Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The best of 2008 (part six): SINGLES

Hello again. We must stop meeting like this.

A cracked record, we know, but it genuinely baffles us when fellow slaves to organised sound (hello Nick!) tell us there wasn't much great music being made in 2008. In our view there was, yet again, far too much of it if anything. So here are the stars on 45 (for Mojo readers, our long-players list is here).

How great these hundred, and more, were reminds us of something *important*: not only that 2008 was ace, but how we're nothing if not in awe of, and indebted to, all the fabulous people - popstars, popsters, bands, clubs and labels - who made it so.

* * * * *

1. Styly Cee and Cappo "The H-Bomb EP" (Son Records, 12")



There were at least four or five potential #1 singles until early November. But then this marvellous, marvellous joint came out, and then there was only ever one winner. We never got round to posting up the review we wrote of it before now, but why doesn't that surprise you ?

"YES. Is the start of this jam. For Styly and Caps are *BACK* and keeping it very firmly LOCKED on "The H-Bomb", a 12" they've dropped on the recently slumbering Son Records, LDN's (rightly) Notts-obsessed hip-hop label (last big hit: C-Mone's album - congrats to her on her 2:1, hopefully new material soon ?) The relentless busyness of Styly Cee's percussion-heavy, sample-sprinkled, scratch-friendly backbeat is the platform on which this record is made: in a sense, it brings back the foot-tapping excitement of those early grime records, when garage loops still dominated and every production was guaranteed to make heads nod as well as giving MCs a chance to express themselves.

Cappo somehow sounds a little gruffer than on past outings - we guess he's just getting older! - but brings all the usual quality to the plate: killer flows full of real poetry (none of that playgroundy stuff about being on road, merking the haters): he's always trying to up the levels, producing rhymes and metaphors worthy of the spectacular instrumental tracks. "Tell Them" is the opener, a sick n' slick, titanically enjoyable big-beat battering ram: and if "Time Will Tell", featuring "Purple Haze" samples, gets marginally lost, the obscenely high quality is restored with "Unwritten Rule", in which Cappo mines his mystical side again (think "Gilgamesh", most recently resurrected on the Directors' Cut mixtape) while Cee decorates the rhythm with ghostly menace."


And, of course, Cappo has form - he's come up with the single of the year before.

2. Violent Arrest "Criminal Record" (Grave Mistake / No Way Out, 2x7")



Aie. We feel so remiss, so like we've let you down, when it transpires that there's a great band out there who we never even knew existed; that they'd already had three releases on Deranged Records (that fine label that gave us the Siege retrospective) before 2008 even began; that if we'd been aware of them this time last year, it would have played havoc with our end-of-year polls. Anyway, we would like to introduce you to that band now. They are Violent Arrest. And they make us purr like Alan Hansen might on surveying the performance of some midfield maestro. "Pace, power, passion, heart": all the nouns are there.

Looks like they started with a twelve-track 12", either self-titled or untitled, recorded in '05-'06 at that renowned home of musical inspiration, the White House in Weston-super-Mare (originator of disques by such untouchable alumni as Brighter and Heresy). That 12" showed that Violent Arrest were all about punchy HC, a little like Weston's finest, Ripcord (ex-members of whom they share!), but if anything V.A. are leaner, shorter and bleaker, a little more in the early-American stylee and with fewer breakdowns, though Steve Hazzard's vocals happily remain brutally, plaintively local. Then there was 2007's 7" (also either s/t or u/t, according to taste). Another ten tracks, also via the White House, but even more focussed and eviscerating (the track titles alone - "Fear", "Bastards", "Heretic" - give you a fair idea).

Next came a CD compiling the two singles, also on Deranged Records, which should represent your best chance of catching up on this band: three bonus tracks make it up to 25 tunes, lasting 28 glorious minutes. The CD appears, like the releases preceding it, to have been untitled. And last we saw, you could definitely still get it via Rough Trade.

And now there is 2008's course from the White House, "Criminal Record" (at last - a title). While their previous 7" had "V" and "A" sides, this double - containing no less than a dozen new tunes - goes for a more conventional A, B, C and D, and continues to meld US-influenced high-paced hardcore with something almost redolent of second wave UK punkers (but without that movement's lack of intelligence). With songs like "V.A.", a worthy band theme tune, "Bigots", "Suicide Squad" and the great "Youth Violence" and "Riot" (both saved for the D side but better than most bands' A), this is still astonishing stuff, averaging marginally over a minute per song, and we wish we'd picked it up for that Peel tribute we laboured over so, because there's no doubt he would have loved these records. (Does Dandelion Radio play stuff like VA? A genuine question - but if not, they sure as blazes ought to look into it).

Anyway, sorry for not noticing V.A. before. But hopefully this belated heads-up slightly makes up for it.

3. Ed209 ft. Imam T.H.U.G. "Karma 360" (VRD, 12")



"It kind of goes back to when we mentioned Zipper the other week: how sometimes the secret of great music, of music that puts a smile on your face, is absurdly simple. So the skinny on this one is this. Imam T.H.U.G, the Iron Sheik who teamed with the P Brothers to deliver "Across The Planet" on Heavy Bronx in day, knows how to drop rhymes: grizzly, filmic, props-to-Queensbridge street stories. Leicester's Ed 209, who wowed us with the "Stay Ex Static" collaborations with some of our favourite UK emcees last year, knows how to concoct block-trembling, back-to-basics beats. Put those ingredients together - connect the chemistry, if you like - and the result, in this case a 12" on VRD called "Karma 360", is mighty. It's as brooding a collabo as you might expect, the Imam patrolling the streets of his home borough surrounded by the dislocated smog of 209's gently crackling breaks, all shot through with a grimy, "Hell On Earth"-style piano sample.

Hey, it won't ever be a hit. *Sigh*. But "Karma" is a treat for you and I, at least: a transatlantic nod to the rawer sound from when hip-hop felt more like it mattered, when rapping was righteous, and the producer's role was the realisation, not emasculation, of those skills. Crucially, though, records like this, or Cee-Rock 'The Fury's newie, aren't merely sops to a listener's weary nostalgia: whatever side of the ocean you're on, they serve as a reminder that real street music can still be both created in, and rooted in, the present. And they give us more reasons, however incessant the barrage of depressingly lowest common denominator "hip-hop", not to give up on the genre that's maybe given us the very mostest over the past 25 years."


As of a few weeks ago, there were still a couple of copies at Rough Trade East, so if you hurry...

