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  • 2011 - Review of the year

    Gen 3 2012, 16:04

    Another year where I think there hasn’t been a huge amount that has grabbed me until I start going through the releases and realise there were so many things I enjoyed a lot for a few weeks and then forgot about.

    For me, it’s been a good year for the more traditionally structured, narrative lyric based albums but that may just be down to my age, background and a weakness in my concentration at the moment for more expansive and abstract work.

    Consequently, I haven’t been grabbed by much outside of the standard rock/pop/indie idiom this year. There have been some drone, electronic, abstract, collage things that I have enjoyed but quite little that has struck a very strong chord. However, to keep that in context, these are the type of albums that generally take longer to settle under the skin so it’s quite possible a more left-field release than those listed here will end up being a retrospective favourite. This is something that has tended to happen in previous years so no reason to assume it will be different this time.

    Hip hop again is conspicuous by its absence but I fear, at this point, that ship has sailed for me.

    Elements of more straightforward electronic/R&B inflected sounds than previously and I am not really sure why that is. Possibly the post-dubstep tendency for anything loosely resembling dubstep and fitting with the progressive dance music idea seems to subject to a trending bump that (to me) wasn’t so apparent in other years. Hence, I tend to find myself being exposed to more electronic music that utilises straightforward and more traditional song structures than I would have in the past, witness SBTRKT, The Weeknd, James Blake etc.

    Apart from the albums, I think my favourite song of the year was 212 by Azealia Banks. It is just absolutely fantastic pop music. It seems to be one that has grabbed everyone who has heard it also.
    In contrast to this, my tuppence worth on Video Games. I don’t really care for ideas of authenticity or whatever that seem to have informed most commentary on this track but I think I laughed out loud the first time I heard this. It is so over-egged as to be almost a parody of a pop song. People who like it seem to talk about the breathy, effortlessness of it. All I can hear is someone straining a gut to sound effortless and failing miserably. This is a horrible song.

    Before I go into the favourites then, some disappointments to mention. I wasn’t expecting a lot from Bon Iverhaving seem them live on one of the tours after ‘For Emma..’ and being so bored I left a few songs from the end to drink in the bar until my friends were ready. At that point, I was pretty sure that that first album was nothing more than a happy accident and the future would hold either repletion with diminishing returns or a whole lot of production to cover up a hollow centre. Nonetheless, I tried the Bon Iver record having read such glowing praise of it. But really, come on, are you joking? If someone had played it to me and told me it was the Matt Cardle record, I wouldn’t have doubted it; dull, MOR dross.

    Didn’t manage to see the attraction in M83 either, though a lot of people I know seem to love it. I think it is just something about the keyboard sound that make my synapses flare and a silent scream form in my chest. I just can’t get past that feeling to give the thing another chance.

    The original of I'm New Here seemed overrated to me at the time. A decent and interesting enough album but it did seem a lot of the hyperbole was because he had managed to make an album as much as the content within. So perhaps I approached the Jamie xx reworking with a jaundiced eye and, admittedly, I didn’t give it a huge amount of my time but I found it pretty pointless. I found it added nothing to the original, textures that were in place were removed and replaced by angles that seemed only self-referencing to me, the elements of value inherent in the original lost somewhere in translation.

    Similarly, I was completely unmoved by albums from The Antlers, Handsome Furs, Iron & Wine, Hercules and Love Affair; all artists who I had liked previous albums by.

    Oh, and The Fall. Yes. The new Fall album is not good. There, I said it.

    I guess, to those who know me, it can be no surprise that the albums by PJ Harvey, Destroyer and Josh T Pearson figure so highly on my list of favourite albums. They fit this template perfectly and, for me, share an effectiveness of narrative.

    1.PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

    Let England Shake touches on a number of areas that I have always loved. Strangely, it is the first PJ Harvey album I have really liked after 20 years of trying. I like the conciseness of the lyrics and the way there is a narrative delivered that, whilst seeming ostensibly to be based around events of the Galipoli campaign of almost a hundred years ago, resonated as a kind of ‘state of the nation’ for contemporary times. I have read some references to the fact that she was apparently also inspired by the likes of Rum, Sodomy and The Lash and the art of Goya and Dalí among other things. Some of these you can hear in the music and some in the lyrics but some other elements (like the Doors) are harder to reconcile. Nonetheless, the narrative is compelling and convincing and very effectively supported by the arrangements. I have no hesitation in calling this a genuinely great album.

