17 Seconds Top 50 albums of the year 2013

Dead Flowers

1. Dead Flowers Midnight At The Wheel Club
2. Arcade Fire Reflektor
3. Arctic Monkeys AM
4. Janelle Monae Electric Lady
5. Savages Silence Yourself
6. Laura Mvula Sing To The Moon
7. Chvrches The Bones Of What You Believe
8. New Model Army Between Dog And Wolf
9. Steve Mason Monkey Minds In The Devil’s Time
10. Paul Haig Kube
11. Mogwai Les Revenants
12. eagleowl This Silent Year
13. Sleepmakeswaves And So We Destroyed Everything
14. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Push The Sky Away
15. Luke Haines Rock’n’Roll Animals
16. Foals Holy Fire
17. National Trouble Will Find Me
18. Haim Days Are Gone
19. David Bowie The Next Day
20. Fall Remit
21. Fuck Buttons Slow Focus
22. John Grant Pale Green Ghosts
23. Richard Thompson Electric
24. Pictish Trail Secret Soundz Vol. 2
25. Yeah Yeah Yeahs Mosquito
26. Pastels Slow Summits
27. Low The Invisible Way
28. Daft Punk Random Access Memories
29. Frightened Rabbit Pedestrian Verse
30. By The Rivers By The Rivers
31. Midas Fall Wilderness
32. Laura Marling Once I Was An Eagle
33. Phildel Disappearance Of The Girl
34. Galleries No Miracles
35. Edwyn Collins Understated
36. Yo La Tengo Fade
37. M.I.A. Matangi
38. Prefab Sprout Crimson/Red
39. Sparrow and the Workshop Murderopolis
40. Franz Ferdinand Right Thoughts Right Words Right Actions
41. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Live From KCRW
42. Mark Lanegan Imitations
43. Anna Calvi One Breath
44. Boards Of Canada Tomorrow’s Harvest
45. RM Hubbert Breaks and Bone
46. Zoo Zero Zoo Zero
47. Glasser Interiors
48. Those Darlins Blur The Line
49. Camera Obscura Desire Lines
50. Stephen Kellogg Blunderstone Rookery

I tore my hair out over this list, I nearly decided to chicken out and then I disciplined myself to sit down and do it. I’ve heard over 300 albums this year and there may be albums I have overlooked or I’ll look at this list in a year and go what??? But for now this is it.

And yes, some people will accuse me of various things, but I think there’s a lot of Scottish stuff in there, a lot of stuff that was commercially big and some albums that were very small releases. It’s certainly not just white boys with guitars…

Christmas Posts 2013 part 15


Yup, still here. Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat, but for this vegetarian it’s just plain busy.

Tonight’s choice -‘River’ by Joni Mitchell is perhaps more controversial, in that it has been debated whether or not it is actually a Christmas song. Some songs get associated with Christmas that could perhaps be appropriate to other times of year – East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’ and ‘Altogether Now’ by The Farm, for example. Released around Christmas time when they first came out, they now get trotted out as part of the package. However, towards the end of the song, you can definitely hear an echo of ‘Jingle Bells’ played on the piano that you certainly don’t need to be a musicologist to pick up on.

My favourite Joni Mitchell record is Blue, and while ‘Carey’ is my favourite track on that album, and Mrs. 17 Seconds’ is ‘A Case Of You’ this is one of the standout tracks on an amazing album.

There have been a number of cover versions, including Tracey Thorn’s version, which appeared on last year’s Tinsel and Lights album. If you haven’t heard it, do so. It also features her dueting with Green Gartside on a cover of Low’s ‘Taking Down The Tree.’

Albums of the year to follow very, very shortly…

Christmas Posts 2013 part 14


Kate Bush’s ‘December Will Be Magic Again’ was a hit in November 1980, the year she released her third album Never For Ever, which had produced three hits in the form of ‘Breathing’ ‘Babooshka’ and ‘Army Dreamers.’ Though she’d made videos her her previous seven singles, so far as I can find on YouTube there was never an official video for this. The video below comes from a 1979 TV Christmas special.

Somewhat frustratingly, it is not available to buy as an mp3 on either iTunes or Amazon. As it’s still in copyright, I won’t risk annoying EMI by posting it (but it does raise issues about why people might download music that they can’t buy that could probably debated another time).

Christmas Posts 2013 part 13


This is an old English carol which Blur gave away at a free gig in London in 1992 (read more about it here ).
Again, as far as I can see it has never had a commercial release (you can see who sang which part here). Interesting to note at this point in their history, Blur were considered washed-up. Over the next three years their story would change utterly.

