Penultimate week of albums for the year, it’s exciting! Almost time to reveal my top five and I still haven’t decided upon it, so that’s fun.
This week, it’s The 1975. I was not a fan of the last album I listened to but only because the title of it was quite interesting. I have enjoyed a couple of the songs off this new album, so it’ll be interesting to see what the full experience is like.
And, for reasons I can’t remember but may have to do with watching lots of country music late on a Friday night, Shania Twain is Mr C’s pick for the week. I’ve already done Come On Over, which is arguably her best work, so this time it is Up, which still has a couple of proper tunes on it.
Hooray for Shania!
Also, this week, I put together a page collecting all the albums I have listened to which is a useful resource for a) remembering if and when an artist has been covered and b) realising just how many albums I’ve listened to over the past three years. What an adventure!
Eyes down, settle in, we’ve got three weeks to go. It’s crucial times now because my picks need to be selected carefully so they qualify for the top five list at the end of the year. Having said that, I think I’ve already got eight albums to choose from for that prestigious list, so any newcomers will have to be brilliant. (Hint: I don’t think this week is it.)
First up, Olly Murs – You Know I Know. And I’ll admit that we have had this on in the background of a busy afternoon. I wasn’t listening that closely, but I did notice that the second half of the album is all Murs’ previous hits – every one a choon. He’ll have to go some to make the album live up to that.
And then, another random selection from Mr C – Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens. Of which I’m aware of Father and Son, Wild World (which is a song I love), and of course the title track which I know from Extras.
The penultimate round up of the year, a little bit later than planned, but I’ve been slightly busy plotting and planning which albums to listen to for the weeks that are left. At this point, there are just three weeks left, and that’ll be three years of album listening. Incredible!
As I’ve mentioned over the past few weeks, there are a handful of good albums being released before this year is over, and it’s getting harder to choose which ones to prioritise. But it also means there are a lot of good things to listen to and that’s where this roundup comes in. Here’s what I thought of ten of the albums listened to recently.
- VI, You Me At Six
This is a band that I’ve heard of in passing but really couldn’t have told you anything about. On the first listen, I thought this was a pretty good album and then second time round I enjoyed it even more so that’s a good sign. It’s the first time in a while, too, that I’ve thought an album was just a bit short and I’d have liked some more.
- New Eyes, Clean Bandit
I have mixed feelings about Clean Bandit, because their songs can be so different that you never really know what you’re going to get (except a bit of bonus cello!) I really liked the album, actually, it’s stacked with tunes, but there’s one song that is hugely not for me. Come Over gets inside my head in the worst ways, so I dreaded the very middle of the album, but the rest was great.
- Living in Extraordinary Times, James
As expected, this was a good album that just went a bit wonky in places. I said that about the last James album I listened to and this was more of the same. However, I also didn’t feel like I really enjoyed it first run through, but gradually it really did grow on me. Second time through I was on board, and Mr C suggests a sixth listen will sell it to me completely.
- Along Came Jones, Tom Jones
Tom Jones in his early career reminds me very much of Johnny Cash. It’s got that old school soul feeling about it, with stacks of shorter songs whipping you through a journey. Tom’s voice is unquestionably brilliant, and recognisable instantly, and they’re all solid songs. But of course, It’s Not Unusual stands out as a proper choon.
- Broken Politics, Neneh Cherry
This was one of the chillest albums I’ve heard in a long time. I was quite keen to listen to it despite the fact I realised I don’t know any of Neneh’s previous work – I’m just aware of the family and like their output. There was nothing wrong with this album but it didn’t stand out particularly to me. It was perfect for background, chill music.
- The Raw & the Cooked, Fine Young Cannibals
I went into this album anticipating that the first song, the single, She Drives Me Crazy, would stand head and shoulders above the rest of the tracks. And it did. The rest was okay, but when you start out with a great tune like that, it’s hard to make it all stand out. I wasn’t totally convinced, either, by the cover of Ever Fallen in Love at the end.
