What must have been 6 or 7 years ago brother Joseph and I went out for a few Christmas beers one afternoon and amongst the conversation was the idea of what became the early beginnings of this collaboration of music sharing and discussion. The blog in its’ own right in 5 years old.. so good on us for sticking to it!
Looking back we have had some great albums, and this year is no exception. For me 2017 has been a strong year for new artists whilst it has also welcomed back a few that were due some fantastic new material. I found myself buying allot more albums this year, and looking at what is due in 2018 I hope it continues.
I always struggle with lists, but off the top my head here are my highlights for this year (songs and albums) in no particular order. Like last year, I left off top songs that are on albums that are in my top 10.
Jay-Z – The Story of O.J.
Tom Rosenthal – Soon Goodbye Now Love
Masta Ace – Young Black Intelligent (feat. Pav Bundy, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble & Chuck D)
Evidene – Jim Dean
Daphni – Face to Face
Whitesquare – Definition of Anticipation
Home – Joe Goddard
Rapsody – Power ft. Kendrick Lamar, Lance Skiiiwalker
Sampha – (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
Julia Byrne – Follow My Voice
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Bicep – Bicep
Auldus Harding – Party
Agnes Obel – Citizen Of Glass
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
Four Tet – New Energy
Nick Mulvey – Wake Up Now
Kendrick Lemar – Damn
Run The Jewels – Run The Jewelz 3
Welcome back Karin. You’ve been missed.
I am very pleased to be able to choose the new Fever Ray album for December AOTM. Merry Xmas Brothers.
My introduction to Fever Ray (aka Karin Dreijer) came before I think I had ever heard anything by The Knife, the band that Karin created with her brother Olof. The Knife were a European Electronic phenomenon in the early ’90s perhaps never having the success or influence they enjoyed in Europe and Internationally. I worked backwards from my love of Fever Ray’s debut Fever Ray into The Knife back catalogue.
The album, Fever Ray was a (logical!?) musical progression from Silent Shout, The Knife album that preceded it chronologically. Silent Shout was a fairly dramatic, progression from The Knife’s earlier output focusing in on the more intense, dark and moody qualities of the previous albums. Fever Ray picked up this baton and Karin explored much more personal of pregnancy and motherhood as Fever Ray. She shared something we’d never heard or seen (please check out the videos from this album) from her work with her brother. The fact that the release of this album and Stacey and my love of it coincided with Stacey’s pregnancy and our early parenthood made this is a very special album.
If Fever Ray was a progression from Silent Shout then ‘Plunge’, in turns picks up many of the stylistic turns explored on ‘Shaking the Habitual’ the last Knife album. ‘Shaking the Habitual’ was mental. It was a pretty tough listen even for a fan. I do like it very much … but I don’t play it too much! I am sure that when you first listen to ‘Plunge’ you may feel similar emotions but I implore you to dive into it head-first. Create occasions where it’s oppressive, angular and downright scary nature is a plus … not sure what those occasions are really but immerse yourself and its brilliance will reveal itself.
Karin’s voice is urgent, pleading, desperate and reflects the less conventional electronic soundscape that creates each song. But when needed, she turns into a Scandi-Electro-Pop queen sounding cute and friendly. This dark and light is found all over the album. IDK About You is a great piece of urgent Punk Pop but at 150BPM comes across like an assault the first few listens. Again, once you get it, you really get it. ‘This Country’ see’s Karin open, explicit, politically charged and exposed. ‘To The Moon and Back’ harks back to The Knife’s perfect pop moments on the Deep Cuts album. It sounds like the gorgeous radio friendly ‘Heartbeats’ or ‘Pass This On’ until Karin coo’s ‘I want to run my fingers up your pussy’ … oh, she went there. How Karin.
So don’t relax and sit back to listen to this. It won’t work. But do get involved with it’s complexity and range.
There are few things in life that unite people as much as music. In the case of Canadians it’s the Tragically Hip and in turn their frontman Gord Downie. Separate from many other Canadian peers such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Arcade Fire and so on The Hip’s international following are largely Canadian ex-pats living around the world. There has always been something quietly satisfying that there was one great act that as a Canadian you didn’t have to share with the world; they can have Justin Beiber and Avril Lavigne and we’ll keep good old Gord. For me, where ever I’ve been in the world I always had the Hip to bring me back home for a few moments at a time.
