So the hysterical outburst of end-of-year list’s has reached fever pitch and no doubt all artists are weighing their worth by how many mentions they get and how close to the elusive number one they are. Although, as Noel Gallagher’s disdainful attitude towards the music press as summed up in the statement “beauty is in the eye of the beholder – critics are f**king pointless” is pretty unanimous amongst musicians, probably not.
Well either way, the music press feels compelled to release these best of lists, so we’ve noted down a few eye-catchy ones at the bottom of this post – at the very least they can help justify an album bought as a Christmas present to that fusspot music fan whose album collection can never drop below a four-star rating or a 7 out of 10.
On other things, let’s delve into some reviews and albums of note. Mark Edwards of The Sunday Times wrote a whimsical, comical review on British Sea Power’s From the Sea to the Land Beyond which sound-tracked the equally spectacular BBC documentary of the same name, stating “Perhaps documentary soundtracks should only ever be written by bands with an appropriate name – the Killers for a film about a serial killer; Kaiser Chiefs for a study of African Football”.
Britney’s new album was a right-off, say’s Dan Cairns – “It simply cannot get any worse than this”, but he loved Sumie’s self-titled LP which is “Minimal and pointillist, the songs on this beautiful debut are for the most part little more than finger-picked folk guitar, Sumie’s keening voice and lyrics either allusive or startlingly direct.” Another favourable mention was made towards bEEdEEgEE’s Sum/One.
Pitchfork has been enjoying Death Grips Government Plates, “Death Grips’ excellent fourth album Government Plates loudly re-establishes the band as a group freed by having no ideals whatsoever”, the alternative electronica album Nonfiction by The Range, “a meticulous record filled with pretty sounds; soft pianos, fake strings, bass that stretched like taffy, and synth blips that twinkle like itsy bitsy stars”
The Reissue worth every penny of the £543.04 price-tag is The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917 – 1927), according to Pitchfork; a gargantuan box-set by all accounts, “At the center of the collection, which also includes six marbled brown LPs and a phone-book sized catalogue, is a drive containing 800 songs from Paramount’s first decade, a period that shaped the landscape for the rise of a recording industry anchored on jazz, rock’n’roll, and country music.”
It’s another of Jack White ‘s babies, released on his Third Man label. Check out Grayson Currie‘s words to whet the appetite.
And lastly here’s some round-up’s for your perusal; See what Spin, The Guardian and NPR had to say on the matter. Vice has given us an alternative top 50; for everything esoteric see John Mulvey’s Wild Mercury Sound round-up & while you’re on the Uncut website, check out the Editor’s picks. The NME voter’s also shared some light on what they’ve been rocking too this past year.
So we’ll leave you with those and wish you a very Merry Christmas from everyone here at Musical Tears.
With Eminem’s return to his roots, and Lady Gaga’s divisive new offering receiving the lion’s share of critical attention, let’s have a look at a few publications new notable albums, with the odd dud thrown in for good measure.
Arcade’s Fire’s Reflektor has received glowing reviews from all around, with perhaps Tiny MixTapes leading the way on the gushingly flattering poll. Their categorising of the band’s style as “baroque pop for discotheque cathedrals, voodoo funeral dirges, perverted neoclassicism”, being a particular highlight from our point of view. Pitchforks Lindsay Zoladz sums up succinctly in another rave review “It’s limber and loose, as though the songs were performed live; the arrangements breathe, seethe, and sweat.”
With a name as unique as Devonté Hynes, it’s surprising the man doesn’t just stick with that instead of changing his moniker at the drop of a hat. He’s so far played with Test Icicles, Lightspeed Champion and now Blood Orange, each new apparition following a change in location; first London, then L.A. and now New York. Well, he’s a limber chap as one can witness from the video for Chamakay, but this chopping & changing of styles reveal his versatility. He’s also had a number of high-profile collaborations – Florence & The Machine and The Chemical Brothers for example. His new release Cupid Deluxe has garnered a strong response with many mentioning similarities to 1980s Prince. The Guardian’s Maddy Costa’s said of the album, “it’s so mellifluous, sensual and relaxed”, with Chamakay being “a shiver of desire: drums throb, bass slithers, and the hushed, sinuous vocals are thrillingly androgynous.”
The other hot topic rolling off critics tongues is Jake Bugg’s second release Shangri-La. Unfortunately, the general consensus is it doesn’t match up to the debut and is basically overproduced, no doubt due to super-producer Rick Rubin’s polished glean which, unfortunately, only results in a loss of Bugg’s rawness. Notable critic Alexis Petridis of The Guardian says of the change of direction, “the charming gauche-ness inflated into the kind of plonking portentousness that become Noel Gallagher’s signature style around Be Here Now.” He makes a concession about Jake’s ballads however, which are “hushed” and “delicate”.
The Sunday Times have tipped Vancouver’s Hannah Georgas self-titled second album stating she has opted for “monochromatic electronica” over her debut’s “acoustic soundscapes and lyrical toughness”. The album’s recorded with Holy Fuck‘s Graham Walsh, the pair evidently making a close partnership. Dan Cairns stated, “Georgas is detached and emotionally arctic; Walsh adds his icy musical touch. Stunning.”
Pitchfork’s been enjoying Darkside’s new offering. Shearwater have released a cover’s album, a tribute to all the acts they have played with – hence the title. It hasn’t fared particularly well. And Gary Barlowe’s Since I Saw You Last won the Times’ Dud of the week.
The Guardian also recently praised Creep’s Echoes, “the kind of music seemingly designed to soundtrack scenes of doomed romance in supernatural horror films”, Linda Ortega’s Tin Man & added further proof of TV On the Radio’s Dave Sitek’s King Midas effect; he’s producer on the hotly tipped Wish Bone by Oh Land.
Stereogum have been enjoying Wooden Shjip’s Back to Land and Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind, whilst the good folks at KCRW tip White Denim’s Corsicana Lemonade, Jonathan Wilson’s Fanfare and Nicholas Payton’s Sketches of Spain.
Good Diggin’s & muchos abrazos,