4. Northern Portrait "Napoleon Sweetheart EP" (Matinee Recordings, CD-EP)



"Hearing the new Northern Portrait EP, "Napoleon Sweetheart", one's tempted to ask where the bloody hell they were in the late 80s, when we were all crying out for the new Smiths and being fobbed off instead with a plethora of anaemic, uber-ropey carbons... Whereas Northern Portrait's first record, "The Fallen Aristocracy", carried echoes not only of the Smiths but also the jangling Walkeresque potency of One Thousand Violins in full flow, this second CD-EP carries undertones of... well yes, the fab four again, but also perhaps some slightly later bands in time. "Napoleon Sweetheart" has the pace, yearning and Morrissey-ish werewolf falsettos of their debut, but also a lilting gravitas akin to classy post-shambling moments like Bradford's "Skin Storm", the Cradle's "It's Too High", the Railway Children's "Brighter", that kind of thing.

It starts, like the last EP's "Crazy", with a pretty solid demonstration that pop songs can be infectious without being inane: it's called "I Give You Two Seconds To Entertain Me" and you'll be having it buzz round your cranium 'til the cows come home. Singer & songwriter Stefan Larsen is still pitching deep - "I'm so tired / of the way she's selling out... I want something that's real / and perfectly genuine" - as the song bounds along impatiently, the chiming guitars dancing sympathetically around him. It's a peerless number that screams "A-side", absolutely hollers it.

But the best extended-plays need to maintain premium quality over four tracks, and that's perhaps the most enthralling thing about both Northern Portrait records to date. Here, "Sporting A Scar" sneaks up a little more subtly, a tangle of wiry guitars mourning "the best thing that never happened to me", before "In An Empty Hotel" simply breezes in, palpably borrowing from the heavenly strums of Mr Marr, with melodies to match. Wonderful. The finish line, in contrast to the all-out jangle bombardment of the title track last time round, is the drizzly semi-balladry of "Our Lambrusco Days", a contemplative indie-pop hymn with dark lyrical turns - "life can be such a death-affirming experience" - of which Moz would be proud... It's no bad thing, after their super soaraway debut, that NP didn't hang around before releasing this exceptional second single: the longer they left it, the more we'd have had cause to wonder whether "The Fallen Aristocracy"'s polished, sophisticated charm was a one-off. Instead, they're making hay while the sun shines... So yeah, this is pop deluxe."


5. Manhattan Love Suicides "Clusterfuck EP" (Squirrel Records, 7")



"You know we had to mention this new Manhattan Love Suicides single, "Clusterfuck", a 7" on Squirrel Records. For just as the band continually bely their lazy, offputting name, yet again the songs here are so much better than their leaden, cliched titles ("Detroit Diesel", "Burning Wire", "Heat and Panic") suggest - this is a woozy, ragged, dirty, bliss-drenched four track EP of girl-fronted, growling guitar burr which we would aver is even more of a treat than even the "Keep It Coming" EP; and "Clusterfuck" itself, which we suddenly realise we remember fondly from many an MLS gig, still boasts a prettyish tune beneath all of the studied cacophony and black-clad po(i)se. True, at some point there must be a risk that MLS will get sucked in to a different, less forgiving, genre altogether: but at the moment they are playing merry hell with the frayed, fuzztastic edges of indieness, and that is only to be applauded. Vigorously."

6. Jaydan & DJ Pleasure "What U Want" / "Stingray" (Smokin' Riddims, 12")



Very nice, this. Between them, Jaydan and Pleasure have been responsible for more than a dozen decent singles this year, and DJP's "Stingray" here is up there with most of his others, but the real reason for this 12" - on Jaydan's own label - topping the list is his "What You Want", which rides a truly old-skool housey beat before flipping in and out of the usual jump-up chicanery. Truly exhilarating stuff, although tbh we're a little surprised it's not even nearer the top...

7. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart "Everything With You" (Slumberland / The Lost and Lonesome Recording Company / Fortuna Pop!, 7")



"goal...!" a new tune from the pains of. no, it does not represent a change of direction: yes, that is a good outcome. liable to be up there with the mls' "clusterfuck" as one of the brightest swinging fuzzpop 7"s of the yr."

Nobody likes to derail a bandwagon more than us, but pretty much everything you hear about how good this band are is true.

8. Northern Portrait "The Fallen Aristocracy EP" (Matinee Recordings, CD-EP)



"... we shift our gaze to Denmark for the tour de force that is Northern Portrait's "The Fallen Aristocracy" EP. Lead tune "Crazy" is the one the kids and blogs have been propping, the one where the singer accompanies breezy, lush instrumentation with a debonair vocal that isn't too far away from the swooning croon of One Thousand Violins' Vince Keenan, in the days when the latter were making utterly ignored pop classics like "If I Were A Bullet Then For Sure I'd Find A Way To Your Heart". "Crazy", is, of course, less wordy, a little less clumsy, if yet to stand the same test of time: it's a single sumptious chord sequence that is gently overlaid with embellishments as it progresses, but rarely have raffish charm and polished pop been deployed with a surer hand. And after all that, the title track, another that veritably gleams with 1,000 Violins-isms, is possibly even better - again, the hooks seem to rain down, the writing to brim with natural, not misplaced confidence.

And Math & Physics now have some real competition, because the whole EP (completed by the crisp, twinkling Marr-isms of "Waiting For A Chance" and the defiant post-Morrissey poetics of "A Quiet Night In Copenhagen") is deeply impressive: as well as that long, magnific shadow of the Smiths, there are glimpses of quality only achieved more recently by former Matinee flagship bands like Harper Lee or the still-missed Windmills."


9. Strawberry Story "Summer Scene" (Anorak, CD-EP)



"Northallerton's pop royal family have just released their last ever single, "Summer Scene", on the French label Anorak (as in 'Vidocq et l'anorak jaune', fellow old-school GCSE-rs). And, like the Stupids single, this one pretty much rules. The title track itself suggests that the band have come full circle, because it's as raw and addictive as their very earliest forays, skipping through meadows of guitar fuzz from which Hayley's voice leaps out as if she was still yelping along with "Tell Me Now". And, musically, there is definitely something of the Milky Wimpshakes about it. The EP as a whole, however, is actually more nuanced (rough translation: the "slowies" outnumber the "fasties" three to two), with the closing song "Kiddie" a sleekly touching way to go out. Definitely recommended for anyone who's ever fallen under their spell."

