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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Polica – Give You the Ghost

Another album I didn’t choose for myself and another qualified success. Polica sound European and somewhat mysterious, as if they hail from some small village at the base of the Carpathians, but disappointingly are actually from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They sound like an amalgamation of the Cocteau Twins, Portishead, Electribe 101 and Kosheen, but with slightly distant and distorted vocals that tantalises and irritates at the same time. ‘Give You the Ghost’ is polished and atmospheric collection of electro meets rock songs.

The first thing that strikes you is how well recorded the album is technically. I really wish I could listen to it on a top quality hi-fi on vinyl, there is such a clarity of sound, subtle layering and complexity evident in all the tracks. Sometimes this level of professionalism detracts from the actual songs and at times you want to scream at the stereo to just let vocalist Channy Leaneagh sing, without some clever and fancy effect masking her efforts. It’s less of an issue with their A-game songs, but their mediocre numbers could benefit from a touch of starkness; as all Scandinavian singers will tell you – less is more.

I have no understanding of how famous Polica are and perhaps these songs are known by everyone on the planet, but my personal favourites are the trip-hoppy ‘Dark Star’, the Liz Fraser homage of ‘The Maker’ and best of all the dirty disco meets My Bloody Valentine sound clash of ‘Violent Games’. It sounds a bit like the Cocteaus too.

It will never be anyone’s favourite album, but I doubt you can be disappointed by the level of passion and quality on offer. I like it a lot.  

Saturday, 25 January 2014

The greatest ‘First Day of My Life’ covers

After the success of the 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' covers chart we thought we’d undertake a similar research project into the copious amounts of cover versions of Bright Eyes’ camp-acoustic classic. The standard is high and the competition fierce, so who has produced the best DIY cover version of Connor’s premier masterpiece?

15. DeluxnDotCom

He’s wholesome, he’s got a lovely tank top and he’s just sneaked in at number fifteen above the other hundreds of hopefuls. Great personality, passion and delivery.

14. Melanyrachel

An interesting twist to record in the bathroom, but it gives this version an originality and quirkiness missing on so many of the other cover versions we’ve endured. A lovely voice and great enthusiasm rocketed this up the chart to number 14.

13. Orla Gartland

Great ironic facial expressions and quirky deliver made this a big favourite with several judges. Fantastic uke action and she’s really made the song her own. And she's one of the ginger nation too. We’ve possibly been a little harsh putting her at number 13, but unlucky for Orla.

12. Hayley Barnes

Quality vocal style and unique delivery made this a huge success with the panel. A life affirming take on the Bright Eyes template.

11. Vanessa Ramstack

A perfectly balanced package of voice, personality and musicality elevated this version to the brink of the top ten. Caused much debate as to whether it was recorded on a canal boat.

10. Michael Stec

Aggressive, upbeat and sung with a bit of a swagger. We loved the bold guitar style and sense of gusto on this version.

9. Alison Weiss

She may be a little raspy, but this is still a cracking version performed with a passion and sincerity so often missing from the hundreds that didn’t make the top fifteen. She has an album on i-tunes – does this mean she’s a proper pop star?

8. Chelsie Tyrell

It always pays to be a little different and the piano certainly made this version stand out. A big voice from such a young singer and delivered with real emotion.

7. Make Rad Music (Sarah and Vans)

An engaging homemade quality and youthful exuberance made this an instant hit with the judges. The contrast between their voices is a lovely touch and made this version unique and memorable.

6. TrustJess

The only singer to feature in the ‘Into the Aeroplane’ chart as well as this one! Trustjess is back with the trademark professionalism and the syrupy voice that lends itself so well to the folky genre. We liked it a lot.

5. James Murray

Technically one of the best and a contender for number one, but a lack of support from a single judge cost James dearly. Lovely lilting voice and laidback delivery.

4. John Pan

The voice is so unexpected. It’s bold, strong and basey and tinged with a touch of country and western. Another contender that just fell short of greatness.

3. Trumpets

Homesy, fun and laid back. We loved the combination of voices and the child playing in the background is a lovely touch. Maybe more songs need to be recorded on settees. The final note at the end is a work of genius! Easily the cutest version.

2. Mathieu Nouvelle Star

A technical master class combined with subtle, mellow vocals meant that this version nearly went all the way to number one. One of the few that was almost as good as the original.

1. Ben Owen

A triumph for personality and quirkiness over technical ability, but what a version! Classic Uke playing and a voice that combines the natural emotion and passion that resides in the North of England. Congratulations Ben – a fantastic piece of work!

So that wraps up hours and hours of trudging through rubbish versions of the song to find fifteen gems. If any of the musicians in the chart fancy doing an interview and linking to some of their other work then leave a comment and we’d love to feature you!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Doccortex’s Festive 50 2013 (10-1)

10. Bright Eyes – Four Winds

Conor returns to the top ten with this chunk of fiddle infused folk music.

9. The Geraldine Fibbers – Fancy

All the best songs tell a story. The pick of the bunch from the Rough Trade Country compilation.

8. First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

 The excellent title track from the woodsy harmonic duo's latest album.

7. Sons and Daughters – House in My Head

 A fine return to form from Scottish indie heroes.

6. Okkervil River – The Velocity of Saul

Beautiful lyrics and anthemic chorus meet in this offering from the criminally under-rated Austin, Texas folksters.

5. Allo Darlin’ – Some People Say

Great album and a great song from the lovely Elizabeth Morris. I wish that some things would stay the same too.

4. Pantha du Prince – Photon

Twelve minutes of magic that turned bell ringing into something cool and wonderful.

3. Veronica Falls – My heart beats

Almost a number one from the indie combo that celebrate the joy of life everytime they pick up their instruments.

2. Kacey Musgrave – Merry Go ‘Round

From the album of the year comes this piece of pure country perfection. One of the finds of the year.

