Singer-songwriter Anil returns with a brand new EP, Mesonoxian following on from collaborations with the likes of drum n bass swing band The Fabrics and the critically acclaimed Mirrorkicks. Anil welds and weaves a myriad of stlyes and influences to create his visionary blend of pop, rock and electronica.
Here at Rhythm & Booze we asked Anil to reveal his perfect ten records that help define him as a person and recording artist. Here’s what he had to say.
To make sure they remain guilty and pleasurable, I’ve kept all my guilty secrets off my list and deep away in the Narnia of my closet. I’ve gone for albums that I fixed on in musical puberty. So in that sense, they aren’t necessarily my favourite but ones I sang along to when I got home from school (or in some cases uni) and thus balmed much existential angst and provided transport to somewhere new for me.
Bjork – Vespertine
I listened to it at night mostly while I was at Uni – I would take long long long walks all around Bristol, so for me it’s night time music. It also one of the only albums I like that I can listen to with someone at night (if you know what I mean ) without it taking over my mind! And so I have lots of happy memories associated with it!
I find it hard to write about music I love without sounding very cliched and pretentious! But here it goes… There’s so much going on but so much space. There’s rich orchestration, choirs, lots of collaborators but yet it’s close and intimate and it feels like a whole album rather than a load of incongruous songs that have been shoved together. Every time I hear it, I hear something new. Nothing grates, the melodies are arching and full of my favourite intervals but yet despite it’s mastery it doesn’t feel pretentious to me – there’s a simplicity to it.
Radiohead – OK computer
Every day, I would come home from school – grab a fistful of chocolate – run straight upstairs to put this on full blast and zone out watching all the people on the trains hurtling passed the back of our house. It’s dirty but beautiful and the lyrics seem nonsensical but they become yours. It’s not something I find depressing. I never understood why people went on about that so much. Although I was a very depressed teenager so maybe it just met me where I was already!
Phillip Glass – Cello Octets
I first heard this when I found myself in Tacheles in Berlin not knowing what it was and having just arrived there from Mongolia. It was blaring out of one of the studios and I just crept in, lay down on a sofa and watched this maniacal little artist man rushing about slinging paint around – he didn’t seem to mind me being there. It’s music that takes my full attention but at the same time releases it – it’s meditative, intense and as hard to switch on as it is to switch off – for me.
Soundgarden – Superunknown
For me, this has to be on very loud and never in headphones. I like it because it’s direct and it doesn’t fuck about like some of the other things on this list and sometimes you really need that!
Sigur Ros - Ágætis byrjun
I don’t really think of Sigur Ros as having distinct albums – it’s sort of continuous and each song or album seems like a expression of the same set of feelings that I get when I listen to them (That’s a very nice way of me saying that I can’t tell their albums apart from each other!). But in all seriousness – I reckon that’s good thing. It is for me anyway. For me, in this, the voice is an instrument and it plays a different role because of that. It’s got that same sense of wholeness that Vespertine has and also similarly, it’s an album I can experience with other people without zoning out to my own little world – and so it’s special to me. But it’s meditative as well – and I can just as well lie on my floor (even now 13 years on from when I first heard it) and just get totally lost in it. They used to rehearse in a swimming pool. I used to rehearse in the basement of a convent. I wish I used to rehearse in a swimming pool!
Frou Frou – Details
This album came at an exciting time for me because I loved it when I heard it, and then somehow found myself doing some live radio sessions on guitar with the band while I was supposed to be at Uni! That whole experience really made me change how a played the guitar and despite being a very short period of time, had a huge impact on me. For me, it has that same thing that Vespertine has – incredible detail and layers but an incredible sense of space and transport.
Portishead – Live in NYC
I did something sneaky here. I chose this album because it has most of the songs from Dummy and Portishead on it and I could never choose between the two. This to me is as authentic as it gets. Every note sung feels like it’s come from somewhere real – but it’s not noodly – it’s tasteful and controlled and simple – full of space – frightening amounts of space – and vulnerability. I remember seeing it with a friend at the BFI and feeling like it was from another time. it takes a lot to make a live album work and to do it with real conviction and integrity.
