||[Jan. 19th, 2006|02:02 am]
we want the airwaves back
TOP 25 OF 2005
1. MATT SWEENEY AND BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY – SUPERWOLF (Domino/Drag City)
The first time I listened to this album was pretty incredible, and I’d give a body part to get that feeling again. By the time the first song - ‘My Home Is The Sea’ – had finished, I was already convinced. It’s hard to think of better lyrics with which to start an album than Oldham’s opening lyrics (“I have often said / I would like to be dead / ...in a shark’s mouth”). There are several moments throughout where I could quite easily have (and indeed have had) a few epiphanies too. The whole section in ‘Goat And Ram’ that contains “Although we walk away / We walk away in time” and “I’m in love / And there’s music playing” will sometimes bring goose bumps to my neck and sometimes a smile to my chubby face.
You know what? Rather than quote more and more lyrics at you (which I could quite happily do), I’ll let you in on a secret: when that guitar “solo” kicks in on ‘My Home Is The Sea’... well, that’s the moment I know everything is going to be allright. It’s going to be allright. It’s really going to be allright. Nothing can be that bad when we have that sort of sound in the world. Seriously, I’m not pulling any fag shit with you. I hear it and I smile, and I smile because I can’t help it, and I can’t help because that fucking guitar riff is TRANSCENDENT. Okay, I’m gushing... But you might want to take note that none of the other chodes on this website wrote this much about their album of the year, therefore Superwolf MUST be the best, right?
I certainly put part of the blame for my emotional connection to this album firmly on the magnificent Superwolf live show at the Green Man Festival this year, which was the best performance I’ve seen in my life. I know your Journalistic Hyperbole meter is going haywire at the moment, but for one of the first times in my life I am being sincere. I mean, shit, I drove all the way to Hay-On-Wye in a car that was ready to break down any minute just to see one act at a festival full of great music I would have happily ignored just for another chance to see Superwolf. No funny stuff, as the nihilists say. A review is pending, but we have to clear up some nasty issues with our lawyers first...
To sum it up: that fat old crooner Oldham sure hit the jackpot with this one, I’ll tell you that, and although that Sweeney character might need a shave, he plays the guitar like a fucking CHAMP. I can’t do much more to convince you to buy this record: it’s not got a weak song, it’s got stupidly awesome artwork, now SHUT THE FUCK UP AND BUY THIS RECORD.
2. THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA & TRA-LA-LA BAND – HORSES IN THE SKY (Constellation)
I think it’s the vocals that do it for me. Efrim, baby, take me home. I didn’t like this album that much when I first heard it – in fact, it was my least favourite album they’ve released thus far – but I guess it must be a grower or something because it’s been in my record player almost as many times as Superwolf, and that’s saying something.
3. SCOUT NIBLETT – KIDNAPPED BY NEPTUNE (Too Pure)
“Fuck Treasure Island.”
4. SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE – SCHOOL OF THE FLOWER (Drag City)
Stupidly inventive, incredibly well-crafted and generally rather marvellous. Oh, and when Chris Corsano plays… boy oh boy, does he play! As Iain put it in a different review: "Ah, Ben Chasny. The golden child, the poster boy, the stud-muffin of NWA (yes, that one)".
5. ANIMAL COLLECTIVE – FEELS (Fat Cat)
I don’t know what to write about this album. Animal Collective scare the shit out of me. It should probably be higher in my list, but I’m set in my ways now.
6. SMOG – A RIVER AIN’T TOO MUCH TO LOVE (Domino/Drag City)
If every song on this album were as good as ‘Let Me See The Colts’, this would be my favourite album ever but they aren’t so it’s number six in my list for 2005. Take that Callahan. We’ll see who looks sexy at your funeral now!
7. DEAD MEADOW – FEATHERS (Matador)
Dead Meadow know what time it is: it’s fuzz time. Come to think of it, it’s all about the fuzz. I got rather boshed to the sounds of this album many times last year, and I’ll probably do the same this year.
8. SUFJAN STEVENS – ILLINOIS (Rough Trade/Asthmatic Kitty)
I am a Sufjan Stevens fan, but, as much as I listened to this album, I couldn’t love it. Then one night in December I couldn’t sleep. I got up early to find that it had been snowing. I made myself a cup of tea and, after I had finished it, I put on my brown coat and my Wellington boots. Then I set off to the pub through 2.1 miles of snow with ‘Come On Feel The Illinoise’ in my portable tape player because my CD player broke. I had made a copy on tape the previous day so I could listen to it in the trusty Ford Fiesta (only a tape deck in that bad boy).
Now, I live in the middle of a bunch of fields, hence the 2.1 mile walk to the pub. It’s not exactly a very populated area. As I walked along, shattered from a night with no sleep – and slightly hungover to boot – I noticed that there was an absolute stillness around me. Not only in terms of sound, but in what I could see. The only marks on the snow came from where birds had used as a landing pad before taking off again. I listened to Sufjan Stevens and it made a lot more sense. Similarly to Michigan, it’s not really a summer album, is it? I just hadn’t found the right surroundings when I listened before.
I got to the pub and had a whiskey (or three) with an old timer then ate some food and wandered back through the snow, almost going snowblind at one point, and listening to Sufjan all the way.
