Retro chart for stowaways – 29 November 2014

For the first time ever, here’s a retro chart from the lifespan of this blog, never published before. Here are the albums from just three years ago this week:

  1. Röyksopp – The Inevitable End
  2. Erasure – The Violet Flame
  3. David Bowie – Nothing Has Changed
  4. Sparks – In Outer Space
  5. Goldfrapp – Tales of Us
  6. David Bowie – Reality
  7. New Order – Waiting for the Sirens’ Call
  8. Röyksopp & Robyn – Do It Again
  9. William Orbit – Strange Cargo 5
  10. The Human League – Dare


Röyksopp – The Inevitable End

Hot on the heels of the collaborative mini-album with Robyn, Do it Again, Röyksopp quickly reappeared with what they described as their last album “in this format”, The Inevitable End. Time will tell what they actually mean by that, but one can only guess that they were starting to find the two years off, two years on pattern of modern music somewhat stifling creatively. Hopefully they’ll come up with something else, rather than just disappear into obscurity, as others have before them.

But The Inevitable End is still an album that can be enjoyed on many levels. It opens with the darkly analogue sound of Skulls, hinting slightly in places at the glorious sound of their second album The Understanding (2005). The vocals are curious and heavily obscured by effects, but the overall sound is exceptional – this is a great way to enter an album.

Reworked from the Do it Again album comes Monument, now with an enormous analogue counter-melody, and sounding even better than it did originally. The standard here really is exceptionally high, and it continues, as Monument drifts into what might be the best track on this album, the adorable Sordid Affair, another piece which might have fitted beautifully on the second album alongside What Else is There?

There is an unmistakable air of introspection here. Melody AM (2001) was naïve and Nordic; The Understanding was mysterious; Junior (2009) was loud and powerful; and somehow The Inevitable End is all of those at once. But we don’t want to think of it as any kind of end, so you have to put those thoughts out of your mind.

You Know I Have to Go is the first of several collaborations on here with Jamie from The Irrepressibles, and introduces us to his exceptionally emotive voice. It’s the longest track on here, clocking in at seven and a half minutes, but it’s also quite exceptional. And then, with a bit of a bang, Susanne Sundfør turns up to deliver the brilliant Save Me. Like most of this album, it’s huge, powerful, and entirely unforgettable.

The enormous pads that herald I Had This Thing are entirely appropriate, as Jamie Irrepressible turns up to deliver an exceptional song. It was later released as one of the singles, and deservedly so – it’s absolutely brilliant.

If anything lets this album down, it’s Rong. Even then, it’s only a short and momentary blip, with Robyn suddenly and inexplicably swearing at listeners about how much she hates them. But never mind, Here She Comes Again quickly picks things up again.

A long time before this album appeared, Running to the Sea came along as its lead single, and I predicted great things for this album. Well, it’s always good to be proved right, but this song is still one of the most exceptional pieces of music that Röyksopp have ever recorded. An exceptional vocal from Susanne Sundfør, set to an enormous, moving backing track. This is truly faultless.

Any other artist could have given up after something like that, but for some reason Röyksopp keep going. All of the final three tracks, Compulsion, Coup de Grace, and Thank You are premium quality. What a send-off this is.

It would also be hard to mention this album without adding a word for the superlative second disc, with another five songs, some of which are more than deserving of a place on the main album. But let’s hope that this isn’t really the end, but if it does have to be, then it’s an amazing send-off.


Greatest Hits – Vol. 7

As we worm our way gently into 2016, it’s time to highlight a few reviews from this blog that you might well have missed.

See also, Volume 6, Volume 5, and you can probably find the rest for yourself with a quick search…

Chart for stowaways – 4 July 2015

It will take a couple of weeks to catch up, but here’s the first of the new rejigged albums charts:

  1. Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?
  2. Leftfield – Alternative Light Source
  3. Camouflage – Greyscale
  4. MG – MG
  5. Röyksopp – The Inevitable End
  6. The Other Two – The Other Two & You
  7. Visage – Visage
  8. Röyksopp & Robyn – Do It Again
  9. Various Artists – Gri Balkon – I Had a Dream
  10. The All Seeing I – Pickled Eggs & Sherbet

Chart for stowaways – 16 May 2015

Here are this week’s top ten singles:

  1. MG – Europa Hymn
  2. Étienne de Crécy – Hashtag My Ass
  3. Röyksopp – Running to the Sea
  4. The Beloved – Love to Love
  5. Erlend Øye – La prima estate
  6. Pet Shop Boys – Vocal
  7. Groove Armada – History
  8. Shit Robot feat. Nancy Whang – Do That Dance
  9. Depeche Mode – Heaven
  10. Röyksopp & Robyn – Do it Again

Röyksopp & Robyn – Do It Again

Röyksopp‘s long awaited return last summer was a happy one, soon to be touched by sadness, as they announced that The Inevitable End would be their last album in that form (whatever that means). But the five-track mini-album Do It Again was where things really began again, and was a refreshing and wonderful return for both them and their collaborator Robyn.

