Archive for December, 2008

A new vintage clothing blog

Posted in Fashion, Living, Nights Out, Vintage T-Shirts with tags , , , , on December 31, 2008 by Richard James Clark II

A friend of mine has a blog with his vintage shades and clothes on it

Check it out

My Top 25 Albums of the year 2008

Posted in Music, News Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 21, 2008 by Richard James Clark II

My top 25 albums of 2008

1 Raphael Saadiq-The way it is

This is my number one album and iTunes editorial teams, some of you haven’t heard this yet, but once you hear it you’ll be hooked. I took a chance on buying this album for 5 quid on Amazon (new? By the way! It ain´t that price now?!?!) by only hearing two tracks and great word of mouth reviews from friends who love black music, but my word this has been the best album I have heard in years. I played this track for track and wondered why Raphael hadn’t released something as great as this before, because for me this album competes with Amy Winehouses Back to Black and in my opinion is better (big statement I know but consider he plays most of the instruments and wrote every song as well it’s an honor to hear this). However ´The way it is´ for me is more authentic and sounds like lost hidden Motown vault tracks from Smokey Robinson, Temptations and Stevie Wonders back catalog rolled into one. I don’t understand why this album has not been promoted in the UK and certainly why tracks are not on the radio playlists, when Duffy and other Amy Winehouse wannabies are. If you want to buy an album which you can leave on and enjoy this is it, it competes with some of the best stuff form the Motown era. I would recommend this album to anyone who loves Motown’s music to up to date neo-soul and radio friendly music, this album has a lot to offer.

Plus if you get the chance check him out live….

Key tracks

Sure Hope You Mean It
One Kiss
Keep Marchin
Love That Girl
Staying in Love
Never Gonna Give You Up

http://www.raphaelsaadiq.com/

2.TV on the Radio-Dear Science

TV on the radio has been known for years on the underground scene and especially the Indie scene in America, New York, Williamsburg and London, Shoreditch. Now this is their breakthrough album which at last delivers all the promise of many years, this is not just an interesting listen but smart and intelligent and at last credible for their talents. Sometimes you wonder if you’re listening to early Prince, other times surprised at some great layered textural indie music. David Sitek’s production mixed with Vocalists Tunde Adebimpe and guitarist/singer Kyp Malone conjures up a popular art-rock masterpiece. Lyrics are not for the faint hearted mostly about death, dead and dying-happy bunch aren´t they?!?. A modern day ´Sign of The Times´ this album creates a backdrop which symbolises americans who hate Bush and have a fear for the future. Highly recommended to indie lovers and people who want something a little different

Key Tracks

Crying
Dancing Choose
Golden Age
Family Tree

http://www.myspace.com/tvotr

3. Erykah Badu-New Amerykah: Part 1

An amazing album which gets better with every listen but for so long music in genres has become stale and you wonder who can take it to a new direction. For Black music D´Angelo´s Voodoo accomplished that back in 2000 but since then no-one else has tried hard enough or if they have failed in coming up with a credible album. In the 1970´s Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, and especially Stevie Wonder pushed soul music to a new direction which was experimental for the time and accessible. Erykah has achieved this for now, until D´Angelos new album makes the light of day. Conscious Soul music struggles to sell or make a resounding impression on young peoples ears, Keite Young’s album I championed last year failed to be promoted and was considered to be too ´rock-orientated´, like Rock and Roll was invented by Black Musicians (Little Richard anyone?). However Erykah has proved her doubters wrong (I doubted her after the last album Worldwide Underground EP which was such a disappointment from the intelligent Mama’s Gun) but this album carries on her influences of Blaxploitation, theology and plants her ideas into a cauldron of catchy hypnotic tunes. The production supplied by Sa-Ra and Jay Electronica who are heavily inspired by J Dilla and other interesting producer’s (George Clinton’s early Funkadelic era -comes to mind) sounds. The music is a mixture of laid back grooves with strange FX and modernistic R &B; it would be like placing Sly Stone’s mind state from ´There a riot going on´ and Black Panther and social commentary ethos into a coffee house poetry session. Pretty amazing, trust me.

Key Tracks

The Healer
The Hump
Soldier
Master Teacher
Telephone

http://www.myspace.com/erykahbadu

4. Fleet Foxes-Fleet Foxes

I am a keen listener to 60´s India/folk such as Britain’s Donovan and especially American groups like Love, Crosby Stills and Nash and the harmonies of The Beach Boys so I have wondered when someone will ever produce a modern day version album or group. So this is it, a band from Seattle when the last revolution was louder in the late 80´s early 90´s of ´Nirvana´ and from the same label Sub Pop. This is another underground music movement, which has built up a quick following. A term which is being used for the groups genre of music is Baroque pop quite relevant hearing their beautiful harmonies and refined lyrics. In the first 5 months the group sold 200,000 copies of their album which is rare for a new act to do, but is well deserved. The music is beautiful to listen to as the whole album or individual tracks and though it is familiar it is highly original and BRAVE, when the music world is going for huge productions or massive media backing this has been successful by its own merits and critically acclaimed. The group’s music will get better as the Sun Giant EP which was recorded after the album is even better musically and shows great promise, a band for the future I assure you.

