Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Four

It's day four of the Musical Advent Calendar, and SP is stubbornly maintaining his 100% record of not actually writing a positive review about one of his 'favourite' albums of the year. The grumpy git. 

Andy Welch

Tamara Schlesinger – The Procession (Tantrum) 

Tamara Schlesinger fronts London-based folk-pop band 6 Day Riot. They formed in 2006 and have since released three albums. The Procession is Schlesinger’s debut solo album and allows her to indulge her more ethereal tendencies with looping vocal arrangements and enchanting instrumentation. There’s a word I don’t use very often, but in The Procession’s case it seems entirely necessary.

Matt Collins

Band of Horses - Mirage Rock (Columbia) 

Band of Horses are a band to rely on. Come rain or shine, you know they are going to come forth with a solid rock record with quality songwriting. And they haven't disappointed this year, adding the icing of what for them could almost be called a hit single into the mix in the shape of Feud, with its "I want you to fail" refrain ringing round any 6Music show you care to mention.

Pranam Mavahalli

Crystal Castles – (III) (Polydor)

More abrasive, goth, surreal, gameboy-glitch pop from a band that I'm irresistibly drawn to. If they have a demographic, I'm clearly not part of it, but their beats and jarring contrasts of sweet and snarling. The production's bigger on than previous albums, but the sound and aesthetic remain the same. 8-bit freak punk for the SNES generation. Yeah.

Ali Mason

Correatown – Pleiades (Highline Records)

If I were to pick the quality I most love about Correatown, it would be precision. You get the feeling that every beat, every beep, every slightest touch of a piano key is exactly where it ought to be. Add to this Angela Correa’s suitably angelic but distanced vocals, it offers an album that you constantly want to engage with, if not always one you will get lost in.

Guy Atkinson

Apart - Gray Light (Mayfly Records)

Emotional hardcore has been undergoing something of a renaissance recently, which warms the cockles of my little emo heart. Leading the charge is Apart, who blend chiming, gentle interludes with brutal and violent outbursts of melodic screaming that give you the strange sensation of wanting to hug and punch someone at the same time.

Dom Farrell

First Aid Kit - The Lion’s Roar (Redeye)

Johanna and Klara Söderberg have swept all before them in 2012, winning the hearts of folkies everywhere with The Lion’s Roar. It can all get a bit one-paced at times, but the songs are executed perfectly and then, of course, there are the harmonies – those dreamy, heavenly, honeyed harmonies. The infectious warmth of Emmylou gets everyone on board early doors, while penultimate track ‘New Year’s Eve’ is the loveliest of the lot.

Ian Parker

The Staves - Dead & Born & Grown (Atlantic)

You can't get too close to this album without hearing a lot about 'blood harmonies' - a supposedly special sound created when blood relatives come together to do the singing. I'll be honest - it's not a concept I've spent a whole lot of time looking into it, but whatever the source of the magic there is something about the sound these girls make that lifts them way beyond their Watford roots and out somewhere into the stratosphere. 

Rory Dollard

Dan Deacon - America (Domino)

Bit of a grower this one, but give it a try. Spend some time getting to know it. Take it out for coffee and instead of talking about yourself for once why don't you just listen? If you ask the right questions, and maybe pay for the pastries, you might hear a bit of hypnotic, cerebral dance-rock. With real instruments instead of samples, Deacon builds layers of competing sounds and builds a coherent whole without ever losing the moment.

Steve Pill

Toy – Toy (Heavenly)

If this album were a toy, it would be an old-fashioned spaceship. Not one of these modern fantastical plastic creations with flashing lights and a thousand colours and spacemen with fully-poseable arms, but a crappy one made out of tin that they used to give to kids in the 1950s, before they worried about the little buggers choking on small parts or licking rusty metal. When you whizz it across the carpet, it would rattle and crash and possibly fall apart and sparks would fly off the wheels under the rocket and it would look unlike anything else available in shops today, while simultaneously also being exactly like what everyone would draw if they were tasked with drawing a spaceship in a game of Pictionary™.

John Skilbeck

Screaming Females - Ugly (Don Giovanni)

It's no secret Screaming Females frontwoman Marissa Paternoster is a fierce guitarist. Shredding, soloing, tearing through batshit riffs, she's worth checking out if you haven't yet. Her voice carries an unusual tremble while being similarly powerful and distinctive, quasi menacing. The album Ugly felt like a leap forward for the New Jersey trio - Paternoster is the lone female - who in terms of their stature and development are blossoming into a band that would slot perfectly into any new volume of Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life.


  1. I'm going to give today's nods to Dollard's pick - not least because he has indeed persuaded me that album might just be worth a second date when I was already to delete its number - and Skillers because, video aside, I quite enjoyed that.

  2. I've never heard of Tamara Schlesinger and I've never heard of 6 Day Riot, but bloody hell, that's ever so good. There's always a touch of sadness about this process, I think, when you discover all the amazing music you've missed out on and which ought to be in your top 24.

  3. In fact today might be the best day yet (as I suppose it should be, really). I like them all. Well, nearly all. Love Rory's choice, especially the video. And I'm hoping Steve is going to continue with his beautiful extended metaphors, because they are making me smile.

  4. Aw shucks... Thanks Ali. The extended metaphors are here for a good while yet. It now sounds like I'm just saying it but I think you win today, if I exclude the one other album on today's list that I also picked a bit higher up this list.

  5. Today's most enticing description: "8-bit freak punk for the SNES generation"

    Today's least appealing description: "A band to rely on"

  6. I've always had a soft spot for Crystal Castles so they're getting my track of the day award.