Top ten album listening during 2011 meme…

[youtube]LXMey9IT7hk[/youtube]

I commented on this from Banksyboyhttp://banksyboy.blogspot.com/2011/12/top-10-album-listening-during-2011.html and on this penultimate day of the year, it is time to take up this meme and for a long post.

This is in no particular order as it took me long enough to winnow out just 10 albums that I have bought (some are not 2011) during this year (thank the Lord for friends, freebies,ebay and amazon marketplace).

Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz. He tours Britain for the first time in 5 years and owing to severe fixture congestion during that particular week I do not make it. Not one of my better 2011 moments.

This is still discernably him but so different. Not quite ‘doing a Kid A’ but close. A definite grower.

Low: C’mon. I saw them again this year. Utterly fantastic. ‘$20’ melts anyone with a heart.

Radiohead: The King of Limbs. A new Radiohead album is always salivating over- this one one definitely so. Never to be filed under ‘easy listening’.

Gruff Rhys: Hotel Shampoo. An album that your 7 year old son and you can share without it being cheesy is good. This one is brilliant and the gig that I saw him at was one of the best gigs I have ever been to. A bonus is that I can almost play ‘If we were words we would rhyme’ on the guitar. That is a bonus for me and not for you.

Elbow: build a rocket boys! One of the good things about this year was freakishly reconnecting with the person who introduced me to Elbow years back. This guy was (and is) a friend of Guy Garvey. His story, of being left a single parent in his mid 30s following the death of his wife, always reminded me of the back story of ‘The Seldom seen kid’ (and during this year I worked out that another friend’s referencing of her friend Brian years back was indeed Brian Glancy ‘The Seldom seen kid’……. I am so close to fame). This album is not as immediate as the last but I love it’s themes of friendship and community.

(Ahk-toong bay-bi) covered. If I have a simple rule it is that albums by ‘various artists’ or ‘best ofs’ are to be barely tolerated. This one confounded that rule. Normally ‘best ofs’ given as freebies (this one with Q magazine) are album tracks or spares given away by a band to drum up sales. This one was different: specially commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of ‘Achtung Baby’. Amidst the straight readings there were some suprises like Snow Patrol reinterpreting ‘Mysterious Ways’ in an un Snow Patrol way. I could not stop listening to Jack White doing ‘Love is blindness’; maybe this track is only effectively played by people undergoing marriage break up.

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins ‘Diamond Mine’. If you forced me to chose a ‘best’ it would be this one. Small, yet perfectly formed. I also saw them with a very good friend in a very small venue. The best two chord song in the world: ‘John Taylor’s month away’.

James Blake ‘James Blake’. This year I met http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/ and spent some time in his house. He recommended this and I bought it. I listened to it the first time and thought ‘What on earth have I bought?!’. Then I kept listening and I grew to love it. My children like ‘Limit to your love’ as the car shakes when the dub beat comes in.

Foy Vance ‘Hope’. I had been tracking this for a few years until finally it dropped into my price range. Sprawling and maybe a track or two too long, I really like the honesty of the voice and the playing. I listen to this and feel like giving up guitar playing- he is immense. Memories of summer evenings driving back from teaching ‘and gently whispered hope’. Someone I spent some time with a couple of months ago had met him…. I hate him (in the Lord of course).

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci: ‘Barafundle’. Yes, I know this is ages old, but I just got hold of it (and ‘The Blue Trees’ and ‘Spanish Dance Troup’). Even though I only lived in Wales for 5 years, I still feel a sense of ‘hiraeth’ and I have recently been buying welsh music. This is incredible: defies genre- quirky, unique and brilliant (and occasionally ‘misses’). I wanted to put the song ‘Sometimes the Father is the son’ in this posting but could not find it; that one stops me in my tracks. You will have to make do with the weirdness of ‘Patio Song’.

I could have easily taken that to 20 albums and added ‘Mwng’ by the Super Furry Animals or ‘Hardcore will never die but you will’ by Mogwai amongst many many others. I cannot ever conceive of a situation where someone has too much music.

Just looking at my list and my description; most of this music seems to involve stories, people and events. Playing it brings those events back. I have a well thumbed copy of Q at my side and I am scanning their top 50 of 2011- my wish list may get bigger…

 

More new music?

A confession: I have never considered books or music to be ‘luxury’ items. A house with piles of books and music in untidy piles is heaven for me.

‘But haven’t you bought any music that is rubbish? What would you do if that happened or you just didn’t like it?’ said my son.

‘Most good music takes time to listen to and get into. Anything immediate I would probably distrust’. I replied.

Ok then- 2 weeks ago http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/ recommended that I get hold of James Blake’s debut CD ‘You’ll like it’. How could I resist a recommendation from a ‘leading missional practitioner’…. it would be practically a denial of faith if I did….

I listened to it and I just didn’t get it. I wondered about my son’s question.

So I gave it another go, and another….and it began to grow on me- to the extent that I can’t stop listening to it.

If you like power chords (3 of them); verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, predictable solo, chorus, repeat to fade you won’t like it. If you like deep lyrics and a straightforward tune, you will hate it.

On the other hand, if you want to try something different….it sounds like nothing I have ever heard….well a bit like if Jamie Cullum (yes really) and Antony and the Johnsons bumped into Portishead on a roller coaster with a drum machine and a sampler and if Massive Attack picked up the pieces carelessly…

[youtube]oOT2-OTebx0[/youtube]

It is like Marmite- you will either love it or hate it….