Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Five

As we reach our No. 20 albums of the year, Pranam mainly waffles on not about today's pick but all the things he might have replaced it with if he'd done his homework, Ali tosses a grenade in Guy's direction and Dollard rustles up a classic cheeseburger. 

Andy Welch

Gaz Coombes Presents – Here Come The Bombs (Hot Fruit Records)

Gaz Coombes' songwriting has always been underrated. Even when they were putting out fantastic, sophisticated guitar records the image of him in Supergrass clowning around with Micky and Danny, keeping their teeth nice and clean, still cast a big shadow. Hopefully now Supergrass are no more, people will listen to Here Come The Bombs with fresh ears. His ear for a devastating melody hasn’t disappeared but despite that, the album’s most thrilling moments come when his experimental side takes over.

Matt Collins

Animal Collective - Centipede Hz (Domino) 

Animal Collective have a reputation for the experimental. Their records tend be mashups of electro, noises and songs, with the quality of the last of these mostly overlooked. But the Taken by Trees cover of 'My Girls' proves that songwriting runs through the belted vocals, and while Centipede Hz isn't exactly the band making a break for the charts, it's a new layer of depth to their catalogue. The bonkers electro party thankfully continues.

Pranam Mavahalli

Jonny Greenwood – The Master OST (Nonesuch Records)

If I’d submitted the proper review for this entry that I'd originally drafted, you would now be reading about 'the beauty of dissonance' and how it's used so well in the soundtrack to this film to create a sense of unease. But no one wants to hear pompous arse like that, right? So instead, permit me to talk about deadlines. They frighten me. Often they’re the incentive for me pulling my finger out, but equally, they frequently the draw me into stress-induced inaction. Another problem, specific to deadlines for the advent calendar, is that in rushing to get my choices in on time, I often overlook excellent records truly deserving of a place in my final list. Step forward Goat, whose wonderful Head Music was brought to my attention through Piccadilly Records. If I'd heard that earlier in the year, it would have undoubtedly made my list. As would Andy Stott's latest bass-laden record. And I've just come across Bryan Ferry's absolutely wonderful Jazz Age, which I guarantee will appeal to both Roxy fans and dixieland devotees. It's a happy coincidence that I'm both. But as I'd heard none of those at the time of submitting this list, Greenwood takes this position.

Ali Mason

Big Eyes Family Players – Folk Songs II (Static Caravan)

The Big Eyes Family Players are folk through and through. It’s a tag they invite, welcome and subvert all at once on this complex and rewarding album, with traditional arrangements augmented by synthesisers, tricks and a collective of faces both familiar and less so. Some may struggle with the less traditional additions to the arrangements, but anyone who can’t find plenty to be excited about really doesn’t have the right to call themselves a folk fan (Guy).

Guy Atkinson

Mixtapes - Even on the Worst Nights (No Sleep Records)

Clearly, a man of my age shouldn't be getting the sort of kicks from pop-punk as a teenager does, but it's bands like Mixtapes that mean I can't see a day when I'll get bored of the melodic adrenaline shot that only pop-punk can provide. This album is jam-packed with the usual tales of boredom in small town America and I can't bloody get enough of it. File under 'should know better'.

Dom Farrell

Tim Burgess – Oh No I Love You (OGenisis)

The most pleasant and welcome surprise of the year. I’ve loved The Charlatans ever since getting my hands on Tellin’ Stories as an 11-year-old. However, their steady decline (not without customarily great singles) since 2002’s criminally under-rated Up At The Lake left me expecting little for Tim Burgess’ second solo outing. News that Oh No I Love You was written with Kurt Wagner, fresh from Lambchop’s fantastic Mr M (more on that later) convinced me a record Burgess brilliantly christened “country and north western” given his collaborator’s Nashville roots was worth a listen. The pair have produced a wonderfully understated and thoroughly charming record. From sprightly opener 'White' to delicate, plaintive closer 'A Gain', there is plenty here to soothe a weary soul.

Ian Parker

The Hot 8 Brass Band - The Life and Times of (Tru Thoughts)

Among the highlights of my year were five days in New Orleans in early October, my first visit to the Crescent City since those heady pre-Katrina days of 2001. Fine food, fine people and fine, fine music. A big part of my hand luggage coming home was a pile of local records, but this pick - which wasn’t even amongst them, released a few weeks later - is no token representative. If it was, it would have gone in at 24. Instead, it’s a record I can’t stop listening to. It sounds like a party album but its lyrics cover everything from the post-Katrina rebuilding of New Orleans to drug addiction to the deaths of four members of this sprawling band since their formation in 1995, three of them in violent circumstances. Most of the material is original, but the standout track is the re-imagining of the Specials’ 'Ghost Town' as a defiant love song to New Orleans.

Rory Dollard

Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls (Rough Trade)

Alabama Shakes' brand of southern blues, southern soul and southern rock is about as original putting a slice of cheese on top of a hamburger, but hits the spot in just the same way too. The familiarity of their sound meant they never quite emerged as the defining band of the summer in the way many had expected, but to pit themselves so brazenly against some of the classics of the great American songbook and come out with originals as good as 'Hold On' is a testament to their talent.

Steve Pill

John Talabot – Fin (Permanent Vacation)

If this album were a soft rock album, it would be a 1980s one, geared towards international stadiums and incorporating African rhythms, albeit in a Heinz-soup-selling, radio friendly way that is tantalisingly close to being naff, yet somehow okay. It is epic and complex, yet joyous and deceptively simple. For a brief moment, on an unappealingly wet bus ride in November through central London, I listened to this album and briefly kidded myself I was on holiday somewhere hot and foreign and awesome. Talabot is based in Barcelona and the Mediterranean seeps into the album's every pore.

John Skilbeck

Metz – Metz (Sub Pop)
I know there's this wonderful thing called the internet, but I've not really researched Metz. They're North American, I'm quite sure of that, signed to Sub Pop and made an album that's seeing them likened, like many a Sub Pop band before them, to Nirvana. I can see that, if we're talking Bleach-era Nirvana, because Metz make really raw, loose noise-pop, more like Jesus Lizard in fact than Nirvana. I played this loud; I played this lots.


  1. This John Talabot track is right up my street. so far the best thing i've found on this year's list that i'd never heard of previously.

  2. Wow. People usually pick for their track of the day something they've not heard before, right? As opposed to something that's going to appear on their list later, right? Well, forget that - I'd never seen that Alabama Shakes video before - and the live version they've done for the official video is an absolute stormer. Better than the record. It's like hearing it for the first time all over again. Can they re-record the entire album sounding like that please? I'll move it to number one. Track of the day.

  3. A predictable choice, but Metz wins track of the day by a landslide. I like it so much, I'm going to buy the album immediately.

  4. I agree with gee_akko, the Metz track was my favourite for the day. I love this idea of having a musical advent calendar, it definitely beats a little chocolate behind a cardboard door! I also really liked the Ghost Town video. It's great finding new music when you get a song stuck in your head and you start singing it in the shower. I wonder if there's anywhere where you can create your own karaoke albums cos you'll never find any with songs like these on them. I contacted Sing To The World about it a few months ago but I don't think they ever got back to me.

  5. Is this spam dressed up as interest in the calendar from Loni? I do hope not. Anyway, I give day five's gong to our leader Ian, whose selection has breathed a little welcome new life into that rather well flogged song.