Albums, Songs, Gigs 2011 – Part Three

Here’s the third (and final, you’ll be pleased to hear) round up of the year’s music. Or at least the year’s music that I could give a toss about. Parts One and Two here and here.

The Albums You Wish The Artist Would Re-Record As A Solo Acoustic Album

Ron Sexsmith – Long Player Late Bloomer

When I saw Ron Sexsmith perform “Get In Line” on Later…. I was smitten. Not with his looks, of course (he’s hardly Feist, is he?), but with such beautiful tunesmithery sung in such wonderfully world-weary tones. Unfortunately the record from which it stems has been MOR’d to within an inch of its life. If Ron wouldn’t mind re-recording it with just him and an acoustic, I’d be a happy man. Or a slightly less unhappy one.

MP3: Get in Line by Ron Sexsmith

Iron And Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

2007’s The Shepherd’s Dog was a pretty good record, and an extremely good one in demo acoustic form. I’d love to see what he could do with Kiss Each Other Clean without all the bumpf, because, as it stands, it’s a bit of an overblown mess.

The Nirvana Unplugged Award for an Acoustic Album/EP From A Band You Wouldn’t Expect It From

The Twilight Sad – Acoustic EP

A study in demonstrating that you aren’t just angry noise-merchants. Both “I Became A Prostitute” and “Interrupted” are probably better than their original, noisy incarnations.

MP3: That Birthday Present (Acoustic) by The Twilight Sad

New (non-album) Songs Of The Year

Battles – Ice Cream

Along with its fantastically mucky/arty video, a real odd-pop treat. Makes you think of horribly trendy young people in Barcelona. Damn them.

MP3: Ice Cream by Battles

Errr….that’s it. Sorry. It’s been all about the albums and the old songs this year. Which brings me onto:

Old Songs Of The Year

Bizarrely, this year three of my favourite non-album songs have been ones that have sat on iPod/iPhone/iWhatever for many, many years, yet for some reason haven’t registered with my brain until this year.

The Clientele – We Could Walk Together

I’ve listened to this song more than any other this year. One on hand, I can easily tell you why; the song is beguiling, with three verses, an instrumental chorus (if such a thing exists), and some wonderfully opaque lyrics (“Like a silver ring thrown into the flood of my heart”, a line apparently stolen from an Italian poet). On the other, I can’t explain why it’s caught hold of my heart after ten or so years of being sat in my collection, being occasionally played. Sometimes you just have to be ready for a song, I suppose.

MP3: We Could Walk Together by The Clientele

Low – Laser Beam

See later in this article, but in short, hearing a song live can sometimes take it from its source album and shine a whole new light on it.

Yo La Tengo – Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House

Unlike “Laser Beam”, I didn’t get to hear this live, which was a shame. I did shout out for it though. As I’ve mentioned before, the manifest charms of Yo La Tengo somehow passed me by for many years, and despite owning “And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out” since its release, I’d never picked up on how great this song was. Until now. Oh, and it’s the best ever song inspired by a Troy McClure line.

Best Gigs

Bill Callahanfor staring at us during “Baby’s Breath”. My wife was heavily pregnant at the time. We were hugely disconcerted.

M Ward – for making everyone just stare and go “How, but how, are you doing that?”

Low – one the finest live moments of a long gigging career was hearing the wonderful “Laser Beam” as the final encore. Thousands of people left utterly silent and speechless by this pure, simple song. The cheering at the end was almost as spine-tingling as the song itself. Watch this video of a live performance and notice firstly how the audience go from irritatingly noisy to raptly silent within about five seconds, and secondly, just how astonishing Mimi Parker’s voice is.

The rest of the gig was superb; even from our vantage point up in the rafters I loved every moment. Next time, I’m at the front, suckers.

_______________________________________

That’s it for 2011. A year with some highlights, sure, but also some horrendous lows that I hope to not experience for a very, very long time. Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and hope to see you in 2012.

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