Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite singles and albums of the year …
Album: David Guetta – Nothing But The Beat
I love to dance, especially modern jive, and this album has got so many great songs to get down to – quite often literally!
Single: Avicii – Levels
One of the biggest club hits of the year, it samples a song by soul singer Etta James, who’s currently reported to be very ill, so in a way perhaps that’s an unintended tribute. The reason I like it? As music has a strange way of doing – and this song itself says – it gives a good feeling!
Album: Caro Emerald – Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor
On a trip to Germany this year I was subjected to a number of albums from my brother-in-law’s dreadful musical selection but this one I really loved. Particularly like the track “That Man”. I know the album has been out since 2010 but I first heard it this year!
Single: Ed Sheeran – The A Team
Brilliant bit of music from someone so young!
Album: Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys
A truly unique sound from some proper northern lads. If I were allowed a second it’d be Adele’s “21”.
Single: Lianne La Havas – No Room For Doubt
Why? You’ve only got to listen to her to answer that one; velvet voice and a good instrumentalist too, in short, talented. First album due early 2012.
Album: The Antlers – Burst Apart
After the haunting and devastating album Hospice, The Antlers returned with Burst Apart. An album of overwhelming beauty, a sound that totally engulfs you and leaves you breathless. It stood head and shoulders above pretty much anything else that was released this year, and I don’t think it will be long before they break through to the mainstream. Cannot recommend this album enough!
Single: Grouper – Water People
Liz Harris returned in 2011 with 2 albums (Dream Loss / Alien Observer) and the single Water People. A song that sounds like the soundtrack to a dream or to that moment between being asleep and slowly waking, Water People is further proof that Liz is one of the most talented and inventive singer-songwriters making music today.
Album: Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys
My choice for album of the year would have to be (unsurprisingly) Build A Rocket Boys by Elbow. I’m a massive Elbow fan, and I said last year that with an Elbow and a Queens Of The Stone Age album due in 2011, it would be a tricky choice, but the QOTSA one never materialised.
Single: Elbow – The Birds
Track of the year? Although it’s not been a single, The Birds from the above album is just superb, beautifully performed, excellently arranged, and just the right length at about 8 minutes.
Album: Ed Sheeran – +
Ed Sheeran has only come to fame relatively recently and it’s really great to see such a talented and dedicated musician being recognised for his ability in today’s charts.
Single: Coldplay – Paradise
Coldplay are one of my all time favourite bands and their latest music is definitely matching up to the high standards set by their previous material. However, it’s also taking their music in a sufficiently different direction in order to keep their work exciting but still keeping a classic Coldplay feel to it.
Album: Nichole Nordeman – Music Inspired By The Story
I chose this album because I am passionate about staying true to my faith during these times of extreme rush and occupation. It is another CD I can listen to whilst I travel to and fro during my activity filled days.
Single: Kate Bush – Wild Man
I only discovered this artist a couple of months ago. The reason I was drawn to her was down to hearing her interviewed first and then playing her music. I like the track because it doesn’t sound mainstream and it sounds creative and artistic. She writes her own lyrics and during her interview said that she will always reflect what she feels compelled to write in her music rather than suit listeners/industry preferences.
Album: Panic At The Disco – Vices And Virtues
The charts have been dominated by Adele’s “21”; she has a great voice BUT I just found the album a bit slow. The album I will pick is one that I don’t have in my collection – I listen to it at work and loved the single “The Ballad Of Mona Lisa”, how that wasn’t a bigger hit I will never know.
Single: Jessie J – Price Tag
Jessie is an Essex girl and really made a name for herself with this, the second single from her album. Great catchy chorus which, once you start singing, stays in your mind for ages afterwards.
Album: Ellie Goulding – Bright Lights
It was actually released at the end of last year but was still in the charts for a while at the beginning of this year, so hopefully it counts. (Yes, why not .. web Ed!) The reason I like it so much is that I have listened to it so many times and i’m still not tired of it, her voice is amazing and she seems like a really nice person too.
