Wednesday, January 30, 2008

best of 2007: albums + mixtapes

yup, it's that time: the votes all counted, the cut and paste function exhausted. to the extent our choices differ from any other 'best of' lists you may have seen in other publications, this is because the lists in those other publications are wrong.





1. extreme noise terror / driller killer split album (osmose productions)

of course, there is nothing wrong with the five driller killer tracks. it's just that that's not why we're here.

"bliss... whereas "being and nothing" mixed the triple vocal onslaught with quite a lot of muddier metal riffs, as well as out and out thrash, the new e.n.t. have gone right back to basics. we kid you not, if we didn't know better we'd guess this had been recorded somewhere between their earliest peel sessions and the "phonophobia" set on vinyl japan (you know, when them and doom were labelmates to the fat tulips). it's as if, in the sad absence of nasum, who they supported in highbury last, they've decided it's them who need to step up to the plate and just blast the extremely old-school peelcore.

it starts with "religion is fear", one of those songs that says, that frankly just oozes, 'we're back with a vengeance', that demands you listen as it feverishly intercuts hints of "another nail in the coffin" and "retreat to nowhere" into a turbulent bobsleigh of discharge-y guitars, drums clattering nearly as much as on the last boyracer album, and nearly as fast. admittedly the lyrics are marginally sub-slayer, but then the lyrics on the last slayer album were substantially sub-slayer.

no matter. a mini-whirlpool of drumming and feedback sucks you in to more old-skool chord progressions and vocal yelling courtesy of "human waste", which also features a storming mid-song break recalling classic line-up napalm; then, on "short fuse", the instrumental section slows briefly to an obituary-style growled breakdown, more akin to "being and nothing"'s occasional ambling moshes... anwyay, the growl is swiftly punctured by more feedback and spinning drums - there is then a mercifully short guitar solo (just under 5 seconds) before the assault resumes.

track four, "branded" is a beatniks-style rant about our cycle of dumbed-down consumerism ("addicted to shallow trends... a culture of the self obsessed") but is sonically more of the merry same, peaking with a call and response between thundering solo bass a la "bullshit propaganda", and visceral "phonophobia" guitars. "nothing no more" rounds off the event - this time there's lyrically a certain sadness ("tasting tears of pain... lost and incomplete") but don't worry, the soundtrack remains vibrant, fast and feedback-flecked. and then, with one last cookie monster howl, they're done.

waiting six years for new product only to get 8 minutes' worth of tunes may not seem the best of returns, but it still allows us to clutch to our bosom and hug so fiercely for a thousandth time the mantra that in this music game it's all about quality - bobbins to width.

and each of these songs is manic, feral, untouched, untainted, with the vocals dovetailing in and out of each other, and in and out of different registers, in the grand tradition of this fine band. and that is all that we require."


should have been singles: all of them

2. wiley "playtime is over" (big dada)

"it is not a "landmark" album, a "look at me" album, a "please the critics" album, not any kind of concept album: it is just a bloody great grime record, full of briskness and humour, that achieves the near-impossible balance of somehow being both accessible and underground, as well as being a quintessentially english - well, urban english - album to boot... a particularly impressive suite given that, what with all the mixtapes and limited pressings flying around, many of the tracks have already been 'out there' for a while: if anything, this release gives some of them (like last year's slickly-arranged "gangsters", or the magically madcap "eskiboy") renewed vigour."

an even more remarkable record given that 2007 was after all the year that kano, lethal and dizzee all jumped the shark big time. should have been singles: "trust us, any of these songs would be great singles, and most of them, knowing wiley's run-rate with white labels, probably have been."

