Friday, 25 December 2009

The Best Of 2009 (and Merry Christmas)

Never Cry Another Tear
Bologna Nov. 2008 

Let's Change The World With Music 

04 Marlene Kuntz - Best Of 

05 Elio E Le Storie Tese - Gattini (deluxe edition)

06 Diaframma - Difficile Da Trovare

07 Pet Shop Boys - Yes

08 Section 25 - Nature + Degree

09 Mew - No More Stories Are Told Today

10 Egle Sommacal - Tanto Non Arriva

11 Morrissey - Years Of Refusal
12 Depeche Mode - Sounds Of The Universe
13 Coldplay - LeftRightLeftRightLeft
14 Grand Duchy - Petit Fours
15 Mimes Of Wine - Apocalypse Sets In

This has been a pretty good year in music, well at least by the standards of the decade we're wrapping up, which has been frankly pretty useless. We must be happy that the artists from the 80s and 90s are still carrying on, those who have emerged in the 00s have been a pale comparison. Bands who would have deserved more have been underrated (see Gabrielles Wish), bands who deserve a bright future are still struggling to emerge (see Exit Calm).
New Order have split up, but we find three fourths of their latter line up in Bad Lieutenant. Hooky is missing in action, still trying to do something with his supergroup Freebass (formed with Rourke from The Smiths and Mani from Primal Scream), but the other three have recruited Jake Evans from Rambo And Leroy to form a band with three guitarist and release an excellent album of guitar pop which retains some of what we like about New Order but it's different enough to that legendary band to sound refreshing and escape embarassing comparisons.
Massimo Volume have released a live album from a triumphant concert of last year's comeback tour while we wait for the new studio recording, Paddy McAloon has resurrected the name of his band Prefab Sprout to release an amazing demo recorded in his kitchen in 1992. Marlene Kuntz and Elio E Le Storie Tese released two compilations, the first band addes some covers to their hits, the second re-recorded all their hits with an orchestra, and the result is obviously sublime.
Back to proper new studio albums, Diaframma have made their best album in ages, astonishingly inspired music and lyrics. The same can be said for Pet Shop Boys, nobody was expecting such a masterpiece like Yes. Section 25 followed Part Primitiv, their great comeback of two years ago, with another excellent album.
Mew confirmed themselves as the best new band of this decade with an eclectic and emotional release, if all the new bands were half as inventive as Mew, music would be a lot more interesting.
Massimo Volume guitarist Egle Sommacal made his wonderful second instrumental solo album, this time with an electric guitar and a brass band.
Morrissey and Depeche Mode have released two albums which are quite good, but only just, once again far from their former glories.
Coldplay's live album is pretty good too, especially since it's free.
When back home from rocking the world with the Pixies, Black Francis has formed Grand Duchy, a project with his wife, which sounds a bit like messing with indie for fun, but it's still fun for the listener as well...
Mimes Of Wine have left their mark on the same label of Egle Sommacal with an album of acoustic indie which sounds classic, emotional and disturbing at the same time.
Merry Christams and Happy 2010, hoping that new bands like Exit Calm will start a more exciting decade than this, which won't be remembered with much nostalgia...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

4AD sampler streaming here and for free download.

This is a really interesting compilation, it's amazing given that British label 4AD went through the most of this decade almost unnoticed, pushing the wrong emerging bands (with the notable exception of Blonde Redhead) and getting mentioned only for the odd Pixies compilation.
If there's still some irritating stuff, like the kitch retro of Camera Obscura, the most of the bands (some Americans, some English) bring a refreshing sound and are worth investigating: Atlas Sound is the solo project of Deerhunter's Alex Cox, both play a unique take on psychedelic noise, Tune-Yards's fragmented mix of melody and rhythm sounds really original, M Ward's ethereal ballad seems inspired by Bowie's Low and Future Of The Left play an excellent revision of At The Drive In.
Best of the bunch are The Big Pink, which blend perfectly baggy and shoegazing, and St. Vincent which confirms Annie Clark as a genius as inventive as Bjork with an eclectic and emotional song.
The rest of the playlist is pretty average contemporary indie folk, or post folk, but discovering six interesting bands out of 12 is good enough.