Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Ten

This year it has only taken 10 days. As we reach our No. 15 albums of the year, Pranam suffers his standard mid-calendar meltdown a little earlier than usual. Meanwhile, the wait for a bloke to review She and Him without confessing undying love for Zooey Deschanel goes on.

Andy Welch

Half Moon Run - Dark Eyes (Communion)

In interviews, the members of Half Moon Run give the impression there’s no great bond between them as people other than the music they make. Listening to Dark Eyes, you can definitely understand why they’d carry on even if they weren’t best mates, coming together as they did via an ad on Craigslist. Nerve and She Wants To Know are the standouts, with big nods to Radiohead and Band Of Horses, but there’s not a weak moment on the whole album.

Matt Collins

Bored Nothing - Bored Nothing (Spunk Records)

Australia’s Fergus Miller apparently wrote these songs while bumming semi-homeless around Australia. You can certainly tell from the lyrics, sketches of various ne’er do wells set to a scuzzy, lo-fi soundtrack and slightly throaty singing. 'Shit for Brains' is particularly funny, and any album that has catchy basslines gets my vote.

Pranam Mavahalli

Mount Kimbie - Sold Spring Fault Less Youth (Warp)

Crap. It's usually around this time each year where I start to question the reasoning behind my choices, and curse myself for the albums I've left out at the expense of others which I've stuck in. True to form, I'm now seriously doubting whether Mount Kimbie's record deserves a place in my top 24. It's perfectly good, but I think when it came to making my choices I was totally swayed by one track in particular – 'Made to Stray'. I love this tune, hugely. Yet there's nothing that quite matches it on the rest of the record, and so it's probably not as good, overall, as other albums I left out in its favour e.g. Zomby, Tim Hecker, Nils Frahm...Three years in, and I'm still not getting the hang of this lark. Where's my P45?

Ali Mason

Laish – Obituaries (Folkwit Records)

For the sake of full disclosure I should point out I was at school with Laish’s Daniel Green, although one listen to Obituaries will tell you it’s fully deserving of its place in my top 24, and should probably be in yours too. 'Warm The Wind' contains possibly my favourite lyric of the year: “I begged you in a baby voice, I read to you from Sophie’s Choice, oh I read to you from fucking Joyce, but your gaze was fixed cold and low.” That’s the pattern throughout the album: intelligent lyrics, interesting instrumentation and melodies, melodies, melodies.

Guy Atkinson

The National - Trouble Will Find Me (4AD)
It took a while for me to shake off the feeling that this album was more of the same from indie rock's perennial grumps, but once I did the quietly addictive songs crept under my skin like a flesh-eating virus and refused to leave.

Dom Farrell

Janelle Monae – Electric Lady (Atlantic)

Someone who counts Prince as both a collaborator and a personal friend is a bit batty. Who knew? Occasionally its maker’s eccentricities get the better of Electric Lady – when have garbled interludes from a faux DJ ever enhanced a record? – but at its best the album showcases Janelle Monae as a precocious and outstanding talent. Her aforementioned symbol-monikered, short-arse companion is on fine form as he guests on the Parliament-esque ‘Give Em What They Love’ and was kind enough to leave one of his old 80s synths knocking around to power 'Q.U.E.E.N', which features Erykah Badu. The blistering R'n'B of ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ goes a long way towards explaining why such luminaries are flocking around the self-styled Arch Android. Have a look at her performances of the track on Jools Holland and David Letterman and I defy you not to be bowled over.

Ian Parker

David Bowie - The Next Day (Columbia)

Was it worth all the breathless pre-release coverage, the endless fawning that followed that initial, out-of-the-blue release of ‘Where Are We Now?’, and the particularly tedious dissection of its artwork? No. But is it really good? Yes. The fact that first single might be among the weaker selections on here indicates that when Bowie finally did return from a decade-long absence, he did so with few signs of rust.

(Warning: In this slightly overcooked video, you have to wait until - or simply skip to - near the two-minute mark for the actual track to start, but, well, it's worth it.)

Rory Dollard

She and Him - Volume 3 (Domino)
I'll tell you what today's pick ISN'T shall I? It isn't Savages. I did what I was told. I bought the bloody thing and marvelled over how sultry and monochrome they looked on the cover. I even listened to it a few times. Once as I drove through Bradford, in fact. And it's just flat out bored me. I don't want to hang out with Savages. I don't want to wear Savages t-shirts. Where's the fun in that? Anyway, fuck 'em, I prefer She and Him and lovely Zooey Deschanel. Here she is being all lovely and fun.

Steve Pill

Atoms for Peace – Amok (XL)

A Bad Company for the iPod generation? The thinking man's Velvet Revolver? A less-shit Traveling Wilburys? Call it what you want, Atoms for Peace is undoubtedly a supergroup in the grandest tradition, pulling together several of the world's most successful musicians. On the face of it, the other four members of Radiohead could be forgiven for wondering what Thom Yorke is playing at ("So, you want to take a break from us to make commercially challenging, electronica-influenced rock music to sing indecipherably sad lyrics over the top? Yep, we've got no previous on this, you best give Flea a call..."), but Amok succeeds precisely because it has nothing to prove. Less uptight, a little funkier, it possesses all the textures and intricacies of classic latter-day Radiohead, enough to keep the rabble plenty satisfied until a proper follow-up to The King of Limbs gets uploaded to Spotify.

John Skilbeck

Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt (Wichita)


  1. The coveted Guy's track of the day award goes to Bored Nothing.

  2. Is there an argument for having a Guy's Track of the Day leaderboard - really spice things up towards the business end of the calendar. I'm languishing with one, which at least puts me ahead of Ali.

  3. i've been away for a few days but reading back i'm mighty relieved to see guy voted for MBV the other day. i was seriously concerned i would finish the calendar on zero GTOTD (guy's track of the day) points. i reckon i have maybe one more possible.

  4. pranam - i feel similarly about Mount Kimbie.
    i thought the album really looked like classic advent fodder then realised i didn't really, ultimately like it enough