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Paul Steel makes our top twenty musicians of 2008

Paul Steel has slipped into my top twenty artists for 2008, right at the bottom of the final innings. I heard one of his songs, In a Coma, via BBC radio, and I am still in paralytic shock. With all the absolute sludge being released over the last twelve months, it’s so refreshing to hear music that is colourful, melodic and challenging to listen to. Forget Vampire Weekend and Fleet Foxes, this album has come from a 20 year-old Brighton native, who has taken the best elements of Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello and XTC, and transformed his album into a world of delightful tunes and animated wonders. This is what one of Brian Wilson’s band members said when he heard In a coma: ‘It just @$%^&* freaked me out! Holy @$%^&* bananas!’ What’s so upsetting is that Steel was subsequently dropped from his major label after releasing this album, but that’s ok. He’s now a truly independent genius in music.