Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Four

Today's advent calendar is a "maximum head noddage" zone. Apparently. It's day four, and the No. 21 albums on our lists.

Ali Mason

Fountains of Wayne – Sky Full Of Holes (Lojinx)

It’s a cause of great sadness to me that the only contact most music fans have had with Fountains of Wayne came through their 2003 single 'Stacy’s Mom'. Taken on its own it sounded like novelty one-hit wonder material, but in the context of a rich catalogue of songs detailing the minutiae of American suburbia, it makes more sense. It’s more of the same here: sunny pop tunes with lyrics about faded party girls trying to recapture past glories, underappreciated dads dreaming of being action heroes and life on the road watching Will Ferrell movies. It’s not up there with their first two albums, but a new FoW release is always a cause for celebration.

Guy Atkinson

City and Colour - Little Hell (Cooking Vinyl)

Dallas Green's commitment to his solo side project was allegedly responsible for the demise of one of my favourite bands, Alexisonfire, so I'm not sure how much I should enjoy this album. But its relentlessly downbeat and mainly acoustic laments are just too much for me to resist. Dallas, you swine.

Ian Parker

Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon (Sonic Cathedral)

At first, I struggled with this one. Get Well Soon is so heavily influenced by Neil Young that he deserves a share of the writing credits, single 'Wooden' borrows so extensively from 'Down By The River' that Tucek may as well have just covered the original and left it at that. For some reason this didn't sit right. Why not stick on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and have done, right? Well, much as that is a recipe for a full and rewarding life, what I should have known then, and what I realised after repeated listens, is that a female musician so much in thrall to the great man is not one who should be shunned, but instead pursued for marriage. Well, okay, we won’t go that far, but she still deserves a little love.

Sarabeth Tucek 'Wooden' by Sonic Cathedral

Matt Collins

I Break Horses - Hearts (Bella Union)

Like Beach House with synths, I Break Horses have created an album full of epic, churchy synths that’s both blissed out and as dark as their name suggests. Can’t understand a word.

John Skilbeck

Roll The Dice - In Dust (The Leaf Label)

Of course it’s been a momentous year for minimalist Swedish electronica. Why, you can’t have helped but notice. Roll The Dice was the collaborative project cooked up between whip-smart Stockholm studio sorts Malcolm Pardon and Peder Mannerfel. No doubt aided by the Swedish secret service, they managed to keep the red-tops off their tails for long enough to produce a dark gem of an LP. In Dust rewards the patient listener, frowns on cheap thrill-seekers, and makes up for Roxette.

Andy Welch

Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys! (Fiction)

Following The Seldom Seen Kid was never going to be easy. Had Elbow gone too big, they’d have risked losing their loyal fanbase. Too introspective and they’d relegate themselves to the little leagues they’d fought so hard to escape. What, then, does Build A Rocket Boys! sound like? It sounds like a band being brave enough to know what they do best and serving up more of the same without ever repeating themselves. No easy task, and one failed by so many. You can’t force another anthem like 'One Day Like This', so they didn’t try. Hats off to them.

Steve Pill

SBTRKT - SBTRKT (Young Turks)

So many of my listening habits in the second half of 2011 hinged on a radio show - Thom Yorke sitting in on the Gilles Peterson show. The BBC DJ has a tendency to favour records with super-slick production but he revelled in Yorke's company, in turn teasing out the inner fanboy in the Radiohead singer as they joined the dots between Duke Ellington and Burial. The SBTRKT album was one of the finds of the session, a pulsing, dark collection of soul-tinged electronica that didn't stray into the glitchy meandering of so many records of their ilk. A guestspot from Little Dragon only added to the atmosphere.

Pranam Mavahalli

Moon Duo – Mazes (Souterrain Transmissions)

This record sounds to like stuff that I think will always be cool – Neu, Suicide, Yo La Tengo...Where my 24th choice this year was good commuting music for the go-getting, yet louche, salary-man, this for me is the perfect soundtrack for getting the strut on. Infectious, minimal grooves for maximum head noddage.

Rory Dollard

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues (Bella Union)

The torturous recording process behind Helplessness Blues suggested all was not well in the Foxes’ den. It is, then, a surprise to here just how serene the end product is. The changes are minimal from their critically-acclaimed debut - though Robin Pecknold’s lead vocal is perhaps more prominent among the harmonies than before and 'The Shrine/An Argument' includes a fun detour into free jazz - but the basic formula remains sound. The element of surprise that greeted their arrival in 2008 has long since gone but both melodies and musicianship are as graceful as before.

Dom Farrell

Felice Brothers - Celebration, Florida (Loose)

One of the more revered folk/Americana bands of their generation, Felice Brothers have gone electro. Well, not quite, but the occasional drum loops and samples daub a fascinating sonic graffiti onto Celebration, Florida. It doesn’t always work, but there is enough of the familiar brilliance on offer to indulge them. 'Cus’s Catskill Gym' is the second fantastic song about boxing of their career, with Crazy Horse guitars underpinning some particularly sound advice for a young Mike Tyson to stay away from Don King. After an occasionally bumpy ride, only the most miserly judge would fail to raise the Felice Brothers’ hand at the final bell.

1 comment:

  1. Not that anyone cares, but my favourite from today is I Break Horses.