Retro chart for stowaways – 28 April 2012

Just a couple of months before this blog launched, Gotye had just grabbed his first hit, entering at number 8 with Somebody That I Used to Know, and the album chart looked like this:

  1. Shit Robot – From the Cradle to the Rave
  2. Vince Clarke – Deeptronica
  3. Family Fantastic – Nice!
  4. Computer Magic – Kitsuné: Orion – EP
  5. VCMG – Ssss
  6. Gotye – Making Mirrors
  7. Various Artists – Electroclash
  8. Keep Shelly in Athens – Our Own Dream – EP
  9. Keep Shelly in Athens – In Love with Dusk – EP
  10. 808 State – Web Build

The Stowaway Awards 2014

Around this time of year, most people go off and enjoy themselves with a nice little awards ceremony. And since everyone else is enjoying it, why can’t we? Here are The Stowaway Awards 2014.

Best Track

  • Little Boots – All for You

I’m sure you caught the countdown over Christmas.

Best Album

  • Pet Shop Boys – Electric

By far the best album of the last year from a legendary electronic duo. The full list of nominees is here.

Best Reissue / Compilation

  • Röyksopp / Various Artists – Late Night Tales

Congratulations to another of the best albums of 2013! The full list of nominees is here.

Best Remix

  • Depeche Mode – Should Be Higher (MAPS Remix)

Depeche Mode have a good track record in this category, having won previously for Enjoy the Silence in 2005 and Personal Jesus in 2012. The full list of nominees is here.

Best Video

  • Pet Shop Boys feat. Example – Thursday

Filmed in Shanghai, the excellent video to Thursday brings Pet Shop Boys their first award for Best Video since Numb in 2007. The full list of nominees is here.

Best Newcomer

  • Phildel

After Gotye‘s win last year, Phildel grab this year’s award. The full list of nominees is here.

Best Artist

  • Pet Shop Boys

Previous winners in 1988, 1989, and 1994. The Presets walked away with the award last year, joining other recent winners The Human League, William Orbit, and I Monster.

Best Live Act

  • Kraftwerk

You can read my review of their show here.

Best Dance Act / Remixer

  • Maps

Recent winners include VCMG, Ladytron, Röyksopp, and Tiga.

Outstanding Contribution

  • Goldfrapp

There was a lot of competition for this award this year, but the judging panel felt that after a decade and a half of albums, it was time to reward Goldfrapp for their services to electronic music.

The Stowaway Awards 2013

Everyone else was having fun with their awards, so here are mine. I bring you The Stowaway Awards, 2013.

Best Track

  • Soulsavers “Longest Day”

We counted these down over Christmas, and Soulsavers came out on top, with more than a little help from Dave Gahan.

Best Album

  • Saint Etienne “Words and Music by Saint Etienne”

You can see the full list of nominees here, and it was a pretty close run thing. But on balance, I decided that Saint Etienne‘s comeback was so exceptional that it had to take the top spot.

Best Reissue / Compilation

  • I Monster “Rare”

A brilliant compilation of missing bits and bobs from their album Neveroddoreven.

Best Video

  • Sébastien Tellier “Pépito Bleu”

There were some excellent videos floating around last year, but this one was truly wonderful. Watch it here.

Best Newcomer

  • Gotye

Gotye seemed to explode out of nowhere in late 2011 / early 2012, and did so with a very good album indeed. Nominees here.

Best Artist

  • The Presets

Pacifico and Ghosts were so excellent that I felt this was well deserved. List of nominees here.

Best Live Act

  • Madness

A very rare comeback indeed, and a rather brilliant live performance. The nominees are also here.

Best Remix

  • Ladyhawke “Blue Eyes” (Ron Flieger Remix)

This category becomes less competitive by the year, as I listen to fewer and fewer remixes. But this was a well deserved win for another great Ladyhawke track. Nominees there again.

Best Dance Act / Remixer

  • VCMG

I’m not sure anyone expected this electro project from Vince Clarke and Martin L. Gore out of Depeche Mode, but it worked out pretty well.

Outstanding Contribution

  • Sparks

With a forty year music career behind them and still going strong, it’s about time the Mael brothers were honoured with one of these.

