Top 20 Albums I Love (11-20)

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Continuing on from my post yesterday, here are the rest of the albums I consider to be in my top twenty favourites.

Almost Here by The Academy Is…

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This marks the first album of band The Academy Is… who were one of the many Fueled by Ramen bands that dominated the alternative rock scene. At just over thirty minutes long, this bite sized album stepped apart from other alt-bands in the rise of the “scene phase” that gained popularity in 2005. William Beckett’s smooth vocals and powerful lyrics gave the band a steady foundation to build another two albums on. It might be far back in the music archives, but it’s one well worth listening to.

Songs to Love: All of them. There are only 10.

From Under the Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy

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The album that bought alternative rock to the mainstream chart. Fall Out Boy fell into the deep hole between Pop and Rock and built up an empire from the ashes. Although this wasn’t their first album, it was their first to make them household names and help them revolutionise guitars-and-drums musicianship.

Songs to Love: “Our Lawyers Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued”, “Of All the Gin Joints in All the World”, “Dance Dance”, “Sugar, We’re Goin Down”, “Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year”, “A Little Less Sixteen Candles, a Little More “Touch Me”, “XO”.

A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out by Panic! At the Disco

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Signed to Pete Wentz’s label, Decaydance, his prodigies went one step further than Fall Out Boy with the critically-acclaimed album A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. This record defies genre or definition, at times feels like a concept album, and breaks the mould musically and lyrically. I don’t believe there has been another album quite like it, before or since. Another Fueled By Ramen alumni, along with Fall Out Boy and The Academy Is, Panic! (as their name is often shortened to) were standout musicians with this breakthrough record.

Songs to Love: The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage, London Beckoned Songs About Money Written by Machines, Camisado, Time to Dance, Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off, I Write Sins Not Tragedies, Build God Then We’ll Talk.

Like Vines by The Hush Sound

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Hands up anyone who has heard of The Hush Sound? No one… well, that’s not really surprising. The Hush Sound were another of Fall Out Boy’s proteges, groomed in the same way Panic! At the Disco were, to make unique, and sometimes slightly odd, sounding music. They too were signed to Decaydance records and spawned three albums over their short lived time as a band. Like Vines was produced by Patrick Stump, who clearly gave it a little touch of magic, as it was by far their most popular.

Songs to Love: We Intertwined, Sweet Tangerine, Don’t Wake Me Up, Where We Went Wrong, Magnolia, Wine Red, Out Through the Curtain.

American Idiot by Green Day

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In a similar vein, Green Day’s American Idiot is unlike anything before or since. The social commentary concept album surrounding post-9/11 America and war ideologies went on to create the ground-breaking musical of the same name. Although at times the music is schizophrenic (see: Jesus of Suburbia), this album is really musical story telling at it’s finest, and on paper is simply poetry.

Songs to Love: Jesus of Suburbia, Holiday, Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Are We the Waiting, Wake Me Up When September Ends.

Hopes and Fears by Keane

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Keane are my homeboys, from Battle, East Sussex, not far from where I live. These guys put East Sussex on the map and wrote and recorded their album in the area. They’re out claim to fame, and we’re so proud to see them win awards and sell records doing what they love. Their first album, Hopes and Fears, not only put them on the map but was considered among the best British albums of all time.

Songs to Love: Somewhere Only We Know, Bend and Break, We Might as Well be Strangers, Everybody’s Changing, This Is the Last Time, Bedshaped.

+ by Ed Sheeran

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Ed Sheeran was an underground star before he ever released his first album, but the commercial success of + put him on the map. All Sheeran uses is a guitar and loop pedal when playing live and everything else is down to him. He’s a true musician and this album is proof that whatever he touches turns to gold. (Or ginger.)

Songs to Love: Drunk, Wake Me Up, Small Bump, This, The City, Lego House, Kiss Me, Give Me Love / The Parting Glass.

21 by Adele

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Who does not have a copy of this album? Who does not love Adele? I defy you to find a person guilty of both. Adele’s second album is a masterclass in how to write a breakup record and do it with grace, dignity and honesty. Need I say anymore? The album speaks for itself when I say it has sold over thirty two million copies world wide.

Songs to Love: Rolling in the Deep, Rumour Has It, Turning Tables, Set Fire to the Rain, Take It All, Someone Like You.

Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson

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From one strong female to another, Kelly Clarkson’s album Breakaway was probably the soundtrack to every female adolescent. It spawned hit after hit and remains Clarkson’s bestselling album to date.

