Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Five

*BREAKING NEWS* Ali likes an album. Read on to find out which one...

Pranam Mavahalli

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker (Republic of Music)

Track – Alter ego

I feel slightly guilty for including Impala at the expense of Sweden’s Dungen, whom I feel they’re quite indebted too in terms of sound, and who also released an album this year. But as there’s only space for one psychedelic retro rock album in my list, Impala make the cut. It is lovely, with lots of rolling drums and guitars that phase-and-roll more often than they rock.

John Skilbeck

Robyn - Body Talk pt 1 (Konichiwa)

Track - Fembot

I didn’t go to many nightclubs this year. I turned 33 in November, signed up for a pension. When I had a free Saturday night you’d more likely find me reading a book in bed than taking in the sights, sounds and smells familiar to an inner-city barfly. But I fell hopelessly for Robyn’s fifth album, the first in a Body Talk trilogy, which emerged on her own Konichiwa label in June and could have ruled dance-floors all summer long but ultimately barely dented the charts. Sleazy synths held their ground as sweeping choruses stomped across them, the overtly electro-disco opener Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do recalling prime Chicks On Speed before Robyn crimped her own imprint on proceedings with the fabulous Fembot. The pace slowed down towards the end of the eight tracks, with the minor hit Hang With Me followed by a sweetly-sung Swedish folk song Jag Vet En Dejilg Rosa (trans: I Know A Lovely Rose). It was the comedown at the end of a hectic set, quite welcome as I reached to turn off my bedside lamp.

Steve Pill

Grinderman - Grinderman 2 (Mute)

Track - Worm Tamer

Oh dear…Uncle Nick has been at the cooking sherry again. Determined to prove that Grinderman's debut was no one night stand, his quartet have returned with another fierce barrage of cringeworthy innuendo and fuzzy, tribal blues that seeks to desecrate the polite memory of Cave's mid-1990s, Kylie-approved balladry. Never has four randy old goats trying to relive their promiscuous youth sounded so triumphant, repulsive and down right sexy. His worm is not for taming.

Matt Collins

Sea of Bees - Song for the Ravens (Crossbill Records)

Track - Lightfriend (From the Bee Eee Pee)

Artists who sound like the weird girl in your primary school who hung out on her own, and answered all your questions with a snarl, are quite the thing now. Sea of Bees, aka Julie Ann Bee, certainly flies a bit close to that incomprehensible light at times but she nevertheless has created an album of atmospheric driving songs. Gnomes sees Bee declaring “What is my crime?” against a backdrop of driving acoustic rock, while the likes of Fyre are gentler but no less atmospheric, almost anthemic.

Andy Welch

Goldheart Assembly – Wolves & Thieves (Fierce Panda)

Track – The Last Decade

There are few albums I listened to more throughout 2010 than Wolves & Thieves. Despite the number of plays, there still new things to stumble upon. At first, it’ll be the likes of Last Decade, Under The Waterway and King Of Rome that take you in; immediate, gloriously catchy pop songs, while with more time, the likes of Jesus Wheel and Carnival emerge as the album’s real highlights.

Guy Atkinson

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record (City Slang)

Track - Art House Director

Not a patch on their outrageously good 2002 effort You Forget It In People, but it is an enjoyable romp through what makes Broken Social Scene so glee-inducing at times and so frustrating at others. Rampant pop tunes like Art House Director and Texico Bitches make you want to stroke your nipples, while Sweetest Kill makes you want to chop your nipples off and stuff them in your ears. And therein lies the beauty of Broken Social Scene.

Dom Farrell

Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (Mercury)

Track - Empty Room

As with 2007's Neon Bible, Arcade Fire have spent three years crafting The Suburbs. The obvious, rallying stand-out moments of its two predecessors are absent - there is no Wake Up or Keep The Car Running on here. Instead, The Suburbs is Arcade Fire's most varied effort to date, although the lack of a common thread over a sprawling 16 track collection is sometimes to its detriment. The title track opener shuffles and chimes into view, before being followed by Ready To Start's snare-drum led adrenaline shot. Month Of May provides a gloriously scuzzy high point, but the tender lament of Wasted Hours lies just around the corner.

Ian Parker

Neil Young - Le Noise (Reprise)

Track - Walk With Me

For anyone who doesn't know, my views on Neil Young are fairly simple. He's the greatest musician in the history of ever. The albums he made at his peak are my favourite of all time, and his constant reinvention and endless muse lift him above all others. Not that every album is great. But the ones that aren't are a part of his greatness, his eagernes to experiment, and his devil-may-care attitude to whatever anyone else thinks. There was a part of me that wanted to put Fork In The Road on last year's list because, well, because it was Neil. But it wasn't all that good. There's a part of me that wants to have Le Noise higher, but again, that would just be because it's Neil. In truth, after all the talk of the novel production, I was really excited about this one. But it turned out to be only good, not great. The angry version of Neil is no longer as good as his gentle side. But it's still damn good.

Rory Dollard

Best Coast – Crazy For You (Wichita)

Track - Bratty B

Beth Consentino is the postergirl for the reverb drenched sound that seemingly launched a thousand albums this summer, though few of the pretenders got close to Best Coast’s happy, hippie, hazy, dazy, smokey dopey approach. Surf-rock, doo-wop and smirk-inducing dorky teenage lyrics are a fun mix, though they may not hint at longevity.

Ali Mason

Pearly Gate Music – Pearly Gate Music (Bella Union)

Track - I Woke Up

An oddly ramshackle album, this. With head honcho Zach Tillman the brother of a Fleet Fox it’s no surprise that there are haunting melodies to be found here and occasional rich harmonies, but this is an altogether more freeform and low-fi affair with wit and religious imagery thrown in. Some of the tracks, like opener Golden Funeral, are oddly depressing, but there is lots of loveliness if you persist, with Gossamer Hair and the plaintive I Woke Up particular standouts. Should be higher in my list than 20. Not sure what happened there.


  1. Some big names getting whipped out here chaps...Grinderman, Best Coast, Neil Young, Arcade Fire. I expect to see more of all as we go on. In less familiar news...Sea of Bees seems a very interesting little affair, would like to hear more, and Broken Social Scene makes me wonder why i didn't buy the album after listening to it once on a stream and really enjoying it.

    Ian Parker in "Neil Young not at number 1" shocker!

  3. At least he made it on the list at all this year.