The BRIT Awards 2013

We looked at the nominations in detail a few weeks ago, and now the winners are in!

British Male Solo Artist

Presented by Ed Sheeran. Nominees:

  • Ben Howard
  • Calvin Harris
  • Olly Murs
  • Richard Hawley
  • Plan B

Winner: Ben Howard. Whoever he is.

British Breakthrough Act

Presented by Nick Grimshaw.

  • Alt-J
  • Ben Howard
  • Jake Bugg
  • Jessie Ware
  • Rita Ora

Winner: Ben Howard. Whoever he is.

British Female Solo Artist

Presented by Taylor Swift. Nominees:

  • Amy Winehouse
  • Bat for Lashes
  • Emeli Sandé
  • Jessie Ware
  • Paloma Faith

Winner: Emeli Sandé

British Group

Presented by Simon Pegg and someone called Bérénice Mariohe. Nominees:

  • Alt-J
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Muse
  • One Direction
  • The XX

Winner: Mumford and Sons

British Live Act

It’s back! Presented by Louis Smith and Jack Whitehall. Nominees:

  • Coldplay
  • Mumford and Sons
  • Rolling Stones
  • The Vaccines
  • Muse

Winner: Coldplay

International Female Solo Artist

Presented by Dermot O’Leary and Sharon Osbourne. Nominees:

  • Alicia Keys
  • Cat Power
  • Lana del Rey
  • Rihanna
  • Taylor Swift

Winner: Lana del Rey

International Group

Presented by Dave Grohl. Nominees:

  • Alabama Shakes
  • The Black Keys
  • Fun.
  • The Killers
  • The Script

Winner: The Black Keys

British Producer of the Year

A secret award, because producers shouldn’t be allowed out in front of the general public. Nominees:

  • Damon Albarn
  • Paul Epworth
  • Jake Gosling

Winner: Paul Epworth

BRITs Global Success

Presented by Robbie Williams. Nominees:

  • Mumford and Sons
  • Adele
  • One Direction

Winner: One Direction

MasterCard British Album of the Year

Presented by Bryan Ferry. Nominees:

  • Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
  • Emeli Sandé – Our Version of Events
  • Mumford and Sons – Babel
  • Paloma Faith – Fall from Grace
  • Plan B – Ill Manors

Winner: Emeli Sandé

International Male Solo Artist

Presented by Jourdan Dunn and Rafe Spall. Nominees:

  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Gotye
  • Jack White
  • Frank Ocean
  • Michael Bublé

Winner: Frank Ocean

British Single of the Year

Presented by Tom Daley and Jonathan Ross. Nominees:

  • Adele – Skyfall
  • Alex Clare – Too Close
  • Coldplay and Rihanna – Princess of China
  • Rita Ora / DJ Fresh – Hot Right Now
  • Emeli Sandé – Next to Me
  • Florence + The Machine – Spectrum
  • Jessie J – Domino
  • Labirinth feat. Emeli Sandé – Beneath Your Beautiful
  • Olly Murs – Troublemaker
  • Rita Ora – RIP
  • Rizzle Kicks – Mama Do the Hump
  • Robbie Williams – Candy
  • Rudimental – Feel the Love
  • Stooshe – Black Heart
  • James Arthur – Impossible

Winner: Adele

Critics’ Choice

Nominees:

  • Tom Odell
  • AlunaGeorge
  • Laura Mvula

Winner: Tom Odell

Special Recognition Award

Winner: War Child

Performers

  • Muse – “Supremacy”
  • Robbie Williams – Candy
  • Justin Timberlake – Mirrors
  • One Direction – One Way of Another (Teenage Kicks)
  • Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble
  • Ben Howard – Only Love
  • Emeli Sandé – Clown / Next to Me
  • Mumford and Sons – I Will Wait

Being out of the country I haven’t had a chance to actually watch it yet, but I hope you enjoyed it!

The Grammys 2013

It happened last week and we’re in the middle of Awards Week, but now seems as good a time as any to have a quick shuffle through one of the longest award ceremonies on the planet, the Grammys.

To be honest with you, I started listing all the categories out like what I normally do, but I was bored out of my skull within a few minutes, as will you be if you go to this page and read it in full. But instead, here are some highlights from my point of view…

With 81 different awards altogether you have to wonder slightly why they nominated the same people for every award.

