Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Seven

As we come to our No. 18 albums of the year, Pranam claims he'll never be found driving an 18-wheeler down Deansgate while Matt and Ali duel for top spot on the Radio 2 playlist.

Andy Welch

Disclosure - Settle (Island)

Every year on this calendar I say how I don’t like dance music, and then include a couple of dance records in my Top 24. One of this year’s is Settle, basically a deep house record with a bit of two step thrown in and an array of guests vocalists. The cameos never threaten to overshadow the song, though, the likes of AlunaGeorge, Jessie Ware and Sam Smith there because they offer something, not because their appearance is a novelty. I don’t think there’s a great deal connecting each of the tracks, it’s essentially a handful of fantastic singles – White Noise, one of my singles of the year being the pick of the bunch – and some slightly inferior versions of those. Nevertheless, when it’s good, it’s absolutely brilliant.

Matt Collins

The Leisure Society - Alone Aboard the Ark (Full Time Hobby)

The Leisure Society stole my heart years ago with their gorgeous debut single, 'The Last of the Melting Snow'. They’ve never quite hit those heights since, but Alone Aboard the Ark features enough quality songwriting and pleasingly Radio 2 friendly pop to keep my attention.

Pranam Mavahalli

Kanye West - Yeezus (Def Jam)

What separates the mavericks from the rest of us? I don't have the courage to drive lorries in town centres (Chris Eubank does). Fireworks may be fun, but I'd never set them off in my bathroom (take a bow Mario Balotelli). And Kanye West has the temerity to call his latest album Yeezus, sample one of the most culturally-loaded songs of all time ('Strange Fruit') and use it to talk about the paparazzi ('Blood on the Leaves'). Like much on this album, it shouldn't work and yet it very much does so, as Kanye takes the risks the rest of would choose not to (or would never consider). Keep up the madness Yeezy.

Ali Mason

Heidi Talbot – Angel Without Wings (Navigator Records)

This beautiful record is the sort of thing that a younger version of me would have dismissively written off as middle-of-the-road Radio 2 fodder. Honestly, that younger version of me was a bit of a dick because this is a subtly textured album, full of gentle but considerable surprises. The title track as an easy in, but there’s a bucketload of classy folk goodness to enjoy with songs like ‘When The Roses Come Again’ and ‘Dearest Johnny’.

Guy Atkinson

RVIVR - The Beauty Between (YoYo Records)

The first of two post-Latterman bands in my list this year, with this Matt Canino-led outfit exploring gender politics against a backdrop of urgent, scuzzy and tuneful punk music. If you think 'liberal' is a dirty word, you should probably avoid RVIVR...and me.

Dom Farrell

Jimi Hendrix – People, Hell And Angels (Legacy)

The quest to piece together what type of artist Jimi Hendrix might have become is, ultimately, a futile one but there are some dazzling signposts on this latest collection of unreleased material. People, Hell And Angels is mercifully free of intrusive overdubs and striped back opener ‘Earth Blues’ is all the better for this, briskly putting the collection into its stride. Stephen Stills’ slot as a bass player on ‘Somewhere’ grabbed the headlines upon the record’s release, but the most thrilling collaboration here is the riotous duelling between Hendrix and saxophone virtuoso Lonnie Youngblood on the magnificent ‘Let Me Move You’.

Ian Parker

Phosphorescent - Muchacho (Dead Oceans)

Over the course of this year's Musical Advent Calendar, you're going to hear 'Song for Zula' a lot. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, it's about the only track from this album streaming online, so anyone who picked the record is going to link to that. Second, it's frickin' amazing. And while nothing else on this album quite lives up to those startling standards, it doesn't need to to make for a fine record.

Rory Dollard

Bombino - Nomad (Nonesuch)

Those of you playing the Ragged Glories drinking game, please down your current pint because we've just reached my annual, crassly tokenistic 'world music' pick. Do a shot as well, because it's a slice of hypnotic desert blues (for those of you not taking notes, it always is). Anyway, it's also really good shit - Bombino's guitar work is raw, fierce, lean and leant an extra fizz by Dan Auerbach's production.

Steve Pill

Oneohtrix Point Never – R Plus Seven (Warp)

I think I might have mentioned before on these pages that following my mum passing away, I found myself unable to comfortably listen to any music with vocals for at least six months afterwards. During the time I dug deep into various instrumental electronica, krautrock, ambient and modern classical albums that had previously done nothing for me. Oneohtrix Point Never's Warp debut is an album that might have passed me by prior to that time, with its collage of stuttering electronics, choral swells and archaic instrumental samples. There's little in the way of traditional melodies or song structures, but producer Daniel Lopatin compensates by wrong-footing you at every turn, encouraging you to listen harder and rewarding you as you do.

John Skilbeck

Quasi - Mole City (Domino)

Making her second appearance on my list, Janet Weiss again paired up with Sam Coomes as Quasi marked 20 years together by lolling through an eighth album. Towards the climax of the 24-song indulgence that the Portland, Oregon duo afforded themselves, Coomes dedicated the lolling track An Ice Cube In The Sun to “all the misfits of the world: the square pegs, the don’t-fit-ins, the out-of-steps, the misunderstood, the heads-in-the-cloud…”. Sure, Quasi have a certain audience. Mole City was another frantic freak-out clatter, with occasional segues into dreamy introspection.  A boisterous, eccentric romp, heavy on guitar fuzz and soloing and righteously hammered piano ... they did it again and long may they do so.

1 comment:

  1. Today's track of the day goes to Kanye West.