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My top 5 recommended albums of 2012

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5. Purity Ring ‘Shrines’ (July, 2012)

The debut album, ‘Shrines’ from Canadian electronic duo, Purity Ring, is at number 5 on my list of recommended albums of 2012.

Formed in 2010, the band consists of Megan James on lead vocals and Corin Roddick providing the instrumentals and backing vocals. The sound of Purity Ring has been described as ghost or witchwave, which is essentially dream pop fused with modern hip hop and vivid lyrical imagery which wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to a European art-house horror film. If Purity Ring were a film, they would definitely be an 18 certificate; something beautiful to look at, yet terrifying in its execution and subsequent recurring nightmares.


4. Ellie Goulding ‘Halcyon’ (October, 2012)

Ellie Goulding‘s second album ‘Halcyon’ is at number 4.

Goulding is my favourite recipient to date of the BBC‘s annual Sound of… poll and Brit Awards’ Critics’ Choice. She won both awards in 2010 and has continued to grow and develop in to a diverse, visually-exciting and critically-respected artist.

It was Goulding’s 2010 cover of Elton John‘s ‘Your Song’, which sparked the current trend of using acoustic power ballad covers of well known songs to accompany seasonal or big brand tv advertisements, recent examples being Slow Moving Millie‘s ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ and Gabrielle Aplin‘s ‘The Power of Love’.

‘Anything Could Happen’ was the first single to be released from the album and is one of my favourite tracks of this year. Goulding likes to experiment and is a creative risk-taker, as trendsetters commonly are. I think that she will be around for many years to come.


3. Miike Snow ‘Happy To You’ (March, 2012)

The second album, ‘Happy To You’, from Swedish indie-electronic band Miike Snow is at number 3.

The band’s debut, self-titled album was my favourite album of 2010 and I have been a huge fan of this quirky, multi-talented trio ever since. ‘Paddling Out’ and ‘The Wave’ have been released as singles so far, but my favourite tracks from the album would be ‘Bavarian #1 (Say You Will)’, ‘God Help This Divorce’ and ‘Pretender’. The 10-track album is full-bodied and frenetic with its mix of wandering synths and quivering beats, interspersed with trademark Snow double entendres. Some critics felt that this album didn’t quite live up to the hype created after the success of their first record, but fans generally and heartily disagree. ‘Happy To You’ is Miike Snow at their best, showcasing exactly what got them to where they are today and what sets them apart from the rest. Which is a lot.


2. Marina and the Diamonds ‘Electra Heart’ (April, 2012)

Marina and the Diamonds’ second album, ‘Electra Heart’ is at number 2 on my list and it was quite a close call.

Marina came second to Ellie Goulding on the BBC’s Sound of 2010 poll and has enjoyed an equal level of success since. ‘Electra Heart’ was the eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2010’s ‘The Family Jewels’, and highlighted a marked shift on Marina’s part towards a more heavily electronic sound. The album tracks are based around the character of Electra Heart, who chronologically demonstrates Marina’s own take on the many facets of the female personality; the primadonna, the homewrecker and the teen idol. The musical creativity and writing on this album are stunning; both qualities being a factor in the album’s easy slide in to the number one position on the UK Album Chart on its release. ‘Electra Heart’ is cheeky and catchy whilst also being socially-conscious – not easy to pull off, but Marina manages to do it in style whilst conserving her substance.


1. Lana Del Rey ‘Born To Die’ (January, 2012)

Lana Del Rey‘s debut album, ‘Born To Die’, holds the number 1 spot on my list and at the moment, on my in-car stereo too.

Del Rey’s sound has a cinematic quality to it – each track makes you the lead in your own independent film, be it a roadtrip along the Pacific coast with regular stops at 50s-inspired diners and vintage clothes stores or a weekend with the upper echelon in East Hampton. I literally cannot get enough of this album. I want to sound like Del Rey. I want to look like Del Rey. I want to be Del Rey. I trust that this clarifies matters.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

December 14, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Talented tootsies, gals, lassies and other such sweet things…tracks from Beach House, Marina, Agnes Obel, Paloma Faith, Amy MacDonald and Angus & Julia Stone

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Looking for an apt title to headline a piece about a collection of female singer-songwriters, I happened upon the following synonyms for the word ‘female’: babe, bimbo, dame, dish, doll, floozy, moll and skirt. I just didn’t feel quite right describing such talented and respectable artists as Paloma Faith and Julia Stone as ‘skirts’, so I opted for the slightly less Dickensian and more Gaelic ‘lassie’ and ‘tootsie’…a reference which in no way implies any similarities to the work or wardrobe of Dustin Hoffman. Just so that we’re clear.

