Current Five Favourites
Hot Chip - 'Hold On'

You could pick one of many from the new Hot Chip album to go in my current listening list but we'll avoid the already released single and instead go for 'Hold On.' It’s a dark and nervy tune and definitely a poppy dance track, the sort of thing that Hot Chip excel at and its encapsulates a lot of the things that I really admire about Hot Chip. A verse that builds and builds, a chorus that lodges in your brain, some fantastic backing vocals (recycled from their remake of Amy Winehouses 'Rehab') and weird lyrics, all topped off with the threat of violence. Perfect!

Sons and Daughters - 'Chains' (An acoustic version is available on their myspace)

It’s almost five years since I first saw Sons And Daughters when I chanced upon one of their first gigs supporting Smog at Cottiers in Glasgow and ever since, I've banged the drum for them and their dark country-pop. Thankfully their new album has passed the quality test yet again and from that, I've selected 'Chains' for pretty much the same reasons for the Hot Chip track, it manages to capture a lot of the elements that make them really likeable. Adeles vocals are spot on, Scott provides tremendous backing "woah-oh-woahs" and there’s an exciting energy which draws on that unique brand of 60s pop which seemed sugar-coated but has a twisted underbelly. It also contains a line saying "a rivers too much to love" which is very similar to 'A River Aint Too Much To Love', which is a Smog album..and Smog were the band who were headlining when i first saw the S&D's which maybe proves there’s some link to all of this...or not!

The Whip - 'Trash'

And whilst we're talking about bands I bang the drum for, it would be remiss to let The Whip pass-by. Yes, over the last year, I've managed to bore or even scare off a sizeable amount of folk about this band and whilst I probably think 'Frustration' is my favourite song of theirs, 'Trash' is the single that is being released in March and so it is likely to be heard by plenty of people soon. They are currently touring with Simian Mobile Disco, they have their own UK tour next month and the album is due out on the 24th of March. The Whip are going to be a name you'll hear a lot over the next few months, so I'm just being polite and giving you an early heads up!

Operator Please - 'Get What You Want'

One of the hotly tipped bands for the year ahead, a bunch of Aussies who have a hard vocal edge and I'm really liking everything I have heard by them so far. I've plumped for this track purely because the guitar riff sounds as though it’s been nicked from the Arctic Monkeys’ 'A Certain Romance.' The lead singer has that classic electro cool twang to her voice and the mini keyboard riff is weedy enough to convince you it belongs on 'Ashes To Ashes.' (How bad was that first episode?? The speedboat scene was ludicrous although the new female lead is definitely worth a watching in her 80s attire.) Operator Please are touring the UK in February and I'm looking forward to checking them out.

Manic Street Preachers - 'Out of Time'

An interesting aspect when considering what current music you like...does it mean current as in "released around now"...or current as in "what matters to
you right now?"

I’m taking the latter for the last selection and for some reason 'Out of Time' is a song that resonates for me at the moment. Last week a good friend of mine got engaged, in the next few weeks my longest standing friend (the rest fell down drunk long ago) and his wife are due to have their second child and its likely that later this year my brother and his wife will emigrate to Australia. These are all amazing things that are happening to people that mean a lot to me and I’m delighted for each and every one of them but you know what it’s like, when you see folk moving on and showing signs of becoming adults when you're not, it makes you wonder! I'm still spending my Friday nights racing from gig venue to club venue in pretty much the same manner that I managed 14 or so years ago (which at times, my friends will probably envy). Sometimes it is a worry and in either an ironic flourish or perhaps it’s the warning klaxons from my inner psyche, 'Out of Time’ has been firmly lodged in my brain in recent weeks.

I’m not really a fan of the Stones version although they obviously get the kudos for writing it but for me, its all about the Chris Farlowe version. Farlowe had the voice but he never made it as big as he could have been (in stature, not weight wise, as he was pretty big with regards to that.) However, in an attempt to keep it temporary, it should also be noted that the Manic Street Preachers did a really good version and clicking the link above, will let you see James Dean Bradfield performing a spirited version on one of Jools Hootenannys!

I also want the Chris Farlowe version played at my funeral...hopefully that won't be in the next week or so but keep this in mind in case you have to organize it.

The Album Pick
Now then, onto the album lodged firmly in the CD player and it has to be said that with the amount of CD reviewing we plough through, its usually current stuff I have playing at home so The Best of The Eels has had much airtime in the flat as has Kathryn Williams’ new one and the latest Sci-Fi Hi Fi compilation by Funk D'Void but lets examine one of the first two major albums that made me think "Wow! This music malarkey really means something."

The first would be The Beatles and 'The Magical Mystery Tour' album on CD but that was really an EP with extra tracks shoved on to fill out the it’s De La Soul with '3ft High and Rising', an album which is never too far away from being played at my gaff.

It had great melodies, it is really catchy and upbeat, it had a lot of funny sketches and in-between bits (I was 10 when I first heard it), the band looked funky as sin and all the samples and overlays completely opened my eyes as to how music could be made and that it didn't have to be drums, bass and guitar. The lyrical wordplay really drew me in and I completely fell in love with
’The Magic Number’ and tried to tell everyone at school about this record. As I said, I was ten and got a few blank looks but a couple of kids, who had brothers about the same age as mine, all got on board and we had a mini De La Soul fan club going! Haha, it never turned us into hip-hop heads and we all remained firmly into the generic indie bands of the day but it is an album that I'd recommend to anyone as one of the finest of its era, genre or decade.

And then I grew up a bit and realised that the title, and one of the key samples, came from Johnny Cash and his '5ft High and Rising' track and started loving the album a little bit more, if that was possible! As already alluded to, everything is all linked up in some form or another; you just have to see how to join the dots.