Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Three

It's day three, and the panel are already fraying at the edges. Dollard has got the sweats, Pranam is threatening to go down the plinky-plonky route while Neil Lennon almost causes a major rift for Dom. By the time Comic Book Guy makes a late cameo appearance, we're ready to brand this 'Worst Advent Calendar Day. Ever.'

Andy Welch

The Graceless Age – John Murry (Rubyworks)

It’s not always the easiest album to listen to, The Graceless Age. John Murry’s heroin addiction and resulting near-death experience, plus his wife leaving him, are central themes. Such personal strife isn’t rare, particularly in down-and-dirty alt-country like this, but it’s the way Murry tells the tale that’s so fascinating. He’s so matter-of-fact, which saves the record from unrelenting darkness, while Murry’s refusal to celebrate and wallow in his self-destruction makes a refreshing change.

Matt Collins

Villagers - {Awayland} (Domino)

Despite the unnecessary brackets, this is a beautifully crafted collection of colourful folk pop, start to finish.

Pranam Mavahalli

Dawn of Midi - Dysnomia (Thirsty Ear)

Worry not, this is not an album of awful plinky plonky MIDI covers (like this) that I've picked just to be contrary. It's the sound of a jazz band playing electronic music on acoustic instruments. Fortunately the music made is nowhere near as convoluted as that sounds. It’s minimal and hypnotic, but undercut by the tension of a band with obvious technical chops playing very simple music in complicated patterns. Lots of echoes of Reich, Terry Riley and other minimalists here. Addictive.

Ali Mason

Just Handshakes – Say It (Bleeding Gold)

Never has a trademark sound been more understated than Clara Patrick’s candy floss-sweet vocals. It seems counterintuitive that such an innocent and ingenuous sound should have the heft to front an increasingly raw, lo-fi indie outfit. But that’s what makes the band so intriguing. Patrick has always sounded like a woman singing for the sheer joy of it, almost oblivious to the fact a full band is playing around her and an audience is hanging on her every word. Now, with some fuzzier guitars and some darker material, it becomes a joyously unsettling experience.

Guy Atkinson

Citizen -Youth (Run for Cover Records)

The first of a number of bands on my list signed to the "so hot right now" Run For Cover Records label in Boston, and another new band whose influences are deeply entrenched in the post-grunge/alt-rock boom in the early 90s. There's little original on show, but the tunes are plentiful, the heart is pulsating and the emotion is suitably raw. Kurt would have approved...I hope.

Dom Farrell

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (Columbia)

Daft: Bonjour, Punk.

Punk: Bonjour, Daft.

Daft: Ca va?

Punk: Ca va bien, merci.

Daft: Punk, j'ai un brillante idée pour notre nouvel album.

Punk : Quoi?

Daft : Eh bien, nous avons tous deux porter un casque brillant de moto et former un supergroupe avec Pharrell Williams, Nile Rogers, Giorgio Moroder et beaucoup plus.

Punk : Pharrell Williams… et son ami Snoop Doggy Dogg ?

Daft : Non, non, non, Snoop est allé mentale et fait maintenant terribles reggee et montres Celtic Glasgow.

Punk : Gah, Glasgow Celtic – je déteste Neil Lennon!

Daft : Punk, attention! Donc, nous jouons funk et disco avec ces gars fou et vendons des millions et des millions d'albums.

Punk : C’est magnifique. Je t’aime, Daft.

Daft : Je t’aime, Punk.

Ian Parker

Luke Winslow-King - The Coming Tide (Bloodshot)

Luke Winslow-King does not hail from New Orleans, but it won't take too long for you to figure out where this Michigan native has moved to once you starting listening to his debut album. He claims his move to the Big Easy was accidental, happening “by chance”, but to listen to this record, it seems little short of pre-ordained. In the dozen years he has spent there learning his trade, Winslow-King has soaked up so much of the city’s character that his sound can immediately transport you to the jazz halls of the French quarter and the bars of Frenchman Street. Carefully blending blues, jazz and delta-folk Winslow-King has produced a fine record which serves as a showcase for the modern-day traditionalists at work in the Crescent City.

Rory Dollard

Night Beds - Country Sleep (Dead Oceans)

Bloody Ian Parker and his bloody advent calendar. This album has been gently gnawing at me for months. I knew it was a borderline case so I ended up listening to it an unreasonable number of times to decide whether it actually made the cut. It didn't in the first draft and then the Night Beds night sweats kicked in and I made a late change. If you want the shorthand, this is my 'not Ryan Adams but close enough to keep me going' album of the year. Naughty boy rap type Earl Sweatshirt was the one to get bumped for my change of heart.

Steve Pill

Matthew E White - Big Inner (Domino)

Or "Comic Book Guy sings the Randy Newman Songbook in the style of Curtis Mayfield". Genius.

John Skilbeck

Jessy Lanza - Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub)

Minimalism is all the rage in EDM. I ❤ JL.

Jessy Lanza - "Kathy Lee" from Lee Skinner on Vimeo.


  1. That John Murry chap sounds a bit like Springsteen doesn't he? that's a tick in my book.
    Glad to see Ali recovering from yesterday's selection...I mean seriously....a COVERS album?
    It also seems i lost the chance to win Guy's track of the day when i bumped Earl Sweatshirt for Night Beds. I was going to choose the exact same track that appeared yesterday and Akko would surely have plumped for it again.

  2. By a landslide, Guy's track of the day goes to Daft Punk.

  3. I can't like that Daft Punk song after spending the summer hearing it hammered well beyond death, but I will award Dom best review of the advent calendar. Closely followed by Mr Pill's effort today. Well played, everybody.

  4. Is today the right time to discuss how the Daft Punk album is actually total cobblers apart from Get Lucky, or shall i wait until someone picks it in their top 5 or something daft.

  5. Definite nods to Sum 41 in Guy's track today.

    Pranam, did you hear Dawn of Midi in Radiolab? I recommend it if not.

  6. I really like that chap doing a Ryan Adams impression that Rory picked.

    Whether Daft Punk lights your candle or not, you should have a look at a bunch of Russian policemen doing Get Lucky if you haven't seen it already


  7. Cheers Ali, i'll check that out!