I think 30 choices is appropriate again this year. They are in vague order (certainly near the top), but I think some of them really depend so much on what sort of mood I’m in on a particular day.
- Shearwater – Animal Joy
- The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
- How to Dress Well – Total Loss
- Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
- Bill Fay – Life is People
- Scott Walker – Bish Bosch
- Chromatics – Kill For Love
- Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes
- Metric – Synthetica
- Moonface – With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery
- The North Sea Scrolls – The North Sea Scrolls
- Paul Heaton – Paul Heaton Presents The 8th
- A.C. Newman – Shut Down The Streets
- Stars – The North
- The Indelicates – Diseases Of England
- David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant
- Simon Joyner – Ghosts
- Swans – The Seer
- Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
- Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz – Abraxas: The Book of Angels Volume 19
- Pog – Between the Station and the Sea
- Tennis – Young & Old
- Lambchop – Mr. M
- Errors – Have Some Faith in Magic
- Tame Impala – Lonerism
- John Zorn – The Gnostic Preludes
- Japandroids – Celebration Rock
- Allo Darlin’ – Europe
- Yeasayer – Fragrant World
- Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill
I often get asked to recommend music, which I’m often very bad at because I know from experience that a lot of what I listen to might not be to everyone’s taste. But if I was recommending some music from this year (or from recently but that I largely discovered this year) then my list would look something like:
Shearwater – Animal Joy
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes
Metric – Synthetica
Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
Pog – Between the Station and the Sea
Moonface – With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery
Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion
AAAHHHRCHESTRA – Denmaaahhrk
Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
Thieves Like Us – Bleed Bleed Bleed
Tindersticks – The Something Rain
Paul Heaton – Paul Heaton Presents… The 8th
The Wedding Present – Valentina
Maxïmo Park – The National Health
Bear in Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool
The Flaming Lips – The Flaming Lips And Heady Fwends
Errors – Have Some Faith In Magic
Tennis – Young & Old
Julian Cope – Psychedelic Revolution
Guillemots – Hello Land!
Stevie Jackson – (I Can’t Get No) Stevie Jackson
The Kabeedies – Soap
John Zorn – Templars: In Sacred Blood
Holograms – Holograms
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz – Abraxas: The Book of Angels Volume 19
Allo Darlin’ – Europe
John Zorn – The Gnostic Preludes
Yeasayer – Fragrant World
David Krakauer – Pruflas : The Book Of Angels Volume 18
Swans – The Seer
The Indelicates – Diseases Of England
Craft Spells – Gallery
The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter
Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre Is Evil
These are the 30 records I couldn’t live without in 2011. Some more than others, but they all deserve a mention.
- The Indelicates – David Koresh Superstar
- Destroyer – Kaputt
- Radiohead – The King of Limbs
- Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys!
- PJ Harvey – Let England Shake
- Marissa Nadler – Marissa Nadler
- The Twilight Singers – Dynamite Steps
- British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
- Luke Haines – 9 1/2 Psychedelic Meditations On British Wrestling Of The 1970s and Early 80s
- 8in8 – Nighty Night
- Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones
- Craft Spells – Idle Labor
- Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls
- Widowspeak – Widowspeak
- EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints
- Wilco – The Whole Love
- Toro Y Moi – Underneath The Pine
- Anna Calvi – Anna Calvi
- Amanda Palmer – Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under
- Akron/Family – S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT
- Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On
- The Horrible Crowes – Elsie
- Dum Dum Girls – Always in Dreams
- Grails – Deep Politics
- Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
- The Horrors – Skying
- Tori Amos – Night Of Hunters
- Soft Metals – Soft Metals
- Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness
- The Decemberists – The King Is Dead
I’m not sure how I missed this one.
The Dresden Dolls live album A is for Accident (Collected live recordings 2001-2003) is available to download on a pay-what-you-want model from here. In this case “what you want” can also mean free, so you really have no excuse if you like their music.
You can also download their eponymous debut album under the same model from here. This one is definitely worth paying something for.