Beach House is a dream pop duo consisting of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. Legrand hails from France and Scally from Baltimore, US. The duo’s fourth studio album, ‘Bloom’ was released in May 2012 to critical acclaim, following 2010’s ‘Teen Dream’ which has been described as one of the best albums of its year. I have highlighted new album track ‘Lazuli’ below.


Marina And The Diamonds released the follow-up to debut album ‘The Family Jewels’ a couple of weeks ago; ‘Electra Heart.’ ‘Power & Control’ is the second track to be released from the record, which is performing brilliantly in the UK Album Chart. To be fair, there isn’t one weak track to be heard on the album, so it deserved to do well. This is probably my favourite record of the year so far.


I am loving the new high-gloss, high-drama TV series Revenge on E4. I’m not usually a fan of such things (90210, One Tree Hill, The O.C.) as they pretty much bleed in to each other plot-wise. You could accidentally sit on the remote as you reach for your Chipsticks, switch over half-way through and not realise you had actually scooted over the short coastal distance from Beverly Hills to Newport Beach and the cast had all aged about 20 years. Revenge however has the edge…maybe that’s because it’s set on the East Coast? It has a great cast, an addictive plot sequence and very importantly for me, an exciting musical soundtrack.

Agnes Obel‘s track, ‘Avenue’, featured on the pilot episode of Revenge and had a big impact. The track is taken from the Danish singer-songwriter’s debut album ‘Philharmonics’ which was released in September, 2010. Album track ‘Riverside’ has also featured on the hit series; Obel is obviously a personal favourite of the music supervisor.


Paloma Faith released her second album ‘Fall To Grace’ last week; an album which was preceded by the single ‘Picking Up the Pieces.’ The track is Faith’s highest charting single to date. I also really like ‘Just Be’ which Faith performed on Later…with Jools Holland recently. It is surprising and slightly irksome to her followers that Faith hasn’t yet enjoyed the same level of notoriety as some of her peers, particularly Stateside, but I think that this is all set to change with this album.


Amy MacDonald released her third studio album today (June 11th, 2012), ‘Life In A Beautiful Light.’ The album has already garnered several positive comments from the music press and Perez Hilton no less. The album follows in much the same vein as ‘This Is The Life’ and ‘A Curious Thing’, but possesses perhaps a more rose-tinted lyrical glow. MacDonald is no less fiesty in her subject matter, but everything certainly seems to be blooming in her world. Good for her.


Angus and Julia Stone for those who are not in the know, are a brother-sister folk duo from Sydney, Australia. They formed the band in 2005 and have since gone on to release two studio albums, the most recent of which was ‘Down The Way’ in 2010. I re-discovered ‘Hold On’ whilst watching Revenge last week. Angus and Julia are both working on solo projects at the moment, so I don’t think that we can expect any new music anytime soon. / / / / /

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

June 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Dainty in appearance, yet dangersome in demeanour; Electra Heart by Marina And The Diamonds @MarinasDiamonds

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Marina And The Diamonds second album, ‘Electra Heart’, is currently sitting pretty at the top of the UK album chart. If the album were to represent a singular female character, she would certainly be dainty in appearance, yet dangersome in demeanour.

The electro-pop singer-songwriter has said that she based the album around traditional female character types, commonly found in love stories, film and theatre:

 …usually ones associated with power and control in love, as opposed to weakness or defeat.

These characters include the Primadonna and the Homewrecker and Diamandis’s tongue is firmly planted in her cheek; she uses elements of ‘the American dream’ and Greek tragedy to create an empowered yet perhaps morally and spiritually vacant female character and the result is a twelve track album of evolution and electronic excellence. For me, this album manages to surpass the wonder that was debut album, ‘The Family Jewels.’ Don’t take my word for it though; you can listen to the full album below and I guarantee that you will be rushing to purchase your very own copy.


Marina will be supporting Coldplay on their upcoming European tour, before embarking on a headline tour of the UK. Dates and ticket details can be found at the link below.

