Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Twelve

Just how long can an episode of The Apprentice last? While Dollard is figuring that out Dom is having his dinner for breakfast and Steve has the insect repellant out. Try not to be too distracted as we run through our No. 13 albums of the year. 

Andy Welch
Leon Bridges – Coming Home (Columbia)

There's nothing new here, Leon Bridges sounds like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, but it's no soulless pastiche. Quite the opposite, and 'Lisa Sawyer' is as beautiful a tribute to someone's mum you're going to hear. I'm a sucker for a backstory, too, and the idea of him washing dishes by day, slaying open mic evenings by night is hugely romantic. Probably isn't strictly true, but that's never stopped me being drawn in before.

Rory Dollard
Richard Hawley - Hollow Meadow (Parlophone)

I'm still watching The Apprentice by the way. I started five days ago, in Ragged Glories terms. Spooky. I'll tell you who'd hate The Apprentice, Richard Hawley. That show is all bullshit, he's all heart. It's full force consumerism to his whole-hog romanticism. It's Alan Sugar versus something really sweet. We all know by know he's not reinventing the wheel, or even reinventing Richard Hawley at this stage, but it's still a pleasure to hear him at work.

Matt Collins
Beirut - No No No (4AD)

Beirut are a reliable source of swaying brass led life affirming music. And while I definitely don't approve of taking away your best sound by losing the brass for the most part, their foundations of simple and effective swaying songs remain intact.


Dom Farrell
Drenge - Undertow (Infectious)

If music is the food of the soul, Undertow is the sound of having bacon cheeseburger for breakfast and not giving a toss. The feedback-drenched one minute 12 seconds of instrumental intro are a worthy fuse for the powder-keg thump of 'Running Wild' and from that point you are clattered uncompromisingly around the chops by a record that rarely labours in getting to the point. The high point might very well be the unlikely Libertines-Motorhead hybrid of We Can Do What We Want. An absolute riot.

Andrew Gwilym
Jesse Malin – New York Before the War (One Little Indian)

Jesse Malin decided that 2015, after a period of relative inactivity, was the time to announce his return, releasing two albums into the bargain. While Outsiders has its merits, this is the better of the two. Malin has always been a rocker at heart, and here he gives full vent to it. 'Turn Up the Mains' is a fantastic Stonesesque track, combining acoustic guitars with strident electric work and a memorable chorus. 'The Year I Was Born' is bar-room rock that Craig Finn would be proud of, while 'The Dreamers' shows Malin has not completely foregone his thoughtful side. It’s great to hear him brimming with energy again.

John Skilbeck
Ought - Sun Coming Down (Constellation)

Ought’s wonderful debut LP More Than Any Other Day debut was a brilliant sprawling racket, living on the edge of its nerves, tense and tumultuous, hinting at influences from Television, Joy Division - certainly not Chucklevision. Sun Coming Down is thrillingly a great follow-up, on which singer Tim Darcy channels the snarl and apparent abandon of Mark E Smith, all the while helming a band that couldn’t be tighter. Missing the days of great Fall records? (Because they’re gone, right?) Then here’s a band you Ought to know.

Pranam Mavahalli
Seven Davis Jr - Universes (Ninja Tune)

Apparently Seven counts Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr among his biggest influences. But don't worry this isn't the kind of music you'd expect to hear Parkinson play on Radio 2. It sounds like what might happen if Daniel Johnstone grew up listening to Prince and house. This is music made for the clubs, yet it's a wonky original take that's refreshingly sincere and instinctive rather than overthought. Release your inhibitions and embrace it.

Ian Parker
My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall (ATO)

My Morning Jacket have been many, many things since I first heard Jim James' beautiful vocals emerging from beneath a wall of hair at what I will always call the Hop & Grape in Manchester, somewhere between the release of debut The Tennessee Fire and the outstanding At Dawn, which makes it somewhere around 15 years ago. Their constant reworking and reinvention of their sound has kept them vital, and while The Waterfall doesn't quite top the likes of Z or Circuital, it reminds you why you can still believe that after 16 years, their best record might still be to come (Regardless of whatever theories Steve might have drunkenly concocted with folks from Milwaukee). 

Guy Atkinson
Gallows – Desolation Sounds (Venn Records)

I didn’t think I’d still dig a Gallows record in 2015, but then I didn’t think that they’d bring in Wade McNeil from Alexisonfire and deliver an album that so effectively combines raw, aggressive hardcore with more straight-up ‘commercial’ rock. 

Steve Pill
Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness (Domino)

I’ve seen this labeled album of the year in some quarters, which seems a little ambitious but this is dead lovely nonetheless. Silhouette sounds like Two Weeks-era Grizzly Bear recast as a Victorian melodrama, while Vasquez has a sort of drowsy beauty that sounds a bit like Joni Mitchell covering 'Riders on the Storm'. It’s the sort of album that I wouldn’t have quite known what to do with 10 years ago but I find myself increasingly drawn to, like a moth to that spray I bought that kills moths.

1 comment:

  1. Guy's Track of the Day goes to Drenge, obvs.