Right, then.

movember30

I may not be the most hirsute individual, but I think I’ve given this a pretty decent crack. I’ve risked ridicule (no, seriously, some scally shouted “get a shave!” at me the other day, I don’t think he noticed the fact that I had in fact been carefully shaving around the moustache almost every day) but come out with a not-entirely-unsuccessful bit of handlebar action (althuogh I was shamed by a chap I spotted on the DLR with absolutely immense handlebar whiskers extending a good couple of inches below his chin). So if – and as it’s the end of the month, it’s the last time I’ll plead this – anyone would like to support my endeavours and give a bit to prostate cancer charity, then I’d appreciate it greatly.

Here’s my donation page, and it’d be lovely if I could get up to £100…

I was pleasantly surprised to be invited by Simon of Sweeping the Nation to contribute to his crowdsourced “Noughties by Nature” feature, with different writers from across the web picking a song of the decade to write about. Very nice of him. I’ll admit that a number of the artists that immediately jumped to mind had already been nabbed (my first choice would probably have been “I Was Born a Unicorn”), but nevertheless, it’s always enjoyable to get a chance to write about Half Man Half Biscuit, so that’s what I did.

It hadn’t really occurred to me to do this, as it seemed like something of a mammoth task, until I chanced upon some message board discussion of the infamous just-published NME list. More out of curiosity than anything, I then decided to see if I could put one together – and it turned out to be rather simple, going through every album in my iTunes (since surely any record that would make a favourites list, I’d have in my collection already) and listing the ones I felt would make the cut. Conveniently, the number listed ended up being almost exactly 50 – so, rounding to that number, I then used my tried-and-tested system of going through the list alphabetically, taking each entry and moving it up the rankings until I found one above it that I felt I liked more than it, and stopping it there. Does this create unfair bias towards my #1 entry, considering it essentially sat at the top waiting for something to challenge it? I’m not sure, I don’t know how scientific the process is, but it seems as good a way as any. Elsewhere in the list the placings are somewhat arbitrary, and might be different on a different day – but I tried to be fair, and also consider albums’ relative worth (and my enjoyment of them) at the time of release as well as what I might think of them now. So here we are…

1. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible (2007)
2. Islands – Return to the Sea (2006)
3. Beirut – The Flying Club Cup (2007)
4. Ooberman – Hey Petrunko (2003)
5. Arcade Fire – Funeral (2004)
6. The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone? (2003)
7. Half Man Half Biscuit – CSI:Ambleside (2008)
8. of Montreal – Aldhils Arboretum (2002)
9. Nada Surf – Let Go (2002)
10. Elliott Smith – From a Basement on the Hill (2004)
11. The Strokes – Room on Fire (2003)
12. Los Campesinos! – Hold On Now, Youngster… (2007)
13. Rilo Kiley – Take Offs and Landings (2001)
14. Los Campesinos! – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed (2008)
15. Ozma – Rock and Roll Part Three (2001)
16. of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? (2007)
17. The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)
18. Elliott Smith – Figure 8 (2000)
19. Clinic – Internal Wrangler (2000)
20. Muse – Origin of Symmetry (2001)
21. Rilo Kiley – The Execution of All Things (2002)
22. Half Man Half Biscuit – Achtung Bono (2005)
23. Islands – Arm’s Way (2008)
24. Ozma – Spending Time on the Borderline (2003)
25. The Elected – Sun, Sun, Sun (2006)
26. Ben Kweller – Sha Sha (2002)
27. British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power (2003)
28. Radiohead – Kid A (2000)
29. of Montreal – Satanic Panic in the Attic (2004)
30. Weezer – The Green Album (2001)
31. The Libertines – Up the Bracket (2002)
32. Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out Of This Country (2006)
33. Mates of State – Team Boo (2003)
34. The Thermals – The Body, The Blood, The Machine (2006)
35. Green Day – American Idiot (2004)
36. Half Man Half Biscuit – Cammell Laird Social Club (2002)
37. Ed Harcourt – The Beautiful Lie (2006)
38. The Elected – Me First (2004)
39. Jimmy Eat World – Bleed American (2001)
40. Arctic Monkeys – Favourite Worst Nightmare (2007)
41. Hot Hot Heat – Make Up The Breakdown (2002)
42. Graham Coxon – Happiness In Magazines (2004)
43. Apples in Stereo – The Discovery of a World Inside the Moone (2000)
44. Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News (2004)
45. Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast (2000)
46. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – How I Long To Feel That Summer In My Heart (2001)
47. The Get Up Kids – On a Wire (2002)
48. Superstar – Phat Dat (2000)
49. The Pipettes – We Are The Pipettes (2006)
50. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer (2008)