    2.Destroyer- Kaputt

    The Destroyer record, Kaputt, is similarly affecting in its evocation of a time and a mood and perhaps resonates with me in part because that time is the early to mid eighties when I was between the ages of five and ten. The arrangements pretty much directly reflect this period and it stays just the right side of pastiche a lot of the time. In this way, it reminds me of the Gayngs record from 2010. Where it really triumphs however, is that lyrically it evokes so many of those feelings of being trapped in a suburban bedroom, reading NME and the world of the Smiths and New Order seeming glamorous and other-worldly yet somehow attainable if you could just overcome your diffidence. I am not sure I would have found it so striking though had I not followed Dan Bejar’s career all the way as I would imagine that voice could still be pretty off-putting to those unfamiliar with its growth over the previous albums.

    3.Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges

    In my top five, the only album that is a little different is the Colin Stetson one. It’s rare that I like any kind of brass unless it was recorded prior to about 1965. This, however, touches on a lot of elements I like, from the touches of sax redolent of sixties jazz pioneers such as Albert Ayler to the layers of percussive and bass sounds reflecting on a more modern non-jazz avant-garde. The combination of elements is managed beautifully making this an extremely engaging and rewarding listen.

    4.Josh T Pearson - Last of the Country Gentlemen

    Josh T Pearson had been pretty much AWOL for about a decade since the first and only Lift to Experience album. His Last of the Country Gentlemen is a wonderful album but if you are in the wrong mood for it, it can seem almost unlistenable. The record is a Blood on the Tracks style analysis of a collapsed relationship and, at times, can make for very uncomfortable listening. One could describe him as brave for sharing some of the details he does but you could also just think, ‘what an asshole’. I tend toward the latter sentiment but there is a car crash compulsion which overtakes my squirming at the voyeuristic nature of the listening experience. There is little added to the sound apart from his voice and some pretty rudimentary guitar playing. However, as simple as the playing is, the repetitions and elongations of ordinary musical phrases weave a tapestry that can, at times, be as effective as any sound collage. Each song is stretched to, or beyond, its limit and each one seems perpetually on the point of collapse. He just about holds the whole thing together though. You do come away thinking that, as with Dylan, for every extrapolation on the minutiae of the relationships failure, there is an innocent party somewhere out there given no voice to retort.

    5.Richard Buckner - Our Blood

    Richard Buckner is another straight ahead sort of lyrical album though, as ever with him, the songs tend toward the allusive and abstract, expressing more a sense of something than the thing itself. It is perhaps not as effective as some of his previous work but, over time, the songs may settle in me deeper and it could turn out to be a favourite. Apart from the songs themselves, I have always loved his voice and it sounds particularly fine on this one, age adding a little more his deep melodic groan as it plays between the lines, stepping on and off beat to wonderful effect, transforming these clipped and truncated sentences and out of context phrases into perfectly formed little poems of longing, regret and waste.

    6.Atlas Sound - Parallax

    Parallax by Atlas Sound may have appeared higher had it not been for the fact that I only picked up a few days before Christmas. I have found something to like in most of what Bradford Cox has done over the last few years, from Deerhunter to Atlas Sound. The sound of both acts seems closer now that it was initially and I love the lo-fi dream pop sound of this record. For the last week or two, it has been on the stereo once or twice a day and it has taken a bit of time to get inside it. It is very beautiful throughout, with beautiful and memorable melodies, shot through with a lovely delicacy. Like the Deerhunter records, I am pretty sure this one will resonate with me even more over time but even at this early stage I can be sure it will be something I will return to for years.

    7.James Blake - James Blake

    I had listened to the James Blake album a lot in the earlier part of the year but even then it was one that worked for me sometimes and not others. Still an excellent album but haven’t felt the need to hear it for a few months although I am sure I will return to it. Will be interesting to see where he goes next.

    8.Trouble Books & Mark McGuire - Trouble Books & Mark McGuire

    The Trouble Books and Mark McGuire record is surprisingly cohesive for such a collaboration. This was often my default album when I wanted something that lend itself to calm and contemplation and consequently it often ended up being played on the bus in the mornings when I was struggling to be fully awake and wanted to disappear from the sounds of the morning commuters. I find that the vocals tend to come to me like another instrument in the mix and, oddly for me, I have no idea what any of the songs about or what the lyrical content is at all.

