Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rollasoc's Top Ten Albums of the year 2013 Part 3

After the slight interruption yesterday from E's top albums of 2013.  Here is my top 5.

5 Agnes Obel - Aventine 
The first of two recommendations from Andy Mort of Atlum Schema.   He blogged last week that this album was one of his favourites of the year.  So I had a listen and fell in love with the track 'Fuel to the Fire', instantly ordering her back catalogue.

Both this and the previous album Philharmonics,  are just simply beautiful, soulful albums. Simple and elegant.  There is something about piano and strings that I just love.  I should practice my keyboard skills more.

At some point, I may need to dig out my record player and play the vinyl version I purchased (part of the box set).

4 Rue Royale - Remedies Ahead

I discovered Rue Royale late last year, when someone  posted a song of theirs on Facebook.

I just loved the harmonies.   Luckily at the time, they were doing a kick starter campaign for the 'Remedies Ahead' album, so I managed to get all three of their albums for about £12.  A bargain!.

I managed to catch them live in Birmingham last month and had a quick chat (and bought some vinyl off them).

3 Paper Aeroplanes - Little Letters 

I discovered Paper Aeroplanes, whilst googling for paper aeroplanes.  I came across a torrent for one of their EPs.   So I illegally downloaded it,  had a listen and pretty much in the space of a week, bought their entire back catalogue.

Great emotional songwriting and seriously underrated. 

Another band I finally got to catch live in November, when they kindly came and played in Shrewsbury.

2. Erica Nockalls - Imminent Room

I was photographing at a gig in May, when I took a photo of Erica with Dirty Ray.  I later found out she was already on my friends list, when I went to tag her.   Anyway, it turned out she had just released a solo album (being also a part of The Wonder Stuff), so I thought I'd check out a tune on You tube.  'Manikin' was the track.

To be honest, I thought Manikin was totally bonkers.  But it did spur me to purchase the album.

The album is quite eclectic.  Some lovely slices of pop and rock, with a sharp wit and some beautiful emotional songs.
as coming from growing up listening to Pet Shop Boys, Vivaldi and Marilyn Manson - See more at:
as coming from growing up listening to Pet Shop Boys, Vivaldi and Marilyn Manson - See more at:
as coming from growing up listening to Pet Shop Boys, Vivaldi and Marilyn Manson - See more at:
as coming from growing up listening to Pet Shop Boys, Vivaldi and Marilyn Manson - See more at:

I did get the chance to see Erica and her band play live, supporting P.I.L. in Birmingham and was asked if I wanted to photograph it.  Here are a couple of images from the gig!

1. Stuart Warwick - The Butcher's Voice. 

 Another recommendation from Andy Mort, when Stuart was the artist of the week on the Lost on Radio podcast. 

It was an interesting podcast interview about the core concept of gender identity that runs through the album. Which isn't normally a topic that would spark my interest, but the track Andy played totally blew me away, so I ended up buying the album.

It is a dense, meaningful, funny and clever album, with lush vocals and melodies, pretty much an album that I listen to most days. Just a totally gorgeous album.

Bonus Tunes

Agnes Obel - plays Elliot Smith.
 Love this song and this particular version.

Bonus 2 Special mention to and EP that I highly rate and listen to rather a lot! (not that I'm biased, since I did the photography on it).  They need to release an album!!!!!

The Pre Sleep Monologue - Pre Sleep Monologue

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

E’s Albums of 2013

Chris has asked me to write a review of my “10 Best Albums of ‘13”. I don’t blog as a rule and I’m pretty sure I haven’t bought 10 new releases this year so this might be a challenge! Instead what I will do is write a few words about some of the albums that I have parted with hard earned for this year, no matter when they were released. Here goes then, in no particular order, my choices.

First and foremost a special mention must go not to an album, but to a phone app: Soundhound. Without its witchcraft I would have missed out on a lot of great music. One of the gems it found me is:

Wash the Sins Not Only the Face - Esben and the Witch (2013)

The inlay has “How long do you mean to be content” written across it, which gives an idea of the emo claptrap involved. Don’t be fooled though, lots of really strong guitar based tunes here and the singer has a cute voice. If your band is looking for reverb, its too late, they have stolen it all and used it on this album.

