Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Twelve

Today one album gets three nods, another gets two. Welcome to what will now be known as Consensus Day.

Pranam Mavahalli

Warpaint – The Fool (Rough Trade)

Track – Shadows

Warpaint arrived on my radar alongside a lot of hype and ‘sleb associations. This made me sceptical. But I think they’re very much more than the scene-ster band they could be and this is a very fine record that I keep returning to. I think their current rhythm section is the most exciting to emerge in indie rock since that in Interpol. Start the debate.

John Skilbeck

Warpaint - The Fool (Rough Trade)

Track - Baby

Today we reach the halfway mark and an apology is due: so to Caribou, to Agent Ribbons, to Cinema Red And Blue, to Zola Jesus, you all brought me great joy in late 2010 and I’d surely have squeezed at least a couple of you ahead of Warpaint had your LPs and my ears met before this list was submitted in early November. Not that Warpaint, a four-girl LA rock band whose sound is like nothing you might expect from a four-girl LA rock band, would slide any further down the list than the mid-teens though. The Fool was a spellbinding debut album, an exercise, like the XX’s debut, in restraint fashioning a substantial work of elegance. It had a radio hit in Undertow, but hardly went looking for it. Post-punk guitar lines circled and swooped around wraithlike vocals and a snare-drum clattered by, and it was rather wonderful indeed.

Steve Pill

The Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers

Track: Until The Last

Before writing A Chorus Of Storytellers, Jimmy LaValle's band performed a score to FW Murnau's 1927 film Sunrise. Was there ever an act better suited to soundtracking a silent film? For some, the Album Leaf can often slip down unnoticed, with plaintive keys, vocal harmonies and cute chord progressions all making the minimal fuss. Strap on headphones though for the warmest, most uplifting listen of the year.

Matt Collins

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Parlaphone)

Track - Some Kind of Nature (ft. Lou Reed)

Gorillaz finally move out of the amateurish beats side project with Plastic Beach. It’s as cohesive as it is interesting, helped in no small part by genuinely talented guest stars, all with a shared lineage of behind-the-scenes uber-cool. Welcome To The World with Snoop Dog is actually real hip-hop, while Lou Reed makes Some Kind of Nature what Damon Albarn has presumably been aiming for all this time - lazy, fluid melody and a tight groove.

Andy Welch

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Parlaphone)

Track - Welcome To The World of the Plastic Beach

The guest line-up is incredible; Mark E Smith, Mos Def, Bobby Womack, Gruff Rhys and Snoop Dogg to name a few, each used effectively, no one getting by on name alone. Even more staggeringly, the best songs on the album are the ones that see Albarn go it alone. It was a shame to see the band fare so badly at Glastonbury, their Roundhouse show a few months earlier was among the most thrilling gigs I’ve ever been to and captured the very best moments of this terrific album.

Guy Atkinson

65daysofstatic - We Were Exploding Anyway (Hassle)

Track - Crash Tactics

Sheffield's leading lights in the charge to make instrumental-post-math-rock as popular as Justin Bieber came up trumps with an album brimming with invention, noise and, most importantly, tunes. It might not be enough to knock that little Canadian shit off his stride, but it sure as hell makes me want to dance and smash things at the same time - an explosive combination.

Dom Farrell

Family Band - Miller Path (Family Band)

Track - Fantasy

The time of year can often play a key role in your perceptions of a record. When I first heard Miller Path in early summer, I found it to be a perfectly pleasant and well constructed folk and Americana collection. As the nights have drawn in and temperatures have plummeted, the haunting, ethereal beauty of the New York trio's debut has become apparent. Miller Path was recorded in a cold, damp wooden cabin, which, in the most complimentary terms, is exactly how it sounds.

Ian Parker

Warpaint - The Fool (Rough Trade)

Track - Set Your Arms Down

I'm the third guy attempting to review this today alone, nevermind the number of different opinions being thrown out in the calendar as a whole. Though the fact that we all seem to have put it in mid-table is fitting. It's a really good album, an infectious album, but something about it stops it being short of great.

Rory Dollard

Tallest Man on Earth – The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)

Track - The Wild Hunt

A Swedish singer-songwriter in love with early Dylan and in possession of a ludicrous moniker may not sound like the stuff great albums are made of in 2010 but you should never judge a book by its cover. Unless it has a recently ousted Labour politician on it, in which case it’s probably a tedious account of the demise of New Labour. But I digress. The Wild Hunt is just the sound of one guy with a guitar, a great voice and 10 wonderful songs. What’s not to like?

Ali Mason

Smoke Fairies – Through Low Light And Trees (V2 Coop)

Track - Erie Lackawanna

Best band name of the year, yes. Most apt album title of the year, yes. Best album of the year...not quite, though it is very, very good. The Smoke Fairies have created a wonderful niche, full of murky atmosphere and portent summed up perfectly by the album’s name. Indeed, Through Low Light And Trees is as much about atmosphere as it is about music and lyrics. It’s rural and eerie and lonely and, even when the country guitar kicks in on Strange Moon Rising, peculiarly British.

1 comment:

  1. Props to Parky for using the number 12 from the Sesame Street/Pointers Sisters pinball cartoon... Love it.