    9.EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints

    I really loved the EMA album but it has tended to be one I listen to obsessively for a few days and then not at all for a week or two before repeating the cycle. I am pretty sure this will be something I will be listening to for many years. Like some of the others I have mentioned, it is a completely engaging narrative, supported by arrangements that are perfectly suited to it. It reminds me of Blood on the Tracks, Patti Smith and Kim Gordon and as wonderful as this album is, I cannot wait to see what the next one will be like. It can be hard to tell on the basis of one record but already it looks like the opening gambit from and artist who will be engaging and interesting for a very long time.

    10.Bill Callahan - Apocalypse

    I loved Smog and I love Bill Callahan. There is actually a lifelong narrative traceable in his music which makes each new release interesting regardless. There were subtle shifts in the dynamic toward the end of the smog moniker and these have continued through the Bill Callahan records. This one takes that on a little further as he seems surer than ever of his song-writing strengths and thus seems more comfortable to be loose with the lyrical structure. I would prefer the first two albums but, in its’ own way this one is also wonderful and points at interesting directions for future releases.

    11.Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat - Everything's Getting Older

    This is a very beautiful work, arranged magnificently by Wells, the only criticism is that sometime Moffat seems to be repeating elements from some of the old Arab Strap songs.

    12.Tom Waits - Bad As Me

    A far more convincing album than Real Gone. He is still writing good songs and the music is as lively as ever. The only problem I have here is that there are times when it feels like you have heard it all before, but I guess it is difficult to avoid that after so many albums.

    13.Chelsea WolfeApokalypsis

    A little unfocussed in places and some of the production is a bit irritating but there are some cracking songs in there.

    14.The Caretaker- An Empty Bliss Beyond This World

    This will be a grower. Old time ballroom music tweaked and shifted to unsettle you. Beautiful stuff; the music of uneasy dreams.

    15.David Thomas BroughtonOutbreeding

    I have a love/hate thing with Broughton. It’s big and brash and all him which is good but sometimes the repetitions and the accent become wearing.

    16.Eleanor Friedberger- Last Summer

    Surprisingly linear given that she is one half of The Fiery Furnaces. This is still growing on me but it is a strong, engaging indie pop record so what’s not to like?

    17.War on Drugs - Slave Ambient

    Sometimes the vocals bother me with these guys but it is good to hear a band sound so strident and passionate without slipping into wannabe stadium rock cliché (I’m looking at you, Okkervil River)

    18.Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts

    A slow burner and initially I thought Becks production made it sound like a Beck record with a Sonic Youth influence. It’s starting to enter my mind by the back door though as guitar lines linger and seem like the ghosts of old Sonic Youth tracks I listened to obsessively as a teenager. He seems to be treating it as an elegy for their lost relationship and perhaps I am listening to it as an elegy for my lost (sonic) youth. I any case, its beauty is emerging slowly and it’s a good thing.

    19.King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mine

    King Creosote has often annoyed with some of his lyrics, the odd dodgy rhyme spolining an otherwise decent song, plus his albums are often very inconsistent. The presence of Hopkins seems to have focussed his efforts here and it’s a lovely little album.

    20.Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost

    This has some lovely songs and then some horrible guitar parts that really bother me. Overall, I have decided I like it but it mithered me a bit.

    Some others

    These were all pretty enjoyable but in most cases they were the sort of things I loved once and then wasn’t bothered with the next couple of times until loving again a while later.

    21.Cat's Eyes - Cat's Eyes
    22.Marissa Nadler - Marissa Nadler
    23.Battles - Gloss Drop
    24.Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
    25.Ford & Lopatin - Channel Pressure
    26.SBTRKT - SBTRKT
    27.Gillian Welch - The Harrow And The Harvest
    28.Oneohtrix Point Never - Replica
    29.St. Vincent- Strange Mercy
    30.A Hawk and a HacksawCervantine

    These are all ones I want to spend some more time with (or listen to a second time!)

