A belated Happy New Year to both my readers! I confess I’ve been putting this end of year malarkey off in the hope that I may find something late on to bolster my end of year LP list. But I never did so here goes nothing …
When I look back over the last 12 months what strikes me is that there’s hardly anything from the second half of the year. I kept expecting to find some gems late on, but for whatever reason it just never happened.
So rather than go for a conventional 1-10 listing I’ve got my three medallists followed by the best of the rest because on reflections there’s a group of records which I find almost impossible to separate out in any meaningful way. But three releases do stand out fairly clearly from the crowd.
It’s rare that I’ll find difficulty picking out 1 record from the pack in any year, no matter how strong a year it’s been, but this is the easiest task I think I’ve ever had.
‘Midnight Organ Fight’ represented such a huge leap forward from the debut in terms of the songwriting and recording it’s quite startling. Fusing any number of Scottish indie-influences, Frightened Rabbit managed to produce a record that transcended all these influences yet managed to make all the songs contained just a bit different from each other. It’s a brilliant record so if you don’t own it already, you should make doing so a priority.
Frightened Rabbit – Heads Roll Off
Only picking up on BSP at album three means that I don’t owe them any sort of long term allegiance. Yet ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’ is such an accomplished record it stands out above the rest of the pack. What’s surprising now is the fairly lukewarm reception that I gave it back in February. Now I’m not sure it would merit such an exalted placing in other years but it’s way better than that review and, in my 2008, there was very little that was better.
British Sea Power – Canvey Island (live on Later)
Bronze – Appendices – De Rosa
As an on-line only release, ‘Appendices’ doesn’t qualify for most end of year lists. Which is a hell of a shame given the staggering variety that Martin Henry and co have offered up for free over the course of the year. Hugely undersold by its original ‘peripheral recordings’ tag (perhaps to soothe Chemikal fears) the scope of ‘Appendices’ matches that of upcoming second LP proper ‘Prevention’ but is all the more remarkable by virtue of the fact that it was recorded as the year progressed. It’s not all brilliant but there are at least half a dozen songs that stand amongst the band’s best. And, as promised, it’s also now gone from the Net so you’ll have to wait until the physical release, hopefully later this year.
De Rosa – Robin Song
The Best of the Rest
I couldn’t really rate the following LPs in any sensible order, nor cut them down to just seven so here are the other records which excited me at least in part in alphabetical order (with links to the original reviews where appropriate);
Sleep Forever – The Big Sleep (review)
Mountain Battles – Breeders (review)
Microcastle – Deerhunter
The Evangelist – Robert Forster (review)
Stay Positive – The Hold Steady (review)
Sleight of Heart – Malcolm Middleton (review)
Accelerate -REM (review)
Dear Science – TV On The Radio
There are only 2 records listed above that I’ve not previously discussed. Not quite sure why I’ve never got round to talking about TV On The Radio since I’ve had the download for some time (legitimately, I hasten to add) but it is an excellent piece of work even if a lot of it’s somewhat out of my comfort zone.
Deerhunter meanwhile released two LPs simultaneously – I’ve only heard ‘Microcastle’ but it’s a good American indie record with some great songs and also one or two not so good tracks.
Saturation Point’s ‘A Black Sun Rising’ came very close to joining the above group but somehow, whilst worthy enough in its own right, it still felt like something of a stop-gap re-tread ahead of ‘Mechanisms’ which will hopefully be out in the coming months.
Of the spec purchases, I’m still fairly new to the Bon Iver LP, ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ but the majority of the record hasn’t grabbed me yet, whilst undoubtedly my worst spec purchase of the year was Black Mountain’s ‘In The Future’.
There are some notable absentees from the above list. It’s unusual for records by Bob Mould, dEUS and Mercury Rev not to be quoted but I confess I was somewhat underwhelmed by their efforts this year. Equally Robert Pollard’s solo LP ‘Off To Business’ was OK but failed to match the best Guided By Voices material.
Will 2009 be better? I think so – I’m reasonably confident that 12 months hence the new LPs from De Rosa, the Phantom Band and TV21 will match the 2008 medallists. So bring it on!