Kelly Clarkson was clearly the darling of the awards this year, having been nominated for every award going, but didn’t do too well, while someone called Fun. (with the dot) got nominated for a whole pile of stuff including Record of the YearAlbum of the YearBest New ArtistBest Pop Duo / Group Performance, and Some Other Award for Turning Up.

Carly Rae Jepsen impressively pulled in a whole pile of nominations despite being pretty rubbish all round. The Black Keys were nominated for Album of the Year and some other bits but failed all round. The Chemical Brothers got a nomination for Best Dance / Electronica Album but lost out to Skrillex.

M83 and Björk managed nominations for Best Alternative Music Album but lost out to Gotye, who also won Record of the YearBest Pop Duo / Group Performance,

John Williams got a nomination for The Adventures of Tintin – The Secret of the Unicorn in the Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category, but lost out to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (rubbish American remake).

Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical (because of course those classical remixes need their own category) was noteworthy as Eric Prydz‘s Private Remix of Midnight City by M83 battled against Lie Down in Darkness by Moby remixed by Photek, but neither won.

Bla bla country music, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) Best Improvised Jazz SoloMost Tenuous Award Category, Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, and finally it was over. And I pity the fool who sat through the whole ceremony. Fortunately, that’s it for another year.

Laneway Festival 2013, Singapore

A nice surprise just a couple of weeks after arriving in South-East Asia was the arrival of the Laneway Festival last weekend in Singapore. Since practically everybody I asked seemed to be going along, and since the lineup was pretty strong, it seemed rude not to join them. The audience was largely non-Singaporean and largely the kind of people who are a bit too cool for pop, but it made for a great day out in the heat of the almost equatorial January sun.

Frustratingly the slightly shambolic queue for ticket collection left me unable to catch most of the wonderful Kings of Convenience, although the strength of their closer I’d Rather Dance with You was still notable compared to some of the bands who would follow. Another definite highlight was seeing Erlend Øye turn up at the end of the night dancing like a maniac to Gotye, but I’d really have liked to be able to say more about how good their performance was.

Minnesota’s Polica followed with an excellent set of tracks which I’m only unable to recommend since I’d never heard any of them before. Their debut album is out already and definitely seemed worth checking out, with shades of Portishead or Goldfrapp.

The slightly strange order and selection of the lineup reared its ugly head very early on as Cloud Nothings turned up and were absolutely and inconceivably dreadful. The punk / metal band screamed their way through an awful 45 minutes or so, although it’s difficult to know whether they could actually tell, given how poor their drummer seems to be at keeping time.

This seemed a good time to go and investigate what else the festival had to offer, but sadly the merchandise stall was a pretty paltry offering, and the drinks were pricey. Most disappointing was the decision to only stock Fiji water at S$5 for a tiny bottle, complete with a rather insulting message on the label about how sustainable the water was. Because of course shipping tiny bottles of water seven hours across the ocean and selling them at exorbitant prices is much better for the environment than providing, say for argument, a tap.

Fortunately Divine Fits turned up to prevent the mid-afternoon heat from making things any worse. Pleasant enough, the three-piece indie supergroup (apparently, anyway – nobody I asked seemed to have heard of any of them) worked their way through the set before passing the baton over to the much better Of Monsters and Men. Typically Icelandic (I.e. slightly bonkers) and oddly named, they were a wonderful antidote to the sun and some of the dross and dullness which had preceded them.

Japandroids, on the other hand, were a bit of a disappointment. Someone asked me beforehand whether I thought they might sing in Japanese, but sadly they turned out to be neither Japanese nor as electro as their name appeared to suggest. So another set of dull “alternative rock” followed.

The day was growing late and it had already struck most people that the set order was odd in the extreme. Removing Cloud Nothings would have been a good start, but even the bands who were there should really have been reshuffled into a more sensible order. Kings of Convenience may have seemed a nice chilled out opener, but as the most accomplished act on the bill, they really should have had higher billing, and the headline act was, as we shall see, perhaps not the best choice.

