Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My Records of The Year

I wasn't sure whether I needed to do one but then I saw the list on Dennis' blog and decided to write down what I remembered and thought about, at least music wise. This list would probably have more than "just" two Pollards and a few other things if I had actually got around to get them. But it's always the way, the things that attract you in advance, the necessary purchases, the instinctive buy, and the exploration. it's all part and parcel of the experience. So here is mine, in no particular order, as they say:

The Shins, Wincing The Night Away. OK, now this had a somewhat lukewarm critical response. Also it seemed like the Shins were suddenly everywhere, even on the radio constantly with "Australia", overexposed and no longer a little secret like they were in the beginning. But I still love them and their pretty, pretty songs. I think I can hear The Cure in there, and I think I always have, in the voice, but there is quite a distinctive quality to the songwriting that I'm almost totally enthralled with at the end of the day. See what happened here was that I really lost interest in them and didn't even want to get this but then Simon got it anyway, and slowly it grew on me, first the gorgeous and maybe obvious single, Phantom Limb, then Australia, and then more songs started to rent large spaces in my head. It's a sleeper hit, this record, and my favourites ended up being Sea Legs and Girl Sailor. Also right now the whole album is still at the top of my most played songs on my ipod. Weird, really, but I surrender. I'm a sucker for a pretty song, but hey... one two three four, "when that dead moon rises again....." 

Bad Brains: Build a Nation. For me their show at the Astoria was *the* gig of the year. Produced by big fan Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, HR's vocals are heavily treated, echoes, effects etc. to the extent that the treatment takes over a bit too much at some points, but you know, they still get through with their subtle hooks and subliminal messages, there's ferocious precision riffing courtesy of the original lineup, and sweet dubby interludes, quite a few of them. Maybe not a really essential album, but it's still a good Bad Brains album and that's more than I ever hoped for. Still one of my favourites after all these years.

Six Organs of Admittance: Shelter from the Ash. More weathered, blissed out waymarkers. Saw two excellent Six Organs shows, one with Elisa Ambrogio of Magic Markers who features on this record. The two of them were so intense together on stage, constantly feeding off each other. I love his records (got three now) and play them quite a bit.    

of Arrowe Hill: Dulce Domum. Another strong oAH album full of ghost stories, and other weird stuff. Dulce Domum means "sweet home" so maybe this is an ode to the England of the classic horror stories? Could be... it's lovely stuff, like a sweet dark treat just before midnight, and quite raw and rocking in places too. God bless oAH!

Holy Fuck: LP. Since the new Rough Trade East shop is fairly close to us it was inevitable that it would infiltrate our living room in many unexpected ways, and it has already. Simon picked this up as it was the current shop favourite and we've been playing it constantly ever since. Up until today I didn't even really know who they were or anything about them. This has a nice krautrock-y motorik beat throughout and features heavily treated but beautiful and funky freakouts, apparently mostly on "toy instruments". We love you, Rough Trade East! 

Circus Devils: Sgt Disco. The Circus Devils on Ipecac records, what an inspired combination! This will age well, I feel, already one of my favourite CDs releases. 

Robert Pollard: Coast to Coast Carpet of Love. I haven't got Standard Gargoyle Decisions yet, and I hear Bob thought people should hear SGD first. Maybe it's the titles. I do like quite a lot of this but it hasn't sunk in completely. I will give it some more time. And buy SGD. Oh, check out this amazing video with Bobs collages:  

Deerhunter: Cryptograms. I love the hallucinatory, vaguely hysterical atmosphere of this record, the drowsiness, the woozyness, like a dose of painkillers that's gone a bit wrong, and some of the vocals remind me of my beloved Virgin Prunes, even. A weird record but strangely compelling after a while.     

Deerhoof: Friend Opportunity. Dear Deer Deer. Well, I decided this should be on there too after all. We were a bit worried about Deerhoof when they lost a guitarist but this is bang - bang - back to what they do, and they still do it so well as a power trio. It's quite accessible too, and will work a treat for small kids I reckon, right down to the cover art. I'm very tempted to give it to my three old niece. Well maybe... love them anyway!

Dinosaur Jr: Beyond. Laid back, scruffy, noisy and some great songs, this can stand right next to the old records. Nice to see that without any further drama Lou Barlow managed to get two very good songs on this too, they balance it out a bit.   

The New Pornographers: Challengers. I don't mind that it's not so relentlessly poppy and dramatic anymore, it still has some of those moments but pretty much every song is a grower and well constructed, so yeah, it should be on here cos I really enjoyed it. 

Is that it? Thanks for reading. Happy New Year!