Damian's Review of 2004

"Damian makes a big list of stuff for you to argue over."

Welcome one and all to this, the inaugural Dampen Awards. Now then, there are no prizes as such on offer – partly because I'm too stingy to cough up the money to pay for a series of trophies and a few bunches of flowers for the winners and partly because it's all just a bit of a laugh. As far as I'm concerned, 2004 was the best year for music so far this decade. There were a host of wonderful new albums released, some by well known artists and some by some fantastic new talent. There were also a few wonderful re-issues and out of the 83 gigs I went to (including a handful of festivals) and the 200+ bands I saw play live at them, most of them were very good indeed. But enough of the intro (I'm never very good at them) I'm just going to crack on with my review of the year. I hope yours was as entertaining.





Album of the Year – The Futureheads by The Futureheads

There were a few candidates for this, with Franz Ferdinand and Roger battling it out for quite a while, but I have to give the award to The Futureheads. Their eponymous debut is the most exciting, uplifting and enjoyable album I've heard in donkeys years. Thirteen tracks in 33 minutes and every single one of them is just jump up and down fantastic. A canny album indeed and one that everybody should own. They even talk proper an'all.


The top five:

The Futureheads – The Futureheads
Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
Roger – This Is The Shit
Manic Street Preachers – Lifeblood
The Soundtrack of our Lives – Origin vol.1


Single of the Year – Pressure Point by The Zutons

Pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure. AAAGGGGHHHHH!!!



The top five:

The Zutons – Pressure Point
Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out
The Futureheads – Decent Days And Nights
The Soundtrack Of Our Lives – Big Time
The Libertines – Can't Stand Me Now


Favourite Song of the Year that wasn't a single – Trancendental Suicide by The Soundtrack Of Our Lives

It might well be a Swedish replica of You Won't Get Fooled Again by the Who but it is absolutely fantastic and has been played almost non-stop in the Incendiary Shed since I first heard it.


Album Cover of the Year – Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand

I was torn between this, The Libertines and The 22-20's. All are very simple. The Libertines album has a fabulous picture of Carl and Pete on the front that says more about the band and their relationship than the reams and reams of gossip trash written about them in the media. The 22-20's cover is simple, direct and very glossy but the Franz cover wins it for me because it's just so simple and striking. It looks great on vinyl especially, big, bold and important. It's more like a branding mark than a work of art and the fact that there are over 2 and a half million copies in various households around the globe means that it's everywhere you look, but despite that it still looks cool and for that it deserves it's praise.


The top five:

Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
The Libertines – The Libertines
The 22-20s – The 22-20s
Nirvana – When the Lights Go Out
The Beta Band – Heroes to Zeroes



Music Video of the year – Space Rock Hunter by the Polaroids

A shameless plug, I know.



Gig of the Year – The Polyphonic Spree at the Melkweg

They came. They sang. They jumped. They fisted their French Horns. They banged their drums and they worshipped the Sun. We laughed. We smiled. We sang along with them and we all wanted to get a cassock for Christmas. Outstanding.


Others of note:

Super Furry Animals – Melkweg

The Divine Comedy – Haldern Pop Festival

The Skatalites - Melkweg

Tom McRae - Scum

Franz Ferdinand – Paradiso



Favourite Support band of the year – The Zutons supporting Gomez, House Of Blues, Las Vegas

They apparently lost at roulette but they won a fair few fans that night.


Favourite Encore of the year – David Bowie, Amsterdam Arena

White Light White Heat (abandoned)Diamond DogsSuffragette CityZiggy Stardust


Nuff said.


Favourite Song performed live – The Divine Comedy – No One Knows at the Haldern Festival.

One of the best gigs I've ever seen in my life and this version of No One Knows (a cover of the Queens Of The Stone Age track) just had me grinning from ear to ear. As Neil Hannon himself said on the night, "I love banjo." Truly magnificent.


