A people's choice band as well as purveyors of sharp-suited art punk chic, Franz Ferdinand have crashed into our collective
consciences with a string of smash hits. If there was a riff of the year it would be the one from Take Me Out. And they've
definitely won Festival anthems of the year with Matinee, Michael and This Fffire. In fact, the Reading Festival is a good
indicator of how far they've come. Only a year before in 2003 the Glaswegians rocked the tiny Carling Stage. This year they
made it on to the Main Stage. That's at least 300 metres further.
Seriously though, the whole album is packed with their brand of uplifting yet broody music, which is both radio-friendly and
underground, melodic and atonal, with more angular posturing than a Cubist painting. Each single has been an event in this
year's calendar. The band are everywhere, but not intrusively so. They're everywhere because we demand them to be, and they
Ed Harcourt - Strangers The Sussex troubadour is armed with a bag of beautiful melodies, poetic words and heart-on-sleeve sentiments with his latest album Strangers. The album is an ethereal joy-ride from start to finish.
Cathy Davey - Something Ilk The Dublin-born singer may sound candy cane sweet, but listen to her lyrics and you'll discover a feisty lass with more kick than Bruce Lee.
Is it a Morrissey? Is it a Damon Albarn? No! It's The Dears with one of the most beautiful and track-stopping songs I've ever
heard, ever. The pop-noir group are going to be huge in 2005, I can feel it in me waters. Any band that can with such a
plaintive song induce a spirit of euphoria in the listener is destined for greatness.
Razorlight - Golden Touch Johnny Borrell's Jagger swagger personifies the spirit of this Anglo-Swedish quartet - arrogant, hooky, and bloody brilliant.
Matt Bellamy is the gothic Mozart of our times, so it's just pure jaw-dropping pleasure
watching him and his band perform live. They're a real musician's band because it's hard to fathom the sheer virtuosity at
play here. Rising from below the music's high melodrama comes the intricate piano concertos and lightening guitar solos
delivered so effortlessly by Bellamy. The Devon frontman also sang with such full-throated falsettoes that it was well nigh
impossible for the singing crowds to keep up.
On top of that the gig was a real rock opera show, complete with steam rockets, large balloons and a rainbow of liquid
lights. One of those gigs I'll still be talking about in 30 years' time.
Rick Astley @ The Criterion Theatre, London20 September 2004 We were expecting to guffaw and mock our way through Astley's comeback gig.
Instead we ended up in the standing ovation, screaming for more of the Lancashire lad's performances of old classics and
'those' eighties hits.
Doves @ Hammersmith Palais, London15 December 2004 There's an indefinable magic about this Manc band that just makes you feel like you're floating away on a dreamy trip. I felt it this time too. Boy was it good.