Single: Rizzle Kicks – Down With The Trumpet
It’s a song that makes you want to dance around a bit and the lyrics are a bit cheeky!
Album: Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys
It was hard to believe that they could get close to the sheer genius of The Seldom Seen Kid but this, although different, less ballsy, is still exquisite. It’s music for grown-ups … beautiful, haunting, melodic, clever.
Single: Adele – Rolling In The Deep
The most overexposed artist of the year with the most overplayed track of the year. Having said all that, the songs (and her voice) still sound amazing, which is probably the best testament to how good she is.
Album: Ed Sheeran – +
Single: Ed Sheeran – The A Team
Album: Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer
Bouncy fun and summertime all rolled into one. Some cracking lyrics and a splendid production. This is an album you put on in the car, take the roof off (if you have a soft top of course) and drive down to the coast.
Single: Everything Everything – Photoshop Handsome
Not yet got the album but a definite purchase for 2012. I love songs that don’t stick to conventional pop standards. The melodies, vocals and lyrics are interesting. You are never sure of where the song is going to go. I never would have heard of this group if it wasn’t for the Phoenix FM A List. We don’t have all “run of the mill” artists that all the other radio stations have to play. Final Form is another track on the A List at Phoenix which was also a brilliant track. Right, off to Amazon to buy both albums!
Album: Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires
Another year of some truly excellent releases and some new discoveries. The CD that I have been playing constantly though is Fallen Empires from Snow Patrol. The intelligence of the lyrics against the melodies that provoke virtually on every track makes this album a shoe-in for me. Would automatically have chosen the last Elbow album but I was slightly disappointed with this effort.
Single: Will Young – Jealousy
Although this goes against every bone in my body to even consider any product from the X Factor/Pop Idol/BGT stable, this artist just does it for me every time. The album was superb and I played this single every week at The Daggers and it just did what it said on the tin. Caro came a close second.
Album: Jesse J – Who You Are
Some of my favourite songs of 2011 are on this album and of course she’s an Essex girl so I’ve got to give my support!
Single: Maroon 5 ft Christina Aguilera – Moves Like Jagger
It’s such a catchy song and I love Christina’s strong, effortless voice!
Album: Hugh Laurie – Let Them Talk
This is the best-selling blues album for many years. Who would have thought this son of Oxford could take the sound of New Orleans and make it into an international hit? He sings and plays piano with real passion and has around him great stars. A surprise and a delight.
Single: Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar
A great song for the times we now live in. A soulful performance against a simple background. A song eveyone will still be playing in fifty years time.
Album: Young Knives – Ornaments From The Silver Arcade
2011 has been an utterly awesome year for the long playing, with new records from British Sea Power, Art Brut and Kate Bush which could have made my no 1 in any of the last few years (50 Words For Snow is only a couple of weeks old and certainly sounds more amazing with each play). I’ve decided to go for the Leicestershire nutjobs’ third long player; it repeats the quirky angular formula from their older works but the songs, still slightly insane, are just so much more pure pop. In another world they’d be permanently in the top ten and on every station’s A list … for now we’ve just got to be content with doing that at Phoenix!
Single: British Sea Power – Mongk II
While the whole of Valhalla Dancehall being worthy of repeated listening, this slab of atmospheric guitarwork and Krautrock rhythms was the song I played again and again this year. Just spellbinding. My memories of this song are enhanced by BSP’s wonderfully perfect matinee gig at Berwick Village Hall in late spring, which left me blinded by the bright skies over the Sussex Downs when I emerged from the tiny venue at the 3pm end of the show.
Album: Gary Numan – Dead Son Rising
Having been a fan of his work for years, on and off, I was taken aback by the directness of this album – its modern take on the goth rock feel, enthused by DJ soundscape and classic Numan electronics.
