New Year

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a nice time over the holidays. My main present was the new camera lens so I didn’t get much else in the way of gifts, but I ate a lot of food, drank a lot of alcohol and sang some bad karaoke. New Year’s Eve was spent in a similar fashion and I’m feeling quite tired today.

2010 was a good year for me and I managed to reach a lot of goals that I had set for myself. One of them was to do more gig photography, and I ended up shooting Amanda Palmer, Placebo and a whole host of awesome bands at Offset Festival. Another was to revamp this website and get my jewellery business off the ground, which has gotten off to a good start thanks to all my wonderful customers. I also wanted to make good progress on my Open University degree, and my 94% pass on my first unit has certainly bolstered my confidence.

Other highlights of the year include going to New York on my own and meeting Zachary Quinto, a whole host of awesome festivals over the summer, and seeing some incredible bands for the first time like the Pixies, Chemical Brothers and Suede. Here’s to hoping 2011 is just as good.

To end, I have compiled a list of my top 10 albums of 2010.

It’s been a bit of a difficult year for this, as a lot of my favourite bands didn’t release anything this year, so I’ve had to rely on new bands or unexpected surprises. You may be able to guess my number one album, as I’ve blathered on about it nonstop since it was released.

10. Klaxons – Surfing The Void
This was a nice follow-up from Klaxons, although slightly predictable. It was more of the same Klaxons formula that we know and love, but I feel they could have tried to push the boat out a bit more. The title track was a favourite of mine though.

9. Blood Red Shoes – Fire Like This
Not quite as amazing as their first album, but still pretty damn good. Blood Red Shoes make effortless post-punk garage rock that is anthemic and so danceable. Light It Up and Heartsink were fantastic choices for singles.

8. We Are Scientists – Barbara
I wasn’t sure what to expect from We Are Scientists after their last album pretty much divided opinions. On it’s first listen, Barbara looked like it was going to be mostly forgettable, but after a week or so a lot of the songs stayed firmly rooted in my mind. It’s definitely a grower, and I Don’t Bite was one of my songs of the year.

7. Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles II
This was another album which turned out to be a grower. In the beginning only a few tracks really stood out (most notably Baptism) but as I listened I ended up liking it more and more. They moved away from their trademark bleepy screechy sounds to give some more melodic vocals a try, and it definitely worked. They released a version of Not In Love with Robert Smith on the lead vocals and I was bowled over. It made such a gigantic change to the whole dynamic of the track! Another one of my favourite songs of the year.

6. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
If according to the rumours that this is LCD Soundsystem’s last album, then at least they went out with a bang. I knew this was going to be a big album even before it was released and it didn’t disappoint. Absolutely packed full of tunes like Drunk Girls and Pow Pow, I love to put this album on and just get lost in it.

5. Foals – Total Life Forever
Foals did this year what The Horrors did last year: Ditch the direction of their mediocre debut album, and release a phenomenal second album. Who would have thought the band that brought us the mildly irritating strains of Cassius would go on to produce the beautiful Spanish Sahara? The songs are more strung out and quietly grandiose than on the first album and it generally feels like they have grown up as a band.

4. Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
This album is a wonderfully eclectic mix of styles, from the electronic 80s pop of Stylo to the oriental-rap mashup of White Flag. They use guest vocalists to their full, with almost every track having a different singer, and it works incredibly well and somehow doesn’t make the album feel disjointed. Standout tracks for me are Empire Ants and Rhinestone eyes.

3. Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – Blood And Fire
With a revolving lineup of guitarists and their last full length album released 6 years ago, I did not have high hopes for this album at all. But it was a stomping, screeching, growling return to form and I love every song on it. They even managed to squeeze in a rousing singalong ballad in the form of So Long Goodnight.

2. Chemical Brothers – Further
Seeing this album live in its entirety with beautiful fullscreen visuals has probably coloured my opinion, but it’s near perfect. I think to be appreciated most it needs to be listened to in full, but the tracks still do work on their own as well. I challenge anyone to listen to Escape Velocity and not want to dance!

1. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Of course this was my number one! I’ve listened to it a ridiculous amount since it came out, and I still love it. A lot of people were bitching and complaining when Arcade Fire were announced as Reading Festival headliners, but this album has cemented their headliner status. Their songs are made to be seen in a large crowd, with everyone around you singing and dancing like mad. The Suburbs, Rococo and Sprawl II are probably my favourites.

Our Christmas shutdown times at work have been confirmed, so Thursday is our last day and then we get 11 days off and don’t have to return until Tuesday 4th Jan. Whatever will I do with all that glorious time off? Probably watch a lot of DVDs and make some jewellery.

Sad times; Misfits series two has now ended, with a spectacular Christmas special to round it off. It is fast becoming one of my favourite current tv shows as it seems to be the perfect mix of teenage humour and problems, and supernatural abilities. It’s what Heroes would be like if you crossed it with Skins and the Inbetweeners. I’m very much looking forward to the next series after the special ended on such a cliffhanger. I’ll have to invest in the DVDs to tide me over until later next year.

Today I have brought some Chestnut and Chocolate cupcakes into work to celebrate almost-Christmas. They are going down a storm so I highly recommend the recipe. I had to make my own chestnut puree though as Tesco only seemed to stock whole chestnuts. I soaked them in a half water, half milk mixture and boiled for about 20 minutes until they were soft, before whizzing them in the blender into a paste. It worked a treat!


As promised, a few drunken photos with my new lens. It has such a smooth autofocus, I think I’m in love!