Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Things We Said Today

Hey pop kids,

It's that time of the year again when we ask the members of rock behemoth Magic Alex to put forward their records of the year. For those who still care about the band, i know we promised that we'd do something this year, a gig or a record or something, but our overpowering, inherent laziness quelled these good intentions once more. Maybe in 2012...

Anyway here's the gang with what got them cooking in the rock and roll kitchen this year...

Simon as per usual struggled to come up with many picks, some might say this is a result of his new found love of online bingo, either way, here are the records he did choose.

"Strange Mercy.  St. Vincent.
With the exception of 1 song, St Vincent's newest album is a veritable cornucopia of sound. The first track is the runt of the litter but the rest is fresh, unique and innovative. She plays the guitar well and she is well fit. If she enjoys playing video games too she is the perfect woman. (*Note from Editor, Magic Alex the group all agree that Aniie aka St. Vincent is 'well fit' and if anybody could coax us out of our collective coma. She could with just a waive of her hand)

The English Riviera. Metronomy.
Quite good, a bit twee. Catchy, summery fare.

Working Towards The Fuhrer. Frazer King.
Not going to review it as my nephew is in them and people may think I'm biased. They are shit hot!

Greg ignored my requests for his picks for aaages and then suddenly an emailed appeared with this weighty reflection..

"Sorry for the tardy response and yes I am dead.
I will however endeavour to construct a response from beyond the grave.....

I should preface this by pointing out that nowadays I tend to experience music as a child suffering from ADD would experience a fairground or a crack head would experience 'crack rocks'. It's a smorgasbord of highly charged musical epiphanies, sandwiched by long swathes of utter confusion.

I also increasingly score music from an array of audio pimps who recommend often individual tunes...in-fact several of my list originate from some of my oldest dealers namely Dean and JohnS... Sadly [I think]? I also seem to be listening to less albums and more slowly evolving compilations that hero a tune for a while before dumping it in favour of the next shiny new [or old] megahit.

Here's what I've had on my 8 track in 2011.

1 - Santa Fe - Beirut
Understated, simple [like Simon] and infinitely uplifting, featuring a sublime Stranglers esque arpeggiated organ melody at the end which arrives so late in the song and then disappears just as I want it to go on forever. I actually like this Beirut album too [called The Rip Tide] in particular a slow piano based tune called Goshen.

2 - Everything goes my way - Metronomy
Mentioned by Simon and suggested originally to me by Dean, but I fully agree, a really refreshing album and this is my favourite tune. Measured, sparse 80's style synth production all with a curious left field lilt all adding up to something

3 - Oh Pity - Cashier No 9
Again a push from JohnS.... not heard a peep for a while and then he drops this one on my cochlea. Also a really good album, full of Roses, BRMC, Charlatans like swagger. Produced by David Holmes which certainly gives it all a finely polished veneer.

4 - Keys - White Denim
A push from DeanT but a good hit....kept me up for weeks. Like George Martin steering Led Zep into a rodeo.

5 - Down with the Trumpets - Rizzle Kicks
Some local pride in Brighton achievers as not much musical Magic seems to translate from the gay riviera but this has a rawness and energy to it that I hear the kids love?

6 - Sometime Around Midnight  - Airborne Toxic Event
This tune is actually a few years old I think, but I only discovered it this year and it reminds me of being dumped age 18 and I for one love to wallow in memories of teenage angst.

7 - Pause - Emily Barker
First heard it as the theme tune on a tv, but really like it's bleak but soulful ways...it has that haunting, timeless quality that John Mac manages to capture so beautifully on a hotel luggage stand.

8 - The Glorious land - PJ Harvey
My favourite one of hers since Stories from the city. Lots of accolades for this so doesn't need another from me.

9 - Codex - Radiohead
Never heard any of their stuff before??? So really pleased to have found this gem and can only hope that more people discover their 'oeuvre'. I reckon this band could be MAFFIS.

10- Sprawl 2 [mountains] - Arcade Fire
Super synths...again doing arpeggios, maybe that's what I'm into now? I did also like the whole album.

11 - Allo Darlin - My Heart is a drummer
A girl singing a good tune in a modern indie Vampire weekend type of way...not sure if it came out in 2010 but I don't own a calendar so wouldn't know.

12 - That Day - Villagers
I've no idea who the hell these people claim to be, but I like this song.

13 - Jon Sartain - Gun vs Knife
This is definitely not from this year but I only just discovered it and it reminds me of every day of my school life as I fought my way to 4 GCSE's.

14 - Take the right one - Bombay Bicycle Club
Sounds like the eighties indie. A lovely chorus melody again reminding me of lots I used to love.