I have attempted to investigate ‘Wassailing’ and the origin of the song, some sources indicate that Wassailing is to do with drinking good health to one another – but various internet sources point to the song being from either Sussex or Gloucestershire. So any firm info would be much appreciated.

Blur -‘Wassailing Song.’ mp3

Christmas Posts 2013 part 12


I posted this last year, but I figured that blog friends The Last Battle deserved another shout out.

This was their free EP that came out last Christmas featuring their very special cover of ‘Stay Another Day’ by East 17 and two of their own songs…

Now, as you’ve probably noticed, 17 Seconds Records is winding down – and The Last Battle are in the process of readying their second album to put out. Read all about their fundraising for putting their awesome sophomore album out here, go and pledge your support!

17 Seconds’ Festive Fifty 2013

Yup, the moment you’ve been waiting for…my favourite fifty tracks of 2013


1. Daft Punk ‘Get Lucky.’
2. Mogwai ‘What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?’
3. Chvrches ‘The Mother We Share.’
4. Disclosure featuring AlunaGeorge ‘White Noise.’
5. Arctic Monkeys ‘Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High?’
6. David Bowie ‘Where Are They Now?’
7. Haim ‘Save Me.’
8. Withered Hand ‘Black Tambourine.’
9. Steve Mason ‘Come To Me.’
10.Last Battle ‘Perfecting The Art Of Saying Nothing.’
11.Dead Flowers ‘Make It Bright.’
12.Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds ‘Jubilee Street.’
13.Chvrches ‘Recover.’
14.National ‘Fireproof.’
15.Euros Childs ‘Trick Of The Mind.’
16.Girl Called Johnny ‘Heaven Knows.’
17.Suede ‘Barriers.’
18.Tegan & Sara ‘Closer.’
19.Savages ‘She Will.’
20.Primal Scream ‘2013.’
21.M.I.A. ‘Bring The Noize.’
22.Lorde ‘Royals.’
23.Sparrow and the Workshop ‘The Faster You Spin.’
24.Laura Mvula ‘Green Garden.’
25.Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Sacrilege.’
26.Parquet Courts ‘N Dakota.’
27.Daft Punk ‘Instant Crush.’
28.Crocodiles ‘She Splits Me Up.’
29.Joanna Gruesome ‘Sugar Crush.’
30.Prince ‘Breakfast Can Wait.’
31.Laura Mvula ‘Morning Dew.’
32.New Model Army ‘Horsemen.’
33.Foals ‘Late Night.’
34.Dead Flowers ‘The Beach.’
35.Mark Lanegan ‘Solitaire.’
36.Arcade Fire ‘Reflektor.’
37.Teleman ‘Cristina.’
38.Parquet Courts ‘Stoned and Starving.’
39.Those Darlins’ Oh God.’
40.Fall ‘Sir William Wray.’
41.Anna Calvi ‘Suddenly.’
42.Depeche Mode ‘Soothe My Soul.’
43.Black Sabbath ‘God Is Dead?’
44.Nadine Shah ‘To Be A Young Man.’
45.Pixies ‘Indie Cindy.’
46.Greek Street Band ‘Harbour This Love.’
47.Mark Lanegan ‘You Only Live Twice.’
48.Luke Haines ‘The Angel Of The North.’
49.Prince ‘Screwdriver.’
50.Franz Ferdinand ‘Right Action.’

There will, no doubt be the usual moans: ‘All white blokes with guitars.’ ‘No women.’ ‘All Obscure stuff.’ ‘No support given to the Scottish music scene.’ Not true, and at the end of the day, these are my favourite tracks that were released this year (even if there may be a couple that came out last year but qualify because they appeared on the parent album this year). It isn’t supposed to be hip, or post-modern.

Lest we forget: those previous 17 Seconds Festive 50 winners…
2012 Grimes ‘Genesis.’
2011 Hiatus featuring Linton Kwesi Johnson ‘Insurrection.’
2010 eagleowl ‘No Conjunction.’
2009 Peter Parker ‘Swallow The Rocket.’
2008 Wedding Present ‘The Trouble With Men.’
2007 Emma Pollock ‘Adrenaline.’
2006 Long Blondes ‘Weekend Without Make Up.’

