’ (Atlantic) – If this has been the year of the indie diva, this one’s the queen.

30. Little Joy ‘Little Joy’ (Rough Trade) – This keeps you warm in the wait for The Strokes fourth effort.

29. The Academy Is… ‘Fast Times At Barrington High’ (Atlantic) – One of pop-punk’s most underrated.

28. Nada Surf ‘Lucky’ (Barsuk) – Addictive, happy and great.

27. Feeder ‘Silent Cry’ (Echo) – If this was their first, rather than their sixth, this would’ve been given more focus.

26. The Stills ‘Oceans Will Rise’ (Arts & Crafts) – Why don’t they promote anymore?

26. The Kooks ‘Konk’ (EMI) – Now they have the songs to match the stadiums.

Tuesday, December 23

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 52 to No. 40

52. Kaiser Chiefs ‘Off With Their Heads’ (B-Unique) – Treads on new ground but just a tad inconsistent.

51. The Pigeon Detectives ‘Emergency’ (Dance To The Radio) – They have an ear for the ol’ great catchy hook but it aint always obvious.

49. Late Of The Pier ‘Fantasy Black Channel’ (Parlophone) – And the future of music is saved. Daringly awesome.

48. Tokyo Police Club ‘Elephant Shell’ (Memphis Industries) – Another band who chucked all their best work on the before EP.

47. Oasis ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ (Big Brother) – If Noel G didn’t leave the last half of this record to the others this would be way higher.

46. Those Dancing Days ‘In Our Space Hero Suits’ (Wichita) – Likeable Scando-pop that only few do better.

45. M83 ‘Too Late’ (Mute) – Not just one good album, but two.

44. Los Campesinos! ‘Hold On Now, Youngster’ (Wichita) – This! Is! Awesome!

43. I Was A Cub Scout ‘I Want You To Know That There Is Always Hope’ (Abeano XL) – Shame these two split, but at least we’ve got this.

42. Scarlett Johansson ‘Anywhere I Lay My Head’ (Atco/Rhino) – Not just a pretty face and a Hollywood superstar, but now an indie queen.

41. Crystal Castles ‘Crystal Castles’ (Last Gang) – Live this aint for the sensitive but on your stereo you should be safe.

40. Eugene McGuinness ‘Eugene McGuiness’ (Domino) – Missing the EP’s wondrous charm but it’s still pretty darn brilliant.

Sunday, December 21

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 66 to No. 53

66. Neon Neon ‘Stainless Style’ (Lex) – Not bad. Not bad at all.

65. TV On The Radio ‘Dear Science’ (Interscope) – Some stirring moments on here for sure, though it aint solid.

64. Born Ruffians ‘Red, Yellow And Blue’ (Warp) – First half great. Second half not great.

63. Metronomy ‘Nights Out’ (Because) – Really strong second album from Devonshire trio.

62. Razorlight ‘Slipway Fires’ (Vertigo) – Okay, it’s a good effort. Some incredible moments on here, but at points too bizarre.

61. Friendly Fires ‘Friendly Fires’ (XL) – Mightily decent debut, ‘Paris’ is just timeless.

60. Blood Red Shoes ‘Box Of Secrets’ (V2) – So much noise for two people. And damn fine noise at that.

59. The Cure ‘4:13 Dream’ (Geffen) – Dips somewhat but generally a good comeback.

58. Spiritualized ‘Songs In A&E’ (Dedicated) – Too much on here but enough of it works just fine.

57. Black Kids ‘Partie Traumatic’ (Columbia) – Not half as annoying as you’d think.

56. Flobots ‘Fight With Tools’ (Universal Republic) – Being influenced by Linkin Park is not a bad thing.

55. Young Knives ‘Superabundance’ (Transgressive) – Some killer tunes here, it just sounds a tad wooden.

54. Does It Offend You, Yeah? ‘You Have No Idea What You’re Getting Yourself Into’ (Virgin) – Nah, nah, it don’t offend me, nah.

53. The Teenagers ‘Reality Check’ (XL) – Weird, rude and downright out there. Pretty good.

Friday, December 19

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 78 to No. 67

78. Laura Marling ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’ (Virgin) – Look, she’s amazing okay. There’s just not enough ‘songs’ on here.

77. Johnny Foreigner ‘Waited Up Til It Was Light’ (Best Before) – Not just Los Camp! spin-offs, but a band in their own right!

76. Ra Ra Riot ‘The Rhumb Line’ (V2) – Some sweet violins and acoustic strings, all for the good of pop sensibility.

75. Snow Patrol ‘A Hundred Million Suns’ (Fiction) – Either this sounds exactly like the previous one or I really don’t get this.

74. Weezer ‘The Red Album’ (Geffen) – By history Cuomo and co are geniuses, but the shifts in this album’s path don’t come off.

73. Frank Turner ‘Love Ire & Song’ (Xtra Mile) – Born in Bahrain, educated at Eton and pretty darn special by way of this.

72. The Gaslight Anthem ‘The ’59 Sound’ (XOXO) – Layered, catchy but just a tad bit samey.

71. The Little Ones ‘Morning Tide’ (Heavenly) – It’s like they threw all their best stuff on the EP, but only a few for the album.

70. Fighting With Wire ‘Man Vs Monster’ (Smalltown) – The hard-work will pay off, but the album is alright at best.

69. Kids In Glass Houses ‘Smart Casual’ (Warner) – Pretty decent debut but could do without the spun-off scene.

68. The Last Shadow Puppets ‘The Age Of The Understatement’ (Domino) – Great idea, great image, good album.

67. Albert Hammond Jr ‘Como Te Llama’ (Rough Trade) – Not as good as the first but still a decent effort.

Wednesday, December 17

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 91 to No. 79

91. Funeral For A Friend ‘Memory And Humanity’ (Join Us) – Does anybody actually care anymore?

90. Mogwai ‘The Hawk Is Howling’ (Wall Of Sound) – Decent comeback record from Scotland’s post-rock posse.

89. White Denim ‘Workout Holiday’ (Full Time Hobby) – Alright but it’s a bit self-indulgent at times.

88. The Streets ‘Everything Is Borrowed’ (The Beats) – Not a bad record but Skinner’s genius goes missing at points.

87. Cage The Elephant ‘Cage The Elephant’ (Relentless) – Promising debut from a band who’ll be big. Very big.

86. The Raconteurs ‘Consolers Of The Lonely’ (XL) – Surprised by the good quality of this record as much as the release.

85. The Wave Pictures ‘Instant Coffee Baby’ (Moshi Moshi) – Good effort if a little dry at points.

84. James Yuill ‘Turning Down Water For Air’ (Moshi Moshi) – Almost too lo-fi, not enough chutzpah.

83. Adele ‘19’ (XL) – Some amazing moments on here, just not everyone happens to be.

82. Dirty Pretty Things ‘Romance At Short Notice’ (Rough Trade) – Surprisingly good second album. Still, we’re better off without em.

