Belfast Telegraph

Top of the stars' playlists

What was it that monopolised the iPods and CD decks of singers and musicians themselves in 2006? From Amy Winehouse to The Zutons, Charlotte Cripps persuaded them to reveal which tracks starred in their own personal soundtracks


"My favourite record of 2006 is Silent Shout, by The Knife. I like it, basically, because it makes no sense to me. It's sensual but also very cold, melodic and inviting yet also dissonant and off-putting. It runs hot and cold in equal measure at the same time and, as a result, it's an incredibly fascinating and strangely compelling record."

CARL BARAT, Dirty Pretty Things

"Jamie T. A lot of people are aspiring to be part of a current trend of English culture, whereas Jamie seems to sing honestly from that place. His lyrics are poignant and engaging. And Larrikin Love's The Freedom Spark: from the heart, with good time energetic gypsy romps derived from a love of music and good times."


"Ta-Dah by Scissor Sisters. I love this album! It instantly puts you in a great mood and makes you want to dance. I think they're a really great live band and have such energy, plus their look is really unique and all a bit tongue-in-cheek. It's a great, fun party album but also has a bit more depth to it when you listen to the lyrics."


"Colder's Heat. This is great. I first heard this being played in a shop and had to rush up and ask the assistant what it was. It has the dark heart of the Joy Division post-punk template but with its own unique electro twist. Bat For Lashes's Fur and Gold - a dark and delicate record in the Felt Mountain/Kate Bush axis - soulful and exotic. Camera Obscura's Let's Get Out of This Country - probably my single favourite album this year. Beautifully crafted songs that echo the best moments of The Concretes. Peaches's Impeach My Bush - I just love her. She makes pretty much the same record every time: confrontational, uncomfortable and rude, but I'd still rather listen to her than yet another 'sensitive' wanker with an acoustic guitar. Cat Power, The Greatest - what a voice. The title track is my song of the year: sad, regretful and haunting. And Guillemots' Through the Window Pane has great songs, ambitious arrangements and a bright future."


"Annuals' Be He Me. Something is happening in North Carolina. Bands are springing out of nowhere as disparate as they are marvellous: House of Fools; Sedona; The Never, and the best of the lot, Annuals. Be He Me is a masterpiece. It is a naked, daylight dash while on fire, ending in a lake somewhere. It churns the wilful experimentation of Broken Social Scene in a pop blender; it is, by turns, insane and angry, hilarious, delicate and swooningly majestic. I've seldom heard a band wantonly and gleefully rip musical logic to shreds with their bare hands and teeth. Thrilling and vital. "


"I'd choose Back to Black by Amy Winehouse. I love the way she uses sounds from the 1960s and 1970s, and yet makes the album sound so 'now'. Me and the girls covered 'Rehab' for the Jo Whiley show. Loads of people think she is just a drunk, but when you listen to her lyrics you realise what an incredible songwriter she is. She can go from singing about a broken heart to getting carpet burns. My favourite track is 'Back to Black', classic Motown done by a young woman living in London in 2006. Brilliant album and definitely a girl you would not want to mess with."


"My favourite album of this year would have to be Milosh's Meme. It's the kind of album that'll make you want to venture out early on a crisp morning, wrap up in all your woollies, end up in a park, settle down somewhere with a warm cup of tea and watch the world go by."


"The whole album Down for Life by the band D4L - particularly the track 'Laffy Taffy'. It brings the fun back into hip-hop for me. It is electronic and bouncy. They are not the best rap artists in the world but the way they rap is funny ,so it's cool. It's not for everybody, though. Another good album is Jay-Z's Kingdom Come. A lot of people argue he could have made a better album, but it is honest. It is a true reflection of an artist who stands pretty alone in terms of how successful he has become inside and outside the music industry. It is good insight and really inspiring if you have got the patience."