9. BY COASTAL CAFÉ – OLD CARTOONS (The Toy Sound of Earsugar)
I bought this by accident. It had a recommendation from Will Oldham on the front and lovely artwork. That’s good enough for me. It’s a ‘best of’, but other people put the At The Drive-In 'best of' in their list, so I’m taking the liberty of this. Short pop songs done incredibly well.
10. WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE – ASHES TO DUST (Southern)
My favourite banjo buddy. The album doesn’t necessarily match up to the charisma you get with one of his live performance, but certainly a solid album. A good egg through and through.
11. JAMIE LIDELL – MULTIPLY (Warp)
12. CHARLOTTEFIELD – HOW LONG ARE YOU STAYING (Jonson Family)
13. PREFUSE 73 – SURROUNDED BY SILENCE (Warp)
14. JACK ROSE – KENSINGTON BLUES (Beautiful Happiness [UK]/VHF [USA])
15. BORIS – BORIS AT LAST – FEEDBACKER (Conspiracy)
16. PAJO – PAJO (Domino/Drag City)
17. DEERHOOF – THE RUNNERS FOUR (ATP)
18. PART CHIMP – I AM COME (Rock Action)
19. SOEZA – WHY DO YOU DO? (Gringo)
20. LIGHTNING BOLT – HYPERMAGIC MOUNTAIN (Load)
21. THE RETRO SPANKEES – I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I? (Kookydiscs)
22. ISOLÉE – WE ARE MONSTER (Playhouse)
23. RICHARD YOUNGS – THE NAÏVE SHAMAN (Jagjaguwar)
24. PIT ER PAT – SHAKEY (Thrill Jockey)
25. KID606 – RESILIENCE (Tigerbeat 6)
FAVOURITE EPs (in alphabetical order)
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE FEAT. VASHTI BUNYAN – Prospect Hummer EP (Fat Cat)
BANHART, DEVENDRA / XIU XIU – Support Our Troops / The Body Breaks
DEERHOOF – Green Cosmos (ATP)
FIERY FURNACES, THE – EP (Rough Trade)
QUACK QUACK – Quack Quack (Run of the Mill)
SPIN SPIN THE DOGS – Cats! (Fancy Paradise)
V/A - By The Fruits You Shall Know The Roots (Eclipse / Time Lag)
V/A – Start Your Own Country (Loose Music)
STOOGES REISSUES. OH BABY. I also got a Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band Two CD Set called ‘Live ‘n’ Rare’, but I have no idea when it was released so I, obviously, couldn’t include it in my list and I’m pretty lazy when it comes to tracking these things down. It had some nice little postcard-photograph things in too, and it was on Ozit-Morpheus Records. It was from a cluttered independent record shop and it could be ten years old for all I know, but it looks sort of new. I went to see Thanksgiving a couple of times on his U.K. tour in December and at the last London date there was a guy supporting who, I think, was just billed as “Nathan”. Anyway, he played incredible slide guitar on his classical guitar and I got drunk and bought a CD from him, which would definitely be in my list if I knew what to list it as. But I don’t. All the covers were hand-made and different but didn’t have a name on, so I don’t know.
...For the Noisestar Sessions on Noisestar records. Three 12" Records, Six Bands with a side each: The Wow, Querelle, Ships-A-Going Down, Charlottefield, The Edmund Fitzgerald, and Bilge Pump. Pretty much a definitive guide to a selection of the best "underground" (I use the term very loosely) bands to come to notice in England during the last year or so (or a lot more in the case of Bilge Pump particularly). http://www.noisestar.co.uk/ for more info on that one. Very special indeed, I promise.
I’ll tell you an album that wasn’t so hot: ‘Apologies to Queen Mary’ by Wolf Parade. Bag of overhyped knackers, that. ‘Takk’ by Sigur Ros was shite as well. The Cocorosie album, ‘Noah’s Ark’, was a big disappointment for me. I won’t be able to talk about that for a while. ‘Open Season’ by British Sea Power was mediocre for the most part. I’ve seen them live more than I have any other band and couldn’t even bring myself to put it in my top 25. The Black Mountain album was shady at best considering how much horseshit I read about it. Likewise for the Mercury Rev album. And I wish those Wainwright cunts would fuck off for a while, preferably an everlasting while.
I fucking hate choosing albums of the year. The number one is okay, but there's so many I missed out and, after agonising over the order for ages, I don't want to put them in and disrupt it. Therefore, further special mentions that I could quite easily make a whole new list out of:
Pelican, The Mars Volta, Silver Jews, Reigns, Broadcast, Low, Sebastian Tellier, Brakes, Numbers, Wives, Jaga Jazzist, Bullet Union, Afrirampo, LCD Soundsystem (well, the bonus disc of the album, anyway...), Sleater-Kinney, Devendra Banhart, and The Chap.
For some reason, I was incredibly apathetic this year and I chose to buy older records instead of some of the biggest releases, even when I was told about them repeatedly by EVERYBODY (see: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah). So, off the top of my head and from the other lists in front of me, this is all the obvious stuff I didn't hear but really should have and may very well have made my list:
Electrelane, Xiu Xiu, Mew, Broken Social Scene, Pelt, Fog, Fursaxa, Iron & Wine, Magik Markers (i think they released something), Stephen Malkmus, Mary Timony, The Unit Ama, Red Sparowes, Lou Barlow, M Ward, American Analog Set, ...Bender, Boards Of Canada, The Evens, Bell Orchestre, The National, Architecture In Helsinki, The Books and Need New Body.
Jesus God, I'm going to bed.