The first track Monument is deeply atmospheric, as though Röyksopp‘s sound has just got bigger with each release (it possibly has). An album ago, we saw them collaborate with Robyn on the fantastic The Girl and the Robot, and their return is enormous. This is true not only in the timing sense, although this track alone lasts nearly ten minutes, but also the huge cathedral-like pads, and even Robyn‘s vocal, although sombre and soft, it would fill a room too.

When it finally winds down, what comes next is the more rhythmic Sayit, with just the one lyric, for the first couple of minutes at least. And then the Speak and Spell comes out, and Robyn enters into an extended dialogue with a machine, a bizarre and ultimately rather beautiful sonic experiment. It’s every bit as brilliant as the first track too.

Then comes the exquisite Do It Again, the title track, on which Robyn accurately describes anticipation as being like “mmm, mmm.” It’s somehow entirely unlike anything either Robyn or Röyksopp have recorded previously, but it still sounds just like both of them.

It’s also at this point in the review that I realise I’ve run out of superlatives. Do It Again, the mini-album, that is – well, actually the song too – is entirely fantastic, and there’s really no other way of putting it. Every track is among the best that either act has ever put together.

Every Little Thing is next, predictably extremely good – in fact, this is probably my favourite of the five tracks. In a way, I can’t help but wish this had been released a year or two earlier, some time around the middle of the long gap between Senior (2010) and The Inevitable End (2015) – it would have plugged that hole very nicely.

If this release had a weak point, it would probably be the final track, Inside the Idle Hour Club, and even then only because everything else is so exemplary. This one is lovely; it doesn’t quite grab you by the throat the way everything else seems to.

If, for some unknown reason, Do It Again passed you by, I’d urge you to track it down – it’s one of the best comebacks for a very long time. It’s just a shame that Röyksopp‘s return seems to have been so short-lived, and that it was tinged by the sad news that we probably won’t be getting another proper studio album for a long, long time.

You can find Do It Again through all major music retailers.

The Stowaway Awards 2015

After we announced the nominees a few weeks back, the internet has been abuzz with excitement about the 2015 Stowaways. Who will win these coveted non-existent awards?

Best Track

  • Röyksopp & Robyn – Monument

This was of course already revealed a few weeks back with a full countdown. Despite two exceptional back catalogues to draw upon, this is the first Best Track award for either artist.

Best Album

  • William Orbit – Strange Cargo 5

He has a few past wins under his belt for Best Artist and Best Producer but this is his first Best Album. The full list of nominees was covered in the previous post above.

Best Reissue / Compilation

  • David Bowie – Nothing Has Changed

Grabbing his first ever Stowaway award, after only ever having been nominated previously. The full list of nominees was covered in the previous post above.

Best Video

  • Erlend Øye – Garota

It’s been quiet for Erlend since his 2004 Best International Artist win, but 2015 sees him grab the Best Video.

Best Newcomer

  • Diamond Version

The full list of nominees was covered in the previous post above.

Best Artist

  • William Orbit

Orbit won this award in 2001 and 2011, so now takes home his third Stowaway for Best Artist. The full list of nominees was covered in the previous post above.

Best Live Act

  • Massive Attack

Beating off stiff competition with their exceptional tour. The full list of nominees was covered in the previous post above.

Best Remix

  • Röyksopp & Robyn “Do It Again” (Moby Remix)

Röyksopp won this award previously way back in 2003 with the Someone Else’s remix of Remind Me.

Best Dance Act / Remixer

  • Shit Robot

With only one previous nomination, Shit Robot makes his Stowaways debut.

Outstanding Contribution

  • Röyksopp

Well-deserved winners of the 2015 Stowaway Outstanding Contribution award, Röyksopp‘s final album (in that format) and penultimate album (not quite in that format) both rode high on the Chart for stowaways for months on end last year.

The 2014 Stowaways were announced here, and the 2013 Stowaways here.

The BRIT Awards 2011

For the first time, the BRIT Awards took place at The O2 Arena on 15th February 2011, now, according to the official website, with more live music than ever before. James Corden was the host, and the award was designed by Vivienne Westwood.