Songs to Love: Breakaway, Since U Been Gone, Behind These Hazel Eyes, Because of You, Gone, Where Is Your Heart, Walk Away, You Found Me, Beautiful Disaster.

4 by Beyonce

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And from two strong ladies to another, it was difficult picking just one Beyonce album to feature, (not because they’re not all amazing, but because I’ve come to the end of my list), especially after she dropped her self-titled album as a complete surprise, fully formed with accompanying music videos. But 4 has my heart, as it’s the perfect blend of pop, r’n’b, soul, and a tonne of hits.

Songs to Love: 1 + 1, Best Thing I Never Had, Party, Start Over, Love on Top, Countdown, End of Time, I Was Here, Run the World (Girls).

That’s it, this concludes my list of top twenty albums I love. Let me know down in the comments if you agree or think I should have added a few more. Which one from this list is your favourite? Happy listening.

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Netflix and Chill: My Week with TV

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I spend a lot of time on Netflix, like most of the population, and I love nothing more than sitting in front of my laptop binge-watching my favourite shows. In fact, I take pride in my well crafted TV Schedule that keeps me ticking over for weeks on end, (until the mid-season finales and season breaks, that is.) You may thing a schedule is incredibly sad, but this is coming from the girl who does monthly lists of her top five/ten/fifteen favourites. And I’m a Virgo, get over it.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time

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If someone were to say, ‘Clare, we’re going to create a TV show just for you‘, I would have chosen something along the lines of Once Upon a Time. Fairy tale characters in the real world? Totally up my ally. The huge ensemble cast of the show and the varied characters not only from fairy tales but from Oz, Neverland and Wonderland, are what makes thing show so special.

Monday

The Fosters

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I watched The Fosters, firstly, for the diversity it brought to television. Then, as I got more invested, I watched it for Callie and Wyatt. Now, I still watch it for the diversity in the show and I live in hope that Callie and Wyatt will get back together and Callie will forget all about Brandon and we’ll all pretend like it never happened. Okay? Okay.

Tuesday

Finding Carter

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Sadly it was recently announced that, Finding Carter is not being picked up for a third season, but I wanted to give this beloved show an honourable mention.

I used to watch Kathryn Prescott in Skins many years ago, and I spent most of the first season marveling at her slick American accent. Although I love Max/Taylor as much as the next person, I’m still hoping for Max/Carter to drive off into the sunset like a teenage Bonnie and Clyde. Although the show has wandered far from it’s original premise, there’s something lovable about these characters that keeps me coming back.

Also on a Tuesday is:

Pretty Little Liars

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Although the Big A mystery is over, (and we’re all still not sure quite WTF happened in that episode), our Pretty Little Liars continue convince themselves that telling the truth will get them killed for another season and a half. I’m just hoping we get a bit more backstory/information re: the first five and a half seasons because let’s be honest, we’re all a little bit confused. That being said, it’s the PLL quintet of friendship that keeps us watching, especially after the scene where they all said goodbye before college. Don’t talk to me. I’m welling up.

Wednesday

Catfish: The TV Show

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My non-fiction pick of the week. For me, the mystery side of the show is what appeals to me (along with Max and Nev’s bromance), and whether or not the the love interest is Catfish-ing or not. I’m always thinking up wild ideas of who could be behind the profile before the reveal the identity, but some of them are so bizarre you just couldn’t call it.

Thursday

How to Get Away with Murder

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I wanted to watch this originally because of Alfred Enoch who starred as the lovable Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter movies. Then, when I watched the Pilot, I was hooked on the mystery that surrounded the Keating Five and binge-watched the whole of the first season. Then the second season came out, and I didn’t think they would be able to top the neatly packaged, perfectly paced story line of season one – but they did. The writers of this show are genius. They manage to keep the suspense moving, keep the character development deepening and seem to go bigger and better.

Friday

Reign

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Mary Queen of Scots, fiercely portrayed by the wonderful Adelaide Kane, shows what life was like for the young Queen at French Court, and the short-lived marriage she had with Francis II of France. I originally wanted to watch this show for Anna Popplewell, who played gentile Susan Pevensie from the first two Chronicles of Narnia films, but soon I fell in love with the whole ensemble of characters, from Mary’s ladies in waiting, the Valois family and the nobles at court. And as an already established Tudor fan, this show was just my style.

