Tag Archives: Songs

The Festive 15. Part.1: 15-11

Jonathan O’Shea returns to share his top fifteen tracks of 2014 over the course of the next three days. In this inaugural instalment, the 2011 ‘Midlands rear of the year’ nominee counts down numbers 15 through 11.

Gruff Rhys

The Festive Fifteen, my favourite tracks of the year, is on the way to becoming an annual tradition (I think this the 6th one).

Each Christmas holiday, I like to review the great new music that’s been produced over the past twelve months and make sense of it all by pointlessly ranking some of it and then clumsily boxing it up like a scraggy bundle of deep-fried chicken. Then I present it to the world.

Here, in the first slice of a triple-header, I give name five of the past twelve months’ stand out releases that narrowly missed out on top ten honours.

15. Temporary Ground – Jack White

Straying across archetypal White Stripes slide-guitar territory, and lending brilliant use of Lillie Mae Rische’s ethereal vocals, this song even has a gleefully ghoulish whistling bit halfway through.

14. Talking Backwards – Real Estate

For anyone who’s endured the silent torture of time spent with a loved one who only ever hears their own version of events. A delightfully dreamy way of airing a universal frustration.

13. Government Trash – Death From Above 1979

Sonic assault on…well, everything (I think). Three minutes of relentless ass-kicking anti-authoritarianism. “Nothing is free/Call the police/They dress to kill/I dress to die!” You get the idea.

12. Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be) – Gruff Rhys

Builds from a shuffle into a strident, if typically wry, ode to freedom (and Welsh pioneers.) Glorious pedal-steel guitar too.

11. Archie, Marry Me –  Alvvays

Instant indie classic. Melancholic Camera Obscura-esque vocals, wonderfully witty wedding-related lyrics about floral arrangements and bread-makers, and lilting 90s guitars.

Remember to tune back in tomorrow to find out which tracks made the cut for positions 10-6. If you do we’ll save a puppy, if you don’t we’ll slump into rice milk addiction and over zealous bouts of tea bag folding.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

101 Great Albums. No.4: Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life

During his 1972-80 pomp Stevie Wonder released a litany of LPs that could easily end up featured in this series, the first of those is the 21-track double album and bonus EP, Songs in the Key of Life, released through Motown/Universal in 1976

Songs in the Key of Life. Stevie Wonder.

The dedication afforded during the recording and production of a tirelessly crafted album is clear from the early going of “Songs in the Key of Life”, with the buoyant tempo of ‘Sir Duke’, funk infused ‘Ordinary Pain’ and exquisite ‘Knocks Me Off My Feet’ stand-outs among the initial gambits.

The second stanza commences with one of Wonder’s most enduring memoirs, “Isn’t She Lovely”, a song penned in celebration of the birth of his daughter Aisha. Although unapologetically effusive, the unbridled elation of Stevie’s contagiously raspy mouth organ solos provides enough value to balance musical integrity with saccharine sentiment.

“As” is another breezy poesy that embellishes the tranquil aura of the album, covered by George Michael and Mary J. Blige in 1999, this is one of a string of songs that were subsequently sampled on future tracks.

To that end, the pertinence of “Songs in the Key of Life” remains palpable within the contemporary music scene; “I Wish” receiving a belated homage via Will Smith’s “Wild West” and, more notably, the eerie “Pastime Paradise” responsible for placing American rapper Coolio on the mainstream map, with his pimped out, updated “Gansta’s Paradise”, topping 18 separate singles charts upon issue in courtesy of a mid-1990’s interpretation of the original.

Opinion is split amongst disciples of Wonder, over where the pinnacle of his output can be pinpointed; although Innervisions may have the higher hit rate, ‘Life’ is a more expansive LP that reflects a transitional passage in the career of an enduring artist whose zenith undoubtedly occurred during this decade – providing a vital facet of an astounding legacy.

 

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.