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.

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