We're very serious about this. When Hayley plunges feet-first into that chorus, it does our head in, in the sweetest way imaginable.

10. Milky Wimpshake "One Good Use For My Heart EP" (Fortuna Pop!, 7")



"Now MW don't mess about. They may have been going fifteen years (so still remembering Razorblade Smile so fondly makes us feel waaaaay old!!) but one of the secrets of their success is that they always keep it fresh. So soaraway lead track "One Good Use For My Heart" goes straight for vertical take-off, making it a Harrier jump-jet of a spangly pop song: two minutes of sheer, instant, concentrated joy and, like Julie Ocean, nothing extraneous. "(Show Me The Way To) Anarchy" is more thoughtful, expansive, ebbing and flowing, the regulation 'grower', its charm defined as Pete Dale sings "I love the way you skip their fist / it's confrontation with a twist / they don't know which / to laugh or cry"; "Milky Cliche" a powerhouse from the live set transported to vinyl, all nursery-rhyme simple words and typically blissful hooks, even as Pete admits, "This is a b-side / Under a bushel I'm going to hide / All my good ideas". Trust us, it's another case of B-Side Wins Again.

Not content with the three originals, this value-added EP also boasts a double cover version bonus: a respectful jangle-tribute to the Isley Brothers' (rather wonderful, for a pre-1976 tune) "This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)": and fellow ex-Slamptees the Yummy Fur's "Policeman", maybe the best song about police ever that hadn't already been written by NWA, MDC, Body Count or Smiley Culture. The Wimpshake treatment of it - as a brilliantly idiosyncratic "medley" with "If You Want To Know The Time, Ask A Policeman" (a line once sung by George Formby in the seminal "On The Beat", fact fans, although the actual cover is apparently an unrelated music hall staple) - kinda makes so little sense that it makes perfect sense (y'know, the same kind of alchemy that made the TVPs "All The Young Children On Crack" such a copper-bottomed classic).

And the upshot of all of this, we guess, is that you can still sleep soundly in your beds tonight with the sure knowledge that Milky Wimpshake - despite having seemingly decided to bin the keyboards - are still the bees'."


* * * * *

11. Horowitz / Project A-ko split (Filthy Little Angels, 7")

"Horowitz have also made two contributions to the new Filthy Little Angels split 7" with Projekt A-ko... And this is where things get really thrilling, because "Sweetness, I Could Die In Your Arms" and "Hug Target" are just ace. When we first heard a version of "Sweetness" last year, it was an instant revelation - yet another effortless step, jump-up, sea-change, whatever - crucially, showing that even so soon after "Tracyanne", they were showing no inclination at all to rest on their laurels. "Sweetness" is all vibrant Smithsy treble and heart-fluttering, stop-start indie powerchords, somehow rendered even better by the way that Ian puts the emphasis on "could" as he delivers the hook line (Cutting Crew, of course, went for plonking it all on "die", and look where it got them). Just swell. While the short, sweet "Hug Target" boasts feedback, New Order-ish bass and sung-from-a-bunker distorted vocals before it magically coagulates into a particularly joyful instrumental at about 1'14 which makes you want to leap up to the rafters, and swing on them 'til they break."

Really, Horowitz are quite possibly our favourite band of the moment, especially given both sides of the forthcoming Cloudberry 7" AND the brace of tracks which should soon be appearing on Wee Pop! We were also a bit harsh there on the A-ko, because "Nothing Works Twice" especially has well withstood nine months of listening, too.

12. Tinchy Stryder "Cloud 9: The EP" (Ruff Sqwad)

In indie music, on the whole, we are used to bands being either good, or rubbish. Good bands seem largely to make only good records. Rubbish bands tend... yep, you got it. So, inelegantly as ever, we will try one more time to get a simple point across. It is one we have learned the hard way. It is that *these rules do not apply to grime*. So yes, Skepta's "Sweet Mother" is rubbish. Wiley's "Summertime" is rubbish. Tinchy's "Stryderman" (oh, and that "Take Me Back" thing) is rubbish. Chipmunk's "Beast" is... well, much less than it should have been. Wretch, and to a lesser extent Slix's newish CDs are pretty ropey. But they are all artists who are capable of making sublime music, and in most cases who usually do (it's just that by definition, it isn't those tunes we're all going to be hearing on the radio). If Wiley or Dizzee Rascal need a bit of cash or a l'il short-term profile raising, they just put out some relatively inane dancefloor filler. It doesn't mean they've lost their muse. (Actually, Dizzee has, but that's a different conversation).

So if you've heard any of the above tunes, or Roll Deep's last single, or "Rolex Sweep", and thought we must be off our trolley for going on and on about some of these artists, we can only plead with you to seek out some other the stuff we do big up here, and give it a try. And bearing that in mind...

"it's still a relief to find that the new EP, seemingly self-released, has largely been produced without any obvious aim to please / appease the crossover audience: "This is simply what I do best", he notes on the first track, "Full Effect". Like others of the genre (most impressively Durrty Goodz' "Axiom"), extended play here means not a Sarah-style three track 7", but instead a meaty nine-track CD: a formula which can work so much better than the 20-25 track mixtape. And, with the sole exception of "Thump" smack bang in the middle, a dreary crossover tune that takes the just-add-slush formula of the two Total Entertainment singles to a reductio ad absurdum of urban gloop, "Cloud 9" is a powerful and oh-so welcome return to form.

It probably does no harm at all that Tinchy employs Maniac, a man who hoovers up any superlatives lying round here, to supervise the first three tunes, as they all slay... On "Six 4 Fire", the third of the Maniac productions, Tinchy cockily says, "I'm back in your top ten line-up". But you know, not least with Ruff Sqwad's "Man Dem" tearing up Channel U right now, and a 12-tracker "Stryder vs Maniac" allegedly on way, we think he's right."


13. MJ Hibbett & the Validators "It Only Works Because You're Here" (EmuBands, DL)

Shy as we are of stating the obvious, we may not have gone into print to date on the fact that MJ Hibbett is a genius, a fact reconfirmed by the likes of this as well as by his stellar set at Monkey Chews, albeit that his cheerful troubadouring was fair drowned out by the slew of identikit student types at the bar whose inane chatter almost managed to drown him out, unless you had the good fortune of standing within a few feet of MJ and his trusty guitar. A shame they weren't listening, especially as inbetween songs he was able to point out some truisms about comparing Blair and Brown to Thatcher... Anyway, dragging ourselves reluctantly back on-topic, "It Only Works..." is the sublimely-composed and surprisingly, gulp, moving song you'll know from various of his live outings, but on record it was enhanced, wrapped up in a sparkling, sensitive arrangement. The bit, in particular, when the music wriggles melliflously back into life after the first three words of the chorus just kills us.