Kickstarter is a website where fans of artists and musicians can fund new records or performances, in return for receiving advance copies of the art form in question. It is a funding model that interests me, and it gives me quite a buzz to receive advance copies of records I would have bought anyway, with the knowledge that I played some sort of part in creating them. The latest record to come out having been funded via this method is Marissa Nadler’s eponymous album, which is a really beautiful collection of songs.
I’m also quite intrigued with how the Kaiser Chiefs are releasing their new record, and have already bought my version of it.
January is usually not great for new releases. But this week so far I’ve taken delivery of new albums from British Sea Power (which I’d highly recommend) and The Decemberists (which Amazon seem to think I deserve two days before it’s available in the shops). I also think we may be getting new albums from both Amanda Palmer and The Indelicates in the next couple of weeks, which I’m very much looking forward to.
My album of the year has never been released in January before. Maybe this year it will be.
This is a list of every album I’ve encountered that was released in 2010 and that I think is worthy of praise. The top 10 are in some sort of order, the rest are just listed in the vague order of how many plays they got on last.fm, rather than in any order of how much I like them.
- The Indelicates – Songs for Swinging Lovers – A lot of people don’t seem to have heard of this band, which is a great shame. This record is witty, literate and seeped in irony and sarcasm. It’s also the best thing I’ve heard this year in any genre, and is still available for free (or as much as you want to pay) from the Corporate Records website.
- The National – High Violet – In any other year this would be my album of the year. It managed to do well critically and commercially, and is yet another big step up from their previous work. I would imagine this would appeal to pretty much anyone who likes music with vocals and guitars, and as such I’d recommend it to most people reading this.
- Shearwater – The Golden Archipelago – Every year there is an album that I’m underwhelmed by when it comes out, but that by the end of the year I can’t live without. This year it’s by Shearwater, who I’d not even heard of a year ago. Each song is a sweeping majestic masterpiece, and the album as a whole makes early mornings make sense in a way nothing else can.
- The Love Language – Libraries – Imagine Brian Wilson and Phil Spector locked inside one man’s head for 25 years. If you like how that might sound then you’ll love this record. It could have been made in any year since 1965, but has some of the most perfect songwriting and production I’ve heard this year.
- The Pernice Brothers – Goodbye Killer – I like everything Joe Pernice has ever released, and this album acts as a good start to what is already a huge back catalogue. Some of this is out and out classic pop music, and it’s a brighter and catchier album than I think many people were expecting.
- Tindersticks – Falling Down A Mountain – I loved this band 15 years ago, and had no idea they still had this sort of record in them. It’s worth playing it after “High Violet” by the National, because parts of them are tapping the same smoky late night baritone vibe.
- Tame Impala – Innerspeaker – This was sold to me as an Australian band who sound like Led Zeppelin for 2010. And I can totally live with that. Another record that could have been made in the late 60′s, but one that I have grown to love this year to the point where I’ve since bought everything else they have ever made.
- Vampire Weekend – Contra – I still think they sound like a cross between Talking Heads and Paul Simon. This is the album where that stops being a problem and starts being something I find oddly enthralling. It will be interesting to see where they go next though.
- Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Hawk – In some ways more of the same, but this time around they have stretched the musical palate slightly, as well as producing “Lately” which is a song of pure beauty and perfection.
- The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever – In some ways a disappointment, because it doesn’t live up to the potential I was expecting after “Stay Positive!”. However, if you simply take it on face value then it’s a perfectly good example of a bar-rock record that is trying to move from the bar to the stadium. Very much a grower, which is not what I was expecting.
And the rest…
- The New Pornographers – Together
- Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
- Midlake – The Courage Of Others
- The Divine Comedy – Bang Goes The Knighthood
- School of Seven Bells – Disconnect From Desire
- Wild Nothing – Gemini
- Richard Youngs – Beyond The Valley Of Ultrahits
- Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
- Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – The Brutalist Bricks
- Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales
- Neil Young – Le Noise
- Field Music – Field Music
- Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
- Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky
- Kele – The Boxer
- Solex vs Cristina Martinez + Jon Spencer – Amsterdam Throwdown King Street Showdown!
