Friday, December 04, 2015

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Four

Day four of the Musical Advent Calendar and, besides our No. 21 albums of the year, it seems it's already time for Dollard's inevitable world music pick, though it is at least something we've all heard of this time. Meanwhile Matt nominates a Welsh windbag, and Pranam considers a road not travelled.

Andy Welch
Roisin Murphy – Hairless Toys (Play It Again Sam)

Like a lot of people, I quite liked Moloko and their Balearic big singles, but never really investigated any further than that. I've paid a lot more attention to Roisin Murphy's solo material, though, and Hairless Toys is her best yet. There's deep house, Italo and Studio 54-style disco, even country in what sounds like a bizarre twist but works perfectly. A great record.

Rory Dollard
Songhoy Blues - Music In Exile (Transgressive)

Time for the internationally recognised 'Dollard's world music pick' Is it that time already? I'm a long-time sucker for the desert blues genre and these boys from Mali do it in style: slinky, lean guitar lines, hypnotic arrangements and chanted vocals. Just by the by, these blokes were forced out of their homeland by jihadists who attempted to ban music (and alcohol…and cigarettes). Context is always relevant.

Matt Collins
Sweet Baboo - The Boombox Ballads (Moshi Moshi)

Welsh windbag Sweet Baboo has fantastic knack for story based, twee songwriting with jump up and down melodies. He’s is terrific live to boot. The Boombox Ballads is a fantastically fun collection of songs.

Dom Farrell
Richard Hawley - Hollow Meadows (Parlophone)

If we were ranking these albums in order of the best promotional interview given, Richard Hawley would have the whole thing boxed off via this rampaging, barmy and heartfelt effort with the Guardian. The follow-up to 2012’s surprisingly but gloriously visceral Standing At The Sky’s Edge, Hawley’s seventh solo outing moves back towards the straightforward crooner territory of Coles Corner. As smooth and satisfying as one of his favourite Sheffield ales, things do get a touch one-paced before the majestic 'Heart of Oak' comes around.

Andrew Gwilym
Craig Finn - Faith in the Future (Partisan)
I will always go in to bat for Craig Finn. He will probably never top his Hold Steady work on Boys and Girls in America, but he remains, for me, one of the best storytelling songwriters of the last 15 years. This does not threaten to be a career defining piece of work but is more complete than his opening solo effort Clear Heart Full Eyes. 'St Peter Upside Down' may be the best song on either record, while 'Sarah, Calling From a Hotel' is a perfect reflection on getting older and includes a nice nod to Hold Steady classic 'Chips Ahoy!'

John Skilbeck
Escort - Animal Nature (Escort)

I had this New York disco troupe at number two in my 2012 list. The follow-up stalls at 21. Imagine their devastation.

Pranam Mavahalli
George Fitzgerald – Fading Love (Double Six)

Back in the day you'd see men (it was invariably men) in record shops with a stack of vinyl at the in-store deck, working out whether they'd buy a record from listening to a 30-second snippet. As a youngster I wanted to be part of this strange esoteric group, but felt I had neither the required skill nor the requisite taste. Nowadays when our lives are increasingly time-pressured, it's easier than ever to hit 'skip' when you're bored of a track. Which makes me wonder why I ever wanted to be one of those guys in the first place...In any case, it took me just 30 seconds to fall for George Fitzgerald's latest album. A lovely synth wash sets the tone for the rest of the album – hushed yet punchy, great on headphones, melodic and very addictive.

Ian Parker
Kurt Vile - B’lieve I’m Going Down (Matador) 

The follow-up to the magnificent Wakin' On A Pretty Daze is a rather different beast, with a more acoustic feel and perhaps even a little more order to affairs. Only a little, mind you, as listening to this record is like drifting off into one of Vile's dreams - a wonderful, woozy way to spend an afternoon.

Guy Atkinson
Westkust – Last Forever (Luxury)

Featuring members of a recent favourite of mine, Makthaverskan, it was never in doubt that I’d fall under the spell of this fuzz-drenched, shoegaze-inspired Swedish outfit. 

Steve Pill
Sleater Kinney – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)

Having shamefully never listened to a Sleater Kinney album prior to their triumphant comeback this year, I largely knew them not as original Riot Grrl heroines but as "that Portlandia band". If my abject idiocy hasn't stopped you from reading further, let me just say this: No Cities To Love is superb rock'n'roll music: loud, brash, rousing, fun and just a bit cleverer than it initially seems. How it compares to their back catalogue, I couldn't say – I've not felt the need to look any further than this just yet.


  1. I love giving the Dollard World Music Klaxon a good old blast. HHHHHOOOOOONNNNNNKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!

  2. Wow, sweet baboo is a bit lovely isn't it? The Divine Comedy ride again!

  3. Oh. And Sleater Kinney is great too. I only realised this a couple of days ago and reaffirmed now

  4. Sweet Baboo is great, saw him live a few years back bundles of fun.

  5. Guy's Track of the Day goes to Kurt Vile.