Happy New Year to everyone from the Music Dungeonistas. We trust you found solace in some decent music while 'Best ofs' and Reality TV Rubbish polluted tweeters, woofers and sub-woofers over the break. In a bizarre collision of mainstream and alternative, we spent New Year's Eve doing a karaoke version of Run DMC's It's Tricky on Singstar.
Still, it's the start of a new year and the start of the Music Dungeon's resolution to focus even more on new music in the year to come. Mrs Londonist reliably informs us that polka dots are going to be big in fashion this year, although our claims that fashion is following our lead in the music scene by embracing The Pipettes was met with some cynicism. Whichever way the causality works, polka dots will be big this year. As for what else we think will be big, we'll be posting a few hints this week but this is where you come in. Let us know who you think deserves our attention by leaving us a comment or dropping us an e-mail.
Before we can set sail on the good sea 2006, let's say goodbye to last year, shall we? Unlike certain publications which have to bear in mind their circulation figures/profits, we've got no qualms about listing acts that may be somewhat obscure. (In fact, we rather think it's our duty to write about them.) Without further ado, this is the first of the Dungeonistas' 2005 lists:
Londonist Pop Kid (Ken)
Top Albums of 2005
1. Alfie - Crying At Teatime
2. Elbow - Leaders of the Free World
3. Fiona Bevan - In The Swimming Pool EP
4. The Eighteenth Day of May - The Eighteenth Day of May
5. Saint Etienne - Tales From Turnpike House
6. Eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
7. Brendan Benson - The Alternative to Love
Only seven albums here, and one of those is an EP. I could have gone for a full ten but to be truthful, if I added another three purely to make up the full ten, I'd have been adding albums I like but don't love. (Also Londonist Noize has gone over quota for his list tomorrow, so I'm donating some slots to him.)
There may be some sentimentality attached to placing Alfie at the top of the tree, as the band split up shortly after the release of indisputably their most accessible and arguably their best album. Stuffed with ideas, bursting with melody, and possessing more variety than a tin of Quality Street, Crying At Teatime should have been the breakthrough album for a band who deserved to be heard more widely. Perhaps they just didn't gig enough to maintain their place at the forefront of the record buying public's mind.
Fiona Bevan made it in at number 3 with an EP and only lost out top placing by dint of not being a full album. We'll be keeping tabs on Ms Bevan's career in 2006. It would be criminal if she didn't get a wider audience. (Read our review here.)
Top Gigs of 2005
1. Steve Earle & Patti Smith @ RFH - June, as part of Patti Smith's Meltdown
2. Sufjan Stevens @ KCL - October
3. Eels @ QEH - June as part of Patti Smith's Meltdown
4. The Pipettes @ 100 Club - November
5. Elbow @ Brixton Academy - November
6. The Whoredogs (guest vocals: Ed Harcourt & Leila Moss) @ Rock'n'Roll Soul Festival Bowl - December
7. The Magic Numbers @ The Forum - May
We wrote in advance about Patti Smith's Meltdown often enough, so it was something of a relief when two of the gigs we went to that formed part of it were absolutely top drawer. Steve Earle & Patti Smith gave us a masterclass in angry political rock, while Eels' show - in acoustic mode accompanied by string quartet - was enchanting. Sufjan Stevens' gig at KCL was similarly acoustic and the first time ever that I've been at a gig where every single person, even those at the bar, was silent in awe at the magic on the stage.
The Pipettes gig at the 100 Club was a culmination of a great year for them, which included their signing to Memphis Industries. Gwenno's confidence has grown since the first gig we saw her play at the Barfly and the songs and performance are so strong, there is no doubt that while they possess that 60s vibe and acknowledgement of music history, they have a very 21st century feel to their music.