Arvo Paert – Berliner Maesse
I reckon this man would have been executed if he made this music in the middle ages for using ‘demonic harmonies’ – seriously! I find them rather beautiful myself – and every moment is genius to me, I love all the angles. I almost put Eric Whitacre instead, but as I only discovered his music relatively recently and didn’t grow up in the same way, I didn’t. I suppose writing choral music and running a choir myself, means I have a geeky passion for choral music!
Imogen Heap – Speak for Yourself
I guess this makes the list because it genuinely influenced me and would have done despite the direct connection of me having played guitar for Immi for a stint just before this album and performing with her and my choir (London Contemporary Voices) at her Royal Albert Hall show last year. There aren’t any duffs on the album – no fillers – each and every track feels like it’s had the same level of energy put into it – and it’s brave. Especially Hide and Seek. It stands on the shoulders of aritsts like Laurie Anderson – and to really trully do everything yourself as an artist is quite remarkable. For me it’s an album that makes me get on with it and do music – and it stops me complaining somehow. I love it for that reason.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
I love the closeness and breathiness of the vocals against the dark guitars and beats – dark and sublime! I would love to sing on a Massive Attack album – that would be a dream come true. I worked in the music department at WHSmith’s when I was 15 and I used to put this on – on a loop. I got told off a lot. One memory stands out in particular – I remember having Angel on very loud and this elderly gent settling down on a picnic blanket on the floor in the stationary department – with a full – classic picnic spread! Scotch eggs etc…
For all the latest on Anil, checkout his website
Worcester based poetic, Singer-songwriter Wes Dance unveils his Perfect 10, the ten albums that help define his life.
1. The Beach Boys – Friend
This album is definitely an overlooked classic. The arrangements and variations in instruments and musicality are just perfect, from the church bells on ‘Be Here in the Morning’ to the wild harmonies on ‘Little Bird.’ Incidentally, Friends is the first album with songs by Dennis Wilson, who would go from strength to strength, and become my favourite Beach Boy songwriter after Brian. The whole album is rich, beautiful and seems effortless.
2. Gene Clark – No Other
Gene Clark was the best songwriter in The Byrds and this album is a fine example of Clark’s talent. No Other is an album that grows with each listen, yet still remains a mystery after a thousand spins. The lilting sadness in Clark’s voice and his melodies are mesmerizing – his voice is taut and soft all at once. ‘Strength Of Strings’ is constantly pushing upwards, it is the musical equivalent of yearning – listen to it when you first wake up, it’ll change your life. The album is a marvel and needs far more recognition.
3. The Flying Burrito Bros. – The Gilded Palace of Sin
Everyone should read about the history of Gram Parsons, but I won’t go into that now. Parsons’ song-writing on this album with Chris Hillman is fantastic. The albums a great big bowl of Californian fun – it’s a young album, careless and wanting. On ‘Wheels’, Parson’s sings ‘we’re not afraid to ride, we’re not afraid to die’ and you believe it. Sneaky Pete’s pedal steel playing swathes the whole album saturated in fuzz – I wish more people played pedal steel in this way. The album has some great white soul moments too: Parson’s singing on ‘Hot Burrito’ #1 and #2 always blows my mind.
4. Van Morrison – Into the Music
Another unique and incredible singer. The band on this album are so good, it’s ridiculous. Mark Ishlam’s horn arrangements add a Philly Soul feel to Van’s elegiac song-writing, and the fiddle and penny-whistle work is wondrous. Many a time, many moons ago, a friend and I would drink brandy and listen to this album until the early hours without saying a word in awe. Another friend recently suggested there is no more an epic way of doing the dishes than washing them to ‘And The Healing Has Begun.’ It makes the mundane become phantasmal.
