Tag Archives: music

Alex in his wisdom and compilation shares 2010 music

Happy 2011! Now what was I listening to last year? Well, I’m going to blog about this not once but twice. This post is all of the stuff I loved that was actually new in 2010. My other post is for everything that was old, even if only by a year but more often than not by several decades.

I’ve made a Spotify playlist in my finite wisdom which you can hear by clicking on this. If you don’t have a Spotify account go and get one already, though I will link to YouTube and a couple other services below as necessary to give alternatives. I remember the bad old days when I’d say what I liked then some poor soul would ask for a copy and I’d have to work out how to share music in a quasi-legal fashion. Hurrah for progress!

[youtube] [Spotify]

Spoon – Written In Reverse

I’m going to start by cheating. This I actually heard first in late 2009 but I like it too much to skip it. Spoon’s latest album Transference has moved on their sound nicely whilst hanging around in the same groove that’s served them well. I’ll forever associate this song with a chaotic day which wound up with me having to give my boss’s presentation at couple hours notice. It was a day of downpours, stiff challenges and a pretty handy fast bike ride home in the midst of a downpour. Screaming Arggggggggggggggggghhhhhh whilst riding along just firmly lodged the song back in my head at the time.
AND IT WON’T LEAVE (not that I’m complaining)

Meursault – Crank Resolutions

[YouTube] [Spotify]

The second Meursault album did cause a bit of a ruction in bits of the web I read over the rather more ragged production. It has to be said that at low volumes it does make the songs a bit more unengaging, so this is never going to work in the background at work or in a shop. But when you need to hide in headphones or relax with your hifi then you just disappear into the sound field and it’s glorious.

Sleigh Bells – Run The Heart

[YouTube] [Spotify]

Sleigh Bells OR RATHER SLEIGH BELLS SEEM TO SPECIALISE IN THE LOUD AND OVERDRIVEN SOUND SOMEWHAT. Of all the tracks this has stuck with me best as the multitracked Ahhs seem to fit nicely over the buzzy guitar. I fear this just appeals to my not so inner going with the flow indie hipster but the album is just fun.

Lady Gaga – Telephone

[YouTube] [Spotify]

For me Lady Gaga used to be what I listenned to in the office along with Scooter to ensure that I left when I was working late on something tricky. Telephone changed that because I realised I actually quite liked the overblown glory of it. You can watch the official video but I have to admit that it was watching the Chatroulette version that finally made me realise the genius. Don’t watch that if you’re squeamish.

Fan Death – The Constellations

[YouTube] [Spotify]

Alex likes chronically hipster girl duo with electronic and string backing. SHOCK. Fan Death may have turned up about a year too late and got overlooked but I actually found myself listenning to their album a fair chunk against my expectation. Veronica’s Veil and Reunited remain very very good songs as well.

Crystal Castles – Not In Love (Robert Smith Mix)

[YouTube] [Spotify]

Crystal Castles and Robert Smith is a pretty killer combination. Though in a way it’s a shame this isn’t a duet. Easily the best thing Crystal Castles have ever done. And maybe Robert Smith as well… much as I love Friday I’m In Love.

Edwyn Collins – Humble

[YouTube] [Spotify]

Many things were bad about the world in 2010 but Edwyn Collins being able to record such a great album as Losing Sleep was one of the great things.

Brian LeBarton – Threshold (8 bit)

[YouTube] [Spotify]

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World was in many ways the film I was waiting for but in other ways not. This chiptune version of Threshold showcased all that was right in musical form about the thing. Simplistic, fun, referencing so much I’ve always loved and yet being new and shiny in it’s own way.

The Moulettes – Bloodshed In The Woodshed

[YouTube] [Spotify]

Now strictly, this isn’t a new song as I’ve ranted and raved about Modernaire on here before and they had it as a sultry electro number that remains one of my favourites. Now that Ruth and Hannah are focussing on The Moulettes they’ve reworked it and it’s now more of an epic folk song, where it works better with the lyrics and melodrama taking the focus. Fans of The Decemberists should give the album a spin. Well, anyone should really. The only loss is the miming of every murder method including “hit you with a big rock” which was always fun live. But I guess Hannah’s hands are rather full what with the Cello and all now. Going a Gathering also well worth a watch on that youtube link.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – In Motion

[YouTube] [Spotify]

Another film soundtrack moment, this time for The Social Network which was easily my favourite film of 2010 for all that I also saw Jeff Jarvis give a good 10 second rant saying it was NOTHING like Zuckerburg in real life. The film gave me many flashbacks to my university days and that sense that if there were more time and money then someone’s crazy idea might take off in the labs one day. Also it gave me a flashback to being told I should listen to Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails. Well, at least one of those is dealt with now. Everything about this is right.

Kelpe – Margins

[YouTube] [Spotify]

I spent a lot of 2010 listening to very retro sounding music that wasn’t quite of 2010. Kelpe meanwhile seemed to be in the same place with this wonderful summery yet retro track dominated by some heavy percussion and a strong bass line. The only thing wrong with this was that it turned up in September and thus failed to soundtrack my summer.