14. Horowitz "I Need A Blanket" (Thee SPC, download EP)

"basically, skill: it's unlikely that we've listened to any single song more in the last year or so. People tend to be using the word "Pavement" when describing it, but - even if we were quite that lazy - we'd go more for "Urusei", or, if you'll let us have it, "Sportsguitar"."

"I Need A Blanket"'s opening line is one of our all-time favourite vocal deliveries. Can't really explain why. Came with a great video, too.

15. Phil Wilson "Industrial Strength" EP (Slumberland, 2x7")

"the sublime phil wilson (who is BACK, btw) brings us "industrial strength". thematic is good. as is this e.p. of acoustic kraut-industrial covers (yes you read that right) with low-in-the-mix vocals: "neon lights" is especially sweetly rediscovered, using the power of ukelele."

An ambitious EP, no doubt, but one that clicked overall for real. Even so, this placed for the swingingly reconstructed "Neon Lights", which easily qualifies as even one of Phil Wilson's best singles of, y'know, ever.

16. The Stupids "Feel The Suck" (Boss Tuneage, 7")

"We were going on about brilliant 7"s the other day: well, Peel favourites the Stupids have just released one, "Feel The Suck", on Boss Tuneage... And it's ace. Really. Three songs, none lurching too far from what we'd love and expect, all powering along with post-hardcore vim. On pinkish vinyl. And limited, sadly, to 325 copies."

17. DJ Pleasure "Vengar" (Lowdowndeep, 12")

"Vengar" (or "Wenger" as it got christened here) keeps things stripped-down to the bone, the drums rattling off in looped spasms while the 303 (we think) lurches up and down the octaves with all the subtlety of a trampolining pachyderm. Indeed, the rhythms are so fidgety and agitated that they actually well recall the Professor's increasingly common touchline tantrums.

18. Craig G and Marley Marl "Made The Change" (Traffic Entertainment / Good Hands)

Subtly sampling the Notorious one, Craig and Marl ride a buffed-up beat to a hook that will refuse to leave your head: on the other side, "Deep Down" is just as good, more directly taking up the theme of their "Operation Takeback" album with a "You Played Yourself"-type tale: "you really should have just respected our style / or your ass wouldn't get kicked out the rap game now"...

19. Silverlink ft Badness and Jammer "The Message Is Love" (No Hat No Hoods, 12")

Somewhere, there should be award for the most mental single of the year, and "Message Is Love" would be a shoe-in. From the title you might be expecting a perfunctory dance or even R&B rekkid, perhaps with Badness and Jammer doing merely OK-ish cameo verses, but this single is instead an anarchic mash of soca and bristling grime beats, with both MCs on top form, hollering over the high-bpm rhythms like roadside drunks on Special Brew shouting at passing cars. In many ways, this really shouldn't place so high, but it's a record that we feel everyone should be made to hear, if only once.

20. Pocketbooks "Waking Up EP" (Valiant Death / Make Do and Mend CD-EP)

"...Pocketbooks single #2 is a four-track EP, and in patches, yes, it does sound a little like it was recorded in a church hall, but nothing can detract from the skill and care in the arrangements, the palpable ambition, and the terrific, nuanced songwriting (and here, we mean songwriting in a good way - much as we know that songwriters and musicians are usually the twin nemeses of good music) not least those already-trademark lyrical flourishes we went on about last time.

From the lithe opening piano of the title track - already one for the classic intros round as far as we're concerned - the EP is a treat, a freewheeling bicycle ride on a beautiful clear day: "Waking Up", fuelled by a perfectly weighted vocal performance from Emma; "Falling Leaves", with its Sunny Intervals vibe, bringing in Andy's delicate, wavering voice; the serene, more mannered "Love Is The Stick You Throw", which brims with a more grown-up feel... and "Don't Stop", which rounds things off by conspiring to be upbeat, thoughtful and inspirational all at once, a kind of noughties take on the Gain's "Casino Classics" which does start to suggest that Pocketbooks really might prove to be a band in a million (and nine). Wow, that chorus."


Album. On. Way. (Yaaay).

* * * * *

21. Sexy Kids "Sisters Are Forever" (Slumberland, 7")

Slumberland going a bit crazy with the good records this year. If you remember Fertile Virgin's "Lucky Day", well this is similarly great - a from-nowhere mix of Raincoats and Girls At Our Best indie-guitaring that cavorts along very merrily indeed.

22. Cee-Rock "The Fury" "Kill Da Killin'"(Abstract Urban)

"You get an F for flunk / I get an F for funk": non-swearing New York legend Cee-Rock weighs into all-mouth-no-trousers would-be ballers with style on this mini-anthem. Warning: features some very twangy bass.

23. Glenn Wilson "Phoenix EP" (Compound, 12")

""Phoenix"... is the lead track on another single released earlier this year, a 3-track EP of the same name on Compound which Glenn has all to himself. Both are very fine, pacy stuff from an artist we're now rapidly scrabbling to get hold of more from... and we think our belated discovery of Glenn - no relation to Ant, or even Phil - more than justifies us wheeling out the phrase "Oh! Mr Wilson" again, even if you don't."

24. caUSE co-MOTION! "I Lie Awake" (Slumberland, 7")

"There's more strange alchemy brewing with caUSE co-MOTION!'s 3-track 7", "I Lie Awake", on another indie powerhouse, Slumberland Records of Oakland, CA. What with being more off-the-pace than a footballer on Hackney Marshes who's just had to run all the way to the road to collect the ball for a throw-in, we haven't encountered the Brooklyn quartet before, but if "I Lie Awake" is anything to go by, they're the sound of the McTells colliding with Beat Happening! and in the case of the title track here, the result is a kooky, compelling 90 seconds of spirited, super-skewed indie pop that would have fitted very nicely amongst the early 14 Iced Bears demos we got a glimpse of on that band's "In The Beginning" comp (also on Slumberland).

