I didn't do a 2011 music round-up, but fortunately I have a ready-made excuse to do one now. A year ago, I reset the playcount on my iTunes, so I know exactly what I listened to most:
1) Don't Hold Me Back by Alex Cornish. [YT link to live version] [
I have played this 1,720 times in the past year, and I'm really hoping that includes the iPod as well or I'm going to look a bit obsessive.
I can tell you exactly when I first heard it -- March 2011, couldn't sleep, watched The Big C on Channel 4 and this played at the end. I googled a remembered slice of the lyrics, had it on YouTube within a minute, and had bought the album off iTunes within 10. It is in moments like these that I really love living in the future. I may not have a jetpack yet, but I still remember when you had to listen to the radio for weeks in the hope that you might hear it a second time and then go hum at the bloke in the record shop. And then you had to buy the whole album, uphill both ways, in the snow. And after all that it might be total rubbish.
Anyway, Alex Cornish was my favourite discovery of the year. He's an English singer living in Scotland, and while his music is never going to smash your preconceptions and allow you to revel in atonality or whatever, it is going to sit you down with a nice cup of tea and agree that the world is a bit shit. He's done three very good albums: Until the Traffic Stops, Call Back and No Shore, and you can still see him being fantastic in tiny basement clubs and then say goodnight to him as he has a fag outside afterwards (which I did).
2) The Birds by Elbow. 1,414 times. And it's EIGHT minutes long. [YT link to MEN Arena performance, song starts at 2.40ish]
Build a Rocket Boys! is no Seldom-Seen Kid, it has quiet pleasures all of its own, which reveal themselves with patience. The Night Will Always Win, for example
3) Codex by Radiohead. (924) [YT link]
4) Three Thousand by These New Puritans. 554 times. [YT link en français!]
Listen to those amazingdrums and those harpsichords-go-space-invaders sounds. My sekrit tinhat theory is that the entire Hidden album was actually inspired by Canadian-shot sci-fi and they were too embarrassed to admit it so they wanked on in NME interviews about A Brief History of Time and Knights Templar. He's singing about time travel and mazes and Osiris. He's been watching the Stargate and BSG repeats on Sky One.
5) Vermillion, by Guillemots (461) [YT link to 6Music session]
From Walk The River, which I liked a lot but didn't seem to do that well. It reminded me a bit of Fleetwood Mac but not in a bad way. This is an album track that became my favourite. Here's a YT video of 'I Don't Feel Amazing Now' with random cows. And ducks. And a cyclist with a big arse. You're welcome.
6) Sprawl II, by the Arcade Fire (268)
Can't tell you anything new about this. You either like it/have it, or don't.
7) Night Air by Jamie Woon (148) [YT link to official video]
One of the best evocations of London after dark since Burial, but really it's an ode to urban nightowls everywhere. The rest of the album wasn't half as good, sadly.
(Burial did an amazing remix of Jamie Woon's version of Poor Wayfaring Stranger, which is worth tracking down on the webulator if you can be arsed)
8) Aldrig Ensam by Jonathan Johansson (127) [YT link]
Swedish, 80s-inflected stuff that swings with the inexorable but gentle pressure of the metronome. Also the ringtone on my phone. Which could be worse. M's ringtone for me is The Safety Dance. He's a hilarious boy.
9) Marble House, by The Knife (123) [YT link to the fantastic official video]
Not just because of this vid, because I already had the album, but it didn't hurt. It's so marvellously creepy.
And finally, my personal anthem for 2011:
10) National Shite Day by Half-Man, Half-Biscuit (118) [Extremely weird fan video]
I cannot render in mere pixels how much I love this and how much it makes me laugh. It has the best mention of Stockard Channing in popular song, a lesson in pedestrian etiquette and the sad tale of Stringy Bob, sent to prison for sending dead birds to bad comedians. ♥
Apart from a weird period in summer where I mostly listened to Half-Man, Half-Biscuit (and really, no one on here's going to be interested in them), these are the new 2011 things I loved:
Imperial by Butcher Boy. [YT live version]
This is completely wonderful -- a little like Belle and Sebastian and yet more proof for the theory that the best music comes from Scotland. ♥
Suzanne and I by Anna Calvi [YT link to video]
This whole album is really interesting, like a cross between PJ Harvey and Chris Isaak. This has an amazing rolling drum pattern that sounds great listened to on headphones. [YT link to Blackout]
I have spoken before of the wondrousness that is King Creosote, a singer from Fife who writes strange, unexpected songs. Diamond Mine was a collaboration with Jon Hopkins, who produces electronica records. It's a short album, recorded with lots of ambient sound. It's a kind of meditation on that strange time of life where you're no longer young, but you're not old either, just somewhere in the middle and completely out of ideas. (Not that I over-identify with that or anything.) Here's Your Young Voice (which can reduce me to tears occasionally) and Running On Fumes, and here's a funny YT video of them talking. ILU King Creosote. ♥
The English Riviera by Metronomy looked to the 80s. Here's the scene setter: The Bay [YT link to video]. I am a bad person and find it funny that he's basically singing about Torquay, home to Fawlty Towers, when the music evokes some kind of imaginary high-concept Los Angeles of the English imagination.
The other standout was She Wants [YT link], which is a bit like a warped Duran Duran track.
I liked The Horrors album Skying a lot but I suspect that was because they took the eighties and filed the serial numbers off. They stole from, that I noticed, The Cure, Simple Minds, Ride and Curve, which made their high dudgeon at not being nominated for the Mercury Music Prize particularly funny. Here, have Still Life, which steals the bassline from the remix of The Cure's Pictures of You
Everett True wrote an amusing review of Skying for collapseboard, and I recommend it to you. I don't agree with a lot of what he's saying (except maybe the U2 bit) but it's very perceptive.
Most of summer was spent listening to Half-Man, Half-Biscuit, and sadly, I fear I shall never convince people of the wonder that is songs such as Dickie Davies Eyes, or The Trumpton Riots. Let me offer this country song off the 2011 album 90 Bisodol, RSVP, which is a pretty tale of murder at a wedding reception.
I think that Love Movement (Ulrich Schnauss remix) by Justin Robertson is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard, and that the bit at 3.03 sounds like the shafts of godlight you see over English hills on cloudy days, but please bear in mind that I adore repetitive soundwashes and adjust expectations accordingly.
I also listened to Thea Gilmore's winter album, Strange Communion, which is all sorts of wonderful. If you've heard Fairytale of New York once too often but still love it and want to hear something similar, you might like this Elvis Costello cover, which is all about murdering your family the day after Christmas. Who among us hasn't been there? Practically the meaning of Christmas, that is. The St Stephen's Day Murders [bonus Mark Radcliffe!]
And for this time of year: Sol Invictus
Oh, okay, one more Half-Man Half-Biscuit song: Give Us Bubble Wrap, which is about solving international diplomatic crises through the use of packing materials. And which should be a classic Who vid.
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And noted for cuteness/ reasons of *stuff* ;)
This entry was originally posted at http://finisterre.dreamwidth.org/188900.html. All comments welcome anywhere. .