Holy Fire - Foals (2013)

    Stumbled across Foals when the BBC used them in a trailer for Outcasts. That song, Spanish Sahara, was the outstanding track from the first album, the rest of which was a bit meh. No single outstanding track here, instead the whole album is good with not much in the way of fillers. Rollasoc says they sound like an unsigned band - this is a good thing, right?

Vehicles and Animals Live - Athlete (2013)

This year marked the 10th anniversary of the debut album and to celebrate, the band came out of semi-retirement to tour the album live. I was lucky enough to see them in both Brighton and Birmingham, this is a recording of the Birmingham gig. I also nicked the set list from the stage in Brighton :). Buy this, because Athlete!

Clockwork Angels - Rush (2012)

Rush have always been a guilty pleasure for me, the uncoolest band in rock. Try and see them every time they tour and buy all the albums. If I’m honest I prefer the stuff from 20 years ago but old habits die hard. If you like them you will have this, if you don’t like them then you are not likely to change your mind.

Black Reindeer 1 to X1 - Stephen Jones. (2013)
Black Reindeer is the latest reincarnation of the huge songwriting talent of Stephen Jones (xBabybird, DotN). Everyone has heard of You’re Gorgeous yet the man remains a brilliant unknown.  This year has seen him release an instrumental album roughly once a month. The quality is variable and the music sometimes challenging but always interesting. Do your ears a favour and check him out on bandcamp. 

Free 20 track album sampler

Saturdays = Youth - M83 (2008)

An interesting mix of dance, ambient, and jangly indie, I really like this. They are French so it is all a bit odd, naturally. They have become a bit of a favorite with TV producers and their music turns up on all sorts of programmes and adverts.

All is Violent, All is Bright - God is an Astronaut (2004/2011 reissue)

Post rock outfit with awesome catchy hooks. If you like Explosions in the Sky then you like this.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rollasoc's Top Ten Albums of the year 2013 Part 2

Part 2 of my list of favourite albums from 2013.

I'm not planning on saying much about each album, just give a link a few snippets. Not a full on review.

10 The Needle Poppets - Fame To The Nation.

Local duo The Needle Poppets, recently released their debut album.  I'm loving it.  Top people too, hopefully, I'll get to see them more often in 2014!

The album opens slowly in vintage style, before building into a rocky track.  There are hints of punk, cabaret and  prog in here.  Though the tunes are somewhat upbeat, they hide a dark lyrical content.

An interesting debut!

Here is a photo of the lovely duo from this years Farmer Phil's Festival.

9 Atlum Schema - One World Less

Andy from Atlum Schema has been  a major influence on my musical tastes over the last twelve months, since he presents two podcasts, that I listen to. Sheep Dressed Like Wolves and the Right Chord Music Lost on Radio podcast.  The latter, gets sent to my Ipod weekly, one of the only reasons I still keep my Ipod, is for the podcasts.

Another artist I discovered by accident on Bandcamp, then discovered the podcast.  Initially, I didn't like this album as much as the previous self titled album, but has grown on me over the months.  

My only real gripe on the album, is the length at 80 minutes, the 16 tracks rarely fall below four minutes.  It isn't that the album is full of filler, it is more, finding 80 minutes of uninterrupted listening time rarely happens, so I rarely get to listen to it in it's entirely.

Luckily the album is kind of split into four seasons, so I do tend to listen to it in two halves.

'Moon City' though, is adorable!

He has a new album out in March 2014, so looking forward to that!

8 Goldfrapp - Tales of Us. 

Ok, I admit, I discovered Godlfrapp, when they supported Duran Duran many years ago!

After the mixed bag that was Head First, I wasn't expecting much.

This is a beautiful album though. Simple and uncomplicated.  Alison has never sounded so vulnerable or beautiful.

Annabel is probably my favourite tune of 2013.

7. Steven Wilson - The Raven that refused to sing.

An album with Nick Beggs on is instantly cool, especially when he is playing a Chapman stick!.

This should probably be higher on the list.  I was thinking the other week, I rarely listen to the previous album Grace for Drowning.

The raven that refused to sing, to me is a more coherent album than Grace for Drowning.  (it is probably the 23 minute Raider II that puts me off Grace for Drowning.  I much prefer the 15 minute version they did on the last tour).