3. eskiboy "tunnel vision volume 6" (boy better know)
4. eskiboy "tunnel vision volume 5" (boy better know)


"as even the broadsheets have noticed, the eskiboy has released about eight full length cds in the last year, any of which would frankly be a shoe-in for any mercury music prize list we ever produced".

y'know, "reply 2 dizzee" on vol 6 is not only, with durrty goodz's "letter to titch", the most spine-chillingly honest confessional of the year - thus eclipsing the relatively timid "letter 2 dizzee" on "playtime is over" - but it somehow manages to be the funniest song of the year too (more than one line, more than once, made us laugh out loud). this is, our friends, a sure sign of genius. anyway, if you are anything other than insane, the logan sama-compiled "best of tunnel vision" double-cd set, with tracks from the first five eskiboy mixtapes, is a completely essential purchase and thankfully even reasonably-well distributed. plus, right, plus, on the "fwd: rinse - live at the end 17 aug 2007" 6cd box set, listen out towards the end of disc five (distance / karnage) for wiley freestyling various of his hits. it's a bit lo-fi, but that's hardly going to put us off!

should have been singles: sorry sorry pardon what, nan i am london (vol 5); best striker (vol 6). incidentally, "nan i am london" has got to be the best song title of 2007, too.

5. bad brains "build a nation" (megaforce)

"as we've hinted before it not only includes some of the dreamiest, most
perfectly-picked roots reggae we've heard for a country while but also some of the more coruscating hardcore tunes we've encountered since the heyday of the great m.d.c... be prepared for it to place high in our year-ends..."


should have been singles: give thanks and praises, jah people make the world go round, jah love, roll on, until kingdom comes, peace be unto thee...

6. team shadetek "pale fire" (baked goods)

like the von sudenfed album (q.v.), "pale fire" would have been pretty good even if it had just been instrumental, but the various guest mcs take it to another level. should have been singles: well the two that were, "brooklyn anthem" (2006) and "reign" (2007) for starters, plus gully rainjah and knuckles' "wait".

7. boyracer "flickering b+w" (555)

"their latest sizzling collection of imperious slight-fi starts with the kooky
confidence of the wonderful "wingtips" blossoms through the feedback-flecked "excuses" and the clattering pop noise of "let's see some action" then builds via ace brace "the secret fire" and "he told you" to the stunning crescendo of "you banged a married man" and the super-reflective "in my previous life", a subtle but stunning piece seemingly held together by "songs of frustration"-era keyboard shimmer... as is usual, the lyrics across the piece veritably spit, simmer and burn with matter-of-fact anger, hard truths and accusations... if only boyracer were compulsorily piped through supermarkets and starbucks, we can't help but feel that the idiots would soon no longer be winning."


should have been singles: wingtips, you banged a married man, excuses

8. von sudenfed "tromatic reflexxions" (domino)

"there's the single, an old-fashioned "levitate"-lite floor-filler called
"fledermaus can't get it". there's "flooded", a tranche of minimal techno full of cut-up and disembodied smithisms. there's "that sound wiped", the standout, which starts with a "popstar kill" beat and even sees smith lapsing into singing of sorts, rather fetchingly looped to create what sounds frighteningly at times like a vocal hook. there's "serious brainskin", full of maniacal dubstep / grime overtones, that could carry some pretty heavy rhymes if it wasn't already heaving under the weight of smith's hinge-free yelling. there's "the rhinohead", a sort of stomping ultra-modern northern soul construct. and there's a pretty, touching world-musicky closer called "dear dead friends" that has the m.o.m. boys going all shalawambe on us... let's be honest, we bought it for the novelty (and because we are smith addicts, or completists, as some call themselves) but every band on the block could learn from his mastery of how to make music so diverse, compelling and complete."


should have been singles: flooded, that sound wiped, serious brainskin

9. looking for an answer "extincion" (living dead society)

even though none of you have heard it or will ever hear it or, frankly, like it if you did, we can't pretend that this wasn't one of the very best albums of '07. it takes something special to make up in any year for napalm death not having released an lp, but madrid's LFAA comfortably achieve it over half an hour of pristine, glistening, invigorating and otherwise glowing adjective-inviting grindcore.

should have been singles: vuestro respeto es nuestro desprecio, cada nacimiento es una tragedia, los humanos tambien son carne