81. Tilly & The Wall ‘O’ (Moshi Moshi) – ‘Beat Control’ is ace, but album’s a little too samey.

80. Hot Club De Paris ‘Live At Dead Lake’ (Moshi Moshi) – Almost too much going on to be gripping.

79. XX Teens ‘Welcome To Goon Island’ (Mute) – Weird, strange and bizarre. And pretty darn good too!

Monday, December 15

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 103 to No. 92

103. Keane ‘Perfect Symmetry’ (Island) – Hugely disappointing bar the first three tracks.

102. CSS ‘Rat Is Dead’ (Sub Pop) – No longer cute, now just annoying. Plus second album is a bum.

101. Operator Please ‘Yes Yes Vindictive’ (Brille) – Jeez, where did these go? Weak debut nonetheless.

100. Panic At The Disco ‘Pretty. Odd.’ (Fueled By Ramen) – Pretty. Overrated and not so great.

99. Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly ‘Searching For The Hows And Whys’ (Atlantic) – Below-par number two compared to number one.

98. Sons And Daughters ‘This Gift’ (Domino) – Actually quite good compared to their previous.

97. The Courteeners ‘St. Jude’ (Polydor) – Manchester’s rock saviours my ass.

96. Forever The Sickest Kids ‘Underdog Alma Meter’ (Universal) – ‘Whoa Oh!’ is faultless. All else is not.

95. ¡Forward, Russia! ‘Life Processes’ (Cooking Vinyl) – Not a terrible album by any means, but the hiatus makes sense.

94. Conor Oberst ‘Conor Oberst’ (Merge) – Like a Bright Eyes record, potentially great but only good.

93. The Verve ‘Forth’ (Parlophone) – Front single one of this year’s best. Album is not.

92. Cold War Kids ‘Loyalty To Loyalty’ (V2) – Something is not right with this record.

Saturday, December 13

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 117 to No. 104

117. The Rascals ‘Rascalize’ (Deltasonic) – If it wasn’t for Mr Turner…

116. Adam Green ‘Sixes And Sevens’ (Rough Trade) – Too expansive, otherwise this would work a charm.

115. Lupe Fiasco ‘The Cool’ (Atlantic) – Rappers also need to figure out how to shorten their records.

114. These New Puritans ‘Beat Pyramind’ (Domino) – Again. Less would be more!

113. The Ting Tings ‘We Started Nothing’ (Columbia) – First half discomfiting. Second half hype-justifying.

112. The Breeders 'Mountain Battles' (4AD) - Even though it's short it's a tough listen.

111. R.E.M. ‘Accelerate’ (Warner) – Once again the lead single portrays their genius, but the rest is below-par.

110. Look See Proof ‘Between Here And There’ (Weekender) – Look see more Libertines-spun blah. Catchy blah though.

109. Peter Bjorn & John ‘Seaside Rock’ (Almost Gold) – Where did all the whistling go?

108. Primal Scream ‘Beautiful Future’ (Atlantic) – They get better with age but they’ve still not hit their peak.

107. The Subways ‘All Or Nothing’ (Infectious) – Second Album Syndrome bit these in the butt.

106. Foxboro Hottubs ‘Stop Drop And Roll’ (Jingle Town) – Bring. Back. Green. Day.

105. Wild Beasts ‘Limbo, Panto’ (Domino) – Overrated Band Of Horses-types that dare touch the latter’s class.

104. Metallica ‘Death Magnetic’ (Warner) – Decent return but little dynamism on show.

Thursday, December 11

Shout And Twist's Albums Of 2008 - No. 131 to No. 118

Right then. Here we go. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting up my albums of the year, in order, all one-hundred-and-thirty-one, from the most dreadful to the very best...

131. One Night Only ‘Started A Fire’ (Vertigo) – Worst Album Of The Year. Don’t let em fool you.

130. The King Blues ‘Save The World. Get The Girl’ (Island) – Shameful cockney trollop.

129. Katy Perry ‘One Of The Boys’ (Capitol) – Single good. Album shocking.

128. The Fratellis ‘Here We Stand’ (Interscope) – Soulless and bigotry-enducing.

127. Stephen Malkmus With The Jicks ‘Real Emotional Trash’ (Matado) – Bring. Back. Pave. Ment.

126. The Metros ‘More Money Less Grief’ (1965) – Shameful cockney trollop take two.

125. The Automatic ‘This Is A Fix’ (Polydor) – Ahhh what could have been.

124. Youthmovies ‘Good Nature’ (DiS) – Disappointing debut. Vocals sucks bad.

123. Guillemots ‘Red’ (Fiction) – Get over it.

122. Sam Sparro ‘Sam Sparro’ (Island) – One or two dance anthems. Ten-odd scumbuckets.

121. Black Mountain ‘In The Future’ (Jagjaguwar) – Overwrought and motionless psych-rock.

120. Figurines ‘When The Deer Wore Blue’ (Paper Bag) – Melodic Danish pop that too many do better.

119. You Me At Six ‘Take Off Your Colours’ (Slam Dunk) – Semi-Taking Back Sunday blather from Surrey.

118. Secret Machines ‘Secret Machines’ (Reprise) – Like every Secret Machines record, one killer tune out of eight.

Monday, December 8

Two Thousand And Eight

And so yet a further twelve months pass by busy-bodied with heartbreaking band splits, horribly packaged 'indie' fellowships looting the limelight from Death Cab, and a damned sorry record from The Automatic. Ah jeezabloodyloo. Just why do we put ourselves through such a trying musical game of hopelessness and aggravation? Because it's the best darn thing since slice bread. That's why.