- Empress, RAY BLK
Love this album. Run Run is a great song to kick off with, and we travel through some great highs and lows to end with the inspirational Just a Kid. It’s a short album, just eight songs lasting thirty minutes, but it still had a pretty big impact on me.
- OK Computer, Radiohead
I was kinda hoping this would be better than it was. The album is billed as one of the greatest ever, and I do like some of Radiohead’s work. This album was perfectly good, with some real highlights, but I don’t know that I cared for the whole thing, particularly, and I certainly wouldn’t put it up there as one of the best ever.
- EL MAL QUERER, ROSALÍA
I was quite excited about this album because I love the single Malamente, and Julie Adenuga has been bigging up Rosalía for a while now. I didn’t really get on with the album as a whole, unfortunately. There are some good tracks on there, but then there are also some songs which are quite warbly, screechy even, and I just wasn’t down with it.
- Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Whenever I listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I tend to just think ‘this is good, sounds like Red Hot Chili Peppers, just as you would expect’. And this album was exactly the same as all that. It’s a long one, well over an hour, but never boring. Just lots of good rock tunes from a band who are very good at what they do.
Just the three albums to choose from this week, but for me it was pretty easy. Little Mix are always going to be up there as one of my top options and whilst I still don’t think this album will live up to the greatness that I found in Get Weird, I can’t wait to see what LM5 does hold.
Meanwhile, Mr C’s pick this week is entirely random and without reason – Living Years by Mike + The Mechanics. I know the song, although I don’t know why, and the rest of the album will be a bit of a mystery to me.
I’m gonna get right to it – this week I had to make the choice between Imagine Dragons and Muse. HARD. In the end, despite knowing that I’d love the Imagine Dragons album, I figured I should go for something a little bit more outside my comfort zone.
And so, Mr C’s choice has to be something a little bit different. It didn’t take long for us to settle on Joan Jett – kick-ass rockstar. I wanted to listen to Bad Reputation but unfortunately that’s not available on Apple Music. So, instead, it’s all about rock ‘n roll.
It’s gonna be a pretty rocking week I think!
This week, I’ve opted for an album that probably would have passed me by any other time, but I’ve heard the main single from it so many times on Julie’s Beats1 show that it’s lodged in my brain. EL MAL QUERER by ROSALÍA. There’s also a Beats1 special where she goes through the album track by track, which I’ll also have to listen to. It makes a big difference when you can put these things in context.
Mr C’s pick this week is in the completely opposite direction. We realised I had only listened to a more recent Red Hot Chilli Peppers album, and that needed to be rectified quite quickly. So: Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Which I am spending quite a lot of time calling Love Angel Music Baby because I am weird. Looks like quite a long album, but should be interesting.
Oh, Mr C is also hoping this will rectify my “mistaken” belief that the All Saints version of Under the Bridge is better than the original.
We’re really getting towards the sharp end of the year now and album releases are picking up. I’ve got seven weeks of this year’s album adventure left and at least ten albums that I had hoped to fit in. Some hard decisions are going to be made about who makes the cut this year and who gets relegated to next year.
I’ve also noticed a significant number of albums left on my 2017 list that are soon going to drop out of my reach. (For those new to the game, my choices have to be current year or prior year.)
I do move my leftover albums to Mr C’s list (he gets the pick of the rest of musical history, so unfair) but I don’t know how many ever make it to my ears. Oh well. It’s no bad thing for there to be too much music in the world.
Anyway, this week:
Empress, by RAY BLK. I love, love, love Run Run, and Empress is pretty good, so hopefully the album stacks up. It’s only short but I’m hoping it’s brilliant.
And Mr C’s choice this week is OK Computer by Radiohead. Which Apple Music previews with the following: “The greatest album of all time? Plenty of polls suggest that, with Radiohead’s third set of songs frequently vying for that almighty accolade.” So , no pressure then.