10. trembling blue stars "the last holy writer" (elefant)

"this new record actually gives us:

- an all-time wratten great in the shape of "this once was an island", with its part-glitch, part "snowball" drum machine percussion, and old skool-field mice, almost "is it forever"-y guitars;

- "idyllwyld", which is a verse worthy of harper lee then eliding into an aberdeen-ish chorus (perhaps not surprising given the involvement of mr howard and ms arzy) all of which makes for a cracking song, with both the pace and the beauty of past treasures like "dark eyes", that cries desperately to be freed from the shackles of a long-player and propelled into our homes as a single (there we go). fact: they haven't hit us with such a chorus crescendo since "made for each other";

- "november starlings", a song which would have been worthy of a place on "her handwriting", as it skips along with the serene breeze of "for this one" et al;

- "sacred music", which echoes the luscious unallayed narrative delights of "headlights" and similar gems from "lips that taste of tears";

- "darker, colder, slower", one of a few moments that lightly tap joy division and the cure for inspiration, and the most appositely-titled, as it brims with bitter undercurrents and welcome hints of seeping noise;

- throughout, lots of very wake-ish keyboards, and a happy glut of lyrical references to sea, snow and the ilk (mind you, if bobby is listening to as much reggae and dancehall as he claims, then maybe next time these will be to sun, sand and sex instead)...

there's more, but you get the picture. there is not a trace of newness here, but maybe that's the point. we've been waiting for no little while for the blue stars to make us sit up and take notice again - perhaps it's to be expected that they'd do it by plundering a little of what was greatest about their past."


should have been singles: we've probably made these clear. ironically, the ep they did end up releasing later in the yr contained four should-not-have-been singles.

11. trim "soulfood volume 2" (the circle)
12. trim "soulfood volume 1" (the circle)


as you can see, virtually impossible to separate these, although the bonus cd nicked it for vol 2. it's not often that mixtapes are this consistent (hence rather lower placings for ghetto, scorcher etc) but trimbal comes across as simply imperious on these happily unslim volumes, and they even now seem to have reasonable distro, if you feel like trying to track them in yr local store.

should have been singles: rudely interrupted and the war report(s), plus badness's "badman" and crunch's "crunch".

13. bracken "we know about the need" (anticon)

"handily fills a hood-shaped gap in our lives - at least annually, we need an album of fractured, introspective beauty which throws violins, guitars and trills of dub against adams' angst-filled, urgent voice... these songs sound almost designed as soundtracks, but to so many things: to slow-motion filming of flowers in bloom, to telegraph poles and pylons from a train window, to the unprepossessing brown-brick blocks and houses that frame our walk home on bright but humid evenings. if "we know about the need" was a new hood album, it would represent, as ever, a single, super-subtle further step to the true greatness they have always been heading for, a greatness unlikely to be recognised for many a year. as it is, it is simply a record that keeps us going, dreaming, believing."

should have been singles: "heathens" was one, last year. otherwise, perhaps "fight or flight". note there are some decent remixes, too, on the bracken remix lp released in november.

14. butcher boy "profit in your poetry" (how does it feel to be loved ?)

"as butcher boy's debut album "profit in your poetry" is a release on how does it feel to be loved ? you will not need us to tell you what kind of musical ballpark we're in, but we won't shy away from letting you know that it's a very strong, and in places quite excellent, record. like math and physics club, they sell themselves the shortest with the occasional belle & seb carbons (although even these are saved with some devastating turns of phrase), but when they get even the merest hint of the young smiths in their sails, all brightens and they breeze across any ocean you might care to name. while the 30-minute length of the album is welcome and just right, it is the title track and "girls make me sick" that really make you wish small labels could afford to put singles out all the time."

should have been singles: we just said (again)

15. forest giants "things we do when we're bored" (the international lo-fi underground)

