Moby – Innocents

It’s tempting to wonder if Moby might have lost his way a little bit recently. The highlights on his last album Destroyed were relatively few and far between, and on Innocents they are pretty much non-existent. It’s almost upsetting that the same person who brought us the perfect Play could churn out something of this quality.

But Innocents starts off promisingly enough with the weird stylings of Everything That Rises, growing gradually into a traditional Moby piece, with enormous swelling strings. It’s nice – probably the best track on the album actually – but somewhat lacking in substance when compared to some of his earlier works.

Much of this album consists of downplayed collaborations, and so it is with the second track A Case for Shame, with Cold Specks on vocals. The instrumentation will again be very familiar to regular Moby listeners, but the lyrics and vocal delivery are very different, and that is definitely to its credit. It’s deep, wholesome, soulful, and unfortunately not very catchy or memorable at all.

Almost Home, the collaboration with Damien Jurado is more memorable, but unfortunately the mournful quality which I think they were trying to achieve comes across more as a bit of a listless drone. The instrumental Going Wrong is nice, but to me it sounds like the kind of thing that Moby might have hidden away on a bonus disc in earlier times, rather than giving it pride of place on the album.

The Perfect Life starts off with a promising piano chord, and even the gospel vocals don’t spoil it. Wayne Coyne may not be the best vocalist ever, but he does a decent job on this track, and it’s certainly the liveliest moment on this side of the album, making it something of a standout.

Things are definitely looking up by the middle of the album – Skylar Grey‘s performance on The Last Day is really rather good, and while the song may not entirely be exceptional, it is pretty good. And the same is true of Don’t Love Me with Inyang Bassey. There’s still something missing – somehow it still feels as though you aren’t listening to the best music ever recorded, but it’s a lot better than it was a few tracks earlier.

The largely instrumental A Long Time and Saints are good too. Not great, but definitely good. But by Tell Me, with vocals from Cold Specks again, your attention will likely be starting to drift, and The Lonely Night, with a slightly absurd vocal from Mark Lanegan does relatively little to help. Finally, the last ten minutes of this release are dedicated to a solo Moby song called The Dogs, and finally Innocents reaches its overdue but underplayed ending.

Ultimately the best tracks on this album are actually on the bonus disc Everyone is Gone, and the album, in trying to be all dark and meaningful, somehow falls rather flat. This is the kind of release where you could listen to it a dozen times and still have absolutely no memory of any of the individual songs. And that’s a real shame.

You can find Innocents at all major retailers, but the good tracks are all on the bonus disc of the deluxe edition, which at the time of writing is still available here.

Chart for stowaways – 5 April 2014

Here are this week’s top ten singles:

  1. Moby feat. Wayne Coyne – The Perfect Life
  2. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Running to the Sea
  3. The Human League – The Things That Dreams are Made of (Remixes)
  4. Moby feat. Cold Specks – A Case for Shame
  5. Jean Michel Jarre – Vintage
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Leaving
  7. Depeche Mode – Peace
  8. B.E.F. – Party Fears Two
  9. Moby feat. Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night
  10. B.E.F. – Don’t Want to Know

Chart for stowaways – 22 March 2014

Here are the next batch of singles:

  1. Moby with Wayne Coyne – The Perfect Life
  2. Röyksopp feat. Susanne Sundfør – Running to the Sea
  3. Moby with Cold Specks – A Case for Shame
  4. Moby with Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night
  5. The Presets – Ghosts
  6. B.E.F. – Party Fears Two
  7. Depeche Mode – I Feel Loved
  8. Depeche Mode – Peace
  9. Alphabeat – Boyfriend
  10. Groove Armada – History

Mercury Music Prize 2004-2006

By 2006, speculation seemed to be mounting that somehow winning the prize was a curse, meaning you would never do anything meaningful again. Which, if you look back through the list of winners, may not be a million miles away from the truth. But then, how many artists release more than one exceptional album?

Nationwide Mercury Prize 2004

The 2004 ceremony took place on 7th September.

Nominees:

  • Basement Jaxx – Kish Kash
  • Belle and Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress
  • Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
  • Jamelia – Thank You
  • Keane – Hopes and Fears
  • Snow Patrol – Final Straw
  • Joss Stone – The Soul Sessions
  • The Streets – A Grand Don’t Come for Free
  • Ty – Upwards
  • Amy Winehouse – Frank
  • Robert Wyatt – Cuckooland
  • The Zutons – Who Killed… The Zutons?