The other tunes are similarly brilliant, if also uncompromisingly early-Pastels raw: "You Don't Say" sounds like the vocalist is singing a slightly different song from that the band are playing (in our book, this makes it an added-value 2 for 1), while "Cry For Attention" slows it down - this time there's only one, v. delicate song, but one seemingly played, and winningly, at a variety of occasionally overlapping tempos. There's something really exciting about the all-too few bands who can combine such vulnerability with a spirit of experimentation and enterprise, and that's exactly what CCM's mosaic of DIY melodies achieves."


25. Sunny Summer Day "So Much Fun" (Letterbox, free download single)

"shares much of its DNA with early Sarah demos: writers rather tougher on their charges than us might speculate as to whether that's quite enough, in today's rather crowded (frankly overcrowded - sorry) indiepop market. But given that we could quite happily spend any given day ensconced entirely in early Brighter, Another Sunny Day or St Christopher demos, and quite frankly often have done, we think "Fun" is rather brilliant, with the guitar lines all doing exactly what they should do as the band breeze along easily-imaginable country lanes of impeccable summery indieness."

26. Jaydan "Pull Up" (Propaganda, 12")

More powered-up stuff from Leicester's Jaydan, as prolific as Matty Fryatt this year...

27. Virus Syndicate "Apollo" (Planet Mu, 7")

7" album taster from a resurgent Syndicate, which strikes us as how Hoodz Underground might sound with a grime makeover...

28. Comet Gain "Love Without Lies" (What's Your Rupture / TAF, 7")

"a raw, "Realistes"-ish blast of garage / punk / soul only bettered by the sweet, post-"You Can Hide" melodies of "Books Of California" on the other side."

29. Boyracer / Mytty Archer / Cannanes split (555, 7")

"an army of all the talents: the Cannanes take on "Don't Fear The Reaper" with grace and gentle pizazz, while the inestimable Boyracer pay tribute to the Beatniks with a not-fi clamber around the classic "Supremer Queener". But the pick is Mytty Archer's tune, a flitting dazzle of guitar with a soft-spoken vocal that briefly blossoms into rainflecked sheets of noise before departing too soon."

30. Je Suis Animal "Painted In Your Face" (Cloudberry, 7")

Liked Spraydog ? You'll love this.

* * * * *

31. Kashmere "The Jazz" (Karamak, 7")

Not lacking in either confidence or craft, this is a standout from Kashmere's Lost Archive release that Karamak have rightly seen fit to stick out as a single, in which format it sounds even more imperious. Jehst provides the jazz rhythms, Kashmere the sexual metaphors.

32. Jaydan "Gun Salute" (Smokin' Riddims, 12")

33. Honeyheads "Edwyn Speaks Louder Than Kirk" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Fine fare from Hamburg's premier janglers, with toppermost "Consolation Prize"-echoing lead track "From A to B to See You" complemented by the ultra-addictive "Out of Marseille" (their home suburb, fact collectors).

34. Puzzle "Everything You Never" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

From SSS to Mr Bang On, there are things happening in Liverpool with great new music right across the board. "St. Luke's" still the peach of these three from super-promising combo who, for us, have a touch of 90s era Aus-alt pop about them: you know, the clutch of Melbourne bands who used to put stuff out on 555.

35. Pete Green "Platform Zero EP" (Lostmusic, 7")

Beautifully presented 4-tracker, overseen by the great Pete Off Of Horowitz, sees veteran popshow star and GTFC-supporting footy scribe Mr Green take further steps, including necessary sideswipes at the NME, towards deserved world domination. Also, highest placed single to feature a "Hair by" credit.

36. Kelman "Shut A Final Door" (Shifty Disco, download single)

One of their finest songs: invoking the blithe spirit of the Go-Betweens and then meandering beautifully to closure. One can't help feel it's the kind of song that Baptiste were always reaching out to get to, but that Wayne Gooderham had never quite touched. Until now.

37. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart / The Parallelograms split (Atomic Beat, 7")

"Taking off where the Fucking Rosehips left off (and given that the Fucking Rosehips had taken off where no less than the Rosehips themselves left off), 123G! is boundlessly amazing, the more so because, on the face of it, there's not much to it - a simple celebration of 1986 that namechecks as many bands of that era that scan or rhyme, whilst the guitars pay due deference to early Rosehips or the noisier Talulah outings. You might say it's unremarkable. But there's something about 123G! - just in the same way there is something in "Sweetness, I Could Die" - that transcends glib analysis and demands that we simply celebrate its effervescence."

Note that the two Parallelograms tunes from the 7", also including the lesser "Pop The Bubbles", joined top tunes "Orchard Square" and the Bubblegum Splash!-alike Cloudberry 504 cut "Without You" on a sadly now sold-out s/t Cloudberry 3" CDR...

38. Ikonika "Millie" (Hyperdub, 12")

Second 12" single of the year from Ikonika on Kode9's Hyperdub label, still prob most famous as the home of Burial. Strikes the right balance between (non-coffee table) calm and eerie innovation, making it our favourite instrumental dubstep tune of 2008. Which will no doubt thrill her.

39. Horowitz "Edition 59 EP" (Edition 59)

Three in the top 40, just like Beyonce at Christmas. 'Tis a mark of Horowitz's ascendancy towards cementing their 'English Tullycraft' status that even an EP of offcuts is consistently high-quality - "I Was the Son of a Teenage Comic Book Superhero's Sidekick" is the right lead track, as delectable as when it premiered in (unmastered) form on the International Lo-Fi Underground; then "Hug Target", last seen on their Filthy Little Angels 7", profits from a meatier makeover, a gleefully fuzzy re-recording; finally, "Eskimo", apparently their first ever recording, is a slowie that gleams with delicious echoes of the swoon-making "Veronica Made A Tape".

40. Hoodz Underground "Iron & Steel" / "Home Of Da Streets" (Trackshicker, 12")

"on the jauntier "Iron and Steel" [Hoodz] team with Ironbridge (the Essex MC, not the Shropshire town) for some Sheffield-Southend verbal jousting, while "Home of Da Streets" takes harder-hitting lyrics (the last couple of verses especially on-point re both youth violence and the continuing creep of the BNP) and smacks them with some top-end Harry Love production. Great stuff."

* * * * *

41. Electric Pop Group "Sunrise" (Matinee Recordings, CD-EP)

That sought-after #41 spot (if in doubt, check top label Caroline True's tongue-in-cheek take from last year...)

""I Could See The Lights" is the first number: like their track on the Matinee Hit Parade CD, "My Only Inspiration", it's an impassioned paean to a hug target, seemingly one met at a Magic Numbers gig, but despite those unpromising beginnings you can feel the love."

