Okay, so I’ve missed out so many reviews. I’ve not posted anything since June and that’s not due to not listening to new music – on the contrary – I’ve been mesmerised by so many good albums I’ve not had the desire to listen to rubbish just to review it for this site! I know none of you want to read positive reviews anyway! So you’ll not like this collection of reviews one bit. Also, I knew that most of the albums I’d review would be ending up in this post anyway so fuck it. Clearly I have not heard every album made last year and I know in the future I’ll look back at this and go “oh man why isn’t [bandname] here?”. For example, from last year I’d like to replace Engineers’ album with The XX. I wasn’t hip enough to check that out at the time. C’est la vie.
Diane Birch – Bible Belt
When I did my Eurovision post earlier this year I woke up at 4am on a Saturday unable to sleep. I figured it was a sign to do something productive so I decided to listen to all of Eurovision and review how awful everything was. You’ve already seen the results of that. What I did not mention was that I was using Spotify at the time and it came up advising me to check out Diane Birch’s album. The cover was hypnotic – I think Ms Birch bewitched me during those early hours! Sure, there’s room to suggest that listening to any album after 2010 Eurovision would cause it to be amazing but in this case the album struck a chord – something that very rarely happens – and by 8am I had downloaded it from amazon. Starting from the wonderful Fire Escape and all the way to the end there is no let up from old school gospel soul songs.
At a pinch I’d say Nothing But A Miracle is the weakest of the bunch and bizarrely also the song chosen as a single. Not the best introduction to her work. It’s all about the moments of pure magic that dot the album. Three minutes into Rise Up; the end section of Photograph; the list goes on and on. Sure you could probably sit on your musical snobbery horse and ask why someone would make music that sounds like it’s from the 60s gospel. But this isn’t some Pixie Lott/Duffy crap this is song writing at its best. And it’s the songs that matter most.
Best Moments – Rewind, Rise Up
I can’t remember when exactly in 2010 that I heard the band that made the biggest impact on me in 2010. But the band was Woodhands and it was down to them appearing on a few different random playlists on 8tracks that my girlfriend was checking out. Remorsecapade is one of the greatest records of recent times. Completely “now” and always fascinating. On the first few listens a trend appears where every second song is amazing. Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 are outright stunning. But that’s not to say that the others aren’t great – they just aren’t as good. But each one is still better than 95% of anything I’ve heard before.
Best Moments – Coolchazine, CP24
Yeasayer – ODD BLOOD
Okay so apart from being put off by the album cover I thought this would be too hipster-ish to be good. But again after several tunes were heard on Alice’s 8tracks I decided to buy their record. Foolishly, I bought their debut which didn’t really do anything for me. It came across as all poopy MGMT and, let’s be honest, MGMT are poopy enough. I realised all the songs I’d heard were from their second album. Doh. So on their second album they have honed that experimental sound into something people may want to actually listen to. Is it pop? It’s certainly not rock! To me it’s absolutely fantastic and I love every single moment of it. It’s the kind of pop music that people who love pop don’t like but everyone on the indie/hipster scene think are great because it’s their opinion of what pop is. If that makes sense. Either way, all their singles bombed (#190 being the highest chart position they made) so keep trying lads.
Best Moments – O.N.E., Love Me Girl
Kele – The Boxer
Fucking hell Bloc Party are the worst band ever. Aren’t they? Nope, you didn’t post your comment fast enough so I take that as a universal acceptance that the entire internet agrees that Bloc Party are the worst band of all time. The flushing of my toilet trips is a more wondrous sound than anything Bloc Party have ever created. So it comes as a major fuck you to me that Kele on his own is astoundingly brilliant. The massive cock. Wasting his time with a crap band of white folk with no skills. Anyway, his record – like everything else I like – is a totally “now” sounding record.
Best Moments – Tenderoni, Everything You Wanted
Ke$ha – Animal
Yeah, I’m not fucking kidding. I bet in 2012 noone knows who the heck Ke$ha is but let’s be honest have a look at all your favourite bands that came out last year. The same will apply. Except Ke$ha made one of the best commercial pop albums. Every song is a gem – carefully crafted to appeal to its audience. If you love pop you cannot fail to love this. If you go to the gym (and you should you fat fuck) the first 6 tracks are the only ones you need. It’s an embarrassment to all the dance music I heard last year that Ke$ha’s record is so good. Sidechained synths and songs about fucking are all that matters in music. Anyone who tells you different plays a guitar and cuts themselves.
Best Moments – Take It Off, Your Love Is My Drug
The Phantom Band – The Wants
A friend at work recommended their debut album, Checkmate Savage, and I was kind of taken in. I was interested to hear what they’d sound like on their second album. They are now the best Scottish band. If you weren’t aware of this I’m glad to inform you. It’s like a truck carrying Leonard Cohen, the Bad Seeds, the gods of electro and a fuckton of xylophones crashed and this band were born from the leftovers. It’s the sound of a band finding their own direction and style. Each song sounds like it’s been jammed a thousand times and recorded when every second flowed perfectly together. Although more of an album than collection of songs the defining moment for me comes three tracks in on Everybody Knows It’s True. Which for me is the greatest song of the year. By the gods – it’s perfect!
