Number 7. Enjoy
1. Scott H Biram - Been Down To Long
The self proclaimed 'Dirty Old One Man Band' is one of the most original artists around, pushing the boundaries of punk, blues, country, rock and metal to form a sound that is uniquely his. His album 'Graveyard Shift' was one of my favourite albums of 2006, 'Been Down Too Long' is taken from this album. An artist that instantly grabs your attention and refuses to let go, I've been disappointed never to have seen him play live but from a few bootleg recordings I have, it sounds like it would be quite an experience. A tough man to put down, in 2003 he was hit head-on by an 18-wheeler at 75mph. One month later, he took to the stage in a wheelchair with 2 broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and 1 foot less of his lower intenstine and unleashed his trademark musical wrath. Anybody think of another artist who is willing to push themselves that much to play music?? I've got no-one else in mind. For a unique and rewarding listening experience, 'Graveyard Shift' is pretty much essential.
2. Junip - Black Refuge
Swedish band, they released an ep back in 2005 that I'm a big fan of. Only 5 songs, it included an excellent cover of one of my favourite Springsteen songs 'The Ghost Of Tom Joad'. Lead singer Jose Gonzalez is obviously best known for his recent commercial success as a solo artist. Always preferred him in this incarnation though and I'm hopeful that an album will materialise from the band. I think his extraordinary voice reaches a different level when it's backed by a more expansive sound. The ep is available from the site and also through boomkat, which is linked below. Well worth checking out.
3. Devotchka - Head Honcho
A band that are impossible to categorise, much like Biram they create a sound for themselves out of a whole host of influences. Best known for soundtracking the film 'Little Miss Sunshine', they've just released 'A Mad and Faithful Telling' which is one of my early albums of the year. They have a few other releases but I haven't yet heardd any of them. After listening to 'A Mad and Faithful Telling' non-stop for the last week though, I'll definitely be picking up those records. Details on their site. Also look out for tour dates in Europe and America.
4. Wilco - Side With The Seeds (Live)
Taken from a session for WXPN back in 2007, this is a great version of one of the best songs off Wilco's fantastic last record. This is the third time I've featured Tweedy and it certainly won't be the last. One of the truly great songwriters, he continues to take Wilco on new paths, that few bands are willing to go near. Going to be touring America soon, check out the dates on their site.
5. Richmond Fontaine - Polaroid
Been together since 1994, Richmond Fontaine are one of the more critically acclaimed bands of recent times and rightly so. Willy Vlautin's songwriting is absolutely central to the music and he's one of the best storytellers around. 'Polaroid' is taken from 'Post To Wire' from back in 2003. A fantastic album, it was the first I'd heard of them. They've subsequently released two more great albums 'The Fitzgerald' and the most recent 'Thirteen Cities'. They've got a lot of releases so if you like what you hear, there's a lot of music for you to listen to.
6. Brooke Waggoner - Hush If You Must
I know very little of Brooke but what I know is all good. Heard this track and was immediately struck by her fantastic piano playing. She's released a six song EP, (artwork to the left) and you can either buy a cd or it's available to download on iTunes. Haven't got it yet myself but I'm looking forward to it. Her live shows are said to be fantastic, and the other songs available on her MySpace are all excellent. Brilliantly arranged songs, I have high hopes for her to really make it big.
7. The Replacements - Unsatisfied (Live)
One of my all-time favourite bands, this recording is from New York back in 1984. This was when they released what is probably their greatest album 'Let It Be'. Never having been a major commercial success, the band eventually disbanded in 1991. Paul Westerberg, the lead singer and songwriter has gone on to release some excellent solo albums which are well worth buying. 'Let It Be' is the place to start for those who haven't got any Replacements albums.
8. Travis - Selfish Jean (Live)
Much maligned as Travis are, I've always enjoyed their music. I think they were very much a victim of music snobbery when they hit commercial success back in the late 90s, early 2000s. Although not all of their releases have been of the highest standard, I think they write some excellent songs. This track was my favourite off their last record 'The Boy With No Name'. I also saw them live last year in a small venue and it was honestly one of the gigs of the year. I saw them at the height of their popularity, headlining festivals and always followed them since and they still make great music. Look for a new album this year
9. Brendan Benson - I'm Blessed (Live)
Brendan's just released the best album of the year so far with Jack White in The Raconteurs but he's also released some of the finest pop records of the last decade as a solo artist. This track is taken from a KCRW session back in 1996 when he released his excellent first album. He wasn't seen much for 6 years when 'Lapalco' was brought out. 'The Alternative To Love' was released in 2005, before he went on to The Raconteurs. All three are great albums.
10. Ben Gibbard - Thriller (Live)
The lead singer of Death Cab For Cutie went on a solo tour last year where he played Death Cab songs alongside a host of strange covers. This was undoubtedly one of them but he makes it work. From a few shows that I've heard, they were excellent shows and something I'm sure he'll return to in the future. For now he's got a new Death Cab album in the bag and which is due to be released next month.
11. Shout Out Louds - Tonight I Have To Leave It
Coming from Stockholm in Sweden, this 5 piece have put out two excellent pop albums, their debut 'Howl Howl Gaff Gaff' and the follow up 'Our Ill Wills', which is due to be released in the UK and Ireland this May. I saw them last night here in Paris and they put on a great show. They've toured extensively in the past and it shows on stage, they have a real togetherness and play a very tight set. Albums are highly recommended