1. Intersys – If U Could Be

Stealing the crown from the Mushrooms, Israeli duo Intersys produce a psy-trance classic that could make you almost enjoy running. Well make it more bearable anyway.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Doccortex’s Festive 50 2013 (20-11)

20. Those Dancing Days – Reaching Forward

Swedish indie elves finally fulfil their potential, then split up.

19. Varttina - Seelinnikoi

 Japanese sounding Finnish folk frolics from world music veterans.

18. The Shins – It’s Only Life

James Mercer returns to his comfort zone with the best track from the under-rated ‘Port of Morrow’

17. Emmy the Great – Almost had a Baby

Folksy meets alt-country in this slice of quirky quality from Emma-Lee Moss.

16. Rise Against – Behind Closed Doors

 Pumping agit pot from Chicago’s finest and Leeds Festival discoveries.

15. Caroline Herring – Fireflies

 A piece of deep south Americana from Canton, Mississippi via Austin, Texas.

14. Ladytron – High Rise

High quality, no nonsense indie from Liverpool’s new wave synth merchants.

13. Shrag – Show us your Canines

 Perfect sing-a-long indie from Helen King and the gang.

12. Pocketbooks – I’m not going out

Even more perfect sing-a-long indie from the worst wrestlers in popular music.

11. Members of Mayday – Sonic Empire

Techno bleep fest from 90’s rave pioneers. Only submarine noises could improve this.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Doccortex’s Festive 50 2013 (30-21)

30. The Soft Pack – Answer to yourself

Dynamic indie from the San Diego noise merchants.

29. Broken Bells – Mongrel Heart

James Mercer plays Penfold as he teams up with Danger Mouse to break out of his comfort zone, albeit briefly.

28. Eels – Let’s Ruin Julie’s Birthday

Annual dose of ‘fun’ from Mark Oliver Everett taken from the disappointing album ‘Tomorrow Morning’.

27. VV Brown – The Apple

Eighties throwback festivities from the Northampton based singer and M&S model. This is the best version from Joolz Holland.

26. Maria Kalaniemi – I Fjol

The pick of the stark Scandinavian tracks from the year from Finland’s premier accordion player.

25. The Skatalites –Walk this Way

 A possible farewell to recording from legendary ska pioneers.

24. Rokia Traore – Tounka

Awe inspiring vocals from the queen of Malian soul.

23. Rumi Ensemble – Ros o Shab

 Delectable Iranian/Scandinavian fusion the is both eerie and addictive.

22. Polica – Violent Games

 Portishead meet the Cocteaus in a 21st Century hybrid from the Minneapolis combo.

21. Kirsty Hawkshaw – Walking on Clouds

Crystal vocals from the legend that is Kirsty Hawshaw on this trance crowd pleaser with Tiesto.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Doccortex’s Festive 50 2013 (40-31)

40. Horrorpops – Julia

Double base plucking psychobilly action from Danish rockers with their own go-go dancers.

39. Rilo Kiley – Love and War

 Jenny Lewis serves up the usual indie behemoth from the album ‘More Adventurous’.

38. Terry Lyn – Kingston Logic

 Booty shaking dance floor filler from Jamaican diva. Loved it!

37. Infected Mushroom – Never Mind

 Disappointing best track from uber-disappointing album ‘Army of Mushrooms’.

36. Esma Redzepova – Chaje Shukarjie

A touch of wailing class from the granite tonsilled Macedonian-Romani humanitarian multi-talented performer.

35. Erasure – Brother and Sister

No festive fifty would be complete with an appearance from Vince Clark, The best track from 1989’s ‘Wild!’.

34. Caitline Rose – Waitin’

 After two number two’s, Caitlin slumps to number 34 with the best track from the average album ‘The Stand-in’.

33. El Combo de les Galleros – Soledad

Shake your hips to this latin classic.

32. The Hornblower Brothers – Android with a Heart

Camp as you like indie from the much missed Hornblower Brothers.

31. Nabil Othmani – Teswa Tenere

The best track from the ‘Songs for Desert Refugees’ fundraising compilation.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Doccortex’s Festive 50 2013 (50-41)

50. The Subways – Turnaround

Just sneaked into the 50 because of Charlotte's enthusiastic vocals.

49. Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks

The acceptable face of Scandinavian folk music, but too close to Mumford and Sons for comfort.

48. Django Django – Hail Bop

Beach Boys-esque fun from London based art rock outfit. Great ending!

47. Josef Locke – Hear my Song

A blast from the past from the legendary Irish tenor.

46. Annlaug – Ord Som Fell

Easily the least dirgy of the offerings on the album. A great Scandinavian folk song.

45. Deladap – Golden Swing

Hot Balkan club action from Beginner’s Guide to eastern Europe. Should have been higher?

44. FOKN Bois - Gimme Pinch

Hip Hop returns for the first time since 2007 with this South African ditty.

43. The Names – Spectators of Life

Best track on the B9 Bis; Belgian Cold Wave compilation.

42. Ferhill – Wasod

Stark, beautiful folk music from the excellent Wales Welcomes Womad compilation.

41. Karine Palwart – King of Birds

Atmospheric and timeless folk tune that reminds me of Kate Bush.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

EvlKeith's Festive 50 2013 (10-1)

I'm almost too giddy to type. It's the final instalment of my Festive 50 for this year with numbers 10 all the way down to the prestigious number 1 spot:


Friday, 3 January 2014

Evlkeith's Festive 50 (20-11)

Into the top twenty now and things are starting to hot up. Prepare yourself for the joy that are numbers 20 to 11:


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Evlkeith's Festive 50 2013 (30-21)

Loads more festive fun as we reach the midpoint this evening. Let's crack on with numbers 30 to 21: