Category Archives: Presenters’ Picks

Presenters’ Picks 2017

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite albums and tracks of the year …

Aaron Heanue

Album: Mura Masa – Mura Masa

For me, Mura Masa’s self-titled debut studio album has to be my choice. An album I enjoyed because of the real variety of genres – alternative hits like Helpline which features up-and-coming vocalist Tom Tripp, electro tunes such as Who Is It Gonna B and Firefly featuring Nao and finally pop anthems like Second 2 None (featuring Christine and the Queens) and Nothing Else! (Featuring Jamie Lidell).

Track: Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still

My chosen track for this year’s presenter picks comes from American rock band Portugal. The Man. This song – released back in March – samples the Marvelettes’ track Please Mr. Postman. Although chart success in the UK wasn’t achieved (the song reached no 39), the track did get to number 1 in the US Mainstream Charts.

Alan Johnson

Album: Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa

Based on her debut album Dua Lipa is one of those artists whose music doesn’t seem to belong to any particular genre more than another, with plenty to please lovers of EDM and even hip-hop as well as those who prefer ballads to have a bit more of an edge to them than many that have dominated 2017.

Tracks like Hotter Than Hell and Blow Your Mind are more my thing than the collaboration with Chris Martin, Homesick, but what they all have in common is the thing that really makes Dua Lipa special – her voice.

Track: Camila Cabello – Crying In The Club

I’ve always been fascinated by songs that sample others, of which there’ve been a fair few in 2017, such as James Hype’s take on En Vogue’s Don’t Let Go in the fast-paced More Than Friends, or the slightly more subtle reworking of Maria Maria by Santana on DJ Khaled’s Wild Thoughts.

My favourite though has been the former Fifth Harmony member’s song co-written with Sia, which skilfully weaves elements of the 1999 worldwide chart topper Genie In A Bottle into an original but no less catchy melody. The echoes of Christina Aguilera’s debut hit are by no means the highlight of Crying In The Club.

Amy Deller

Album: Harry Styles – Harry Styles

The album I’ve probably listened the most to this year is Harry Styles’ debut album, which surprised me greatly, dismissing my pre-conceived, One Direction-esque ideas. The album includes such a range of different songs, which are catchy and easy to listen to, and have a lot of depth and meaning behind them.

Track: Lady Gaga – The Cure

Following my love for Gaga’s 2016 album – Joanne, her single The Cure didn’t fail to disappoint. The song was debuted at Coachella (in my opinion, one of Gaga’s best performances to date), and the meaning behind it – a tribute to her late friend – is portrayed in a somewhat upbeat, joyous way, making the song seem even more worthwhile.

Antonia Jones

Album: Paloma Faith – The Architect

Paloma has made a fantastic comeback with her diverse retro-soul sound on her new album The Architect. This has got to be one of my favourites featuring Crybaby, and as many would say Paloma Faith invites us to see the world through her eyes and her unique style yet again.

Track: Sam Smith – Too Good At Goodbyes (Galantis Remix)

When I first heard the original track I knew that somewhere in the pipeline a remix would be coming. Within a few weeks the Galantis remix was out and from that moment I knew Too Good At Goodbyes had to be my favourite single of the year – once you listen to the production you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Ben Simmons

Album: Ed Sheeran – Divide

It’s an obvious choice but I really enjoy every single song on this and in particular the lyrics.

Track: Clean Bandit feat Zara Larsson – Symphony

Another distinctive Clean Bandit offering with a brilliant hook. I liked it so much I taught myself to play it on the piano!

Bob Simpson

Album: Rag n Bone Man – Human

Released in February, Human contained the title track that had been a huge hit in 2016. Throughout this year Rag n Bone man has been a regular on the Phoenix FM A List with several tracks taken from the album all highly suitable for radio play.

With his very distinctive voice and these classy songs Rag n Bone Man should be around for many years to come. Not your typical manufactured pop star and a blessed relief from all those female nose singers around this year!

Track: Kasabian – You’re In Love With A Psycho

Just because it makes me laugh every time I hear it. Another track for Peter Kay’s Misheard Lyrics routine – “You’re In Love With A Cycle …”

Brian Ager

Album: Fireroad – Flesh Blood and Bone

If anyone had said to me that my favourite band, Dan Baird and Homemade Sin, and one of my all time music heroes, Robert Plant, both had new albums out and neither would be my album of the year, I would’ve laughed. That though, is what happened in 2017 when Fireroad, a little known band from Wales, released a wonderful album of pure rock music in June.

Full of great riffs and stories of the working man, it never lets up from the opening chords of Fall From The Skies to the anthem to Wales and Welsh people closing track All We Have. There are no filler tracks on this album, every song, all written by singer and rhythm guitarist Richard Jones, is powerful enough to stand on its own merits.

Ably supported by the rock solid rhythm section of Anthony Evans and Matthew Whitney, and fabulous lead guitarist Gavin Davis, the band have supported Stereophonics on several recent arena dates and have been gaining the recognition they deserve. What’s so special about the album is that the whole thing is self funded, and sounds absolutely huge. They have no right to sound this good, but they just do. If you’re a fan of Stereophonics or AC/DC, you’ll love this. Please buy it, it deserves a place in everyone’s record collection.

Track: Massive Wagons – Back To The Stack

Released in April this year, this track was both a charity single with all proceeds going to Teenage Cancer Trust, and a tribute to one of their main musical influences, the sadly departed Rick Parfitt of Status Quo. You can hear the spirit of Rick in the song, with the opening riffs reminiscent of Caroline.

It’s a fun song that just puts a great big smile on my face when I hear it. Another little known band building up a reputation as a great live act, they’ve just signed a record deal with Earache Records and a new album is due in Spring 2018. One to look forward to.

Charlie Davy

Album: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?

I’ve never been an album person as I’m not especially loyal to any particular artist/group. People whose songs I *really* like have also released some absolute pap. I’ll give honourable mentions to the Brothers Gallagher: Liam for “As You Were” – the singles thus far have been worthy of my money. Noel for “Who Built The Moon?” – being a kid of Brit-Pop and still seeing those 2 having bun-fights 20+ years later brightens up an otherwise dull day.

Track: Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still

It’s been a good year for songs, though. Honeyblood’s Walking At Midnight along with Kasabian’s Ill Rey, The King and Noel’s Holy Mountain are my runners-up to Feel It Still from Portugal. The Man. A bit more dancey than my usual taste, but perhaps a way of clinging onto my rapidly diminishing youth!

Chay Appleyard

Album: Gorillaz – Humanz

My decision may have swayed if Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Wolf Alice’s albums come out earlier, but this year I’ve gone for Humanz by Gorillaz. It has an all star cast with the likes of Vince Staples, Noel Gallagher, Pusha T, Grace Jones, Benjamin Clementine, and much more. It’s cohesive (which the best albums are), it’s humorous with skits, great concept of songs. Without doubt the best Gorillaz, arguably in my mind the best Damon Albarn has ever been a part of (Come at me!). Mr Albarn did say this album was based on “A party to celebrate the end of the world”. Politically charged. What I like about the Gorillaz in recent albums, it was good having the four characters as the musicians, but it seems as though now that the Gorillaz have lots of other friend, such as background or guest characters which appear on their songs now. By have this sheer amount of collaborations on these songs, it’s given the albums, and the band a new lease of life and probably a sense of longevity for years to come.

Track: The Big Moon – Pull The Other One

A couple of shout outs should be mentioned to Clean Bandit’s Symphony and that Havana song which has been stuck in my head for weeks now, but sticking to my guns I’m going with the Big Moon’s Pull The Other One. I love this band, I love the album, but along with their song Sucker, they have been my earworm of the year. Why? Well I’m gonna tell you. First of all, great basic chorus, simplistic but variations of the melody keeps it interesting. I love the usage of what I regard as “British-ism” such as the word ‘Settee’ which Juliette Jackson sings in the second verse. I like the indecisive nature of the lyrics, flippant personality, for example the lines “I might have other plans, it’s all out of my hands” and “Finally you’re here with me, will you stay the night, I’d like to let you stay the day but my schedules very tight”. As a songwriter, it’s a perfect indie pop song.

Chris Hood

Album: Iron Maiden – Book of Souls Live Chapter

I was really torn picking the album of the year, with the choice split between two live collections, with the excellent motion picture soundtrack of Pearl Jam’s Let’s Play Two highly recommended.

But, album of the year has to go to a band that I had the honour of seeing live this year and – shock horror – was actually disappointed with. However, this collection of live tracks from the Book of Souls tour goes some way to making up for the poor audio quality of the show I attended, with the boys on fine form playing a mixture of classics and material from the most recent studio album.

Needless to say I’m still going to see them in 2018!

Track: Dorja – Far Gone

Single of the year goes to a band who I have actually seen twice in 2017, the second gig of which was well worth paying £5 for a small can of beer – and that’s saying a lot!

Seriously, Dorja have got a massive 2018 coming up for them with their debut album currently expected to drop in the first half of the year, and this single is a perfect taster with a fabulously heavy riff, pounding bass and drums and soaring vocals. (Not to mention that it also got an exclusive first play on Phoenix FM).

If you get the chance, go and see this band in 2018, they are even better live. I’ll see you there…you’re buying!

Chris Stagg

Album: Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper

Mirror Reaper is a stunning 80 minute experiment from Seattle Doom Metalers, Bell Witch. This album is bitter sweet, serving as a grief stricken tribute to the bands late drummer, it is emotionally charged and at times you feel like you are being dragged down by the weight of their loss. But in that powerful emotion is its beauty, as Mirror Reaper takes you on a soundscape journey, that is atmospheric and has something new every time for those willing to listen closely. Powerful, emotional and completely heartfelt, Mirror Reaper must be experienced in its single track epic digital format.

Track: Jamiroquai – Automaton

For those who don’t know – I love the 90’s. In fact you can listen to my specialist 90s show on Phoenix FM every Thursday 6pm-8 (shameless plug). Jamiroquai were one of the monster bands for the greatest decade in music, and releases so late after a bands apparent peak are always a risk. Their track Automaton is a triumphant return to the thrown of the kings of disco, funk and on this track there is some beautiful Daft Punk-esque electronica too. A great track showcasing the band at their best with just enough nostalgia to keep long time fans happy.

Conor Knight

Album: Liam Gallagher – As You Were

A big return to form from the ex-Oasis frontman.

Track: Haim – Walking Away (Mura Masa remix)

It’s pretty rare to find a remix that matches the original tune in quality, addictivity and danceability, but Mura Masa has just done that with his reworking of Haim’s great single.

Courtney-Lee Collins

Album: Steps – Tears On The Dancefloor

This year my favourite album has got to be the long-awaited comeback album of one of my all time favourite bands, Steps. Tears On The Dancefloor is a collection of brand new songs by Lisa, Faye, Claire, Lee and H soon to be added to their hall of fame of their many hits of the past.

My favourite track from the album has to be the first single released, Scared Of The Dark. In my opinion it was the best song to kick off their return to the world of music; very reminiscent of their unforgettable style. I was also lucky enough to see them in concert recently and I have to say they were equally as fantastic there.

Track: Charlie Puth – How Long

As soon as I heard this song I was instantly drawn in to its catchy beat and I really loved the fact it is so easy to sing along to. This is just one song from his brand new album with more singles to come very soon. Another great hit from Charlie Puth and I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with in the next few years.

Gareth Williams

Album: Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains

It shouldn’t work – a pop producer with a penchant for cover versions working with a stoner rock band – but the second the beat kicks in in album opener Feet Don’t Fail Me and your feet start tapping along you can tell it does.

Lead single The Way You Used To Do should be seen as an indie dance floor classic already, and the rest of the album provides many high points. The guitars are present and correct, and some of the album feels as dark as previous offerings, but Mark Ronson’s production has allowed them to deliver one of their most coherent collections to date. With the Foos delivering their best album in years as well in 2017, the fact you can dance to Villains is probably what edged it for me.

Track: Bruno Major – Easily

In a year where rock music has unusually dominated my listening habits, it was a jazz guitarist from London that enchanted me most when I saw him live at Latitude Festival, and interviewed him for Phoenix FM. Added to the amazing guitar was a voice like Chet Baker, and the ability to write glorious romantic songs combining pop and jazz.

Easily is a simple romantic slice of that. Bruno and I also share a birthday, which he remembered when I saw him live in London in November, yes, ultra talented and a nice guy to boot. Honourable mentions for great singles this year to Nothing But Thieves and Tom Grennan.

Graham Stannard

Album: 1968 – Fortuna Havana

This has been a great year for me musically as it’s been the first in a while that I’ve discovered a lot of new artists, particularly in the Doom and Stoner rock and metal genres which I returned to. Many have been influential, especially Pallbearer and Windhand, but it was 1968 that introduced me to the wonderful scene here in the UK and through them I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and heard some amazing and powerful music. And indeed their live performances are fantastic.

So it seems natural to say that Fortuna Havana will be my album of the year, with Duchess a particular favourite. Another theme I picked up this year has been evocative song titles and that’s on the list. Special thanks once again must go to Yinka from Sabatta, as it was his gig with them that introduced me to them.

Track: Pallbearer – A Plea For Understanding

Their latest album Heartless has seen a natural progression to their sound, in fact literally as they’ve allowed more progressive rock influences to come to the surface. But there is still the underlying heaviness and a more advanced multi layered sound and Brett’s voice is continuing to evolve and blend so well with the music.

A Plea For Understanding I feel is the best example, with the signature journey through the song and the fantastic crescendos.

Jordan Gray

Album: Paloma Faith – The Architect
Track: Paloma Faith – Crybaby

Having gotten to know her a little bit during our stint on the telly (BBC’s The Voice last year), the subversive tone of the album represents everything I know to be true about the artist as a person. It feels important.

Kavus Torabi

Album: James Holden and the Animal Spirits – Animal Spirits

2017 has been a year of fantastic albums and I could perhaps have picked five but nothing has quite got under my skin as much as this ritualistic workout from James Holden with a live band. Cyclical, pulsating synths, propulsive drumming and ecstatic chants, this album has it all.

Track: Cheer-Accident – Immanence

More hypnotic, melancholic brilliance from the always inventive Cheer-Accident. The first time I heard this, I made straight for the piano in an attempt to write something nearly as beautiful.

Keith Rogers

Album: Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa

A great album with lyrical themes revolving around her personal views of love, rising above, sex, and self-empowerment.

Track: Clean Bandit feat Zara Larsson – Symphony

A dramatic ballad about someone who is in love and wants to be part of his/her “symphony”.

Matt Hines

Album: Liam Gallagher – As You Were

Okay okay. As a dyed-in-the-wool Britpop fanatic/victim I approached this album with a bit of trepidation, given Lian’s previous post-Oasis output, but I needn’t have worried! Big singalong tunes and the voice is back. As you were Liam. As you were.

Track: Baxter Dury – Miami

My oh my! Track of the year by a country mile. The sort of confident track that I would want as my own personal theme tune in real life. A gem of a track.

Mel Watson

Album: Ed Sheeran – Divide

This will for ever remind me of all the car journeys I have taken with my daughter this year as she has played it incessantly and I have to say the songs are very happy and vibrant and easy to sing along to. I am now living in Ed Sheeran country in the heart of Suffolk after all, which leads me on to the favourite song which is Castle On The Hill. I live very near to that same castle and the song is played everywhere. I remember when the video first came out and many of my friends were saying they could recognise places in the video and even people!

Michelle Ward

Album: Hempolics – Kiss Cuddle and Torture

A band that is on the rise and getting awesome reviews for their music. The band say it’s an infectious mash-up of Reggae, Electro, Hip-Hop, Soul, Rock and Pop – I say they’re right, it’s bloody good. Do yourself a favour and buy it.

Track: The Condriacs – Voices

The Essex Duo have managed to attract a big following from all over the world and their song Voices is a beautifully crafted track. The song was written for The Mental Health Foundation and featured on Channel 4 mental health awareness week. Voices gives a voice to those who suffer from mental health issues; listen to the lyrics and you will understand.

Mike Jones

Album: Stereophonics – Scream Above The Sounds

Difficult choice this year as there’s plenty to choose from. Loyalty me says Roger Waters but I didn’t like it; Late Night me says Yusuf Cat Stevens and Intrigued me says Passenger. But Playability me says this one.

Track: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

Easy choice. If you had told me two years ago that a reality star boyband product impressed you could have knocked me down with a feather. This Harry Styles’ release was anthemic, catchy, singalongable and just downright good. Easy. And then came Elbow’s Golden Slumbers and almost pipped him.

Mike Porter

Album: Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – Human
Track: Clean Bandit feat Zara Larsson – Symphony

I like the singer’s voice.

Naomi Hefford

Album: Jhené Aiko – Trip

She has an incredible voice and the songs she writes are beautiful.

Track: Ed Sheeran – Castle On The Hill

Slower and a grower. I always get this in my head when I drive past Horndon on the Hill!

Naomi Sayers

Album: Pete Tong with the Heritage Orchestra – Ibiza Classics

Following on from 2016’s Classic House, Tongy continues his orchestral arrangements of dance classics with more than a little help from the Heritage Orchestra and conductor Jules Buckley.

This time the likes of Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy, Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers and Armand Van Helden’s You Don’t Know Me (with Craig David providing vocals) get the full orchestral treatment. There are also great re-imaginings of You’ve Got The Love” and Killer featuring original vocalists Candi Staton and Seal.

And there’s something about the power of the Heritage Orchestra combined with these classic dance tracks and the power of Pete Tong that just works! A perfect fusion of my two favourite genres – dance and classical music. I’m really glad we’ve been treated to this – and just in time for Christmas!

Track: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

I was prepared to dismiss the most hirsute Directioner’s solo debut without listening, but I’m really glad I didn’t as this is a belter of a ballad. The emotion he gets across gives me goose bumps and it somehow has a timeless feel that makes it seem like it was released years ago. And his voice is incredible on it too. And he’s one of the writers! The whole album is a really impressive debut and this is my favourite track from it. Well done Harry!

Nick Field

Album: Minus The Bear – Voids

First new album in five years from the psychadelic Seattle quintet, and they’ve lost none of their taste for atmospheric epics, while at the same time a sound that’s warm and inviting to the listener.

Track: Oh Wonder – High On Humas

Great life-affirming track with harmonies and real energy and a positive message.

Nigel Fitzmaurice

Album: Buckingham/McVie – Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie
Track: Buckingham/McVie – Feel About You

I came across this album earlier in the year – I am a big Fleetwood Mac fan, and these song epitomise them. It’s a carefully put together album and track 2 – Feel About You – is a winner and it was good to hear it get some radio airplay.

It’s a strange choice of album for me but although I love 70s and 80s soul and funk I love this album.

Nikki Mills

Album: Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music 98

You’ve got to love a compilation album! I always struggle to choose one single as my presenter pick as there are always at least 5 songs that I’ve loved over each year! But Now That’s What I Call Music 98 includes all the contenders such as Pink’s What About Us, Avicii ft Rita Ora’s Lonely Together and Dua Lipa’s New Rules, plus a few other bangers that I had forgotten about!

Track: Stormzy ft MNEK – Blinded By Your Grace Part 2

For my single it was a choice between Stay by Zedd ft Alessia Cara or Blinded By Your Grace. As much as I love the unique and catchy beat of Stay, I have to support Stormzy! As a fellow Christian myself, it makes me smile and proud that a song like Blinded By Your Grace is playing on commercial & community radio stations and being performed on TV. It’s so raw, honest and passionate and just clearly illuminates Stormzy’s love and gratitude towards his heavenly father!

Patrick Sherring

Album: Various Artists – The Shack

This is an album of music both from – and inspired by – the film The Shack. Though the film had limited showing in the UK, it was a commercial success in the USA, as was the album. With tracks from stars of modern country music and contemporary Christian music, this album stands on its own with many thoughtful and inspiring songs.

Track: Hillary Scott – Still

This track was released as a single from her solo album Love Remains. Hillary is the female lead singer of the country-rock band Lady Antebellum. This is a very personal track and reflects how faith helped her through intense personal difficulties.

Paul Golder

Album: Shed Seven – Instant Pleasures

Britpop was a big deal in my musical life of the 90s, although I tended to gravitate towards the art-pop of Blur, Pulp, Sleeper and Salad rather than the dadrock of Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene and erm, Shed Seven. So what made this album so great in 2017? While many older bands try to update their sound, this album still sounds like 1996. That could often be a criticism, but they’ve nailed everything about it – the production, the vocals, the guitars and the obligatory Britpop horn section.

And the songs are so damn catchy – even after a couple of plays I really thought most of them were Shed Seven tunes from first time round that I’d forgotten about. Great to see it bounce into the top 10 album charts too.

Track: Idles – Mother

An astonishingly powerful track mixing hardcore and art rock with a motorik beat. While this is a little bit heavier than my usual listening these days, Idles are the first band I’ve come across in years with a genuine anger and passion. Amazing live performances at Latitude and Standon Calling only enhances what they put on record too.

Rob Harvey

Album: Massive Ego – Beautiful Suicide

This album seemed to encapsulate the darker romantic side of music I didn’t realise I liked so much. It has some stunning remixes set along with a ton of greats songs, that sway in dark emotion and warm lyrical wit, dipped into political and social heart felt pros, wrapped in loads of pulsing anthemic melodies.

Track: Promenade Cinema – Spotlight

This duo seem to know exactly what I love in an electronic song, lots drama, sweeping melodies and stunning vocals, so with the track Spotlight’ it oddly spotlights all those epic flavours I like and more.

Scott Ross

Album: Ed Sheeran – Divide

With songs like Castle On The Hill, Galway Girl and his latest single release Perfect, the album is just pure genius.

Track: Robbie Williams – Mixed Signals

Just a great track which I could happily play over and over again.

Steve Davis

Album: Caterina Barbieri – Patterns Of Consciousness

I’ve recently bought a Modular Synthesiser and have been revisiting electronic masterpieces from the likes of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze through to the recent work of Teleplasmiste and Oneohtrix Point Never. Aside from the excellent James Holden and Teleplasmiste releases. Catering Barbieri is a future masterpiece!

Track: Snapped Ankles – Johnny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin

A marvellous slab of Krautrock-inspired dance music that we have had great fun with DJing live.

Steve Roach

Album: Elbow – The Best Of
Track: Elbow – Golden Slumbers

As much as I couldn’t care less about the advert, I do like this version – not quite the Beatles but still a decent cover!

Steve Robertson

Album: The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

If I’m picking the album I’ve listened to most in 2017, it has to be the 4th album by the Philadelphia band. It’s an 80s sounding album with enough of a modern twist to keep me hooked. An ideal listen for a busy day.

Track: Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Another enjoyable single from the Texan band. The title track from their 9th studio album came out in January and after a year’s worth of new releases, this still remains my favourite single.

Tony Smith

Album: Stormzy – Gang Signs and Prayer

So many great albums released this year so it was a close one! I chose this just over Human by Rag n Bone Man.

Track: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee feat Justin Bieber – Despacito (Remix)

Wow – 2017 was another great year of singles and albums. Apart from the stand out artists like Ed, Drake etc who dominated the charts with multiple chart entries, there was also some up and coming acts breaking through and looking to make a big mark on this year’s chart,

Dua Lipa had her first UK No 1 on her own and not just as a featured artist, as did Camila Cabello. Maggie Lindemann and Anne-Marie are also looking to score big next year and it was a great year for DJ Khalid also. But Despacito was the best commercial pop single of the year by a mile for me. Apart from it being a catchy tune it was the track of the summer along with projecting Luis Fonsi in to a household name (well, nearly).

Vic Damhar

Album: Sampha – Process

SSampha was named winner of this year’s Mercury Prize with his debut album Process, beating competition from the likes of The XX, Stormzy, Ed Sheeran, Alt-J, Blossoms, Dinosaur, Glass Animals, J Hus, Kate Tempest, Loyle Carner and The Big Moon.

This album exudes warmth and exceeds expectations with great compositions and lyrics throughout.

Having lost his mother during the recording of this album, Process take on a new meaning. Many of the songs contains themes of fear, death, solitude and heartbreak which is all successfully captured in his soulful voice and endearing production.

This is therapy for Sampha, and it’s none more apparent than on the heart stopping “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano”

A quiet, contemplative piano ballad loaded with beauty and metaphor. This song describes a tale of finding himself at the bench of the piano that appears at his mother’s South London home when he was three years old, but it’s also a love letter to his mum.

Track: The XX – Say Something Loving

This track taken from their third studio album, “I See You” is one of the warmest tracks on The XX’s brightest and most joyous works to date.

Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are delightfully powerful and harmonised with Jamie Smith’s work beneath, continues with the deployment of a vocal sample from The Alessi Brothers’ Do You Feel It.

Xanthe Bearman

Album: Sheridan Smith – Sheridan: The Album

I fell in love with this talented woman when I saw her in Legally Blonde in the West End. An incredible actress (Cilla, The C Word, The Moorside) and musical theatre star (Little Shop of Horrors, Funny Girl), she commented “It has been an ambition since a child to record my own album so I’m incredibly excited to be recording some of my favourite songs”. The album is full of recognisable musical medleys and I especially love her version of La La Land’s City of Stars.

Track: Harry Styles – Sign Of The Times

The lead single from his debut solo album which went straight to number 1. Rolling Stone commented “his sheer brazen confidence is dazzling” – I agree, I loved the song and the album.

Presenters’ Picks – 2016

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite albums and tracks of the year …

Aaron Heanue

Album: Craig David – Following My Intuition

Following My Intuition is Craig David’s 6th studio album. The album debuted at number 1 in the albums chart, his first album to do so since his debut album “Born to Do It” in 2000. My favourite song on this album is “16”, which is a mash up of Craig David’s old hit “Fill Me In” and Jack Ü song “Where Are Ü”. I also enjoyed the single “When the Bassline Drops” from the album, which features UK rapper Big Narstie.

Track: Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners – This Girl

I have chosen “This Girl” as in my opinion this was the dance song of the summer in 2016! Originally “This Girl” was released by soul-funk band Cookin’ on 3 Burners in 2009. Then this year French DJ Kungs remixed “This Girl” and made it his own. This upbeat dance song peaked at number 2 in the UK charts.

Alan Gulliver

Album: Destrage – A Means To No End

This album came from nowhere like a knockout punch with big powerful riffs melodic overtones and catchy hooks. This band have found themselves this year and reigned in the over-the-top riffing of the past to put together the strongest offering from any band for me in 2016.

Track: Gojira – Stranded

Taken from the album Magma, this song for me was the song of the summer and has the earworm effect on you from the outset. A great song from one of the best live acts this year.

Alan Johnson

Album: Craig David – Following My Intuition

Craig David – one of the UK’s finest R&B talents. Or do I mean Garage – or perhaps these days they call it Grime? Hang on, though, maybe his style’s more just good-old-fashioned Hip Hop.

Forget the labels – Craig David’s ability to cross a range of styles with ease is something I’ve always liked about him, and this album didn’t disappoint with its tuneful solo efforts along with some great collaborations. I particularly enjoyed “16”, a skilful mash-up of Jack Ü & Justin Bieber’s “Where Are Ü Now” with the timeless classic which launched his own chart career back at the start of the century, “Fill Me In”.

Oh now, wait a minute – can I add EDM to that list?

Track: Black Eyed Peas featuring The World – #WHERESTHELOVE

There’ve been quite a few of those songs this year whose melodies became lodged in my head – in a good way. There was the one about leaving a spare toothbrush, for example, or that one with the odd line about the stolen mattress. Then there was the highly catchy song inviting everyone to get sexual – an invitation Zara Larsson certainly seems to have taken on board as she enthuses about one particular way she’d like to get to know you.

Whilst these ditties may soon be forgotten, though, I and millions of others shall long remember this as a year marked by division and nastiness. This was epitomised by the public slaughter of an MP: I recall my heart sinking back in June when an almost quivering voice on the radio confirmed the death of Jo Cox. That was news no-one should ever have had to read, and against this backdrop my track of 2016 was an easy choice.

Antonia Jones

Track: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

I know this song was only released in November, but this has got to be my favourite track of the year. Why? It’s catchy, fun and will go on to be one of those songs that will never be forgotten. Bruno Mars has gone and done it again. He brings together a range of different eras into one track – his collection just keeps on growing!

Bob Simpson

Album: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic
Track: Bruno Mars – Versace On The Floor

As one of the more senior (in years) presenters on Phoenix FM I think my musical head is firmly entrenched in the latter part of the last century. Having said that though, there has been some great new music this year.

My choices for this year have their roots in the past though (what music doesn’t?) Yes, I’m a Bruno Mars fan!

Every track on this album sends various parts of my body into involuntary motion. I’ll leave you to guess which parts! It’s fun, it’s fabulous and does what I think music needs to do. It lifts you out whatever situation you are in and takes you on a journey.

Influences from 80’s funk to early Michael Jackson with a little James Brown and R&B of the late 80’s and early 90’s, the ballads are sweet, the dance tracks superb.

A guilty pleasure? Maybe, but I don’t feel guilty at all.

Brian Ager

Album: Whiskey Myers – Mud

The fourth album from the Texans shows a band who do exactly what they want to do, regardless of musical trends. Like all their previous albums this is an album full of songs and stories of the south, showing their depth of feeling towards their home state.

Opening with the fiddle-heavy Down To The River, the album moves on to the swampy title track, full of their trademark twin guitar attack and featuring female backing singers. Up next is Lightning Bugs and Rain, another switch of styles, this time to a brass backed almost funky song. Deep Down In The South follows in the funkier vein, thudding bass, references to Muscle Shoals, Delta Blues and home cooking, it’s another song of love for the South.

Stone is probably the centrepiece of the album. Opening with piano, the song tells the story of a lonely man on the road searching for happiness. Trailer We Call Home follows, a tale of young couples struggling to get a start in life by living in a trailer. Some Of Your Love lightens the mood, a love song about a man trying to win a girls heart. Frogman, co written by Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes, is a tribute to US Navy Seals and their life in battle.

Hank follows, a song of thanks to Hank Williams Jr and the band’s introduction to country music through him. The Good Ol’ Days closes the album on a happy note, sounding very much like a group of friends having a few beers sitting round a camp fire and having fun.

This is a truly wonderful album, musicianship of the very highest calibre at the peak of their powers. If you like southern rock, country rock, or just plain good music, buy this album.

Track: The Answer – Battle Cry

The Answer surprised many fans this year with their Gaelic-tinged album of hard rock, Solas. Battle Cry is the centrepiece of the album, a slow building 6 minute epic that they currently close their live performances with. Great song from a great album.

Chay Appleyard

Album: Asylums – Killer Brain Waves

In a year where a lot of the main music outlets are selecting The 1975’s “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware Of It” (My fingers hurt after typing that), and rightly so, it’s a great album, but let’s embrace some other good stuff which has braced our stereos in 2016.

It was a toss up between Iggy Pop’s “Post Pop Depression” or Asylums’ “Killer Brain Waves”, the first one is great and my head says I should go for that because it is THAT good. But my friends, with my heart I have gone with the latter. Why? I originally bought the album on the off chance from good things I read on Facebook. They are a Southend band on the verge of charting with their album and I felt it was worth giving a shot.

Two minutes in and one song down – I was hooked. The moment “Second Class Sex” finished and “Seen Your Face In A Music Magazine” began it was clear to me I made the right choice giving it a punt. Great production, all very upbeat songs but each with their own identity, interesting song titles and lyrics, everything down to the artwork. It’s my kinda album.

All in all, it’s wonderful to see that band/artists from your region can go on to make great records. If you look towards Southend you can find some great music at this moment in time. And I like to think, that if Asylums can go on to do more wonderful things, such as what they’ve achieve with this album, then it can encourage and inspire more of us who play music in Essex to do exactly the same. Keep up the good work, lads.

Track: Mumford and Sons feat Baaba Maal and The Very Best – There Will Be Time

I’ve embraced pop a little more this year. I’ve loved “This Is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris and Rhianna (but it’s mainly because I’m a sucker for most things written by Taylor Swift). I have, however, gone for a song which structurally, melodically, lyrically and spiritually engages me as a local songwriter.

Mumford and Sons to me have become a better band since ditching the banjos and picking up electric guitars – but with this song they took African influences and it features Senegalese music icon, Baaba Maal. In my eyes it has made them one of the most ambitious bands since the 21st century began.

I love how it’s laid out, it starts off with ab-libs from Baaba Maal, then the first chorus, both verses are different, the four chorus are musically diverse (single strums with no drums, then slow building drums, then breakbeat drums – the works), Baaba Maal and Marcus Mumford just seem to play off each other vocally – its wonderful to listen to.

The EP “Johannesburg” is in my car currently, and it isn’t going anywhere fast. Fun fact: I used to work in a fish and chip shop in Grays also named Mumford and Sons, it has been in the Grays area since 1912.

Chris Hood

Album: Neil Young and Promise of The Real – Earth

Neil Young is an angry man – nothing new there. Together with new band Promise of The Real, featuring the offspring of Willie Nelson, this album is a series of live cuts of Young’s best musings on Planet Earth, together with studio overdubs and sounds of nature. The 28 minute version of Love and Only Love is a particular treat.

Track: Prophets of Rage – Prophets of Rage

Prophets of Rage announced their existence in May of this year. A supergroup featuring members of Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, all the participants are at the peak of their powers for this barnstorming shot across the bows. Plus, anything with Tom Morello in it has to be worth consideration, right?

Chris Siviter

Album: Tacocat – Lost Time

The record I’ve listened to more times this year than any other. A delightfully noisy record full of short punky classics along with lyrics covering feminist themes (amongst other things) make this a must-hear album of 2016.

Track: David Bowie – Lazarus

The death of David Bowie shocked the entire world when it happened only two days after the release of his final album Blackstar. But even in death, he did things on his own terms, staring down his own mortality and continuing to make art until the final curtain. The song Lazarus, along with the moving video is another example of a man who did things his way, always moving forward and even turning his passing into a final artistic tour de force.

Chris Stagg

Album: David Bowie – Blackstar

I’m sure there are many that will disagree with me, but in my opinion Blackstar is simply the most important and stunning musical album to be released in 2016.

Put aside for a moment the tragic death of David Bowie just two days after the release of this album and take it for what it is. Yes, this album was Bowie’s goodbye to the World and final message to us, and yes it does make the album all the more important. But to judge it against the context of Bowie’s death is to do this masterpiece of an album an injustice.

As an album on its own it is incredible. ‘Blackstar’ is a short album at just over 7 tracks and 41 minutes, 10 of which is the title track alone. I’m not going to go into depth about ‘Blackstar’ the track, as it was my song of the year for 2015 (which is available on the Phoenix FM website), but it is one Hell of a way to open an album. Wonderfully bizarre, seemingly able to jump genres and yet not be defined by any, it hypnoses you into a state of musical Nirvana. But every track on this album is beautiful in its own right and can easily be enjoyed in isolation or by listening to the album as a whole.

Particular highlights for me though, are the heartbreaking tracks; ‘Lazarus’ and ‘I can’t Give Everything Away, and ‘Twas a Pity She Was A Whore’, which is it wasn’t for the lyrics would be at home on the soundtrack of Labyrinth. Strange, groundbreaking, contradictory and beautiful; ‘Blackstar’ is just like Bowie himself. It is all those things and more. Blackstar is perfect, and honestly everyone should hear it through at least once.

Track: Korn – Rotting in Vain

When Korn first exploded onto the scene, I was instantly hooked. I had never heard anything like them. Their music alone really struck me, with their seven-string guitars and strange other worldly effects combined with heavy use of dissonance. But it was Jonathan Davis’ incredible vocal style that I enjoyed first and his shocking subject matter that inspires him. His crackly deep to childlike singing, metal screaming and perhaps most famously his use of gibberish, opened another World for me.

Korn had album after incredible album with self titled debut; ‘Korn’, ‘Life is Peachy’ and then their breakthrough ‘Follower the Leader’ with its world-smashing track ‘Freak on a Leash’ giving them global fame. The 90s had one more brilliant album for them in ‘Issues’ which gave them many crowd favorite tracks like ‘Somebody Someone’ and ‘Falling Away from Me.’ But after this, in my opinion Korn lost their way. Sure there was the odd track that was good, but the albums just didn’t have that special something. But they have now rocketed back with a brand new track (and album) that is everything Korn used to be, while still showing maturity and musical growth. Even acceptance of where they had gone wrong in the past.

‘Rotting in Vain’ is heavy, very dark and shows a band that are ready and very hungry for more. This track sounds like a beautiful hybrid of the sounds of ‘Issues’ mixed with the ferocity of their debut. We even have the long awaited return of Jonathan Davis gibberish! This is a fantastic track that seasoned veteran will love and also a worthy introduction to any new Korn fan. Check out the Victorian Gothic music video too that is the perfect dark match to the song.

Courtney-Lee Collins

Album: Various Artists – Now 95

I would say this because I think that it has a wide array of fantastic songs in it and I have a wide taste in music so don’t really tend to follow a single group.

The London Hospices Choir and Paul Carrack – The Living Years

My reason behind this is that whilst I have many favourite songs and usually struggle to choose my favourite of the bunch, I’m a big 80s music fan having been brought up beside it as my parents have listened to it all my life and I love the original song, also I am a massive charity fundraiser so to me the purpose behind the song is close to my heart.

Graham Stannard

Album: The Cortège – Love & Land

I’ve always loved their sound, but they continue to improve with age, especially live. Long time friends of Musical Meanderings, The Cortège have always had the wonderful blend of melody and heaviness I’ve always enjoyed, but this latest EP takes it to the next level, especially as they build towards their trademark crescendos at the end of songs such as Starting Gun. Long may they continue.

Track: Atriohm & Ianuaria – Solstice Extract

I’ve not been listening to too much Psychedelic Trance this year, but am always keen to keep an ear out for any developments on the powerful end of the spectrum and this hasn’t disappointed. From Macedonian artist Atriohm’s new album, only released this month, Million Years Dance, this is a wonderful collaboration with Ianuaria. A finely crafted sonic adventure, with meandering sweeps and satisfying peaks, I’m looking forward to hearing it on a dance floor soon.

Harriet Ivie

Album: DJ Snake – Encore

I have been a follower of DJ Snake over the past couple of years. Loving some of his singles including “Lean On’ featuring Major Lazer and “You Know You Like It” featuring Aluna George. However last August I was so excited to see he had realised his very own album.

I have chosen Encore as my album of the year as I was hooked instantly. With house and dance feels with a few heavy baselines thrown in there it’s an album crafted especially to my taste, I couldn’t think of anything better!

Track: MK & Beck Hill – Piece Of Me

This song stands out to me when I look back on what tracks I have loved this year. Due to its strong beat that instantly put me in a good mood! It is one of them songs that make you want to get up and dance! I was lucky enough to see this track performed by the DJ MK live at V Festival this year, and hearing the crowd sing along and dance makes this track stand out to me this year.

Joe Denby

Album: Azooma – The Act Of Eye

Azooma is a Death Metal band from Iran which completely caught me off guard. All musicians are on top form and there is fantastic musicianship on display.

It blends and perfectly balances technicality, brutality and melody. The album just plays itself and flies by. It reveals more with every listen.

Track: Megadeth – Dystopia

It’s modern yet classic Megadeth. Delicious guitar melodies and hooks. Haunting lyrics. A sure fire future classic.

Kavus Torabi

Album: North Sea Radio Orchestra – Dronne
Track: The Gasman – Motivation

Both artists are favourites of ours on The Interesting Alternative Show. This album and track are career highlights of both to my ears.

Keith Rogers

Album: Rihanna – Anti

A rich and conflicted record at its most interesting when it’s at its most idiosyncratic.

Track: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

A great feelgood track that everyone seems to like!

Libby Holden

Album: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

I have been a huge fan of Bruno Mars since the very beginning and was so excited for the release of this new album and I can happily say I have not been disappointed. Even though it was released at the end of 2016 in November I am still choosing this as my favourite album of 2016!

24K Magic is a devoted resurrection of the soul, funk, and R&B of ’80s and ’90s. What elevates 24K Magic beyond pure pastiche relegated to wedding playlists is how well Bruno Mars, brimming with swagger and schmaltz, sells the flossy fantasy.

If you get a chance take a listen! A couple of my favourite tracks being – ‘Chunky’, ‘Versace On The Floor’ and ‘Too Good To Say Goodbye’. I have also got tickets to his world tour next year, so really looking forward to that. Go Bruno!

Track: Lukas Graham – 7 Years

I first heard this song on the radio in the car at the beginning of 2016 and I instantly knew i was going to love it; it has an amazing melody let alone the genius lyrics, most people can relate to a line or two in the song and I believe that is the beauty of good song writing.

Although originally realased last year, 7 Years reached no 1 in the UK singles charts and stayed there for 5 weeks. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

Matt Hines

Album: Kate Bush – Before The Dawn

The live recording of the best live show I have ever seen. Before the Dawn captures the magic of the legendary run at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2014.

Track: Mystery Jets – Bubblegum

This band came of age this year with their brilliant album “Curve Of The Earth”. Bubblegum is the stand out track on a brilliant piece of work by the band. A real calling card.

Melanie Watson

Album: Susie Smith – Gong Goddess Future Sounds

Susie is an amazingly gifted gong musician. I have attended many of her workshops and finally this year she released an album so the magic of the gong can now be transported into your home. Gonging is becoming increasingly popular, and the concept of having a gong bath is one that is being embraced.

These sounds are incredibly haunting and transport you in to a different world. Ideal as background music for exercise or as a focal point for meditation.

Track: DNCE – Cake By The Ocean

This brings back memories of the wonderful wedding ceremony I conducted in Malta this year.

Michelle Ward

Album: Michael Kiwanuka – Love and Hate

Beautiful voice with interesting songs and inspiring lyrics.

Track: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling!

A happy pop tune that makes everything feel immediately summery. Also produced a great video alongside. Justin back to his best.

Mike Jones

Album: The Boxer Rebellion – Ocean By Ocean

It’s astounding how this band aren’t bigger than they are. Huge American tour, large London gigs but still no real hit. Perhaps this will do it. Not a weak track on this beauty with songwriting skills at a premium. Just can’t get this off the playlist. Love it!

Track: Travis – Idlewild

Easy choice this year for me as this ticks so many boxes. Lovely bass line, haunting lyrics deserving all the attention it got.

Mike Porter

Track: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

I just love the jazz funk sound.

Nick Field

Album: Sonic Boom Six – The F-Bomb

Sonic Boom Six combine rock, hip-hop, electronica, reggae, ska and anything else they can think of and use them all to create a sound that champions a progressive and fairer society without sounding world-weary. Alongside Lazy Habits, whose ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ album is also worth a mention here, Sonic Boom Six are a band who never compromise themselves or their message. They’re exactly the kind of band the world needs right now.

Track: Babeheaven – Moving On

The first band I saw on stage at Latitude Festival this year, and was captivated. This is beautifully atmospheric chilled-out genre-crosser.

Nigel Fitzmaurice

Album: Rick Astley – 50

Very different and a soulful jazz feel. Not a cheesy album at all.

Track: Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners – This Girl

A song that I played a lot when we moved to Clacton – my summer feelgood song.

Nikki Mills

Album: Bastille – Wild World

This was a choice between Bastille’s ‘Wild World’ and Busted’s ‘Night Driver’ but as much as I love Busted and I’m extremely happy they are back together, I’ve gone with Bastille.

The reason for this is because for me it has been a long awaited album. Ever since I had the chance to interview lead singer Dan Smith in April last year and ask him questions about the upcoming album I’ve been excited for its release.

Watching the band perform some of the new songs from the album at Glastonbury and seeing them on the Wild World supporting tour has reinforced how amazing they are. They sound just as good live as they do recorded and I enjoy listening to every track on the album.

Track: Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better

Another tough decision between two contenders, Shawn Mendes and ‘Closer’ by The Chainsmokers. I’ve chosen ‘Treat You Better’ because it’s a great follow up to his 2015 track ‘Stitches’ which I also love. Shawn Mendes sings with such passion in his songs and writes meaningful lyrics which I without fail always find myself learning and singing along to.

I am going to see him on his Illuminate Tour next year which I’m very much looking forward to and can’t wait to join in singing with the crowd!

Patrick Sherring

Album: Ward Thomas – Cartwheels

Twenty-two-year-old twin sisters Catherine and Lizzie Ward-Thomas have had a great 2016. Cartwheels was their second album and it was the first by a UK country band to go to No. 1 on the album charts. Their mixture of close harmonies and interesting lyrics, wrapped up in a British take on an American country sound means we will be hearing about them for many years.

Track: MonaLisa Twins – Nothing Is In Vain

For much of the year the MonaLisa Twins have played gigs in their adopted city of Liverpool. You can hear the influence of classic Merseysound from the 60s in their music. But they play it for the 21st century in a fresh and appealing way.

They are multi-talented vocalists and musicians. This track, with an ethereal quality, is a great introduction to their music.

Paul Golder

Album: Divine Comedy – Foreverland

Neil Hannon back to his whimsical best with witty lyrics and amazing arrangements – it’s probably his Divinest Comediest album ever. And he rhymes “brainier” with “Lithuania”.

Track: Honeyblood – Sea Hearts

One of a number of great songs released from their excellent second album “Babes Never Die” – a throwback to the brilliant guitar-driven pop you’d see in the charts all the time before streaming ruined them. Amazing live band too – a big sound from just two live performers.

Rob Harvey

Album: David Bowie – Blackstar

This was the first Bowie album I had rushed out to get in ages, and little did I realise it was a swansong.

The album gives me the subtlest of clues to Bowie’s fragility, with songs that feel like a collaboration with Picasso in the palette of his storytelling.

The songs are a mix of Epic, grand, subversive, funny, classic bowie creativity and yet oddly poignant – “I Can’t Give It Away” being my favourite on this masterstroke of a final album, from a true legend.

Track: Neil Francis and Daysound – Deadender

This song was a massive earworm for me this year, as it evokes drama with some truly catchy hooks. It was written originally way back in the 80’s, and they decided to revisit and stay true to the songs original inception. Deadender is a dark pop procession of lush sounds and driving rhythms – a ageless feel that makes me click repeat.

Ruth E Mortimer

Album: Matt Corby – Telluric

Oh Matt Corby … his voice is just incredible and sends warm shivers down my spine. Do you want to sit down, relax and listen to some soothing guitar, and a voice that will make you melt into your chair? If your answer is yes then you seriously need to get this album.

Coming from a guy who was a product of Australian Idol, he has grown into a soulful, soothing musician, and this album displays his versatility and artist intelligence. Check out his Facebook page for some stunning live recordings of songs from Telluric too, really demonstrating this man’s huge talent.

Track: Joy Williams – We Can Never Go Back (acoustic version)

Joy Williams is an artist who has had 3 reprises as a musician – Christian Singer, The Civil Wars member, and now haunting powerful solo artist. Her release of her 2015 album Venus was followed in 2016 with an acoustic Album of some of the songs from that album, as well as bonus tracks, one of which being We Can Never Go Back (acoustic).

The song takes us through the struggle and pain that a lover or friend can’t dwell on the past, and the only way to progress forward from their hurt is to move on. The song finishes with a shift, one which is more peaceful, and displays progression of feelings – and importantly that herself and whomever she is referring to will go on (and on and on).

The song is beautiful, however is difficult to listen to as many would have experienced similar pain and struggle, and the song perfectly depicts this – so listen with caution.

Scott Ross

Album: Phil Collins – The Singles

I always liked Phil Collins so this looks like being a fairly safe bet.

Track: Chvrches feat Hayley Williams – Bury It

This is a band that just keeps getting better and better.

Scott W

Album: Dream Theater – The Astonishing

The American progressive metal group continue on their music odyssey providing an atmospheric, powerful though subtle at times, thought-provoking, character-driven concept double-album set in the future. It’s some antidote to the likes of X-Factor-like talent shows, displaying proper musicianship.

Track: Alter Bridge – My Champion

An uplifting (and loud) reminder of the need to keep going after tough days or tough times, the world is a hard place, though motivation is darn important. Keep plugging away. This choice is dedicated to the Mental Health Community.

Steve Davis

Album: Knifeworld – Bottled Out Of Eden

Their best and most accessible to date.

Track: Gong – The Unspeakable Stands Revealed

From the album “Rejoice! I’m Dead” – considering the relatively recent passing of Daevid Allen this track conjures up a certain melancholy, but not in a sad way but rather in a spiritual sense.

Steve Roach

Album: David Bowie – Blackstar

A fantastic album for a classic artist to bow out on.

Track: For The Love Of Bob – Fix You

An amazing vocal harmony version of the Coldplay track, which featured on the Phoenix FM-supported “Sound Of Essex” CD released by Studio 6 Music in the summer in aid of the Brainwave tumour charity.

Steve Robertson

Album: Birds of Tokyo – Brace

The fifth studio album from Australian band Birds of Tokyo. This is an album I’ve been listening to more than any other this year and it only came out in November. The mixed melodic and rock sound just works, and means I have been listening to the recent release no matter what mood I’m in or time of day.

Track: Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – Human

A stand-out single from a singer I saw perform and interviewed at the Standon Calling festival this year. Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – real name Rory Graham performed this live in July when the single was first released and it appeared on the Phoenix FM A-list as a result.

The song has spent 9 weeks at the number one spot in Germany and is now having a second lease of life as it climbs up the UK chart and for me has been the song of the year since I first heard it in July.

Tara Newman

Album: Sheratones – If Your Heart’s Not In It

With an original sound and fresh image, this band stand out by a mile.

Track: Dead Natives – Rollercoaster Scream

This song is catchy and gets your feet tapping. This band have only been together 5 months but they’re songs are going to be massive. Watch out for them in 2017!

Tony Smith

Album: Tove Lo – Lady Wood

So many great mainstream albums released in 2016 so for this category I am going to go with a relative newcomer, Swedish singer Tove Lo and her album that attempts to consolidate the international multi-platinum success of her 2014 debut, “Queen of the Clouds”.

Some listeners may not warm to Tove Lo’s persona, but her songwriting skills are difficult to fault (she’s also co-written hits for Ellie Goulding and Girls Aloud on the side). She is aided on the album by collaborators including Lorde producer Joel Little and Max Martin’s protégé Ilya Salmanzadeh.

Track: Drake – One Dance

Although this song kind of got on my nerves after the first month of its release, it’s worth remembering the track spent 15 weeks at Number One in the UK alone, with a massive 1.8 million sales in 2016 and counting, and was Spotify’s most-streamed song ever! A track that was guaranteed to fill the dance floor again and again, and now that it has had a bit of a break from radio airplay I’m now enjoying the track again.

Was “One Dance” actually any good? Yes, of course it was – its inescapable dancehall rhythms burrowed their way into your ear like Drake never has before – with more than a little help from contributors Kyla and Wizkid.

I must add that I nearly went with Clean Bandit who brought home the most coveted chart accolade of the year with the Christmas Number One 2016, “Rockabye”. Credit also goes to Anne-Marie and Sean Paul for amazing vocal performances on the track.

Tracey Thomas

Album: Passenger – Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea

I love Passenger – I have all his albums and there are so many great tracks it’s hard to pick a fave. I have lots of albums from 2016 that I loved but this stands out.

Track: Kungs vs Cookin’ on 3 Burners – This Girl

It’s just a happy summer tune that always lifts my spirits and reminds me of our family holiday this year in sunny Majorca – grandson in the pool, evenings around the port area, white sangria, paella etc etc!

Xanthe Bearman

Album: The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

Snappy Title. My daughter introduced me to this band and I really like their eclectic style. The album has a track featuring a gospel choir, an couple of instrumental tracks, pop style songs and an acoustic song at the end. “Love Me” is certainly one of my favourites as it’s a complete mickey take of popular culture! Lead singer Matty says it was inspired by him strutting around on stage with his shirt undone, arms outstretched, with hordes of teenage girls screaming up at him!

Track: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Such a happy little song from the Trolls movie soundtrack. It’s one of those songs that get in your head and you bounce about all day singing it – I’m a cheery soul so that appeals to me!

Vixter (Vic Damhar)

Album: Kaytranada – 99.9%

Kaytranada released his highly anticipated debut album 99.9% via XL Recordings. Showcasing a blend of genres from soul, funk, disco to house, bass, hip hop and R&B.

Kaytranada, aka Louis Kevin Celestin has cemented his reputation and sound. Every kick, snare, or clap, usually layered with a sample, gives an energetic, funky, house-vibe to his tracks. This is why Celestin stands out from any other popular electronic house producers.

The album features a wealth of guest talent, including acclaimed percussionist/producer Karriem Riggins, rising Toronto vocalist River Tiber, UKG favourite Craig David, Aluna George, BadBadNotGood, Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon, Vic Mensa and Shay Lia.

99.9% also won the 2016 Polaris Music Prize (Canada’s equivalent to the Mercury Prize), which honours the year’s best album.

Track: Dusky – Ingrid Is A Hybrid

Nick Harriman and Alfie Granger-Howell, aka Dusky, are pioneers of the UK house music scene. The duo released the track from their second studio album entitled Outer.

“Ingrid Is A Hybrid” is a superbly textured sound that offers up atmospheric pads, translucent synth and stunningly inventive vocals with classic rave breakbeats. The track takes you into an atmospheric trip, experiencing euphoria through house music, plus adding Dusky’s own contemporary sound stamped onto it.

A pure pleasure to listen to.

Presenters’ Picks – 2015

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite albums and tracks of the year …

Adam Dyer

Album: Aaron Goldberg – The Now

Best known for the blisteringly rapid OAM’s Blues, which featured in the Media Player library for Windows Vista a few years ago, Aaron Goldberg is a master technician at the piano. I am lucky enough to have played together with Aaron in his apartment in Greenwich Village, New York. This album demonstrates his sensitive touch and lyricism at the piano.

Track: Maria Schneider – Walking by Flashlight

I may have talked about it in the favourite tracks of summer, but Maria Schneider’s Walking By Flashlight deserves another mention. Gorgeous melodically and with her customary rich orchestration, this is a life affirming piece of music.

Alan Johnson

Album: Chvrches – Every Open Eye

This is the second album from the three-piece band whose songs are often evocative of early synth-pop yet with a contemporary sound all of their own. Lauren Mayberry’s voice is the main appeal for me though – slightly sassy and very sweet.

Track: Felix Jaehn feat Jasmine Thompson – Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)

A mark of the popularity of Rufus and Chaka Khan’s 1983 classic is the number of times it’s been sampled or covered by others, including Jasmine Thompson’s acoustic version in 2013. That itself was subjected to the remixing skills of Felix Jaehn, resulting in one of a fair few polished reworkings of dance anthems in 2015.

Antonia Jones

Album: Jess Glynne – I Cry When I Laugh

After a long wait, I’m glad Jess Glynne finally released this album. Jess brings a different kind of soulful sound to her listeners, mixed with her unique tone and style of song writing. This makes the album more interesting, especially with the addition of a few of my favourite tracks including Hold My Hand, Don’t Be So Hard and Not Letting Go.

Track: Rudimental feat Ed Sheeran – Lay It All On Me

I heard this song a few days before it was released on the radio, while driving one night. The chorus was really catchy with an edgy sound, so as usual I sang along and I haven’t stopped ever since. Ed and Rudimental are both favourites of mine, so this collaboration most definitely makes this my favourite single for 2015.

Bob Simpson

Album: Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color

Just because of the amazing voice that Brittany Howard possesses and the fact that the members of the band look most unlike rock artists.

Track: Mark Ronson feat Mystikal – Feel Right

Echoes of James Brown at his best and one of those tracks that takes you out of wherever you happen to be and puts you on the dancefloor.

Brian Ager

Album: Kevin Gordon – Long Gone Time

I participated in the crowdfunding campaign for this album a couple of years ago, and it was finally released in the summer. Four years after his previous masterpiece, Gloryland, Kevin Gordon has come up with the goods yet again. Beautifully played, swampy, growly grooves back up the stories to music he’s written. It flows along and forces you to listen to the lyrics. Not all joy and happiness but real life stories of ordinary people. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him perform and it’s just a joy to behold. I cannot recommend this album enough

Track: The Cadillac Three – White Lightning

Originally released on their debut album, Tennessee Mojo in 2013, it was re-recorded for the single release this year. It’s become one of those “cigarette lighter moments” at their live shows and tells the story of how Jaren Johnston (the lead singer and guitarist) met his wife.

Chay Appleyard

Album: Reverend and the Makers – Mirrors

This will change tomorrow morning – I’ve been dreading this because there has been so many good albums this year. 2015 has been the best year for music for a decade, period. Now this can be argued of course, but when you look at what has come out this year, it’s no wonder when I pull my pockets inside out there isn’t much left. Given how much money I spend, I may as well be a HMV shareholder. Anyway, I’ll go with Reverend and The Makers with their album “Mirrors”. Why? Well I like an album which is fluent, something that doesn’t stop, like as if its telling a story. I was amazed from the first time I listened to it. The songs are short, the choruses are big. Best album out of the five they have produced, and if anything, it was a little surprising coming from them. If asked I could have easily done a top 20, but alas, this is my choice at the time of writing. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll recommend another 2015 classic.

Track: Florence and the Machine – Queen Of Peace

Again, this is likely change if you ask me tomorrow. When I think of a singular song that gives me tingles down my spine every time I hear it, well this is it. I know lots of people were saddened when Dave Grohl broke his leg and couldn’t perform at Glastonbury, but who better to step up to the mark then Florence Welch herself. She was fantastic. Everything about this song is perfect, from the long introduction, to the brass instrumental, strong lyrics, and a big chorus that I cant help but sing/scream in my car. Need I go on? Each Florence song is an event in itself.

Chris Hood

Album: Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

Well, it was only going to be one album for me this year. The boys are back .. and better than ever. Building from the opening tracks of If Eternity Should Fail and Speed of Light to the crescendo of Empire of the Clouds, this is Iron Maiden at their most epic.

Track: Tokyo Taboo – Bubbilicious

One of the top performances of our Creative Sessions I think, this song has been stuck in my head since I first heard it. Great riff, quirky vocal, crazy group.

Chris Siviter

Album: Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

Sufjan’s first album in five years is a heartbreaking journey of the loss of a loved one. Beautifully stripped back and full of emotion, it’s a raw, personal journey that was definitely the musical highlight of 2015.

Track: Braids – Sore Eyes

From their third album Deep In The Iris, a song I’ve listened to countlessly this year. With an infectious melody and thought provoking lyrics Braids just get better and better.

Chris Stagg

Album: The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy

This album marks a true return to form for Essex dance act The Prodigy. Though not quite on par with The Fat Of The Land, The Day Is My Enemy has a confidence and ferocity not seen for many years. Full of genre influences such as dubstep and electronica, there is also plenty to find for fans of their earlier breakbeat sound too and is sure to generate many future classic tracks. The Prodigy have always been a live band, and in a way the albums just present more for the formidable arsenal. This album also represents a first, where both Keith Flint and Maxim have had input in the writing and recording process with mastermind Liam Howlett. Highlights for me include the title track The Day Is My Enemy, opening with a menacingly suspenseful marching bass and altered siren, and the extremely good Ibiza with vocals from the very talented Sleaford Mods.

Track: David Bowie – Blackstar

One of the greatest recording artists of all time is back with a new album, the title track of which is a real marmite offering – which I happen to love! Ten minutes long, this track must be absorbed by watching the bizarre accompanying short film – to call it a music video is an understatement. In this track Bowie has crammed drum and bass, acid house, blues, rock and Gregorian chant inspired vocals into a haunted jazztronica masterpiece. The video itself is based around a young women (with a tail) on an alien land who finds an astronaut’s skeleton (Major Tom perhaps) and takes his jewel-encrusted skull to be worshipped in a fantastical village while the skeleton floats off towards a giant ‘black hole sun’. There’s not even time to mention the scarecrows, gyrating models and Bowie with head wrapped in bandages and ‘Coraline’ button eyes preaching with his Blackstar book. Phew! This track has to be seen (and heard) to be believed and in my opinion is something new and very special indeed. Bowie on top form.

Chris Sullivan

Album: Young Fathers
 – White Men Are Black Men Too

Young Fathers second record is lo-fi, filled with drum machines , rock grooves and the vocals that sound like a preacher-man testifying. Good tunes, a strong album

Track: Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney – FourFiveSeconds

Early January saw the return of Rihanna with a surprising folksy acoustic jam session of a track with three of the biggest names in the industry. The song was a collaboration between beatmaster Kanye and the Beatles legend, and while McCartney unsurprisingly is on guitar duty the other two layer raw vocal tracks to give a simplistic tone. As Music Site Noisey put it, “it sounds like sunshine”.

Gary Casserley

Album: Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone In The Universe

I know it’s a recent release but I’ve always liked ELO and as Jeff Lynne was the voice of the band, to me it’s the nearest thing to the original group. Great songwriter and it’s good to have him back.

Track: James Bay – Hold Back The River

Great song – simple as that.

Harriet Ivie

Album: Sigma – Life

Sigma’s debut album, Life, is most definitely my album of the year. With unblemished, immaculate vocals, sourced from artists such as Rita Ora, Jacob Banks and Labrinth, the duo have formulated a euphoric and hedonistic platform that foreshadows further success in 2016.

Track: Diplo & Sleepy Tom – Be Right There

The newly created adaption of the 90’s club classic ‘Don’t Walk Away’ by Jade. Climbed up to the highest point of the Top 40 in rapid speed earlier this year, demonstrating an undeniable feel-good and dance flavour as well as infectious melodies.

James Moloney

Album: Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Two of the most brilliant singles I’ve heard this year have come from a single album – therefore my album of the year is … not Coldplay … not Adele … not a various artists effort BUT Florence and the Machine!

Track: Years and Years – Shine

For me this was the year of indecision – nothing stood out for me. So would it be Charlie Puth and Megan Traynor with Marvin Gaye or Adele or Coldplay … well actually if you discount Sigala, which I loved for 10 minutes or perhaps Major Lazer … on my airplay alone my single of the year is Shine.

James Phillips

Album: Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Weapon

Second album from polyrhythmic-futurefunk (their words) Melbourne quartet shows a tremendous growth in their unique sound!

Track: Stick in the Wheel – Bedlam

This haunting version of Bedlam from the Essex natives was nominated for a BBC folk award. Great stuff!

Kavus Torabi

Album: Frisk Frugt – Den Europæiske Spejlbue

The Frisk Frugt album caught me completely unaware. It’s charming, unique and eccentric. Sort of traditional Danish classical music re-imagined with homemade instruments. I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it before but couldn’t stop playing it.

Track: The Cesarians – Control

The Cesarians were a band I loved anyway, but it’s the inclusion of this almost uncharacteristic song on their album Pure White Speed that really did it for me. A masterful piece of pop composition. Every part is more exciting than the bit which precedes it. Absolutely glorious, heartbreaking and triumphant.

Keith Rogers

Album: Brandon Flowers – The Designed Effect

I tend to go for very well-produced music which is not too jarring and this album certainly falls into that category. Good to see it made number one in the album charts.

Track: Years and Years – Shine

I kept hearing this in the gym and it took forever to try and work out who it was. Very catchy and beautifully produced.

Matt Hines

Album: Craig Finn – Faith in the Future

The Hold Steady frontman released his second solo offering earlier this year and it’s seldom been off of my turntable. With more than a hint of Springsteen and storytelling that evokes images of Dylan, Faith in the Future is an immense piece of work.

Track: Ryan Adams – Bad Blood

Taken from his take of the Taylor Swift album 1989, Ryan Adams’ version of Bad Blood highlights just how good pop music can be when stripped down and given heartbreaking alt country treatment. Lovely.

Melanie Watson

Album: Anima – Sacred Alliance

If you need to be soothed by music and find some peace in the chaos of life, this album contains many evocative tracks that can transport you to anywhere in the world in your mind. I’ve been a fan of Anima for many years and they never cease to produce amazing collections of music. It’s quite difficult to find music that’s soothing and peaceful without being too dull. There are so many meditation tracks available including apps, but I find most of them too fast and just not easy listening.

Track: Arvo Pärt, Wiltener Sängerknaben, Wilten Boys’ Choir and Johannes Stecher – Magnificat

This track, from their album Babel, is a beautifully spiritual piece and performed by the Wilten Boys Choir from Innsbruck. This year was Pärt’s 80th birthday so if you haven’t discovered him before and you like the sound of a magnificent choir this is a great one to start with.

Michelle Ward

Album: Opolopo – Superconductor

I discovered this artist late one night when looking for another track of the same name. The whole album is a giddy mix of funky tunes, again pretty retro in style. No misses on this album, all fine tracks. The video to the single Get On Up is worth taking a look at.

Track: Mark Ronson featt Keyone Starr – I Can’t Lose

Very retro funk as only Mr Ronson can do – catchy and a good follow up to the massive Uptown Funk. Makes me think back to the days of Quincy Jones’ Back on the Block album.

Mike Jones

Album: David Gilmour – Rattle That Lock

Predictable for me as a Floydite, but despite the title track which was forced this album has just grown and grown on me. His best work, says the author himself. Play loud on headphones late at night.

Track: Jack Savoretti – Back Where I Belong

Think I played this constantly during this summer. Swirling and upbeat – just loved it.

Mike Porter

Album: Rod Stewart – Another Country

Because I’m a big Rod Stewart fan.

Track: Rod Stewart – Please

Because I’m a big Rod Stewart fan!

Mitchell Young

Album: Now That’s What I Call Music! 92

It’s cheesy and a bit predictable but I think it has, as it does have some of the best and current tunes of 2015 and that is why I think it is album of the year. With Justin Bieber, One Direction, Olly Murs, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith all top artists that have released some very good songs this year and so many others on the album that I can’t all name because I would go on forever.

Track: James Bay – Let It Go

This was very tough choice to pick the record that I love throughout the whole year but I have managed to finally make a decision. I just think it is a very chilled out and personal song which I can connect with rather than just enjoying the sound. Also he’s been gone from strength to strength this year and I’m sure we’ll defiantly see more from him.

Nick Field

Album: Disclosure – Caracal

The Lawrence brothers’ second album is more chilled out than their debut “Settle”, but they still shun the thumping beats and over-repetitiveness of a lot of dance music in favour of a more thoughtful, song-orientated approach that doesn’t get caught up in itself while still giving plenty of floor-fillers that certainly got the crowd going at their recent three night residency at Alexandra Palace.

Track: Youth Club – Pressure

Another fine single from the Southend band who mix together indie and dance influences seamlessly to create a sound where you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next – but you can’t wait to find out what does!

Nigel Fitzmaurice

Album: Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Alone In The Universe

I have always liked ELO, which is strange because my favourite music has always been 70s and 80s soul music. But they give me a nice alternative.

Track: Olly Murs – Kiss Me

I heard Olly sing it live at the O2 this year. It came over really strong – it’s a song with soulful vibes and very catchy lyrics.

Nikki Mills

Album: Muse – Drones

This may come as a surprise as it’s not normally the genre or kind of artist I’d usually pick – and it’s completely different to my presenter pick single – but I’m choosing Drones as my album of the year. I’ve really got into their music this year, and a friend has helped me to really listen and appreciate the different components and sounds that Muse create through playing their instruments and how it all works together. When you really pay attention to this you hear the lyrics, Muse’s passion for music and meaning of the song in a whole new perspective. I’ve listened to Drones a few times over the year and it has excited me into buying a ticket to see the band live in April on their album-supporting tour!

Track: Jake Miller – Rumors

This year I discovered a new artist in US rapper/pop singer Jake Miller. Originating from uploading his own songs to YouTube, he has supported Snoop Dogg and also collaborated with Travie McCoy. He has a growing fanbase all over the world, who call themselves the Millertary, and I class myself as part of this! I love all his songs, but the lead single from his second EP is my presenter pick single. The track, with the same name as the EP Rumors, is a popular and catchy song which showcases his rapping and singing talents. When I went to see him live at The O2 Islington in October everyone in the crowd was dancing and singing along.

Patrick Sherring

Album: Leon Bridges – Coming Home

You could be forgiven for listening to this debut album and thinking you have stumbled across an unknown classic from Marvin Gaye or Sam Cooke. It has an amazing mid 60s soul feel. This young singer-guitarist from Fort Worth, Texas clearly has an interesting future as he manages to take a nostalgic sound and turn it into something new.

Track: The Shires – All Over Again

Duo Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle are the first British country act to be signed to a major Nashville label. This catchy song is about focussing on a relationship that life has disrupted and recapturing the original feelings. They are an interesting band nominated for seven awards this year by the British Country Music Association. And they sang live in the Phoenix FM studio too!

Paul Golder

Album: Blur – The Magic Whip

A major surprise to hear that Blur were a real band again – and a bigger suprise to hear the quality of the music, thanks to the magic of Graham Coxon and Stephen Street who rescued the songs from being a Damon Albarn dog’s egg of an LP. As good as anything the band created in their 90s heyday.

Track: Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best

Brilliant old-school “stream of consciousness” indie offering which was a staple of every US college rock station I tuned into while driving around the country in February. Great video too highlighting the futility of fleeting clown popularity.

Rob Harvey

Album: Jean-Michel Jarre – Electronica 1: The Time Machine

I was really looking forward to this album from The French Electronic pioneer. This album seemed clearly designed to introduce Jarre to a new generation, which is no bad thing. There are 16 songs on Electronica 1 and 15 collaborators (“Automatic”, a co-production with Yazoo’s Vince Clarke, is in two parts). The album includes 1970s legends Tangerine Dream, along with odd soloists like Laurie Anderson and Pete Townsend from The Who, to newer artists like Air to rising music stars like, Armin van Buurin, M83 and Little Boots. So for me the album shows many shades of electronic music and almost celebrates the multitude of artist out there play that genre.

Track: Promenade Cinema – A Chemical Haunting

A début single from a duo from Yorkshire, who in my mind have a vastly mature sound with some subtle youthful pop sensibilities. This track swirls around in its sonic drama and to me creates the feeling of a classic B-movie, horror/ spy thrillers film noire. Melodic and haunting; I’m so looking forward to hearing more in 2016 as this is a impressive debut.

Ronnie O’Sullivan

Album: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Chasing Yesterday

Big fan of the Gallaghers who have made a lot of great records over the years.

Track: Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia

A good upbeat tune which gets you in the mood!

Scott Ross

Album: Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION

Her own composition, I Really Like You, was released as the album’s lead single, staying in the UK charts for 20 weeks peaking at number 3 and holding the position for two consecutive weeks.

Track: Kid Rock – First Kiss

A great easy going and enjoyable rocking track with lyrics that remind us oldies of all those good times we enjoyed in years long gone, whilst hopefully encouraging youngsters to live every moment to the full so that they too will have great memories to look back on.

Scott W

Album: Tremonti – Cauterize

Creed and Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti’s second solo album is a raw, powerful, motivating and uncompromising effort. It shows you don’t need screams in hard rock/metal albums to be heavy and loud.

Track: Iron Maiden – Empire Of The Clouds

Telling the story of the airship R101 and its demise in October 1930, this epic track is the longest track Maiden has done to date. Fiery, imaginative and quite moving – it takes you on a musical journey. The line “dreams live on” really speaks to me.

Sonny Jay

Album: James Bay – Chaos And The Calm

It’s fair to say James is one of 2015’s British solo breakout artists. It’s also fair to say he looks like Andy Carroll who has run into Harry Styles … his album lyrically, melodically and production wise felt so fresh to me, especially with the current state of the charts this year all being dominated with power sounds, DIY drills and house songs.

Track: OMI – Cheerleader (2015 version)

I was fortunate enough to be sent this track to play before it came out. Got such a great vibe to it. I also saw him sing this at Wembley Stadium – seeing 70,000 people dancing and knowing all the words to this one was a highlight for me for sure.

Steve Davis

Album: William D Drake – Revere Reach

Track: Prefuse 73 – Applauded Assumptions

Steve Roach

Album: Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – If I Can Dream

I’m a big Elvis fan and I can’t resist any chance I get to buy the same songs done in a slightly different way!

Track: Hozier – Take Me To Church (2015 version)

Reminds me of those glorious summer nights at Shenfield Cricket Club.

Steve Robertson

Album: Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

If we choose the album we’ve played most for the year, this will be the one for me. Based on the early space missions the album brought on a whole new meaning for me after seeing PSB live at this year’s Latitude Festival.

Track: Boy and Bear – Walk The Wire

The first single release from the Australian band’s 3rd album, Limit of Love. A track which has been stuck in my head for the last couple of months.

Tony Smith

Album: Years and Years – Communion

My album of the year goes to a band that was top of my “ones to watch” list last year! Communion is fantastic and is one of my most played DJ albums of the year too. Also a big shout out to Elvis Presley for making the 2015 Album charts. Rock n Roll Baby!

Track: Jess Glynne – Hold My Hand

What a fantastic run this lady has had since she featured on Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be”. She has also featured on many other artist hits this year!


Album: Jamie xx – In Colour

In Colour was Jamie xx’s full-length solo debut. He gathers up elements of everything he’s done in the past six years, from moody ballads and floor-filling bangers to expansive vocal collaborations.

He also possesses a talent for layering, blending samples of voice, saturated bass, and deep beats, so smoothly that they form a larger, singular sound. This sound is entirely his own, and makes In Colour, one of the most emotional and transcendent pieces of dance albums in years.

The continuous flow of this album is pure musical perfection from the first beat to its last. In Colour is a crafted masterpiece, a pure artist’s vision, in which you immerse yourself in the musical world of Jamie xx.

Track: Jody Wisternoff feat Sian Evans – The Bridge (Shur-i-kan remix)

This wasn’t easy. There are two mixes on this Anjunadeep release, one is the original from Bristol based DJ/Producer Jody Wisternoff and a remix from Shur-i-kan.

The remix was a former “Track of the Week” on my show and repeated for many further weeks later.

Shur-i-kan uses the original arrangement of the string ensemble followed by an off beat bass rhythm to create a dramatic transformation of The Bridge. This was by far my Track of the Year, by the biggest distance conceivable.

Xanthe Bearman

Album: Stereophonics – Keep The Village Alive

This is the band’s 9th studio album, with all the tracks written and co-produced by lead singer Kelly Jones. I love every song, which is unusual nowadays! And you get even more to enjoy on the Deluxe double CD!

Track: Markus Feehily – Love Is A Drug

I really enjoyed the debut single from the ex-Westlife singer with his incredible vocals over beautiful strings (and the video is amazing!) I’m looking forward to hearing more from Markus in 2016.

Songs of the Summer – 2015

Phoenix FM presenters choose the songs that made their summer this year!

2015-09-02 Brentwood Gazette (songs of the summer)

Adam Dyer
Maria Schneider – Walking By Flashlight

A jazz track from her latest release, The Thompson Fields. It’s a beautiful tribute to her childhood growing up in the Minnesota countryside. Great played late at night after a long day in the sun – it has a nostalgic feeling for summers past.

Alan Johnson
Avicii – Waiting For Love

My enthusiasm for dance music started to wane about a year ago – a bit of a shame as I couldn’t put my finger on what had changed. Thankfully this song by some of the biggest talents in the business has injected a dose of renewed passion!

Antonia Jones
Clean Bandit – Stronger

I love this song with vocals from Alex Newell and Sean Bass, it’s up-tempo with a very unique dance / electronic sound. it’s quite refreshing to listen to this British band, because they produce some great music and have featured some really talented up-and-coming artists including Jess Glynne.

Bob Simpson
Sunscreem – Here’s The Summer

It begins with the line “It’s cold outside” so you just know they are a British band!
Taken from their long awaited new album Sweet Life which I had on permanent rotation in my car for weeks and listened to the track sitting on a cliff top in Cornwall on a beautiful hot day in June looking out over an azure blue sea watching the little boats and the seagulls. One of those moments that stick with you….

Brian Ager
The Cadillac Three – White Lightning

Originally released a couple of years ago on their debut album, Tennessee Mojo, this song was re-recorded for a single release this summer. It’s just a great song – I honestly think if it had been recorded by a “name” it would be a major hit and a song you will be hearing for many years to come.

Chay Appleyard
Circa Waves – T-Shirt Weather

It was very hard to decide as for me it has been the best year for music in a long time. This track has great summer vibes.

Chris Hood
Iron Maiden – Speed Of Light

The first release from the new studio album, The Book of Souls, their first for five years, is totally worth the wait. With an awesome video produced and directed by Llexi Leon (his first ever music video!), it builds up the excitement to the album release on 4 September. Explosive and energetic from start to finish, it had me hooked from the opening riff.

Chris Siviter
Braids – Sore Eyes

This a track from their third album Deep In The Iris, released in April. It’s easily the song I’ve listened to most this summer; beautifully crafted beats along with meaningful vocals from Raphaelle Standell-Preston. Always interesting and thought-provoking lyrics this track is no exception, one of my favourite bands making music today.

Chris Stagg
Lindemann – Praise Abort

My choice for the sound of summer comes from the twisted minds of the unholy union that is Till Lindemann (Rammstein) and Peter Tägtgren (Hypocrisy), who mixes his dark and gothic dance metal with Till’s baritone voice and wickedly provocative lyrics to astonishing effect. It’s very catchy and a musical triumph in the genre they dominate.

Chris Sullivan
Alessia Cara – Here

A great chilled out track with a sample of Portishead’s Glory Box, which makes an excellent background for her upbeat lyrics to chime over.

Gary Casserley
OMI – Cheerleader

Quite simply it’s got that summer vibe. I can imagine being on a beach somewhere with the song playing in the background and then hearing it later in a club.

James Moloney
Charlie Puth featuring Megan Traynor – Marvin Gaye

To hear the three chord trick in a modern song was definitely a surprise for me . It’s been in my head for all the right reasons – with Megan’s Marilynesque stature and Charlie’s Lyrics it’s a statement in Rock and Roll. I’m hooked!

James Phillips
Primo Nelson – Jazz House

I’ve chosen a tune from Southend funksters Primo Nelson. Great band with a new funk sound, and one to watch.

Joe Agius
Tom Corneill – Gravity

He’s a fabulous back-to-basics singer/songwriter. No big arrangement or flashy production. Just one voice and one guitar – that’s it. Simple, pure and increasingly mesmerising with each listen.

Keith Rogers
Years and Years – Shine

I kept hearing it at the gym but it took me ages to find out what it was as it was never back-announced the station I was listening to! (Wouldn’t have happened on Phoenix … PG)

Matt Hines
Blur – Lonesome Street

A triumphant return for Blur who released The Magic Whip, their first album for 12 years. Lonesome Street sounds like they have never been away. Graham’s iconic guitar work, Damon’s sharp vocal, Alex still being cool as anything and Dave being Dave. Blur are back and thank goodness for that!

Mel Watson
Hein Braat – Gayatri Mantra

It’s not a pop song but a piece of beautiful chanting; a highly revered mantra from the Vedas that has a powerfully soothing effect. There are many versions of this but Hein’s voice is incredible and his recording is probably the most popular. Ideal if you’re feeling stressed or as a piece of meditation music.

Michelle Ward
Opolopo – Get On Up

I discovered this Stockholm band about a month ago while looking for old soul tracks. Once I started listening to them I was hooked. This is their current single taken from new album Superconductor, which mixes soul, funk, boogie, house and electro. It will always be summer with this tune in your head.

Mike Jones
The Beatles – Golden Slumbers

I waited 50 years to see a Beatle and finally got to see McCartney do this. Stayed in my head for the summer

Nick Field
Django Django – First Light

I love how this band take so many influences from decades past while still creating a sound that’s very much of the present. A great festival band too!

Nikki Mills
Fifth Harmony ft Kid Ink – Worth It

I first heard it when I was visiting a friend in Cornwall after we had just been to Glastonbury and I loved it! On top of it being a classic club tune that I enjoy dancing to it also brings back the memories of my time in Cornwall and at Glasto – and for me summer time is all about spending time away from home, festivals and being with friends!

Patrick Sherring
Van Morrison and Michael Buble – Real Real Gone

A really bright and happy good time track, taken from Van Morrison’s Duets album. Both artists sound like they are really enjoying the recording session. Perfect music for a warm summer evening – should we ever have one!

Paul Golder
Sarah Cracknell – On The Swings

A beautiful, dreamy and bittersweet baroque pop track from the Saint Etienne singer’s solo album Red Kite. Chelmsford-born Sarah’s solo recording has won her comparisons with legends such as Ennio Morricone and Nancy Sinatra, so no further recommendation needed!

Rob Harvey
Apache Darling – Firebird

This track from Scottish duo Apache Darling has that perfect uplifting feel that seems right for a brighter season with warm summer evenings.

Scott Ross
Victoria – Summertime

I’ve decided to plump for this track from up-and-coming London band Victoria. This song expresses the whole feeling of what summer is all about for me – it’s just got a great “summer fun” sound.

Scott Waple
Iron Maiden – Speed Of Light

Iron Maiden roar back into the metal scene with this punchy number, can it get you fired up? You can get lost in the fiery guitars … enjoy it!

Steve Robertson
Public Service Broadcasting – Go!

I’ve really enjoyed their current album The Race for Space and got to see the band perform this at the Latitude Festival, with this song being the one stuck in my head ever since.

Tony Smith
OMI – Cheerleader

This track dominated the summer charts this year! Originally out in 2012 it was remixed this year by the fantastic upcoming German DJ Felix Jaehn. The track also went multi platinum in the UK charts and also Australia, France and Germany to name a few! Can’t get better than that!

Tracy Morter
Weezer – Island In The Sun

Just two seconds of the intro and I’m immediately feeling the sun on my back and the smell of figs in the air. I once photographed Weezer at Sonisphere festival, it had rained all day, but the sun came out just in time for this song!

Vic Damhar (Vixter)
David Zowie – House Every Weekend

This track has the summery vibe, gets you moving and clearly shows why House is one of the top music genres of 2015. House Every Weekend is about a man who’s bored of spending every weekend in the house with his girlfriend, instead wishing to spend his time partying to gain a release from day-to-day life. A clever vocal sample in which a woman was originally complaining about “staying in the house every weekend”, David Zowie added a weighty bassline and turned it into a slogan for the partying masses.

Xanthe Bearman
OMI – Cheerleader

When I was on holiday in Portugal this was played on every radio and TV station we turned on! It became the theme tune of the holiday and all the family would have moments of humming “Oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader..” and the rest of us would then join in. It’s a proper Earworm!

Presenters’ Picks – 2014

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite singles and albums of the year …

Alan Johnson

Album: Sia – 1000 Forms Of Fear

The first release in a few years by the artist who famously shuns being famous, the melodies of some of the tracks are akin to those of the chart toppers she’s written for the likes of Rihanna but the lyrics generally go deeper, reflecting a troubled soul. Vocally she brings to mind both Stevie Nicks and Nelly Furtado – not a bad thing on either count.

Track: Wretch 32 – 6 Words

I normally like to choose tracks released early enough to have had the chance to stand the test of at least a few months, but the smooth sound of 6 Words with its nod towards drum ‘n’ bass is going around my head a lot as the year draws to its close – in a pleasant way.

Alex Hoggett

Album: Catfish And The Bottlemen – The Balcony

Not just because it’s a brilliant album, but because it shows how if you stick with it, you can make it to the big time! Seeing as they were formed in 2007, and only made it past their local circuit in 2013 after signing to Communion records, I think it’s to be applauded. The Balcony, their debut album is 11 tracks of indie rock, reminiscent of the 2005 indie scene, a bit of nostalgia for those who were into that! Highs and lows throughout, but ultimately a great album for the summer!

Track: Turbowolf – Solid Gold

A band I have had the pleasure of seeing live twice now, and both times they have put on a great show! Solid Gold was the first of two singles they released this year and shows what this band can do – a great build up, into a fantastic rock song. I would highly recommend this band, and can’t wait till the second album “Two Hands” comes out next April!

Ben Knight

Album: Glass Animals – Zaba

This Oxford-based band were picked up by super-producer Paul Epworth and subsequently signed to his label Wolf Tone Records. I first saw them supporting Yeasayer, so that immediately earns them hero status. The LP is best described as a clever pop record, with the intricacy and attention to detail key to what makes this album so enjoyable. Enjoyed best as a complete piece, it still features popular radio friendly singles, with Gooey given the remix treatment on several occasions.

Track: The 2 Bears – Not This Time

Joe Goddard and Raf Rundell conjured up a beautifully constructed pop song that conveys a great deal of emotion. Taken from their latest album ‘The Night Is Young’, the duo manage to shake the feeling that they are only capable of making blandish house music. The vocals are as honest and real as it gets, with their performance at Bestival increasing my love for them even more.

Brad Acton

Album: Broken Bells – After The Disco

Driven by production genius Dangermouse whose collection of works have caressed your eardrums more than any of you know, being the creative genius behind the likes of Gorillaz and Gnarlz Barkley to name but two. This album solidifies Broken Bells’ juggernaut trajectory into the realms of the unknown escalating with it the highlights of the last one hundred years in music. It’s a nod to everything you’ve ever heard and everything you ever need to know and I love it dearly.

Track: Jungle – The Heat

Taken from the self-titled album, which in my opinion is a haunting collection of music undefinitive in time and genre. “The Heat” makes for an eclectic delve into a whole other way of thinking and has given me no end of ear love. It sits on top as an invite to the deep-echoed world of the album and I can’t recommend it enough.

Brian Ager

Album: Hard Working Americans – Hard Working Americans

Album of the year? Well, I struggled long and hard over this one – to me 2014 has been a classic year for new music. Albums by Jim Suhler, Chuck Prophet, Robert Plant, two from Ian Siegal, John Mellencamp, Rosco Levee & The Southern Slide – the list went on and on. I finally decided on the Hard Working Americans. Formed as a side project by Todd Snider and other luminaries from the “Americana” circuit, it’s an album of cover versions of great American songs from the recent past. Anyone who knows anything about Todd Snider knows he’s a fabulous, albeit shambolic artist, but this album brings tremendous musicianship and he really ups his game.

Track: The Old 97s – Longer Than You’ve Been Alive

It’s a semi biographic account of the life of a band member – in this case, Rhett Miller. Building slowly with an acoustic guitar, by the end the full band kicks in to a raucous telling of the ups and downs of being on the road in a working band. I’ve just realised that Elbow released a single from The Takeoff & Landing Of Everything, which was New York Morning. Typical Elbow, and have played it on my show a couple of times.

Chay Appleyard

Album: Paolo Nutini – Caustic Love

I absolutely love Mongol Horde’s album but it is not exactly family friendl so I’ve decidedto go for something a bit more welcoming. Elbow’s album was great but by going on personal feelings then there is no contest. After five years of silence, Paolo returned with a bang and flexed his musical muscle by incorporating soul and R&B to his ever expanding sound. It’s cohesive, got great songs and although I have a quick rotation system in regards to music in my car, I kept this in there for a solid six months. Truly brilliant.

Track: Clean Bandit – Rather Be

I struggled immensely with this. If I was to be loyal to my tastes I probably would go for the latest Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds’ single. However, after much deliberation I will have to go with a song which had stuck in my head from the majority of this year. As most singles this year to have been fragmented amongst each other in my humble opinion, Rather Be by Clean Bandit has kept itself above most of the chasing pack.

Chris Hood

Album: Paolo Morena – The Mighty Small

In a year in which I was filling obvious holes in my back catalogue, the album that I went out of my way to buy was this one. The debut solo album from a man who has done so much in his musical career features tracks with more layers than a tiramisu and twice as tasty. No padding, just brilliant track after brilliant track, I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

Track: Lordi – Nailed By The Hammer Of Frankenstein

No doubt in my mind, an amazing track from the greatest band ever to grace Eurovision. We were teased the track and when it dropped it blew my mind. From the guitar riff and synth at the beginning right to the chorus, this is just awesome, unashamed heavy metal heaven.

Chris Siviter

Album: Talons – New Topographics

Some truly great albums were released this year and it was hard just to pick one but Talons’ latest came top of the pile. A six-piece post-rock band from Hereford created a piece of work which is at points thrilling, exhilarating and also full of beauty. Oh and it’s also very noisy too in places, and that’s never a bad thing! An album I can literally finish and then just want to jump back in and listen to again.

Track: The War On Drugs – Red Eyes

From their magnificent Lost In The Dream album. A track that mixes the best bits of 80s stadium rock and adds a dreamy haze to create something that you just fall in love with from the first time you hear it.

Chris Stagg

Album: Slipknot – .5: The Grey Chapter

Their last studio album was 2008’s All Hope is Gone. That album was fine and had some good tracks, far removed from the heaviness of early Slipknot but to be expected with time. But in the six years since then, a lot has happened to the band. The death of Paul Gray (note the album title of this one) had a huge impact on them especially to Corey Taylor. Joey Jordison quitting/being fired (still not clarified!) And the complex situation of Jim Root fired from Stone Sour (Corey’s other band) but still in Slipknot meant a lot of people felt this album was likely to be not very good in the face of a few years of great difficulty. But thankfully this album exploded with the passion of their early days and the maturity and musicianship that they have crafted in the years since. One of the best Slipknot albums and I love it.

Track: Paloma Faith – Only Love Can Hurt Like This

My single of the year is from completely the opposite end of the spectrum. When I heard this I thought it was a brilliant track and it was one of those songs that really stuck in my head. I thought it was good but there was obviously plenty of computerised clean up going on when she hits the higher octave on the 2nd run of the chorus – it sounds very digital. Still I thought it was nice enough. But then I head Paloma sing this live and have since heard several different live recordings and performances and I am absolutely blown away by the range and control of her voice, and she demonstrates both to their best in this track.

Chris Sullivan

Album: Sun Kil Moon – Benji

My album of the year has to be this astonishing LP from Sun Kil Moon. Singer/songwriter Mark Kozelek hits a peak with his measured just faster than spoken word delivery and mesmerising lyrics which give us a self commentary and honest retrospect of what his life is, recalling past and current events, ranging from the important to the obscure, but always relevant. Laid over classic blues/folk acoustic riffs with accompaniment from bass and drums, it adds an edge to the sound giving it a rickety feel which only amplifies the personal tone of the album. Simply a must listen.

Track: Kendrick Lamar – i

Amazing track from the American rapper, comes at you fast and funky with a sound that would be at home on a 70s cop show, Kendricks lyrics and flow are just as rhythmic and cool as the instrumentation. Strong single.

Gary Casserley

Album: Paloma Faith – A Perfect Contradiction

She is a little bit like Marmite – you either love her or hate her. Now I detest Marmite but I do like Paloma Faith’s voice. A fairly easy going album which bounces along quite nicely and includes the single “Only Love Can Hurt Like This”.

Track: Aloe Blacc – The Man

Taken from his third album Lift Your Spirit, The Man “borrows” its chorus from Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. A great pop tune from early 2014.

James Moloney

Album: Primitives – Spin-O-Rama

There is a possibility that I might have given this to any Various Artists album which came out in the year – my library is full of them! However I had heard Paolo Nutini sing “Someone Like You” from the album “Caustic Love” and explored the album which, had it not been for my favourite would probably have pointed to my Album of the Year. That was until, listening to Brentwood’s Only Alternative on Phoenix FM while driving to gym one Thursday night, I heard The Primitives sing Petals from the album Spin-O-Rama. Initially I thought this sounds a little eighties, a little Blondie but it is this year and I love it.

Track: Clean Bandit – Rather Be

Like my album of the year I think music should make you feel good but not in an infantile way. So out is the Hokey Cokey stuff of boy bands, not sure of Olly Murs (but I like his latest stuff) but my biggest like of this year is Clean Bandit and Rather Be if only for just not being London Grammar but interesting and exciting!

James Phillips

Album: Damien Jurado – Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Sun

Tis is his thirteenth studio album with long time collaborator Richard Swift. I think the album says a lot about where music is at right now; self produced, released on Strictly Canadian and just really sounds like he has found his feet as an artist.

Track: Little Dragon – Klapp Klapp

Just a great chaotic pop tune!

Joe Box

Album: Jungle – Jungle

I usually don’t have time for self titled albums because it’s a bit lazy isn’t it? However, I’m happy to make an exception in this instance because it’s such a brilliant album. The thing about Jungle is when I listen to them I feel 100 times cooler than I actually am, and being an awkward, lanky teenager I need all the help I can get. Stand out tracks are The Heat, Busy Earnin and Julia. ALSO IT SHOULD HAVE WON THE MERCURY ESPECIALLY AFTER I DID A WHOLE FEATURE ON IT WHICH NOW SEEMS A SLIGHT WASTE OF TIME.

Track: Meridian Dan – German Whip

A stand out moment this year was going to watch Tinie Tempah at the O2. It got even better when Tinie invited Meridian Dan on stage to perform “German Whip” and hardly anyone around me knew the lyrics, so they all just stared at me rapping along. We then sung the song on the train journey home and annoyed the whole carriage. For a grime record to chart at number 13 was a great moment in 2014 and I can’t wait to hear the debut album from Meridian Dan.

Kavus Torabi

Album: Stars In Battledress – In Droplet

Track: Stars In Battledress – Fluent English

Stars In Battledress are one of the most beautiful gems hidden away in British music. A duet performing exquisite, spectral songs. This long-awaited album and subsequent track are an otherworldly treat.

Matt Hines

Album: Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

As a dyed-in-the-wool Oasis fan, choosing this album wasn’t easy! This album is deep. It’s soulful, introspective and beautiful. It’s Alban’s best release without Blur.

Track: Ryan Adams – Gimme Something Good

Alt-country troubadour Ryan Adams came back with his 2014 album “Ryan Admas” – a slice of American radio gold. Gimme Something Good evokes memories of Springsteen. It’s great. Check it out.

Michelle Ward

Album: Pink Floyd – The Endless River

Beautiful, chilled, sweeping guitars – 18 tracks of music brilliance.

Track: Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One

Not really been into this vocalist before that but it’s a brilliantly written song. I love the intro which reminds me of old style American blues. The lyrics are simple but effective. The choir build up the chorus at the end. It’s a very sad song. Only one thing spoils it for me is the bridge – not keen. Other than that, it’s my song of the year – his voice is superb.

Mike Jones

Album: Ben Howard – I Forget Where We Were

As a Pink Floyd devotee it would be easy to select the new and last offering from the famous four but, good as it is, I have been blown away by the latest album from Ben Howard. Achingly good tunes and basslines to give a thunderstorm a run for its money.

Track: Madden Bros – We Are Done

Underplayed and deserved better charting.

Mike Porter

Album: Maximo Park – Too Much Information

I took a fancy to this right from the start when Phoenix FM started playing it.

Track: Maximo Park – Give, Get, Take

I love the retro feel of this track.

Nick Field

Album: Nick and the Sun Machine – Wide Lying Smiles

I was blown away by these guys when I saw them at a festival last year, and their debut album didn’t disappoint. A great mix of indie and psychadelia, with Nick Stephenson’s surprising vocal range matched well with his bandmates’ harmonies. A band who aren’t afraid to experiment with their sound, while never losing track of a good singalong.

Track: Sondre Lerche – Bad Law

Where a lot of pop music this year was polished until it glistened, and was all the more dull for it, Norway’s Sondre Lerche gave us something rough round the edges, with out-of-control instruments coupled with singalong choruses – a thrilling ride of a track. Proof that pop can still be experimental and unpredictable while never losing its sense of fun.

Nikki Mills

Album: Pixie Lott – Platinum Pixie

Platinum Pixie includes many of my favourite songs by Pixie Lott. There is a great choice of songs on the album including “Nasty”, her first single of her 3rd album also released this year, “Broken Arrow”, the single I was promoting when I had the privilege to meet her for the first time, “Coming Home” which is a collaboration with another artists I love Jason Derulo and Pixie’s beautiful rendition of my favourite song by Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody”. I’m glad this album has come out just in time to use it as my presenter pick as it showcases all the hits Pixie has produced since her first album Turn It Up in 2009.

Track: Sigma ft Paloma Faith – Changing

I know I say this every year but it was so hard to pick my favourite single! I even had to play 47 songs over two of my shows to help me choose, but I finally decided on Changing as it means a lot to me at this moment in time. Even though it was released in September (and reached number 1!) it is very current as it is still often played. The lyrics, although short and repetitive, are powerful and I love the music and beat which accompany them because it is very clubby and dancey! This helped the song to stand out above my other options.

Patrick Sherring

Album: Dolly Parton – Blue Smoke

Dolly Parton blew everyone away with the enthusiasm of her Glastonbury performance. Her Blue Smoke album, with its mixture of new tracks like Try (now being used in a Christmas advert) and classics like Jolene makes it a winner. How can you not like Dolly? She is a great songwriter and a truly unique performer.

Track: Gregory Porter – The “In” Crowd

This track is a great combination – Gregory Porter has a classic jazz voice. On this track he takes a classic 60s pop song and gives it a contemporary jazz feel. The result is timeless.

Paul Golder

Album: Kaiser Chiefs – Education, Education, Education and War

I’ve always been a big fan of the Kaisers, especially since they now follow the mantra of “What Would Blur Do?” much more closely than Damon Albarn given their respective releases. This was a solid album with no real weak points which went on rotation over and over again in the spring and summer. Not even the drag factor of appearing on a rubbish reality TV singing competition show could stop be making this number one, although my cooler, hipper self would have voted for Superfood’s Don’t Say That, which this narrowly beat into second place.

Track: Pop Will Eat Itself – Reclaim The Game (Funk FIFA)

People often ask where all the protest singers have gone and although there aren’t many around, some of the oldies are still doing a great job. This has to be the best World Cup song in this year or any year, with its anti-FIFA anti-corruption message and a proper 90s indie/dance vibe to boot.

Rob Harvey

Album: Berlyn Trilogy – A Perfect Stranger

A three piece from Wakefield who have that big sound set amidst a dark film noir. Their debut album swirls around a dark set of tales with the human heart at its core. The track from the album “Can The Heart Be saved” would be my single of the year, alas I love others equally. Think David lynch films, with Eno, Bowie, Ultravox and you may have an idea of the feel of the album.

Track: Actors – Like U Want 2

As always a very hard choice and one that changes every time I think about it. However, I discovered this band from Vancouver in Canada, and being a fan of Editors, White Lines and Interpol, I found these guys to be for me, the fourth horsemen in this four band apocalypse of epic drama and soaring melodie s- which is what I like in a guitar band with decent synths. The single “Like U Want 2” holds that new wave punk feel I miss from late 1970 bands, it’s a gem and delivers for me a pogoing audio punch.

Scott Ross

Album: Pink Floyd – The Endless River

I really came unstuck here as not having much of an idea of what albums were out I took a stab at the Pink Floyd album because of the recent interview but when I heard the album in truth I hated it so what can I say. Let’s just say it was haunting!

Track: Amelia Lily – California

There were so many singles that I thoroughly enjoyed this year but as I had to pick one I chose the Amelia Lily track because I liked it. A great daytime radio track with a driving beat – a great summer-sounding song.

Steph Cawthorne

Album: Ed Sheeran – X

Ed Sheeran has really pushed his talents to the next level this year. As well as being beautifully and meticulously produced, lyrically his songs are pure genius.

Track: Hozier – Take Me To Church

Hozier has burst onto the music scene with grace and power. This song has so much meaning and emotion behind it, and regardless of your opinion on its themes portrayed in the music video, it has a purity that means so much to so many people.

Steve Davis

Album: Knifeworld – The Unravelling

Not only is Kavus Torabi a Phoenix FM presenter, he’s also a brilliant musician and, with this latest release, a superb writer.

Track: Knifeworld – This Empty Was Once Alive

From the same album, it’s a heart wrenched as Kavus pours out his soul as a dedication to his good friend Tim Smith from the Cardiacs.

Steve Robertson

Album: Spoon – They Want My Soul

You know exactly what you’re going to get from a Spoon album and this year’s offering from the American band has not disappointed, with a few of the tracks making the Phoenix A-List.

Track: Superfood – Right On Satellite

I probably like this single so much because it’s a “fun” track that reminds me a lot of the sort of music that was coming out of the UK in the 90s. Possibly part of what has arguably been a small Britpop resurgence this year, this band from Birmingham have released a good, poppy single that has influences from 20 years ago with a modern twist.

Tony Smith

Album: Ariana Grande – My Everything

Tough one again this year with so many great albums released, but if I had to choose, it would go to a young lady by the name of Ariana Grande. Ariana is from America and began her career in the Broadway musical “13” before landing the role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon television series “Victorious” in 2009. After the show ended, she rose to prominence as a teen idol on her own spinoff, Sam & Cat. She released her debut studio album, “Yours Truly” in 2013, which debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. The album’s lead single, “The Way”, became a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with critics comparing her wide vocal range to Mariah Carey. Her second studio album, My Everything, also reached number one in the United States, and contained the hit singles “Problem” and “Break Free”. These songs and “Bang Bang” have spent 26 straight weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. Ariana has also featured on many other artist hits this year, with 2015 sure to see her propelled into superstardom.

Track: Ella Eyre – If I Go

So many to chose from this year, so for me probably it had to be Ella Eyre, probably not the best single when pitted against the whole year’s charts, but certainly a fantastic start to the year for this young lady. Her track “If I Go” was released on 1 January 2014, and since then she has gone on to have a fantastic year. She recently played at the Kensington Roof Gardens, a popular London live music venue, and was supported by 3, yes 3 of my Sunday Lunch show guests! It all started in December 2012, when Eyre featured on Bastille’s cover and mash up of TLC’S “No Scrubs” and The XX’s “Angels” Titled “No Angels”, the song featured on the band’s 2012 mixtape, Other People’s Heartache, Pt. 2. In April 2013, she featured on Rudimental`s single “Waiting All Night”. The single was released on 14 April 2013 and peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart, making it her first number one single in the United Kingdom. In August 2013 she appeared alongside Wiz Khafia on the track `Think about It` from Naughty Boy’s 2013 album Hotel Cabana. The song was released as the fourth single from the album on 17 November 2013. Eyre also features on Tinie Tempah`s album Demonstration on the track “Someday (Place in the Sun)”, which entered the UK Singles Chart at number 87 but was never released as a single. Eyre co-wrote “Changing” for Sigma featuring Paloma Faith. The song was released in the UK on 14 September 2014. Her other notable songs are debut single “If I Go” and “Comeback”. In October 2014, Ella Eyre won Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014. And to top the year It has been announced that Eyre will be supporting Olly Murs on his 2015 arena tour.

Tracy Morter

Album: Sharon van Etten – Are We There

Are We There opens aptly with Afraid of Nothing because this is a very brave, honest and raw album. The words of a wounded soul for all of us to hear so beautifully.

Track: Maximo Park – Leave This Island

Paul Smith has an amazing way of painting a picture in your mind with his words. Leave This Island is like a perfectly directed story in my mind. I see that map on the bedside table, I can see the water swell from a Scottish hotel and I feel his conflicting emotional submission and anticipation of what is coming.


Album: Roy Davis Jr – Destroy And Rebuild

Big fan and friend of Phoenix FM, legendary DJ/producer Roy Davis Jr released this album in April on Mile End Records. Best described as Soul Electrica (soul music mixed with electronics- a hybrid of garage, house, disco, R&B, soul and hip hop) which infiltrates the beats on “Destroy and Rebuild”. From the classic vibe track like “Slide” featuring legendary vocalist Robert Owens to J Noize rapping on hip-houser “Bang Bang” and not forgetting the sublime vocals of Terry Dexter on “Hands of Love”. Roy Davis Jr’s style and sound on this album has changed – going back to his spiritual roots by expanding his soulful side and combining the deeper funk sound of Chicago.

Track: Caribou – Can’t Do Without You

After a four year silence Caribou announced his new album “Our Love” and the track taken from it “Can’t Do Without You” was on repeat for weeks. The original is a soulful dance bliss with psychedelic atmospherics and incredible on it’s own right but the remix and retouches by German duo Tale of Us and Mano Le Tough became my ultimate dance track of the year (a VERY close call with Tenwalls “Walking with Elephants”). The track is divided into two parts; the first half of the track has Snaith’s vocal central to the build up then fades mid-track. The second half returns together with a very thick and intense baseline.

Xanthe Bearman

Album: Billy Idol – Kings And Queens Of The Underground

Ah, my 80’s hero! Billy Idol is now 58 and hasn’t had a new album out since 2005. I think this one was worth the wait. There are more ballads than you might expect, but fans of “Rebel Yell” will love “Postcards From the Past”. “Can’t Break Me Down” is more of a pop tune with a punky feel, and there are still the ‘guitar heavy’ rock anthems fans love Idol for – “Whiskey and Pills” is probably my fave! Great to have the old fella back!

Track: Paolo Nutini – Scream (Funk My Life Up)

I just love Paolo Nutini’s voice and especially love the lyrics on this single. I’d call this a pop tune with its catchy chorus, but it has more gravity than your average tune with the guitar riffs, loud horns and varying of pace. It’s one of those that I always turn up loud when I hear it on the radio.

Presenters’ Picks – 2013

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite singles and albums of the year …

Alan Johnson

Album: Avicii – True

Some strong collaborations make for a refreshing variety of tracks, great for both listening and dancing to.

Track: Naughty Boy feat Sam Smith – La La La

A beautifully structured song in every respect.

Alex Hoggett

Album: Biffy Clyro – Opposites

Despite the fact AM (Arctic Monkeys) was released this year, at the end of January, Biffy Clyro released a new double-album entitled Opposites. The album consisting of 20 tracks has everything. From your mellow songs, to the hard hitting rock songs, and back to more poppy songs to round it off. They have certainly done the double-album concept much better than Green Day did the triple-album concept! The album has songs to fill stadiums, and I can say that from experience as I saw them at the O2 this year, just one of the three times I saw them this year!

Track: Arctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know

Easily the best single of this year really, AM brought us a dirtier aspect with this song, and the whole album to be honest. The grooves in this song ooze sex appeal, and the band are one of the biggest in the world right now!

Ben Knight

Album: Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

A beautifully melodic album that proves just how important production is to creating a unique sound. My first thoughts when listening to this album was the similarity to the Beatles, and they are certain to go from strength to strength. They’re also not too shabby live either.

Track: MS MR – Hurricane

Lizzy Plapinger helps run Neon Gold Records in Brooklyn, and out of nowhere she put together MS MR. Drawing comparisons to Florence + The Machine, it’s a dark eerie song that has great momentum. Worth checking out the CHVRCHES remix too.

Bob Simpson

Album: Caro Emerald – The Shocking Miss Emerald

I truly dislike having to pick a single track or album out as a pick of the year. I enjoy most musical genres. Music is magical and can influence mood, behaviour, and life itself. Different genres of music affect me differently depending on where I am in life, so it seems impossible to choose one track or album as the best.

There’s also a lot of snobbery that can influence people’s musical choices. Many of us have “guilty pleasures” – liking music that is labelled as unfashionable, but won’t admit to it. I sometimes find myself the victim of this too, but does it really matter if you like it? No guilt here.

I don’t seem to find time to listen to albums much as my musical listening usually centres around radio (usually Phoenix FM when I can!) But if I have to make a choice at all then I’m going to choose music that has had the greatest effect on me this year. It may not be technically brilliant (who am I to judge anyway – I can’t play a note on anything!) or fashionable, but I don’t care.

Album choice? Caro Emerald – The Shocking Miss Emerald, mainly because it contains my second choice single – “Completely” another song that makes me happy! Full of upbeat ditties with a catchy, quirky, funny, style.

Track: Pharrell Williams – Happy

For the single, it’s got to be this, because it makes me happy, and we on Phoenix were playing it months ago, even though it has only just hit the top ten singles chart.

Bryan Powis

Album: Eminem – MMLP2

A November release but still has had the most full plays of any album this year from me.

Track: Chase and Status – Lost And Not Found

Certain songs give you goosebumps on the first listen – there is one every year. This year it was this one.

Chris Siviter

Album: F*** Buttons – Slow Focus

This has been my favourite release of 2013 ever since the first time I heard the opening assault of title track Brainfreeze. An album that I can only describe as the soundtrack to the greatest dystopian sci-fi movie that’s never been made. It truly is a near perfect experience, and a strong reason why 2013 was a superb year for music.

Track: Low – Amethyst

I’m not really a singles person, so I decided to choose a song of the year instead. Amethyst comes from the bands tenth release The Invisible Way (which is an album that everyone really should hear). It’s a hauntingly beautiful track which has soundtracked many a late night listening session and a song I can play again and again. Truly one for the soul.

Daniel Bridge

Album: Queens Of The Stone Age – … Like Clockwork

The first play of it, I wasn’t sure; it’s a more subtle, darker album than their others, especially Songs For The Deaf, which is quite a joyous stomp of an album (and if you haven’t listened to that, or any of QOTSA’s offerings, you really should). However, the more I listen, and I have listened a lot now, the better it gets, with layers revealing themselves every time. Standout tracks for me include I Sat By The Ocean, Kalopsia, and my favourite I Appear Missing, which has a beautiful chord progression, signature drumming by Dave Grohl, and a spot-on guitar solo from Josh Homme. If that had been released as a single, it would have been my single of the year. But it wasn’t so…

Track: Queens Of The Stone Age – I Sat By The Ocean

It’s a catchy pop song, with a dark undertone of a broken relationship. Of the three singles from the album so far, this one just pleases my ears the most, not such full-on rock as My God Is The Sun, not as complex as The Vampyre Of Time And Memory. I think Vampyre… may be a better song, but as a single, I prefer …Ocean.

Elle Flynn

Album: Rudimental – Home

The debut album from Rudimental has delivered and infectious tracks, one after the other. Beats are relentless and combined with precisely accentuated vocals from sought-after and emerging talent, it hits close to perfection.

Track: London Grammar – Strong

Hauntingly melancholy track. Hannah Reid’s breathless vocals and Dan and Dot’s production proves another winning formula with this track. My favourite this year by far.

Elliot Smith

Album: Arctic Monkeys – AM

At first I was a bit unsure about AM, it’s quite a contrast from their first album, which I also really enjoyed. However, after listening to the album a bit more, I think it all really works well together. It’s good to hear the band moving in a new direction, which, I think, is paying off. Definitely a grower.

Track: Wombats – Your Body Is A Weapon

I think it’s great to hear The Wombats still making some excellent music and sticking with their signature sound. However I think it sounds slightly more mature than their first hits, such as Let’s Dance To Joy Division. I loved it from the moment I heard it, I haven’t tired from playing it since and I don’t think I will for quite a long while yet.

Gary Casserley

Album: Jake Bugg – Shangri La

Found this quite awkward as I didn’t buy many albums this year that were not compilations so I’m really left with this one. Following on from his debut album last year it’s more twangy guitar tunes from Mr Bugg. I love the track “what doesn’t kill you” and “Slumville Sunrise”. Will be interesting to see what his third album (assuming there will be one) will be like.

Track: Daft Punk ft Pharrell Williams – Get Lucky

Now don’t all groan at once and hear me out on this. Yes it has been played to death, and yes most people are sick of it but think back to the summer and in particular to the first time you heard this song. It was great to hear Nile Rogers’ guitar again (just think back to all those great Chic songs) and Pharrell’s vocals too. It was a massive hit in the clubs and all over Europe and especially on the radio. Lets face it, its a great dance track and in just two months it had sold over a million copies in the UK alone! So someone must have liked it.

Graham Stannard

Album: Reality Grid – Cow House

On the album front, it was fantastic to finally hear the new Reality Grid album, Cow House which came out last month. Reality Grid is the side project of E.V.P and it is another wonderful example of the evolution of his sound and the use of new technologies. He continues to push the cutting edge of psytrance and the title track on its own is a great showcase. Exactly the kind of ‘wall of sound’ psychedelic trance I like 😉

Track: Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight – Echoes Return

I’m choosing Echoes Return by Trippy Wicked and the Cosmic Children of the Knight from their new mini album of this year- Underground. Funnily enough I discovered this band exactly a year ago today, when I was catching up with friends and one played their previous debut album of last year, Going Home. It blew me away (not literally), so wonderful to hear what an epic sound three guys from St. Albans can make. Exactly the kind of ‘wall of sound’ grinding rock sound I like and the vocals suit it really well too. The band name is pretty epic too!

Jayne Thorpe

Album: Foals – Inhaler

Picking the album of the year was a hard one. After much mental sieving and sorting I chose Foals – ‘Holy Fire’. Aside from avoiding prosaic album artwork, it was loaded with great tunes that played to a wide range of moods. Always anchored by Yannis Philippakis’s pensive vocals, it was at times poppy, proud and provocative (‘My Number’) and at others demanding and defiant (‘Inhaler’). It then flitted to being almost frisky in places (‘Out Of The Woods’) before lulling us into a dreamy and ambient state (‘Moon’). Interestingly though the cumulative message of the album resonated with me as much as the music. When asked why this album isn’t as self-conscious as previous ones, Yannis said, ‘There was a Woody Allen in our brain that needed to be killed.’ I really loved that. I totally understood how it’s about getting out of the way of yourself and just sharing what makes you really happy. I see evidence of that all the time at Phoenix when new and unsigned artists nervously venture to the mic for the first time. You can almost see their inner dialogue as they question the temerity of their actions – and then you always see the elation when their first set is done. It’s more than relief. They are on their way, getting radio play and officially sharing their passion. I love that at Phoenix we are there at the start, supporting new music and being part of those magic moments. I think that’s why we all do it. I know I do.

Track: London Grammar – Strong

For me the obvious choice for single of the year is ‘Strong’ by London Grammar. As one of Phoenix’s recent recruits, I realised just how much Phoenix was versed in new music (and therefore absolutely the right place for me to be) when Vic first introduced me to this track. He gifted my ears with this beauty seemingly months before it hit the mainstream and I relentlessly raved about it. Unlike other tracks that can tire my easily bored tastes this one had incredible resilience. Hundreds of plays later it still sounds as fresh as when I first heard it. Somehow both hopeful and lugubrious, Strong reminds me of that expectant feeling of trudging home at dawn in the rain. If I’ve lost you just stick Strong on the next time you are coming back from a great gig and then tell me it’s not the right song.

Jed Shepherd

Album: Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe

It’s an obvious choice for me. In a year where Haim released a genre defining 80s tinged mega-album, and Arcade Fire became the biggest band in the world while dropping a sonic masterpiece ft. Mr David Bowie … it’s CHVRCHES that rises to the top for me. Every song. Every single damn song sounds like it was crafted just for me. How is this possible that a band has tapped into my brain, accessed every hook I go insane for, and stuck it on a record, waiting for me to idly pick it up? The synths, the layers of beautiful synths on every song, combining eerily with Lauren’s vocals like the bits of coffee stuck to the sugar in the Phoenix FM kitchen, were made to make me, and everyone else sit up and listen. The best thing that has happened since CHVRCHES appeared is the number of bands they have inspired. Usually I’d get sick of clones, but not this time. I want ALL bands to sound like this and maybe there wouldn’t be so much hate in the world as we’d all be dancing to gorgeous synth-pop while how lucky we were for being alive at a time where this band exists. There are two types of people in this world. The people who think “The Bones of What You Believe” by CHVRCHES is the best album of the year, and the people who have not heard it yet.

Track: Chvrches – Recover

Last year, I picked “The Mother We Share” as my single of the year, predicting that 2013 would be THE YEAR OF CHVRCHES and I was not disappointed. I’m pleased to say that Phoenix FM, and all of the DJs within, pretty much championed this band all 2013 and hopefully brought them to a lot more people. I could have picked any of the singles, but “Recover” is possibly the standout track from the band released this year. Just when I thought they couldn’t make me love them more, “Recover” appeared and made me question all previous notion of what I considered the perfect pop song to be.

Joe Box

Album: Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap

Chance the Rapper is by far the stand out new and emerging artist to appear from 2013. I have had Acid Rap on repeat since I downloaded it and then I played it to death on the show. Stand out tracks include Interlude (That’s Love), Juice and Cocoa Butter Kisses. He’s already been named on the Sound of 2014 short list, so expect big things from Chance in 2014.

Track: Justin Timberlake – Mirrors

So we’re all round the telly watching the Brit awards eagerly anticipating the JT performance. We had heard Suit and Tie already from the 20/20 experience and that song was okay I guess. Then JT comes on, performs Mirrors and boom, that’s the song we’ve all been waiting for Justin. I heard this song repeatedly everywhere I went, yet never tired of it so congratulations Justin. Shout out to “Inhaler” by Foals and “When a Fire Starts To Burn” by Disclosure who came close.

Jules Bottazzi

Album: Jake Bugg – Shangri La

He’s a cheeky chappy, isn’t he? Jingly-jangly guitars. Corking riffs. Chirpy tunes. Sings like a scouser. What’s not to like?

Track: Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Haunting and melodic and sad, but a top pop tune too. How do they do that?

Mairi Dougan

Album: Gary Barlow – Since I Saw You Last

Soooo many good albums this year, I can’t decide. My ‘shock value’ vote goes to Gary Barlow, though, as ‘Since I Saw You Last’ isn’t half bad – which is at least half way better than I expected it to be … 😉

Track: Pink feat Nate Ruess – Just Give Me A Reason

Track of the year is easy. Two incredible vocalists, really moving song. Could listen to it over and over again without tiring of it – and often did, much to my husband’s chagrin!

Matt Jolley

Album: Daughtry – Baptized

Track: James Blunt – Bonfire Heart

Michelle Ward

Album: Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Great album I have had playing in my car for months. Love the fact all the tracks are different.

Track: Pharrell Williams – Happy

Discovered this listening in to Bob Simpson’s show.

Mike Jones

Album: London Grammar – If You Wait

Brilliant in every aspect with a haunting voice that demands careful listening. You could argue this isn’t as titillating as on-stage megalomania or animatronic twerking. But while pop can be an escape, sometimes you also want it to understand what you’re feeling. Judging by sold-out shows and their runaway success, there’s a lot of people who feel like this band gets them. In the year that pop went insane, London Grammar won’t let anything stop them from being normal.

Track: Lorde – Royals

Nothing to say except loved it!

Nick Field

Album: Disclosure – Settle

Considering the two brothers who make up Disclosure were barely alive in the early 90s, they certainly have no problem transporting the rest of us back there with this album, and with their electric live sets – I was lucky enough to catch them at both Latitude and Reading during the summer. The album features a slew of electronic riffs and ideas that are simple yet effective, and the guest vocalists help the album keep a song-orientated feel, rather than turning into a disorganised rave – good to see they left some elements of early 90s dance culture in the past, then!

Track: Mayer Hawthorne – The Stars Are Ours

A great life-affirming track about how you shouldn’t necessarily let yourself get bogged down by everything – sound advice we all need every once in a while. Another success for Pharrell Williams on production duties – this man basically saved R&B from Usher. No mean feat there.

Patrick Sherring

Album: Lady Antebellum – Golden

It’s a mixture of new country. From the beautiful love song of the title track, through songs about changes in life like “Goodbye Town” to songs about reflecting of life like “Generation Away”, this is a brilliant collection of new material from one of the outstanding artists of today.

Track: Jamie Cullum – Edge Of Something

This shows established jazz musician Jamie moving more into a pop style. It is a track with a driving rhythm and an interesting self-penned lyric.

Paul Golder

Album: Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

I couldn’t nominate any other album considering the ridiculous number of times I’ve played it since I got it in August. It was described in the music press as a “return to form” although for me it’s just more of the same high standard.

Track: Bloc Party – Ratchet

Just to confirm that I’ve slipped well and truly into 2004 with my two choices, I’ve chosen what might probably be the last release from a great band that just can’t stop fighting. As well as being a great song in itself, any band that uses the “surreal and disturbing” Cyriak to produce its videos has to be a big plus – have a look to see what I mean.

Rob Harvey

Album: White Lies – Big TV

This album is a mature progression from the last two albums – it lifts up the style of White Lies with an ever increasing anthemic pace, plus the album art cover won an award, which in this digital download day and age is a marvel.

Track: Vivien Glass – Part Machine

There are many great tracks this year, and this track is one of the best, for me it exudes a sexy creative melodic sound with a sci-fi Frankenstein tale – what’s not to like, plus an award winning video.

Rob Jelly

Album: City and Colour – The Hurry and The Harm

Who? I hear you say/think. His name is Dallas Green (Get it? Dallas = City, Green = Colour) and he is known for his work as the former vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for the post-hardcore band Alexisonfire. But more recently his releases have been under this newer alias. At the start of 2013 I didn’t know he existed until a friend of mine told me he was going to see this band called City & Colour because he knew the frontman from his days as guitarist from Alexisonfire. “Cool!” I replied. “Who are they?”

“I’ll bring you in their new album. It’s amazing!!” is the response I get from my mate. Now we’ve all been in that scenario. A friend tells you they’ve got this album that will change your life/send shivers down your spine/you’ll fall in love with.

I did. It is a gorgeous album from start to finish and I cannot recommend you go and listen to it. When you do, you’ll likely buy it!! I especially recommend the song The Golden State, which you should listen to on headphones laying down or sat looking out at sea as the sun goes down. It will touch your very soul.

And as with my Single of the Year, it was a very close contest for this crown with Frank Turner’s Tape Deck Heart coming a VERY close second. Go and buy that one too. He is a wizard of words.

Track: Passenger – Let Her Go

Had these beautiful beautiful people released their album (All The Little Lights) this year my choice for Album of the Year would have been even trickier but fortunately it wasn’t. It was released in January 2012 and there’s a good reason why I’m telling you this. Very few artists nowadays have the ability to write an album that causes such an impression on the music industry that it can be still releasing songs 2 years on let alone releasing songs and selling over 1 million copies of them. Yes, Passenger’s Let Her Go has sold over 1 million copies! Only 4 songs this year have achieved such a feat (Daft Punk – Get Lucky, Avicii – Wake Me Up & Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines were the others for those wondering). We are talking about a song that was written by a bloke from Brighton with nothing more than a guitar and some mates who play some other instruments. No huge record label or massive publicity. They just wrote a damn good song that appealed to everyone. And do you know what?? It’s not even the best song on the album in my opinion.

I picked Gangnam Style last year having achieved over 1 billion views on YouTube and it might seem I’m only interested in numbers. I’m really not. But with such a disposable industry it’s hard to do what these boys have done so I tip my hat to them and crown Let Her Go by Single of the Year for 2013.

In a close 2nd, McBusted’s Love Is On The Radio. But then I do have a soft spot for Pop-Rock which if you listen to Breakfast you’ll know about.

Scott Ross

Album: One Direction – Midnight Memories

Simply because a lot of the tracks just make good daytime radio material!

Track: Zac Brown Band – Jump Right In

Why? Well just a good happy sound.

Scott Sparx

Album: Elvis Costello and the Roots – Wise Up Ghost

I’m a big fan of the Roots and this collaboration was something special. It’s hard to pinpoint what I love so much about this album and the only criticism I can find with it was that Blackthought wasn’t part of it.

Track: KJ Sawka – New Life (Tech Itch remix)

It seems that whatever Tech Itch touches turns to gold! He took an amazing track from KJ Sawka and put his stamp on it. It’s still one I’ll pull from my bag to play in my sets. High energy and really creative use of the original vocals.

Stephen Bealey

Album: Pet Shop Boys – Electric

The thing about the album – it’s not cutting edge, but it does mean business. Axis, the album’s lead track, starts with a squelchy bass that sounds like a tribute to Giorgio Moroder (you know, that old guy Daft Punk like) and another nod, of sorts, to Kraftwerk, before turning into a turbo-charged version of Pet Shop Boys, 20 years ago, cutting loose in a Berlin basement. It is far more crass than much of the Pet Shop Boys’ output of recent years, and a great deal more fun.

Track: Icona Pop feat Charli XCX – I Love It

I don’t quite know why I love this song so much, but is filled with memories and full of energy. Great gym song – please note would help if I did go to the gym!

Steve Robertson

Album: Boy and Bear – Harlequin Dream

The second album from the Australian band didn’t disappoint at all. The variety from track to track still makes for a laid back melodic sound. Southern Sun and the title track are just two of the stand out tracks. I can’t wait to see them when they play London in February.

Track: David Bowie – The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

It was such a surprise when the album The Next Day was released. Great to hear new material from David Bowie and although Where are we now was the biggest hit, the second single to be released from the album was a track I enjoyed playing on the sport show.

Tony Smith

Album: Disclosure – Settle

Just like this album – good beats and many chart released tracks on it! Found myself playing this album the most in my car! Some banging tunes from the Lawrence brothers aka Disclosure and again they also have come a long way since their debut in 2010.

Track: Storm Queen – Look Right Through

This is the third release from American DJ Storm Queen (real name Morgan Geist) since 2011 and is also his first No 1 track in the UK. Great dance track with many remixes available! Storm Queen have come a long way in such a short time.


Album: Laura Mvula – Sing To The Moon

It’s been a great year for music and albums. The moment I heard “She” I knew Laura would deliver a creative album and she didn’t disappoint. An earthy contemporary album reflecting on issues of love, family fallouts, the search for identity and escapism.

Track: Chvrches – Lies (Tourist remix)

I instantly fell in love with this after hearing the lush piano and Lauren Mayberry’s haunting vocal intro which is almost half of this track. Tourist turns it into a bass-heavy track with Deep House grooves to make this a perfect remix.

Presenters’ Picks – 2012

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite singles and albums of the year …

Alan Johnson

Album: Usher – Looking 4 Myself

I was looking forward to seeing him at the O2 in January – but no sooner had I got tickets than his tour was “rescheduled due to other commitments”! A pretty poor show – but with his usual ability to combine a range of different styles this album is still my pick of 2012.

Single: Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child

The final single from the guys who also worked on Usher’s album. Sometimes a song simply touches the soul – I think this one does for a lot of people.

Bob Simpson

Album: Elton John vs Pnau – Good Morning To The Night

A reworking of some of Elton John’s past album tracks by Australian dance music duo Pnau. Originating from Sydney, the duo consists of musicians Nick Littlemore (vocals, production) and Peter Mayes (guitar, production) and they brought a fresh new sound to some of Elton’s older tracks.

Single: Rod Stewart and Cee Lo Green – Merry Christmas Baby

Seasonal schmaltz but I’m a sucker for it!

Bryan Powis

Album: Frank Ocean – channel ORANGE

Frank Ocean, singer more than a rapper, the oldest and most soulful member of Odd Future, and the one to make the biggest waves from the crew in 2012.

channel ORANGE is a staggering achievement of rare scope and variety. Frank Ocean’s honesty shines throughout the record. Struggling with his love addiction (“Thinkin Bout You”), he tries to escape (“Crack
Rock”). Midway through the album, he spirals out of control on a nine-minute track (“Pyramids”), and later questions life’s meanings and his place in it (“Bad Religion” and “Lost”). From start to finish,
the album is the story of him mending together the pieces of his broken heart.

Just before its release too, Frank Ocean announced his homosexuality in a note posted on his Tumblr. Like a crashing piano, the noise of support and criticism blurted out at once. Rarely has anyone, certainly not as recognized as Ocean, come out to the largely homophobic hip hop and R&B community, so props for that too Frank.

Single: Everything Everything – Cough Cough

Favourite Band. Favourite Song, and the soundtrack to my disgusting, long (went around Phoenix FM about 5 times) (and still going) (Scott Ross started it) cold. Thank you Everything Everything. Your new album is ordered.

Ches Moulton

Album: Jo Harman & Company – Live At Hideaway

While technically an album recorded in 2011, Live At Hideaway gained momentum during the past twelve months and exposes the natural and gifted talents of one of the UK’s fastest rising stars. The collection of songs on this album is a wonderful mix of blues, soul, and rock that keeps the listener entranced and expectant of what is to come … not just on the following track, but on the next verse and chord structure as well as the next release.

Single: Richie Milton – Everybody Sang The Blues

The song while a basic blues melody and rhythm structure, embodies much of what has become the traditional blues standard while involving a more contemporary feel in the sound and playing style of the musicians. Lyrically, the song speaks to the many daily situations that arise in families and with people the world over. The real Blues reflects our lives… and real life is reflected in this song.

Chris Siviter

Album: Cloud Nothings – Attack On Memory

Grabbed me from the first listen. Noisy, scuzzy, lo-fi, punky and at times drenched in feedback, it’s an album I’ve been back to countless times and will continue to do so.

Single: Antlers – Undersea EP

After bagging the album of the year title last year with Burst Apart, The Antlers returned with a truly gorgeous EP this year. Ethereal melodies mixed with Peter Silberman’s amazing voice, it really is music that takes you on a journey you can get completely lost in.

Dave Rothwell

Album: Calvin Harris – 18 Months

This long awaited album from Scotland’s biggest export (DJ/Producer wise) lived up to its expectations and basically contains a showcase of Calvin’s production skills and past, present and future hits with collaborations aplenty! You could easily put the entire album on form start to finish and it’s guaranteed to get you in the mood to go out for a night on the town.

Single: Swedish House Mafia – Don’t You Worry Child

As a Club DJ I always get asked what my favourite song is and I always answer “I don’t have one!” and the main reason is I like so many tunes, so it’s always hard to pick a favourite. Don’t YoU Worry Child is the song that has had the best reaction and requests in my sets (and no its NOT Gangnam Style!) This song has been produced in such a way that it has all the correct ingredients for a club anthem and enough to be able to cross over to the Official Sales Chart and achieve the No 1 position. The Video was filmed at the Milton Keynes Bowl at their farewell gig this summer just shows the reaction a crowd gives when it hears such a tune and it’s exactly the same in the nightclubs all over the world. This single was to be their last release as a collective, so indeed thet have gone out at the top of their game.

Elle Flynn

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

2012 has been an amazing year for music and Emeli has become my favourite artist – I could listen to her soulful and melodic voice all day. “Our Version of Events” is a refreshing and powerful album with great lyrics and musical content. It’s been a dream year for Emeli from supporting Coldplay’s US tour to the opening Olympic ceremony. I’d love to hear a collaboration with Adele … watch this space!

Single: Chris Malinchak – So Good To Me

I’m a big fan of this New Jersey producer, who has earned a steady stream of adulation from across the globe, with his unique soulful house cuts and “So Good to Me” continues to get well-deserved airplay. This brilliant piece of feel-good electro house, heart warming vocals and a musical harmony beautifully supported from his label French Express captures the futuristic sounds of electronic soul music.

Elliot Smith

Album: Little Comets – Life Is Elsewhere

The second album from my favourite up-and-coming band, Little Comets. It stays true to their original and recognisable style with some lively, upbeat and some slower, more pensive tracks (not one song from either category I would skip). It’s a really good album and well worth a listen.

Single: Muse – Madness

A great single from a well-established rock band, released in August from the album “The 2nd Law”. It’s definitely a grower that exhibits classic traits from Muse as well as infusing these with newer, exploratory ideas (i.e. being more synth-based). The more times you listen, the better it gets.

Gary Casserley

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

This was a difficult choice and I suppose many people will groan at this. She has a great voice and “Next To Me” is a brilliant song, and not forgetting “Read All About It”, another quality tune. Overall a really good debut album, but will the next one be as good?

Single: Rudimental ft John Newman – Feel The Love

Choosing this has taken hours of deliberation (yes I know, I’m sad). There have been some great singles out this year…skrillex – bangarang, plan b – I’ll manors but the single I will pick for this year is Rudimental ft John Newman – Feel The Love. Why? It’s just a brilliant uplifting song

Graham Stannard

Album: E.V.P – Neroplasticity

E.V.P has been a stalwart in the psychedelic trance scene for many years and always looking to innovate and evolve his sound. He has also been instrumental in helping to raise the profile of the label he’s on, Wildthings, and move out of the psychedelic underground scene and now he and fellow label artists play major festivals throughout the world all year round. Neroplasticity is his latest recent release and continues to provide unusual, enjoyable journeys and rocking beats.

Single: Hypnocoustics – Ashtamangala

This song encapsulates most of what I like about psy trance, with its powerful driving beat and baseline with a great selection of psychedelic sounds and melodies floating over the top. It takes me on a wonderful journey every time I hear it and it was a nice common thread throughout the summer with a few DJs playing it at various points at the festivals on my trip.

Jed Shepherd

Album: Beach House – Bloom

2012 has been an incredible year for new albums, and it was difficult narrowing it down to just one. In the end I plumped for the safe bet. I went with the album that is already a new classic, up there with Arcade Fire’s “Funeral” and Jeff Buckley’s “Grace”. Beach House have taken all of the best things from the albums you listened to while growing up and assimilated them into “Bloom”. It sounds effortless and standout single “Myth” is what ears were made for. You might have already heard the song “Myth” if you’ve ever had a dream where you’ve died and gone to heaven. Hear that music they are playing in the background? That’s “Myth” by Beach House. If you haven’t already bought this album, then find it, steal it, marry it and eat it.

Single: Chvrches – The Mother We Share

In my humble opinion, this song by Glasgow based newcomers, Chvrches, is not only my single of the year, but probably my single of the 21st century so far. It came out of nowhere with its bucketfull of hooks and a melody straight out of earworm academy. Dreamy vocals with a Scottish twinge, coupled with an 80s anthem style reverby chorus makes this song fresh, different but at the sane time, essential. Even though Chvrches is a new band, if they ever write a song even half as good as this it will probably get my vote for next year’s single of the year.

Joe Box

Album: Calvin Harris – 18 Months

TUNE followed by TUNE followed by TUNE. It’s refreshing to see Calvin not rush to release an album but instead take time to release hit singles and then put them all into one place at the end. He has great artists on board and this album is made for a PARTY.

Single: Disclosure feat Sam Smith – Latch

Heard this song on the radio and instantly loved it. It’s catchy without being cheesy and obvious and since then I have downloaded their EP and there’s more hits on there. Expect them to be even bigger in 2013.

Jules Bottazzi

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

There’s a reason she was invited to open the Olympics, close the Olympics, sing at every big event on the BBC and the Royal Wedding (one of these statements is untrue, fact fans). It’s not only that she has the most memorable, lodge-in-your-skull melodies; it’s not just that this album produced more hit singles than your average X-Factor winner manages in an entire career; she’s just got the most extraordinary voice and absolutely rocks it live every time. Oh, and she looks frickin’ amazing.

Single: Maccabees – Pelican

I have to confess that I hadn’t heard of this lot before this year. I heard Pelican for the first time on Phoenix FM while driving and the volume went right up, right away. I love the mixture of Clash-style guitars with the singer’s gentle, melodic warbling. It talks about themes that matter: life, love, death; and it makes you want to rock out. What’s not to love?

Lisa Murphy

Album: Emeli Sandé – Our Version Of Events

Single: Emeli Sandé – Read All About It, Pt III

Matt Jolley

Album: Bob Marley – Legends

Single: Daughtry – Life After You

Mike Jones

Album: Young The Giant – Young The Giant

A little-known band who I only discovered by accident on Spotify. It was actually released last year but it’s new to me.

Single: Public Service Broadcasting – Spitfire

Totally original and brilliant bassline.

Nick Field

Album: Django Django – Django Django

Been waiting quite a while for this lot to put out an album and it didn’t disappoint. Full of psychedelic energy and ideas, it’s an album to sing, dance and play just about any air instrument to.

Single: Incisive ft Shakka – This Groove

I pretty much lost track of singles this year, but I heard this track recently and really liked it – a laid-back and reflective slice of UK hip-hop.

Nikki Mills

Album: Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music 83

I like so many different artists that I prefer albums where I can listen to all different music rather than just one singer/band so my album of this year is “Now That’s What I call Music 83”. This is simply because it has most of my favourite artists and songs on it.

Single: Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe

This was very difficult for me to choose as there has been so many fantastic songs that I have enjoyed, listening, dancing and singing to this year, but since I can I only pick one I’ll choose “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. This is because everyone loved this song when it first came out, and it’s such a catchy tune! I’d also just come back from holiday and swapped numbers with a guy I had just met, coincidentally, (didn’t work out if you was wondering) but it still reminds me of the good holiday I had. Also been used a lot as a chat up line, not that I have ever written by number down on a piece of paper, wrote call me maybe under it and given it to someone …

Patrick Sherring

Album: Rodrigo y Gabriela and C.U.B.A – Area 52

This is one of the best selling World Music albums of 2012. It is a stunning mixture of Cuban rhythms and rock with unbelievable acoustic guitar virtuosity. Unlike anything you will have ever heard before.

Single: Adele – Skyfall

This is a classic Bond theme in the mould of the last fifty years. It is a track that will never grow old and will be played on the radio during the next fifty years. Also a reminder of the film of the year.

Paul Golder

Album: Bleech – Nude

In the words of the horrible Sum 41, this is All Killer No Filler – ten great female-fronted guitar-driven songs which make you feel that Sleeper never went away, and that’s a good thing. Can’t get my head around why this band are not so so much bigger – maybe the new album they’ve just started recording will sort that out.

Single: The Wind-Up Birds – Cross Country

A cross between The Fall and Art Brut, or if you like, just a Northern Art Brut. This was the stand-out track on their debut album The Land – now we just have to get them to play some gigs south of Leeds …

Piers Hewitt

Album: Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Never mind album of the year, this could end up being my album of the decade. All my favourite albums, if I have the time, should be listened to from start to finish, and preferably in the dark. This album drips with melancholy, but then most break-up albums do. And a lot of break ups help develop huge amounts of brilliant creative quality. This is no different. Turn the lights off and drink this one in.

Single: M83 – Reunion

What is a single these days? It’s hard to tell beyond an excuse to push an album and get tracks on the radio. I like the idea of an actual single, but it is dying. In a year or two this will just be my track of the year, but in keeping with actual singles, this is one of my surprise belters of the year. I have liked M83 on and off for a while, but to come out with a double album (I hate them) of such quality and have leading tracks like this is a big plus in my book.

Rob Harvey

Album: Ultravox – Brilliant

This album seemed to pick up from where they left off, yet having all the current sounds of a young band, whilst sounding like a classic Ultravox album. Live wise they delivered a solid 2 hour set with no support, so proving they are still Brilliant.

Single: Chvrches – Lies

Love the dynamic sound and the strong cute Glasgow vocal of Lauren. The song has a raw mix of modern styles with a nudge to early electro pop. I got to see them live too 2012 and wow they have such a big sound for a three piece.

Rob Jelly

Album: Tenacious D – Rize of the Fenix

My album of the year will seem obvious to some, and to others who have yet to meet me in more than passing it might seem a bit silly, but their live show for this very album edges this to the top of my pile for 2012.

Single: Psy – Gangnam Style

A total flip on the head in comparison to The D. I am picking this track on the simple grounds that I have seen, from the dance-floor and the DJ booth, what this song does to both children and adults and whether you love it or hate it you cannot argue with 1 billion views on YouTube.

Scott Ross

Album: Owl City – The Midsummer Station

Single: Train feat Ashley Monroe – Bruises

There are so many great songs to choose from this year that I’ve found it quite difficult to pick my favourite single but I think I’ll have to plump for Bruises. Just love the sentiments expressed in the words – and it’s a great tune to boot.

Stephen Bealey

Album: Amy Macdonald – Life In A Beautiful Light

I loved her first album “This Is The Life”, and was equally as impressed with this album. She has a beautiful singing voice. Perfect for an evening of relaxing with a glass of fine whiskey!

Single: Pet Shop Boys – A Certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

I really like this song as it starts with a mildly cheeky French count-in of “Un, deux, trois, quatre”. It was originally was recorded as a demo in 2007 for Kylie Minogue – it wasn’t until roughly four years later that it was reworked it into its final form and decided to release it as one of the bonus tracks for their “Elysium” album in August 2012.

Steve Robertson

Album: Grizzly Bear – Shields

The fourth album from the New York band did not disappoint for me, with Yet Again being the stand out track on an album that created the soundtrack of the year for me. When asked to pick an album for the year I wanted to make sure I picked an album I’d be listening in a few year’s time, for which Shields will almost certainly fall into that category.

Single: Blur – Under The Westway

The first single from Blur for a couple of years. This is another song in the tradition of bands such as the Kinks and previous Blur songs like This is a Low, having a purely English sound. With an Essex band singing about London, this is my single of the year for reasons of nostalgia as well as anything else.

Tim O’Sullivan

Album: Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Single: Of Monsters And Men – Little Talks

Tony Smith

Album: Calvin Harris – 18 Months

Tough one! 2012 had some great dance albums from Maroon 5 with their fourth studio album, “Overexposed”, Rihanna with “Unapologetic” and David Guetta “Nothing but the Beat 2”. But for me, I think I will go with “18 Months”, the third studio album by Scottish DJ and record producer Calvin Harris. It was released on 26 October and includes the singles “Bounce”, “Feel So Close”, “Let’s Go”, “We’ll Be Coming Back”, “Sweet Nothing” and the upcoming single “Drinking from the Bottle”. The album debuted atop the UK Albums Chart earning Harris his second consecutive UK number one album; I play most of these tracks at home and gigs.

Presenters’ Picks – 2011

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite singles and albums of the year …

Alan Johnson

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!

Andrew Babicz

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!

Chris Hossack

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.

Chris Siviter

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.

Daniel Bridge

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. 🙂

Elliot Smith

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.

Gabby Clarke

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.

Gary Casserley

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.

Helen Bealey

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!

Jules Bottazzi

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.

Luke Cousins

Album: Ed Sheeran – +

Single: Ed Sheeran – The A Team

Michelle Ward

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!

Mike Jones

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.

Nikki Mills

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!

Patrick Sherring

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.

Paul Golder

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.

Rob Harvey

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.

Roz Ure

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.

Russell Quirk

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

Scott Ross

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.

Steve Davis

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.

Steve Robertson

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.

Tony Smith

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.

Presenters’ Picks – 2010

Singles and albums of the year from Phoenix FM presenters:

Alan Johnson

Album: David Guetta – One More Love

This guy really impressed me when I saw him on the MOBOs a couple of years ago, and whilst I think it’s a bit of a cheap trick adding a few tracks to an existing album to create a new one it does at least qualify it as a 2010 favourite!

Single: Usher feat – OMG

I like so many things about this song – the minor key, the background chanting and, for their unashamed simplicity, the lyrics. Most of all, though, I love its structure, particularly the way it builds to a crescendo.

Chris Siviter

Album: Sufjan Stevens – The Age Of Adz

First proper album since 2005’s Illinoise and it was completely worth the wait. The album where Sufjan went electronic and came up with something mind-blowing, personal, and I don’t mind admitting it reduced me to tears more than once. 11 tracks finished off by the 25 minute epic Impossible Soul. After the first listen I just sat there stunned for a good half hour. Music really doesn’t get much better than this.

Single: Family Of The Year – Summer Girl EP

Debut release from this Californian band is breezy, summery feel-good music. Expecting big things from them next year. Hoping they get the breakthrough they deserve.

Daniel Bridge

Album: erm …

Well this was a tricky one, certainly from the best album point of view as I realised I haven’t actually bought one this year – the curse of Spotify perhaps …

Single: Arcade Fire – Ready To Start

So for my best single, I’m picking Ready To Start by Arcade Fire. I like the way it drives along, Win Butler’s voice, the lyrics, it’s just a great song, as is the title track from the album too. I’ve always liked what I’ve heard of theirs, but still haven’t got round to getting an album, I really should. If I’d got The Suburbs, then I’m sure it would be my album of the year.

Next year will no doubt cause more problems, in that both Queens Of The Stone Age and Elbow are due to release albums …

David Worrall

Album: Scissor Sisters – Night Work

A fairly safe choice for my pick of the albums as the Scissor Sisters still rate as my favourite artist of the 21st century. More experimental and a definite return to form after the hit-and-miss Ta-Dah, the long awaited third release didn’t disappoint. I clearly remember my excitement hearing the first track from it and being blown away. Highlights include Kylie minogue singing backing vocals on the second single from it – Any Which Way – and a sample of her hit Can’t Get You Out Of My Head on Something Like This. However the new single Invisible Light would have to be my favourite of the twelve – Sir Ian Mckellen features on this, no less.

Single: Cee Lo Green – Forget You

I have various indicators for how much I like a song. Turning it up as loud as possible in the car and singing along at the top of my lungs; loving it the first time I hear it; and not growing sick of it no matter how many times I play it. All are certainly true of this summer smash. The simple story combined with the unique sky-high voice we grew to love with Gnarls Barkley and the retro Motown vibe make this my fave of the year.

Ed Wellman

Album: Maroon 5 – Hands All Over

Easy winner for me – this was released 17th September. The opening track ‘Misery’ is anything but, and it shouts ‘Maroon 5’ from the second it begins it’s magic super-sized sound. Bought on CD, it’s been in the car ever since.

Single: Michael Jackson – Hold My Hand

Had this not been released, ‘Let the Sun Shine’ by Labrinth would have won! The genius of Hold My Hand is that it is catchy, it blends MJ and Akon’s voices brilliantly, and unusually, the entire song from start to end, without a single bar exception is based on the same 4 bar / 4 chord sequence – this never tires thanks to the imaginitive use of the vocals and backings. It’s also in my favourite key (D flat major) – if anyone reading this is as nerdy as me about such things you will understand that this song has to be in that key, it would be quite wrong in C or D. Overall, a real tonic for Jacko fans everywhere, and perfect for Christmas too.

Graeme Holiday

Album: Oli Silk – All We Need

A great album from this UK keyboardist – Oli played his first solo gigs at the Pizza Express Soho this month and sold out all 3 sessions. He’s supported just about everybody this year, including playing keys for Anastasia. Oli has also become a big friend of the show, coming on once a month to play us one of his rare grooves – A nice guy in every sense of the word.

Single: Dave Koz – Got The Top Down

Got everything you need in a smooth jazz single – top melody, invokes what it says in the title and just a great tune. We interviewed Dave at the Soho Hotel, London and a nicer man you couldn’t hope to meet. He’s Dave Grohl’s godfather you know!

Graham Stannard

Album: The National – High Violet

They’re a band I’ve really gotten into over the past couple of years – it was great to be able to see them live at Latitude and the footage at Glastonbury. They’re an interesting mix of rocking out and melancholia which seems to appeal to me!

Single: Interpol – Lights

I don’t usually keep up to date with singles, but I thought it was worth mentioning this song as the first from their new album ‘Interpol’ this year. It was great to hear new material from them still sounding great, despite bassist Carlos Dengler leaving this year.

James Moloney

It’s taken me a while to decide on these, firstly, because like banking. I think music in the UK has become cautious and dare I say it derivative and is heavily influenced/managed by the outcome of X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and others, all of which in my view is wrong. Each year to date (in my time with Phoenix) I have measured my album or single of the year in terms of those songs which I couldn’t wait to get home and download. This year, having listened back to them they were sadly lacking. Yes there were the fun filled derivatives, Katy Perry’s California Gurls and others, Beach Boyesque riot or derivative pop? … like First Class … Beach Baby … Gourmet in the way of a McDonalds burger, but unfortunately in the absence of anything greater, the blind man is king!

Album: Kisses – The Heart Of The Nightlife

This has been a year of consolidation on my part in terms of albums – I bought everything from Rock n’Roll to James Taylor to the Beatles. Try the tracks Bermuda and Kisses … Positivity or what?

Single: Wombats – Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)

Although overlooked in most quarters, I like the urgency of this track as well as the positive sound of the production. Like it or loathe it I bet it gets your foot tapping on a cold Monday morning … brilliant!

Jules Bottazzi

Album: Plan B – The Defamation Of Strickland Banks

A rapper who sings as well as he raps! An album that tells a story from beginning to end in a compelling and intelligent way for the first time since The Streets did it with A Grand Don’t Come For Free! A soulful 1960s vibe with 21st-century social commentary! Who’d have thought it!

Single: Everything Everything – My Keys, Your Boyfriend

I know it’s a bit of a cheat as it’s a re-release but this is the year it was big. It just sounds astonishing on lots of levels: his voice, the strings, the lyrics, everything.

Michelle Ward

Album: Take That – Progress

The boys came back with a grown up, smart and brilliant album – great lyrics, great production and serious tunes. For pop music, it’s in a class of its own.

Single: Cee Lo Green – It’s OK

Why? Because it makes me just feel good, it makes my toes wiggle about in my shoes and it’s cheerful – feelgood factor all the way.

Mike Jones

Album: Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill

For me the debut single instantly grabbed you and the melody and strength of the lyric was just daunting. Best track on the album is Fuel Up, which demands a second hearing. I expect to hear a lot from this band in the future. Close runner up was an album from a Dutch artist called Caro Emerald. Her album Deleted Scenes From The Cutting Room Floor is the most original and fresh sounding album in years. Expect this to have the same radio play ten years down the line as Fagen’s Nightfly.

Single: Maria Mena – Just Hold Me

Nick Field

Album: Minus The Bear – Omni

The band hail from Seattle and offer an incredible mix of indie, grunge and electronica – not a combination you hear often, but these guys make it seem natural. Every song on the album has a life of its own, a mix of epic soundscapes and instant hooks. With a lot of the tracks being around five minutes, it might take more than one listen to get into, but once you do, it makes for an atmospheric and rewarding listen.

Single: Gaggle – I Hear Flies

It’s actually the sort of song that could quite easily get stuck in your head and drive you mad, but what this 20-piece female choir achieve with a minimalist techno soundtrack and a few simple refrains is nothing short of utterly compelling.

Nikki Mills

Album: Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music 77

The reason for this is because it has all the singles on it that I could have chosen for my best single. All my favourite songs and artists are on this album – love it! 🙂

Single: Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are

It was really hard to choose but I can listen to this song over and over again and not get fed up with it. Also, I like songs that I can relate to and I know many girls can relate to this song, as can I 🙂

Paul Golder

Album: Jonny Cola and the A Grades – In Debt

This London band played a memorable session down at the Phoenix studios back in March and their debut album, released in October, is full of bittersweet glam-Britpop songs.

Single: Crystal Fighters – Follow

No song has made me want to drum on the desk so badly since Kings Of The Wild Frontier.

Peter Thompson

Album: Kylie Minogue – Aphrodite

By total contrast to my favourite single, this album was a return to form for Kylie and found her doing what she was does best once again – making tunes which get you on the dancefloor.

Single: Corinne Bailey Rae – I’d Do It All Again

The brilliant first single from her second album The Sea which was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. Written after an argument with her husband and recorded just after he died, it was a great introduction to the album and her new darker sound.

Rob Harvey

Album: Editors – In This Light And On This Evening

I always did like this band and my ears pricked up when I heard they were going to give this record a more synthesiser-laden sound. This album evokes a flavour of the industrial 80s electronica, but manages to make itself feel of now.

Single: Boxer Rebellion – If You Run

No, Piers didn’t force me to say this … but I had to pick a single that I enjoyed and this was it, especially as it’s from a band I had never heard of until joining Phoenix.

Roz Ure

Album: Kerry Ellis – Anthems

This album is the result of a fab combination Sung by Kerry Ellis and produced by Brian May. Kerry has a great rock voice and a musical theatre background being the first Scaramouche in We Will Rock You and has also played Elphaba in Wicked. This album contains rock version of a combination of theatre and pop. The combination of the two performers is great. They first worked together to record an orchestral version of ‘No one But You’ in 2004 and this year they released this album. It includes some versions of Anthem from Chess, Defying Gravity from Wicked and Brian May’s I Loved A Butterfly. Brian May also plays on the album.

Single: Rumer – Some Lovers

This was actually in my stocking on Christmas Day. I love Rumer and this is a CD single released for Christmas called Rumer sing Bacharach at Christmas. Its a great song and on the sleeve Rumer describes how she went to meet Burt Bacharach at his home in California and felt really nervous. This is actually a new song written for a new Bacharach musical called The Gift of the Magi. It’s set at Christmas so perfect for this time of year. I can’t wait to hear more! There are two songs on the CD. The other one is an accoustic version of Alfie which is equally as good.

Scott Ross

Album: Five For Fighting – Slice

I’m going to cheat a bit as it turns out to have been released last year but has only just come to my notice. The album is called “Slice”, which is also the title of the second track to be released as a single – the first was “Chances”. The artist is (Vladimir) John Ondrasik who records under the name “FIVE FOR FIGHTING”. His songs always have a message and “Slice” really follows on from the Don McLean 1971 song “AMERICAN PIE” which was was driven by the loss of the American feelgood factor and confidence which had grown up in the 1950s but was damaged by the various assasinations in the US, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan during the 60’s and the ongoing Vietnam War. “Slice” is perhaps about the increase in networking by computer as the cost of human interraction. This may all sound a bit heavy but it is a great track.

Single: Katy Perry – California Gurls

It is simply a good summer feel song that I am certain has very wide appeal. Great song to sing along to while you’re driving (hopefully on a fast road and NOT sitting in a jam at the Brook Street Roundabout!

Steve Davis

Album of the Year no 1: Hugh Hopper – The Gift Of Purpose

There are two CD’s that I can’t separate this year. If you purchase these, the money will go to a good cause.

The first is “The Gift of Purpose” – a tribute to the late great Hugh Hopper. It’s a live recording of Hugh with his last project Bone. All monies go to Hugh’s widow. You can buy the CD by clicking here.

Album of the Year no 2: Various Artists – Leader Of The Starry Skies – A Tribute To Tim Smith. Songbook 1

The second CD is “Leader of the Starry Skies” a Tribute to Tim Smith. The leader of the Cardiacs is seriously I’ll in hospital and all profits from this CD will go towards getting Tim out of hospital and leading as normal life as possible. You can buy the CD by clicking here.

If you want to support the artists that you enjoy then buy their CDs. There are times though, that even if the artists are not necessarily amongst your favourites, perhaps you should dig deep and pay tribute to someone who has given so much pleasure to the music fans around the world.

Steve Robertson

Album: Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

A great band I managed to interview at Reading, and they didn’t let me down. The album sums up the year for me, probably because I’ve played it more that any other other. Wide Eyes is a great track, I love Airplanes and their version of Talking Heads’ Warning Sign has to be listened to.

Single: Foals – Spanish Sahara

Proving that a second album does not have to be a let-down. A band I still haven’t managed to catch live but will make it a new year’s resolution to change that.

Taylor Godwin

Album: Lostprophets – The Betrayed

Released in January of this year, this album didn’t come without its fair amount of trials and tribulations. After scrapping an album and a public argument between then producer, John Feldmann, and the band in 2008/9, the boys decided to produce it themselves. That decision saved them, and their latest rock offering proved that they still are the band of ‘Start Something’. Packed with darkness and angst, Watkins and Co kept a good balanced between their roots and musical maturity, balancing with ease of the same tightrope that many other bands fall off of. If you haven’t checked it out already run to the shops and buy a copy – you’ll love it.

Single: Katy Perry – California Gurls

This was the song of my summer and every good memory of this year can be pinned to this song. Katy Perry’s celebration of all things California even heated up July like nothing else and, for 3 minutes at least, the world feels as cute and edible as the music video!

Tom Walker

Album: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

I’m not convinced 2010 was a stellar year really. Two albums stick out. XX by the XX was a dream, it’s really rare to find such a cracking post-party indie-rock album. I absolutely loved it and am still listening now, really makes me think, it’s a thinky album. However, I have to give the album of the year to Arcade Fire, for The Suburbs, I have loved to their slow escalation to the stratosphere and in an age of the one album ‘artist’ its so pleasing to see a band just getting better and better and being appreciated more and more … it’s OK to be anxious, it sounds nice actually.

Single: Tinie Tempah – Pass Out

Going to throw a wild one in to the mix for single of the year. Loved Crossfire by Brandon Flowers, and Ellie Goulding’s Starry Eyed, but something about this tune brings out some sort of testosterone infused rage, and it feels good. It’s a ‘tune’, well that’s what my sister said, and she should know – she can play the recorder.

Will Hodge

Album: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

If this had been a couple of weeks ago my answer probably would have been B.o.B’s debut album, but Kanye seems to have taken the spot just in time. This could be due a combination of a short attention spell and it being the latest album I have listened to but I think I will be feeling the same way for some time. 13 songs filled with great emotion, lyrics, production and a whole host of featured artists, along with no tracks on the album that seem skippable, makes this my album of the year.

Single: The Pretty Reckless – Makes Me Wanna Die

What a hard decision with so many great singles being released this year covering such a wide range of genres. But the song/band that have failed to fall from my radar is The Pretty Reckless and their first single being Make Me Wanna Die. Taylor has such an amazing flawless voice for a 17 year old both on the CD and live which leads this to being such a strong debut single. This was the song that introduced me to them and I have since become hooked.

Presenters’ Picks – 2009

Singles and albums of the year from Phoenix FM presenters:

Alex Fletcher

Album: Horrors – Primary Colours

A new and promising direction for the goth kids from Southend. Produced by Geoff Barrow of Portishead – who no doubt steered them in the right direction – the album was recorded in almost total darkness and some thought the outcome would be a boring if pretentious gloomfest. Surprisingly, the finished product resulted in a modern homage to My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus & Mary Chain. Surely a win win.

Single: Performance – Reptile

Technically a free download in November 2009 from the Mancunians formally know as (We Are) Performance. I can vouch for the fact it’s grim up north but no one can deny that some of the best indie pop comes out it. Reptile is dizzy 80s indie disco track with clever, catchy lyrics that would keep you singing and dancing to it all night, on repeat.

Andy Hubbard

Album: Joyce Cooling – Global Cooling

I could go with The Temper Trap, but I’ll cast my vote in the jazz genre for this one. Joyce has become my fave star in 2009, not least because she wanted to talk with us on Phoenix FM from California, but she can really play the guitar! This is an album to relax to, celebrate with and play loud or soft. Love it lots.

Single: Paulo Nutini – Pencil Full Of Lead

Could be the happiest, sunniest, most fun track of 2009. Put simply, it’s a song to make you feel great and it just sounds like everyone had a blast when it was recorded. Wonderful.

Emma Sweeney

Album: Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes

Baroque Pop at its best. I am a sucker for folk sounds and harmonies, and this band takes risks using instruments that you wouldn’t normally associate with pop/chart music. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 12 months and if they push the boundaries of popular music any further.

Single: Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody

As I am an album person I rarely pay attention to singles but if I had to choose I’d have to pick this one, which they performed at the 2009 Brit Awards and totally rocked Coldplay off the stage.

Graeme Holiday

Album: The Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman – Modern Art

Easy choice, released in March. Sums up everything I love about the genre of Jazz Funk & Smooth Jazz. Not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s rare to get an album in this mould without a duff track on it.

Single: All-American Rejects – Gives You Hell

Much harder to choose. Again, was around Feb, March time and it just seemed to be on the radio everywhere. One of those that just nags away.

Holly Black

Album: Skunk Anansie – Smashes and Trashes

This is quite a tricky one to call as there have been some pretty cracking albums this year (my runner up by the way would be Puressence – Sharpen up the Knives), but I think Skunk have got to get it for making such an epic comeback. When they first came back I vaguely remembered Hedonism but mostly it was ‘Skunk who?’; but Squander (Single of the year runner up for me) was brilliant and the album has not left my car since I got my hands on it. ALSO anyone that can crowd surf in an outfit made of tinsel deserves some kind of medal in my book.

Single: White Lies – Death

Just to jump on the bandwagon here, but it’s not often a song makes you stop dead in your tracks and go ‘Allo who’s this then?’. The whole album was just amazing – and very nearly album of the year – but this song was the first I heard and just gave me goosebumps. I did my best to kill it by listening to it pretty much on loop for a month but I still love it.

James Moloney

Album: Passion Pit – Manners

Yes I know … given my pedigree this should be Daniel O’Donnell or some hybrid of Harry Belafonte and Cliff Richard, but no. I heard it in the summer – “The Reeling” was played on Phoenix, perhaps once again 80’s Voodoo to some degree but I did download the whole album. Like The Mystery Jets before, this was a leap into the unknown – however, unlike the likes of Aslan, Paulo Nutini and more I have returned to this album time and again to discover new diamonds! Brilliant!

Single: La Roux – In For The Kill

No not just for the Mercury Prize, in fact when I first played it this was, Dr Who-like, in the future. However, this track stood out for me by being sparse yet produced but not, say, JLS. Also maybe satisfying my hankering for 80s synthpop like Yazoo, whilst melodically it only ticks most of the boxes – most recently heard in a shop in Brentwood it always stands out for me.

Jules Bottazzi

Album: Prodigy – Invaders Must Die

For those of us who cut our clubbing teeth on the pure rave perfection of Music For the Jilted Generation and The Fat of the Land, the Prodigy had become a bit of a letdown – Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned just didn’t match up to their previous work, and things had gone very quiet for a few years. And then came this. I remember hearing The Omen for the first time, feeling shivers going up my back and being transported back to the early 90s; time had gone full circle, the Prodge were back doing their old-school-but-cutting-edge thing and my feet were moving independently of the rest of my body (or maybe that’s my age). Who else can make such brooding, exciting music, full of menace, thrash guitars, big beat electronica punk gorgeousness? I bloody love ’em. Oh yes, and Warrior’s Dance was the second best single of the year.

Single: Dizzee Rascal – Bonkers

He got a lot of stick in some corners for what was seen as selling out, leaving his grime roots behind and joining the mainstream – but, if you can therefore make your millions and still produce tracks as good as this, why the hell not? Just like Dance Wiv Me, from the same album, Bonkers is ridiculously infectious and bursting with energy, frankly daring you not to get up and dance. Switching from Calvin Harris to Armand van Helden as collaborator was a smart move; Dizzee never stands still, never goes stale. He’ll turn to rock or indie next. And probably kick ass doing that too.

Lucy Costello

Album: Twilight Soundtrack – New Moon Twilight Saga

An eclectic range of independent and mainstream pop/indie acts. A wonderful collection of music that I cannot fault. Capturing the spirit of the phenomenon that is ‘The Twilight Saga’ yet given a chance this album is refreshing and surprisingly cool. Well worth a listen!

Single: Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

Anthem of 2009 in my opinion. It rocked the festivals and took over our televisions becoming background music to numerous adverts and no matter where you are you will hear it somewhere. You may not realise that you are listening to this particular song but as soon as you are made aware of its existence it will seem strangely familiar!

Mike Le-Surf

Album: Morrissey – Years Of Refusal

A great album with some memorable singles from the genius that is Morrissey. A Phoenix FM staff outing to the Brentwood Centre in November saw the man himself heap praise on the Thrift Green Trotters, belt out the biggest hits and tracks from the album, and was by far the best gig I saw in 2009.

Single: Hafdis Huld – Kongulo

Hafdis has been a regular guest on Stick Around For Joy throughout 2009. Her second album “Synchronised Swimmers” is due for release in the UK in 2010 and Kongulo, the first single, was a big hit on the Phoenix FM A list. There are plenty of potential hits on the new album so 2010 could be a big one for Hafdis.

Monica Gibson

Album: Paolo Nutini – Sunny Side Up

Released May 2009. Great album, but all credit to him in giving it that title. Positive thinking my friends … ommmmmmm … Now this is a bit of a shocker for me really. Given that I didn’t even know who this artist even was at the beginning of the year, it is clear I do by the very end of it! It certainly ended on a high for me with his album and I cannot help playing his single from the album every week: Pencil Full Of Lead. Is this a connotation or not? Who knows …

Plenty of others of course on the album, but this particular one (once again) gets me up and about, shaking all that shouldn’t be shaken about! There seems to be this common theme with getting up and moving don’t you think? All I know is that I lurrve that cutie little man. Dare I say ‘man’, given he’s only 23 years old? This is a fantastic album by a very super and up and coming star in my opinion. He has a lot of give and is firmly in his prime. He is simply amazing to watch live also.

This album went straight to number one upon its release. However albeit this is simply my opinion, they have been divided in that big bad world out there. Critics aren’t too sure and some less impressed than me. I still think its great.

Single: Noisettes – Don’t Upset The Rhythm

Released March 2009. This is the second single by this UK Indie Rock Band from their second album: Wild Young Hearts. Yeah baby yeah. You feel me? You feeeeel da tune? Funky, groovy and all radical in my mind.

I am totally loving that track. I simply cannot get enough. It makes me get up from wherever I am sitting to make me dance, dance, dance!! What a fab track. So fab in fact that Mazda decided to use it in their car ads throughout the first quarter of 2009 in the UK. Either way it makes me smile and just all happy inside. Cant really say that for a lot of tunes nowadays now can you?

Nick Field

Howling Bells – Radio Wars

A lot of indie bands went down the epics route this year but Howling Bells fared better than most; an album to really forget the world around you for a while and lose yourself in its atmosphere. The singles ‘Into The Chaos’ and ‘Cities Burning Down’ are typical of the album’s other-worldly nature, but where so many other bands would have eaten themselves whole by this point, Juanita Stein’s vocals, both thoughtful and unintrusive, also help to keep the band grounded. A band who know what they are, but don’t let barriers get in their way.

Single: Sonic Boom Six – Back 2 Skool

Ska, punk, metal, hip-hop – it’s all here, from one of the UK’s best-kept musical secrets, and for me, one of the defining bands of the decade. when I heard SB6’s debut album in 2007 I was blown away; here was a band with catchy tunes which a fresh perspective on social issues of the day, without ever sounding like an over-the-fence rant which makes so many other bands so off-putting. Their second album didn’t have the same spirit but this bodes well for album three – a tune you can’t help but jump to and a heart that rebels against scenesters and apathy, coming together to make a track that unfolds a bit more every time you listen.

Paul Golder

Album: Brownies – Ourknife Yourback

Spiky, aggressive, poopy and punky but not in a horrible pop/punk way. Humourous songs too, if more than a little bit foul-mouthed, but that just adds to the mystique, especially since I interviewed them at Offset – charming young ladies, I can assure you butter would NOT melt.

Single: Everything Everything – Photoshop Handsome

A song that WILL make you sit up and pay attention the first time you hear it. Nonsensical lyrics delivered at 100mph over music that could easily have been written by Yes or King Crimson, all packaged up as “indie” for the “kids”. Perfect!

Paul Seaton

Album: Owl City – Ocean Eyes

Fusing electronic and pop into an irresistable mix, Adam Young has created an album that just begs to be replayed instantly. One of the biggest-selling singles from the album, ‘Fireflies’ went huge in the states, and with OC touring Europe in 2010, they could soon be the talk of the planet, not just my show every week since summer! Awesome.

Single: White Lies – Death

Grandiose, lyrically poetic and yet catchy as hell, this just took my breath away the first time I heard it, and it still sounds incredibly fresh. 2009 was massive for female vocalists, but the haunting, melodic tones of Harry McVeigh make this my favourite track of the year.

Peter Thompson

Album: Annie – Don’t Stop

A storming second album from Norwegian electropop singer Annie. This album almost never saw the light of day after it was pulled from the release schedules following Annie’s split from her label but thankfully it was saved when she took the masters with her. Intelligent innovative pop, this album more than lives up to the promise she showed on her first album Anniemal. Standout tracks include Anthonio, Songs Remind Me Of You and My Love Is Better.

Single: Little Boots – Remedy

Named Sound of 2009 in the BBC’s poll of up and coming music artists, Remedy was Little Boots’ biggest hit of the year and demonstrated that while not as brilliantly bonkers as Lady Gaga, she could more than compete with great songs such as this which seemed to be never off the radio in the middle of 2009.

Piers Hewitt

Album: Wilco – Wilco (The Album)

Whilst lots of young bands have been trying (and failing) to reach timeless status this year, a few old kids on the block have been showing them how to do it, not least this bunch from over the pond. Finally, after 8 albums (I think) this was the first time they have kept the same line-up for 2 albums running, and it shows. Some of the most gorgeous Americana you’re ever likely to hear, and without being twee, Jeff Tweedy even manages a duet with the queen of indie pop, Feist, which pins the album together. Go and see them too. No backing tracks with this lot. They know how to play their instruments. Just good rock with a bit of roll and makes Lily Allen sound like a GCSE project.

Single: Animal Collective – My Girls

Easily my best first listen of the year. As soon as this epic ditty came out of the speakers, I shut my eyes and thought I was at a festival in the sun in California. It has a bit of everything in this – a great natural dancey beat with all sort going on behind, without sounding wet, like so many singles that make radio often do. Sadly, the best tune on an over-rated album, but thanks to this lovely digital age, that doesn’t really matter does it?

Rob Harvey

Album: White Lies – To Lose My Life

Upon the release of their debut album To Lose My Life, White Lies became the first British act in 2009 to achieve a number one album. And despite my efforts I didn’t get to see the album played live. Still it features as one of my favorite albums and definitely gained maximum play from me in 2009, with its grinding guitar riffs, rallying 80’s synths and smoky room drum laided tracks – the single “Death” still being my favourite. White Lies’ musical style has been described as dark yet uplifting by the media, drawing comparisons to Joy Divison, Editors and Interpol. Well that’s OK with me, as those bands have a equal place in my musical taste buds … and I’ve plenty of room for the revisioned 80’s feel of this band.

Single: Temper Trap – Sweet Dispostion

When “Sweet Disposition” came out at the beginning of August, There were other things going on at the time, bigger things, probably, and anyway, these fly-by-night new indie bands disappear as soon as they arrive. But these Australians are worth a look, as this song to me suggested chin up and best foot forward vibes, with a vocal so haunted and distinctive … then seeing them live, you realise this song is an anthem.

Steve Davis

Album: Various Artists – Hur! Hommage a la Musique de Christian Vander (link)

To have a follow up Double CD to last last year’s “Hamtai! – Hommage A La Musique De Christian Vander” was just too much to expect but then “Hur!” was released on the Soleil Zeuhl label and all was good with the world. With so many great artists once again performing their interpretation of the works of Christian Vander, this release is a joy to behold.

Steve Robertson

Album: Metric – Fantasies

With so many good album releases in 2009 it isn’t easy to choose, but this album has certainly been one of just a few that provided the soundtrack to the year. The album just works for me, not too predictable but not too out there for my taste. It’s one of those albums where I can’t pick a single favourite track, with Help I’m Alive, Sick Muse and Gold Guns Girls standing out. A band I’ve yet to see live though.

Single: Boxer Rebellion – Flashing Red Light Means Go

A band Phoenix FM has been very close to during the year, I have to say that this single is just a great track. A band I saw live a few times, including at Scala in London along with Pure Reason Revolution (one of the gigs of the year for me) and even had Nathan Nicholson performing an acoustic version of this song during the Saturday Kickabout for our birthday celebrations.

Taylor Godwin

Album: Paramore – Brand New Eyes

Surprise surprise! As if you didn’t already know what album made my year! ‘Brand New Eyes’ saw a departure from the adolesence of Paramore’s second album ‘RIOT!’ and pole vaulted them into the mainstream of rock music. The 3rd release from the pop-punk quintet, this record matures from start to finish, explaining of the band crisis they faced as they begun 2009, to the unity and strength that they shared at the end of the recording process. This album boasts of how each member of Paramore have grown into themselves and developed instrumentation, proving to their peers that they aren’t a disposable group from the Myspace era.

Single: Foo Fighters – Wheels

Despite only being an added extra on their Greatest Hits release of the year, ‘Wheels’ proves that Foo Fighters are still storming the charts with their both anthemic and melodic rock music. I think ‘Wheels’ has shown the music world what is still yet to come of the four piece and I look forward to their return after Dave Grohl’s affair with Them Crooked Vultures.

Victoria Murphy

Album: Lady Gaga – The Fame

She’s just gone from strength to strength this year, and with every publicity stunt possible under her belt, as well as actually brilliant songs to dance to, the album of the year has to go to this lady!

Single: Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

The ULTIMATE festival song, has been everywhere on adverts, and will always make me think of summer ’09.

Wayne Sullivan

Album: Newton Faulkner – Rebuilt By Humans

A second album from the man with crazy hair and great guitar playing technique. A fine collection of songs, almost all of them are instantly likeable. Stand out tracks are ‘This Is It’ and ‘So Much’, the former being the first single lifted from the album and the current single ‘Over And Out’ features Faulkner flexing his vocal chords with some admirable falsetto. I’m not normally a fan of the ‘difficult second album’ but this for me is the most pleasing piece of vinyl to hit my turntable in a year that has had some quality music from all genres; long may it continue.

Single: Eg White – Broken

A wonderful haunting song from one of the UK’s great songwriting talents. Having collabarated with Adele, Duffy and Will Young amongst others this was his third single release taken from his second album ‘Adventure Man’. He probably won’t make the dizzy heights as his co-writers as a solo artist but this song will stay with me for a long time after 2009 has passed by, a true gem.

Presenters’ Picks – 2008

Phoenix FM presenters pick their favourite albums and singles of the year …

Alex Fletcher

Single: Ladyhawke – Dusk Til Dawn
As the Girl Anachronism personified, secretly indulging in Stevie Nicks, David Bowie, The Cult, ABC and wishing I’d grown up in the Eighties, Ladyhawke was my shining light. You can still make music reminiscent of the Eighties in the Noughties. Every track on her debut album this year is a trip down Smash Hits magazine and September’s Dusk Til Dawn is a total synth-out, evocative of the Thompson Twins and New Order. It was love at the first listen.

Album: Young Knives – Superabundance
Tweed? Check. NHS spectacles? Check. Weight problems? Check. Sexy?… Check! Yes I probably do have a questionable taste in men but listen to this album and you might understand a little better – even if the brotherly frontmen are almost the indie world’s equivelent of Same Difference. Some wondered whether 2006 Mercury Music Prize nominated album Voices of Animals & Men could be bettered, I even wondered myself. We’d had a sneak preview via Terra Firma at the end of 2007, it was even my single of that year, it was so inspired. So when Superabundance finally hit the shelves on 10th March, I was blown away.Tune after tune. Danceable, moshable, pogo worthy guitars and foot tappingly brilliant drums mixed with beautifully wry and ‘oh the irony’ lyrics. Geek chic at its sexiest, self-depreciation at its most rock n’ roll. Music that touches my inner Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now soul.

