1. “The Blinding” — Babyshambles (THE BLINDING EP) London The latest release by Pete Dougherty who, if the British press is to believed, may this time around be using the proceeds to purchase wedding gear for Kate Moss rather than crack and heroin. I, for one, have never given up on Pete: he’s still got the brilliant musical touch, as all five tunes on this EP are worth a listen.
2. “If You’ve Got Money” — Jamie T (PANIC PREVENTION) 20 year-old Jamie Treays is a singer / songwriter from Wimbledon. His debut album will be released in the UK at the end of January. Jamie T is essentially a British version of Jack Johnson, if that sounds appealing to you. He is earning quite a following in the UK indie scene, as his singles have been garnering increasing airplay during the last month or two on XFM, Virgin and BBC Radio One.
3. “Whistle for the Choir” — The Fratellis (COSTELLO MUSIC) Glasgow band / name is Italian for “brothers” / jaunty pop garage sound / one of the most popular bands in the UK in 2006 with 4 chart-topping singles. The problem with this infectious tune is that its one of those devious melodies that once heard, stays in me mind the rest of the day. Brilliant football terrace-anthem material.
4. “Downing Street Kindling” — Larrikin Love (THE FREEDOM SPARK) Southwest London Opening for Babyshambles in Europe currently / Founding bands of “Thamesbeat” scene / punkish reggae gypsy sound / influences are the Clash, the Libertines and the Pogues. Biting, incisive lyrics that hint lead vocalist and songwriter Ed Larrikin might be less than impressed with life in today’s Britain.
5 Commercial Breakdown” — The Sunshine Underground (RAISE THE ALARM) Leeds band that released its debut album in the UK in August. Collection of tight, guitar-driven indie songs that bring to mind Gang of Four, which is a good thing indeed innit? They have released three singles to date and bolstered their reputation travelling the British summer festival circuit in 2006.
6. “Storm in a Teacup” — Milburn (WELL WELL WELL) Sheffield band that rose to prominence during 2006 as part of the New Yorkshire scene that started blowing up a year ago thanks to the Arctic Monkeys, who are close mates of Milburn. Their debut album was released in October; full of excellent songs, and a highly worthwhile acquisition. If I was to tell you that this was the second album by Maximo Park, I’d probably successfully fool about 90% of this audience, as musical style and vocals are quite similar indeed, save for the fact that the founding Carnall brothers are Yorkshiremen and Maximo Park’s Paul Smith is a Geordie. / /
7. “Mama” — Plan B (WHO NEEDS ACTIONS WHEN YOU GOT WORDS) 22 year-old Ben Drew from Forest Gate, London. Just in time for the holidays, Plan B portrays a heartwarming family scene in the first song in the set “Mama (Loves a Crackhead)”, the chorus of which samples a Hall and Oates classic. Despite frequent (and accurate) comparisons to The Streets, Plan B’s world is an even bleaker one replete with violence, venereal disease and hopelessness. Interestingly, most of his diatribes are set against some wicked acoustic guitar riffs. Makes for some shocking, yet compelling listening.
8. “Peace and Quiet” — The Rifles (NO LOVE LOST) Walthamstow, London / full of cracking tunes and is another brilliant example of a tight guitar-driven indie band / sounds like the Jam, Strokes, the Coral, the Libertines, the Rakes / album available in North America on import only at present / produced by Ian Broudie formerly of the Lightning Seeds. The debut album released this year is another must-have for the discerning listener.
9. “Superstar Tradesman” — The View (HATS OFF TO THE BUSKERS) Band from Dundee, Scotland, who was discovered by Pete Dougherty during a concert tour to that city where he asked the band to open for Babyshambles the same night he initially heard their demo. The debut album will be released at the end of January. Their first single “Wasted Little DJs” enjoyed extensive radio airplay in the UK the latter half of 2006, as well as a feature on the Armitage Shanks show two months ago.
10. “The Mourners of St. Paul’s” — Liam Frost and the Slowdown Family (SHOW ME HOW THE SPECTRES DANCE) 22 year-old Manchester singer-songwriter very much in the vein of Badly Drawn Boy. His debut album was released in September, and I’ll wager a tidy sum that it will be placed on next year’s Mercury Music Prize shortlist. This single features some cool Arcade Fire-style arrangements and sampling of lyrics from Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World”. I will be travelling to Manchester after Christmas to take in the Man United match vs. Reading and spend New Year’s Eve in the maddest party city on the planet and hope to pick up this Liam Frost album to feature more cuts off it in upcoming shows.
11. “Break” — The Cinematics (STRANGE EDUCATION) Brand-new breaking band from Glasgow. Got that bass-heavy, brooding New Order / Editors / Interpol / She Wants Revenge sound that we all know and love. Their debut album is scheduled to be released in early 2007.
12. “Fairytale of New York” — The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl (IF I SHOULD FALL FROM GRACE WITH GOD) This song, which reached Number 2 on the UK Charts in December 1987, has perennially been voted the favourite Christmas tune in Britain, and is my personal favourite as well. Shane McGowan is a poetic deity who by the “Grace of God” (pun intended) is still with us; tragically, Kirsty MacColl, a fantastic singer who was married to renown producer Steve Lillywhite, was killed in December 2000 while saving her son from being hit by a power boat while scuba diving in Cozumel Mexico.
If anyone is heading over to London in the next few days, Shane McGowan is playing Brixton Academy December 17, 18 and 19: my mate tells me that some tickets are still available.