Monday, December 17, 2007

Dear lord I sincerely hope you're coming / because you really started something

I’ve blogged a best of the year styled list for quiet some years now and I guess I need to do something similar, if only to satisfy myself. I don’t really like these lists simply because there are so many records I’ve simply not heard, probably more than ever, being, as I am, somewhere to the left of Papua new Guinea these days. Bali is not a great place to acquire music. You can buy a pirated copy of virtually any pop disc with a week of international release. But anything interesting is almost an impossibility. Fortunately I get to travel a bit and, to Brigid’s enduring bemusement, my first stop in almost any city is whatever independent record store I can track down. Some places are better than other. Singapore has nothing of interest..the corporates have strangled it and its record shops are as soulless as its other shopping (unless you want something electrical). On the other hand, if you know where to go, Bangkok, and Jakarta are both absolute goldmines.

Thank god for all the freebies I continue to get in the mail (thank you), and of the course the internet in its various retail and digital forms.

So, rambling ahead, below are the records I heard that I liked a lot this year…

I had a brief love affair with Studio’s pretty album West Coast a month or so ago, but after a week or two it felt a little twee and overly try-hard in places, although their Escape From Chinatown, ledswith Brennan Green is rather lovely. But, to be honest I’m finding much of the Scandinavian nu-Balearica a bit much now, that said however Origin off the album is still an absolute classic, and for that track alone its worth a mention.

And that track is not a million miles away from one of my most played albums of 2007. I’m cheating because The L.E.D.S debut was released in 2006, but I didn’t get it until…I’ve already gone on at length here about how much I loved this album, and suffice to say I’ve been thrashing the unmixed tracks from the unreleased second album that they were kind enough to send to me. Why in gods sake don’t these people have a record deal???

NZ wise, it’s easy to lose touch but I liked the Phoenix Foundation’s Bright Grey, despite that fact that it was resoundingly old fashioned, like a happy warm kiwi rug. It was just a nice song and stood out from the relentless chaff on the Kiwi Hit Discs. I’ve yet to hear the album.

My other NZ moment was the mighty Something Error Happens by The Others Requiem, but hey, I’m biased and rather proud of it.

I got a buzz from the one off supergroup The Good, the Bad and The Queen, mostly because of R-970149-1181744537the lopping bass playing from the long missing in action (musically anyway) Paul Simonen. The former Clash-man is my favourite rock’n’roll bassist ever but it was a wake up call how old and weedy the erstwhile glamour boy now looks (this was the year that Sid Vicious would’ve turned 50 after all..think about that!)

And talking of The Clash, the cover of The Call Up , as reworked by Martin Buttrich with The Far East Band is kinda perfect, mashing my nostalgia with a classic sparse dubby electronic thingy that builds for ten or so minutes with nice swooping synth lines. A huge favourite right now.

Yep, electronic music really is in really good shape, with the tail end of the minimal thing and the thing they call dubstep both turning out future classics. The two genres met in the Ricardo Villalobos mix of Shakletons’ Blood on My Hands, all 19 odd (and I mean that in every sense) minutes of the hypnotic, sparse, repetitive loopingness (new word I think) that only sounds like, ahh, Ricardo Villalobos. His sound is so thoroughly unique and so is he…taking his Fabric album and turning it into an artist album by only using his own productions could’ve failed embarrassingly but was, instead, rather a triumph, especially the middle where it gets quite quirkily nutty.

Other singles or tracks I liked: both sides of the Hercules & Love Affair single; Joakim’s Lonely Hearts; Aeroplane by, uhh, Aeroplane; the DJ Koze mix of The BattlesAtlas (and I truly disliked the original); Rekorder 8; Francois K’s Road of Life as reworked in a very tracky manner by Quiet Village; the almost Planet Rock-ish (which brings it all back to the beginning) remix of Cybotron’s Clear by Cobblestone Jazz; Âme’s Balandine EP; Nard’s by Trusme; Anders Trentemøller’s Djuma Soundsystem mix, and his Evening with Bobi Bros and, god, dozens more…R-997933-1182503937

Both the Burial album and the Pinch album (now out with a bonus disc..doesn’t that piss you off) easily sit in my favourite long players of 2007. I love the fact that dubstep is the bastard child of so many things, not least is the Bristol movement of the late eighties onwards.

And to Carl Craig….his side on the Kings Of Techno double was ruined by his crowd rousing voiceovers (unlike the sublime Laurent Garnier mix), but elsewhere he continued to excel, like the entrancing live remake of At Les on the Paris Live EP; the Angola-ish remix of Tony Allen’s Kilode; his Faze Action re-visit; and the remixes of Inner City, Siobhan Donaghy, the Lazy fat People. His take of LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver was just another highlight in James Murphy’s calendar rather chocka full of them.

Anyway you look at it LCD ruled 2007. The Sound Of Silver album slayed almost everyone ( utterly confused much of America, which is not surprising…middle America has been a Walmart driven musical vacuum for decades, as evidenced by all those god awful post frat bands the likes of Pitchfork so love to tout). And to top it off, the 45.33 Nike thing was finally given an official release. They are this decade’s great band.

It was completely different but the Nomumbah album Love Moves, recommended to me by Cian at Conch, remains the supreme, for want of a better word (and one is needed if we are to avoid all the horrendous connotations of the word), chillout, record. God knows how many afternoons I’ve played this, and I’m playing it as I type.

51BTy6d4ZUL._AA240_Kathy Diamond’s Miss Diamond to You was the torch vocal album of the year…it’s odd how all those faux Amy Winehouses and their ilk get the word when there are records this damned good smouldering away below the radar.

I have to admit a soft spot for the odd noisy band. The Arctic Monkeys, The Klaxons and Justice all found themselves getting played rather loudly in the bale on more than a few occasions. Snotty noise is good.

And on a completely different tangent, I found a place for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s Rising Sand and was pleased to see that Plant has decided to put this project ahead of any bloody Zeppelin tour…the idea of which appals me…please, no…the man has soul.

There were lots of worthy reissues and re-releases. Over the years my copy of The Young Marble Giants’ Colossal Youth has almost worn through, but now, of course we have it remastered with two bonus discs, so I can file the vinyl.

The Eddie Kendricks collection, The Thin Man, featuring the second batch of his solo albums at Motown is quite something (even it was officially 2006), as is the recent Aretha outtakes double, and the two albums on Numero Group, Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label and Good God both of which I discovered this year.

And it wouldn’t, for me at least, be complete without mentioning the remastered Car Crash Set’s not out until 2008 but if I can talk about records released before 2007, surely I can enthuse about one still to come….

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