Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Eight

"I played a snippet of this song to my sister and she genuinely thought it was a spoof..." - let's say no more about Guy's pick as we reach our No. 17 albums of the year.

Andy Welch

I Am Kloot - Let It All In (Shepherd Moon)

I Am Kloot’s debut Natural History is one of my favourite records. Since then, I’ve always liked Kloot’s records but never loved them. Then came Let It All In. Johnny Bramwell’s lyrics are generally about drinking, relationships going wrong because of drinking and other assorted life disasters, and there’s nothing new here on that front. There’s enough humour and hope in there, as there was on Natural History, to stop the album being one long moan. Musically, Guy Garvey and Craig Potter’s production never takes over, even when gigantic string sections are added. If prizes were given out for best outro, Forgive Me These Reminders, which sort of drifts from the speakers, like breeze blowing through a window, would win hands down.

Matt Collins

Sweet Baboo - Ships (Republic of Music)

The lovely Welshman Stephen Black (playing under the Sweet Baboo moniker) has an ear for a tune with jaunty melodies and crazy lyrics. The second track for example is called ‘The Morse Code For Love Is Beep Beep, Beep Beep, The Binary Code Is One One’. Believe it or not, it’s one of the catchiest bits of the album. The brass carries much of the record, leaving every listener with a lovely happy feeling.

Pranam Mavahalli

DJ Rashad - Double Cup (Hyperdub)

Adventures in juke part 1: I'm a procastinator. Rather than do important things like meet deadlines, I'll find time to watch videos of US high school dance battles. Maybe I'm just jealous that my limbs will never quite move as fast as theirs... But my time spent watching these vids hasn't completely wasted, as it introduced me to juke music and to DJ Rashad in particular, a juke pioner. He makes heavy, bass-laden electronic music that joins the dots between jungle and hip hop, with a tempo that seems to reflect the fast-paced nature of modern times. This is his debut on UK label Hyperdub, and is worth brushing up on if you fancy challenging me to a juke dance battle come January. Warning, I've been honing my moves.

Ali Mason

Christopher Owens – Lysandre (Turnstile)

Anyone who knows anything about Girls will know all about Owens’ particular and peculiar past, and it’s hard not to use that as a basis for psychoanalysing everything he does. What is impossible to deny from Lysandre though is Owens’ desperate need to be understood – most notably in ‘Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener’, a musical therapy session tackling one man’s self-doubt (“What if I’m just a bad songwriter and everything I say has been said before? What if everybody just thinks I’m a phoney? What if nobody ever gets it?”). From such a man, a break-up, like in closing track ‘Part Of Me (Lysandre’s Epilogue)’ is more gut-wrenching, the ever-present drug-taking more desperate, the moments of contentment more heartwarming. For all his self-doubt, it takes a certain amount of confidence to think you can get away with a line like “Kissing and a-hugging is the air that I breathe, I’ll always make time for love” – and a bagful of talent to be right.

Guy Atkinson

State Faults - Resonate/Desperate (No Sleep Records)

I played a snippet of this song to my sister and she genuinely thought it was a spoof and refused to believe anyone would 'sing' like this. Well, they do and I can’t get enough of it. The emotionally wrought and melodramatic 'screamo' on ‘Resonate/Desperate’ takes me back to the halcyon days of MySpace days when I would listen to nothing but bands like this for weeks on end.

Dom Farrell

Deerhunter – Monomania (4AD)

In case song titles like ‘Neon Junkyard’ and ‘Leather Jacket II’ don’t give the game away, Bradford Cox is in fully committed garage rocker mode on Deerhunter’s Monomania. The latter song and the title track feature enamel-peeling hails of distortion and this is a record that delights in its rough edges. Amid the rubble are shimmering guitar-pop diamonds such as ‘The Missing’ and when the elements are melded mid-album on ‘Sleepwalking’ and ‘Back to the Middle’, the results are pretty special.

Ian Parker

Jim James - Regions of Light and Sound of God (V2)

The stylistic shifts in My Morning Jacket’s last three albums have hinted at Jim James’ increasing restlessness which dates back to a period in hospital in 2009. Since then, he has indulged in an increasing array of side-projects, so a solo album was the inevitable next step. What James has delivered with Regions of Light And Sound of God is a fun, quirky record full of experiments with rhythm.

Rory Dollard

My Bloody Valentine - m b v (Pickpocket Records)

Hats off to Kevin Shields for what must go down as one of the longest cons in music history. There he was for 22 years, occasionally shredding the bum off Primal Scream songs but generally just pootling about while all the time dropping hints and obfuscation about a new MBV record. Then, with next to no fanfare, he dropped the punchline: m b v was here and despite the chat about years of tantrums, overdubs, re-records and entire scrapped albums within a few seconds you knew this was recorded no more a week after 1991's Loveless. That's a good thing for my money - none of the shoegazey wannatrys got anywhere close in the last two decades anyway. He loved noise then and he loves it now.

Steve Pill

Phosphorescent – Muchacho (Dead Oceans)

Locking yourself away in a remote Mexican farming community and channelling ‘Oh Mercy’-era Dylan wouldn’t necessarily strike you as a sensible career path for a young singer-songwriter, but Matthew Houck followed it to great effect on album number six. World-weary pacing combines with a warm glow fitting of Houck’s on-stage moniker to burnish his alt-country blues. There’s a nagging sense that he perhaps borrows too readily at times (the opening line of the otherwise-brilliant Song for Zula quotes Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire and Bette Midler’s The Rose), but Muchacho is more than the sum of its parts.

John Skilbeck

Tanya Donelly - Swan Song Series (Self-released)

After spells in Throwing Muses, the Breeders and Belly, Tanya Donelly went solo late last century. She went quiet for a while, family a new priority, but Swan Song Series marked a return to form. Belly were the second band I ever saw live actually, after Magnapop, at REM's Huddersfield gig in 1995. If that makes me feel old, these songs serve as a welcome enlivener.

1 comment:

  1. My Bloody Valentine is the recipient of Guy's track of the day award.