I really am one of those girls who constantly needs a sound track to her life. I find it difficult to write a blog post without some whimsical song playing in order to focus my attention. I get seriously angry in traffic, but if I put the radio on then I can sit in it for hours. I have play lists for everything: the shower; the gym; the drive to work… even ‘thinking time’ which consists of songs to explore a whole manner of situations.
The Back Room- Editors.
Let’s start with a modern classic. This album really stormed the music scene between July of 2005 and January of 2006 (where it reached no.2 in the album chart). I was still only a little dot, aged 14 and really starting to appreciate music outside of the standard McFly culture that flooded at that time, I was enraptured by its display of emotions. Who knew that happy and sad could run side by side in the same song?! The album builds up from the hauntingly beautiful ‘Lights’ setting the scene of full bodied vocals and interesting guitar beats, it is referring to a love… not quite lost but soon to go ‘everything I’ve always wanted, is right there but soon it won’t be’ it embodies the self doubt that falls hand in hand with a relationship and is certainly something we can all relate to. From here the theme is set and we have ‘All Sparks’, ‘Blood’ and ‘Munich’ as singles. In many ways they remind me of Joy Division, the strange but beautiful contrast between upbeat music with heavy heartbreaking lyrics. It has a very special place in my heart and is one that I still listen to with continued enthusiasm.
Highlight: My top song off this album is Camera. I implore you to listen.
The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me- Brand New.
This album, and indeed this band, may sit outside of the radar of many of my English listeners. Whilst they are a big American band, their fan base here is not as widespread. I got into Brand New quite recently, in 2009 I saw them at Reading Festival, only knowing one of their songs (Jude Law and a Semester Abroad). I just fell in love. From their first album (your favourite weapon) they have evolved, leaving pop punk in the past and developing into an incredible alternative band. “The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me” (2006) explores the theme of religion in a curious way. Lead singer Jesse Lacey wrote the album whilst he was at a cross roads in his life having recently ‘found’ the church. However it does not come across as inundated in religious messages. You get the impression of imbalance and indecisiveness that is so applicable to so many stages of life, and that makes it so beautifully brilliant. Typical of the later day Brand New style, they have heavy, crashing, guitars that ring of heart break and raw emotion and mix them with clever lyrics formulated to reach highs and peaks at the same time as the music. In Luca, we hear a song which is very peaceful. The guitars are mellow and Jesse sings in a quiet, breathy, manner. Then all of a sudden everything rips and reaches a clattering high on the line “where you’ve been”. “You Won’t Know” and “Degausser” follow a similar train of thought with heavy emotions being screamed, complimenting delicate verses.
Highlight: ‘Jesus Christ’ is potentially my favourite Brand New Track. There is so many important moments, things that spark emotion and layers to the song that I can’t bring myself to try and put it into words. It is a song that can leave even the most hopeless with an ounce of strength and could make a fighter out of the most feeble minded. Listen, Please.
Read my review from their concert in February here.
Hot Fuss- The Killers
I get the feeling most will have read that title and go ‘ah, I love that album’ maybe even feel the need to stick it on for a nostalgic listen to what is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the last ten years. The Killers are one of those bands that I always forget are massive, that I listened to when I was a very young 12 year old, when they were a small enough band with an incredible debut album. Back then I was very much looking forward to growing up and marrying lead singer Brandon. This is before I realised that would make my name Poppy Flowers, which would be cute for about ten minutes until everyone thought I was a comic book wench. (On that train of thought, I can’t marry anyone with the surname Day or Fields). It was also before that god awful moustache. I have seen the Killers live twice, once at reading 08 when they were rubbish and then at V Festival 09 where they were so perfect I still maintain that it was one of the best days of my life. The album sits between being a concept album and, well, a regular album. It’s hard to say why they didn’t stick to one style, but the songs blend so well together it would be hard to distinguish which songs sit in which camp. For reference “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and “Midnight Show” form part of their murder trilogy which also includes the B side track, “Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf”. The album is clearly influenced by bands such as Joy Division/New Order, The Cure, The smiths and other new wave bands of that period (which incidentally is my Dads era and consequently the bands that I grew up listening to). The tracks are peppered with disco beats and euphoric moments whilst holding on to the alternative edge to help pave the way to the indie scene that arrived shortly after. The album has reached sales of over 4 million and is a 6x platinum album in the UK. I guess that none of us will ever want to stop dancing to tracks like “All These Things That I’ve Done” and “Smile Like You Mean It”.
Highlight: has to be “Mr Brightside”. Me and my best friend, Kate, made up a dance to this when we were about 14 and we haven’t stopped cracking it out since then, it is a spectacular track and certainly will always be very special to me.
American Slang- Gaslight Anthem
Released in 2010, this is the newest of the favourites. It came out at a time when I was really starting to grow into myself. I had shed the shy girl who existed years 7 to 11 and become someone who knew who they were and what they wanted. I say this as though I had some amazing plan with the will to achieve, when really all I was, was happy. This album embodies that feeling, like nothing could graze or harm because the true essence of you is too strong to be tainted. It reminds me of driving on the 1-95 into Washington DC in my Dads sports car, with grimy heat on our necks and trucks charging past. It takes on the life of a sweltering city at aged 19 and free for the very first time, it smells like bourbon and tastes like stale smoke and my god does it feel good. ‘American Slang’ is a step away from their previous albums. Whilst still retaining the nostalgic edge, it is undeniably more modern then previous attempts... less ‘Springsteen’ and more Gaslight. The album kicks of with ‘American Slang’ this name share is apt as it gives a good feel to the direction the rest of the tracks will take- a nice introduction to their own identity. We are taken on a journey through American culture with songs like ‘bring it on’ and ‘the queen of lower chelsea’ providing a sensation of alternative mixed with jazz to create something as smooth as a coke float.
Highlight: Stay Lucky.
Phew that was a long one. Please let me know if you are going to listen to any of these, or already love/hate any of them :)