Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Eight

Today Guy is issuing parking tickets, Dollard is talking to himself, and Skillers is taking aim at the eponymous album title. But what intrigues us most is that Pranam's review of Unknown Mortal Orchestra starts with pretty much the exact same sentence as Andy Welch's two days ago. It's day eight, and our No. 17 albums of the year.

Ali Mason

Peggy Sue – Acrobats (Wichita)

Brooding. That’s what this album is. Thick with menace, heavy rock guitars (yes Guy, this to me is rock), Acrobats is the album that announces Peggy Sue have grown up – and grown up painfully. Still present and correct from the first album are the perfect, lazy harmonies and the driving percussion. Thrown into the mix is a palpable sense of hurt and injustice. Being objective, this is a better, more focused album than Fossils & Other Phantoms – especially lyrically. But sadly the one thing that’s missing – the unpredictable manic energy which spawned songs like 'The Sea, The Sea' and 'Watchman' – was what I loved most about them.

Guy Atkinson

Pianos Become The Teeth – The Lack Long After (Topshelf)

This is essentially a grown man crying and screaming over really loud and really brilliant music. It's so far up my street, it needs a parking permit.

Ian Parker

The Leisure Society - Into The Murky Water (Full Time Hobby)

The Leisure Society are perfectionists. You don't have to listen to their albums, either this or debut The Sleeper, for long to realise that. The delightful folk-pop stylings of songwriter Nick Hemming are brought to life by the wondrous, lush instrumentation of this eight-piece, every song carefully polished to sound note perfect while maintaining plenty of charm. Where The Sleeper was a slower, winter-warming album, Into The Murky Water - its name aside - sees the band step out into the sunshine with a string of fine melodies.

You Could Keep Me Talking by The Leisure Society

Matt Collins

Laura Marling - A Creature I Don’t Know (Virgin)

Not my favourite Laura Marling album thus far, but well worthy of a top 24 place. Laura Marling’s folk music is developing an extra level of maturity that makes her age (still 21) quite incredible. Officially indie folk’s elder stateswoman.

John Skilbeck

Veronica Falls - Veronica Falls (Bella Union)

I blathered around this subject last year, but here’s more incontrovertible proof that the demise of the Royal We, a short-lived Glasgow-based indiepop ensemble, has been a good thing, rather than the earth-shattering event it initially seemed to the handful of folk who were aware a) that they had formed in the first place, and b) had disbanded on the day their eight-track LP was released. Anyway, last year’s number eight pick Neverever were Royal We offspring and so too are Veronica Falls, with lead vocalist Roxanne Clifford among the spawn. Their album was hugely enjoyable, but let me nitpick a little. They were playing most of these songs in summer 2010, so for the album to be released in autumn 2011 smacks of trouble somewhere; also, you’ve had a couple of years to consider an album name. Points dropped for this being another self-titled release.

Andy Welch

Big Deal – Lights Out (Mute)

It’d be pretty easy to take one look at Big Deal and think “There are quite enough attractive, oh-so-cool-looking boy/girl duos making introspective indie music out there, thank you very much,” and leave it at that. What a mistake that’d be. For all the intrigue in the pair, largely due to the 11-year age-gap between members Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood, the music is all you need. Lights Out features some of the best duet singing I’ve heard, this year or any other. There’s a fragility to the record that I love, too, helped by the absence of any drums or bass, like if you listened to it too loud the songs would crumble. In the space of their delicate, haunting debut, Big Deal have proved they’re exactly that.

Locked Up by Big Deal

Steve Pill

Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean (4AD)

Sam Beam's latest dispatch from rural America is a wheezy, almost psychedelic collection that soothed like no other in 2011. It lacks the bite of the Shepherd's Dog but more than makes up for it in weary melodies and sonic detailing.

Pranam Mavahalli

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Unknown Mortal Orchestra (True Panther Sounds)

I know little to nothing about this band, apart from that it's a bedroom project from a New Zealander. Introduced to me by a friend, it got an instant replay on first listen – always a good sign. It’s the record's wayward song structures, warm fuzziness and loose grooves that all really appeal. And in it’s playful, childishness, it recalls early Syd Barrett, which is always a good thing.

Rory Dollard

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (Island)

"You know that PJ Harvey album?"
"The new one?"
"Yeah, the new one. The clever one about war and stuff."
"Yeah, I know it. It's harrowing and literate and it echoes from the past to the modern day in a way that shows history will always repeat itself if man does not heed the lessons of the past."
"Well, we all know that. PJ Harvey is, after all, clearly the defining female rock British artist ever."
"Yeah, but wouldn't it be higher on the list if it was a little less considered and a bit more raw?"
"Yes. Yes it would."

Dom Farrell

Bright Eyes - The People's Key (Polydor)

Bright Eyes’ first album in four years could perhaps be best described as mystic power-pop. Actually that’s a terrible description, but taking ideological cues from the Rastafari movement and Vonnegut (there’s no new religious movement dedicated to Kurt as yet. So it goes) among others, The People’s Key grapples with the human condition through a prism of sci-fi and technology, complete with occasional contributions from a quasi-spiritual narrator. Funnily enough, an occasionally flabby concept does not always hold firm, but with infectious hooks practically bursting out of every seam, I’m not sure who is complaining.


  1. For the second day running, Mr Skilbeck has chosen my favourite song of the day.

  2. Excellent taste, Pranam...
    Also, starting to change my mind about Veronica Falls. I like that track a lot.

  3. I'm seeing Veronica Falls tonight actually.
    Some interesting choices here, and I'm with Rory on PJ. It's actually an album I can't persuade myself to listen to now, just a bit too fond of itself.

  4. Rory, your PJ Harvey review is spot on... I love her but just couldn't get onboard with this album.