First up for Shout And Twist's marshal-up of 2008 is the pivotal proclamation of 'Shout And Twist's Favourite Liverpool Band Of The Year':

Wave Machines
Done. On Thursday the rundown for Shout And Twist's Albums Of The Year will commence. And there's a good 131 records to get through, so don't miss it!

Thursday, December 4

Dreams Can Come True

Monday, December 1

November - Album Of Last Month

The Killers 'Day And Age' (Island)

Now then. When it comes to big bands releasing big third albums within the last twelve months, or even the last two, Kaiser Chiefs' effort was strong but too inconsistent, Razorlight's had nearly as many 'What-the-fuck-was-that?' moments as it did glorious ones, and Bloc Party's,was, well, actually pretty darn superb. Another which has more in common with the strength of Kele and co's is that of The Killers. Forget the ever-disputable/inane line of "Are we human or are we dancer?", 'Day And Age' is one of 2008's most complete records, and possibly Flowers and the gang's very best. 'Losing Touch' is equipped with all the vigor and suspense an opening track should, while we've already been acquainted with the prowess of 'Human' and 'Spaceman'. 'Joy Ride' wanders though a big-but-not-'Mr Brightside'-big side to the Las Vegas quartet, all in the manner of some 80s dance-cheese you don't feel guilty figuring it's fucking awesome. Things sorta pull down for 'Neon Tiger', but all is forgiven for the dreamy bliss straightening up inside 'Goodnight, Travel Well'. If 'Hot Fuss' was a dazzling first impression, and 'Sam's Town' was the sound of them transmogrifying, then 'Day And Age' is The Killers reveling in their own mighty flair and great desires. Brilliant.

Download
Joy Ride

Thursday, November 27

Accidents Never Happen

Judging by the earth-straddling success of Abba, ditching your native tongue for the English vernacular is a damn fine marketing move. Not that Liverpool-based Norwegians Accidents Never Happen croak out an organised chaos of emo-tive babel Les Savy Fav only less-scholarly might supply all for the spin-off stage musical and band-dedicated museum. The severe ‘Bloody Valentine-sorta tremors that deform inside ‘It Made Sense Yesterday’ are plucked from one-of-two homemade records, while co-front men Jesper and Magne induce more passion into their live shows than J-Bo does his locks. These aint in this to be tagged Masters of the Underground. That’s come by accident.

Accidents Never Happen Myspace

Monday, November 24

Angus & Julia Stone

Brother-sister duos. Hmm. What's that? The White Stripes? Ah jeez, they are like so 2004. Get over it! And come take a look at Angus & Julia Stone, who... erm, er, sound a, erm, a bit like, er, erm, Jack and Meg White from that old American band. Only like Angus and Julia use acoustic guitars, whereas, erm, from what I remember, er, oh, Jack and Meg, I can't actually remember there band name, erm, don't. A&JS are from Newport, no not that Newport OC Newport! But Newport in Sydney. In Australia. Like the whole other part of the world. Excuse the fact they toured with Newton Faulkner, well, try to anyway. And DL em up below. They're good. Probably the best brother-sister due since, erm, what are they called again?

Download
Mango Tree

Angus & Julia Stone Myspace

Thursday, November 20

Kenan Bell

Kenan Bell aint your average rap dogg. He used to be a primary school teacher in Montrose, California. He also remixed an MGMT track. Oh, and he hates hip-hop. That's right. A rap star who used to pray to the lord begging not to end up as one like Fiddy. This rapper makes use of what he labels 'emotronic' to base the samples of his every day musings about Pete Wentz's naked web-straddled photo in instantly awesome tune 'Good Day'. I'm not quite up-to-the-minute on the latest state of all things hip-hop, but what I have heard is that it's in bad shape. If Kenan Bell can convince me of his potential genius, he's the man to save it all.

Download
Good Day

Kenan Bell Myspace

Monday, November 17

You Me At Six

If the present-day spurt of newfangled Brit pop punk posses is anything to go by, these five hipsters and their newly found kudos – a Top 25 debut album smash followed by a recent Fall Out Boy support slot – deserve to be taken seriously. The semi-Taking Back Sunday brouha they slapped together a few weeks back at Liverpool's teeny bopper-crammed Carling Academy does not. Singer Josh Franceschi was whining atop the kind of so-so emo blather that awes Fearne and Reggie, before opting to direct the YMA6 faithful into a full-proof mosh pit like a nagging jester at Jack Osbourne’s 10th birthday party. Blame Green Day.

Download
Forgeddaboutit!

Thursday, November 13

Grammatics

In my opinion, Boston were never as legendary as their artwork suggested. Neither are Ween for that matter. But Grammatics, the Melodramatic Popular Song four-piece from Leeds, just may be. First, the artwork; Previous discography has featured an empty gig venue (always awesome since Foos' video for 'One By One'), an cool-looking old fireplace from like the 1800s, and a double bass situated next to a tall lamp. This may sound dull, but head to their Myspace at the bottom link and see for yourself how cool it all looks. Even their T-shirts have got it going on, hell even their Myspace layout looks all sweet and tidy. And, as I typed a few lines ago, they've only got the tunes to match it and all. 'New Franchise' is I Was A Cub Scout feasted to Alfred Hitchcock prior to metamorphosing into Bloc-type lushness. It's really good. They're artwork's really good. Grammatics are really good.

Download
New Franchise

Grammatics Myspace

Monday, November 10

Lukestar

Besides Great Britian and North America, it could be argued Scandinavia are the most dexterous when it comes to molding stupendous indie. If it's worth me toting up a few names to back up my avowal, I'm talking Bjork, Sigur Ros, The Hives, The Cardigans, erm, Abba. A radio-sociable record and a whole lot more attention, and Lukestar could too be in transit for mega-huge rock star greatness. Based in Oslo, Norway, the five-piece got underway in '95, and alloy wholesome Pavement indie and hardcore punk like no other. 'White Shade' sashays in all kinds of directions, but they pull it off gleamingly. Power to the math rock. Power to Lukestar.