Gord Downie throughout his career found a way to unite Canada through song whilst firmly holding his stick and poking the Canadian bear. He was one of the only voices firmly voicing and explaining his dissatisfaction of the treatment of Canadians indigenous people that seemed to be heard. He said in one of his songs that ‘no ones interested in something you didn’t do’, and he made of point throughout his career in doing.
Sadly this week Gordon Downie lost his bottle to brain cancer, and with his passing there is a part of Canada that will no longer be there. He wrote about Life, he wrote about the good things, the bad things and he wrote about hockey. Thanks for the memories Gord, you created much more than you ever knew.
SONG OF THE SUMMER ALERT
Lordy lord. What is this? I loved the first two Arcade Fire albums so hard, and then seemed to go right up their fundaments, becoming more pompous and boring and alt-stadium rock with every release.
So count me astonished that this seems to have come out of nowhere. And what is this they’re channelling? Why, it’s surely a touch of ABBA’s Dancing Queen? Dancing Queen with a huge existenial lyric, a bit of nose flute and a giant choir?
YES FUCKING PLEASE.
This will piss off the rock purists so badly.
This makes me so happy.
I’ve listened to this 25 times in the past week.
NOTE TO ALL BANDS: Find your inner Agnetha and Annifrid, and all will be well.
Sweet Jesus, Grizzly Bear are back after a 5 year hiatus. I’m such a huge fan. I return to their music time and time again. It’s a whole world away from your average US college rock, Pitchfork-loved guitar band – though Pitchfork probably do love them. I find their music endlessly fascinating, full of interesting layers and their songs tend to open up the more you listen to them. That makes them sound like a tough listen, which they’re not at all. But they do have intimacy to their songwriting despite having quite a ‘big’ sound.
This first single seems to have picked up where the last album left off. I wasn’t sure to start with, and then I liked it; and now, on the 20th listen, I completely love it.
Album’s coming in August and they’re playing Manchester on October 6th. I’ve just bought tickets. Anyone fancy joining me?
Been noticing for a while that there’s an increasing amount of pretty top notch music coming from across La Manche. So I’ve put together a playlist of modern French tunes. Let me know what you think.
For my November album of the month review it was a toss-up between Jagwar Ma’s Every Now and Then and the second album from Birmingham, Alabama’s eight piece soul outfit, St Paul and the Broken Bones. The reason this lot were even on my radar was due to an outstanding Worthy Farm Other Stage afternoon slot last June which was a performance of the highest quality and they were so sock-knocking-off brilliant that I simply had to catch them again if they played near me. When tickets went on sale a few months ago I jumped at the chance, doubly so as they were booked for the excellent Brudenell Social Club in Leeds. That soon sold out and so the gig was moved to the Leeds Irish Centre, a working men’s club straight out of Life On Mars, complete with the decor – it’s exactly what you’d imagine it to be and I’d been there once before. One of Damon Albarn’s many side projects played, The Good, The Bad and The Queen rocked up there in January 2007 complete with with The Clash’s Paul Simenon armed with his machine gun guitar.
Back again then, and down the front a couple of nights back. Where this band have it above so many I’ve seen in recent times is the charismatic Paul Janeway, who has the moves, the poses and the energy but above all, possesses The. Voice. Man, this guy has pipes. The performance is pure James Brown theatrics (he turns up in a leopard print suit and star-spangled diamond shoes) and he’s there to take us with him on his tour of pleadings to the woman who done him wrong, the heartfelt apologies for fucking things up… and a trip through the audience where he climbs the walls using the passion of the blues, railing against his broken bones and pocket change. This was an hour and half which went by in a fraction of the time, driven by horns and a lead singer of boundless energy and love for his craft and audience and it was time very much well spent.
A mention as well has to go to a fine selection of supporting band. Rarely do you seem to get a decent warm up (we’ve all seen bewildering choices over the years I’m sure) but the splendidly named The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer were really something else. Check this out – Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To. This is awesome. A singer with a harmonica and soundbox, guitarist playing drums with his feet and a gorgeous diva thrown in to boot. Simply joyous.