Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Nine

Welcome to door number nine, behind which Guy tries to tease Dollard into giving away part of his top five.

Pranam Mavahalli

Charanjit singh - Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat (Bombay Connection)

Track - Raga Madhuvanti

I have to thank awesome online record shop Boomkat for bringing this to my attention. Recorded in 1982 on old school Rolands, it combines traditional Indian ragas with electro-disco, and according to some pre-dates acid house by five years. I’m not so sure about the whole acid house thing – but if it’s true, it makes Singh the coolest Indian dude since Amitabh Bachan (that’s a reference for the Bollywood fans out there).

John Skilbeck

Betty & The Werewolves - Tea Time Favourites (Damaged Goods)

Track - David Cassidy

Pop so fizzy you wouldn’t dare shake the bottle. Starting with their name, Betty & The Werewolves were born to raise eyebrows, but rather than being shape-shifting creatures the three-girl, one-boy band came across as cuddly as a teddy bear on their debut album. They explored well-mined indiepop territory on a heaps-of-fun LP, their sound smeared with cheap lipstick and doused in snakebite, and it was hardly a surprise to learn they’d had a career leg-up from scene matriarch Amelia Fletcher. A touch of Kenickie here, Talulah Gosh there, Tea Time Favourites was also probably the only album this year to proclaim its love for 70s pin-up David Cassidy.

Steve Pill

The Morning Benders - Big Echo (Rough Trade)

Track - Pleasure Sighs

This Brooklyn-based quartet might have a name that sounds like a perfect Inbetweeners-style insult (“Morning, benders!”) but their technicolour brand of indie pop is more consistently tuneful than Grizzly Bear and less affected than The Shins, making it a perfect iPod album. Winner.

Matt Collins

Kathryn Williams - The Quickening (One Little Indian)

Track - 50 White Lines

Kathryn Williams has been bubbling away beneath the surface for years, with no more than a Mercury Prize nomination to show for her considerable efforts. Such a beautiful voice, way with words and gentle way with a picked acoustic guitar can’t be ignored forever, and The Quickening is another collection of insistently catchy and beautiful songs.

Andy Welch

Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Notown)

Track – Same Dream China

Sometimes you love an album because you understand where the artist is coming from; their influences, their background and their intention. With me and Lucky Shiner, it’s almost the exact opposite. I don’t know anything about the artist, or indeed the genre as a whole. I often find electronic music cold and uncomfortably claustrophobic, but there’s a warmth and comfort to Lucky Shiner that I adore, while the samples used are sparingly but to dazzling effect.

Guy Atkinson

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening (EMI)

Track - Drunk Girls

Dollard will have this in his top five and offer up a far more astute review than I, but I'll give it a shot anyway. Following Sound of Silver was never going to be an easy task and so it proves because only rarely does James Murphy touch upon those dizzying highs again. But when he does, he shows the countless imitators how this 'dance-punk-electro' shit is done.

Dom Farrell

The Dead Weather - Sea of Cowards (Third Man Records)

Track - Blue Blood Blues

The Jack White/Alison Mosshart ensemble returned with a speedy follow-up to 2009's well-received Horehound. Sea of Cowards might lack the light and shade of its predecessor, but any complaints about the record being a tad one-paced are offset by the sheer visceral intensity on display. White takes a greater share of the vocal duties but, when allowed to, the duo work wonderfully off one another. The guitars are speaker-shredding and frankly, it's hard to remember keyboards sounding so downright angry.

Ian Parker

The Dave Rawlings Machine - A Friend of A Friend (Acony)

Track - Monkey And The Engineer

After years of hiding off to one side of the stage, whether it be alongside his partner Gillian Welch, Ryan Adams or Conor Oberst in Bright Eyes mode, Rawlings stepped to the front on A Friend of A Friend. Released late in 2009 (but late enough to be eligible for this year's advent calendar), is is an album largely co-written with Welch, who sings throughout. There is also a re-recording of To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High), which Rawlings wrote with Adams and which opened the classic Heartbreaker album, as well as a sprawling cover of Conor Oberst's Method Acting that then merges into Neil Young's epic Cortez The Killer. It's gorgeous. But the one that brings the biggest smile to my face is his take on Jesse Fuller's classic Monkey And The Engineer.

Rory Dollard

Gold Panda – Lucky Shiner (Notown)

Track - You

I came into Gold Panda totally cold via some obscure podcast on a dreary east Yorkshire evening but apparently he is one of both ‘much hyped’ yet still ‘underground’ types. I think that means 10 people being reallllllly excited about it. If so, they were right. Lucky Shiner is a bedroom dance album of rare wit and accomplishment, buggering of in new and exciting directions at every turn and hanging together amazingly well for a record that combines so many elements, seemingly on a whim.

Ali Mason

Broadcast 2000 – Broadcast 2000 (Groenland)

Track - That Sinking Feeling

When I first heard That Sinking Feeling, the swoonsome harmonies made me quite certain I was going to love Broadcast 2000. In fact, the harmonies are the main reason why I don’t quite love them. There’s a law of diminishing returns operating here: nearly every moment of every track is in harmony and, oddly, it starts to get in the way of the tunes. Having said that, it’s lovely stuff – just a bit lacking in variety.


  1. Well done Rory, we got it right it would seem...

  2. In the crappest name drop ever, a friend of mine knows the bass player in Betty & The Werewolves and we saw them play in a crap East End pub about 18 months. I hadn't listened to the album because I was disappointed by the fact that none of them is called Betty and not even the token boy has lupine facial hair. Good tune though.

  3. Indeed we did Mr Welch. Does this qualify me as PA Music Editor now?

    Can anyone see tracks for Kathryn Williams and Dave Rawlings? I really want to hear them both. I really liked a couple of Williams' earlier albums but i sort of gave up a couple of years ago and wanted to know if i need to dip back in

  4. Folks - apologies for the missing tracks. After spending some considerable time trying to work out how to use a Hungarian keyboard, and after some light abuse of a Budapest hotel PC (which will now forever have a Kathryn Williams track hidden on its hard drive), I've hopefully fixed both. So you'd better enjoy them now.