ROMEO STODDART, The Magic Numbers

"Great albums somehow manage to create a self-contained world, sonically, lyrically, musically; all the elements work together to make a consistent atmosphere. Midlake's The Trials of Van Occupanther does just that.You really wouldn't know what to expect when you put this on from the cover as it gives very little away, it just kind of implies 'weird'. Then the vocals and the vocal arrangements hit you, and they're amazing, really rich and warm, slightly reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac, driven along by rolling piano figures.

Lyrically, the whole thing could be a series of snapshots of a mysterious 19th-century American settlement in the backwoods: there's lots about young brides and huntsmen, bandits, wood fires, and the turning of the seasons. It's really other-worldly yet so inviting. It's got proper guitars too, and it's great to hear a band who aren't afraid to let go with a real solo, like on 'Head Home' - just digging in like The Allman Bros, who are in many ways their forefathers. This is a beautiful album created by a band who are unafraid."


"Valerie by The Zutons. It reminds me of my friend Tom dancing in a north London pub. We put it on the pub jukebox and dance around to it."


"My favourite album of the year is Justin Timberlake's FutureSex/LoveSounds. I love it for being innovative, fresh and brave, all that an album should be."


"I hate to say it, but probably one of the only records from 2006 that I love to listen to start to finish is Modern Times by Bob Dylan. I mean, it's not as if he needs any more recognition. But it sounds so good and he produced it himself. It's ramshackle, mystical and slinky in perfect measure. And the drumming is amazing."

ANDY BURROWS, Razorlight

"Guillemots' Through the Window Pane is by far my favourite record of 2006, with songs such as 'Redwings' and 'We're Here' standing out. It's such a colourful record, with beautiful melodies. When we're away on tour, if I'm feeling a bit homesick, this is the record I listen to. It always takes me home."


"'Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley is the strangest, most beautiful record. It's such a haunting, plaintive vocal yet it's backed by a great soulful pop song. It affects you from the very first time you hear the track. It sounds so fresh and other-worldly. Obviously it was a massive hit and really captured the public's imagination, but it's also a deeply personal song and one that will stick around for a long, long time."

TOM SMITH, Editors

"Top albums are The Black Angels' Passover - it's dark and ethereal, with great screaming and fantastic guitar sounds. Midlake's The Trials of Van Occupanther is Seventies-tinged, warm, alt-rock. With every listen I discover something new and the songs always move me like the first time I heard them. Howling Bells' Howling Bells. We had the pleasure of touring with this great Australian band, on Bella Union, one of my favourite UK record labels. The vocals are smooth and lush and the production is outstanding.


"Joan As Police Woman's Real Life, a warm winter coat of a record, wide-eyed songs of love and loss that wouldn't have sat out of place on Carole King's Tapestry. Joan Wasser's honey-tinged voice is at once both world-weary and childlike as fragile violins, swirling Wurlitzers, deep bass and ghostly, whispering choirs float in and out of earshot. The sound of dawn."

JOAN WASSER, Joan As Policewoman

"Five songs that made me cry in 2006: 'Young Bride', from the album The Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake. This album is a triumph. I love every song but this one is just heartbreaking, lyrically and musically. I would have to say that the drumbeat is one of the most inventive and bumping beats of the last 20 years, plus harmonies that will move you to tears and violins and flutes that are used to perfection. 'John Wayne Gacy, Jr' from the album Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens. Sufjan is a true original, probably the only person who could deal with this subject with utter grace and sensitivity. This song is one you will be forced to listen to over and over out of disbelief. It's a triumph of beauty and understanding and songwriting prowess that wrecks almost anyone else today.

'Hate' from the album The Greatest by Cat Power. I guess I just like this woman when she is rocking the blues. She seems to live it by and you can hear it in this song. Of course her voice is magnificent, of course her guitar playing is felt, but there's even something else going on here and when I heard this song I listened to it over and over and cried. 'Post-War' from the album Post-War by M Ward. Oh, an M Ward production... it's always so warm. I'd like to be warm and this song is warm and hopeful and experienced and truly sexy. That voice just kills me and keeps me coming back for more. 'Don't Give Up On People' from the album Nuclear Daydream by Joseph Arthur is a prayer for forgiveness and compassion. Once heard, it will live inside you like a cocoon waiting for the perfect moment to open and be born inside you.


