Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Seventeen

Dom finds the imperfect soundtrack for a wedding, Pranam finally owns up to why I only get the odd high-five when I see him in Manchester, while Steve wants to know if anyone here could be more of an idiot than him. What more could you want from our No. 8 albums of the year?

Andy Welch
Half Moon Run – Sun Leads Me On (Caroline)

There wasn't as much fanfare around this record as I expected after the way their debut grew and grew. Nevertheless, the years spent touring it have improved the band no end, not least their ability to write wonderful singles. It's interesting to read interviews with them in which they talk about not really being able to stand each other aside from their time together in the studio, but whatever relationship they seem to have, it works.

Rory Dollard
Titus Andronicus - The Most Lamentable Tragedy (Merge)

This is a a twenty-nine song, 92-minute double concept album about manic depression and doppelgangers featuring a knees-up punk Pogues cover and Pink Floyd parameters played on Thin Lizzy guitars. I can, and will, add nothing.

Matt Collins
Dutch Uncles - O Shudder (Memphis Industries)

Before we go any further, can I just recommend that you go and check out Dutch Uncles live just to see the lead singer dancing? It is Ian Curtis weird, geeky, glorious and incredible all at the same time. Now, onto their latest album. It's another unbelievably danceable collection of jangle guitar proggy indie tunes. It's just brilliant. Go listen to it. 

Dom Farrell
Tallest Man On Earth - Dark Bird Is Home (Dead Oceans)

You know when a certain setting can bring a song or an album together in just the right way? I love that. I was already very fond of Dark Bird Is Home - Kristian Matsson, the completely average-height fibber, adding daubs of lush orchestration to his enduring songs of longing without losing any of his charm - before popping it on while heading home from a wedding in the Lake District. Sweeping down the hills towards Kendal on a sunlit evening, these songs born in rural Sweden swelled gloriously amid the craggy beauty absolutely perfectly. I’ve since found out he wrote the album about the break-up of his marriage. Ah well…

Andrew Gwilym
Keith Richards - Crosseyed Heart (Virgin)

A solo album from a member of the Stones at this period in their lives would normally be something to be highly sceptical of. However, Whereas Mick Jagger spent most of his career trying not to sound like his regular band, Keith Richards has no problem locating the same groove he has mined with such success for over 50 years. It’s that unashamed approach that makes this such an embracing listen. This is ‘Keef’ just doing what he likes to do, what’s it to you? The songs and his voice feel and sound lived in, and there are moments of genuine magic, such as ‘Trouble’. This is a great record which deserves to be recognised as among Richards’ finest work with the Stones or anyone.

John Skilbeck
Downtown Boys - Full Communism (Don Giovanni Records)

This “bi-bilingual political dance sax punk party from Providence” - their description - made a magnificently messy noise this year, kicking out at American social injustice with a voice and message that demanded to be heard, like a modern-day X-Ray Spex with Victoria Ruiz, a bold, brilliant Latina woman, a worthy successor to that band’s Poly Styrene.

Pranam Mavahalli
Low – Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop)

I read recently that you only have space in your head for a handful of good friends. Which is why it's likely that the vast majority of 'friends' we have on Facebook are more likely to be people you'd high five in the street than those you’d have a pint with. Could this concept be transferrable? Do you only have enough head space for a certain number of favourite foods? Or favourite films? Or favourite bands? Over the years I think I've filled my head with so much music, both new and old, that Low somehow got rudely ejected out. But with this album, it's like I've rediscovered what I loved about them in the first place. Beautifully written songs that showcase the band's pared down instrumentation, but with added production and bite that suggests they have plenty more albums in them yet. Welcome back old chums.

Ian Parker
Barna Howard - Quite A Feelin’ (Loose)

I do like country music. You know, proper country music. None of that modern Nashville pop-in-a-cowboy-hat nonsense (I think we had this conversation around the point I had Sturgill Simpson in last year's top 24). Barna Howard makes proper country music. Nashville used to turn out records like this, but it says a lot that Howard left his Missouri home not for nearby Tennessee to make his but instead fled to Portland. During what must have been a pretty lengthy road trip, the results suggest he had Townes van Zandt on repeat during the drive. An outstanding choice. 

Guy Atkinson
The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness (Republic Records)

File under ‘should know better’. The new wave of R&B artists like Frank Ocean, Drake and J Cole have provided an antidote to my staple diet of pummelling hardcore over the past few years, with The Weeknd now joining that elite club.

Steve Pill
Tame Impala – Currents (Fiction)

Like all good guests, I am fashionably late to the Tame Impala party, having previously dismissed their retro psych rock shenanigans and mentally filed them under ‘the sort of thing Liam Gallagher would namecheck as a favourite new band, despite them only make music that sounds like it was written in 1968’. As my previous track record over some seven years on here will attest, I am an idiot and all three Tame Impala albums have their moments of Zen. Currents is a step up again, taking those retro elements and adding moogs, falsetto vocals, wooshy noises and all those other things that people in 1968 thought the future sounded like. If you don’t like it, you are more of an idiot than me. And that, my friends, is saying something.

1 comment:

  1. I'm listening to everyone's picks out in South Africa at the moment. Enjoying all this malarkey very much. We're short on concensus at the moment (barring a classic two people picking the same album yesterday)...are we going to come together in the next few days?
    Also, I can't predict whether everyone is snubbing Laura Marling this year (totally plausible) or she's going to win again (totally plausible)