Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Two

Hello, and welcome to day two, in which Skillers nominates something vaguely mainstream, Dollard weighs in with some big time hip hop, and Ali chooses an actual record.

Pranam Mavahalli

Konono No.1 – Assume Crash Position (Crammed)

Track - Guyiome

I first came across Konono here and was immediately hooked. They make the combination of thumb pianos and instruments made out of scrap metal sound like an electrified-samba-jungle-boogie. I succeed in making my thumb piano sound an arrhythmic mess, which is why I’ll leave it to the masters to show how it should be done.

John Skilbeck

She & Him - Volume Two (Double Six)

Track - In The Sun

Wowie Zooey. The spring brought another quite magical album from Deschanel and M. Ward. Two years on from their sparkling debut, Volume Two discredited the argument that She & Him was a vanity project for the ‘rom-com actress’ and the ‘hired-hand guitarist’. Deschanel’s beautifully fragile songs and her lullaby voice were enriched by Ward’s arrangements, and the band’s busy touring schedule underscored how both have been absorbed by the project. Like yesterday’s pick Shonen Knife, they played Matt Groening’s ATP. And Hollywood starlets don’t visit Minehead on a wet and windy weekend without taking something very seriously.

Steve Pill

Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon (Polydor)

Track - Communion (Feat. Karen O)

It’s sexy time. Fresh from his work with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV On The Radio, Dave Sitek has decided he'd rather ditch being a hipster gun for hire and instead become Brooklyn's answer to Justin Trousersnake. Thankfully, rather than coming off like a Flight of the Conchords-style spoof, the only excess shown on this album is the number of guest vocalists. Instead we are treated to ten perfect slices of electro pop that Prince would be proud of.

Matt Collins

Allo Darlin' - Allo Darlin' (Fortuna Pop)

Track - My Heart Is A Drummer

Not my usual cup of tea, I must say, but there’s something irresistable about this album. Mining the same vein as The Pippettes, who I retain a lot of affection for. Jangly sixties guitars and cute girl singer vocals all run together into an eminently dance-able, high octane pop fest that will be gracing indie clubs up and down the country.

Andy Welch

Toro Y Moi – Causers Of This (Carpark)

Track - Thanks Vision

I hear the word chillwave mentioned about an album and immediately approach it with caution – what a terrible term – but there was something about Causers Of This I found really intriguing. It could be the effects that sound like they’re straight off a Sega Mega Drive game, or it could be the sheer amount of time Chaz Bundick spent making the album. Either way, there’s something very special about Causers Of This, and sometimes that’s enough.

Guy Atkinson

Interpol - Interpol (Soft Limit)

Track - Lights

It's almost unthinkable really that one of my favourite bands of the 2000s are only 23rd in this year's poll, but that's what happens when you neglect the most important feature of any song - a friggin' tune. There's a few highlights on here, but the vast majority is of a quality so far removed from their finest moments on Turn On The Bright Lights and Antics that makes Carlos D's decision to flee look like a wise one.

Dom Farrell

Best Coast - Crazy For You (Wichita)

Track - Crazy For You

American garage bands mining the seam of eighties British indie is certainly an enjoyable trend. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart were a big Ragged Glories hit last year, and Best Coast's debut Crazy For You can also be expected to curry favour. With the nursery rhyme lyrics of social media junkie Bethany Cosentino to the fore, elements of surf and sixties girl group chic are also thrown into the mix to produce a honey-sweet debut effort.

Ian Parker

Pete Molinari - A Train Bound For Glory (Clarksville)

Track - Streetcar Named Desire

Pete Molinari's second album is right up my street. The Kent-born singer-songwriter has delved even deeper into the rockabilly sound he dabbled with first time around and come up with a record firmly stuck in the past, but very much part of my present.

Rory Dollard

Big Boi – Sir Lucious Leftfoot Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

Track - Shutterbugg

Outkast are undoubtedly one of the most fascinating hip hop acts of their generation but there have been suggestions of late that Andre 3000 is becoming too pantomime for his own good. Here his partner in crime goes it alone and creates something a little less florid but more sonically interesting than what has come before. The clich├ęs of rap music are mostly absent or subverted and standout track Shutterbugg – with its Wu-Tang and Soul II Soul references – is pure fun.

Ali Mason

Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love (Rough Trade)

Track - Write About Love

Painful as it is for me to admit, I really, really dislike this album. Only a disappointing year and a probably misplaced sense of loyalty and sentimentality can find it a spot in my top 24. Belle & Sebastian haven’t, in my opinion, been the same since Isobel Campbell left. I suspect Stuart Murdoch agrees, and that’s why he’s invited guest female vocalists to try and jazz things up a bit. They can’t hide the fact, though, that the tunes are insipid and the lyrics lack zip. And yes, Stuart, you love God. We get it.


  1. Anonymous2/12/10 16:36

    I couldn't agree more about Belle & Sebastian!

    So happy to have stumbled upon this blog-thanks for some great tunes. You can be sure I'll check back everyday for your reviews/suggestions. Keep up the snarkyness. : )
    -Your fan from across the pond

  2. Funny that Ali, because I would have used the phrase "the tunes are insipid" to describe Belle & Sebestian's entire back catalogue.

  3. Bugger....I made one an early call that I didn't like Allo' Darling based almost entirely on the apostrophe in their name. I deemed it way too "mannered". Turns out I love that tune. Reminds me of of Squeeze in a weird way.
    Liking that Maximum Balloon track too...looks like this blog is going to hit me in the pocket again.

    Also, welcome to ms allthatjazz..."please come again"

  4. Akko! One day so kind, the next so cruel. I never had you down as a Belle & Sebastian devotee though to be honest.

    Good to have picked up a fan. I think we briefly had one of those last year - as well as someone who enjoyed criticising our grammar.