Download
White Shade

Lukestar Myspace

Thursday, November 6

Matt Pond PA

Considering they just voted in their first black president in what was one of the most significant days in global history (like, since Dinosaurs or something), I forced it upon myself to base Shout And Twist's next focus on an American artist. Which, considering it's total outpour of top notch music for decades (like, since Sinatra or something), really wasn't that hard. Matt Pond PA are from Philadelphia, aka The City of Brotherly Love, and have been gracing their presence upon the surface of Planet Earth since '98. That may explain his (the singer's called Matt Pond, his band are the PA bit. I'm guessing the latter.) total love of covering Oasis, or at least that one song they acclimatised themselves to for The OC. That was when I first heard of him, or them, or whatever, but then last week whilst gazing upon (too much 'upon'?) E4's repeats of season two, I detected another track which must have passed me by during it's original airing. 'New Hampshire' is simply gorgeous, all saccharine acoustic strings and Death Cab-subtle choruses. Almost as if it's fell off The Photo Album and Gibbard was too busy being stun by deadly scorpions to notice. Download. Listen. Buy!

Download
New Hampshire (If Matt Pond PA's people don't like be putting the song available to download please can you just email me, rather than get Google to take down my entire post, à la Red Light Company last week. Thank you!)

Matt Pond PA Myspace

Monday, November 3

Red Light Company (Again)

Back in August I blog'd about London five-piece Red Light Company, suggesting there's more of a chance Hull City will survive this season's Premier League relegation tussle than RLC releasing "a few actually interesting, angular pop tunes". Now, after witnessing the Yorkshire football club's tiresome performance against my own beloved team at the weekend, I, erm, regret what I said, and would now be surprised if they aren't playing in the world's best league next season. However, it's too become apparent that Red Light Company, the band I bundled in with "One Night Only's false-indie", aren't half-bad either. 'Scheme Eugene', their newest release, is both 'interesting' and 'angular', sounding like Isaac Brock from Modest Mouse beating on each of The Envy Corps. So, to clarify, Hull City will be playing Premiership football next season, and RLC are pretty darn special.

Saturday, November 1

October - Album Of Last Month

Eugene McGuinness 'Eugene McGuinness' (Domino)
In all honesty, I was a tad disappointed with this. Long before Shout And Twist launched itself upon the interweb with a post singing the praises of Eugene McGuinness Super Talent, I'd been anticipating this very album. Last year's EP 'The Early Learnings...' was one of 2007's finest fabrications, pretty much defining the sweet spirit of Xmas by way of sumptuous chimes and majestical wonders of a city I know all too well. The album though, 'Eugene McGuinness', doesn't quite define winter 08. Yeah, said-sumptuous chimes and majestical wonders are there, but I can't help wonder where the pop delicacies of 'A Girl Whom My Eyes Shine For But My Shoes Run From' and 'Bold Street' have gone, besides the witty Hollywood ending to 'A Girl Whom...'. So why is it Album Of Last Month? Two reasons. Firstly the latest efforts from both Kaiser Chiefs and Snow Patrol were somewhat dissatisfying, though The Cure's was a pleasant surprise. Secondly, it's still pretty darn brilliant. The glacé-stringed wackiness all at the foot of a voice so timeless it borders Ella Fitzgerald in the company of a pissed up Zach Condon works effortlessly in 'Nightshift', 'Disneyfied' and 'Fonz'. The Sparklehorse-type illusions within 'Knock Down Ginger' interlaced with an all-the-more twisted Jeffrey Lewis does too. It's almost perfect anyway.

Download
Knock Down Ginger

Thursday, October 30

The Death Set

You know those bands that gather hype and more hype all year until it kinda stops and you wonder, 'Hmm, what hapenned there?'. Well, The Death Set are just one of those lots, though it was only a few weeks ago when I opted to lend em my ears. And it wasn't even by choice, it was during my usual routine of watching/fast-forwarding 120 Minutes until something 'good' came on. So 'Negative Thinking' did, and I was like well impressed. Right there and then the Artrocker front cover was justified. It's an agreeable bit of never-annoying tuneage that marries all kinds of Korg keys and recurring techno talk and relentless drum pounds and rumbling vocals, all of which ends up like the indie equivalent to the iPhone or something. Jeez that makes no sense, but then neither does the hype-pause of this lot.

Download
Negative Thinking

The Death Set Myspace

Monday, October 27

Middle Class Rut

Some bands don't know how to bonus from the hype they garner. Middle Class Rut may not be blessed with a Wikipedia page yet, and one of em may look like one of em from Iglu & Hartly, but they sure as hell know how to book a gig in London town. Or at least their people do. Come November MCR (no, not that MCR!) will be hitting five whole venues across the UK's capital, shooting their load of candy-coated meaty straight-up rock all over the city. They've spent their careers driving vans over the flatlands of USA, but now - and I quote from their Myspace blog - they're "Looking forward to a change of scenery, culture and backwards running toilet water. I used to be a big Dr. Who fan (circa late 80s) so gettin in one of them phone booths is on my list of things to do." There's actually two of them, which once you cloak your ears around new single and the reason I'm writing this post, 'Busy Bein' Born', comes as a stupefaction. You'll be as excited as they are.

Download
Busy Bein' Born

Middle Class Rut Myspace

Thursday, October 23

Bon Iver

I am ashamed. So, so ashamed. Utters of the name 'Bon Iver' were thrown my way months back, but I never caught on enough to venture out in to the world external of Noah & The Whale, Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons to figure, "Hey, wait a minute, Wisconsin seem to be pretty good at this whole alt.folk thing too." Not only the setting of relatively funny American TV sitcom 'That 70s Show', and also Watford FC centre back Jay DeMerit, Wisconsin USA is the place the creator of one of this year's best albums calls home too. Bon Iver himself calls it 'neo-soul'. Shout And Twist totally agree, whilst too getting a little teary eyed-causing lo-fi tranquil acoustic Iron & Wine-but-better cogency from 'For Emma, Forever Ago' as well. If there's one more record you plan to lose yourself in this October, make sure it's this one. God I sound like Woolworths.

Download
Creature Fear

Bon Iver Myspace

Monday, October 20

Eastern Conference Champions

American TV sitcoms are not just the basis of powerful, hilarious and moving scripts that sometimes just can't help but embarrass the rest of the world at trying to write great telly. Well, some of em anyway. They too hold a purpose to showcase some of our planet's finest musical thespians. The OC told me about Patrick Park, Friends told me about Interpol, Dawson's Creek told me about Alanis... well, we won't go there. And now thanks to NBC's wonderfully written Life, starring Damien Lewis as a detective which is coming to ITV3 later this year but I've been watching it for over a year cause I'm cool and hip, I discovered Eastern Conference Champions. Philadelphia's ECC are a tad above your average big, brooding indie rock that just slips in the right side of The Script, with the likes of Coldplay, Editors and White Lies for company. Wrap your ears around killer tune 'The Box'. Then go watch Life from the first ep. Two great tips. One great blog.