5. Bob Dylan – Desire
I was 18 and went on a Christmas shopping trip with a friend, meaning to buy family presents we ended up in the pub all day and later I bought this album. On returning home I put it on and the first opening chords of Hurricane were like an epiphany. The sound of the guitar, the drums, and Rivera’s violin, Dylan’s caustic tone, all rich in reverb, made perfect sense in my mind, it was a crossroads on how a record could be recorded and sound.
6. Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space
Everything about this album is incredible: The bells, the orchestral arrangements, the gospel vocals, the way Pierce sings like Lou Reed over these amazing musical landscapes, the circular motion of the music like its evolving in front of you, the stooges-esque guitars, the random harmonicas, the use of synths, I could go on. I love this album, it’s a masterpiece.
7. Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
This terrifyingly ferocious album is not recommended to listen to on a dark street if you want to maintain your trust in humanity. The whole album stinks of a mental breakdown, everything is being torn down and everything is alien. From Nazi’s to castration the whole album is a butcher’s cleaver, it meanders in the grey spaces of life, where one should not mentally wander in reverie. A fantastic record: the musical equivalent of William Burrough’s Naked Lunch.
8. Brian Jonestown Massacre – Give it Back!
This was the first album I bought by the BJM, and this is the reason it’s on the list, my introduction to the wild, strange, and revolutionary world of Anton Newcombe. I adore this band. Newcombe’s idea are fantastic: the sound of their records, the guitars, the spontaneity of the music, all remind me of drunken summers being an angel head. ‘Servo’ is a stand-out track, based around three chords with an amazing guitar riff. The film Dig! Is an awesome introduction to this band.
9. Beck – Sea Change
Like Dylan’s Desire, this was another album where the overall sound pulled apart a mountain in my mind. The sparse use of keyboards and guitars that patter across Beck’s rhythm are pictorial, in the sense that they open the lyrics and the chord arrangements to broader landscape. The string arrangements are cavernous. Every instrument is gregarious to the other, creating a vast painting of colours across Beck’s skeletal chords. ‘Little One’ is tantamount to a Buddhist satori when the chorus rises like a sun about to super nova.
10. Tom Waits – Blood Money
I could pick any Tom Waits album, but randomly for idiosyncratic deliciousness I will pick Blood Money. A wonderful album: at turns disjointing (see ‘Starving in the Belly of the Whale) and at turns beautiful (see ‘Lullaby.’) Its 1920’s Jazz, its eastern European gypsy, and ‘God’s Away on Business’ is an amalgam of these styles verging on hardcore punk. The lyrics are insane, genius and hilarious: ‘the more that that the monkey can climb; the more he shows its tail.’ Blood Money is a hoot; masochistic and jollying in the evil of the world! Everybody roll!
Hard Hitting Brighton based rauccous rhythm & boozers Mean Poppa Lean Reveal their Perfect 10
Mean Poppa Lean – Perfect 10
1. Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle (1993)
Let’s start this list off with a party banger. Christian (lead singer) and I used to grace every house party we attended with an a cappella rendition of the entire album front to back. It’s misogynistic, puerile and undeniably infectious. Snoop may now be a mere caricature of himself, but this debut was stunning especially at the tender age of nineteen.
2. Jeff Buckley – Grace (1995)
On the other side of the coin, JB’s debut remains the most sensitive and heart-breaking album I’ve ever heard. In my opinion, the singer-songwriter genre has regressed by over-saturation and there is a lot of boring material out there. Jeff takes risks and wears his heart on his sleeve, injecting just enough rock power to lift you out of your seat.
3. Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On (1968)
Vying for Jeff’s crown of tenderness is another great artist who died tragically young. After years in the Motown hit factory system as another matinee idol with golden chords, Marvin proved he had more to his bow by co-writing the entire album around a cogent concept. What really counts, though, is the milestone performace by Motown’s house band The Funk Brothers.
4. Rage Against The Machine – Evil Empire (1996)
Proving themselves one of the most important ands of the 90s with wildly successful reunion gigs all over the world, music fans in general usually regard their debut as their magnum opus. However in MPL we prefer the raw delivery and tangible in-band friction of their sophomore which takes far more risks and frankly sounds miles more punk.