Key tracks

White Winter Hymnal
Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
Quiet Houses
He Doesn’t Know Why
Blue Ridge Mountains

http://www.myspace.com/fleetfoxes

5. Rachael Yamagata-Elephants….teeth sinking into heart

Rachael Yamagata is not so known to the mass commercial market but you would have heard her songs on soundtracks to programs such as The OC and there is a familiarity about her music. She was unfairly dropped from RCA and her first album Happenstance has beautifully written songs which are have more depth then anything Dido or Norah Jones has released so far. I have been eagerly awaiting the follow up for the last four years. This album doesn’t disappoint, it is more intimate, darker, and vulnerable and has a unique feel to albums currently out this year within the genre. It could be seen as ambitious due to a two CD album but once you have heard the reason it makes perfect sense and this is what I love about this artist, who to me is one of the strongest songwriters to emerge during the early 21st century. The two CDs splits Yamagata’s musical personality into two parts the first disc, Elephants, is closer to the first albums sound with lushly textured ballads, while Teeth Sinking Into Heart plays up the singer’s debt to rock artists like PJ Harvey. The second CD is the surprise and it displays a confidence that wasn’t as evident on Yamagata’s previous releases. Her voice has a new harshness to it and is emphasized during songs like “Sidedish Friend” and “Faster.” Yamagata’s strength as a master of slow-moving, wounded love songs in evident on the first disc Elephants with the bittersweet style using Yamagata´s heartbroken past for melodic effect while dressing up her songs in subtle layers of strings, woodwinds, and acoustic instruments. Her voice again like her debut truly shines even though it seemingly hides from the spotlight, reducing itself to a cracked whisper while delivering her strong content she matches her strong song craft.

Key Tracks

What if I leave
Sunday Afternoon
Duet
Sidedish Friend
Faster

http://www.myspace.com/rachaelyamagata

6. Q-Tip-The Renaissance

At last a record label released an album he’s made, it took 9 years. Unfortunately for Q Tip it is not Kamaal the Abstract Theory which is better then this musically. However on merits alone this album is the best in Hip-Hop for a longtime. All produced by Q Tip himself apart from ´Move´ by the late J Dilla. This album has the originality of Hip-hop firmly placed behind it, I got into Hip-Hop via A Tribe Called Quest when I was 9 years old so maybe I am biased towards Q Tips talent but he doesn’t fail on this album and he hasn’t had to sell out. This is for everyone and is ´Keeping it real´ a change in a genre which has lost reality with itself. Kanye West and Lil Wayne will be championed for either taking risks or writing commercial-accessible music but when it comes to something which is truly original The Renaissance takes that crown. Recommended for anyone who likes Hip-hop especially Conscious (something Common has clearly forgotten about on his last three albums) this is worth buying.

Key Tracks

Getting Up
We fight/ We Love
Move
Believe

http://q-tipnetwork.ning.com/index.php

7. Beck-Modern Guilt

Beck has been pushing boundaries for music for years from the grunge-experimenting Mellow Gold to the over indulgent The Information, his work has been interesting, great at times, but the last two albums for Beck has been playing it safe. So when I heard this album was being produced by Dangermouse I was very excited. I have always been into Dangermouses productions since the infamous Grey Album. His other famous work with Gorillaz, and with Cee-lo for Gnarls Barkley, have always been interesting and pushing boundaries crossing all genres. For this album I heard Dangermouse was citing his 60´s music influence to help Beck and this was an inspired choice and Sea Change started unearthing this and unfortunately the Odelay inspired Guero came out, a complete U-turn which was not needed at all. Modern Guilt is short timing for Beck and especially after the last two peaking up to 80 mins, this album is under 40 mins, an achievement to be reining in his creativity. Beck’s best three albums before this one in my opinion was Mutations, Midnight Vultures and Sea Change all completely different produced mainly by Nigel Godrich but one thing remained all alternative ideas stemmed from this genius musician. With Dangermouse, Beck has found a collaborator who has enhanced his creativity and created many memorable tunes and this is why it is a great return to form. The only issue is it is three albums two late and that is why it isn’t higher for me in this list.

