Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Nineteen

We're one day away from the start of the top fives, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. What did we all pick as the No. 6 album of the year?

Pranam Mavahalli

Bob Dylan – Bootleg Series Vol.9 - The Witmark Demos 1962-64 (Columbia)

Track - Tomorrow Is A Long Time

I don’t think this is one just for the completists. I’m a big fan of Dylan when he’s stripped back to just voice and guitar. There are plenty of gems to choose from, but I love this version of one of my favourite of his tunes here.

John Skilbeck

Sleigh Bells - Treats (Columbia)

Track: Rill Rill

You don’t simply listen to Treats. No, you accept it will dominate you because there is no other way, that is how it will be. Fierce, primal, a wrecking-ball of an album, to pump Treats through good headphones or a powerful stereo is an audio-physical challenge, one which should not be attempted without another adult in the house. Just to be on the safe side. There’s a boy and a girl in Sleigh Bells, they’re from Brooklyn, I suspect they’re Big Daddy and Hit-Girl (you’ve seen Kick-Ass, right?) passing time before another Gotham mission. Sure, Sleigh Bells might be ringing this Christmas, but they’ve had ears ringing all year.

Steve Pill

Washed Out - Life of Leisure (Mexican Summer)

Track: Feel It All Around

Never in the history of recorded sound has there been a genre as twattish sounding as 'chillwave'. Washed Out almost makes it worth enduring with six tracks of blissed out, wonderfulness. I found it in a dingy West London record shop and fell in love with it on a beach in Sicily. Normally I'd say the surroundings swayed my critical faculties but even in a snowy December, Feel It All Around is the sound of a heat haze.

Matt Collins

Jonsi - Go (Parlaphone)

Track - Boy Lilikoi

With Sigur Ros at the height of their popularity, it’s a strange move for their vocal linchpin to go solo. It’s a poppier affair than his dayjob, and the mystery is slightly dispelled hearing Jonsi singing about clouds and life like everyone else. But the drama of the music, the colour of the musical beds and the the trade mark falsetto oohs looping into a beautiful whirlpool of sound make it an endless delight.

Andy Welch

Paul Weller – Wake Up The Nation (Island)

Track – Andromeda

Here’s a choice guaranteed to ruffle a few feathers. I know a fair few of the Ragged Glories panel dislike, nay despise Paul Weller. My love affair with the man and his music goes back a long way, and I admit I’d blindly, unthinkingly follow him anywhere. That said, Wake Up The Nation comes at the end of a period of musical experimentation that began with As Is Now and exploded on 22 Dreams. I find it difficult not to be moved by someone in their 50s, previously so set in his ways and mocking of dismissive of ‘art’ and the Avant garde, trying new things and still willing to upset his loyal fans. Wake Up The Nation is up there with the very best of his back catalogue. Considering the strength of his past, that’s really saying something.

Guy Atkinson

Circa Survive - Blue Sky Noise (Atlantic)

Track - Imaginary Enemy

The ridiculously prolific Anthony Green doesn’t show any signs of slowing down as this fine third album from his latest bunch of post-hardcore heroes testifies. Bringing a much fuller and diverse sound than their previous two efforts, Circa Survive continue to show why they are seen by many as the standard bearers for this most over-subscribed of genres.

Dom Farrell

The Coral - Butterfly House (Deltasonic)

Track - Walking In The Winter

Scouse urchins go west coast. Doesn’t necessarily sound promising does it? However, with Butterfly House, the Coral have produced a career high watermark at the fifth time of asking. Opener More Than a Lover proudly wears the twin influences of Love and Ennio Morricone, and James Skelly and co take this sun-drenched concept, weave it with some of their trademark homespun psychedelia and run with it across 12 tracks where there is barely a turkey in sight.

Ian Parker

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

Track - Hustle and Cuss

The Dead Weather didn't just turn things up a notch on sophomore LP Sea of Cowards - they turned them up several. Heavier, much heavier, and more menacing than its predecessor, this is when the Dead Weather stopped sounding like a decent side project and more like the central focus of Jack White's widespread attentions right now. Whether or not another White Stripes album is actually forthcoming next year, he now has a fully realised band in full flow.

Rory Dollard

Beach House – Teen Dream (Bella Union)

Track - Walk In The Park

When I took the time to select a track for this post, it struck me that I could barely distinguish a solitary track from the album. That was despite having had it on heavy rotation for several months and advising it to a number of friends. I reasoned that was because Teen Dream flows so seamlessly and invitingly together that I’d never listened to it other than start to finish. Sure, I like the songs...especially the one attached here, whatever the hell that was in the end, but mostly I love the album as a whole and its combined effect as one long, occasionally mournful, dream sequence.

Ali Mason

Peggy Sue – Fossils And Other Phantoms (Wichita)

Track - Watchman

This was a shoo-in for my number one this year, so much did I love Peggy Sue’s back catalogue of EPs and their captivating live performances. Fossils And Other Phantoms doesn’t quite hit the heights consistently enough for that, but it is still bloody great. The harmonising voices of Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw are captivating, while the always interesting percussion provided by Olly Joyce lifts the music to another level. Closing track The Shape We Made is a break-up song at the same time both gut-wrenching and joyous, while songs like Watchman and Matilda provide the darker edge. Sadly there’s a bit of filler here, but at their best Peggy Sue are thrilling, powerful and achingly delicate.


  1. My review today is captivating.

  2. I was expecting a bit of Weller-bashing. There's always time. Maybe Skillers isn't awake yet.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Good point that, Ali.

    Well said.

  5. Yes. Strange that it removes the comment, but doesn't remove the fact that I've made a comment. I want a comment super-injunction.

  6. For my part, Stanley Road remains one my favourite albums, but I've not been much moved by anything Weller's done since, and the raving about the last two in particular largely leaves me baffled. But there you go.

  7. Ali, it's so funny that you described today's album as "thrilling, powerful and achingly delicate" as that's exactly how I've described you numerous times before.