Some of the albums that kept me sane and happy through one of the oddest years in recent memory. Where the great and the good seemed to drop like flies and the democratic system made me ponder would a benevolent dictator be any worse? See what you think of the list below….
14. A. Dyjecinski – The Valley of Yessiree
‘There’ll be dead horses, in our garden, this year’ – Dead Horses
It’s hard to argue with the man! Some lo-fi musings that reminded me of early Beck, which is never a bad thing.
From our review “The arrangement features electric guitar, but it is distant in the mix. There are murky keyboards along with subtle drums and very little else. He is joined by a guest vocalist on ‘The Fight’ and ‘Dry Bread’. A sultry female voice that contrasts his own well. This is not the type of album that will ever demand a stadium tour, but will be listened to in darkened rooms at the dead of night. Something tells me Mr. Dyjecinski wouldn’t have it any other way.”
13. Loscil – Monument Builders
Some ambient sounds from Mr. Loscil himself; Scott Morgan.
“Morgan has cited some unusual inspiration for this new album including Koyaanisqatsi, John Gray’s Straw Dogs and some photographs of environmental pollution by Edward Burtynsky. These can only be starting points and it would be difficult to see how they are connected to the sounds. Morgan is one of the most creative ambient artists working today, and this is another impressive addition to his oeuvre.”
12. Tortoise – The Catastrophist
It’s just very good to have Tortoise back after too long living off past glories.
“There is no transformation from previous work but possibly due to this album being their first in 7 years, it’s great to have them delivering some warm grooves once again. Songs build through steady repetition, altering slightly over time so you hardly notice the changes. They’re the type of songs that feel like they have no reason to end, they create an incessant groove that could go on forever. An album well worth exploring.”
11.The Stargazer’s Assistant – Remoteness Of Light
A three song album with huge variety and more than a little insight.
“There is an eastern flavour to the proceedings, with the choice of instrument being quite unconventional. It would be fascinating to learn about the recordings and how they produced each unique sound. This is an album to listen to with headphones, to get lost in their world, immersed in their vision and to enjoy!”
There is nothing loud, brash or vulgar about what Chris Cohen does, but in its own subtle way, it is very enjoyable. This is the follow up to 2012’s Overgrown Path and is a sweet and homely sound that kept me coming back for more.
9. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
Possibly the album I listened to more than any other for some strange reason. It wasn’t my favourite, but there was something in it that kept me coming back for more. Well worth checking out if you haven’t already.
8.Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing
“I haven’t written this part yet
Will you help me write it?” – Frankie Cosmos – Outside with the Cuties
This is as gentle, delicate collection of songs by the wonderful Frankie Cosmos.
7. The Leaves Were Falling – The Avalanches
An album that was 16 year in the making. I wonder did they secretly just hang around for about 12 of those years before getting down to business? Either way, we look forward to the next one in 2032!
“Overall the layers of invention are what really impress, there is a real attention to detail, like every element has been deeply considered. There is a playful air to proceedings, with songs folding in upon themselves and reappearing in different forms. They almost can’t stop themselves from toying with the tracks, which can be to their detriment at times. They are hugely talented at what they do, and while not every track on the album works, the ones that do can leave you quite dazzled.”
It’s somewhat surprising that Mogwai are still releasing albums some 20 years after they formed. Post-rock bands tend to have a short life. It’s hard to keep coming up with loud/quiet/loud songs after album number 5 or 6. Somehow Mogwai manage to keep themselves slightly above and beyond the rest of the crowd.
5. Luke Temple – A Hand Through the Cellar Door
Luke Temple may not be the most familiar name, but Here We Go Magic may be a little more familiar (to some). This album is quite different from his music with Here We Go Magic. it is mostly guitar driven and it works very well.
4. Benoît Pioulard – Listening Matter
Benoit is best know to his Mum and Dad as Thomas Meluch. It’s an album that most overlooked but captured my imagination for whatever reason. See what you think of Anchor as the Muse below, if you enjoy it the album contains much more besides.
3. Agnes Obel – Citizen Of Glass
Agnes has created a delicate and ephemeral album, to touch it is to make it disappear. The composition of piano with cello and other strings makes it quite unusual in structure, and her own vocal style is just as gentle.
Like an album from another era and with a fair nod of the head to early Red House Painters, this is a gem from the Swedish outfit.
Killian’s thoughts from August of this year – “For those who like wistful, melancholic guitar mood pieces, songs like Floating and Through City Lights press exactly the right buttons. We finish with two acoustic-based, two-part pieces, the uptempo Moments Like This harks back to classic Simon & Garfunkel fingerpicking, before fading out and returning in slightly darker form. It fades into final track Perfect Day For Shrimp, which is slightly darker, once again evoking Mark Kozelek comparisons.”
There is nothing particularly unique to what she does and the only reason to enjoy it is the quality. Her vocal style is quite emotive and exudes passion and at times a deep sadness. Her guitar is raw and primitive. The production makes the most of the hard edges, nothing too polished or over worked. Angel Olsen is a complex artist and this is an album worth exploring.
Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music
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