Key tracks

Gamma Ray
Chemtrails
Volcano
Orphans” (featuring Cat Power)

http://www.modernguilt.com

8. Keane-Perfect Symmetry

Now this maybe a surprise to a lot of people, but I think Keane write great songs, yes it is not cool to like Keane but really the only issue for a lot of people and it was a slight issue for me is Tom Chaplins voice but here his voice is closer to Brandon Flowers from The Killers now. The songs of this set are lighter then the previous effort Under the Iron Sea which was a very good album but not enough memorable songs compared to the debut. However this album is a departure from their traditional piano pop sound with the band now using guitars and a reliance on synthesizers which is used to great affect with the 80´s synth pop influence. This is a bold statement after the troubles the band went through during the last albums recording and Tom Chaplins visit to The Priory in 2006 but these songs are melodic and sound different to the output I would expected at the moment from a band like Keane it is like rediscovering a lost album by Aha but that is not a bad thing. Check this out you won’t find a dud track on it.

Key tracks

Spiralling
Better then this
You haven´t told me anything
Perfect Symentry
Again and Again

http://www.myspace.com/keane

9. Bloc Party-Intimacy

Bloc Party are one of these interesting groups that you always hope will come up with great music. Their debut Silent Alarm was met with critical acclaim and everybody (Critic’s and Indie fanatics) believed the group to have huge potential. However ´A Weekend in the City´ was a huge disappointment to my ears and to others and I wondered if they could ever match up to the potential of the debut. Intimacy has had mixed reviews, but at last this is showing Bloc Party can create an album that takes risks and shows their great musicality. The group is using all their influences especially of London based music landscaped within this album. Sometimes you are wondering if you are listening to tracks with Grime, Big Beat, Indie, and Punk elements. The lyrics are a bit ropey and could be a lot better surprisingly with the talented individuality of lead singer Kele Okereke with his sophisticated wit but the arrangements which the group has come up with are amazing. A lot of critics have said this album mixes the first two together; I would disagree not to be awkward but because actually it is a natural progression and the next album is the last for the label so this has a lot of weight for the group. One of the clear differences from this album to the first two albums is via one example you will clearly hear the first two tracks are relentless and other tracks have a very distinct sound and mood which shape the album into a great record. If TV on the Radio hadn’t released their album this would have been a lot higher and that is the level Bloc Party need to reach to fulfill their potential.

Key Tracks

Ares
Mercury
Trojan Horse
Talons
Better Then Heaven

http://www.blocparty.com

10. Santogold-Santogold

For at least 6 months before this year started I heard on the grapevine of two acts Santogold and Kid Sister being the closest thing the US had to MIA. The comparison to MIA is very unfair on Santogold but isn’t that far removed. But in honesty I prefer Santogold. Santi White has been writing songs for years and had released albums as the lead singer of ´Stiffed´ a Philadelphia based punk rock band. The punk influence is not that subliminal on this album but her mix of reggae/dub, new wave and 80´s pop melodic sensibility has made this album a joy to listen to. When I bought this album I didn’t expect many decent songs maybe two at most but I have enjoyed this album immensely and was glad for this to come out. I was disappointed with KALA by MIA which I thought was lazy and very over hyped a bit like MIA´s debut (but I preferred that a lot more). The impressive issue for Santogold is that she makes no apologies for her music you take it for what it is and the worst thing I have seen is regarding it as Hip-Hop, Rap and R & B where none of them influences are clear on this album, and is down to lazy journalism. The only link perhaps is some underground hip hop producers working on the debut such as Naeem Juwan of Spank Rock and XXXchange. For me if more work like this album was out music could become a lot more interesting then stereotyped into boxes and break down racist barriers. You can write, produce anything you want and I can´t wait for the follow-up and I believe this name will be around for a longtime.

Key tracks

L:E.S. Artistes
Shove It
Creator
Superman
Light Out

http://www.myspace.com/santogold

The other recommended albums
11. Hercules and love affair- Hercules and love affair
12. Friendly Fire-Friendly Fires
13. Vampire Weekend-Vampire weekend
14. The Last Shadow Puppets-The age of understatement
15. Lina-Morning Star
16. Jasmine Sullivan-Fearless
17. Matthew Herbert Big Band-There’s me and there’s you
18. Portishead-Third
19. Neon Neon-Stainless Steel
20. Sam Sparro-Sam Sparro
21. Late Of the Pier-Fantasy Black Channel

Other which were not in my top 21 but worth you checking out

Gang Gang Dance
Al Green
Laura Marling
My Morning Jacket
Duffy
MGMT
Metallica

It’s hard being a Dictator you know?!?

Posted in Cartoons, Comedy, Controversy, News Media on December 14, 2008 by Richard James Clark II