42. The Wedding Present "The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend" (Vibrant)

"Amongst the lighter and frothier tunes [on El Rey]... just as darling as "I'm From Further North Than You"".

Yes, all their (best) songs still sound the same. That's fine with us.

43. Strawberry Whiplash "Who's In Your Dreams ?" (Matinee Recordings, CD-EP)

"its fantastic fuzziness and singer Sandra's clipped vocal delivery make us think of another superlative Glaswegian single, Baby Lemonade's "Secret Goldfish"... "Who's In Your Dreams ?", just like "Goldfish", shambles. Not in an unrefined way, not in a bad way, certainly not in an "underproduced" way: it's just a happy, gargling stream of revivalist ba-ba-ba's, of gargantuan guitar melodies, of Bubblegum Splash-style thudding drum n' bass, which peaks with the marvellous conceit where they use the ba-ba-ba's, instead of the guitars, to do the melody in the break."

44. The Westfield Mining Disaster "Hank Williams Saved My Life" (Cloudberry, 7")

"grrreat, a slo-fi post-Tramway burn of insight, retrospection and perhaps a little latent Pastelism, that couples nicely with the similarly weighted semi-c&w B-side, "Six Months In Arrears"."

45. The Garlands "Why Did I Trust You" EP (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Sparkling Free Loan-ish pop A-side, tied with the winning "David" and an arguably successful "Freedom" cover. Atomic Beat single allegedly on way!

46. I, Ludicrous "Dirty Washing EP" (Old King Lud, CDEP)

"Lead tune, "Argument In The Launderette", is classic I Ludicrous: a simple keyboard motif, some busy drum machine and Will handing down pearls of wisdom as he recounts the etiquette of the launderette, without being able to resist rhyming those two words into the bargain... After snapshot profiles of Ruby Wax, Jeremy Kyle ("dirty washing makes good TV") and, to best effect, the constituent clubs of "The Highland League" (another winsome documentary tune in the mould of "Three English Football Grounds"), the EP winds down with the jangly "Finding Things Out About John", a kind of reflective, fireside Preposterous Tales, albeit two decades on, imbued with warm melancholy and not a little darkness ("He voted Tory at the last election", observes Will matter of factly, as John faintly protests: "you've got it all wrong")."

47. Malfoy "Pureblood" (Skimrok Project 1, 12")

Kinda cold, clinical d&b stylings from Malfoy, an iciness contrasting nicely with the warm if head-busting bass of Jaydan and Pleasure's various 2008 crowdpleasers.

48. KRS-1 and Eneeone "Radio" (Deranged Music, Inc)

Much as KRS is forever admired in these parts, we've learned not to get overexcited about his solo exploits for many years now (frustratingly, some of the stuff we've enjoyed of his has been comparatively random stuff like his work with Cercle Rouge or, this year, with Rockin' Squat), but it's always worth keeping tabs on him because he's a man capable of locking into an old-skool groove with rare ease, and this he does here. As subtle as you'd expect ("radio has one aim / pimp the community for financial gain"), this was a very welcome single.

NB: this is not the same Deranged who brought us Violent Arrest and that Siege comp, much as that would possibly make them the greatest label ever.

49. Robert Natus "Endless Sequence" (Inflicted Recordings, 12")

Properly claustrophobic pounding stuff, as good as this type of thing got this year.

50. The Hillfields "A Visit" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

"restrained yet rolling washes of able, discerning guitar pop, diluting any poppier tendencies with Jactars-ish tautness to create the mysterious, short-form indie of "A Visit" (again, we hear something of the Windmills in its appealing mix of darkness and buoyancy, the singer's warm, low voice) or the more chiming, sedate, perhaps even more beautiful composition "The Front Room". The EP needs just a chink of time to grow - but it's a mature, rewarding debut."

* * * * *

51. Jaydan "After Dark" (Propaganda, 12")

52. Twisterella / Leach Me Lemonade / Pop At Summer / Astrolab "Proud And Wild Forever (The Sound Of Young Java Vol.2)" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Even better than vol 1, with excellent tracks from Pop At Summer and Leach Me Lemonade in particular, the latter a step up from their contribution to the previous vol. Word to Cloudberry for persevering with these Indonesian pop samplers - if "international pop underground" is to mean anything, we need more of this kind of outreach...

53. Ohmega Watts (featuring Jneiro Janel and Shape of Broad Minds) "Eyes & Ears EP" (Ubiquity)

Suddenly, brightish NY MCs seem ten a penny, but the reality is that it's only recently we seem to have started spotting them.

54. Heist "Don't Understand" (Co-Lab, DL)

55. Boyracer / Que Possum split (555, 7")

"a five-tracker on 555 / Jelly Fant, this time played at 45, and split between the Racer and the infectious Que Possum. It's all good, obviously."

That's right: effectively a one-word singles review, that word being "good". Our English A-level not in vain, then.

56. DJ Pleasure "Wishmaster" (Lowdowndeep, 12")

57. Benga & Walsh v Darqwan "Addicts" / "Megatection" (Texture UK, 12")

58. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart "Come Saturday" b/w Summer Cats "Let's Go!" (Slumberland, Searching For The Now 4 7")

"as ever, the band manage to combine this sublime one-track fizzy guitar grogginess with lyrics that are more uplifting, deliberate and inspirational than they're often given credit for: "Come Saturday" positively rattles with the same conviction that saw them shake the foundations at the Betsey Trotwood and the Buffalo Bars..."

As we said later on in the year, "there's gonna be a pains of being pure at heart album, and it's gonna be major". The version of "Come Saturday" on that - with the bass and drums hoiked up in the mix - is quite, quite brilliant.

59. Arch Of Cinema / Leach Me Lemonade / Sunny Summer Day / Funny Little Dream "I Would Hurt You For The World" (The Sound Of Young Java Vol.1) (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Another one of these tres rewarding Indonesian pop samplers from the ever-diligent Cloudberry. Most of the tracks, including another spot for scene-leaders SSD, bring to mind C86, but we'd say that Arch of Cinema's "Shine On Stars", if anything, is more C81: it has a certain edge to it that lifts it to the top of this particular EP.

