Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Albums of 2014 - 10-6

After all the fun and hijinks of looking at our favourite songs of 2014, it is time to delve into listageddon once more, by looking at the ten albums that most shaped The Metaphorical Boat's listening habits over the past twelve months.

To repeat the same thing I've said the past three years, it is usually much harder to decide on an order for best albums of the year than it is for best songs. For single tracks, it goes in order of which songs I'd be happy enough to hear again and again in descending order. For albums on the other hand, there are a lot more variables involved. Should an album with lots of decent tracks receive a better placing than an album with two of the greatest songs of the year and some filler? Should an album that works well as a complete work be given preference to an album with better songs, but with more variety and a poorer flow? Should an act who I've loved immensely in the past place highly even if their album from this year didn't match up to their usual high standards?

So after taking these thoughts into consideration, and after much self-deliberation, here is the first half of The Metaphorical Boat's top albums of 2014:

10. nano.RIPE - Namida no Ochiru Sokudo


We start off the album countdown with an album that I can almost definitely say does not feature in any other UK music blogs' Top Albums of 2014. In fact, I'm so confident that if there is a blog in which it features, there is 20 Caramac Bars in it for them.

"Namida no Ochiru Sokudo" (which I believe is translated as "The Speed of Falling Tears") is the sixth album of Japanese pop-rock group nano.RIPE. Whilst the band might not be generally well known outside their home country (I had to spend £20 ordering in this album from Japan as it's not available here, even on iTunes/Spotify), they are known for providing theme tunes for Japanese animation. (Two of the songs on the album, "Tsuki Hana" and "Nanairo Biyori", serve as themes to Hataraku Maou-Sama and Non Non Biyori respectively.) It's an album of fun J-rock tunes which are instantly recognisable from Kimiko's idiosyncratic vocals, which are about as high as the human voice can reach without being reliant on helium.

It's an acquired taste of an album, especially as it may be too sugary for some, and too impenetrable for others (the entire album's in Japanese), but it's definitely one of my favourites of the year.

9. Kaiser Chiefs – Education, Education, Education & War 


"Education, Education, Education & War" by the Kaiser Chiefs is not only TMB's 9th favourite album of 2014, it is also the best album of 2006. With its title being an obvious allusion to the policy's of Tony Blair's Labour government, as well as the poem recited by Bill Nighy on "Cannons" alluding to the Iraq War, this album feels like it should have been the artsy, political follow-up to their monster d├ębut album "Employment", rather than reaching us eight years later.

But regardless of it seeming out of place in 2014, there's no denying that "EEE&W" saw the band returning to fine form. "Coming Home" saw the band deservedly enter the top 40 for the first time in six years, and "The Factory Gates", "Ruffians On Parade" and the glorious "Meanwhile Up In Heaven" are worthy additions to the band's back catalogue. 

8. Elbow – The Take Off and Landing Of Everything


Although we're unlikely to see Elbow give us another rock monster like "Grounds For Divorce", "Fallen Angel" or "Forget Myself", it's nice to hear the band continuing to do their own thing on their sixth album, "The Take Off And Landing Of Everything". It's another album of Elbow doing what they do best - grandiose music to warm your cockles. Highlights of the album are the sweeping "New York Morning", the lifting title track, and as you might expect, the wonderful "My Sad Captains". 

7. Little Matador – Little Matador 

Helping to smash the stereotype that all side-projects are self-indulgent twaddle, Snow Patrol guitarist Nathan Connolly's first album with Little Matador is an album of straight-to-the-point rock beasts. From the opening of "Stitch Yourself", the glam-rock aping "Reasons", through to the frantic sub-2 minute punk of "Liar Liar", it's an album that doesn't mess around.

6. King Creosote – From Scotland With Love


"From Scotland With Love" by King Creosote is the soundtrack to a documentary of the same name that was released this year to commemorate the Commonwealth Games being held in Glasgow. The film condensed decades of archive footage from Scottish history and condensed them down to 75 minutes, with the songs of Kenny Anderson being the only sound accompaniment. Although if thought that songs wouldn't work outside the context of the film, you'd be dead wrong.

From the euphoric ode to the weekend, "For One Night Only", to the jaunty seaside ditty of "Largs", through to the almost hymnal "Pauper's Dough", the album is an album that is both sombre, thought provoking, and thoroughly enjoyable. Plus, you can't not like the children's choir who join Kenny on a rendition of the folk song "Bluebell, Cockleshell 123".

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2014 - Number One

1. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Eurydice

Eurydice, I never stop losing you.

And we reach the end of the road, with "Eurydice" by perennial favourites of ours, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. The songs takes its name from the ancient Greek myth, and demonstrates the band's continuing excellence at crafting the perfect pop song. Just when you thought they couldn't top "Heart In Your Heartbreak", they offer us a song as sumptuous and infectious as "Eurydice". Its shining moment is at the 3 minute 10 mark, when the counter-melody kicks, and you realise just how special this song really is. Never has perfection sounded so good.