This post is part of a series about the history of the BRIT Awards. You can read about the 2010 ceremony here, and the 2012 ceremony next time.

MasterCard British Album of the Year

Presented by Roger Daltrey from The Who. Nominees:

  • Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
  • Plan B – The Defamation of Strickland Banks
  • Take That – Progress
  • Tinie Tempah – Disc-Overy
  • The xx – xx

Winner: Mumford & Sons

British Single

Voted for by listeners of Capital Radio and users of iTunes, and presented by Alan Carr. Nominees:

  • Alexandra Burke feat. Pitbull – All Night Long
  • Matt Cardle – When We Collide
  • Cheryl Cole – Parachute
  • Taio Cruz – Dynamite
  • Florence + The Machine – You Got the Love
  • Olly Murs – Please Don’t Let Me Go
  • Plan B – She Said
  • Scouting for Girls – This Ain’t a Love Song
  • Tinie Tempah – Pass Out
  • The Wanted – All Time Low

Winner: Tinie Tempah

British Male Solo Artist

Presented by Dizzee Rascal. Nominees:

  • Plan B
  • Robert Plant
  • Mark Ronson
  • Tinie Tempah
  • Paul Weller

Winner: Plan B

British Female Solo Artist

Presented by Boy George. Nominees:

  • Cheryl Cole
  • Paloma Faith
  • Ellie Goulding
  • Laura Marling
  • Rumer

Winner: Laura Marling

British Group

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 2, and presented by Dermot O’Leary. Nominees:

  • Biffy Clyro
  • Gorillaz
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Take That
  • The xx

Winner: Take That

British Breakthrough Act

Voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1, and presented by Fearne Cotton. Nominees:

  • Ellie Goulding
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Rumer
  • Tinie Tempah
  • The xx

Winner: Tinie Tempah

British Producer

Awarded alongside a couple of other producer awards at the Music Producers Guild Awards the week before the main ceremony. Nominees:

  • Markus Dravs
  • Ethan Johns
  • John Leckie
  • Mike Pela
  • Stuart Price

Winner: Markus Dravs

International Album

Presented by Boris Becker. Nominees:

  • Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
  • Eminem – Recovery
  • Cee Lo Green – The Lady Killer
  • Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown
  • Katy Perry – Teenage Dream

Winner: Arcade Fire

International Male Solo Artist

Presented by Lewis Hamilton. Nominees:

  • Eminem
  • Cee Lo Green
  • David Guetta
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Kanye West

Winner: Cee Lo Green

International Female Solo Artist

Presented by Cheryl Cole. Nominees:

  • Alicia Keys
  • Kylie Minogue
  • Katy Perry
  • Rihanna
  • Robyn

Winner: Rihanna

International Group

Presented by Simon Le Bon and John Taylor from Duran Duran. Nominees:

  • Arcade Fire
  • The Black Eyed Peas
  • Kings of Leon
  • The Script
  • Vampire Weekend

Winner: Arcade Fire

International Breakthrough Act

Voted for by viewers of MTV, and presented by Avril Lavigne and Will Young. Nominees:

  • Justin Bieber
  • Glee Cast
  • Bruno Mars
  • The National
  • The Temper Trap

Winner: Justin Bieber

Critics’ Choice

In association with War Child, and presented by Mark Ronson and Ellie Goulding. Nominees:

  • James Blake
  • Jessie J
  • The Vaccines

Winner: Jessie J

Outstanding Contribution

The BBC’s coverage (linked below) of the previous week’s Music Producers Guild Awards is a little confusing, as the entire event must have been. Was the Outstanding Contribution award part of the BRITs or of the Music Producers Guild event? Wikipedia thinks it was part of the BRITs…

My own interpretation of the situation is that there was no outstanding contribution award at the BRITs this year, but either way, the entirely justified winner was the founder of Mute Records, Daniel Miller, presented by Alison Goldfrapp, while Tony Visconti won the Innovation in Production award.


Further Reading / Viewing

Chart for stowaways – 3 January 2015

Here’s the first chart of the new year, with all the weird hangers-on that that entails:

  1. Erasure – Gaudete
  2. Apollo 440 – Liquid Cool
  3. The Beloved – Rock to the Rhythm of Love
  4. Erasure – Make it Wonderful
  5. Röyksopp – Sordid Affair
  6. The London Authority (The Beloved) – Baby Sheik
  7. Röyksopp & Robyn – Monument
  8. Utah Saints – I Want You
  9. Röyksopp & Robyn – Do It Again
  10. U2 – Sleep Like a Baby Tonight