60. Zinc "Goblin" (Bingo, 12")

* * * * *

61. The Tartans "My Baby Doesn't Care For You" (Cloudberry, 7")

"fragile as hell, and you almost feel you could despatch the lot of them with no more than an idle Subbuteo flick... actually subverts our usual cynicism and desire for noise and velocity at all costs, and by the end of its 2 1/2 minutes (with a great dead stop ending) it's managed to wind us entirely around its little finger."

62. Yellowtail "Pressure Dem" (Raw Fusion)

Nicely bouncy ragga-esque stuff from Yellowtail, with Pinch collaborator Juakali doing the vocal honours. The Silverback remix starts off as a Maximum Minimum-type acid-tech groove before springing into life when Juakali gets to work.

63. Clipz "Ugly / Offline" (Audio Zoo, 12")

64. Secret Agent Gel featuring Warrior Queen "Body" (Low Motion, 12")

"some very deep, minimal New York grooves are offset by Jamaica via London's suddenly ubiquitous Warrior Queen."

65. Manhattan Love Suicides "Kessler Syndrome" (Squirrel Records, 7")

Given extra edge in our case by a gratifying warp on the A-side, a successful double-barrel melody-led guitar noise broadside from a band who got quite prolific with 7"s towards the year end. "Don't Leave Me Dying" on the flip justifies investigation, too.

66. G Dub "Forever (Original Sin V.I.P)" (Ganja Records, 12")

A strange one this - fallow for long periods, but then breaking into occasional rushes of freewheeling d'n'b genius.

67. Mutated Forms "Las Vegas" (Advisory, 12")

68. Supernatural "Altitude" (Coalmine Records, digi 12")

Good to see him back. "Altitude" and in particular "1-2 Punch" show that the Brooklyn vet (incidentally, like KRS-1, another past collaborator with French 'ip-'opper Rockin' Squat) is still on his game.

69. Twig "Wentworth" / "Ciao Ciao Baby" (Cloudberry, 7")

While something about their Plastilina album just didn't quite... connect (for us), this was a cracking single, one of many this year on what's already developing into a first division 7" label.

70. Obituary "Left to Die EP" (Candlelight, CD single)

Would be just another 'tour EP' (usually no more than a euphemism for three or four LP out-takes you wouldn't otherwise buy) if it wasn't for the mighty fine lead track, "Forces Realign".

* * * * *

71. Manhattan Love Suicides "Veronica" (Squirrel Records, 7")

A little more subdued than other recent MLS singles, we still preferred "Veronica" to the more indulgent "The 10th Victim" on the other side.

72. Ruff Sqwad "Man Dem" (No Hat No Hoods, 12")

One of many high-end 12"s this yr from the fledgling No Hat, No Hoods imprint, and one of Ruff Sqwad's more potent showtunes.

73. P Brothers featuring Boss Money / Ress Connected "New Religion" / "Shoot 'Em Down" (Heavy Bronx, 12")

"the brothers' new single teams up more New Yorkers - crews rather than MCs - in the shape of New Rochelle's Ress Connected and South Bronx duo Boss Money. Ress is best, on this occasion - "Shoot 'Em Down" boasting a slightly more elephantine hook - but both sides bring a welcome injection of East Coast street menace (well, we've missed it) to our current listening, given that most NYHH fell-off big time once the bling took over. Be warned though: there are a few moments, as always, when the MCs' flow is almost crushed by the brothers' typically drum-heavy, take no prisoners production."

74. Lauren Mason "Haterade" (Perpetuity)

"it's marketed vaguely as grime, and her voice obviously has that r&b feel that worked so well on "p.s." and "just wanna be me", but really this is great POP, at least as serviceable as, and with much more charm than, the seemingly uncriticisable girls aloud or sugababes. when she sings "i'm only 22... this is my prime time / i didn't know that to look sharp and feel good was a big crime" she properly smacks it to the grumpy oldsters like us she's getting at."

75. Vex'd "3rd Choice" (Planet Mu, 12")

"London's self-proclaimed proponents of "emotronica", Vex'd, whose new single on Planet Mu... is a happy concatentation of dubstep gurgles and splutters that for once outdoes a Loefah remix on the flip."

76. DJ Pleasure "Killing Curse" / "New York City" (Calypso, 12")

77. MJ Hibbett "Do The Indie Kid" (EmuBands, DL)

Remember fun ? This is clattering, hyper-enjoyable back-to-the-future jangle from the Hibster. We have a more than nagging feeling that this is kind of what indie music should *actually* sound like.

78. Bearsuit "Pushover" (Fantastic Plastic, DL)

Surprisingly mundane (for them!) A-side is made up for by "Robot Arms" on the B, which contains far more of the Bearsuit trademark stopping, starting and shouting.

79. DJ Pleasure "In The Dark" / "The Cube" (Calypso, 12")

80. 77Klash "Code For The Streets" (Klash City)

"Even without the grimey dancefloor stylings provided by the brothers Shadetek, "Mad Again" and "Yes Shotta" are pretty intense rhyme & reggae fusion, as 77K lays down the law with no little refinement. And "Code for The Streets" - no relation to fellow New Yorkers Gang Starr's classic "Code of the Streets" - even has some Clash-like shouty bits, as 77Klash rides an electronic pulse into the NYC sunset."

* * * * *

81. The Bug featuring Tippa Irie / Flowdan "Angry" / "Ganja" (Ninja Tune)

"Tippa is at his tuffest, showing off in particular with some speed-toasting at around 2'10, as he rails against deserving, if predictable targets like climate-ruiners and US of A foreign policy. The B-side sees the Bug invite Flowdan and Killa P back to his (yep, again) for an appropriately dark, paranoid number called "Ganja" - normally ganja is the most boring subject conceivable for a song (apart from maybe er, anything to do with relationships), but on this occasion we get 3 3/4 minutes of marvellous, nervy, urban noir which suits all the parties just perfectly."

82. Ghetto "Mountain" (white label, 12")

One of the highlights of "Freedom of Speech" sees Ghetto railing effectively at grime's enemies within.

83. The Doubtful Guest "Remixes" (Planet Mu, 12")

84. DPF "What Can I Say" (Son Records)

Smart, funny and sharp multi-syllabic rhyming from Norfolk's tongue-in-cheek DPF, who in the past I think we've accused of being from Nottingham (probably because everyone else on Son tends to be...)

85. Japan Air "Claire" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Very promising EP from Sweden's Japan Air, with both "Claire" and "Stars" jangling high in the firmament in classic Cloudberry style. Let down only by the refusal to decorate the sweet jangle of "September" with any words.