Alex Linahan

Single: Beyonce – If I Were A Boy
I have chosen this perhaps because it’s pretty recent and my memory can’t stretch back too far, but also because I like it. I can listen to it over and over without getting fed up (the sign of a good track, I feel). I’m also from the Destiny’s Child era, and think Beyonce is amazing and her voice is incredible. My liking of this track is obviously nothing to do with the dig it has at men!

Album: Duffy – Rockferry
How boring?! I hear you say, but it is a great album which requires no effort to listen to. Duffy’s voice was a breath of fresh air when she broke into our fickle music industry earlier in the year and it continues to be stylish and unique (in my opinion of course). When I bought this album I was finishing up a 4 year degree so this adds to the positive attitude I have towards it.

Bryan Powis

Single: Friendly Fires – Paris
I heard this track last year when they released it the first time and loved it then so was happy when they re-released it this year with a brand new video – even though the old one was cool! Also there is some brilliant remixes of the track, my favourite being the Aeroplane one ft Au Reviour Simone adding some sexy female vocals to it.

Album: Sway – The Signature LP
What can I say love this album! (and got it for free too – bonus) This is 13 tracks that work together and deserve to be listened to from start to finish! MY favourite track being Jason Waste, heavy on wit and a terrific tale of a human failings. Sway also features on The Kaiser Chiefs album too, and picked up a BET award in the states this year. I was lucky enough to catch up with him on Drive back in October; check it out here.

Ed Wellman

Single: Jordan Sparks and Chris Brown – No Air
The soundtrack to summer 2008 – reaching No 1 in Australia and New Zealand, peaking at No 3 in USA and UK, where it spent 10 weeks in the Top 10 and 21 weeks in the Top 40. Jordin Sparks, winner of American Idol 2007, duets with Chris Brown, R&B singer to create this memorable song; the most sold of any contestant on American Idol to date.

Album: The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards – Spirit Of The Glen: Journey
The 2nd album from The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Bagpipes – love them or not? There is something haunting about the sound of these instruments played, on this disk, by serving soldiers. Remarkably, much of this album was recorded in a tent within the British Army’s Central Operations Base at Basra airport, Iraq at temperatures of up to 55 degrees celsius. The bagpipes were as far from home as the men playing them. I will be featuring tracks from this album on Monday Classics at 7pm on Phoenix FM.

Hayley Crotty

Single: Nickelback – Rockstar
Okay, so this song has become a bit like marmite – bear with me on this evaluation! When it first came out all the rock/emo kids loved it, then everyone else got their hands on it and it became a bit of a ‘if everyone else likes it I won’t’ kinda thing, but I still love it. From their fifth studio album “All The Right Reasons” which is well worth a listen with songs like “Animals” and “Someone That You’re With”, “Rockstar” was originally released in 2007 but getting into our charts Summer 2008.

Album: The Script – self titled
The first song I heard from this (11 Track) album was “We Cry” and it didn’t make me run out and get it but after a while the songs grows on you but it wasn’t until I heard “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved” that I went out and got the album and it is my best buy for 2008. “We Cry” doesn’t do they guys and justice songs like “Rusty Halo” and the released “Break Even” have brilliant rhythm and melody while still having lyrics that make sense unlike some of the stuff that hits the airwaves.

Holly Black

Single: Kings Of Leon – Sex On Fire
At the risk of being obvious… but it’s such a good song and I still like it after many months. It reminds me of drunken dancing at uni and that’s never a bad thing, is it?

Album: Various Artists – Juno: Music From The Motion Picture
Don’t judge me! I don’t listen to many albums the whole way through but I’m ashamed to say I really do like this one, it’s quirky-tastic and it’s got The Kinks on there so it must be cool.

James Moloney

Single: The Killers – Human
I entered the fray of Top 20 shows back sometime in May with a promise to do a U2 Top 20 in July (19th I think it was). Steve M was to do Coldplay the next week. I remember being curious as to what a Top 20 show was so scrolled backwards through the previous year….noting that Steve had done the Killers in March…..that’s when I discovered we don’t have listen again mostly…..darn!!!! but I did listen to some Killers (they also mysteriously appeared on the computer for Sunday Breakfast!) My impression was not particularly good…..anyway , like Heroes….. fast forward to the summer…..I’m driving in a hurry up the A128 from the A127 towards Brentwood ,it’s late summer evening , Bryan is on and he plays a Tune….I think….he’s never going to say who this is after but no….he does and it’s the Killers…Human and from then I’ve been hooked. I featured the Album not so long ago on Sunday Breakfast and it is probably the best track….if you like melody….which brings me to my album of the year.

Album: The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
I, given age and many other indicators should probably be attracted by ‘The Batchelors Greatest Hits, Val Doonican’s Greatest or simply anything in the NOW series’. There’s a chance that REM’s Accelerate could do it but for tuneful oblivion Viva La Vida might be king however even tempted by the big bicepsed rhythm of the Kings Of Leon I have still consistently strayed to Twenty One. The randomness with which I chose it (Cork Airport and NME) BUT the reward I felt in the choice have not been equalled by anything else I have picked in the year. And my other possible single “Half In Love With Elizabeth” is still rumbling around the indie charts. Maybe I’ll even get to see them next year!

Jules Botazzi

Single: Wiley & Skepta – Rolex Sweep
This track shouldn’t work. For one, it’s a dance “craze”, which is generally not indicative of a good tune. For another, it’s got Timmy Mallett in the video. Hello? But from the moment you hear the weird, back to front, funky intro, topped up with ridiculously simplistic, catchy lyrics (“c-c-c-count with me!”) delivered in a deep, menacing, sinister voice, it is hard, grimy, north Londontastic Dance Heaven. Michael Jackson can’t dance like you, baby.

Album: The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
No, they certainly didn’t. There’s not much in the way of groundbreaking music on this album; everything is begged, borrowed or stolen from Blondie, electronica, punk, indie, rap, jazz; just about every genre of modern music. But who cares, when it sounds as good, and has as much attitude, as this? On every album there are always one or two duds but if you judge an album by the number and quality of stonking singles, The Ting Tings have my vote for infectious, fun, poptastic album of the year.

Kat Rudge

Single: Paramore – I Caught Myself
Have loved Paramore ever since the realease of All We Know Is Falling. This track is on the Twilight soundtrack and is the best track that I have heard this year and completely outdoes what they have already released.

Album: Pendulum – In Silico
Because they are an awesome band and haven’t done a duff record yet. First fell in love with this band when I saw them supporting Kasabian! Has been a much anticipated album, I have been waiting for it since the release of Hold Your Colour.

Les Carter

Single: Screaming Tea Party – Holy Disaster
Album: The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing

Lucy Costello

Single: The Script – Rusty Halo
It is just a really fun song. Everytime I play it it wakes me up with its interesting lyrics and funky beat. The Script are a great band to have come out of 2008 and I look forward to see what they produce in the coming year.

Album: Jason Mraz – We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.
The name of the album says it all. It is a great album from one of my all time favourite artists. Seeing him on tour performing this album in September was amazing. He can sing. He writes the most amazingly clever lyrics. And has an awesome band backing him. Could not ask for anymore. Brilliant!

Mike Le-Surf

Single: The Killers – Human
Blew me away on the first listen and after hundreds of plays on Phoenix still loving it. A-list forever!

Album: Heavy Load – Shut It!
Pure punk from Lewes’ answer to The Ramones. 11 awesome tracks including the superb “Nicole” and a homage to the ex-Wham frontman in “We love George Michael”. Seen them live twice in 2008 supporting Sham 69 at the ICA and at their own gig in Brighton featuring lead singer’s blood on the stage! Coming to Brentwood in 2009 hopefully with a touch of Phoenix magic. x

Oliver Rowe

Two albums and no single:
JJ Zarbo – self-titled album
Steve Curtis – Out Of The Woods

Two local artists who I have featured on the Saturday Pit Stop during 2008.

Paul Golder

Single: Sons and Daughters – Darling
Beautiful female-fronted toe-tapping indie pop. Part punk, part folk, part twee, part Town Called Malice-bassline, what’s not to like?

Album: British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?
A real return to form after the good but patchy Open Season. The album is consistently strong throughout with new epics like Lights Out For Darker Skies sitting alongside proper pop songs such as Waving Flags. One of the very few physical CDs I bought this year, coming with pages and pages of nonsensical liner notes which shows they’ve lost none of their eccentricity. The songs are so good that their soundcheck before a show at Canvey Island was one of my best gigs of the year! It was a great interview too – not many bands answer your first question with the words “Baked Alaska”.

Piers Hewitt

Single: Elbow – One Day Like This
I was actually disappointed this ended up being a single, but it is gloriously uplifting and coming in at probably well over 5 minutes it sticks the proverbial 2 fingers up at all those people who inexplicably decide the general public can’t cope with songs longer than 3 minutes 40. It is justification of their mainstream success (after years of labour) caught up in a few wonderful minutes and the outro is to die for. Proof you can have a beer gut and sing in a band too. I like. I want to buy. Oh, I already have.

Album: Alberta Cross : The Thief And The Heartbreaker
Is it possible to vote for a 7 track mini-album? Well, it’s going to have to be, ‘cos 2008 hasn’t been the best. And this lot of songs is the absolute nuts. Guitars not turned up to 11 because they know how to use them. And more than a very interesting modern-day nod towards Neil Young. It also has some extraordinarily gorgeous moments, particularly towards the end, and on countless occasions the whole thing made me wish I’d written it. I will play the last track, ‘The Devil’s All You Ever Had’ on my show soon, and I’m sure at least one person in Billericay or Brentwood will cry. That’s what I’m about you see, pleasure pain…

Steve Mead

Single: Elbow – One Day Like This
Saw Elbow back in October I think. I had only heard this track once or twice and live it blew me away, they created a massive sound with a string quartet on stage too, to say the least it was BIG! This made it the standout track of 2008 for me. I never get tired of hearing it.

Album: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig Lazarus Dig
Saw Nick Cave for the second time this year after a 16 year gap, and got him this time, this album is dark, groovy, sleazy and sexy all at once, all of the tracks are like short tales, complete with a beginning, a middle and an end.

Steve Robertson

Single: Elbow – One Day Like This
The almost melancholy sound with cheerful lyrics has me singing along every time I hear it. The lyric “Kiss me like we die tonight” still sends shivers down my spine. The song seems to gradually fade away in something that is reminiscent of a football chant, which only adds to its allure for me.

Album: Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
Sex on Fire and Use Somebody are two of the best tracks to hit the UK singles chart this year. I know there has been some critisism that the band’s fourth album is too commercial but that’s pbobably why I love it so much as I head towards 40. The album is superbly produced, with the drumming on Manhattan cheering me up in any traffic jam.

Taylor Godwin

Single: Paramore – That’s What You Get
Being the last single of their second album, RIOT!, I was ecstatic when they released it in February of this year. This track definitely sums up my year and it’s a great live song every time I go to one of their shows. The video is also brilliant, showing them messing about with friends and family – just like us at Phoenix on a daily basis! Get ready to hear some amazing stuff from these guys in 2009!

Album: Forever The Sickest Kids – Underdog Alma Mater
This. Is. Amazing. And if you haven’t heard it, where have you been all year?! From start to finish it ticks every box to make it the best pop punk record of 2008. Punchy guitars fused with key/synths and melodic vocals translates perfectly to the stage. The best part about it is that they are a relatively small band over here so they play the tiny venues you never knew existed and they get the crowd pumping brilliantly. Loving the FTSK!

Presenters’ Picks – 2007

Alex Fletcher

Single: Young Knives – Terra Firma
Love it, love it, love it! This song gets totally stuck in your head; “Fake rabbit, real snake, terra firma, terra firma!” Genius. Sounded brilliant live at Reading this year. Waiting for their second album with baited breath!

Album: Horrors – Strange House
A fantastic debut album from the Victoriana Southenders. Strange House is such a super example of a clash of old school sounds made into something new and exciting; eighties goth meets garage, punk, pop and a Hammond organ thrown in for good measure. No one makes music or dresses as good as these boys.

Bryan Powis

Single: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill
One of my favourite artists of this year and one whom I have seen live this year … this song has memories behind it for me, so I choose this one … this song was also on the A List around the time I joined Phoenix back in May.

Album: Twang – Love It When I Feel Like This
The boys from Birmingham have definitely got my juices flowing this year with tracks including Either Way, Wide Awake and Two Lovers, and I still don’t find them boring … they have also got some cool remixes to their songs.

Charlie Davy

Single: Calvin Harris – Acceptable In The 80s
I’m not a big dance music person, but if something catches my ears – then I’m going to buy it. It’s a very simple song in terms of lyric and arrangement, but it got everybody raving about Calvin Harris (who used to be a shelf-stacker) back in March of this year and the album is pretty good, too. You play this track on a night out and everybody takes notice.

Album: White Stripes – Icky Thump
We had to wait 2 years for this album after the release of “Get Behind Me Satan”, and it was certainly worth the wait – A raw sound of blues and cheerful pop with the 3 first singles all crackers (Icky Thump, You Don’t Know What Love Is, Conquest). Jack and Meg get a lot of stick for being too simple but it works, and you only have to browse the many videos on YouTube to see that they are also fantastic live. PS: Meg is hot.

Dani Tebbutt

Single: Avril Lavigne – Girlfriend
This was a great comeback album and single which showed us a different side of her skills/talent.

Album: Pink – I’m Not Dead
Again this was a great comeback album and she is a brilliant artist. I went to see her on my birthday at Brixton Academy and the one word I use to describe her is phenomenal. This year has been a great year for new artists and comebacks so it was so hard to choose but I have gone with two of my favourites that I am glad to see back on the music scene.

Dave Bishop

Single: Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love
Worth the wait – eat your heart out, Shayne Ward.

Album: Mark Ronson – Version
Normally I hate cover versions but I think the tracks on this album are the exception. I also very nearly chose the Amy Winehouse version of “Valerie” as best single as well.


Single: Justin Timberlake – My Love
Loved this just because you could listen to it over and over again. Reminded me of seeing Justin live – even if you didn’t like him, by going to his concert you would have been impressed as he is so talented.

Album: Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
This will go down in history.

Gemma Smith

Single: The Enemy – We’ll Live And Die In These Towns
The whole band without exception are very funny looking, but that didn’t put me off – beauty is only skin deep, and I’m a massive fan of this song.

Album: Jack Penate – Matinee
It’s all just remarkably cheerful! And he was very good at Reading.

Jay Preston

Single: Confection – I Choose You
A great modern tune with a strong helping of 80’s Kashif stamped all over it!

Album: Billy Griffin – Like Water
Only heard this recently but already one of my fave albums this year, real lurve music.

Mark Jackson

Single: Kings of Leon – Fans
A great upbeat tune, for us the … errr … fans.

Album: Arcade Fire – Neon Bible
Not a poor song on the album, how many can boast that in 2007? Quality!

Oliver Rowe

Single: Paolo Nutini – New Shoes
In Phoenix FM’s first year of permanent broadcasting, I’ve let the station dictate my choices. This seemed to be the top track played during our first few weeks on air.

Album: Koopa – Blag, Steal And Borrow
Regular visitors to the studio.

Paul Golder

Single: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill
The only song this year that I’ve wanted to play over and over again. Unless you count any of the tunes on …

Album: Radiohead – In Rainbows
… which is their best album in ten years and a real return to form after two really patchy efforts. Top tunes are new single Jigsaw Falling Into Place, Nude and Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.

Steve Mead

Single: Editors – Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors
The first single taken from the album An End Has A Start. A fantastic anthem, moody and melodic, an awesome first single for an awesome second album, I’ve really got to see this band again soon! Tim Ten Yen was a close runner up with Girl Number 1.

Album: Apartment – The Dreamer Evasive
One of the strongest debut albums I have ever heard, not one filler track on this album. At first I didn’t really ‘get’ Apartment, then I saw them live and was blown away by their live energy and seemingly note perfect performance, also they are bloody nice blokes too which always helps.

Presenters’ Picks – 2006

Phoenix FM presenters pick their favourite singles and albums of the year …

Alex Fletcher

Single of the year: CSS – Let’s Make Love (And Listen To Death From Above)
Probably the best gaytastic single this year; gets me dancing like a queen everywhere I hear it.
Album of the year: Huski – Love Peace Pain
Chances are you’ve probably never heard of them but they are the best electronica/pop act around at the mo, playing some wicked small venues in London.

Ashwyn Smyth

Single of the year: Amy Winehouse – Rehab
Album of the year: Janiva Magness – Do I Move You

Chris T-T

Single of the year: Jarvis – Running The World
Album of the year: Joanna Newsom – Ys

Craig Hannington

Single of the year: not sure
Album of the year: Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

Dave Bishop

Single of the year: Gnarls Barkley – Crazy
Album of the year: Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

Dave O’Neill

Single of the year: Absolutely nothing!
For the second year running, the music industry failed to release anything that captured my ear. Maybe 2007 will be different? Well, I’m not holding my breath!
Album of the year: Frost* – Million Town
Oh, this is an easy one. It is a seminal release of fusion progressive rock, combining hard edged lyrics with rocking metallic riffs in places, interlaced with exquisite and intricate melodies that puts hooks into your musical psyche and stretches it to the point of tearing. I can’t get one of the tunes out of my head as I write this! Now, that’s what music is really all about!

Eddie Curry

Single of the year: Art Brut – Nag Nag Nag Nag
Everything three minutes of music should be.
Album of the year: Long Blondes – Someone To Drive You Home
Someone had the great idea to mix Pulp, Blondie, Sleeper, Salad and the Younger Younger 28s on one album. Best track is Giddy Stratospheres, my favourite single of 2007.

Gemma Smith

Single of the year: Sunshine Underground – Commercial Breakdown
Well, I’ve been harping on about it for pretty much the whole year, and it’s been released twice, but still nobody’s heard of it.
Album of the year: Kooks – Inside In/Inside Out
After much pondering (and checking what actually came out in 2006!), I am going to go for this – it’s pretty much been my soundtrack to the year, and to think I only bought it because the shop had sold out of copies of the Arctic Monkeys’ debut!

Leo Martins

Single of the year: Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Dani California
Album of the year: Rapture – Pieces Of The People We Love

Lloyd Bonson

Single of the year: Feeling – Fill My Little World
For a number of reasons this band really stood out for me over the course of the year and it was the video to this song that got me interested in them. The video took some influences from the video to Talk Talk’s hit ‘Life’s What You Make It’ with the setting and layout of the band. Added to this some great music and probably the best lyrics I’ve heard this year and this song is a winner.
Album of the year: Meat Loaf – Bat Out Of Hell III (The Monster Is Loose)
The final part of the Bat Trilogy and this one is an absolute stonker!!!! Not only does Meat team up with long term writing partner Jim Steinman, there’s additional material from Desmond Child, Nikki Sixx, John 5 and appearances by Todd Rundgren, Steve Vai and Brian May. This album is just bursting with Rock Gods – well worth a listen to.

Nick Field

Single of the year: Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes
Album of the year: Fratellis – Costello Music
Not bought many albums this year, but any album with tracks like Creeping Up The Backstairs and Henrietta is bound to be up there with the year’s best.

Oliver Rowe

Single of the year: Scissor Sisters – Irreplacable
Album of the year: Razorlight – Razorlight

Rifa Bhunnoo

Single of the year: New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream
Album of the year: The Gossip – Standing In The Way Of Control

Steve Furby

Single of the year: Fratellis – Chelsea Dagger (indie), Take That – Patience (pop), Fedde Le Grand – Put Your Hands Up For Detroit (disco)
Album of the year: Don’t buy many albums but from my Radio 2 listening I ALMOST went and bought Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Worst single of the year: Toss up between Chico – Chico Time, David Hasselhoff – Jump In My Car and El Chombo – Chacarron

Steve Mead

Single of the year: Hybrasil – We Got Music
Album of the year: Pure Reason Revolution – The Dark Third
Nine tracks that melt perfectly into one another, this album is magnificent. The band are struggling to sort out a line-up change that occurred at the end of 2006 but I saw them at The Bassment in Chelmsford recently and they seem to be getting through it. Album highlight is Bright Ambassadors Of Morning.

Presenters’ Picks – 2005

Phoenix FM presenters choose their favourite singles and albums of the year …

Ashwyn Smyth
Single of the year: Goldfrapp – Ooh La La
Album of the year: The SPIKEdrivers – Ain’t It Real

Craig Hannington
Single of the year: The Killers – Smile Like You Mean It
I didn’t think it was that great a year for singles but Hot Fuss still stands out as a fantastic record.
Album of the year: The Heavy Blinkers – The Night And I Are Still So Young
This was a tricky choice; Devils and Dust by Bruce Springsteen was great too.

Daniel Beale
Single of the year: James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
Album of the year: Coldplay – X & Y

Dave O’Neill
Single of the year: nothing!
Sorry, but nothing stands out, no matter how hard I sit and cogitate over the year’s releases
Album of the year: Porcupine Tree – Deadwing
Porcupine Tree are probably the most important band to hit the world of Progressive Rock in over a decade. This album shows a maturity and balance that allows it to hold its own as a rock album as well. The production is incredible and shows that prog isn’t just soaring synths and spacey lyrics as this has a raw edge to it. If you haven’t heard of this band then you are seriously depriving yourself of a fantastic rock experience.

Eddie Curry
Single of the year: Mystery Jets – You Can’t Fool Me Dennis
A brilliantly eccentric song tightroping between prog rock and jangly indie, my two great loves. There are many reasons why I love this, not least because we have a Dennis on Phoenix FM to whom we often sing ‘you can do anything you want as long as it makes sense’.
Album of the year: Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
It was very trendy to like Bloc Party in 2005 and I’m not very trendy but it’s still my favourite and most-played. Every time I listen to it I hear something new in the music, the production is amazing. Still don’t understand the lyrics though.

Gemma Smith
Single of the year: Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
An absolute stormer of a track that will never fail to get everyone dancing and shouting along – it’s got to be my single of the year for sheer feel-good factor.
Album of the year: I’ll come back to you on this one!

James Brierley
Single of the year: Arctic Monkeys – I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
Album of the year: Not Arcade Fire!

Jim Henderson
Single of the year: Snow Patrol – Spitting Games
Album of the year: U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

Laura Miller
Single of the year: British Sea Power – It Ended On An Oily Stage
Album of the year: Arcade Fire – Funeral

Marc Ollington
Single of the year: British Sea Power – Please Stand Up
Album of the year: Arcade Fire – Funeral

Natalie Smith
Single of the year: The Subways – With You
Absolute magic, the catchiest song of 2005. Once heard you cannot get it out of your head!
Album of the year: Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger
The most uplifting album I have heard for years, a “rocky” yet “romantic” album, and each song is superb!

Nita Jhummu
Single of the year: Madonna – Hung Up
Although I’m not keen on the video. It kind of makes me feel ill.
Album of the year: Madonna – Confessions On A Dancefloor
Her whole album has got me into 70s dance music. I missed all that stuff: Abba, Rod Stewart, Bowie, Donna Summer etc the first time round ‘cos I wasn’t born so now I can catch up on it! Hoping it’s going to make a comeback!

Oliver Rowe
Single of the year: Razorlight – Somewhere Else
Album of the year: Magic Numbers – Magic Numbers
They were both in car CD player on holiday and played constantly because the alternative was dodgy foreign radio stations!

Richard Nott
Single of the year: James Blunt – You’re Beautiful
This was no 1 when my daughter Isabel was born.
Album of the year: Babies Need Lullabies
It is full of soporific piano music. It didn’t work on Isabel, but sent me to sleep at lunchtimes when I put it on my iPod!

Steve Furby
Single of the year: Madonna – Hung Up and Mariah Carey – We Belong Together
Two old girls going back to what they do best – I thought Madonna live at Hyde Park was superb. Mariah wasn’t but I thought her single sees her using her amazing voice to full effect.
Album of the year: Various Artists – Get This Party Started (Chris Hill’s new Caister soul anthems) andColdplay – X & Y
GTPS has 8 tracks out of 14 that are pure class – you will hear them on my Sunday show – and Coldplay’s album has great melodies.

Steve Mead
Single of the year: The Modern – Jane Falls Down
Because it has a refreshing sound compared to nearly everything else released last year, as they say “The Future Remembered”. I saw this band for the first time at the Leeds Festival; I was just wandering through the dance tent, heard and saw them, and was glued to the spot until the end of the set.
Album of the year: The Others – The Others
I love this album! I saw the band live for the first time at the Wireless festival in June and was hooked, BOA has now interviewed the band three times, and seen them on numerous occasions, and they get better every time, everyone should give this album a try, here’s to the follow up!