Jan. 1st, 2016

alexsarll: (default)
I'm nowhere near as finger-on-the-pulse as I was (but then who is?); more even than not knowing about the cool new thing, it's a matter of simply not getting it when I do hear it. The more music you've heard, the more the new music sounds like the old, and you begin to understand how Mojo readers happen. Still, there are enough exceptions to prevent one altogether becoming one's uncles.

10. Bad Love - Summer Camp
Sheer froth, like John Hughes minus the tension or Wet Hot American Summer minus the snark. But when the world appears to be setting up a multiple apocalypse sweepstakes, sometimes you need a vision of an endless summer where the biggest threat is Bobbi inviting the wrong boy to the prom.

9. The Race for Space - Public Service Broadcasting
It doesn't quite tug my heartstrings like the utter Britishness of their debut, but setting the brief moment of interplanetary possibility (see #1) to danceable backings (which would be awesome if there remained anywhere to dance) was always going to get me on side.

8. Beat The Champ - The Mountain Goats
For me, their best album since Heretic Pride - what's come between I liked rather than loving. The theme this time is wrestling, which I've always said would be the sport I got into if I ever got into a sport.

7. At Least For Now - Benjamin Clementine
Austere yet playful, majestic yet intimate, incredibly strange yet somehow able to win the Mercury. Reminiscent, in fact, of the last Mercury winner I recall placing on one of these - I Am A Bird Now, ten years ago. Antony, incidentally, is now going by Anohni, and made a late claim on my song of the year with the haunting, despairing, borderline evil '4 Degrees'.

6. The Most Important Place In The World - Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat
The former Arab Strap 'singer' continues to age disgracefully; the best tracks here are founded precisely in the awareness that behaviour which was heroic a decade or two ago just makes you look like an arse in middle age. And yet, it keeps happening. Room for a couple of suitably bleak state-of-the-nation tracks, too.

5. Rose of the Lanes - Cleaners from Venus
I wrote a whole press release about this one, of which the only thing I can remember is "the poet laureate of late summer afternoons". Wonderfully wistful, cantankerous, Dickensian in the good ways rather than the George Osborne sense.

4. Art Angels - Grimes
I'm still catching up with Grimes, at once enticed and delayed by the sheer strangeness of her music - like Björk reborn on a half-shell from the foam of the Internet. If only all her generation were like this, the world would be saved. Or possibly even more doomed, but it'd sound amazing either way.

3. To Us, The Beautiful! - Franz Nicolay
"To us, the beautiful - and to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out!" Which somehow wouldn't have sounded half so powerful if he were beautiful by any conventional standard. Defiant songs of love, loss and partying by the former Hold Steady collaborator who - in the continued absence of Jason Webley - is surely our finest accordion troubadour.

2. FFS
The union of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks sounded great on paper, but could have easily been a mere novelty on record - or even abandoned altogether, as when FF worked with Xenomania. And yet, from the opening of 'Johnny Delusional' ('inchoate yearning' is one of my favourite musical registers), this lived up to the promise.

1. Elevator Music - The Indelicates
Look, I'm sure there was one year they put an album out and it didn't top my list. But it wasn't this slow a year, and their album wasn't about one of my especial hobby-horses - humanity's shameful, feeble abandonment of the stars. This one is. Heartbreaking. Also, a concept album. Which despite what a few moany punks may still claim, is generally the very best sort of album.

January 2016


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