"an imposing, confident-sounding collection, far away from the minor-league neuroses of the crackling with promise, but lower-fi "in sequence" which first launched them into the upper tiers of the pop stratosphere. "tour of the future" is one of the songs on it ("at the dog track" and "tina's child" are others) that really scream "SINGLE!": 1988-ish indie stylings full of catchy, ear-friendly pop wiles to match any key platter even from that era... much of the album mixes good ol' dean wareham-ish lyrical vulnerability with increasingly-trademark, in yer face swirls of soaring guitar: "leave" best showcases the way that the more slightlydelic numbers have a touch of late-period 14 iced bears, as the 6-string takes to the skies and performs gentle loop-the loops above the bassline that drives the song forward. even "pick up the pieces", which seemed so out of place and throwaway on their "planes fly overhead" ep, suddenly seems to make absolute sense, with its snarling, shouty pocket fallishness. elsewhere, things get more reflective on the slower tunes than was managed by the bulk of "welcome to the mid-west": in
particular, christmas classic "the life i have" is welcomely rescued from the obscurity of only having previously been available as a download from the cherryade records website."


should have been singles: yep, we mentioned them.

16. tippa irie "talk the truth!" (lockdown)

"rumbustious, irrepressible, varied and, given that tippa is still best known for "hello darling" back in approx 1666, surprisingly informed with modern inspirations as his patented-over decades brand of uk dancehall seamlessly takes in all kind of bhangra and hip-hop influences and a number of guest slots and productions".

should have been singles: the neighbour next door, lyric a rhyme, lyric that's my hobby

17. chester p "from the ashes" (taskforce / rawdog)

didn't get round to reviewing this but it's a typical taskforce grower, and the best evocation of north london life you'll get outside of the sunny intervals. take a punt: chester and farma are still the most under-rated. should have been singles: the sermon, rocks bottom, faith

18. darkthrone "f.o.a.d." (peaceville)

look. we agree with you guys that 98% of metal is rubbish: the only
disagreement between us concerns the quality of the remainder. in our view "f.o.a.d." falls squarely within that hallowed 2%, and as you may discern from the song titles it's a touching, almost painfully sincere tribute to their oeuvre that demonstrates that darkthrone are far from merely being untamed black metal monsters. also, in love with these times in spite of these times would like to dedicate the title track to fulham fc's ticketing policy. should have been singles: the church of real metal, canadian metal, fuck off and die, raised on rock.

19. the butterflies of love "famous problems" (fortuna pop!)

"the butterflies of love seem so aptly named to us, in that their songs tend to flutter, in shades of pale and rare colour, so winningly around yr head - the core is the greenes' brokenhearted heard-it-all drawl, with guitars enmeshed in a blissful, hazy, daub of reverb and dissolve, all occasionally overlaid by shimmering keyboards: as ethereal as melodic pop/rock can really be."

should have been singles: act deranged, take action. and the fabulous "orbit around you" was one, last year.

20. skepta "greatest hits" (boy better know)

"aside from 2 or 3 tunes - most inevitably the cringing, perhaps postmodernly bad single, "sweet mother" - this album meets even the unrealistically high aspirations we had for it. not even the fact that skepta, brother of jme and token non-e3 member of roll deep, was apparently employed to play peaches geldof's birthday party can detract from the fact that he is a real talent, and that his confidence is rarely misplaced."

should have been singles: greatest hits. in a corner.

21. little dee "don't let the name trick you" (media gang)

"if you are in any doubt as to how vital little dee is, check not just this song but the run of half a dozen or so tracks that starts, about halfway through this "don't let the name trick you" mixtape, with "calm down" - a pleasing lack throughout of the kind of slushy stuff that pads out most otherwise-arresting mixtapes - the guy is really raw, very exciting."

22. total fucking destruction "zen and the art of..." (bones brigade)

"the actual noise that TFD make is hard to pin down completely: it's kinda stop-start hardcore math-grind with a very tough, serrated lo-fi edge that recalls repulsion in places, but is best summed up by the way a song like "we are all elvis now" mixes the hardcore and grindcore influences - and sometimes, as on "corpse position", we swear we can almost here some melodies struggling to escape from the genre melee. meanwhile lyrically it's "elvis" and "y.a.r.n." (aka "youth! apocalypse! right! now!", one of the best sing-a-longa metal trax since napalm's "cock-rock alienation") that hit hardest, polemics against the creep of consumer culture. what happens after those first 10 tracks is rather strange, as TFD sign off with four straight acoustic numbers. if you were tempted to fast forward through these, well frankly you'd have been right to, although the final cut "nihilism, emptiness, nothingness, nonsense" at least sees them randomly co-opt piano, saxophone and monotone monkish chanting in order to end the album in a pleasingly quaking jazz-folk confusion."

23. public enemy "how you sell soul to a soulless people who sold their soul ?" (slam jamz)

mild return to form, with chuck d's contributions still shudderingly superior to flav's. "harder than you think" is grrreat, and the way chuck d reminds us that "if you don't stand for something / you fall for anything" almost makes us fall in love with p.e. all over again.

24. the fall "reformation! post-tlc" (slogan)

"the best rock songs are those where you crank up the bass, let a scratchy guitar strike up and then just repeat the same riff ad infinitum, preferably with a mad middle-aged bloke shouting over the top. again, no choruses, no unnecessary 'melodies', no jaunty trying-to-be-clever sub-britpop nonsense. and there are a quartet of such great songs on the mighty fall's new "post-tlc reformation!" set. indeed, the album opens with a straight hat-trick: "over!over!", "reformation!" and "fall sound" all drip with that brash, snarling confidence, borne of decades of dominance, which has hallmarked the fall of late - they showcase the same almost-honed machine which thrilled at the sweatfests at 93 feet east last summer, with all the rediscovered verve and bite that followed the crit-acclaimed tableaus "country on the click" and "fall heads roll". the rollicking, glowing, gigglingly enjoyable "fall sound", in particular, a(nother) rant at those who would aspire to the crown, is a marvel: even as we wait for the english spring, we find it hard to imagine there will be many better songs this year. the fourth killer song, meanwhile, tucked away towards the record's denouement, is live devastator "systematic abuse", a vodka-slam cocktail of the three R's (you know, the ones that president carter loves), "bremen nacht" and "stepping out", which lurches at times into pure 1977. at eight minutes 38, 'tis at least two minutes too short."

sadly though, the rest of it was pretty ropey. oh, if "fall sound" had been a single, 'twould have been up with the best of the year.

25. dubblestandart "immigration dub" (collision)

lithe austrian dub, marginally too description-defying for us to expound on at this hour. we are looking forward to euro 2008, y'know.

26. chipmunk "league of my own" (alwayz recordings)

"at 16, chipmunk is fairly old for grime, perhaps, but he seems to have his head screwed on sentiment-wise on this "league of my own" mixtape. there are a few excellent tracks, inlcuding a couple produced by the equally ubiquitous and fabulous maniac, and the more knockabout, wiley produced "consistant" (sic), but you know we're always a sucker for 64 or sometimes 96 straight bars of rhyming, and it's always a good barometer for whether an mc can hold his own. chipmunk does the job."

should have been singles: consistant, where i stay, 64 bar statement

27. the orchids "good to be a stranger" (siesta)

"it's the focus on the basics that assists them in taking a few steps closer to their once-avowed aim of lazy perfection... a smooth collage of indisputably precious melodies and simple, overwhelmingly romantic lyrical notions, all given a sympathetic, almost timid production that somehow helps the songs to hang in the air around you, for the most part only intruding gently into your consciousness, but - once there - refusing to let go... there are plenty of tracks here - breezy, wistful, thoughtful moon lullabies all - that brim with the delicate beauty the windmills achieved on "now is then", say ("down to the ocean", "take my hand"), and then there's "another saturday night" which has rapidly become a new orchids favourite (well, with us) as it stretches the template a little with its rushes of energy and tumbling hope, heralding the stronger second side of the record... the piece de resistance is undoubtedly the closing "you could do something to me", from the word go a song which would happily fit any time, any place, and which melds the crystal trills of the bardots' "sad anne" with the top-drawer aching-vista tunesmithery of the go-betweens: but the whole album - with hackett's voice, even after all these years, still full of, well, yearning - is as much a record to cherish as ever. you know they're fine."

should have been singles: you could do something to me, another saturday night

28. benny bizzie "the business vol 2" (knowledge & wisdom)

"bizzie is obsessed with upward mobility: "moving at a fast pace", "we're moving" and "many moves" being three of at least half a dozen blazing freestyles, a little in the mould of kano's "p's and q's" 12" before the latter broke big, even if the rhymes are delivered over occasionally cheap-sounding keyboards... grime's not dead."

should have been singles: try those three, oh and of course the blistering bonus track "kushbu"

29. beatnik filmstars "shenaniganism (tape hiss and other imperfections)" (the international lo-fi underground)

on "seeing stars": "a song that's itself a bus-top parade of superior quality buzzing lo-fi pop, plucked from the 19 of them that constitute "shenaniganism". an encouragement to look up, up, up the divisions, to stop settling for less. "you gotta take a moment to expand your horizons..." oh yes".

note that at the moment you can still get this from both branches of rough trade in london (each copy has its own hand designed sleeve!), even if the other 498 have been sold...

30. bearsuit "oh:io" (fantastic plastic)
31. the steinbecks "far from the madding crowd" (microindie)


"1984 + 1996 = 2007" should have been a single. of it, we said "... speaking of which, the sugargliders / steinbecks / lucksmiths synergy underlies this marvellous "far from the madding crowd" album on microindie on which tali white features prominently, and this is year-rolling back pop gorgeousness from it, as the brothers meadows manage to keep the vocals sounding slightly pained while the music remains as blissfully light and intertwined as "letter to a lifeboat" or frankly anything from the sugargliders or steinbecks since then. i mean, we're never quite going to burst with the hives of happiness we had on first hearing crumpled cassettes of "top 40 sculpture" or "which part of no don't you understand ?" but this is another song that oozes charm and angst in equal measure, sounding exactly as you would expect and - more importantly, want - the meadows brothers to. can't think of a better closer."

32. airport girl "slow light" (fortuna pop!)

"airport girl's new, wintry evening set "slow light" is one of the best albums on fortuna pop! for ages, despite sharing hardly any genes with the desperately-unacknowledged greatness of the band's finest moment, 2004's "salinger wrote". stepping knowingly away from the breezier, more shambling (but less consistent) "honey i'm an artist" lp, their second full-length takes much of its cue from country-tinged americana, with the tunes managing to sound somehow more austere even as the number of instruments multiplies. and whereas we have really tried (but failed) to enjoy slower-fi, tradition-soaked albums in the past, from bands from sodastream to gravenhurst, "slow light" is just melodic enough on one hand, and unassuming enough on the other, to mean that it can even overcome couplets like "hold me through the night / hold me until it gets light"... ever-welcome go-betweens comparisons force themselves on you too, most eagerly (and perhaps deliberately) on "don't let me down again" and "show me the way", and there's even the ghost of airport past in the shape of a revisited "mexico"."

33. haemorrhage "the kill sessions" (emetic)

there's a lot of excellent music coming out of spain at the moment - this on an american label that has nought to do with the uk label that released a few great martyn hare singles a while back. anyway, in 20 minutes, recorded live in the studio at the start of '07, haemorrhage (who have apparently been going since the early 90s!) recorded a kind of "peel session" tribute, featuring some of their um, hits, and yes it does kind of chime with the legendary grindcore peel sessions which presumably inspired it, landing somewhere between that legendary carcass session they did before "symphonies of sickness" and the much faster riffage of the second napalm session, say. not original, but much more enjoyable than anti-folk will ever be.

