Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Three

And on the third day, we turn to our respective 22nd favourite albums of the year. Read on as Mr Skilbeck (temporarily) renounces the indie music that has soundtracked his life to date, Guy goes goat shopping, and Pranam takes up a position with the Croatian tourist board.

Ali Mason

Cashier No. 9 – To The Death Of Fun (Bella Union)

In what was not an auspicious year for guitar bands, one of the best had one of the worst names. Their hazy, lazy pop tunes are unashamedly catchy and, if the shimmering, retro atmosphere feels like a lack of originality at times, there is a welcome willingness to nod in the direction of unusual – never more so than on lead single 'Goldstar', in which frontman Danny Todd sings: “I look better with my high heels on.”

Guy Atkinson

Mastodon - The Hunter (Roadrunner)

As far as opening lines go it doesn't get much better than "I killed a man cause he killed my goat". It seems the indie press got together this year and agreed that Mastodon were 2011's metal band it was okay to like. However, if you didn't like their sludgy riffs and gruff vocals before you'll be unlikely to rush out and buy a goat after listening to this.

Ian Parker

Wanda Jackson - The Party Ain’t Over (Third Man Records)

Every year (okay, in each of the previous two years – it seems easy to overestimate the history of this advent calendar) I plan a Boxing Day post looking ahead to next year, and then fail to find the time to do it. I intend to write about the albums that are due in the next 12 months to try and predict what might be on next year’s calendar. If I’d ever got round to doing this last year, I’d have waxed lyrical about the stunning cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘You Know I’m No Good’ that the now 74-year-old Wanda Jackson had cooked up with Jack White (yes, him again). Based on that, I had high expectations for this record, and I was not disappointed, not least as things got even better with her take on Dylan’s 'Thunder On The Mountain'. Apparently Dylan himself suggested she cover it for the project. Maybe he had one eye on the royalties, or maybe he just knew it would sound this damn good.

Matt Collins

Baxter Dury - Happy Soup (EMI)

More famous for being Ian Dury’s son than a musician in his own right, Baxter Dury now surely deserves his own attention. This is a gloriously oddball album, managing to be accessible, poppy and experimental at the same time.

John Skilbeck

Iceage - New Brigade (What's Your Rapture)

I developed acute indiepop nausea over the summer, after years of overexposure to the family twee, and Danish punks Iceage (together with ace American noise merchants The Men) served as part of the cure. Four teens from Copenhagen, Iceage prescribed 12 tracks to be taken over the course of 25 minutes, frequently repeated. Happily the heavy medication worked a treat, but wouldn’t you know I’m now addicted to the hard, powerful stuff, needing a frequent fix to stave off a return to the cardigan crew.

Andy Welch

Fionn Regan – 100 Acres Of Sycamore (Heavenly)

I listened to Fionn Regan’s debut The End Of History endlessly, and believed his talent to be up there with that of Nick Drake’s. Even a cheerleader like me found his second album, The Shadow Of An Empire, disappointing, but thankfully the man from Co Wicklow managed to rediscover what made him so special the first time around. There’s plenty to love here; 'Sow Mare Bitch Vixen', 'The Horses Are Asleep' and 'Golden Light' are all sublime, but 'For A Nightingale', a beautiful promise to the girl of his dreams, is in another league altogether.

Steve Pill

Foster The People - Torches (Columbia)

Following hot on the heels of Young The Giant in the shamelessly-joyous-young-rock-band-with-definite-articles-in-the-middle-of-their-name, Foster The People was definitely this year’s good time band. 'Pumped Up Kicks' was the pinnacle, just pure derivative cool, with little more than a phoned-in vocal performance funking along on a drumbeat that Meg White would dismiss as too primitive.

Pranam Mavahalli

Tom Vek – Leisure Seizure (Island)

Visit Hvar! I was in an internet cafe in Hvar when I saw the video below. It was for Vek’s first new material in five years. Hvar’s a beautiful place, and every time I hear this song I’m taken back there. Perhaps this memory association coloured my opinion of the album a little, which on sober reflection back in wintry Manchester, isn’t quite as good as his debut but is still groovesome in all the right places.

Rory Dollard

Starfucker - Reptilians (Polyvinyl)

With a name like ‘Starfucker’ you’re immediately given to thinking this Oregon three-piece are either headline-seeking halfwits or the latest, unneccesary breed of Rolling Stones copyists. Happily, they are neither. On Reptilians they gleefully pick up the hedonistic, dance-rock baton that MGMT discarded recently in favour of something entirely less appealing. There are brash synths, the odd endlessly hummable melody, a choice sample here and there and some nice vocal work reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine.

Dom Farrell

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong (PIAS)

Picking up the subtle nods to the future given by their Higher Than The Stars EP, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s second effort has not inspired the outpouring of affection garnered by their eponymous 2009 debut. This is largely because the scuzzy, fuzzy guitars apparently lifted from the fantasy rock’n’roll band dreamed up by many an adolescent have been replaced by Youth’s trademark kitchen-sink production. However, no big-name knob-twiddler can bury the way Pains effortlessly find their way around superb guitar pop. This is satellite-navigation songwriting, best displayed here by the magnificent 'Heaven's Gonna Happen Now'.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Heavens Gonna Happen Now by IKilledMarloweA


  1. This is kinda weird. I was passing the time before the blog updated this morning by hitting F5 and trying to remember who did that Isabel tune I've been hearing on 6 Music. I had no idea he was Ian Dury's son. I think I like it.

  2. It's obscenely 'trendy' but my favourite song from today's selection is Tom Vek.