The six songs are more constrained in length, 'Luminol' being the longest at just over twelve minutes. Each song tells a ghost story!.

This is my current album of choice, when no one else is in the house.  Put the bluray version on and listen loud in surround sound.  Truly stunning. Not sure the neighbours would agree!

I like the fact Steve Wilson releases nice versions of his albums.  This album came with a book, CD, bluray and disk of demos.   The book gives you something to look at whilst listening to the album.

Something I miss from my days of buying vinyl, when we used to sit down and listen to music, not just have it on in the background.

There isn't enough flute in modern music either, in my opinion.

5 Bruce Soord with Jonas Renkse - Wisdom of crowds

Ok more prog rock.  I'm  a huge Pineapple Thief fan, having discovered them in 2012. Slowing buying their back catalog.

"All the Wars" is probably my favourite album of 2012, (though it might be The Haunted man by Bat for Lashes).

I can't say I've ever heard Katatonia so, I wasn't that excited by the collaboration.  I would have preferred a new Pineapple Thief album, to be honest.

How wrong I was. 

From the rumbling bottom end of 'Pleasure', through the commercial edge of  'Wisdom of crowds' to the near industrial closer "Flows through you" there is a wide spectrum of musical lovliness on offer here. This is a fairly eclectic album fusing rock, electronic, ambient and dare I say it pop?

Frozen North is possibly my least favourite track on the album.


Since I didn't do a list in 2012.  My two favourite albums of 2012.

Pineapple thief - All the wars

Bat for Lashes - Laura (from The Haunted Man).

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rollasoc's Top Ten Albums of the year 2013 Part 1.

I used to publish end of year lists many years ago on the old Telford Rocks site.

Thought I might start them again.

So here is part one of my countdown to my favourite albums this year. I'm trying to limit this to albums I have actually paid hard cash for and not ones, I've streamed and liked.

Honourable mentions: (i.e. on another day, they may have made the top ten). In no particular order.  And not much blurb.  Just go and listen and make your own mind up.

Blue Rose Code - North Ten

Beautiful album.  Discovered when I caught a video someone posted on Facebook.  Listened to a few tunes online then bought the album.

Lights & Motion - Save Your Heart

Discovered by accident on Bandcamp.  Loved the first album.  This is more of the same really. 

Very Sigur Ros like, he even wrote a tune called Victory Rose.

Nine Inch Nails - Hesitation Marks

I was apprehensive about them coming back and this album has its moments. Not really classic NIN, more NIN by the numbers.   It is growing on me though with each listen.

Toypop! - Come What May

An album that never fails to make me smile.  One of my favourite gigs of 2012 was seeing Toypop! play in Bridgnorth. A great evening's entertainment.

Sarah from Toypop! even wrote the Hair Thieves our own little tune.  Which I really should let people hear!!!!

Various - The Exquisite Corpse Game

I will admit, I bought this purely since British Theatre are on it, but was surprised by how much, as an album I really enjoyed it.   Only slightly let down by one track I really don't like, but can't skip else it would break the fold.

Visit the link above all will be explained.  Very interesting concept.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

EP5 - Free Download

EP5 from The Hair Thieves

The Hair Thieves are delighted to announce the release of the only slightly delayed EP5 today.

In the past we have spent many hours, cups of tea and Tesco's finest cookies in the writing and recording of this EP and for the most part, given the rarity of us playing live, very few people will get to hear it.

To this end, we are offering the whole EP as a free (as in no cost at all, zilch, nada etc) download from your Bandcamp site.

All we ask is that you have a listen.

For your free download, please use the contact form and we will email you a download code.

If you hate it please tell us, if you like it, please tell us and either make a small donation, so we can record another EP ,or preferably, make copies and give them to a friend or three.

If you are old fashioned, like us, and prefer a physical CD with original artwork, you can purchase one for the princely sum of £3 + p&p from Bandcamp. Which also includes a digital download of the EP.

All monies received will be put towards EP6, which we are currently writing.

The EP is also be available on ITunes / spotify / amazon etc if that is your preferred digital delivery medium. Due to the capitalist nature of our society, you will have to pay for these.