Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What I Liked in 2011: Musically

Albums of the Year (bearing this in mind - apparently I am a dude who really likes Jodeci)

  1. House of Balloons - The Weeknd. I have just KILLED this album on my ipod. I absolutely fricking love it. The follow ups are also pretty stellar, particularly Echoes of Silence, but this was spectacular. Depressing, nasty, dark, anguished - it somehow expresses how you feel when somewhat ashamed of your behaviour, when you want to lock yourself in, hungover, and speak to no one. That I listen to this a lot at work is clearly a coincidence. Ahem.
  2. Space Is Only Noise - Nicolas Jaar. Again, something I listened to a lot. I'm frankly annoyed that the person who made this album is a mere child (21!), but I think its shifts of mood wash over you beautifully and, having seen him perform some of this stuff live in December, it really is much heavier than it appears on the first few listens.
  3. Stone Rollin’ - Raphael Saadiq. This was the perfect rock & roll/soul/funk album. Unbelievable. Could have been made 40-50 years ago, frankly, but feels completely present.
  4. Let England Shake - PJ Harvey. I was umming and ahing about putting this on - is it really that good? And then I listened to it again. A lot. And, frankly, it is. I listened to a great guardianmusic review of the year that pointed out not just the incredible discussion of war, but how rooted it is in the land of England. It's about the cliffs, the soil, as well as the fight to protect that.
  5. The English Riviera - Metronomy. I was really unsure about this at first, but I should have realised that this was a good sign. The initial problem for me that I struggled to get over was how different and, as I thought then, inferior it was to the previous Metronomy album, Nights Out. Now, I maintain that that album is one of my favourite albums of the last ten years, but my love for it crept up on me. Similar persistence with The English Riviera has paid off. I love the new vocalist; I love the quaint, sometimes gentle, melodic Englishness that lures you in, but the bite and darkness are there all the time. It's clever, cool and stylish, yet with none of the coldness or aloofness that those adjectives can convey. But then, I love Blur, who have been accused of all those things, repeatedly (too clever! not enough soul!). So gauge your judgment based on that.
  6. Civilian - Wye Oak. This was a (for shame!) NPR-based discovery. All Songs Considered did a mid-year review, and I picked up some of their recommendations. This was my favourite, by miles. I love her voice over the guitars, the almost hazy, reverberating quality of it all.
Note: I would probably have included one of, if not both, the Andy Stott albums (We Stay Together and Passed Me By) if I'd had them before Christmas. Am absolutely loving them right now.

Compilation of the Year:

I have been loving the DJ Kicks by Wolf & Lamb. Most enjoyable, a really great mix of things.

Podcast of the Year:

This is actually a false category, as I seem to have been pointed to several really great dance podcasts that are now a regular part of my listening routine - Little White Earbuds, Clubberia, and, most recently, Kev Beadle. All good!

Songs of the Year

  1. Mattie Safer - Is That Your Girl? I love this despite the crap rap in the middle. That's how awesome it is.
  2. Azealia Banks - 212. This is absolutely filthy. The video is absolutely fantastic. I want to dance like them at 0:35. All the time.
  3. Joe Goddard - Gabriel. Seriously disco. Joe Goddard is by such a mile the best Hot Chippian, and with this, he's had songs on my best of list two years in a row (thanks to the 2 Bears making it with Church last year).
  4. Eleanor Friedberger - My Mistakes. I've never been a big Fiery Furnaces fan, but I absolutely love love love this song, this video, and particularly the cheesy saxophone riff at the end, which brings back a nostalgic pang for Aztec Camera and what I think is one of the greatest songs of the 80s.
  5. Duran Duran - Girl Panic! They're back, baby! I love Duran Duran. Love his voice, love John Taylor's pout under ridiculous hair, love them.
  6. Lianne La Havas & Willy Mason - No Room for Doubt. I think part of my enchantment with this song is because I can't quite believe that such a soft, wistful song could come from someone who grew up in Thornton Heath, frankly. But it's just utterly delightful.
  7. Junior Boys - Banana Ripple. I adore the Junior Boys and although this album was not as great as the glorious So This Is Goodbye, this song was many minutes of just joy and exuberance. And far more disco-y than previous efforts, methinks.

Gigs of the Year

  1. LCD Soundsystem - last ever gig, Madison Square Gardens. How can a gig ever compete with this? (Hint: it can't.) Atmosphere, music, raw emotion, and the sheer delight at attending, having thought I wouldn't be able to make it. Bliss.
  2. Darkside - MHoW. I was utterly exhausted, had a six hour meeting that ended at 10.15pm, and somehow pulled myself together to go and see this - the world premiere of Nicolas Jaar and Dave Harrington. I was really late, and arrived at what seemed quite noodly atmospheric stuff that I was not into. Then TOH gave me a whisky & ginger and suddenly the base came in, and it was one of the best gigs I've been to. Made even better by the phenomenal encore with some tracks off Space Is Only Noise. I really can't bear how talented Nicolas Jaar is. It's annoying.
  3. Portishead - Hammerstein Ballroom. I wasn't going, then I was - a friend got me a ticket for my birthday. Beth Gibbons' voice is genuinely a wonder of the modern world. The visuals were stunning, the music sounded phenomenal (the acoustics were brilliant), and all of a sudden, a teenage ambition was finally fulfilled. Glorious.
  4. Friendly Fires - Bowery. Right down the front, dancing away with Ed McFarlane and his sexy dancing. I love that you can take someone who's never heard FF before, and they will have one of the best concerts of their life because FF are so good live.
  5. Soulwax - Webster Hall. We went in very very late, just to say we'd gone, thought we would be too tired to wait for Soulwax, and on they came just as we arrived. Brilliant dance party when we'd sort of given up on going to and enjoying the gig.
  6. Sleigh Bells/CSS - Bowery. Live, Sleigh Bells kick arse. It was a friend's 30th, we danced away, and what a double bill - CSS were a lot of fun, too. Made even better by TOH suddenly appearing, having been stuck in an airport not too long beforehand and not being expected to make it. It was brilliant.

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