Download
The Box

Eastern Conference Champions Myspace

Thursday, October 16

Lo-Fi-Fnk

It took me ages to Google these after I caped my ears all around em on 120 Minutes the other evening. Not because they're so little-known you have to stalk though hundreds of results to find their Myspace page, but because I televisually noted their band name wrong. They're not Lo-Fi-Funk, Finland's jazz-heavy posse who outside of their country are known as trekkies, but Lo-Fi-Fnk, Sweden's disco house Moshi Moshi-tagged masters. 'Change Channel' would be a taxing listen if it wasn't for this constant glam of a sweet key bar barging into the tune at what seems like the most appropriate of times. Jeez, what is happening to me? First DJ Mujava, now Lo-Fi-Fnk. I've been bitten by the nu-house bug and I'm lovin' it!

Download
Change Channel

Lo-Fi-Fnk Myspace

Monday, October 13

Hockey

When The Automatic very first rolled up onto the 'scene', I, like most people, thought much of them. There was nay snobbery, just pure downright indie durability. Then 'Monster' happened. Like an England second half at Wembley, it all went a tad loco. It wasn't at all their gain in eminence, but just how nettlesome the song had become. It was almost unlistenable. Same kinda thing could well happen to Hockey. Right now I cannot dig 'Song Away' enough. It's total pop gold, spread like Team Waterpolo sprawling in the sweetest jam possible with only Lizzie McGuire when she's at her least annoying for company. But there's that slight feeling that in the midst of what will no doubt be total hysteria once they reach our shores from Portland come December, it'll go a bit, well, Automatic. Until then though, they're ours.

Download
Song Away

Hockey Myspace

Thursday, October 9

Mike Bones

Just because Mike Bones inhabits inside the present-day talent pool of New York doesn’t mean he's all new woven punk and riveting anecdotes, prep’d up to vie with contemporaries of Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Amazing Baby. He is however pretty darn gifted, and prefers to shelve out a more euphoric pop-based stringy anthem rather than just another single of the year like 'Kids' or 'A Punk'. Forty-odd plays in and I'm still not sick of 'What I Have Left'. Judging by his Myspage page he doesn't gig all that much either, which as much as it is annoying, gives him a sense of mystery. Though if he ever does show his face outta Brooklyn town, he'd probably go and rule the world.

Download
What I Have Left

Mike Bones Myspace

Monday, October 6

DJ Mujava

I never normally do this. And by this I mean listen to washy house music. And by normally I mean pretty much ever. But I've certainly got time for DJ Mujava. His tune 'Township Funk' has been shagging the late night Radio 1 playlist (where I first heard it) for a few weeks now, and currently my text message-ringtone too. The rush of bizarre spacey clatter just wishy-washing in and out of the song - it feels like an absolute anthem. I'm not a big clubber but if I was in some hot new club at 2 in the morning, with the dance floor relatively full, and this came on, I'd jump feet first in the middle and shake my ass off like there's no tomorrow. Possibly. But if it gives me those kind of fantasies, then you know it's a special piece of melody.

Download
Township Funk

DJ Mujava

Thursday, October 2

Forever The Sickest Kids

In hip-hop speak, 'Sickest' means 'the best ever', 'cool' or 'awesome'. This makes total sense when you take Dallas powerpop-punk troupe Forever The Sickest Kids into account. All six members chanced upon another at high school and college, and in 2006 FTSK was hatched. Simple story, but if there Wikipedia page is anything to go by, this is a better on; Front man Jonathan Cook got so excited at the promise of his new band that he spent about £180 on a front page song placement on PureVolume, even though they were yet to record a single note. But rather than backfire at the band like Juande Ramos and his Top 4-cracking plan, this meant they were imposed to head into a studio and make 'Hey Brittany', which was so darn special major labels were turned on over em. Universal Motown won, and three EPs later, the debut record, 'Underdog Alma Meter', hit the Billboards like Giovanni smacked his past Arsenal. Well, it went in at No. 45. But after laying my own ears around its glossy Get Up Kids-take'd alt.punk shine, I've got a strange suspicion that sometime next year it'll be re-released to a much wider appeal, blasting them off into Fall Out Boy territory. They really are that good.

Download
Whoa Oh! (Me Vs Everyone)

Forever The Sickest Kids Myspace

Wednesday, October 1

September - Album Of Last Month

Glasvegas - Glasvegas - Columbia

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but for about fifteen minutes in late June this year I was holed up in a radio studio with the four members of Glasvegas. All year I'd heard nonstop superlatives slapping them as 'The most exciting British prospect since the Arctic Monkeys', or 'The most important debut record since 'Definitely Maybe', not forgetting 'The best band to come out of Scotland. Ever.' It seemed that hype hadn't got so heated since Turner and co blasted off three years ago. Then it happened. The moment in which I too jumped on the bandwagon of hysteria to claim Glasvegas as something a little more than just special. It came after the band played 'Daddy's Gone', and band leader James Allan trodded over to the corner of the studio, held his head in his hands, and took a few moments to clear his head before he could take off again. The effect the words had on him, the passion that evoked from his voice afterward, and just the shear tenacity of emotion songs like that can have - it was all so mesmerising. There's not one or two highlights from 'Glasvegas'. The whole thing is spectacular.

Download
The whole thing!

