Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Songs for Sunday

Suede – Barriers

David Bowie – Where Are We Now?

Two songs this week, to make up for missing last Sunday. Both tasters for forthcoming albums that sound like they could be pretty interesting. But will they be a match for the highly-rumoured new My Bloody Valentine album?

Band/artist of the week: Low
Song of the week: Adam and the Amethysts – Drinking in LA

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Best albums of 2012: 10 to 6

10 Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
Mannered, manufactured(?), but soaring, glorious pop melodies. I don't read enough about music anymore to know where Lana came from or how this album came into existence. I watched Video Games on YouTube and as I went to buy it as a single thought I should have a listen to the album just in case there was anything else even close to its sublime, irresistible pure pop hit. Of course the whole album isn't quite that good, but there are another three or four tracks that are close and the rest is pretty wonderful too. Perfectly modern but beautifully timeless, this is the sort of album that burrows deep into your brain with melodies that are all but impossible to dislodge.

9 Human Don't Be Angry – Human Don't Be Angry

Malcolm Middleton's side project may not have the emotional impact of his usual work, but it sounds like he is having a lot of fun here. And if anyone deserves a bit of fun you would hope that Malcolm would be near the top of the list. The last track, Getting Better (At Feeling Like Shit), is the only clue that this record is from the man whose attempt at a Christmas number one was called We're All Going to Die. Highlighting his hitherto unknown love of 80s pop, synthesisers and drum machines it is a wonderful showcase of another side of his amazing talents. 

8 Ghost Society – The Back of His Hands, Then the Palms

If you were going to put together a band designed to cater purely for my tastes you would probably come up with something pretty close to Ghost Society – dreamy female/male vocals, distorted My Bloody Valentine-esque washes of guitar, left field melodies from Scandinavia. The shoegaze inspirations can be picked out if you are looking hard, but the sublime vocals are more Cocteau Twins than Ride. Sparkling and shimmering this is a beautiful collection of songs to lose yourself in.

7 Mystery Jets – Radlands

Earnest indie-boys and their guitars make up surprisingly little of my current listening, but I have made an exception for Radlands. There are one or two cheesy moments, try Greatest Hits for a prime example, but overall this is a good selection of well-written, intelligent and mostly jangly songs that stand up to repeated listening. There is a bit of variety, with the rather lovely ballad Take Me Where the Roses Grow and the lo-fi Luminescence rounding things out and providing a counterpoint to the simpler pleasures.

6 Best Coast – The Only Place
Low slung guitars, songs three minutes or less. Like an Elastica for 2012, only better.

Song for Sunday

Best Coast – Angsty

Band/artist of the week: The National
Song of the week: Young Galaxy – Youth is Wasted on the Young

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Best albums of 2012: the near misses

Very late, almost embarrasingly so, and slightly less detailed than usual, but for the record here are the Geography of Hope albums of 2012. Starting with the near misses, the top 10 will follow as quickly as I can manage.

Saint Etienne – Words and Music
It doesn't have the subtlety or the charm of earlier albums, but there are still some flashes of brilliance to remind me of the glory days. Lots of shiny big pop numbers, chiming piano chords and pumping drum beats, but Sarah Cracknell's vocals always seem to have an edge of melancholy and Words and Music seems especially nostalgic for those teenage/early adult years of mix-tapes, a music press that mattered and when music was an essential part of defining who you are.

Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky's Edge
His vocal delivery and guitar histrionics remind me a bit of Eric Clapton and that would normally be enough to have me running screaming from the room, but somehow he turns it into something resembling a mythical lost Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood album. Full of swirling, menacing harmonies, the languid vocals are mostly undecipherable and when you can hear them you realise that is probably a good thing. Even so this is a gloriously uplifting and out of time album that sounds immediately recognisable and also like nothing else you have ever heard before.