Single: Gotye – Somebody Like You
Heard this song for the first time via his very own saucy art house promo video, and instantly warmed to the passion of the song; couldn’t wait to share it with Phoenix FM listeners.
Album: Kate Bush – The Director’s Cut
I couldn’t believe the timing when this album came out the same week that I presented the Top 20 show about Kate Bush on Phoenix. It was great to revisit her material and I bought the collectors edition that included the original Red Shoes and Sensual World albums which was a great opportunity to see how she has grown as an artist and see how she has experimented with her music. She has now released 50 Words for Snow which I haven’t yet had chance to listen to, but can’t wait.
Single: Lana Del Rey – Video Games
I heard this late at night earlier in the summer and then downloaded it in the autumn when it came out. I really like the string accompaniment and haunting nature of the track gives me the same feeling as when I hear Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind. Can’t wait to hear more from this lady.
Album: Beady Eye – Different Gear, Still Speeding
Single: Beady Eye – Four Letter Word
I took my son to see them at Brixton last month and it was the one that really stood out as their best LIVE and because it’s the track that has convinced me that Beady Eye is almost (almost!) as good as Oasis even minus Noel Gallagher. It’s got a real nostalgic feel to it too. video
Album: James Morrison – The Awakening
Emotional, full of feeling, bluesy sound. This album gave birth during this autumn to the fabulous single, I Won’t Let You Go.
Single: Lenny Kravitz – Stand
Simply a fabulous song. You won’t go far wrong if you follow the advice so forcefully made in the lyrics.
Album: Various Artists – Believers Roast Presents: The Central Element
This is a compilation CD comprising of one track from each of the bands that appeared at the Roast Fest all day concert that Kavus Torabi masterminded recently. A limited edition with proceeds going to the bands as a thank you for their involvement on the day. So many great contributions and so hard to pick a winner as there are obviously many different styles crammed on to one CD.
Single: Stars In Battledress – Fluent English
Sneaking up at the end of the year, this is a track from the above CD.
Album: Gorillaz – The Fall
In an age where the biggest selling acts can appear and disappear regularly I admire Damon Albarn more and more. The concept band has evolved into an act putting out an album that didn’t disappoint. The album is almost certainly not as commercial as their earlier work, another reason to like the it. Everytime I listen to Revolving Doors it makes me laugh (although I couldn’t play it on the radio because of all the expletives).
Single: REM – Überlin
Perhaps I’m choosing this track for nostalgic reasons but the band who announced their split in September released some great music this year. The vocal harmonies on this track take me back to early REM. A band I’ve seen live on numerous occasions and who didn’t disappoint with this track or We All Go Back To Where We Belong, another of many tracks highlighting how well Stipe and Mills’ vocals work together. Überlin wins, just.
Album: Rihanna – Talk That Talk
This one is a easy one for me having seen her live at London’s O2 Arena and also having the privilege of meeting her backstage.
Talk That Talk was released on November 18, 2011, through Def Jam Recordings. The lead single from the album, “We Found Love” featuring Calvin Harris, premiered on the radio on September 22, 2011, and was released on iTunes the same day. The album is rooted in R&B, dance-pop, and pop, but also incorporates a variety of genres such as hip hop, electro, trance, house, lyrically, the album speaks of love, sexuality, and in general has a higher sexual content than its predecessors. The album received generally mixed to positive reviews from critics, many of which complimented its departure from the dark themes presented on her fourth and fifth studio albums, Rated R (2009) and Loud (2010), respectively.
Single: Rihanna – We Found Love
“We Found Love” also features veteran producer Calvin Harris (who was also at the O2 Arena warming up the crowd) and sold over 87,000 copies within just four days of release. It serves as the lead track from Talk that Talk and Rihanna becomes the first female solo artist to top the chart six times in five consecutive years, having previously held pole position with “Umbrella”, “Take A Bow”, “Run This Town”, “Only Girl (In The World)” and “What’s My Name” between 2007 and January this year.