Monday, December 07, 2015

The Musical Advent Calendar - Door Number Seven

Listening tip: Skiller's choice sounds particularly good in a second-hand Ford C Max. Meanwhile, Steve considers the artistic merits of whacking things with toilet brushes - these could only be our No. 18 albums of the year, right?

Andy Welch
My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall (ATO)

It Still Moves was the first My Morning Jacket album I heard, and nothing I've heard of theirs since then has quite lived up to it, despite high points on each of their albums. The Waterfall comes close, but this features so high on my list because of 'Thin Line', one of the most beautiful songs I've heard all year. Sublime. 

Rory Dollard
Laura Marling - Short Movie (Virgin)

The first lady of Ragged Glories is back and I think by now we're all pretty certain where we stand. I have no doubt now that she's on track to be our Joni Mitchell, and someone many of us will be talking about in 20 years. But Joni had her off days and this, by her own standards, seems like Marling's first in a while. It's good, but she's so often great. I had a quick check of the Advent Calendar's by-laws just to check you were allowed to vote her as low as 18. You are.

Matt Collins
Jose Gonzalez - Vestiges and Claws (Peacefrog Records)

The new Jose Gonzalez album sounds exactly like a new Jose Gonzalez album - that on its own is enough to make it one of the albums of the year. The classical guitar, the stripped back lack of percussion and even some great head nodding action on the likes of 'What Will'. 

Dom Farrell
Matthew E White - Fresh Blood (Spacebomb)

Spacebomb head honcho Matthew E White picks up where he left off from 2013’s stunning debut Big Inner on Fresh Blood’s stately opener 'Take Care My Baby'. Cheeky, chirpy, indisputable sentiments (“Everybody likes to talk shit”) follow infectiously on 'Rock & Roll Is Cold'. Thankfully this sophomore effort is anything but cold - it’s another big bulky winter jumper of an album, with barely a thread or soulful note misplaced.

Andrew Gwilym
Buddy Guy – Born to Play Guitar (Sony)

With B.B. King sadly no longer with us, Buddy Guy stands alone as the last of the true blues masters still kicking. Whereas King played with a soulful, largely clean sound, Guy continues to spew out notes in a frenzied, aggressive fashion. The fire still burns fiercely, he remains in fine voice and – despite several high-profile guest appearances – he completely dominates this album. 'Thick Like Mississippi Mud' is a joy, and his sly boogie piece ‘Wear You Out’, which features ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, may be the best song here. Not bad for a 79 year old.

John Skilbeck
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly (Interscope)

On the afternoon I bought my second-hand Ford C Max, I thrust this CD into the player, pumped up the volume and drove through Wakefield with the windows wound down. What an afternoon that was.

Pranam Mavahalli
Aphex Twin – user18081971 (Self-released)

Yes it's a cheat you may say as it's not even an album. But when Aphex Twin dumped hundreds of tracks from his hard drive onto Soundcloud earlier this year, I don't think even the most obsessive of his fans could have expected the sheer breadth and quality. There's so much good stuff that I haven't even got round to listening to it all yet. Head over to the Soundcloud account, dive in at random and lose yourself.

Ian Parker
Kristin McClement - Wild Grips (Willkommen)

There's always one album on the list you never saw coming. I knew nothing of Kristin McClement when I stuck The Wild Grips on for the first time but it took no time at all for me to be, well, gripped. The rich instrumentation is perfectly matched with the drama of the songs. It's a feast for the ears throughout.

Guy Atkinson
Chain of Flowers – Chain of Flowers (Alter)

Largely thanks to their roots in hardcore, there’s something a little more robust and menacing about Chain of Flowers’ take on shoegaze. Nothing here scales the heights of their 2012 single, Chained (which still rips), but it’s still an engaging effort deserving of more attention than it’s likely getting.

Steve Pill
Nils Frahm – Solo (Erased Tapes)

German piano hero Nils Frahm is perhaps the only act on my list to have captivated a sold out Royal Albert Hall this year with a performance that involved banging the strings of his instrument with toilet brushes. Always understated and surprising, the most productive man in contemporary classical music could have made the list for a number of projects this year, including his heavily-textured soundtrack to Victoria or his collaborations with Olafur Arnalds. His Late Night Tales compilation - not eligible, I guess, but still hugely listenable - meanwhile, is an enlightening trip that takes in 'The Flight of the Bumblebee', 'Dub Tractor' and vintage jazz 78s. Solo is Frahm unfussy and unfettered, a free download released to celebrate Piano Day (the 88th day of the year, usually 29 March) that saw the young German craft a selection of soothing melodies that have underscored countless Spotify-assisted hours at work. Get your own copy here.


  1. Nils Frahm, Kendrick Lamarr, Aphex this the most on-trend door number 7 ever?

  2. Not a day designed for me, but Guy's Track of the Day goes to Kendrick Lamar.