The act who followed was a pleasant surprise. Nicholas Jaar turns out to be an excellent chillout dance act with some excellent moments in his set, although sadly by this stage the sunburn and the hours spent out in the sun were starting to get to me, so I ended up sleeping through a good chunk of Kimbra‘s set. What I did see was unfortunately pretty dull. Having turned up as Cinderella, she proceeded to play tracks that largely sounded like Gwen Stefani but rockier, and sadly that’s about all there was to say.

As the sun went down behind Marina Bay Sands, Real Estate turned up with a set that was generally strong but fairly forgettable. British media favourites Alt-J followed, good and consistently interesting, but also a little underwhelming. Having walked off after a couple of minutes due to sound problems, they finally returned to finish their set, but I wonder if perhaps the audience needed something a little stronger at this point.

Fortunately, we got it. The big surprise for me was Yeasayer, whom I think I’d managed not to come across previously, and who were truly exceptional. Catchy experimental hit followed hit, and you’ll be either pleased or disappointed to hear that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them from the safety of this blog in the future.

Bat for Lashes was up next, and followed in style with another excellent set, although much of the audience showed their colour by remaining seated for her and then crowding en masse to the stage for the subsequent act Tame Impala.

As an act who had clearly listened to rather more Status Quo in their time than is really healthy, they were, for the most part, fairly dull, but they clearly knew what they were doing for all of that. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards was a particular highlight.

Whether because of the late night shutdown of the city’s Metro system or because people thought they were a bit too cool for the decidedly mainstream headliner who followed, it was really disappointing to see large parts of the crowd exiting at this point, leaving Gotye with slightly post-apocalyptic fields of litter for much of his audience. Perhaps choosing a headliner who had more than one hit to his name outside of Belgium and Australia might have helped.

But Gotye was, of course, excellent. Rippling with humour, great videos, a plethora of different instruments, and a huge array of great songs, it was never going to be anything else. And having long since learnt the lesson of getting his tracks in the right order, Somebody That I Used to Know was among the last. All told, his set was definitely the best of the lot, and he was entirely justified as the headliner – it’s just a shame that the crowd didn’t agree.

To my amusement, what followed was an excellent piece of organised chaos, as the crowds surged out of the site to find that all the public transport had shut down. The entire shopping centre at the Marina was suddenly filled with slightly lost music fans entering from all directions, and none of them entirely sure where they were going. Alongside them, we pushed out into the streets of Singapore and gradually dispersed into the night.

All told, Laneway was an excellent little one-day festival. It was a long day, and a hot one, with generally a good variety of bands, even if they were in an odd order. The decision to charge such high prices for drinks in such a dangerously sunny environment was a shame, but so was the rather unnecessary confiscation of umbrellas at the entrance. But those are quibbles which can easily be fixed. The music was the main thing, and I’m happy to say I discovered some great bands there, even if I was characteristically late to the party with a couple of them…

After Singapore St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival was already in Auckland on Monday, and continues around Australia over the next couple of weeks, visiting Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne this weekend, and then Adelaide and Perth the following week.

Albums chart of the year 2012 for stowaways

A very competitive top 20 here:

  1. Saint Etienne – Words and Music by Saint Etienne
  2. Pet Shop Boys – Elysium
  3. Shit Robot – From the Cradle to the Rave
  4. Soulsavers – The Light the Dead See
  5. Hot Chip – In Our Heads
  6. Air – Le Voyage dans la Lune
  7. Sébastien Tellier – My God is Blue
  8. Gotye – Making Mirrors
  9. Jean Michel Jarre – Essentials & Rarities
  10. Saint Etienne – Tiger Bay
  11. Delerium – Music Box Opera
  12. Apollo 440 – The Future’s What It Used to Be
  13. Erasure – Tomorrow’s World
  14. Ladytron – Gravity the Seducer
  15. Vince Clarke – Deeptronica
  16. Metroland – Mind the Gap
  17. VCMG – Ssss
  18. Saint Etienne – Tales from Turnpike House
  19. Sébastien Tellier – Sexuality
  20. The All Seeing I – Pickled Eggs & Sherbet

For the sake of clarity, I’ve excluded compilations, but if they’d been included on here, Electrospective would have snuck into the top 10, and Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) would have been just off the chart.