Album track listing includes: Bubblegum Bitch / Primadonna / Lies / Homewrecker / Starring Role / The State of Dreaming / Power &  Control / Living Dead / Teen Idle / Valley of the Dolls / Hypocrates / Fear and Loathing

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

May 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm

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New tracks I like: KT Tunstall, Marina, Enrique and The Script

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There are some great tracks due for release in the coming weeks; I have listened to several and picked my favourites of the bunch:

KT Tunstall ‘(Still A) Weirdo’ (released September 20th, 2010)

This mellow and quirky track is taken from Tunstall’s new album ‘Tiger Suit’, which is set for release on September 27th, 2010. 2004’s ‘Eye to the Telescope’ which was a worldwide success, was one of my favourite albums of that year and I still listen to it regularly now. Tracks such as ‘Other Side of the World’, ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ and ‘Suddenly I See’ never seem to age and I find something different that I like in the lyrics with each airing.  I wondered when Tunstall would be back with her trademark acoustic guitar and insightful takes on subjects such as romance, family history and…still being a weirdo! I look forward to the new album and to seeing Tunstall live in the coming months.

Marina and the DiamondsShampain’ (released September 27th, 2010)

The unusually spelt ‘Shampain’ is taken from Marina’s debut album ‘The Family Jewels.’ The album and artist have soared in popularity this year with other hits such as ‘Hollywood’, and my personal favourite, debut single ‘I Am Not a Robot.’ I love a strong, funkily dressed, eccentric female lead so unsurprisingly, I also love this album. Comparisons have been made with Florence Welch, predominantly due to their equally striking vocal instruments but I think Marina’s strength lies in her new wave/pop-fused songwriting skills and I like a track I can dance to which you could with Florence, but may end up either giving yourself a hernia or looking like you’ve taken too many Night Nurse tablets.

Enrique Iglesias ft Nicole ScherzingerHeartbeat’ (released September 27th)

Oh Enrique, Enrique, Enrique, Enrique, where dost I begin? This track is taken from his latest album, July 2010’s ‘Euphoria.’ I have been a fan of Enrique for many years and I stand loud and proud with that admission. I love his tracks; the ballads, the up-tempo numbers, the crazy dance floor dittys, I simply love them all. Yes I’ll admit it, it doesn’t hurt that he looks like a god of men either, but I am sure that my love truly lies in the music…I’m sure…I think…

The Script ‘For The First Time’ (released September 5th, 2010)

This is the first single from the Irish pop-rock trio’s second album ‘Science and Faith’, set for release on September 13th, 2010. If I’m honest I wasn’t particularly a fan of this band with their first self-titled album, only liking one of the singles that they released from the record which was ‘The Man Who Can’t Be Moved.’ I just felt like they weren’t entirely sure what their niche was, with some tracks falling in to the R&B category, some in to the Pop-Rock category and others being a mish-mash of the two; I felt very confused. I’m all for diversity and I like seeing different elements of a band’s talents on a record, but it felt like they were just as confused as I was. I really like this track though; could it perhaps be because it’s taken from an album which focuses on the current economic and social climate in Ireland? I think it just might!


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

August 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Alan Pownall, ‘True Love Stories’ – album review

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Having heard his name being reviewed and revered a great deal of late; I decided to check out the folk-pop/alternative offerings of Alan Pownall this week.

Pownall is a London-based singer-songwriter, currently signed to Mercury Records. His debut single ‘Chasing Time’ was first played by Fearne Cotton on Radio 1 in February of this year, and his debut album ‘True Love Stories’ was later released on 25th June 2010. Cotton claimed that the debut single made her cry on first listen; luckily for Pownall these were tears of joy rather than the alternative. I have included a link below to the BBC Introducing session with Alan, where he performs ‘Chasing Time’ and chats to the brilliant blubber herself in the studio.

Although I think it only fair to give an album a good few listens in full before drawing your conclusions; I do often tend to skip a couple of tracks along the way as my mind sifts my favourite tracks from the also-rans. With this album however, I found that no sifting was required as I found diverse yet complementary hooks in each track which kept my attention throughout. Stand out tracks for me would be: ‘Too Many Holes’, More or Less’, ‘Don’t You Know Me’, and ‘Clara’; but my favourite of the record would have to be ‘Colourful Day.’

The 24-year old’s soothing and swooning vocals are at their best on this track, which is accompanied by an equally sublime and summery music video. Pownall has been likened to Jack Johnson which is a comparison that I can see on a couple of tracks; however, I think he fits much better in to the burgeoning and rather exciting London indie-folk scene, with the likes of Noah and the Whale and Mumford and Sons. I would agree that Pownall’s sound is slightly more melancholy than Mumford’s, but this for me would never be a criticism; I’m a Cancer and we just love to drift away, riding the waves of emotion or basking on the shores of sentimentality.

Pownall has supported the likes of Adele and Marina and the Diamonds on recent tours and has a couple of gigs coming up over summer for our southern-dwelling friends; I look forward to catching him up north very soon. I predict big things for him in the coming years.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

July 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm

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