Saturday

Doctor Who

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Watching Doctor Who on a Saturday is a habit I’ve let slide. When David Tennant and Matt Smith occupied the role I was an avid watcher, and I’m not for one minute saying I don’t like Peter Capaldi. I do like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. The issue I have is with the content of the show, as some of the science-based narratives often get lost on me, so I prefer to sit down and binge-watch the whole season after it has aired so I can at least remember what happened between each episode, rather than have them weeks apart. I love each Doctor for different reason, and I won’t participate in a who-I-like-better debate because, for me, the Doctor is the Doctor, no matter who’s face he has, and he’s the reason why I still watch the show.

And then we go back to Sunday and do it all again! Let me know in the comments what TV shows you like to watch, and did I miss any out that are on your TV schedule?

Honourable Mentions to Shows Not in Transmission

FRIENDS

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For me, Friends is the mother-ship of TV shows. The best of the best, the cream of the crop, I can put any episode or season of Friends on and laugh my ass off. The characters, their lives, their love of coffee, the New York City apartment life. Everything about this show is perfect. (except for the episode where Joey “speaks” French. I mean REALLY?!)

One Tree Hill

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I missed the boat when the show was airing but I spent a long, long time watching and re-watching this show. I still can’t decide whether I wanted Peyton/Lucas to Brooke/Lucas to be end-game, and it’s something that still keeps me up at night, but maybe that’s the power of a good TV show. It keeps you thinking long after it’s finished.

Show Time by Phil Harvey – Review

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Harvey’s Show Time, a grotesque social commentary bridges the gap between The Hunger Games and Stephen King. It examines human nature, our morbid curiosity and our ever declining sensitivity towards violence. With the rise of social media, reality TV (sometimes “reality” TV), violent video games and the YouTube generation, our access to potentially harmful content is at it’s peak. Popular dystopian futures, like The Hunger Games and Divergent, often provide similar commentaries, but Harvey’s Show Time gives us a raw, gritty, darker side to these worlds, and shows an inevitable step up from the previous YA bestsellers.

Phil Harvey’s recent work is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although Suzanne Collins opened the door to this genre of YA, readers are now thirsting for something deeper, and arguably more violent, which is exactly what Harvey provides, both in the novel’s synopsis and reveals some truth in the underlying message about human nature. Show Time tells the story of a world where future viewing audiences have become totally desensitized to violence and are eager to escape their boring workaday lives. This addiction is nurtured by the media with graphic portrayals of war and crime and with so-called reality programming. Now, TV execs have created the ultimate reality show: Seven people, each bearing the scars of his or her past, are deposited on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. Given some bare necessities and the promise of $400,000 each if they can endure it. The three women and four men risk death by starvation or freezing as the Great Lakes winter approaches. The island is wired for sound, and flying drones provide the video feed, so everything the contestants do and say is broadcast worldwide. Their seven-month ordeal is entirely unscripted, they can’t ask for help or they forfeit the prize, and as far as the network is concerned—the fewer survivors the better.

The opening prologue to Show Time does not disappoint, delivering a grisly gut wrenching moment that aims to set the whole tone of the book. Although the rest of the novel fell a little flat for me, the true horror was that Show Time depicts a world that one day could be our future.

From 28th October till 3rd November, Show Time by Phil Harvey will be 0.99 FOR THIS LIMITED TIME ONLY. Get your copy at:

Amazon – iBooks Barnes and Noble

Additionally, Gumroad are selling electronic copies of Show Time and an exclusive short story Across the Water: Tales of the Human Heart for only $1.99. Get your copy here: https://gumroad.com/l/ShowTime

Phil Harvey is an award-winning author, philanthropist and libertarian whose stories won a prize from Antietam Review and were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Find out more about Phil Harvey and his upcoming releases at: http://philharveylit.org/ 

Praise for Show Time

“Show Time is erotic and chilling in its portrayal of human survival. Entertainment serves government by dishing up the ultimate reality program to sate a nation of voyeurs and ensure the continuance of our most civilized of societies. Check your calendar—the future is already here.”Sal Glynn, scriptwriter, and author of The Dog Walked Down the Street

“Show Time is a gripping page-turner. Reality TV has never been more frighteningly real.”John Fremont, author, Sins of the Fathers

“A vision of the future that is laugh-out-loud, until we realize how much it looks like the world we live in now.”Frank S. Joseph, award-winning author of To Love Mercy

“A thrilling immersion in the emotional, physical, and sexual reality of characters who thought they were playing a game but find they must fight to survive.”Linda Morefield, senior review editor, The Washington Independent Review of Books

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