5. Morris Day and The Time – What Time Is It? (1982)
Anyone who has seen Purple Rain or indeed Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back will be familiar with Prince protégés The Time. The Purple One actually wrote all the tunes and played nearly all the instruments but Morris and the band proved their live supremacy on tour where they were known to blow him off the stage. Highlights are ‘The Walk’ and ‘777-9311.’
6. Prince – Controversy (1981)
Although we’ve already included an album which was 90% his creation (and uncredited to boot) Prince deserves another mention as one of our biggest influences. Before he broke the mainstream with Purple Rain, he was fusing the dirtiest sex-funk with retro-fitted synth rock n roll boasting strongly anti-Reagan lyrics. Years ahead of its time, echoes can be heard throughout the Eighties.
7. Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute (1996)
As veteran Chili Peppers fans, we have lost faith of late; recent albums portray a watering down of their old sound without taking any risks. In the wake of BloodSugarSexMagik, their commercial breakthrough, a 5 year hiatus brought Dave Navarro into the fold along with a sharp injection of psychedelia. Even questionably-talented Anthony Kiedis sounds honest and in tune on this hard-riffing rock journey.
8. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III (1970)
No Top 10 could be without a Zep album, but which one? They’re all seminal to us, but at this point in time their third album has priority on the turntable. Recorded in a cottage in Wales and dripping with Jimmy Page’s flourishing interest in folk and roots music, the triumvirate of ‘Tangerine’, ‘That’s The Way’ and ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ is enough to give it legendary status, not to mention iconic opener ‘Immigrant Song.’ Bonus points for the rotatable gatefold vinyl cover which my Dad proudly owns.
9. Pearl Jam – Vs.
Another difficult one to choose, PJ’s follow up to ‘Ten’ edges the competitors on the basis of sheer invention. Moving seamlessly from Zeppelin-esque ‘Blood’ through the laid back groove of ‘Rats’ to acoustic anthem ‘Elderly Woman…’ it is notable that they weren’t trying to recreate Ten, although the pressure of commercial success must have been huge.
10. David Bowie – Hunky Dory
I refuse to go anywhere without mentioning Bowie and this is the album I keep coming back to. Honest, delicate and with lyrics that read like Shelley even without the music it is a wonder that people always talk about Ziggy and The Thin White Duke when it is so clear that the artist reveals himself so much more truthfully on this album. It’s a shame I can’t listen to it without thinking of The Kooks, whose moniker was inspired by the track of the same name.
Somehow I’ve managed to leave a few off and I didn’t want to go back and make changes so here they are. Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road, Steely Dan’s Aja, Rick James’ Street Songs and finally our friends Thedealwasforthediamond, whose self-titled album is finished and looking for a release. I honestly believe that they’ll be the next big thing in hard rock so watch this space and check their Twitter @tdwftd
C-Dogg – Mean Poppa Lean guitarist, 26 years old (if anyone’s asking)
Mean Poppa Lean have been handpicked to perform live at this year’s Latitude Festival 12-15th July
My Perfect 10
Fiona Bennett (composer)
Hi, I’m Fiona Bennett and since starting piano lessons at the age of 4, music has been one of the most important things in my life. I trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and then worked as a singer, pianist and songwriter all over the world. In the 90s, I formed a function band “Route 66” and we played venues such as The Savoy, Highclere Castle and Banqueting House. My new classical piano CD ‘A Country Suite’ is available on iTunes www.fionabennettmusic.co.uk
1) ‘Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia’ by Aram Khachaturian. The fact that my very first pop single was a piece of classical music says it all. This was the theme from the TV series ‘The Onedin Line’ and I loved it the minute I heard it. Its powerful melody and fabulous orchestration swept me away. I was a bit of a fuddy duddy 12 year old, truth be told!
