So, following on from yesterday’s first part, featuring all the records I was disappointed or just a bit meh-d with, here’s my list of ones I liked. Like I said yesterday, no absolute favourites, but some of the songs on these albums will live with me until my brain finally dissolves through alcohol abuse and Alzheimers.
(Part three is here)
The Best Album Of The Year By A Band Half My Age Making Music For People Half My Age
Avi Buffalo – s/t
Now this one came as a surprise. On the first couple of listens, Avi Buffalo seemed to be one of those records that had a couple of good songs and one absolutely great one (“Truth Sets In”). The rest was, frankly, a bit annoying, from the stupid song titles to Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg’s annoying yelp. But with more time, the record slowly unravelled to show itself as being a work of a rare talent. A great example being “Remember Last Time”, a seven minute long track that feels far too short, growing and swelling and suddenly shrinking again, before one final, two minute long cascade of guitar solos and general wigging out. It’s clear to me that Avi is a brilliant guitarist with a huge talent; if he can produce a more focussed record next time, and gives his bandmates more time on the mic, he could produce something very special indeed.
The Best Album By Kerazy Kanadians
The Besnard Lakes – Are The Roaring Night
2010 the year of The Return Of Half-Decent Shoegaze, and this record was more than half-decent. I wasn’t expecting great things after “…Are The Dark Horse”, but my word, did this lot deliver. “Albatross” demands to be played loud, loud, loud, and the rest of the album follows suit. Superb stuff.
The Best Albums by Previously Unknown Bands
Bullets in Madison – We Became Your Family When You Died
Came across this lot whilst just browsing some good music blogs. Lovely, and a brilliant example of how you can find music in the most random of ways. The way “Animals” slowly coalesces into lovely, glorious dream-pop is still wonderful, nearly a year after I first heard it.
The Best EP by a Previously Unknown Band
Bright Spark Destroyer – Holy Yell EP
Previously Unknown, because this is their debut. And what a debut. Thrilling, evocative, exciting, with just the right amount of that The Bends-era Radiohead stadium bombast to make them a dangerously promising tip for the future. If they aren’t on everyone’s 2011 end of year lists, I’ll eat my hat1.
The Best Scandinavian Album (combined with the Nice Dinner Party Album award)
The Tallest Man On Earth
The Radio Dept
The Kissaway Trail
The Radio Dept – Clinging To A Scheme
Lovely. This year’s Bibio. Saying that a record is great to have when you’re doing the washing up is a major compliment, by the way.
The Best Indie-Pop Album Unfairly Maligned By The Meedja
Freelance Whales – Weathervanes
Soundtrack to the first few months of the year, I was convinced this lot were going to hit the big time, Arcade Fire style. But no. Some harsh reviews, some intimations of lack of imagination, and their fate, if not quite sealed, was made far harder. Shame, as this really is a charming and beguiling record that deserved a far, far larger audience.
The Best Female Singer-Songwriter With An Obsession With The Natural World
Laura Veirs – July Flame
Just had to be, didn’t it? This one nearly slipped me by and I’m glad it didn’t. Perfect at gazing out of a window at drizzle whilst a roaring fire roars away in the background, as your loved one roasts a chicken.
Albums From 2009 That I Identified In Last Years End Of Year Review As Might Be Good And Were
Ok, so it’s only half a good album. But its heights – “I Became A Prostitute”, “Interrupted” and “Reflection of the Television” are as good as anything on their debut. Well, almost.
Yo La Tengo – Popular Songs
Identified last year as something I’d listen to this year, and nice to see I was right. Great album, this, and it’s got me to search back into their catalogue and find all those gems that have passed me by. And thanks to all the readers with suggestions of which albums I should try next!
The Yo La Tengo Award For A Band I’d Previously Discounted As Twee Nonsense Before Realising Belatedly That They Were, Like, Great
Belle And Sebastian – Write About Love
Just had to be, didn’t it? The first thaw in the huge icy wall around my heart came with Stuart Murdoch’s “Another Saturday” on 2009’s Dark Is The Night compilation. Realising that a man that could write something of such gentle, enormous beauty must be quite the talented sort, I gave Write About Love a go. Doesn’t quite reach the heights of “Another Saturday”, but now I’ve melted that iceberg of disdain I’m going to enjoy running through their back catalogue.
That’s it for this post. Join me tomorrow for songs, gigs, and other gubbins.
1 Hat may be made of cake.