"My favourite song of 2006 is 'Level' on The Raconteurs album Broken Boy Soldiers. It pops into my head as I am walking down the road more than any other song. All of The Zutons are trying to play the riff at the beginning of that song - but we can't work it out. It is so simple that it is hard. The reason I like the whole album is that you can't tell if it's Jack White or Brendan Benson singing the vocals. Actually, it's the pair of them together. But I don't like the song 'Steady, As She Goes'."

TIM BURGESS, The Charlatans

"It is the album Real Life by Joan as Police Woman. A friend of mine who works for a record company in Paris gave it to me just knowing I'd like it. It made me feel really good. Then I discovered that Joan Wasser has played with Antony and the Johnsons and she has quite a musical history, which you can tell with the record. It is steeped in tradition but also very modern-sounding. I've played it to a lot of people and they are all really digging it. I'm a fan of hers - I went to see her play in Manchester recently and then I contacted her via MySpace. Hopefully we are going to do a song next year - so it's a musical love story."


"TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain. A great album should challenge on its first listen and only afterwards do you realise its immediacy. Haunting, infectious melody lines, heavy, soulful production and just the right amount of darkness."


"It was Twelve Stops and Home by The Feeling because it was amazing from * * start to finish, until Amy Winehouse's Back to Black took everything else out. I've known Amy since she was first signed after we met at a wedding we were both singing at. Her smoky alto voice is beautiful, but it's in the writing. It's like Woody Allen to music."


"I don't listen to any new stuff. I'm too old. If I had to choose one record this year it would be Bert Jansch's The Black Swan. He is still gigging. He is a nice chap. He gets good people on the album, like Beth Orton. It's a good listen. I'm going through a Beatles phase - it comes around every year. Right now it's Rubber Soul. I also like the Incredible String Band, an old Scottish acoustic group."


"I had the privilege of recording a duet with Tony Bennett for his album and TV special. I performed with Wynton Marsalis and his band for a fundraiser at Lincoln Center in New York. That was a memorable experience. Mr Marsalis is a genius. And I did a duet with Hoots the Owl on Sesame Street. My best duet ever."


"The best thing to come out this year has to be Ry Cooder's Chavez Ravine. The album is about how, in the 1940s, US politicians attacked the Mexican population of Los Angeles. Everything about it - music, singing, attitude - is incredible."


"Matthew Herbert has always made ground-breaking music, but, I believe, he finally matches a high concept with songs to match in Scale [recorded under the name 'Herbert'], an album made of 'found sounds' and unusually recorded instruments (a drum-kit recorded in a hot-air balloon) with songs that touch the feet, heart and brain. There are so many layers to this album (if you choose to seek them) of elements old and new, electronic and organic - a true 21st-century album."

CHRIS CAIN, We Are Scientists

"The Blow's Paper Television. Beats, lyrics, melodies, voice, a song subtitled 'Eat a Critter, Feel It': it's all here. The only hole in this album is the one in the middle. If you like whatever your favourite album of the year is, then you would definitely love Paper Television."

TIM SMITH, Midlake

"For the past three years my favourite album has been Isle of View by Jimmie Spheeris (1971). He made five albums before his death in 1984 (a drunk driver hit Spheeris while he was riding his motorcycle), and Isle of View was his first. The album is rather soft-sounding with pianos, flutes and acoustic guitars throughout. Its a very beautiful and magical album and, in my opinion, perfect."


"Don't ask me what I think the best song of the last year was, because my opinion is the same as most of America. It was 'Gold Digger' [by Kanye West]. White ladies, old Jewish guys, Ethiopians, Australians, they all loved the single."

Belfast Telegraph


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