Happy New Year

Well, Christmas is over, and the new year has begun. Hope you all had a great break over the holiday. I had a couple of weeks off work, but didn't really get to spend much time on music, due to travelling around visiting family in England and Germany. It's going to be tough finding time over the next couple of weeks too, as the overtime is starting to increase at work now and starting to eat into my weekends.

Anyway, in typical first post of the new year style, it's about time for a top 10 of 2008..

TOP TEN THINGS IN 2008 (no particular order, and 3 or 4 of them aren't really from 2008)

British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?(Album)
Braid (Game)
dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip - Angles (Album)
Toshio Iwai / I am robot and proud (Gig)
Joy Division (Film / Music)
Shape of Broad Minds - Craft of the Lost Art (Album)
Portal: Still Alive (Game)
The Tuss - Rushup Edge(Album)
Venetian Snares - Detrimentalist (Album)
Kelpe - Sea inside body (Album)

British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?
Maybe it was because I had just moved away from dear old Blighty just as this album was released, or maybe because this was such a great comeback after Open Season, but at the start of the year I just couldn't get enough of this. Proper indie rock with a distinctly british air to it, this album really managed to blend the raw energy of their debut with the more thoughtful song writing of the follow up to form their most solid album to date. Only sad thing was that they canceled their gig in Frankfurt, so I missed seeing them live (although I had only seen them 3 months earlier, just before leaving the UK!).

In the days of multi million dollar video game blockbusters, it's refreshing to see that the little guy can still come out and make something that leaves the rest standing. With Braid, Jonathon Blow has created a masterpiece of videogame design, combining incredibly well though out puzzles with an intriguing story. And I don't just mean, a typical game story, like hero saves the princess, or macho space marine saves the planet by killing thousands of aliens (although it does play with the first of these). Braid's story is multi layered, and is actually about something. The more you dig into it, the more you find, which is incredibly rare in games. It's very rare that a game blows my mind like Braid did, and I strongly encourage all of you to check it out. Yes, it's just an old skool platform game with a twist, but it's also so much more!

dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip - Angles
I have to admit, after hearing the single before most other people (it was dan that booked me for my last UK gig at the start of 2007), it took me ages to get around to buying the album. But I'm really glad I did. The album isn't all killer, but when these two get their mix of spoken word poetry and beaty electronica right, it's just incredible. Really look forward to more from these two.

Toshio Iwai / I am robot and proud
It's been a quiet year for gigs really, but this one really stands out for a few reasons. Basically, since it was tying in with the Musik Messe here in Frankfurt, rather than just a plain old gig, Toshio Iwai gave us a 45 min talk on how he developed the tenori-on, his musical background, etc, before then giving his performance. Really interesting stuff, and nicely hit the balance for me between games and music. After his performance, a little act from canada took to the stage called I am robot and proud. I was really looking forward to seeing him play, as he generally doesn't tour in europe, so it felt like a bit of a once in a lifetime opportunity. He played an awesome set, and is probably the only person I've seen that really looks like he can play a tenori-on! The other bands on the night kind of used them as gimmiks, but with I am robot and proud, it really just fit in so much better. And to top the night off, I also got my copy of Electroplankton signed by Toshio Iwai!

Joy Division
Joy Division has always been one of those bands that I'd heard about a lot, but never actually heard their music, or any of the detail about them. I ended up going to see Control at the cinema earlier in the year, which was a great movie, and really is a great introduction to the band and their music. Since then I've been digging into their two albums, and also just saw the new Joy Division documentary that came out recently. So yeah, awesome music, shame I'm about 30 years too late!

Shape of Broad Minds - Craft of the Lost Art
I think this might have technically been 2007, but fuck it, I was a few months late.. More boundary pushing stuff from the Lex Label, this is definitely the most interesting Hip-Hop release for me recently. Also worth checking out related projects, like Dr Who Dat?, Jneiro Jarel, and the excellent free release The Fantastic JJ Project.

Portal: Still Alive
I missed the original since I only really play games on consoles, but this years XBox Live Arcade release was still suitably awesome enough to hook me for a week. As with all the greatest games at the minute, it's kind of short, but with no padding, making this incredibly interesting to play from start to end. Some of the puzzles can really mess your head up, and you find yourself using the game's physics system in some incredible ways, it often had me just staring at the screen thinking "how the fuck did I just do that?" If you need your spatial awareness skill testing, are looking for one of the funniest games of the last few years, or you just like cake, then you have to play this game!

The Tuss - Rushup Edge
Was this 2007 or 2008? Whatever, I only got it this year I think.. Is it Aphex Twin? It kind of sounds like him, and all the internet rumours seem to point to it, but whoever made it, it's one of the most original electronic recording of the year (or last year).

Venetian Snares - Detrimentalist (Album)
Venetian Snares albums are always a bit hit and miss for me, but this is the first that I will play over and over since Chocolate Wheelchair. This is VSnares doing what I love him doing - going completely stupid, mashing up a thousand random ideas, and producing the hyper detailed over the top ultra rave music that makes all other music sound sleep inducing in comparison. When Aaron gets it right, he genuinely makes the most hardcore exciting music you could ever imagine, and on this album he's at his best. This album makes me long for the days when my brother and I would head of down for some all nighter breakcore action down in London town.. Great days.. Anyway, I would give this record 7 stars out of 7.

Kelpe - Sea inside body (Album)
I know, another that isn't actually from 2008.. I think this is actually 2004.. but who cares, I discoverd Kelpe this year, and that's what matters! Apparently we're both from pretty much the same part of England too, he's from Loughborough, while I grew up in a little town just down the road called Shepshed.. maybe it was homesickness that got me listening to him this year! But anyway, great electronic music with tight beats, warm synths, and a kind of nostalgic melancholy feel, just the thing for winter. He did actually release a new album in 2008, so I should probably have picked that up and had that in this list to be more up to date, but well.. I didn't..

Honourable mentions go to Lost Winds (Game), my new guitar, PicPic (Game), Mrs Jynx's The Standoffish Cat (album), Robert Kirkman (whose The Walking Dead and Invincible comics continues to be all kinds of awesome), Heat Sensor's Touch EP (more well known for some awesome production work with MF DOOM (as Viktor Vaughn), this 4 track EP is well worth hunting for) and DJ Rubbish - Armageddon Session Vol 2 (album).

I'd also like to thank everyone that bought my music this year, and also to those who donated via paypal (using the link on the menu on the left). Look forward to more releases this year!

Anything I missed?


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