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!

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