The “noughties”, then. Better than the nineties? Looking at the list, there’s no absolutely huge album that jumps out in the way that, say, OK Computer and Different Class and Pinkerton manage to do for me – Neon Bible almost feels slightly like a “default” choice (and it could just as easily be anything in the top five or even ten, depending on my mood at the time of choosing), which I know wouldn’t be the case if I thought long and hard about the previous decade. On the other hand, I probably like a wider range of 2000s music (to give an idea, I have 3055 tracks marked as 2000s on my iPod, and only 1929 from the 1990s), and I’m not sure I would necessarily have been able to get a decent list of 50 (certainly not with some quality albums left off, as there were here) from the ’90s. The 2000s are the first decade that I’ve spent the entirety of as someone with an active interest in buying, discovering and enjoying music, so there’ll naturally be more that I experienced contemporaneously. So, swings and roundabouts.

After compiling the list, I also thought it’d be interesting to see if any year stood out as a clear “favourite” from the decade. As it happens, though, it’s fairly close on the whole – 2002 edges it with 8 entries, while 2003/04 both have 7, and 2000, 2001 and 2006 each have 6. The notable exception (considering that I didn’t include anything from 2009 – not through deliberate choice, but it does make sense when you can consider that it can take longer for records to grow, or even be discovered in the first place – plus, it simply hasn’t been a vintage year by any stretch) is 2005, with just a single entry – Achtung Bono. I actually went back to check my LJ “review of the year” (as I know it’s one of the few times I did one) to see what I might have missed, and sure enough, barely anything on it was stuff I’d really want to listen to now (I had Funeral at the top, but that’s cheating – it may have come out in Europe in early 2005, but it’s really a 2004 album). Strange, really, considering 2004 and 2006 were both fairly strong.

It’s actually quite fun/exciting looking back over a whole decade, isn’t it? Given that none of us (unless we were fantastically nerdy) had blogs ten years ago, this is all rather new and interesting – a far bigger scale of challenge than the end-of-year lists we know and love so well. I suppose I’ll have to do films next, then.

Movember update!

Yes, it’s still going on. As you can see below, the glory of the handlebar moustache is ON ITS WAY, if only I could get the little bits at the side of my lips to grow and join up the top and bottom halves properly. Anyway, if you’re interested in helping out the good cause that I’m doing it for, then remember my donation page is here. And if you’re not, then apologies for the repeated updates, but at least you get to see amusing pictures of me with a ‘tache.

movember12

It’s customary of me (to, for those who’ve known me a while, a probably quite tedious extent) to draw attention to this song on this date… criminally underheard, it’s one of my favourite songs of all time and really should have been a huge hit (I drunkenly rambled on at Fruitbat of Carter on that very subject one night in Brixton, to my embarrassment), so I use the date in its title as an opportunity to say to people “OI! LISTEN TO IT!” I’d never seen the video before looking it up on Youtube this evening, though, which is nice. Anyway, enjoy, because it’s awesome :

Carter USM – Born on the 5th of November

But if you don’t like the song, then at least I can say Happy Flux Capacitor Day!