Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Seven

Ali Mason

Alex Turner – Submarine OST (Domino)

Yes it’s an EP. Yes the opening track is so short it barely counts. But there’s still enough here to justify a place in the top 24 albums of the year. Putting aside how much I loved the film this EP soundtracks, there’s just something glorious about hearing Turner’s trademark lyrical poetry given chance to breathe and shine, without the attitude and posturing that comes with the Arctic Monkeys. Submarine earns the number 18 spot as much for what it might hint about Turner’s future as for what it is. 'It’s Hard To Get Around The Wind' was also one of the standout singles of the year.

Guy Atkinson

letlive. - Fake History (Epitaph)

These frankly unhinged gents have been working the hardcore punk circuit for what feels like forever but it was only this year that they broke through, thanks largely to a truly pulsating live show and a deranged front man in the form of Jason Butler. Their wonderfully chaotic and sprawling record, which has more than a few nods in the direction of Glassjaw, didn't do them any harm either.

Ian Parker

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Universal)

PJ Harvey has confounded our expectations before, but probably never more so than with Let England Shake. Polly Jean has broken out of her introspective (dis)comfort zone with a startling record about this country we call home. It's a fantastic mish-mash of sounds, a jumble of beats that keeps you off-balance throughout, but it is rarely short of thrilling.

Matt Collins

Wilco - The Whole Love (Anti)

Clocking in at a whopping 16 tracks, The Whole Love is the latest from indie stalwarts Wilco. They haven’t lost the chirpiness from 2009’s Wilco (The Album), and this collection of songs repeatedly brings Paul McCartney’s upbeat Beatles tracks to mind for me. In a good way.

John Skilbeck

Twilight Singers - Dynamite Steps (Sub Pop)

I tried excluding this and dropping a new band into the 24. Another Greg Dulli record… big deal, there’ll be another blowing through next year (and lo, since the time of writing, a live album has sprung up). Yet Dynamite Steps refused to go quietly, instead tickling away at the taste buds and persuading me it might just be Dulli’s best record since the Afghan Whigs buckled and broke up a decade ago. His rasping voice growled one minute, soared the next, and never ceased to throw up an air of menace. But that’s just what Dulli does.

Andy Welch

Feist – Metals (Polydor)

Unlike Elbow, who wanted to carry on in the vein they’d carved out for themselves, Leslie Feist, since the success of 1234 on that iPod advert, seemed to be an artist desperately trying to get away from her most-famous song. That theory is backed up by Metals, which, while a stunning album, doesn’t feature anything that sounds like a hit single. The album is downbeat and melancholic, miserable even, but there’s something uplifting about the whole experience. Perhaps it’s the glorious, rousing vocals? Or the intriguing arrangements? Whatever. If avoiding writing singles suits Feist this well, may she never have a hit again.

Steve Pill

The Horrors – Skying (XL)

Three albums in and the Horrors have finally shaken off their influences and produced an album that justifies the early hype. What makes this all the more compelling is the slightly uneasy and haphazard approach to songwriting that recalls Primal Scream, 13th Floor Elevators and other unconventional eccentrics. By sacrificing obvious choruses and twisting their own sound, The Horrors have found a blueprint for a long and interesting career ahead.

Pranam Mavahalli

WU LYF – Go Tell Fire to the Mountain (Lyf Recordings)

I first saw these chaps in Chorlton in 2009 who were then going under the name Wu lf Wu lf. The week before that I believe they were called something else. And the week after they’d changed their name again. Four disinterested looking teenagers strolled to the stage, one of whom wore a red baseball cap backwards in the manner of Fred Durst. I was ready to be underwhelmed. But goodness was I unprepared for what followed. A noise outfit backed by Tony Allen? Check. Abstract song structures executed preternatural self-confidence? Double check. Guys with guitars, making guys with guitars sound relevant? Check again. Okay the album doesn’t match the early promise of the demos, which were truly bonkers, but it’s been great to follow them and see a truly original, local band get the recognition they deserve. Bring on album no.2.

Rory Dollard

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine (Domino)

After several dozen self-released albums, Fife folkie King Creosote (Kenny Anderson to the missus) made an unlikely - and, despite some great tunes, unsuccessful - play for the big leagues with 2005's KC RULES OK. Diamond Mine was no such bid for mass acceptance and has perversely become his biggest hit. It's a whisky-worn, nostalgiac work with some real emotional clout, with Jon Hopkins' delicate electronics a neat foil.

Dom Farrell

St. Vincent - Strange Mercy (4AD)

If anyone still refers to St Vincent as “that girl who used to be in Sufjan Steven’s band”, it is unlikely they will for much longer. Annie Clarke is going over-ground. Third album Strange Mercy is bursting and brimming with a rare verve, from infectious hook-laden single 'Cruel' to plaintive closer 'Year of the Tiger', not to mention some of the year’s most inventive and idiosyncratic guitar work. Talk of collaborations with Madonna persist. Hell, she could probably even make that sound good.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to Mr Skilbeck, who is responsible for my favourite song today.