Monday, December 02, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Two

Day two of the fifth annual Musical Advent Calendar, and we're hitting our straps now as everyone reverts to type. Ali returns to his theatrical roots, Guy uses the occasion of a rare step into the mainstream to admit he enjoys the sound of men vomiting, while Rory stands alone in an empty Leadmill to pay homage to an old favourite. 

Andy Welch

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

After the garage rock and downright malevolence of the second Grinderman album and previous Bad Seeds record Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, it makes sense that this record is quieter, drenched in strings rather than swampy guitars. While it might not be as loud – some tracks are almost naked in their arrangements – it’s no less powerful. Fifteen albums in, still being able to surprise like this is nothing short of incredible.

Matt Collins

Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus (ATP Recordings)

An album of fuzzy bass-led film noir soundtrack.

Pranam Mavahalli

Earl Sweatshirt - Doris (Columbia)

I don't think music should be something you put on in the background while doing other things, but I'm as guilty of this as anyone. So it's always a thrill when you stumble across a track that slaps you in the face and demands your attention. 'Centurion' from Doris did that to me. It samples Can at their most impenetrable to superb effect, and is the scariest thing I've heard all year. The record is dark, gloomy, and at times reminiscent of Wu-Tang at their murky best. But it's lyrically bold too, taking on themes of identity and family with a wisdom that defies this young chap's age.

Ali Mason

Les Miserables OST - Les Miserables Cast (Polydor)

Who’s with me? Best musical ever. Of COURSE it’s in my top 24. And it’d be higher if it weren’t for Russell bloody Crowe. And I’ll defend it to the death. So join in the fight that will give you the right to be free to put musical soundtracks in your top 24. *Dons tin hat, fashions makeshift barricade, adopts overly combative stance*

Guy Atkinson

Kurt Vile - Wakin' on a Pretty Daze (Matador)

Granted, this isn't my usual bag but the woozy, sun-drenched and presumably weed-fuelled Americana on show sound tracked a lot of my summer and proved a welcome antidote from the sound of grown men vomiting down a microphone, which is what I spent the rest of my year listening to. Also, I really like his name.

Dom Farrell

British Sea Power - Machineries of Joy (Rough Trade)

There can be no better recommendation for a song than it evocatively and vividly taking you back to a specific moment in time, so much that you can feel that day’s breeze on your neck. Well, usually. You see, it seems the rollicking Krautrock-meets-Bunnymen brilliance of the title track on British Sea Power’s sixth full-lengther, Machineries of Joy, will forever remind me of Manchester City making an almighty Horlicks of this season’s FA Cup final. I’ll be honest, it nearly stopped the album making my list, but that would have been unfair on an impressive recovery of poise following the misguided eclecticism of 2011’s Valhalla Dancehall. I even still love the title track.

Ian Parker

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

Alessi Laurent-Marke is coming of age. Her wonderful debut Notes From A Treehouse announced the then teenager's talent both as a songwriter and a creator of beautiful soundscapes back in 2009, and the move to Bella Union has only helped her develop a more confident, rounded sound. Now on her third album, Alessi has produced her most mature effort to date, a record that rewards repeated listens and, for good measure, throws in one of the more fantastic covers of The National you might come across. 

Rory Dollard

Tricky - False Idols (False Idols)

It's fair to say the world has largely been 'copping a deaf 'un' to Tricky for a few years. I went to see him a couple of years back and he couldn't sell out the Leadmill. False Idols isn't really designed to change that - it's tightly wound, claustrophobic and (literally, when Tricky gets in the mic) whispers rather than shouts. But I've a soft spot for this stuff and if I had more moments of late night paranoiac despair it would surely be higher on the list.

Steve Pill

Deerhunter - Monomania (4AD)

Maybe it's the result of a generation of bands weened on Neutral Milk Hotel and Olivia Tremor Control albums, but there's been something quite exciting about this recent wave of strung out, vaguely Beatles-y psych-rock that has seen Deerhunter up their game in the wake of Foxygen, Tame Impala and such like.  So while Monomania lacks the crazy singularity suggested by its title, it nevertheless is a deserving best-in-class for 2013.

John Skilbeck

Mazes - Ores and Minerals (Fatcat)

The debut Mazes album - 2011's A Thousand Heys - marked down the British band as Pavement infatuates, and while they offered a fond tribute it gave rather a one-dimensional glimpse at their potential. The scope of their vision opened up second time around, with punchy alt.pop taking a backseat to songs of sprawling ambition, signposted by the seven-minute wig-out of opener 'Bodies'. Barrett-era Pink Floyd and peak period Television might have been on the Mazes turntable, but their own avoidance of aiming for a unit-shifting hit made Ores and Minerals a special record.


  1. When I attempted to listen to Guy's song choice from yesterday my computer froze after 45 seconds and wouldn't play any more. That's actually true, I'm not just saying that for comic effect. From that to Kurt Vile is an audacious segue. I can only assume, Guy, you thought Kurt Vile was a stage name for some grotesque metal practitioner and got accidentally suckered in.

  2. Guy's track of the day goes to Earl Sweatshirt.

  3. RESULT!

    Man, I've waited years for this accolade.

  4. I'm going to second the love for Earl Sweatshirt, that's mega. Also enjoyed Mezes very much indeed, although I could just be happy Skillers' entry today contains more than one instrument!

  5. I enjoy a tasty meze too Dom, but I don't see how that's relevant here.