Glasvegas Myspace

Monday, September 29

Cheeky Cheeky And The Nosebleeds

Band names stand for everything. If Radiohead actually went with their first thought for a title - On A Friday - they might never have made such an impact on our amenable planet. And for Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds, such a curious moniker could only ever make sense fronting the kind of short-sharp indie-pop this five-piece from Suffolk very much formulate.
“Ali, our drummer, hadn’t ever said a word up until the age of 10 or 11, like literally never learnt to speak,” begins co-singer/guitarist Charlie, the brainiest-looking of the ‘Nosebleeds. “So our parents made us start hanging around with him to make him feel welcome, and after a couple of weeks he just came out with his first ever words, ‘Cheeky cheeky and the nosebleeds’. We just clicked with him after that.” Either this is the best band name story ever or they’re as much fibbing now as One Night Only are to themselves.
Currently cushioned into a long-stretch leather sofa in the upper-most tier of Camden’s tidiest of hangouts, Koko; Ali (drums), Thom (bass), Christian (guitar), Rory (vocals) and Charlie seem to possess a real comradeship to their pack, which could only be after mingling for so long. “We tried to form a super-team at first. Like Tony Blair on guitar, Mo Mowlam on drums cause we thought Moe Tucker, The Velvet Underground drummer, then ‘Mo’ Mowlam. But it didn’t work so we thought ‘Let’s not try and form the best band in the world, let’s try and become the best band in the world’, and here we are sitting at the top of the pile today,” kids Charlie.
Joke they may but give last single ‘Slow Kids’ a spin and it’s just downright hard not to skip and jig to its disco-laden magnetism whilst yelping ‘Single of the year!’ Re-releases generally suck but this is a song that just desires to be No. 1. “We couldn’t imagine not trying to make pop music,” admits Rory, before Charlie adds, “We don’t set out to alienate anyone. We don’t wanna push people away.”
Gaze under the ‘Influences’ sector of their Myspace page and you’ll see only the line, ‘Pop Music 1955-2008’. Erm, any specifics? “Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Orange Juice, Gang Of Four, Blur, Blur… BLUR,” they roar like Power Rangers morphing into action. Rory tells, “Five minutes before going onstage at Underage (Festival) they played ‘There’s No Other Way’, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We all just looked at each other and knew.”
“We always try and stay out of scenes cause their well shit. Every one ends up so tangled in their own scene,” states Rory, sitting up and looking all intent. Yet luckily for he and his band it’s almost fair to say there’s few others out there right now riding that similar of a wave. “Because I wear glasses normally people say ‘Ah, Young Knives’,” Charlie makes known. Still, this lot’s brand of guitar-fiddly breakdowns and powerpopping vitality oomph’s up where said-Knives debatably doesn’t. Live favourite ‘Secret Agent Girl’ changes pace more than Joe Lean does his mind, while sure-fire future single ‘I’ve Grown Quite Fond Of You’ plays on infectious Television-like harmonies.
“When we first started we felt super-under pressure. You’d have people saying ‘Oh, so-and-so’s here to see you, so-and-so’s here to see you’. But we’ve kind of managed to get over that now,” declares Rory, who just a few hours later is full of zip dashing about Koko’s stage, plainly ready for the next level. And a much-anticipated tour this month sees them stop off practically everywhere around the nation. “You see us at the end of that tour,” warns Charlie, “We won’t even be speaking. We’re just sync each other’s minds!”
Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds may be hard to take seriously but there is one thing absolute about this lot: They’ve got the tunes to go a whole lot further than most.

Cheeky Cheeky And The Nosebleeds Myspace

Thursday, September 25

Rod Thomas

If the present-day fixation on folk and all its trappings is anything to go by, this young troubadour from the Welsh valleys and his acoustic guitar-plus-MacBook kit deserve to be taken seriously. But such I Was A Cub Scout-Lite that relentlessly falls short of unearthing an actual chorus line does not. “Hi my names’ Rod Thomas and this is what I sound like,” he declared at London's Water Rats theatre a couple weeks back. Synth-stodgy loops that even Joseph Arthur does better? Soppy lust songs that dare touch the class of Marling and Flynn? A puzzling conclusion of solely Thomas and his banjo just to churn out something suggestive of Dashboard Confessional in his prime? No ta.

Download
It just aint worth it

Rod Thomas Myspace

Monday, September 22

The Virgins

Live Review
The Monarch, London - Friday September 12

Just because The Virgins inhabit inside the present-day talent pool of New York, doesn’t mean they’re inevitably gifted, all new woven punk and riveting anecdotes, prep’d up to vie with what would-be contemporaries of Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Amazing Baby. But if their as yet Stateside only debut record is anything to go by, this cramped north London pub is all set to experience one more add-on to NME’s Bands Making America Cool Again.
Dolled up in the manner of a scrawny Kid Rock modelling a flowery neck bandana, band leader Donald Cumming sure seems pumped. ‘Radio Christiane’ bears out if there’s one band lugging back The Strokes’ spirit of 01 into the current stream of 08 NYC it’s this lot. But as opposed to exhausting the exact same sluggish garage-feel (see under Tokyo Police Club), The Virgins are sugaring up their guitars via funk’d up thumps and soulful breakdowns, just ideal to groove to. Not that this typically still London crowd are getting down, even in the wake of a now pissed off Cumming yelling, “We don’t come over here every week you know!”
Then comes ‘She’s Expensive’, swelling up like ‘The Menace’-era Elastica by means of springy bass courtesy of the mirror image of a paunchy Pete Wentz, on top of which are Cumming’s routine dame-centric mumblings. Saving the best till last, ‘Rich Girls’ is what all in here have been yearning for, and where The Virgins truly glisten from the disco-burdened rock they’ve suggested all night.
This isn’t the seminal moment that’ll blast these off into the ever-aching hype machine, but a further example of why the capital of the world kicks butt more than any other. And don’t hate em cause their mates with Ronson.

The Virgins Myspace

Thursday, September 18

Pavilion

Ryan Jarman doesn't have a Wikipedia page for nothing. Not only does he find the time to make ultra fine Cribs records, engage indie girls from Harrow named Kate Nash, and convince that former-Smiths legend joining his band is the best thing he can do to make sense of his ludicrously tight Levis. But now Jarman is a producer and all. At least for Pavilion, his buddies from Wakefield. Considering the man's comments at last year's Glastonbury - "The mainstream attitude of indie bands today is a bigger problem than global warming" - Pavilion sound little like The Cribs, and more like most mainstream indie bands today. 'Spoils Of War' anyway, ruffles its feathers through a big, epic almost Editors landscape, finger-picking Modest Mouse (Marr's other band) strings but without all the screeching. It's brave for a first tune, but that's probably exactly the kind of attitude Jarman years for in the big bands of now. And these could be one.