So hit up the play button below, and enjoy The Metaphorical Boat's Top Song of 2014 - 

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2014 - 5-2

We've nearly reached the top of the heap now. Here's the songs that just fell short of this year's top billing, with the songs ranked from number 5 to number 2 -

5. King Creosote - For One Night Only

There has been many a song released to celebrate the joys of getting off work on Friday to enjoy the weekend, but there hasn't been a classier ode to free time released this year than “For One Night Only” by Kenny Anderson, aka King Creosote. Taken from the soundtrack for a documentary about Scottish life over the past hundred years, the song is a real symphonic delight.

4. Fat White Family - Touch the Leather

It's been nearly a year on from hearing this song for the first time, and yet I'm still no closer to finding out what exactly "Touch The Leather" actually means. Is it a euphemism for something so smutty that my innocent little mind cannot fully comprehend it? Or is it just a simple song about two serial DFS botherers? Either way, I'm too scared to Google it, so I guess I'll have to use my imagination. Still, Fat White Family have given us a real gem this year, a guttural, primal rock track that's sure been drowned in a mixture of gravel and whiskey before reaching us for consumption.

3. Wonder Villains – Golden Five

Well, what can I say about "Golden Five" by Wonder Villains that I already haven't? (Answer - not much, but that's not going to stop me from trying). Having been a live favourite for well over a year before it was released as a single, the studio version of the song took everything great about the song and amplified it to the nth degree. It's pure pop at its finest - if your mood has not improved by at least 1,000 percent after listening to this song, then either you've been listening to the wrong tune or are a gargoyle.

2. Alvvays - Next of Kin

Falling at the final hurdle by the slimmest of margins is "Next Of Kin" by Canadian indie-poppers Alvvays. There's many things about this track that made it so loved - that fantastic surf-rock opening riff, the brilliant vocals from Molly Rankin, and the fact that they took a genre (indie-pop) that's known for being somewhat twee, and giving us a song about an incredibly dark subject within it, in this case a riverside drowning. It's a finely crafted song that's practically perfect in every way.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2014 - 10-6

We now plunge straight into the top 10, with some of the best songs of the year, from 10-6, plus a little bit about why exactly they float The Metaphorical Boat:

10. Eels - Parallels

I'm genuinely surprised that "Parallels" by Eels was never really pushed as a single/buzz track/stream enticer in 2014, as it's the best song that Mark Oliver Everett has committed to tape in yonks. The song is a tribute to his quantum mechanist father's Parallel Worlds Theory, with the song imagining that there is a timeline out there where he is still alive and happy. A song that is absolutely stunning in its simplicity.

9. In An Instant - Something Right and Something Real

After getting us incredibly excited with a batch of demos last year, Bangor boys In An Instant finally gave us their first set of official tracks this year, with the highlight being "Something Right & Something Real". The song sees the band meld rock with electronic production in such a way that hadn't been done so successfully by a local act since fellow Bangor boys Two Door Cinema Club.

8. The War on Drugs - Red Eyes

The 2nd track from The War on Drugs to make the countdown. "Red Eyes" is a driving rock tune that has one foot in the 80s and one in the here and now.

7. Go Swim - Call Sign

"Call Sign" by Go Swim can best be described as a manic version of "Inhaler" by Foals. Vocalists Steven and Julianne perform dual lead vocals, singing manic, alternating lyrics which both compliment and oppose each other at the same time, whilst the rhythm of the track changes from intense to danceable almost at the drop of a hat, without feeling jarring or out of place. It felt like a real breath of fresh air when it came out in February, and many months later it still retains that intensity and instantness.

6. Billy Lockett – Old Man

It takes a lot for a song to make your humble captain cry, but Billy Lockett managed to do that with "Old Man", a heartfelt tribute to his father, who died earlier this year. It is an absolutely gorgeous piano-pop song that had all the hallmarks of a monster radio hit about it, and although it did not become the ultimate smash that it deserved to be, it did touch a lot of people emotionally, myself included.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Metaphorical Boat's Top Songs of 2014 - 15-11

We're nearing the crunch time here folks, with songs that made 15 through 11 in our countdown. These selections feature a Snow Patrol side project, a sensual dance song that crossed over from the blogs straight into the top 40, the best sax-house hit of 2014, another of the finest talents to come out of Derry, and a song based around a lullaby.

15. Little Matador – Stitch Yourself Up

14. Indiana - Solo Dancing

13. Faul & Wad Ad vs. Pnau - Changes

12. Rainy Boy Sleep - Ambulance

11. Nick Mulvey - Cucurucu