Funny old year. To be quite frank, there’s not been a single outstanding album of the year, just a bunch of good albums I’ve enjoyed. Nothing’s massively stood out from the pack, and it says something that much of the music I’ve listened to this year isn’t from this year.
This is probably for three reasons. One, I’m getting older, and simply don’t have the inclination to seek out new music which, by and large, is either overhyped or just not as good as what’s come before. Two, now that Popular Music has been around for about sixty-something years (let’s not get into how old jazz and blues are; this ain’t a jazz or blues blog), pretty much anything released now has to be viewed in a sixty-year history of music. Tough to make something great that’s not been heard a billion times before. Third, I’m lazy.
Very, very lazy.
Here’s some albums.
Best Album By The Miserable Scots
Not a great Mogwai album, but a good one.
Not a great Frightened Rabbit album, but a good one. You can see where this is all going, can’t you?
In which our charming friend finds his voice, and you know what? It’s pretty damned good. Let’s hope he’s right and that he’s worked through his issues on his first three albums, and now he can go and make the superb album that’s certainly in him.
Best Fingerstyle Americana Instrumental Guitar Whatsit Album
I once got drunk with William Tyler, many years ago. Lovely chap, far too modest for his own good, and it’s great seeing him step out from under the Lambchop banner to make a record of luminous beauty.
A deeply personal record about leaving home, and returning, and what home really means. This is an instrumental album.
The Elliott Smith Award For Beatles-Tinged Singer-Songwritering
Perfect for those darkening autumn evenings. As ever, gently soothing.
Meant, like many things this year, to post about this album, but never did. By rights, this should have been terrible – famous dad, hugely influenced by the joint greatest singer-songwriter of his generation1 – but turns out to be a great listen. He could really do with finding is own voice rather than just making a very good Elliott Smith pastiche though.
The Best Song Titles In Post-Rock-Jazz-Noise, Often Involving Jim O’Rourke
David Grubbs – I Started To Live When My Barber Died
Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke/Oren Ambarchi – Even That Still Here And Unwanted Can You And I Love It Just Like Us It Was Born Here Too
The Mark Lanegan Growling Alcoholic Miseryguts Award For Drunken Lonesome Growling
Just too nice. There’s still a strong whiff of 3am barroom, and Lanegan is reliably growly, but this is far too pleasant to win the award. Same goes for his covers album2
Ok, so it was originally released in 2012, but give me some leeway here. I hold no truck for grumpy sods going on about drug abuse unless it’s done exceptionally well and then I love it(see: Mark Lanegan, Elliott Smith). I come close to loving this album, and if I’d heard it in my twenties I’d have worn the record out.
That’s it for Part One. Please join me tomorrow for Part Two.
1 The other being Jeff Buckley. Shame on you.
2 Which wasn’t a patch on I’ll Take Care Of You