Having been asked to submit my top 20 albums for Muso’s Guide‘s end of year album list. I took a quick browse through my iTunes library and discovered I hadn’t actually bought many more than that – and I didn’t feel that all of them were top 20 material. But rather than take the cop-out route and submit a hastily cobbled together top 10, I thought that I’d take the opportunity to listen to a whole bunch of albums that I didn’t get round to checking out, in the hope of making a slightly more informed decision. To help me in this endeavour, I’m using this handy Spotify playlist, courtesy of Drowned In Sound. Here we go then – bear in mind these are pretty much all first impressions:
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
This actually connected with me a lot more on record than it did live. Does that make me wrong? I dunno. Anyway, thouroghly pleasant tweegaze sort of thing that’s got the potential to slot into my list somewhere.
Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Ditto the above, although less so because I did rather enjoy Phoenix live. Perhaps a little bit samey though? Definitely warrents another listen though – if nothing else, it’s got a great instant pop vibe about it.
St. Vincent – Actor
I rather like this – she sounds a bit like Feist, but backed by instrumentation that sounds a bit like something Patrick Wolf might come up with.
Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
I still just can’t quite get past the lead singer’s voice, even if it is more restrained than on their earlier material – and it’s a shame, because there’s some really interesting stuffy going on instrumentally.
Paramore – Brand New Eyes
…ok, perhaps I’m being a bit unfair – ‘Misery Business’ was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. But I only ended up listening to the first song because the end of Two Dancers ran into it, and I got bored about halfway through, so… *skip*
Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
Unfortunately, I’m gonna have to file this one under ‘W’ for ‘would dearly like to love, but can’t quite get into’. The mid-section is quite sweet though.
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion
‘My Girls’ is brilliant, ‘Lion In A Coma’ and ‘Brother Sport’ are pretty ace too, but other than that… I dunno, it’s good, but it’s not grabbing me. Maybe needs another listen?
Girls – Album
This is an odd one. Whenever I start to feel like I should file this under ‘W’ for ‘What’s all the fuss about?’, the next track does its damned best to convince me otherwise. I think its the fuzzier, noisier bits that I like most – see ‘Big Bad Mean Motherfucker’, ‘Summertime’, and ‘Morning Light’ – but when it starts drivelling on about girls in an overly melancholy way it just makes me switch off.
HEALTH – Get Color
When I saw HEALTH (all caps obligatory, apparently) live last year, I found them utterly bewildering – I wasn’t sure if I *liked* them per say, but I couldn’t help but be impressed. Get Color sees them temper their blistering noise with just enough melody to make it, for me at least, easier to connect with than their debut.
PJ Harvey & John Parish – A Woman A Man Walked By
Also filing this under ‘W’ – but this time for ‘Why the hell haven’t I listened to this before now?’ Brilliant stuff, but I shouldn’t have expected any less from Polly Jean.
Metric – Fantasies
This is good. I can’t think of much else to say about it, but it’s good.
Atlas Sound – Logos
Interesting stuff, an odd mishmash of sounds that ends up working together fairly well. Not sure if it’ll be a particular favourite of mine this year, but it warrants another listen at the very least.
Emmy The Great – First Love
This makes me smile. Yay!
A Place To Bury Strangers – Exploding Head
Certainly blew me away. Seriously heavy stuff – a dirtier version of My Bloody Valentine.
The Maccabees – Wall Of Arms
I fell like I’ve somewhat unfairly overlooked this record – it’s at least as good as their debut on first listen.
Future Of The Left – Travels With Myself And Another
Angry riffs mix with cynical, twisted lyrics to make for a consistently engaging record.
The Raveonettes – In And Out Of Control
It’s more of the same as the last album – but that’s hardly a bad thing really.
The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
I was genuinely surprised by this album on first listen, and upon re-visiting it it’s still very impressive – the fantastic singles (‘Dominos’, ‘To Young To Love’, ‘Velvet’) are largely matched in quality by the rest of the album.
Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
It’s all very sweet and lovely, but nothing quite matches the sheer pop joy of ‘French Navy’.
The XX – XX
Uh… wow. I thought these guys were good when I saw them live, but this is honestly stunning. So understated, yet atmospheric.
There are even more albums I should probably listen to, but I’ve got to submit my list today, so I’d better call it a day there. Speaking of that list, here it is:
20. The Joy Formidable – A Balloon Called Moaning
19. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
18. The Temper Trap – Conditions
17. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
16. St. Vincent – Actor
15. PJ Harvey & John Parish – A Woman A Man Walked By
14. The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
13. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug
12. Dananananaykroyd – Hey Everyone!
11. HEALTH – Get Color
10. The XX – XX
9. Editors – In This Light And On This Evening
8. Johnny Foreigner – Grace And The Bigger Picture
7. Sky Larkin – The Golden Spike
6. George Pringle – Salon Des Refusés
5. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
4. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
3. The Horrors – Primary Colours
2. Grammatics – Grammatics
1. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
Commiserations to The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Future Of The Left, and A Place To Bury Strangers, who all missed out rather narrowly on a top 20 place. Bear in mind this list is preliminary, and I’ll probably change my mind about it about 5 minutes after posting this. Oh well, let me know what you think.