Tuesday, December 30, 2008Return of Black Box Recorder
Black Box Recorder make a long awaited and slightly unexpected return to the stage in February 2009, with a two night (so far!) stay at the delightful Luminaire in Kilburn. There's no mention of a new album, so I think this is just a special treat for anyone who is still listening to their aloof, icy, misanthropic and very funny music. The first night is sold out already, so get your tickets for night two quickly. You've got to dress smart for the gig, too.
Buy tickets here!
Monday, December 29, 2008Albums of the year 2008
2008 was a supreme year for music. After a couple of uninspiring years, London is again home to exciting young blood in the shape of its own budding anti-folk scene. The movement is mirrored over in Scandinavia with a similar rejection of meat’n’two veg, rockin’ with yo’ cock out, bland and tired indie-rock. I welcome the soulful return of acoustic guitars, violins, accordions, sensitive poets and their charming poetry. Following are my top 10 albums released in 2008:
1. Laura Marling – Alas, I Cannot Swim
Laura Marling’s debut album showcases a talent and outlook more mature than her tender age. Each song is a delicately crafted wonder, and the album flows perfectly from song to song with very simple, traditional and organic instrumentation and minimal production. This album has so much soul.
2. Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills
This is perfect bittersweet pop music, with lovely melodies, powerful choruses and folky charm. Impossible, clocking in at an unprecedented 7 minutes, is a soaring epic masterpiece. What is in the Swedish water? I want some of it.
3. Late of the Pier – Fantasy Black Channel
However great you thought Bathroom Gurgle was, nothing could have prepared you for this bombastic, force of an album. These ain’t just 12 great spiky, punky dance songs; this is a fully integrated journey that hits you like a 12 tonne truck, aided undoubtedly by Erol Alkan’s knob-twiddling whizzery.
4. Ladyhawke – Ladyhawke
Dramatic, sexy, dark, hypnotic is this excellent of debuts from New Zealand’s Ladyhawke. This album guises murky emotions and bittersweet reflections amid epic (almost stadium) rock/pop tunes, all of which could be mega hits if they were released to radio.
5. Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit – A Larum
Johnny Flynn’s debut is a handsome, soulful jaunt, with plenty of foot-stomping and hip-slapping opportunities. The lyrics unravel poetically with the rich, organic folk playing and bittersweet chord changes. Characters are cast, scenes are set, stories are told; you can’t help but fall in love with the old world charm that A Larum exudes.
6. The Faint – Fasciinatiion
A fine fifth album from Omaha, Nebraska’s finest sons, The Faint have still got it when it comes to making slinky, subversive electro. The mood is still critical political, and recent world events and popular trends offer plenty of mileage for these cynics. The music is a successful balance of punchy impact, punk and pop sensibilities and dancefloor readiness.
7. Noah and the Whale – Peaceful The World Lays Me Down
Noah and the Whale are purveyors of pure pop music and this joyous album is a celebration of life and love, the highs, the lows and the fleetingness and impossibility of it all. This sensitive, earnest and wistful debut will charm your pants off.
8. Sons and Daughters – This Gift
This stomping, sweeping and pacey third album from Sons and Daughters is full of strutting, cutting and pouting guitar- and basslines. The band wear their inspiration on their sleeves, with aural reference to sixties girl groups, rockabilly and Morrissey. The combination of dark posturing and timeless harmonies makes this an intriguing and mesmerising album.
9. The Long Blondes – Couples
Their second and final album saw The Long Blondes (RIP) put a brave spin on their kitchen-sink-drama business, with this even more dramatic, radical and retro posturing. The subjects may have occasionally been too avant-garde and ironic for the mainstream listener, but for pop pickers on their wavelength, this is an icy and exotic treat.
10. Emiliana Torrini – Me and Armini
Flitting between charmingly delicate and organically funky, this full-bodied and earthy offering casts Ms Torrini as both the candlelit chanteuse and jive-dancing pixie. The album is free-spirited, full of freely pouring emotion, and showcases a definite leaning towards pop stardom.
Also highly commended: Lykke Li, Bon Iver, Wolf Parade, The Wave Pictures, Vampire Weekend, TV on the Radio...
Hotly anticipated albums for 2009: Mumford and Sons, Jay Jay Pistolet, Peggy Sue and the Pirates, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, No Doubt, Peter Bjorn and John, and many more.
Happy New Year when it comes!