Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Five

If someone was going to lower the tone, Lord knows it was always going to be Ali.

Our No. 20 albums of the year await...

Andy Welch

Charles Bradley - Victim of Love (Daptone)

God knows I love a fancy backstory when it comes to an album, and Charles Bradley’s is especially romantic. Personal circumstance meant he never fulfilled his dream of becoming a soul singer. Instead, he worked as a caretaker, looked after his ill mum and did occasional stints as a James Brown tribute act. There’s also a murdered brother, homelessness and much more, but what’s more remarkable is Victim Of Love doesn’t need any of this to succeed, the songs are good enough on their own. It’s a little cheesy in places, there’s pastiche in others, but on the whole, what Bradley’s second album lacks in originality, it makes up for in conviction.

Matt Collins

Atoms for Peace - Amok (XL)

We all know who they are and what they’ve done. It’s a surprisingly great and accessible album of indie electronica. Listen.

Pranam Mavahalli

James blake - Overgrown (Polydor)

If I was disappointed with Blake's debut album, it's because it didn't carry over the immediacy of his early EPs. Here, I feel Blake hits the right balance between the songwriting, the desire to experiment, and the pull of the dancefloor. Sanctioned by the Mercury's, but don't let that put you off, I can't wait to see where he goes with album three.

Ali Mason

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - II (Jagjaguwar)

II starts off almost as a piece of pure 60s nostalgia, then gets progressively more and more weird – kind of replicating the decade itself, in some ways. It sounds great – particularly through a good pair of headphones, which I think means it’s been very well mixed, but I’m not sure. This video, for the single ‘Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)’, is NSFW. Well, sort of. It features wanking puppets.

Guy Atkinson

Captain, We’re Sinking - The Future is Cancelled (Run for Cover Records)

After unleashing what was my favourite single of 2013 at the beginning of the year, hopes were high for Captain, We're Sinking's debut full length...and they didn't disappoint. Noticeably more downbeat and aggressive than that sparkling single, the album does a splendid job of capturing one man's heartbreak, much like a young Jesse Lacey.

Dom Farrell

Disclosure – Settle (Island)

There are pros and cons to working completely from home, a switch I’ve made this year. Sure, there’s the lack of human contact for hours on end but, on the other hand, sit-down dancing is very much an acceptable way to pass the day. And no record has caused me to throw more posterior-secured shapes than Settle by Disclosure. Containing few of the pitfalls you would expect a major-label debut festooned with guest appearances to be riven with, this is infectious, hook-laden dance music with a pop sensibility and I don’t care if the neighbours have been watching.

Ian Parker

Wooden Shjips - Back To Land (Thrill Jockey)

There's always one. Every year. My list was already finalised when I first heard Back To Land, but after a weekend of listening to pretty much nothing else, it was clear this was going to muscle its way in. I certainly didn't expect it - as much as I've always wanted to like a band named after my favourite Crosby, Stills and Nash song, I'd never managed to get my head around them until now. Frightened Rabbit made way for a record of wonderful, chilled psychedelia. Just don't bother trying to figure out the lyrics.

Rory Dollard

Phosphorescent - Muchacho (Dead Oceans)

I pretty much missed this one in its first time round and only really caught up with it when it was cynically rereleased with a bonus disc. Bullshit practice that, in my opinion, but less annoying when you actually benefit from it. I actually investigated on advice from Dom, which was crazy behaviour from me given that he will almost certainly have given the Manics' latest act of legacy desecration a top 10 place. But it's good, like the War On Drugs on a massive mellow comedown.

Steve Pill

Yo La Tengo - Fade (Matador)

After years of never really giving Yo La Tengo the due attention they deserve, I've recently been able to delve into two decades worth of back catalogue in one fell swoop. There's something comfortingly familiar about their unique strand of US indie pop, thanks to their hook-heavy way with a melody and a rare awareness of when to rein in the experimentalism and when to let if fly. With a new producer in John McEntire, Fade is particularly concise and warming, standing alongside the finest works.

John Skilbeck

Empty Pools - Saturn Reruns (Battle Music)

The Empty Pools debut LP reminded me of The Organ's one-album stab at glory, Grab That Gun, what with its mix of melancholy, anger and contempt, and its bolt-from-the-blue arrival in early November as an album on which you'd change nothing. Imagine Carrie Brownstein fronting a jazz-infused Fall. It's hella good. Leah Pritchard brilliantly leads the Bristol quartet.

1 comment:

  1. Guy's track of the day award goes to Empty Pools.