This year has been a bit weird. During the first half of the year I didn’t have time to listen to music, during the second half of the year, I didn’t have any money to buy any. In terms of what I’ve had time or money to listen to, it’s probably been thinnest musical year I’ve ever experienced. That’s not to say the list below is in any way sub-par as some of the albums are without doubt the finest the bands have come out with….not all of them, but some…
So. In no particular order….well, except the first one.
Take That – Progress
A blinder and a career best. Returning Robbie to the fold has really made the band up their game, take risks and produce a fabulously subversive pop masterpiece. With the exception of the execrable “Eight Letters”, an unwelcome throwback to the mawkish Barlow ballads of yore and completely out of place here- Progress is astonishing. The bonus track “Flowerbed” is breathtaking and probably my favourite ever TT track; the America/Kinks referencing Kidz, Pretty Things and the anthemic single The Flood -which had me at the northern pronunciation and Star Wars reference – are simply wonderful. Album of the Year. No contest!
Shriekback – Life in The Loading Bay
A strange one, this and oddly sedate with a lot of the usual spikey edges ironed out. This both works and doesn’t. It might be because for the first time since about 1987, Carl Marsh is back. Somehow, the more obvious Marsh tracks don’t sound like Shriekback, but they are still fantastic songs. Simpler Machines, The Dreamlife of Dogs and Semi-Delicious are the standouts here.
LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening
The final album? What a way to bow out! Drunk Girls, for all it’s Lodger era Bowie pastiches storms along beautiful and out classes The Sound of Silver by several miles!
Brian Eno – Small Craft On A Milk Sea
Eno is God. That is all.
The National – High Violet
Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Steve Mason – Boys Outside
Albums I’ve only listened to while travelling to and from Leeds. I should really sit and listen to them properly. I can’t think of a better way to travel, though.
Jonsi – Go
I love Sigur Ros, I loved the Jonsi and Alex album and this tops them all. Tornado is achingly beautiful.
Scissor Sisters – Nightwork
Yes, I’m gay. I’ve had many an odd look while listen to this. I get lost in in and start dancing down the high street when I”m listening to it on my iPod. Nightwork, Harder You Get and Fire With Fire stand out, here.
Amplifier – The Octopus.
Have to be honest, I only got this today and I know nothing about the band, but the first listen blew me sideways. As did the second. Astonishing rock/prog/ace-ness.
OMD – History of Modern
Now this is an odd one. I couldn’t not like this despite it obvious flaws and it’s inevitable weaknesses.
This is something of a concept album but I”m not even sure the band are fully aware of that. it’s never been mentioned in interviews about the album, anyway. They have a vague idea about the title being “what happens when modernism is no-longer modern”, well, there’s post-modern, then alter-modern, if you bothered to do your research, but…they’ve actual managed to pull off a pretty neat postmodern trick here. Each song, to great of lesser degrees, contains an element or allusion to an old OMD song and self-referentialism is the epitome of post-modernism. In some tracks, it’s a slightly submerged phrase or an atmosphere or in the case of Save Me, pretty much the entire song with a new melody and lyric.
The down side is that it does sound a bit like a greatest hits album and I really hoped that they would return with new stuff as inventive and as groundbreaking as the first couple of albums and particularly the still magnificent “Dazzleships” oddly the only album not specifically referenced on A History of Modern. Still, a reminder of my New Romantic/Futurist clubbing days and welcome for that.
and finally, two soundtracks that were much better than their accompanying movies:
OST – Prince of Persia – reminds me of Ann Dudley and Jaz Coleman’s ‘Songs From The Victorious City’. Never a bad thing. The movie was brainless fun.
OST – Tron:Legacy – Daft Punk at their finest. Strangely Phillip Glass-y in places but never less than enthralling. The movie was very pretty, sounded amazing but would have benefited from a plot. . .