    Beirut - The Rip Tide, Black Keys - El Camino, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Wolfroy Goes To Town, Chelsea Wolfe - The Grime and The Glow, Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys, James Ferraro - Far Side Virtual, Moonface - Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped, , Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Belong, Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring for My Halo, Weeknd - House of Balloons, Cults – Cults, Dirty Beaches – Badlands, Feist – Metals, Low - C'mon, Men - Leave Home, Mogwai - Hardcore will never die, but you will, My Morning Jacket – Circuital, Panda Bear – Tomboy, Radiohead - King Of Limbs, Real Estate – Days, Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde, Thee Oh Sees - Carrion Crawler/The Dream, Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972

    These were ok but a bit disappointing

    Frank Ocean - Nostalgia, Ultra, Horrors – Skying, Iceage - New Brigade, John Maus - We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves, Magnetic Fields – Obscurities, Sic Alps - Napa Asylum, Tapes 'n Tapes – Outside, tUnE-yArDs - w h o k i l l , TV on the Radio - Nine Types Of Light, Ty Segall - Goodbye Bread, Wild Swans - The Coldest Winter for a Hundred Years, Youth Lagoon - Year of Hibernation, Yuck - Yuck, Zola Jesus – Conatus, Okkervil River - I Am Very Far

    And finally, couple of cracking reissues.

    Disco Inferno - The 5 EPs
    Michael Chapman - Trainsong: Guitar Compositions 1967–2010
    Mark McGuire - A Young Person's Guide to Mark McGuire
  • 2010 Albums

    Gen 4 2011, 11:25

    1. Beach House - Teen Dream
    I just find this really beautiful

    2. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
    It seems as they have begun to break through a little they have gone even murkier than before. Took a while for this to settle on me but when it did it spoke to me like a conspiracy, deft and delicate, coy and charming.

    3. Richard Youngs - Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits
    His pop album, apparently, and it is far more immediate than most of what he does. Surprisingly concise for him and I find a loose narrative that engages; moving close and pulling back just as you attempt to hold it.

    4. Wolf Parade - Expo 86
    Much better than the previous effort; seems the members have stopped keeping all their best songs for their other projects and there is the sense of them playing off each other rather than against.

    5. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
    This is a sprawling mess of breathless falling over themselves vocals, the conceit of a concept that is really just a vessel for the character and complaints of the singer. And bagpipe solos. Altogether a more effective use of a Bruce Springsteen influence than the likes of Gaslight Anthem. Full of passion and often unfocussed youthful rage; which is good. And big beards, which is also good.

    6. John Grant - Queen of Denmark
    Some days I love this and others it makes me want to slap him. It is engaging and honest and there is the feeling of someone cutting loose on their ideas, even if they sometimes go places that prove faintly embarrassing.

    7. The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter
    As ever, it’s just the Fall and is therefore wonderful in a way nothing else can be.

    8. Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record
    I think my liking for this is partly due to my return to using an mp3 player after a long time without. Not sure I would like it much had I just listened to it sitting still. But walking to it, it all makes so much sense. Good fun and full of ideas; the one criticism being that, at times, it all sounds a little too easy for them.

    9. Swans - My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky
    In many ways they have mellowed substantially from their earlier output; yet this is still full of dark menace and, at times, genuinely scary but always interesting.

    10. Spoon – Transference
    What I love most about this band is their production. As someone who tends to focus quite a lot on lyrics it surprises me that I can often remember guitar lines and little production tricks more than actual songs from their albums; the dynamics keeping the relatively straight songs interesting. Nonetheless, it still works very well as a quite standard American indie rock record.

    11. These New Puritans – Hidden
    More ideas than one would normally expect from a Brit ‘next big thing’. There is the sense that they haven’t quite found their sound and, if they can build on the promise, this might be viewed retrospectively as another false start (I haven’t heard their first album so that might provide a different context). For now though, a pretty excellent album that points to a lot of interesting things to come from them.

    12. Sleigh Bells – Treats
    Full of fun sounds and half-finished ideas that are tossed away as the next one arrives. This makes me suspect that I will hate this in time, but for the moment, the sense of a band enjoying themselves makes it a great listen; albeit one that could become cloying over time. It’s one of those situations where you like an album a lot but couldn’t really see yourself being interested in the follow-up.

    13. Gayngs – Relayted
    Indie MOR but manages to stay just the right side of parody. The songs are a little long but, overall, one can forget the conceit of the concept and enjoy a pop album that sounds both heavily referential and quite fresh.

    14. Grinderman - Grinderman 2
    More fun than the first outing and the only thing that seems strange is that Grinderman has come up as the main Bad Seeds have begun to engage more with those harder roots again on Lazarus.

    15. LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
    Not as good as Sound of Silver but sits in nicely alongside it. James Murphy just seems so savvy and unfussed. I remember watching Jools Holland during the year and seeing so many of the performers being all studied and guarding their pop images. Then LCD came on and, to all intents and purposes, he moved and looked like your drunk uncle at a wedding yet somehow managed to be the most convincing pop star on the show by a country mile. Post-modernism without the arched brow.