Best Moments: Everybody Knows It’s True, A Glamour
Talons – Hollow Realm
On the back of the best gig of 2010 (Three Trapped Tigers, Talons, Dead Boy Robotics @ Electric Circus, Edinburgh) I hunted out everything I could by Talons. One of the problems with postrock is it’s very difficult to find a terrible band. It all sounds the same really when all you’ve got is guitars, bass and drums. It all becomes a bit Rod Stewart or Manic Street Preachers after a while. So the dynamic of two violins gives Talons such a great power. I remember getting that hairs on the back of your neck standing up feeling during some of the peaks of their songs. I think the album comes close to capturing that feeling – it’s not always successful as capturing the live dynamic but it is always wonderfully flowing and at times beautiful. My only criticism is the absence of the track Trevelyan. Clearly one of my favourite songs which was given out as a free internet download prior to the album’s release and I am disappointed that was not there. Especially since the record is 8 songs long.
Best Moments: Peter Pan, In The Shadow Of Our Stilted Homes
Zoe Keating – Into The Trees
Another Zoe Keating album – another album of the year. Haunting and wondrous at the same time. A cello and a loop pedal. You can guess what it sounds like. Perfect. As with everything she’s released.
Best Moments – Escape Artist, Optimist
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Nightmare
You know I was going to leave this off. I was all set to give this to Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack. Heck, Kanye is on EVERYONE’s best album of the year list. I don’t want to go with the flow. My first opinion after hearing this was “it’s okay”. It certainly wasn’t what I was hungry for – which was another 808s And Heartbreaks. Lotta hate for that album but it’s really the only thing I’ve truly liked by him. But after I really sat down and listened to this I realised all the amazing stuff from 808s is here. He’s used the skills he gained on that record and put them all over this album. What can I say – if you like rap records you will like this. I am impressed by it more than anything. The strength of the songs is frightening. It’s not just like most hip hop records nowadays which loop a beat for 3 mins and then get a woman to sing the chorus. This is challenging and sure the guy is an ego tripping tool some of the time. But fucking hell, right now, if you have a facebook you have an ego. So go kill yourself.
Best Moments – Monster, So Appalled
Crystal Castles – II
Last we get to Crystal Castles’ album. Much better than their debut. Great sounds and great use of harsh nasty electronic shrieks. Never comfortable listening. Can’t imagine anyone will remember it in five years but does that make it any less good? Nope.
Best Moments – Intimate, Celestica
So that wraps that up. If you want to argue with these choices by all means do (you’re already wrong). I’ve made a totally kick ass playlist from these tunes on Spotify. Unfortunately it doesn’t work. So instead I’ve made it on 8tracks.com which is an awesome site you should check out. Anyway, click here and you can listen to it all for free:
Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy Soundtrack
Foals – Total Life Forever
Kate Nash – My Best Friend Is You
Klaxons – Surfing The Void
Magnetic Man – Magnetic Man
Albums I WANTED to be Album of the Year but were massive sacks of piss
Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can
Holy fuck! I love your first album. Every single beat is delicious. What the hell happened? Did you drive somewhere at 88mph and go back in time to when music wasn’t good and decide to repeat it? Christ. All your instrumentation is gone. All your dynamics. Your whole fucking sound is gone. You’re started pronouncing words like they sounded in medieval days. If you like old music that much perhaps you should have stayed in the kitchen. (This comment conflicts with the Diane Birch review earlier. Hey, to be a human is to be a hypocrite). Hey also, your album title is FUCKING GASHOLOGY! How about I Cook Because I Can?
Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – The Logic Of Chance
Oh. How did this occur? Maybe it’s rushed? Too soon after the birth of a great debut? Maybe I’m just making excuses. I know this disappeared off the face of the planet and no one even noticed it was released. That seems to have happened for a reason. Very disappointing. Couple of okay tunes but even at its peak nowhere near the worst song off Angles. Take a breather you two. We expect better.
The Qemists – Spirit In The System
Like MSTRKRFT’s second album the band have fallen into that trap of “we met lots of cool famous folk after we made our debut – let’s get them all in to do vocals.” Hey, as Pendulum also found – with more vocals come less respectability. Sounds like an anus prolapsing following the withdrawal of Keith Flint’s tiny penis.
65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway (Aka HERPY DERPY DERP DERP)
Waking up to find your partner had placed your scrotum in a George Foreman grill and your hands and feet into a sandwich press would feel better than waking up with the daily realisation that 65daysofstatic released this ear cancer.
Anathema – We’re Here Because We’re Here
Anathema, once one of my favourite bands, have always trodden the line between beautiful and boring. This album just finds them being the latter. Also – album title is shit.
Note. All albums on this list have been purchased and legally obtained. Therefore I am right about everything.