Monday, November 30, 2009

The Musical Advent Calendar - Close But No Cigar

Let's call this a teaser.

Without giving too much away about what did make it, here are 10 that didn't, but that warranted a mention anyway.

Pretty much everyone on the panel has ended this process by lobbying for advent to be extended next year so we can get more albums in. I'm going to abuse my position running this blog to make that happen for me at least.

There's effectively two lots of five here. First, there's five albums that would make up Nos. 25-29 given half a chance - these were the last to get ruled out.

Then there's five tracks I absolutely love, and, had they had a stronger supporting cast on the album, would have been a shoo-in.

Just a bit of housekeeping for regular readers - given that every album on this list and in the advent calendar was, by definition, released in 2009, I'll list the record label where the year of release usually goes in the header.


Neko Case - This Tornado Loves You (Middle Cyclone, Anti-)

I've gone back and forth on this album. Ultimately it comes back to the fact I love Neko Case's sound, but I don't think this is her best album, and, for that reason and that reason alone, it disappointed just slightly. Only slightly, mind you.

Richard Hawley - Open Up Your Door (Truelove's Gutter, Mute)

As someone who grew up on the Longpigs before discovering music beyond indie-rock, I've been a huge fan of Hawley's Orbison-esque crooning from the start. So why does this album miss out where it might have been tipped for the top 10? I'm not entirely sure. I guess it's his most 'difficult' album yet, coming after the death of his father. I suspect it's one I'll grow to love more and more, and by the middle of next year, I'll be completely regretting leaving it off.

The Dead Weather - I Cut Like A Buffalo (Horehound, Columbia)

When the first draft of my list was drawn up, this was in the high teens, but eventually got pushed out. Not sure why, maybe my listening habits changed over the year and it was a victim of being released too early (I don't care how hard you try - this has an impact). But there's also a feeling that, good as it is, this just isn't that high up in the great Jack White pantheon. Please Jack, let's have another White Stripes album soon.

The Leisure Society - A Matter of Time (The Sleeper, Wilkommen)

A lot of folks have tried to label the Leisure Society as some kind of British Fleet Foxes. True, there's a bit of that, but it doesn't really give the whole story. Not by a long shot. Sure, there's plenty of beautiful harmonies, but there's a heck of a lot of varieties in styles. I was going to post a very Simon and Garf-esque track, but someone needs that for the advent calendar proper, so here's my favourite one off the album.

The Antlers - Sylvia (Hospice, Frenchkiss Records)

The very last album to get booted, technically after my own deadline had passed (hey, I get to do that). It was very hard to do, because I really did fall for this album on first listen, but, well, until we get advent extended, what can we do? Without giving too much away, you'll hear more of this album before the month is out.

Okay, so those were the unlucky albums. Now five tracks I adored but which needed a little more help from their brothers and sisters on the albums.

Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard - The Upside-Down Cross ('Em Are I, Rough Trade)

Sorry, yes, I know, it's eight minutes long. But it's wonderful.

Andrew Bird - Anonanimal (Noble Beast, Bella Union)

There's a handful of songs of this album I adore, but the overall thing somehow gives the impression of being too long. Not sure why - 54 minutes is not exceptional - but maybe there's a couple of songs we could have done without.

Here We Go Magic - Only Pieces (Here We Go Magic, Western Vinyl)

I got into this band purely because of Grizzly Bear. I heard they were supporting the mighty Bear on their US tour, and instantly scrambled to find out if they were any good, assuming, naturally, they would be. I wasn't disappointed.

Cracker - Friends (Sunshine In The Land of Milk and Honey, Freeworld)

A friend of mine has been on at me to get into Cracker for about the last decade. It took a collaboration with Patterson Hood to get it done - involve the Drive-By Truckers and you can guarantee that I'm there. Still not 100% sold on the rest of the album, but this is ace.

The Obits - Widow of My Dreams (I Blame You, Subpop)

This was a definite case of deciding to buy the album less than 30 seconds into the opening track. Riff-tastic. Fantabulous.

But enough of this, the show starts for real tomorrow. Join us from noon.

1 comment:

  1. gee whizz agent antlers? this is a huge early call