    16. Mount Kimbie - Crooks and Lovers
    This has been one that has struck me over the last few weeks but I suspect it’s immediacy may be a failing more than a quality. I am not sure it takes the dubstep template quite as far as reviews have suggested, and one gets the sense that some journalists are trying to pep up a genre that was becoming staid. That said, it does have a lovely mix of warmth and cold which makes it more of an effective album listen than many of this type.

    17. No Age - Everything In Between
    I wasn’t overly convinced by them prior to this album; they were interesting enough but seemed over-hyped. On this, they have tidied up the ideas and let them breathe through the songs a little more, everything is more focussed and concise and there is much more form to the songs, but with still enough noise and messiness to prevent it from becoming boring.

    18. Strand of Oaks - Pope Killdragon
    Initially I found this relatively dull; just a fairly standard singer-songwriter style album. I guess it shows how the listening situation can have a strong effect. Whilst mourning a personal loss, we had more snow than I can ever remember in this country. Each day when I trudged through the snow to get groceries, I found myself playing this on my headphones and it made sense to me. Something to do with the snowy landscape and the grief made it resonate. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to get it to make as much sense when I am sitting at home yet.

    19. Forest Swords - Dagger Paths
    I have only been listening to this one for a few weeks and (like Mount Kimbie) there is an immediacy which may mean it slips below the likes of Oneohtrix Point Never’s new one in time; that one has just proven too difficult to grasp properly so far. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful album of evocative sounds and implied narratives that I find myself hitting repeat on when it ends. Always a good sign.

    20. Richard Skelton – Landings
    Another dark and evocative record that is still growing on me. I expect I haven’t gotten the full value of it yet, given that I am listening to a download while waiting for the full book/cd package to arrive my mail. The sound of barren landscapes and the static that hangs upon them, a sadness writ large but a poeticism striving to break through. This is a recent acquisition too and I expect it’s full beauty has yet to become apparent to me.

    There was much pleasure to be had in the following also, some of which are probably only here because I haven’t had enough time to live with them yet.

    Arcade Fire - The Suburbs, Bill Callahan - Rough Travel For a Rare Thing, Books - The Way Out, Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect, Chris Abrahams - Play Scar, Damien Jurado - Saint Bartlett, Dave Couse – Alonewalk, Demdike Stare - Forest of Evil / Liberation Through Hearing / Voices Of Dust, Fresh and Onlys - Play it Strange, Giant Sand - Blurry Blue Mountain, Gil Scott-Heron - I'm New Here, Gonjasufi - A Sufi And A Killer, Howe Gelb And A Band of Gypsies – Alegrías, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Hawk, Joanna Newsom - Have One On Me, Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts, Matthew Dear - Black City, Max Richter – Infra, Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal, Radio Dept. - Clinging to a Scheme, Roky Erickson – True Love Cast Out All Evil, Sam Amidon - I See The Sign, Shearwater - The Golden Archipelago, Strong Arm Steady - In Search of Stoney Jackson, Superchunk - Majesty Shredding, Tricky - Mixed Race, Twin Shadow – Forget, Walkmen – Lisbon, Wavves - King of the Beach, Xiu Xiu - Dear God I Hate Myself, Yeasayer - Odd Blood
  • Short and messy yearly review

    Gen 3 2009, 20:35

    My albums of the year etc….

    For some reason, this seems to have been a very long year in music for me. As I am looking back on the year, I find it hard to believe that stuff like Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! And Saturnalia are less than a year old. For this reason, I think that things released early in the year or that I got early in the year have suffered in this little poll of mine by virtue of seeming a little old hat. I always thought it would be interesting to do a poll for 5 years in the past and see how things have weathered. Even looking back at my last years 10, I reckon if I did a list of my faves of 2007 today, there is very little chance that Bishop Allen (#10), Burial (#8) or Jens Lekman (#6) would make the cut. So, this is my best of 2008 for this week, or today at least. I have found it quite a satisfying year overall musically. A lot of artists I like have released fairly decent albums without blowing me away at all (Hold Steady, Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan, Randy Newman, Silver Jews, Elvis Costello). A few decent reissues I have enjoyed (Hank Williams, Pogues, Arthur Russell, Clash live, Dylan) and some fairly decent young rock-type bands that have got me dancing round the sitting room with a silly a hat and a spilling drink (Sic Alps, Deerhunter, Jay Reatard, The Fall). The depressive pleasure of the The Odd Couple. The second album I would class as metal that I can remember liking as an adult in Earth’s The Bees Made Honey In The Lion's Skull. FYI, the first was Ministry’s Psalm 69. Even Tricky made a half-decent record this year.