2) ‘The Plan’ by the Osmonds. I was SO in love with Donny Osmond but my parents wouldn’t let me to go any of their concerts. Boo hoo! This album was a Christmas present and I listened to ‘Let Me In’ over and over, imagining how Donny would fall in love with me if we ever met. It was a long time before I realised the song was about God……
3) Scarlatti Sonatas. When I was 13, I told my dad I wanted to give up the piano. He went berserk because he knew I was talented. Once I’d scraped him off the ceiling, he set out to find me a new (and more inspiring) piano teacher, Mary Rees. Mary changed my life, she taught me the most amazing piano techniques and I went from being a very average Grade V to diploma standard in four years. Having letters after my name at 17 made me think I was the bee’s knees!
4) Mendelssohn Piano Concert No. 2 in D minor. Having achieved my ambition and been offered a place on the music graduate course at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, I spent the morning of my 21st birthday playing Mendelssohn’s second piano concerto with the Graduate orchestra. I was so nervous, I felt physically sick and I arrived at college at 6am to practise for three hours before the orchestra arrived. My mum came up from Cardiff on the train to hear me and thankfully, it went well. What a strange way to spend your 21st birthday…….
5) ‘Memory’ from the musical ‘CATS’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber. If I had a penny for every time somebody requested this song when I was singing in piano bars, I could probably afford to buy Lord Lloyd Webber’s art collection. I got so fed up singing it, I would pretend I didn’t know it and start singing ‘Memories……light the corners of my mind….’ by Marvin Hamlisch, instead, much to the frustration of the punters. I like it much better now I don’t have to sing it any more….
6) ‘La bohème’ by Giacomo Puccini. This was the first opera I ever saw performed onstage and it is my Desert Island Disc of all time. If I could only keep one single (well, double actually) CD from my collection, it would be this opera. The melodies, the orchestration, the storyline, the arias……….it’s the most wonderful, moving, melodic, tragic opera and in Act III, when Mimi and Rodolfo swear to stay together until springtime, I am usually to be found under my seat, bawling my eyes out.
7) Mass in B Minor by J.S. Bach. If ever there was an example of perfectly constructed, brilliantly formed music, the B Minor Mass is IT! The opening Kyrie begins with a fugue and develops into one of the most incredible pieces of music known to mankind. How he weaves his way back to the first subject is beyond me. The word ‘genius’ is bandied around a lot but trust me, JS Bach really was a GENIUS.
8) ‘One Voice’ by Barry Manilow. When I was at Guildhall, I had the opportunity to sing in Barry’s ‘One Voice’ choir at the Royal Albert Hall. It was February 1982 (30 years ago), it had been snowing and getting to the RAH was a nightmare. It was worth it to see the live show every night for a whole week and to actually sing onstage with Barry and his amazing band was one of the most thrilling experiences ever. I still have my personally autographed copy of this album today.
9) Owl City. How times have changed. I remember my parents and grandparents wondering why I liked certain types of music and now, I am trying to get into the music my 13 year old son, Dominic, enjoys. He’s a huge Owl City fan and I’m trying to get it……….really I am!
10) ‘A Country Suite’ by Fiona Bennett. I know, I know, it looks awful that I’ve chosen one of my own albums but I am so proud of my new music and I’d love you to hear it. ‘The New Lady Radnor Suite’ is on the way…….watch this space!
Mike Tyler-Singer/songwriter/poet reveals his Perfect 10.
(in the order I thought of ‘em)
Television, marquee moon
Scratch, scratch … scratch, scratch, itch
Big Star, #1 Record
There’s somethin’ down there
Beatles, For Sale
Oasis, Definitely Maybe
Massive Attack, Mezzanine
Denim, Back in Denim
Cake. Cake! CAKE!!
Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque
The obvious can never be said enough, because it’s said so much
The Horrors, Primary Colours
Of the three, number two
Mgmt, Oracular Spectacular
Be wishful about what you’re careful of
thanks for asking, Mky
Checkout Mike Tyler’s debut UK album, Erection out in August
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