Winner: Franz Ferdinand

Nationwide Mercury Prize 2005

The first week in September always saw the Mercury Prize ceremony during this period, and this year’s was on 6th September 2005

Nominees:

  • Antony and the Johnsons – I Am a Bird Now
  • Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
  • Coldplay – X&Y
  • Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV
  • Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
  • KT Tunstall – Eye to the Telescope
  • M.I.A. – Arular
  • Maxïmo Park – A Certain Trigger
  • Polar Bear – Held on the Tips of Fingers
  • Seth Lakeman – Kitty Jay
  • The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning, Strike
  • The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers

Winner: Antony and the Johnsons

Nationwide Mercury Prize 2006

The award ceremony took place on 5th September 2006

Nominees:

  • Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not
  • Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Ballad of the Broken Seas
  • Editors – The Back Room
  • Guillemots – Through the Windowpane
  • Richard Hawley – Coles Corner
  • Hot Chip – The Warning
  • Muse – Black Holes and Revelations
  • Zoë Rahman – Melting Pot
  • Lou Rhodes – Beloved One
  • Scritti Politti – White Bread Black Beer
  • Sway – This is My Demo
  • Thom Yorke – Eraser

Winner: Arctic Monkeys

Further information

Record Store Day 2013

There’s something rather exciting about Record Store Day – loads of your favourite bands start throwing out obscure releases on bizarre formats. Not downloads, but real, tangible formats.

There’s also something rather disappointing about the whole thing. Of all of the releases I’ve heard about and wanted on Record Store Day, I’ve never actually seen a single one of them. Partly because I’ve always been out of the country every year so far, but partly also because I have a sneaking suspicion that what happens is that it’s actually a day for private dealers and too-keen collectors to swamp record shops and buy all the good stuff out. Anything worth having will be up on eBay within the day. Which seems to slightly defeat the object to me.

In fact, the only release from previous years that I remember having seen is the cassette version of Goldfrapp‘s last album Head First – which is a brilliant idea, but the knowledge that I’d never actually listen to it was what stopped me from buying it at that point.

Anyway, this year’s Record Store Day is this Saturday, and I’m actually going to be in the UK this time, so we’ll see if I can keep hold of my wallet while it happens. Here are some of the highlights of the releases that I spotted:

  • Bent – From the Vaults 1998-2007 (unknown format, 500 copies)
  • Booka Shade – Black Out: White Noise EP (12″)
  • David Bowie – Drive-In Saturday Night (7″ picture disc, 3000 copies), The Stars Are Out Tonight (7″ white vinyl, 5000 copies) and 1965 (7″)
  • Calexico – Spiritoso (LP, 2200 copies)
  • CaribouStart Breaking My Heart (LP), Up in Flames (LP) and The Milk of Human Kindness (LP)
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Animal X (7″ picture disc, 2500 copies)
  • Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love (12″, 4000 copies)
  • Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know? (7″)
  • Brian EnoNicholas Jaar x Grizzly Bear (10″, 2000 copies)
  • Frankie Goes to HollywoodThe Eye Has It (7″ shaped picture disc)
  • Garbage – Because the Night (10″, 5000 copies)
  • The Human League – Don’t You Want Me (12″)
  • Inspiral Carpets – Fix Your Smile (7″)
  • Junior Boys – Even Truer Remix EP (12″, 400 copies, “regional”)
  • MGMT – Alien Days (cassette single, 2000 copies)
  • Moby feat. Mark Lanegan – The Lonely Night (7″)
  • Mike Oldfield – Theme from Tubular Bells (7″)
  • Pink Floyd – See Emily Play (7″, 5000 copies)
  • Röyksopp – Ice Machine (10″)
  • Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun (12″, 982 copies, “regional”) and Hvarf / Heim (double LP)
  • The XX – Jamie XX Edits (12″, 1600 copies)
  • Various Artists – Astralwerks 20/20 (seven 7″ box set, including rare and unreleased tracks by KraftwerkAirThe Chemical Brothers and others, 100 copies, “regional”)
  • Various Artists – Factory Records – Communications 1978-1992 (10″ or 12″ including tracks by Joy DivisionNew OrderDurutti Column and Happy Mondays, 1000 copies)
  • Various Artists – Music from the Motion Picture Drive (LP picture disc of the excellent album with tracks by Kavinsky and Cliff Martinez, 1000 copies, US only)

Which should be more than enough to keep you busy. I’ve no idea what “regional” means. Thanks to the New Vinyl blog for helping with information about the releases. The full list is here for the USA and here for the UK.