Christmas Posts 2013 part 11


I was trudging around a major supermarket this evening, picking up a few items before heading off to pick up Mrs 17 Seconds and our son. To my amazement, and delight the song that came over the tanoy was Low’s ‘Just Like Christmas.’

Low’s Christmas album is one of those albums that gets rolled out in the ‘Christmas can be cool, honestly’ for those people who feel the need to do do (I wish they wouldn’t, it suggests an urge to conform and be smug and superior that’s really quite wrong). It has, rightly, become a classic, ahead of Christmas box sets from Sufjan Stevens and the new Bright Eyes Christmas album. The NME review from 1999 is actually spot on.

And the opening track ‘Just Like Christmas’ owes just as much to Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound as it does to Low’s general greatness. I don’t think they made an official video, but it doesn’t matter. If you still haven’t bought it, go and do so. Sure the whole album is different to this, but it is a brilliant album. Take my word for it.

Snow Patrol have covered it, too:

Can’t find a video for it, but ‘If You Were Here Today’ from the album has been covered by Jimmy Eat World.

Christmas posts 2013 part 10


The Killers have done a number of Christmas songs since 2006, when they did their first ‘A Great Big Sled’ and it’s still my favourite of their Christmas songs. After all, who wouldn’t like just one more Christmas as a child? That sense of fun and looking-forward and not worrying about paying for the damn thing. It’s now reached that point as a Dad when son 17 Seconds is looking forward to it…

There’s well over a half a dozen Killers Christmas songs and this is the original and best. Not least because it features guest vocals from Toni Halliday, once of Curve, who provided a fair part of the soundtrack to the nineties for yours truly.

This can be be bought as a download from iTunes and other online stores. It’s on an EP called (RED) Christmas

Christmas posts 2013 part 9


Some Christmas songs you have heard too many times. And then there comes along a fresh take which means you can enjoy it.

I find Paul McCartney’s ‘Wonderful Christmastime’ rather twee, but I’m really enjoying LA-based singer Meiko’s version of it, which seems fresh and, well, shorn of the tweeness.

For a free download go to her website

Even better is her own song:

Christmas Posts 2013 part 8


Today’s Christmas post is Simon & Garfunkel’s version of ‘Silent Night’ known as ‘Silent Night -7 O’Clock news’ as interspersed with their rendition of the carol is the evening news. And boy is this sad.

According to the Wiki entry, this is a simulated bulletin of August 3, 1966.

“This is the early evening edition of the news.
The recent fight in the House of Representatives was over the open housing
section of the Civil Rights Bill.
Brought traditional enemies together but it left the defenders of the
measure without the votes of their strongest supporters.
President Johnson originally proposed an outright ban covering discrimination
by everyone for every type of housing but it had no chance from the start
and everyone in Congress knew it.
A compromise was painfully worked out in the House Judiciary Committee.
In Los Angeles today comedian Lenny Bruce died of what was believed to be an
overdoes of narcotics.
Bruce was 42 years old.
Dr. Martin Luther King says he does not intend to cancel plans for an open
housing march Sunday into the Chicago suburb of Cicero.
Cook County Sheriff Richard Ogleby asked King to call off the march and the
police in Cicero said they would ask the National Guard to be called out
if it is held.
King, now in Atlanta, Georgia, plans to return to Chicago Tuesday.
In Chicago Richard Speck, accused murderer of nine student nurses, was brought
before a grand jury today for indictment.
The nurses were found stabbed an strangled in their Chicago apartment.
In Washington the atmosphere was tense today as a special subcommittee of the
House Committee on Un-American activities continued it’s probe into anti-
Viet nam war protests.
Demonstrators were forcibly evicted from the hearings when they began chanting
anti-war slogans.
Former Vice-President Richard Nixon says that unless there is a substantial
increase in the present war effort in Viet nam, the U.S. should look forward
to five more years of war.
In a speech before the Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in New York,
Nixon also said opposition to the war in this country is the greatest single
weapon working against the U.S.
That’s the 7 o’clock edition of the news,

And then Paul and Art give us a final verse of what is the saddest and greatest Christmas carol ever written:

Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

This has not lost its power in the nearly fifty years since it was recorded. We of course have the benefit of history, and somehow it makes the song even more heartbreaking. Martin Luther King will die a mere two years later, shot as a victim of the terrible prejudices he fought so hard to overcome. The Vietnam War will drag on and on, and eventually the US will have to concede defeat. Former Vice-President Nixon will end up being remembered as the only US President to have to resign.

And yet…

You can find this on Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme.