Monday, December 06, 2010

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Six

Pranam is clearly out to claim Skillers' crown as our random music merchant. What can he come up with today?

Pranam Mavahalli

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today (4AD)

Track – Menopause Man

Insidious grooves that get better with each listen. Smooth but hinting at danger and recorded on what sounds like absolutely ancient equipment, I like Mr Pink’s soundworld very much indeed. Not 100% convinced by his song titles though.

John Skilbeck

The Corin Tucker Band - 1,000 Years (Kill Rock Stars)

Track - Doubt

Until I heard the first songs from Carrie Brownstein's Wild Flag in November, I reasoned her Sleater-Kinney bandmate Corin Tucker's very fine debut solo album would be the clear standout post-'hiatus' record by a member of the Portland band. Tucker's album was a band effort to an extend, but it also bore her name and these were her songs, her lyrics, and that forceful voice draped across it was unmistakeable hers. Released on the label which put out most of S-K's best work, it carried the hallmarks of that band in parts, but Tucker, who emerged in the 1990s at the forefront of the riot grrrl movement, is now a mother-of-two, so new experiences informed the songwriting she had returned to, restless from playing next to no guitar while she raised her young children. It was not all driving electric guitar - a twanging acoustic patrolled It's Always Summer, and the closing Miles Away was a lovely, yearning piano-led ballad. Eight out of ten then, easily, but then came Wild Flag, and the suspicion they might top 1,000 Years. Not that there's any competition. Is there?

Steve Pill

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record (City Slang)

Track - All To All

Yes, yes, they are a modern day, Canadian indie rock supergroup, friends with Feist and Metric and all that. That's all well and good, but supergroups are supposed to produce triple albums full of novelty songs, coked-up jams and stadium-sized displays of ego, not modest, inventive records like this. From the spaced-out opener World Sick onwards, FRR never fails to impress, particularly on the gentle throb of their apologetic little anthem, All To All. The presence of producer John McEntire, a member of post rock legends Tortoise, makes perfect sense.

Matt Collins

Tired Pony - The Place We Ran From (Fiction/Polydor)

Track - Held In The Arms of Your Words

Tired Pony is a supergroup led by Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, and features members of REM, Belle and Sebastian and Editors, among others. Gary writes the songs, giving the album the feel of an acoustic Snow Patrol album. But wait! The Place We Ran From lacks the would-be rock pretensions of Snow Patrol, and instead boasts shimmering production and simple songwriting that loops themes and choruses into a beautiful swirl of strings, backing vocals and melody.

Andy Welch

Band Of Horses – Infinite Arms (Columbia)

Track – Compliments

Often when bands move from cult indie concerns to bona fide major label players, they lose something in the transition. Not so with Band Of Horses, who made the leap to Columbia for their third album seem completely natural. Ben Bridwell’s stunning voice comes to the fore on Infinite Arms; haunting in parts, yearning in others, while the melodious hooks are impossible not to fall head over heels for.

Guy Atkinson

Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles II (Polydor)

Track - Baptism

Where their debut was like a bug-eyed, jaw-grinding shot of adrenaline to the veins, this second album is more akin to eating a particularly sordid batch of magic mushrooms. 'Tasty'.

Dom Farrell

The Strange Death of Liberal England - Drown Your Heart Again (The Strange Death of Liberal England)

Track - Like A Curtain Falling

I saw this lot giving it some serious beans in front of about 25 people in York a couple of months back. In fact, they were almost as into the sparsely populated gig as the solitary lunatic at the front who treated those in attendance to a one man moshpit come alternative dance freak-out. However, when songs from new record Drown Your Heart Again were played, his enthusiasm wained. This must only have been down to unfamiliarity, as tracks such as Like a Curtain Falling and Shadows showcase an exhilarating devil-may-care attitude to what is, at times, rampant miserablism. Fittingly named, Drown Your Heart Again is the sound of disappearing beneath the waves with a fist clenched defiantly in the air. When he knows the words, York's answer to Bez on crack will doubtlessly be bouncing off the walls once more.

Ian Parker

Frazey Ford - Obadiah (Nettwerk)

Track - One More Cup of Coffee

The Be Good Tanyas are an addiction of mine. Their sweet sounding country and gorgeous voices are a sweet treat I cannot go long without. Frazey Ford's decision to go solo on this album is therefore deeply worrying. There's nothing drastically different about Obadiah from any other Be Good Tanyas album, so does this mean she no longer needs the rest of the band? Are they done? Well, we'll put that worry to one side, if only for a short while, to admire another lovely record. And while they've always been able to write a mean tune, the excellent covers have always highlighted Be Good Tanyas records, so it's great to here One More Cup of Coffee on the end of this one.

Rory Dollard

Chemical Brothers – Further (Virgin)

Track - K+D+B

You remember the Chemical Brothers don’t you? An old museum piece of popular British music. You know superstar DJs and all that jazz. Remember? They pissed it up the wall a few years ago and drowned among the tedium of their rotating cast of collaborators. Okay, forget all that. Further is lean, mean dance music with next to no guest vocals but stacks of huge beats and fascinating diversions that require repeat listens.

Ali Mason

Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring (Wichita)

Track - Romance Is Boring

For a band whose lead singer wears his love of the Beautiful South firmly on his sleeve, it seems odd that the major flaw to Romance Is Boring is a lack of tunes. Los Campesinos! are renowned as an intelligent band, but too often it borders on wilful and gets in the way of the music. With plenty of knowing references and just enough shoutalong choruses, though, there’s enough here to remind you that they have been, or maybe could be, a genuinely exciting band.


  1. Nice to see Tired Pony on here. Terrifying on paper, but lovely album.

  2. Anonymous6/12/10 16:47

    So glad to see Corin Tucker here, as she's from my lovely hometown. Portland kicks ass!

    Thanks for the great selections guys!