86. The Arc Lamps "Wave of Sound EP" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Pleasingly placing one notch higher than one of the artists it evokes. A clever, well-constructed, bookish, charming EP that evokes the true London just as well as Burial and his cohorts, but will never get proper acclaim for it...

87. Morrissey "All You Need Is Me" (Decca)

Like Ice Cube, Mozza seems to have settled into a pattern of records largely about how wonderful he is, but he's often right.

88. Buju Banton Presents "Golden Tree EP" (Gargamel Music)

"of the various spins of buju's golden tree riddim on his new ep, "you ago happen" just about wins out for us over the collaborations with delly ranks and new kids: it's not as expansive as, but feels much more winningly contemporary than, "cowboys"."

Yep, 3 takes on the Golden Tree riddim here, all of which we'd be happy to wheel out at the local disco. "Stamina" is our favourite at the moment, much as we suspect it's not just about the ability to stay on the treadmill for more than 20 minutes.

89. Heist "Sleep In Ya Eyes" / "Spiders Ville" (Frontline, 12")

90. The Ladybug Transistor "Can't Wait Another Day" (Fortuna Pop!)

"taken in isolation, it's much easier to appreciate its cascading, luxurious, softly tumbling flow, at least before that controversial sax solo (to our minds, any sax solo is controversial: only Orange Juice have ever got away with it, and that was probably because for a time Orange Juice could get away with anything)."

* * * * *

91. Postal Blue "Laughing and Crying" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

"the boys from brazil are er, BACK and the news on this tune ["You Should Keep It To Yourself"] is that they've gone kinda blueboy circa "imipramine". fair play to them, really: in our view it's a change in direction which suits them to a tee."

92. DJ Pleasure "Black Magic" / "The Grinder" (K Power, 12")

93. Buju Banton "Cowboys" (Gargamel Music)

94. Peverelist "Infinity Is Now" / "Junktion" (Tectonic, 12")

""Junktion" on the AA is really well crafted - gently warped keyboard and crackle eventually joined by a roving pulse of bass. An unexpected bonus is that if you are malcoordinated enough to accidentally play it at 33 revs, it still sounds pretty good, the keyboard turning to piano, giving you 11 minutes' worth of blissed-out, lazy sprawl."

Part of the new wave of Bristol dubstep, of course.

95. Sven Wittekind "Never Forget" (Sven Wittekind Records, 12")

Smashing single that manages to mix swooshing electronics with old-school pounding techno...

96. Lögnhalsmottagningen "Oron Nasa" (Slumberland / 555 / Yellow Mica / Promenade 7")

"Anyway, proof that punk does exist and - fans of the Exploited will be delighted to hear - is not dead, is provided by a new 7" from Lognhalsmottagningen, the bastard hardcore child of men who've recorded on both Sarah and Cloudberry, which makes a nice double. "Oron Nasa" is on four labels (Yellow Mica, 555, Promenade and Slumberland), has an authentic crust-punk sleeve and contains seven amazing tracks, sung in Swedish, that start with the raw magic of Riot City bands or even Bullshit Detector compilations but can't help but weave in Boyracer-ish energy and even some guitar melody."

97. The Olive Shoots "The Lazy Rest" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Expansive post-Sarah Scando semi-shoegaze. B-side gets prostitution into a Cloudberry song title for the first time, which is good.

98. Morgan Heritage and Busy Signal "Run Dem Weh" (Juke Boxx)

"busy's "tic-toc" didn't really chime for us (ha), but when he teams up with the more consistent heritage ppl the result is this excellent download. ever questioning ("how can you expect the population / to sit back kick back and just relax ?"), it neatly marries roots reggae riddims with up-to-the-now dub inflections."

99. Shackleton "El Din (Part One)" (Mordant Music, 10")

Another from the NWOBD!

100. Lovingly Yours "Signed Lovingly Yours" (Cloudberry, 3" CDR)

Another sweet single from the label of the yr (again), particularly where the Stockholmers stick to their own language. As more bands should.

* * * * *

Bubbling under: the Insect Warfare / Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation split, Bubblegum Lemonade, Repugnant Inebriation, Blak Twang, P Money, the Sunny Street, Dirty Commodity, the Andersen Tapes, yet more Jaydan, Badawi vs. Kode 9 / Juakali, Prodigy (Mobb Deep), the Fantasy Lights, Boxcutter, Ikonika again, Sotatila, Liechtenstein, Mai 68s, Capleton, Arthur & Martha, Fucked Up (I think we're allowed to say they've recorded - just - the definitive version of "Anorak City"), Soundclash and Zero G, Faction and Modified Motion, Mutated Forms again, Killa Hurt,the Danny Says, Wiley (but of course), Warrior Queen, D1, Burning Spear, MC Lyte, MJ Hibbett's Christmas single, Tes La Rok, Skream, DJ Boss / Bas Mooy, Estelle, Dusk & Blackdown featuring Trim, Counterstrike, Bashy, the Wedding Present again, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, the Firekites, Roots Manuva, Funny Little Dream, lots more Zinc, Go Hiyama, Sven Wittekind, Captain Polaroid, Gunjack, Minisnap, Kode 9 vs LD, Hayman Watkins Trout & Lee, Iowa Super Soccer, K-The-I ???, Kelman again, Kode9 and the Spaceape, Krischmann & Klingenberg, The Research, Meat Beat Manifesto, Moldy featuring Juakali, DJ Ogi, Elephant Man, Morrissey ("That's How People..."), Clipz, Cluekid, Noah D, Busy Signal, Babylon System, Nuclear Death Terror, the Flower Beds, Pinch, Robert Natus again, Kurupt, Roughcut, St Christopher, Vincent De Wit, the Scaremongers, Skillz, Slow Down Tallahassee, the Felt Tips, Sparky's Magic Piano, Summer Cats, the Hour Hands, Sutura, Danielle, Sway, Taxman, the Give It Ups, Kano, Karl Cullen, Tinie Tempah, various "various artists", Sticky Fingaz, Visionary, a couple of Original Sin, a few Paul Mac, Ben Long, Zomby, Slipknot (only one of them!), Catalysts, Coki, Benga & Coki, Boy Genius, Roll Deep, Cooh, the Bridal Shop, DAVE the Drummer and Tube Tech, Dub Tao, Bricolage, Social Services, Dying Punks, 10Shott, Envy, Saxon... and many many more. Told you it was a good year.

Anyway. We need a lie down. So "this is where we exit".