Monday, December 16, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Sixteen

Today we feature Michael Buble's first record backed by the Mary Chain, a pack of Refreshers gargled with a can of Coke, and Ashley Young - somewhat inevitably - diving for a penalty. It could only be our No. 9 albums of the year.

Andy Welch

Younghusband – Dromes (Sonic Cathedral)

You don't have to search very hard to hear noisy, shoegazy spacerock at the moment. In the same way even Gary Barlow is putting Mumfords-esque banjos on his singles to honour the ubiquity of the genre, it wouldn't surprise me if this time next year Michael Buble releases an album of standards featuring Mary Chain guitars and a motorik beat. What's different about Younghusband is that there are songs underneath the fuzz; beautiful songs about the passing of time and detachment from everyday life. Also, it's a little thing, but putting the titular single as the final track on the album seems like such a ballsy move you can't help but admire the confidence.

Matt Collins

Los Campesinos - No Blues (Turnstile)

The ever rocking Los Campesinos don’t fix things that ain’t broken. Big guitars, shouty bits, all designed to make you jump up and down a lot.

Pranam Mavahalli

Disclosure – Settle (Island)

Like a double vodka and Red Bull, like a bar of Boost washed down with a bottle of Lucozade, like a pack of Refreshers gargled with a can of coke, this album is a guilt-laden, sure-fire way of quickening up the pulse. It's not subtle, it's often garish, and it's probably being played in a dodgy club in Preston right now, but I love that it's so blatant in its desire to entertain.

Ali Mason

Alessi’s Ark – The Still Life (Bella Union)

I’ve been sceptical about Alessi Laurent-Marke and her Ark in the past, because of songs that seemed at times a little insubstantial and vocals which I felt were overly mannered. With The Still Life she totally won me over. At the age of 22 she had become comfortable enough in herself as an artist both to be herself and experiment. Opener ‘Tin Smithing’ sets the tone, all awkward rhythms and thumb piano, before ‘Veins Are Blue’ develops into a languid singalong. Lead single ‘The Rain’ is perhaps the album’s stand-out track and clearly demonstrates the improved vocal control which, above all else, ensures The Still Life stands above its predecessors.

Guy Atkinson

Transit - Young New England (Rise Records)

I'm well aware this record is as flimsy and lightweight as Ashley Young when he enters the penalty area, but I just couldn't help falling for its twinkly emo/pop-punk charms during two long weekends in Barcelona over the summer.

Dom Farrell

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away (Bad Seed Ltd)

Putting Grinderman's glorious smut back in its box, wandering around the Brighton sea front, recording an often gorgeous and delicate album in a 19th-century French mansion and sticking his wife on the cover - meet Nick Cave, renaissance man, moving gracefully into late middle age. Sure, he still leaves Miley Cyrus floating dead in a swimming pool amid the brooding, Zuma-era Crazy Horse guitars of 'Higgs Boson Blues', but let's take things one step at a time. I bet he bloody hates twerking.

Ian Parker

Of Montreal - Lousy with Sylvianbriar (Polyvinyl)

So for my No. 9 album of the year, I've chosen a band who are on their 15th record, having never owned or even had any particular interest in any of their previous 14. From what I'd heard of Of Montreal, particularly the stuff from 2012's Paralytic Stalks, I'd decided this was strange, impenetrable stuff that could be safely side-stepped - at least until I hit some kind of introspective mid-life crisis. Precisely when this changed I don't know, but somewhere along the way I got to listening to a single from Lousy With Sylvianbriar, and then spent a couple of moments staring in disbelief when I looked to see what it actually was. To say this is a break from their previous sounds would be an understatement. To say they've moved pretty much directly into my wheelhouse with a bunch of tracks which channel Dylan, the Stones and a certain Mr Young would be another. It could well end up being the only Of Montreal album I ever buy. It'll almost certainly be the only one I need.

Rory Dollard

Camera Obscura - Desire Lines (4AD)

In an era when too many bands are on the way out moments after their first premature magazine cover leaves the presses (do they still have presses? do they still have magazines?) it is refreshing to hear one really hitting their peak on album number five. Desire Lines sees Camera Obscura deliver in full on previous standout tracks such as Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken or French Navy. This is furiously catchy pop music, track after track, chorus after chorus, all  trussed up in Tracyanne Campbell's wonderful Glaswegian tones.

Steve Pill

Laura Marling – Once I Was An Eagle (Virgin)

Laura Marling is such a Ragged Glories staple that I'm convinced even Guy might pick her one year. I wasn't initially sold on her first couple of albums, but this is sheer class. Ethan Johns does a masterful, Ryan Adams-esque production job and the first four-song suite has the beating of anything on my list. Sure, it tails off slightly at the end, but such relentless creativity and taste for double albums never did Dylan any harm.

John Skilbeck

Deafheaven - Sunbather (Deathwish Inc)

Shameless attempt to win points from Guy. But brilliant nonetheless, or perhaps by the by.

1 comment:

  1. As predicted, Guy's Track of the Day goes to Deafheaven by a landslide. This album just missed out on my 24 by virtue of just not getting around to listening to it enough. Latest rankings below:

    Pranam - 3
    Andy - 3
    Steve - 3
    Rory - 2
    Matt - 2
    John - 2
    Dom - 1