Californication - R.H.C.P
You should be able to pick this up cheap, and make sure you do 15 excellent and varied tracks, the 4 released all continuing the Chilli Peppers string of hits. Scar Tissue and Californication are their biggest hits since Love Rollercoaster, and as classic as Under the Bridge.
Coldplay - Parachutes:
Immediately following up a Glastonbury appearance and top 5 hit Yellow with their debut album, Coldplay need no introduction. The rocking anthem is a typical on this debut. Shiver has an urgent longing and High Speed has grace, but the tracks on Parachutes are mainly as light as silk. Don't Panic especially has an understated elegance. Chris Martin's lyrics reveal a blunt yet engaging honesty, especially on the brittle-sweet We Never Change. His raw, exposed nerves are reflected in the transparency of the sound where every wavered note and cracked vocal are brutally put on show. Of course, the spectre of Radiohead casts a huge shadow over Coldplay's self-deprecating lyrics and subtle musicianship, never mind Martin's vocal style and falsetto. That makes it easy to shut out the band, but really they display a maturity beyond their years.
Foo Fighters - There is Nothing Left To Lose
This is the third album from the Foos and it steams in with Stacked Actors, and rocks like you knew it would. Dave Grohl and cohorts are still among the best exponents of post-grunge rock and they're more homemade and likeable than the likes of Garbage and their achingly corporate rock. There's not a duff song on There Is Nothing Left To Lose and there are plenty of different approaches and styles that should open them up to the wider audience that they deserve. Breakout, Learning to Fly and Live-In Skin are all potential singles, but with this quality of songwriting they could release any of the eleven tracks in their own right. The good thing about this group is that they, unlike so many bands, can see past what they think the Foo Fighters should sound like, and just get on with writing damn good songs.
Badly Drawn Boy - House of The Bewilderbeast
Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, is a prince among oddbods. Best known so far for being the man who accompanied Liam Gallagher on his recent lost weekend, he turned down a chance to go to San Francisco to record with U.N.K.L.E.'s James Lavelle so that he could take part in his pub's local pop quiz. Which he won. And he might start winning much more than that if his debut album is anything to go by. This is a man who was once a fan of The Police and China Crisis, but who has now absorbed Beck, The Beatles and even the likes of Paul Simon into his sunny balladeering. There's some typical Gough humour on show as a song title like Everybody's Stalking testifies, but he's much more than just a smart-ass Mancunian Babybird. Disillusion, Once Around The Block and Say It Again are magnificent pop gems and there's a feeling that after a couple of years larking around and telling everyone how good he is, he's decided to start proving it. A brilliant album.
Moloko - Things to Make and Do
Last year, Sing It Back made Moloko, the oddest of all the male/female duo/couples of - whisper it - trip hop, known to the Ibiza massive and then the rest of the country. Time Is Now then proved that while Moloko have exceptional pop nous, they still possess a dark side. And gave them a number two hit single about the destructive power of obsessive love. Throughout their third album, Mark Brydon and Roisin Murphy meld their disturbing manias to a compelling mix of live instruments and electronica. There is the glam stomp of Indigo with its refrain "Rameses, Colossus" and the wonderful duet Somebody Somewhere. Things get more freaky with Murphy's introspective Mother (or her satire on psychiatrist couch potatoes), but that just shows Moloko are now accomplished lyricists as well as the king and queen of experimental pop. Murphy's voice has strengthened over the years, allowing the duo to finally break out of the quirky kook-pop pigeonhole they so hated. The result is set to be one of the records of the year.
Richard Ashcroft - Alone with Everybody
This is a surprise. The echoing sounds of the Verve were not repeated for Ashcroft's debut album. Instead, he prefers to write about his overwhelming love for wife Kate and son Sonny, and it isn't bad. I personally like the dark messages the Verve sang (Drugs Don't Work, Bittersweet Symphony, etc.) than this, but his anthem style songs on Alone With Everybody show another talented side to Richard Ashcroft. We all knew he is a good songwriter and singer, but he is also very emotoinal in his songs. He's not gone soft, but he has restarted his career away from Nick McCabe succesfully.