Favourite Live Moment of the Year – The Datsuns at the Melkweg

There were a lot of great live moments this year. Alex from Franz Ferdinand spraying the bottle of Incendiary champagne all over the front row of the Paradiso audience for one. The percussionist of the Polyphonic Spree clambering up onto the speaker stacks in the Melkweg to beat his drum for two. Ed Harcourt's rant about Keane for three. Jesse Malin getting everybody to lie on the floor of the Melkweg Old Hall and sing Neil Young's Helpless for four and the Super Furry Animals legging it off stage during The Man Don't Give A Fuck, only to return in full Yeti costumes and trash the stage for a fabulous fifth.

None of those however, come close to the moment when, towards the end of their set, Phil Datsun (I think that's his name; rhythm guitarist, looks about 12) stepped to the front of the stage. He hung his guitar over the audience, just out of reach of the mass of outstretched arms trying to get a pluck, milking the affection from the crowd for all its worth. Then, feeling the rush of love and adoration from his fans he decided to go a step further. Phil turned his back to the audience, lifted his guitar into the air and fell backwards, towards the crowd, hoping to indulge in a bit of crowd surfing. Sadly for him the crowd shat themselves and legged it out of the road, leaving Phil to fall from the stage and land flat on his back on the floor. Oh how I laughed.


Best Lyrics of the year

The Bees – Wash In the Rain

I've got salt, you've got pepper. Maybe we can get it together?


William Shatner – I Can't Get Behind That

I can't get behind so called singers that can't carry a tune, get paid for talking. How easy is that? Well maybe I can get behind that.


Works of Genius, the both of them.


Best Dressed Band – The Super Furry Animals

Everyone should have a yeti costume.


New Found Hero – Adam Green

In a town, in a city, in an eyeball, on a rock. In a fence where a goat was alone by himself.


The lad's just an eccentric genius. His show at Haldern was like a shot of adrenalin for me. He came across as a kind of Gram Parsons meets Tim Burton type figure and he even managed to sing "Goodnight to my Nazi friends" and get away with it. In Germany!




Worst album of the Year – The Libertines by The Libertines

To be honest, I'm being more than a little harsh here. It's certainly not as bad as that shite released by Therapy? or The Feint, or even the Kasabian album; but it was genuinely the most disappointing album of the year. It has two gob-smacking, heart stopping moments in Can't Stand Me Now and The Man Who Would Be King but the rest is just sloppy, half arsed and totally lacking in all respects. THAT is why it gets my worst album of the year award. I know the band have had their problems (read every other magazine/newspaper in the English speaking world for details) but after such a good story building up to its release, the end product just doesn't convince. There's far too much talent hiding in this band for it to result in something like this. Remember when you were at school and you did all your homework on the bus at the last minute? This album sounds like it was given the same amount of thought and effort. Shocking.


Most annoying single of the year – Keane – Bedshaped

It's bad enough that they've been played to death, but they released this dirge of a track towards the end of the year and it just will not go away. It's everywhere! Give me This is the Last Time, fine, Everybody's Changing, fair enough, but take this shite away from me! People wake up! They are NOT THAT GOOD! Trust me.


Worst Live Performance – dEUS at the Haldern Festival

Boring, boring, boring. I'd heard many great things about dEUS live shows in the past. EVERYBODY LIED!!!!!! Just shockingly, shockingly bad.


Most annoying live performance – The Go! Team at London Calling, Paradiso

Everybody at the back say GO! TEAM!! Everybody in the middle say GO! TEAM!! Everybody at the front say GO! TEAM! Everybody on the left side say GO! TEAM! Everybody on the right say GO! TEAM! Everybody in the middle say GO! TEAM! All the ladies say GO! TEAM! All the fellas say GO! TEAM! Everybody in the house say GO! TEAM!






And with that, I conclude my review of the year. Let's hope that 2005 is as good. See you down the front.


Words: Damian Leslie