Download
Spoils Of War

Pavilion Myspace

Monday, September 15

The Gaslight Anthem

The ever-aching hype machine can be a hard thing to measure sometimes. But if there's one band leading the pack of Indie's Most Fussed About it's probably The Gaslight Anthem. Deserved? Well, judging by the one we'll all be sick of by the time the record is punctured into our brains enough times - The '59 Sound - yes, very much so. Swelling up in the manner of a good version of The Hold Steady riding on the coat tails of mid-80s Springsteen, it's mighty for sure. They can tour with post-hardcores like Thrice and Rise Against, yet they can one-day open for mega-huge acts like Editors or Kings Of Leon. It's a 'universal' sound that you've heard a ton of times before, but works today all deodorised in America's newfangled talent-assault on the musical world.

Download
The '59 Sound

The Gaslight Anthem Myspace

Thursday, September 11

Mumford & Sons

Live Review
George IV Chiswick, London - Sunday September 7

Just because The Beatles blasted off their trade via Liverpool’s renowned Cavern Club, doesn’t mean every chipper untapped band to play there on a Thursday night will lap up the same generation-defining success. But ‘Blue Flowers’, west London’s monthly evening of stripped-down snug acoustic, seems to parade only indie’s ultra finest early on its paths – see under Jamie T, Laura Marling and Noah & The Whale, each one of whom emerged earlier tonight as unannounced additions to what is the final ever ‘Blue Flowers’ at The George IV. And following Paris’ frail but witty Soko (featuring a helping hand from Kid Harpoon) are headliners Mumford & Sons, presently displaying the kind of pulpy bluegrass just right for a laid-back Sunday.
After wandering about the capital’s newfangled anti-folk hoopla for a little while, these already appear prep’d to vie with their close compadres of said-Marling and Johnny Flynn. Set opener ‘Sigh No More’ swells up in the manner of ‘Parachutes’-era Coldplay, by way of fierce harmonies that trance this over-capacity crowd into stunned silence. The introduction of a fresh-out-the-box banjo leads to ‘White Blank Page’, where band leader Marcus Mumford’s Buckley-set croke twinkles atop chilled Beirut strings daytime radio will one-day no doubt rejoice in spinning to death.
This room’s homely aura fits M&S down to a T, as all four execute their spirited rumpus in rugged shirts and waistcoats standing below a towering double bass. Then comes ‘Sister’, a short-sharp shot in which ‘Fix You’’s sugary chimes stumble upon Cold War Kids’ holy baggage, all for the good of one bulging line; “Don’t test the ones you love, it’ll only tear us down. If you wanna feel alive then learn to love your ground”.
Nearing the end and Marcus concedes, “We feel pretty shit-terrified playing after all of them!” vis-à-vis tonight’s special guests. But they shouldn’t. This was perfect.

Mumford & Sons Myspace

Monday, September 8

The Airborne Toxic Event

Judging only by the band name, one might assume The Airborne Toxic Event to be some doom metal horde who take pleasure from The Britney Breakdown. But they're not, and they probably don't. Much like White Lies and even Glasvegas to some degree, TATE (ooo, just like the art gallery!) are preceding in the stomps of Editors and so - at least deeming from 'Sometime Around Midnight', which not only has 'midnight' in the title but also swells by each post punk'd inflection until it eventually dawdles around in a delirium of anthemia. Red Light Company could only wish they were this good. You'll also more likely to find them wearing black more than any other colour, which says something considering they hail from sunny California. And after doing the whole Conan/Carson circuit around their home country, it's now up to the UK to embrace em. Oh, and their keyboardist went to college with Vampire Weekend. Small world, but an even better one with this lot in it.

Download
Sometime Around Midnight

The Airborne Toxic Event Myspace

Thursday, September 4

Tilly And The Wall

Some bands seem like they've been around for ages. The name 'Tilly And The Wall' has been floating about for a good few years, by way of a couple of records that attained 'critical acclaim' but never high-strung hype. Then comes 'Beat Control', a disco-burdened nugget CSS could only wish their second album was as good as, and one of this year's finest singles. It's nice when bands who seem like they've been around for ages journey you to their Myspace page, make you listen to their hit tune while scouring for UK dates, and sit and wonder at what exactly their back-cat has to offer too. 'O' is their new album, out on Moshi Moshi very, very soon, and features the title 'Tilly And The Wall' squashed into a circle representing an 'O' on the cover. Simple but mightily impressive. Oh, and they use a tap dancer instead of a drummer. A tap dancer instead of a drummer! Right, that's it, where's their merch store?

Tilly And The Wall Myspace

Monday, September 1

August - Albums Of Last Month

That's right. For the second time in Shout And Twist's history there shall be joint winners for Album Of Last Month. Why? Because there's no way I was gonna choose between these two. That's why...

Noah and the Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down - Young And Lost Club
I thought I had my Album Of The Year all worked out. But now I'm not so sure. No matter how many a time '5 Years Time' gets spun to death on stations and channels nationwide, 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down' is undoubtedly the best debut album released this year thus far. Harmony for harmony, horn for horn, heart-rending bowed violin string for heart-rending bowed violin string; there's just not a second-rate strain on here. Leader Charlie Fink's eggshell tones are spell-bounding, firstly laid out in the ever-intensifying '2 Atoms In A Molecule'. "If love is just a game, how come I've never won?" he appeals, pretty much gauging the temper of the next ten tracks. Best of all is 'Do What You Do', a poignant merge of stirring strings and Fink's call to just be yourself. Dark and intense wordplay seated above quite the opposite in soft and charming acoustic pop is what Noah and the Whale do best, and this record is everything early admirers could've hoped for. Long-time friend Laura Marling and her own awe-inspiring notes are evident throughout, though shine more than ever on 'Mary'. If this truly is the age of folk then Noah and the Whale are the absolute kings.