    The AMC record grew on me as the year went on. Well, it got played more at least. Sad to say, it acts like an Eagles album to me; it’s tended to be the default soothing MOR selection I have made when I have had a rotten hangover. When I want to engage properly, it tends to last about 2 tracks.

    I found the Okkervil River record a disappointment. This may be symptomatic of my current relationship with live shows. I saw them sometime in 2007 and absolutely hated the gig; so much so that I struggled to listen to their previous albums after it and I think the stink of vanity from that show stained the subsequent record as there was an icky showiness to all of Will Sheff’s lyrical conceits.

    Fleet Foxes’ album was pretty but the fact that I really had to be in the mood for it or I wanted to smash the speakers when it came on precludes me from considering it anything more than a cute aside in my overall impression of the year.

    Felice Brothers and The Gaslight Anthem were worthy; fulfilling my need for blue-collar barroom Americana but neither were albums one could really take to heart, so full were they of generic reference points. Great bands to play the rhyming game with though. On first listen, see how many times you can predict the rhyme they will use on the next line. Ok, too easy, but now that I have given up on Ryan Adams completely someone needs to fill that void.

    I notice a distinct lack of any new left-field stuff in my listening this year but have not really looked into the reasons. Shearwater, Sun Kil Moon, Micah P. Hinson , Bonnie Billy, Destroyer, Damien Jurado, had their moments. Ting Tings, MGMT and Glasvegas had singles I liked and albums I didn’t. The Shortwave Set, Wolf Parade, Lucksmiths and TIndersticks disappointed. Port O'Brien and Santogold didn’t do much for me and Vampire Weekend irritated the hell out of me with their Graceland-isms.

    The absence of any hip-hop (well, discounting the lovely Steinski resissue I thrilled to constantly for a few weeks) is surely down to a feeling of diminishing returns. I really can’t be arsed sifting through hip hop releases for the tiny percentage that have any worth to me. Ok, I can be arsed doing this with middle class white indie rock so maybe I am just falling increasingly into my comfort zone. If you read this Dermot, help!

    Girl Talk’s Feed the Animals worked well for me and sent me back to some stuff I had forgotten about (although, in retrospect, I didn’t really need the Ludacris refresher) but over time it all became a bit too Jive Bunny for me.

    The reissue for Fed (Plush) was a strange delight at times and an MOR mess at others. Again, I am a moody fecker.

    That’s all I can think of for now.

    Any year that saw the release of a synth-pop concept album about John Delorean is a good one by me.

    1.Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

    Sweet, soulful and thoroughly engaging.

    2.David Holmes - The Holy Pictures

    Nice to see him back to making proper albums and this was lovely in a sort of fuzzy post-Mary Chain way.

    3.Deerhunter - Microcastle/Weird Era Cont

    This album reminds me for some reason of Meadowlands by the Wrens, which is one of my favourite albums of the last few years. It’s something perhaps about the way the album intros and then the effectively rendered sense throughout of constraint and impotence without sacrificing the keen pop sense. It could be due to the fact that I got this quite late in the year that it is showing so high but I am finding it an totally engaging listen (the Microcastle disk) and look forward to the Weird Era portion revealing itself in a similar fashion, which I am fairly confident it will, given time.

    4.Walkmen - You & Me

    This seems to creep up on me again and again. Not sure why I like it but I keep coming back to it.


    5.Max Richter - 24 Postcards In Full Colour

    Not as satisfying as previous efforts, but still terribly beautiful.

    6.Hercules and Love Affair - Hercules and Love Affair

    To dance to or sit on the couch wailing to; I even like Antony’s bits.

    7.Jay Reatard - Matador Singles ‘08

    Just great pop in short bursts, marginally preferred to his other comp.

    8.Neon Neon - Stainless Style

    I reckon I might despise this in 6 months but for now, it is my favourite ever concept album about a car manufacturer.

    9.Sic Alps - A Long Way Around To A Shortcut/U.S. Ez

    I tend to listen to both of these as one album and they make me giddy sometimes, which is enough really.

    10.Fall - Imperial Wax Solvent

    It’s another Fall album and he turned 50 so it’s in.