Ended up with more than 10 but some are not from this year so you may want to cut cut CUT?"

John Mac

John bless him sent me this - here it is in its completely unedited form:

"Horse sorry very busy can you do your reviews of my shit.. And I can't remember album names sorry horse, its really brilliant your doin dis.

In no order particular
The feelies.new album,

Driver drive faster new album

Edwyn collins, losing sleep
Toots and the maytals new album
One direction 'take it like a man'

Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone on O2"

John subsequently sent me an email to correct the last entry

"Obviously not one fuckin direction but Sam Amidon, I see the sign, really beautiful horse"

However, we all know this was a Freudian Slip don't we? Plus, just to clarify, i'm not going to review John's 'shit', as somebody who lived with him for a lot of my 20's it would be too messy and downright stinky for a family blog.

John Simm
John managed to send me this missive from the arse end of nowhere by the modern wonder of the internet


I have to be absolutely honest and say that I'm listening to more Classical music than anything else these days, it's the gift that keeps on giving, it really is...
But I'll stick to the Rock 'n roll here coz there's PLENTY good shit.....

White Denim - 'D'.
I know its not a competition but if pushed i would have to say that this is my album of the year. (With apologies to Wilco.....) It's simply astounding, the musicianship is spectacularly good (that fkin drummer!!!???) and the Tunes, the different styles.... White album-esque. Played it all summer every single day.  I said to Dean at the time, (for it was of course he who pointed this baby out,) that it was (and is and is and is...) 'Beatles good'.
I can give no higher accolade.

Wilco - 'The Whole Love'.
In my opinion they're the worlds finest band and have been for quite a few years. This is one of their best ever albums and would easily have been my album of the year if not for the freak that is 'D'. (see above)
Sublime songwriting. What a band and what an album.

The Horrors -'Skying'.
If you'd said to me 6 months ago I'd be into The Horrors I would have haughtily laughed in your face and pointed out that I am in fact 41 years old. How wrong I was. This is a great album, you can't help who or what you fall in love with and I fell hard for this. It reminds me of being 16. It sounds like The Psychedelic Furs, Bunnymen, Damned with a hint of Simple Minds on Ketamine.... All in a good way. I became obsessed with it, played it on the way back from the School run every day, and when I listen to it it makes me happy. So there.

Kate Bush -'50 words for Snow'.
She's a Magical white witch who lives in a cottage made of Gingerbread in an enchanted forest and makes music that isn't really music, it's actually the sound of a fantastical dream. (She even makes Elton cunting John sound ok.) She's Katy Bushy, she's unique and she can do whatever she damn well likes. Including writing incredibly beautiful "song's" about shagging a Snowman and drooling over a Yeti.

Cashier no9 -'To the death of fun'.
A late discovery, heard the single 'Oh Pity' on the Radio and took a chance on the album which paid off handsomely. Think Simon and Garfunkel fronting 'Sally Cinnamon' era Stone Roses....what's not to like?! It's their debut album, they're young and Irish and produced by David Holmes.

Metromony- 'The English Riviera'.
A fresh burst of fresh synthy freshness. F.R.E.S.H. and C.L.E.A.N

TV on the Radio- 'Second song'.
The rest of the album I found a little harder to love than last years masterpiece, but I LOVE this song.

Radiohead- 'King of Limbs'
Can't argue with such quality.

Lykke Li- 'Wounded Rhymes'
Big beats, great tunes, sexy voice.

Lou Rawls- 'Live'
Released in the 60's but I listened to this a lot after Mr Maxton Beesley snr put me on to some great Jazz this summer. Buddy Rich I also loved, but this guy I'd never even heard of. He supported the Beatles in America, and he's got a fuck of a voice. One of the best Live albums I've ever heard.

Gruff Rhys- 'Hotel Shampoo'
This man, like Damon Albarn, is a genius and everything he does should be treated as such.

Bill Ryder-Jones- 'If....'
Beautiful, haunting, imaginary soundtrack from the ridiculously talented ex Coral guitarist.

Fleet Foxes- 'Helplessness blues'
Even better than the first one. Which is impossible but true.

Girls- 'Father, Son, Holy Ghost'
Indie heaven. Achingly cool.

My Morning Jacket- 'Circuital'
('Holding on to black metal' is one of the singles of the year.)

Bon Iver- 'Bon Iver'
Different from "For Emma..." but equally as effecting.

Anna Calvi- 'Anna Calvi'
Oh Anna....! Never has a sunburst telecaster sounded and looked so goddamn sexy.

PJ Harvey- 'Let England Shake'
Preposterously good. The album of her life. Believe the Hype.