Jam On Bread – The Pros And Cons Of Having A Beard

[last.fm] [Spotify]

“They like to call me jesus/Which I thinks a bit off/I’ve got a bit of facial hair/but I’m not the son of god”
It’s hard sometimes having a beard y’know. Daily oppression, weird looks and food getting stuck are just some of the upsides but as Jam On Bread correctly points out it’s the messianic comparisons that are most irritating. Sometimes. On the other hand I quite liked being The Ginger Messiah. You’ll either hate this or be a beard fetishist/owner.

Pagan Wanderer Lu – Even The Cacti

[We7] [Spotify]

“When you’re working spreadsheets for the man it’s hard to feel you’re part of a divine plan”
Good old Pagan Wanderer Lu (PWL) has been one of my key musical fascinations for a few years now, this didn’t make the latest album which I loved BUT for a myriad of reasons this album offcut is what grabbed me the most by the end of the year. Probably just the rising synth line and the note about failing to consume fruit (and yeah, consume rather than eat, that’s the point isn’t it). Maybe just me on this one.

Daft Punk – Derezzed

[YouTube] [Spotify]

The Tron2/Twon soundtrack didn’t yield a large number of gems BUT this is easily the best thing Daft Punk have released since Discovery. FACT. Would have like the full chiptune version though.

Now you can all bemoan my musical taste in the comments. I’ll redeem and/or further damn myself with the Not from 2010 songs of 2010 in a week or two.

Tracks of 2009 – pt. 2 – go with the floe

Following on from part 1 – busking it, more great songs from last year.

Annie – Anthonio

Watch this video on YouTube.

So much to love about this. For starters, it’s Annie and she’s still as ace, different and lovely as ever. Her breathless, almost ethereal stacatto vocals undercut by a questioning echo are an utter delight and work really well against Richard X’s production which appears to have nicked a bassline from Popcorn. And there’s a 90s boy-band style key change at the end, though that’s not the only surprise.

Hafdis Huld – Kongulo

Watch this video on YouTube.

A song about the human spider, Alain Robert – almost a shame they didn’t get him to star in the video really. A simple song about a complex man, fun, breezy and joyous from start to finish. Why did I overlook Hafdis for so long, and why have I failed to see her live in London? And do I just have a weakness to icy voiced nordic maidens? Possibly.

The Whitest Boy Alive – Island

Watch this video on YouTube.

Enough of the effortlessly cool then, time for the nerdy and awkward getting to rock out. I was pleasantly surprised by the first Whitest Boy Alive album, Erlend Oye was always my favourite of the pair in the Kings of Convenience and only part of that was because he was so obviously the nerdy awkward one on their album covers. There’s a hesitance to the underlying beat of this song that fascinates me, and the way the instruments come in and build up play around and then slowly depart has the atmosphere of a 12inch mix but seems just to be there to allow the band to expand on their theme.

Royksopp – Vision One

Watch this video on YouTube.

I mentioned this track earlier in the year because I was so fascinated with the sound of it, especially when I found it was based on Royksopp’s remix of a rather decent Japanese orignal by Eri Nobuchika. Hearing this song was the moment that Junior clicked for me and I finally felt that I could forgive Royksopp for The Understanding which is, listenning to it now a good album ruined by a single song (49%). I guess the genius of this – and it rests back in the Japanese original too – is the combination of an aggresively modern sound with a lament for what we’ve lost.

Fever Ray – Triangle Walks

Watch this video on YouTube.

I’ve always been of the camp that preferred The Knife’s version of Heartbeats to Jose Gonzales’ cover (remember him?) but had never quite had an album by The Knife gel enough with me to make it a choice favourite. Karin from The Knife in her Fever Ray guise is somehow much easier on the ears without compromising on the sound. The kind of haunted lullaby I suspect you need when you’re close to the midnight sun.

Still to come: France!, ElectroygoodnSS and my innevitable devouring of American indie.

Tracks of 2009 – pt. 1 – Busking it

After much soul searching, some blog eating posting and a bit of prevarication here’s the first music of 2009 post. Yet again I’m going to go for a different format to before and so I’m just going to use youtube this time.

This first collection of tunes are all bands from these isles and like a lot of bands I like their names begin with M (see also Madness, Misty’s Big Adventure and Moondog) – somehow I’ve wound up with a loose theme which is that all of these videos show them busking or performing in a bandstand.

Micachu – Curly Teeth

Watch this video on YouTube.

Micachu’s debut got held up the other day as one of the albums that the mainstream missed last year. I’m a bit perplexed by that, Micachu are easily the best known of the acts I’ll mention here and only because they’re on a major label. I think anyone who believes that producing a decent album or song alone will get you noticed is ascribing magic powers to the works of critics and the internet. Both the great unwashed and washed alike will like what they like when they like and anyone who despairs at them for it misses the point. Maybe the BBC are just grumpy their own hype had no effect. <RANT OVER>
On the actual music, well it’s oddball instrumentation with wailing vocals and production from Herbert. Impressively it’s not all about the studio wizardry as this live performance shows that the songs are fed as much by musical efforts as those in production.

Meursault – William Henry Miller Pt.1

Watch this video on YouTube.

God I love Meursault. I saw them live twice in London, but must catch them back home in Edinburgh some time. Most of my experiences of their live shows have been akin to this performance, stripped back and haunting. This song is determinedly earnest but an absolute joy as they segue from handclaps to wailing vocals.

Continue reading