34. jammer "are you dumb ? vol 2" (neckle / jah mek the world)
35. sss "short sharp shock" (earache)
= 36. obituary "xecutioners return" (candlelight)
= 36. ghetto "ghetto gospel" (j clarke enterprises)
38. hoodz underground "bringing it back" (trackshicker)


"and so the (very) long awaited hoodz album is finally here - it almost has the feel of a retrospective, given the age of some of its component parts... just hearing the sound of [out] da ville's sadly-retired scor-zay-zee on the mic brings back the smiles: as indeed does the whole hoodz album, which fair brims and bounces with brass and horns."

39. boyracer "boyracer jukebox volume one" (555)

on which boyracer rattle off another 15 cover versions, many of which outstrip (and certainly outpace) the originals in the fine tradition of their "nobody's diary" or of course "one step forward". you could have taken any 3 or 4 of these tracks to make a great ep, and if their version of ashtray boy's "vacuum cleaner salesman" had been a single - think *big* chorus, *lotsa* feedback - then it would have ripped through the heart of the singles list we're gonna post tomorrow. and while covering alternative tv, mccarthy and tenpole tudor shows their taste, and covering bonnie tyler and cyndi lauper their range, our other favourites here are still probably the more indiecentric "throw aggi off the bridge", "billy two", "pick the cats eyes out" and the marine girls' "honey"...

another reminder that the bands who've been around the block should never be ignored - and especially with noise-spattered melodic-pop at last coming back into vogue in our circles, if you love MLS or horowitz as much as us it really would be madness to blank the racer.

40. tullycraft "every scene needs a center" (magic marker)
41. celestial "dream on" (skipping stones)
"smiling, perfectly uncertain"
42. the hermit crabs "saw you dancing" (matinee recordings)
= 43. california snow story "close to the ocean" (letterbox)
"melodious and impeccably understated quiet-fi"
= 43. mistress "the glory bitches of doghead" (feto) "in which a pastoral, rainsoaked intro soon gives way to fulltilt metalgrindcrust noise occasionally evoking clanging recent bolt-thrower or even midstream napalm."

45. ted maul "white label" (raise the game)

"there are not many bands like t.m., a london six-piece (can't bring ourselves to say sextet, simply for the kinda jazz fusion images it conjures up in our easily frightened minds) who do thrash with a touch of drum and bass, plus some quieter passages that gleam with idle riches of leftfield noodlism. the more metallic (in)fusions are in truth a little overlong, but the frenzied d&b passages, part-reminiscent of purity, yet then lightly glittered with metal, have a certain irresistible energy."

46. syer barz "side fx section 2" (mom promotions)
47. pig destroyer "phantom limb" (relapse)


"some might be chary of a band so openly aping music [slayer!] from the late 80s, but given that slayer are to thrash what talulah gosh are to twee, we think that this is (a) a good thing and (b) makes pig destroyer the metal equivalent of, say, liechtenstein (which in itself makes us need to lie down for a short while)."

48. zion train "live as one" (universal egg)
49. burial "untrue" (hyperdub)
50. verb t and the last skeptik "broken window" (silent soundz)


bubblers under included frisco, dillinger escape plan, scorcher, gallhammer, the ladybug transistor, l.man, late, malcolm middleton, municipal waste, sparky's magic piano, black dahlia murder, wretch 32, intestinal disgorge, obliteration (just about) and even kano (for the mixtape, not the terrible album he then went and put out on a 'proper' label).

the one that got away, meanwhile, was probably badness' "lava continues", which if we'd managed to track down i fully expect would have fairly wowed us. also, as mick harris is usually musical gold, we know we're going to love the recent scorn record when we eventually find it.

lowlights: well klashnekoff could have done better than "lionheart", while the dizzee rascal and cockney rejects albums were truly atrocious and both, frankly, tarnishing of reps that once deserved better.

plus, the album we were looking to most this year - sportique's - seems simply never to have happened. sigh.