Download
Do What You Do

Bloc Party - Intimacy - Wichita'Rush-release.' That is the term being endlessly flung around in attachment to the description of this album. Thing is though, I have an inkling this was by no means a rush-release whatsoever, especially as far as Bloc Party were concerned. It is kinda revolutionary (and probably typical of this lot) how they simply chucked up some news on their site just days before it came out, while their coevals from the 04 art-rock shift are either in the middle pages of NME trying to solve an identity crisis (See under The Killers), following all else by releasing two records in one year (See under Kaiser Chiefs), or taking flipping ages perfecting their third album in the backwaters of Scotland (See under Franz). Not that such competition would ever affect Kele and co, because this is a record evident of Bloc Party's constant need to bring forth fresh and stirring music whatever, reflective of the time and space they're in as beings, as well as a band. But is it any good? Well, yes. It's f*cking great. It's raw and it's dirty. It drifts back to the frantic edge of 'Silent Alarm' (Paul Epworth-produced half) at points, moves forwards to the calmer landscapes of 'A Weekend In The City' (Jacknife Lee-produced other half) at others, while adding a whole load more far-out fuzzy guitar backdrop and a darn tough acidity right through. Ten tracks is perfect too, ideally incisive spreading thrusts of love and, well, making love. Such a topic has always been somewhat evident in Kele's wordplay, but here it all seems more personal than ever. If they're are any digs at The Daily Mail or the American government there a whole more subtle this time around. And below the utterances of his imposing relationship are some of the best tunes they've ever devised. Straight off 'Ares' is the ideal smack to get things going, wistfully screaming "War, war, war, war!"; 'Biko' is a model Bloc ditty soused in patent Lee-fashioning; 'One Month Off' mingles Russell Lissack's one-day trademarked pungent string-picking with solar jamboree; then there's 'Ion Square', quite simply the best song Bloc Party have ever made. Though the essence of what 'Infinity' endeavors to put across is much less thought-provoking than the previous two, here they've plainly reveled in their own euphonic class. They are no longer the Gang Of Four-fanatics that once earned them the cover of NME. They are the band who'll clutch you and I into an unknown sweep of sonic blares we'd otherwise dare scope out. And I don't want anyone else to take me there. Bloc Party: The New Radiohead.

Download
Ion Square

Thursday, August 28

Screaming Tea Party

The music industry is crumbling! No one buys records anymore! Kids bunk off P.E. so they can sit at their computer and illegally download lots and lots of albums all day long! Blah, blah, blah. Discount the much haunting fact for one second the music field seems about as enticing as sitting through three minutes of My Family right now, and recall the goodness. For example, Stolen Recordings. They are one of my favourite ever labels. Not only do they hold Pete and the Pirates within their books, but also Let's Wrestle, and now Screaming Tea Party. The latter's name has been flinging about for while, but I've never ventured their way (browsed their Myspace page). Until now. Brand spanking new tune 'Something Disaster' from what I can gather is a tasty treat to come from a forthcoming EP out on Stolen in October. It's basically Dinosaur Jr. very, very stoned on Thurston Moore vinyls with only Conor Oberst by their side to annoy them with constant questions about CBGB's. Aka fucking top dollar. And these, Let's Wrestle and Pete and the Pirates are even playing a whole big show together in Dorset on September 27 as part of some End of the Road festival or something. Now there's a small chance I'll actually be going to this. But you should.

Download
Something Disaster

Screaming Tea Party Myspace
Stolen Recordings

Monday, August 25

Red Light Company

These, for some odd reason, were pulled into the same bracket as Interpol and Editors in this week's NME's Reading/Leeds preview. However, if you've actually ever listened to Red Light Company (rather than looked inside their wardrobe), you'll quite speedily notice they've got a whole lot more in company with One Night Only's false-indie than the dark and very much genuine resonance of the aforementioned alleged Ian Curtis-obsessives. At least that's what signature tune (the one that's getting spun to death on TV and radio) 'Meccano' tells me. It crops up a tad like Christmas in the summer, all subtle chimes and rather V-than-Reading/Leeds mega choruses. I'm sure it won't take too long for the snobby media backlash to begin, but then maybe RLC will surprise us with a few actually interesting, angular pop tunes. Or maybe Hull City will actually stay up.

Download
Meccano

Red Light Company Myspace

Thursday, August 21

Neon Neon

I don't understand why the rest of planet earth isn't in love with Death Cab For Cutie. But then I am one of their greatly loyal followers, and I'm sure same goes for fans of Welsh posse Super Furry Animals. They're just one those 'cult' bands who rather than appeal to the masses, form their own legion of back-cat obsessives. As one on the outside of the SFA, erm, box, I highly doubt I'll ever feel the need to venture past their Greatest Hits, if that. But like Death Cab, their front man too has a two-piece electro-based side-project. Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip (not his real name) have begun to get quite a bit of attention for their recently Mercury Prize-nominated project, Neon Neon. The pretty darn awesome 'I Lust U' has been getting plays all over the place, and brings a complete freshness to Rhys' persona. Saying that, he did release a pretty decent solo album a couple years ago too. Jesus, that man doesn't half like to get around, eh?

Download
I Lust U

Neon Neon Myspace

Monday, August 18

Flobots

This was gonna be a post about School Of Language. But when I was researching I realised they've (or he's) already got an album out. So I figured they're (or he's) already pretty established, only not enough people know about them (or him) yet. So check them (or him) out at some point. But instead I've decided to write about Flobots. Now, from what I can work out they are a six-piece outta Denver obsessed with classical tuneage and Timbaland. Not by any means a bad combo, all of which leads to one of the best darn fine, downright, straight-up, no bullshit tunes of the summer. Correction: of the year. 'Handlebars' has been getting loads of Lowe-love, and it'll only take a matter of seconds in to the track once you've DL'd it below to realise why. There is one catch though, in that you might get a tad sick of it after a week or so. But those instantly love-able thirty-seven plays later annoying-able ones are always the best. Don't hate them cause they're signed to a major. And don't hate them cause they're amazing.

Download
Handlebars

Flobots Myspace

Thursday, August 14

Celebration

Maryland. Not only the American state attached to the UK's best selling cookie despite no actual relevance to cookies whatsoever, but also the home of psych-pop trio Celebration. Their trademarker 'Evergreen', or at least the one I got blown away by on 120 Minutes the other day, is excellent. It takes a while to build but once you get there it's like basking in a bath of Oreo's (actually nice cookies) and chocolate milk with ice. Ahhh. Plus because 'myspace.com/celebration' was taken, they instead added another 'celebration' to their page link, so it's 'myspace.com/celebrationcelebration'. I like it when bands do that, made evident by Puzzle, of Liverpool-fame, and their Myspace link. Yet I'm going digressing away from my point. Just hit the DL below and you'll see. You'll all see!

Download
Evergreen

Celebration Myspace