- Uniform Motion – Life
- The Besnard Lakes – The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night
- Allo Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’
- Paul Smith – Margins
- John Zorn – Ipsissimus
- Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – III/IV
- The Knife – Tomorrow, in a Year
- LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
- Les Savy Fav – Root for Ruin
- M.I.A. – /\/\ /\ Y /\
- These New Puritans – Hidden
- Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
- Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
- Emeralds – Does it Look Like I’m Here?
Yes, that’s a lot of music. I dread to think how many hours of my life I’ve spent listening to these 40 records this year.
I’m not sure the concept of singles still really exists in the digital age. It probably should if any of the following are in danger of extinction though.
What I’ve tried to do is to look at songs that don’t appear on albums, or that act as an edited preview for an album. These are in no order, and are clustered by artist. The hyperlinked song titles point to when you can get the song (not always for free I’m afraid), and there is a youtube link as well if I could find one.
The Veronica Falls – Found Love in a Graveyard (youtube) and Beachy Head (youtube). The Veronica Falls sound like they recorded all their records in 1986, despite probably not having been born in 1986. Think jangling guitars, and a weird cross between Morrisey and Siouxsie that works in a way it probably shouldn’t. Neither song reaches the three minute mark, and both are better for it.
Amanda Palmer – Do You Swear To Tell The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth (youtube) and Map of Tasmania (youtube). I lke Amanda Palmer a lot, but both of these took me a couple of listens before they started to worm their way under my skin. I think they’re both still available for free as well.
British Sea Power – Zeus (youtube) and Living is so Easy (youtube). Both of these were released for a very limited time for free, and are edited previews for the Zeus E.P. and the Valhalla Dancehall album (due out in January). I’ve been a fan for years, but these two songs would probably be on this list even if I wasn’t.
The Japandroids – Art Czars (youtube) and Younger Us (youtube). A band I discovered last year, and who make loud guitar music of the sort I play a lot when I need to wind down after a hard day. This year they have released a few things, but these two are probably the most representative.
Ash also released a lot of new singles as part of their A-Z project. I’ve at least heard most of them, but am not quite sure which ones I’d recommend. In fact I’d probably recommend picking up the two CDs that compile all 26 singles (and a bit more), because I’ve got at least 10 of their singles on heavy rotation, and they are all good.
15 albums in 15 minutes is what I’m aiming for here. I think the idea is to pick the 15 albums that define me and have stayed with me through the years, but I have a feeling this is going to concentrate on my late teens/early 20s more than it probably should.
So here goes…
- Lloyd Cole and the Commotions – Mainstream
- Sonic Youth – Daydream Nation
- The Cure – Disintegration
- Pixies – Surfer Rosa
- Pixies – Doolittle
- Joy Division – Closer
- The Stone Roses – The Stone Roses
- Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine
- R.E.M – Automatic for the People
- Manic Street Preachers – Gold Against the Soul
- Manic Street Preachers – The Holy Bible
- Jim O’Rourke – Bad Timing
- The Beta Band – The Three EPs
- Radiohead – Kid A
- The Arcade Fire – Funeral
I could easily name another 15, and may very well change my mind on a lot of these by tomorrow.
For a couple of years in the late 90′s, I couldn’t really afford to buy new music, and lived a fair distance away from any decent record stores. I think it’s probably the only time in my life when I’ve felt totally disconnected from the world.
These days, thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s possible to listen to new music every day without spending a penny, although thankfully I’m now in a position where I can justify a 50 song a month emusic subscription and can buy a few other bits and pieces of music each month without it really impacting on my standard of living.
I’m not sure if this makes me feel more connected, but it certainly makes me happier.
This week I’m listening to a lot of music released on the Captured Tracks label. They don’t release music on CDs, only on vinyl, cassette and digitally, and they remind me a lot of how Creation and Cherry Red were in the 80′s. They also are home to Wild Nothing and Veronica Falls, who are two of the groups I’m listening to a lot at present.
I’ve also recently discovered The Love Language, and am also very much enjoying the new albums by The Arcade Fire and Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. I am also not yet anywhere near bored of the Indelicates album, and there is another one on the way soon as well.
2010 has been a good year for music, and promises a few more interesting releases in the autumn.