 I've decided that this year i'm going to do my top albums, in order, for no other reason than to look back at it in years to come and laugh at myself. This is one of the few last pleasures i have remaining. To laugh at myself. So.... Drumroll....

At number 13)
Wild Beasts - Smother
Always happy to hear more from Leeds finest and if this album was a little more 'surface' than the previous too, it had lots of hidden depths too. the new millennium's answer to The Associates? Damn right.

12) Toro Y Moi - Underneath The Pine
Chillwave was my biggest disppointment of the year. In 2009 it was all new and exciting but all the follow up albums this year  were pretty dull and definitely disappointing (stand up Neon Indian, Washed Up & yes YOU Panda Bear). However despite being part of that inital wave Toro Y Moi managed to gently sidestep that potential 2nd album banana skin by A) making a pretty ordinary 1st album & B) being genuinely weird, funky and interesting on their sophomore effort..

11) Peaking Lights - 936
This years slow burner, which i've been grooving to for most of the last 6 months. Dub-shoegaze? i dont know, but i do know that if every song was good as the one below we'd be talking an album of the year.

10) John Maus - We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves
Some pretty far out shit from Mr Maus. I like this record precisely because it makes me feel queasy. A record that defies easy categorisation, and how many can you say that about in 2011?

9) Iceage - New Brigade
Straight outta Denmark and making the guitar sound vital and disconcerting, Iceage made my teenage self feel isolated, angry and claustrophobic again. Cool!

8) Cornershop - Cornershop and the Double-O Groove Of
If i was writing this in the baking summer months rather than to a Mancunian backdrop of drizzle and interminable cold, it may well have been higher. As it is, you'll just have to imagine how great it sounds when you're holding a Mango Daiquiri.

7) Twin Sister - In Heaven
Aaah lovely Twin Sister... This record's quiet understatement is it's greatest strength, no sharp edges, no come down and no sign of tiring of it yet.

6) St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
I went to see St. Vincent in Manc last month and, literally i think she's pretty much the greatest musician around. This album lacks a couple of truly killer songs (like Marrow from album 2) to elevate it into the classic status  but hasn't stopped me marvelling.

5) PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

Another record here suffering from over-familiarity. Peej has made her career best record and in a career like hers, hey, that's quite a statement!

4) Real Estate - Days
As i've opined previously, Days is like The Feelies covering the best of Felt and that is pretty much the greatest thing ever. MASSIVE Magic Alex copyists, we'll let them off for the track below which is astonishingly lovely

3) Metronomy - English Riviera
The Taylor family bought one CD this year and this was it. Stuck to the car stereo it's glacial-'tune-funk' made us wiggle to various destinations through the whole 12 months united. Even Betty's a big fan.
2) Unknown Mortal Orchestra - S/T
This album has been mysteriously absent from most end of the year lists which is mystifying, to me at least. Hey, i can hear Sly Stone, Pavement, The Beatles & Guided By Voices and that's just in the first song. Instinct tells me we may never hear another album by them as good as this one, but frankly, right now, who cares?

1) White Denim  -D
Number 1 baby number 1. The drumming, the snakey, melodic twists and turns, the way it turns pop to prog to folk, expertly, in the blink of an eye. The greatest closing song (see Greg's choices) i've heard in a decade. White Denim's expertly constructed third album, came, saw and knocked the competition clean out of the arena.

So there you have it... a veritable phantasmagorical feast of massive vibes, for you to drool over this xmas. Listen to my Spotify tracks of the year for an easily assimilated Hors d'oeuvre This is 2011 bitches! or for the greedy amongst you get this in your gullet 2011 Albums to listen to...

see yaz soon x


Marit said...

Wow, that's a LOT of music to absorb. I'm really looking forward to catching up on the many tracks I haven't heard. Thanks! I discovered Metronomy this year, thanks to Dean. They were definitely one of the highlights of Bestival. 'The Bay' is my favourite - it's possibly the grooviest tune I've ever come across.

I won't bore you with my list, but thought I'd share a very unexpected experience I had recently: admiration for a Britney Spears tune. Thanks to Dirty Loops...

Merry Christmas! :)

Rin said...

Most of what I'd list is included here! You all have terrible taste.

chrysta said...

Hey, I'm subscribed to a bunch of your Spotify playlists, but when I try opening the ones in this post the playlist title and list itself are blank/empty. Is that a Spotify glitch or is there a chance you forgot to check Published?

Unknown said...

Hey chrysta, seems to be working fine my end and says that you're subscribed? let me know if there's still a problem and i'll do further 'investigation'.

Rin said...

It worked fine for me yesterday!. Chrysta is too proud to tell you this but they actually don't have the internet in Michigan yet.

j/k Chrysta is deeply, deeply superior to me in every way.