It seems that the real cool kids on the blog don’t do end of year lists. Well we like them and hope that those miserable sods slip in their paper shoes and find other people’s dirty hankies in their bobble hats.
Those artists who will be sobbing into their pillows tonight because they didn’t quite make it onto our list include blistering aural adventures by: Wooden Shjips, Cave, Dead Skeletons, Eat Lights Become Lights, The Field, Moon Duo, Blanck Mass, Hills, Benjamin Shaw (sorry, Jamie), Gruff Rhys, Dels, White Denim, King Creosote & John Hopkins (robbed!), and Mike Watt.
So let’s get down to it boppers. In now traditional reverse order:
10. The Indelicates: David Koresh Superstar
How do you follow two great albums of bile and wit and proper pop songs? You make a concept album about the Waco siege, that’s what. Thoughtful and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, the scope of this record – the research and understanding – made most of the year’s records seem pretty unambitious. jkneale treasures his lyric booklet.
Indelicates – ‘I Am Koresh’:
9. Parts & Labor: Constant Future
By the time this list is published Parts & Labor will have done their penultimate show before going on an ‘extended hiatus’. On the strength of Constant Future this ‘break’ should and must be stupidly short. Rock n’ roll needs forward thinking bands like Parts & Labor. We will miss them.
Parts & Labor – ‘Echo Chamber’:
8. Jonny: Jonny
Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub joins forces with Gorky’s Euros Childs for thirteen songs of slightly off-kilter pop and gorgeous harmonies. “Could be in Mexico, could be Japan, could be in Fishguard with another man”. Sunshine on a rainy day, and jkneale’s most-listened to this year.
Jonny – ‘Circling The Sun’:
7. GNOD: INGNODWETRUST
Two songs equalling two assaults on all that is holy and sacred. A lesson in sonic desecration and sense fucking. GNOD can and will save us all.
GNOD – ‘Vatican’:
6. Pete and the Pirates: One Thousand Pictures
A dark horse this one. It’s here because of two killer singles heard on the radio and loved immediately – you know, like it’s still 1986 or something. Wriggling with earworms; jkneale has played this to death.
Pete and the Pirates – ‘Half Moon Street’:
5. The Advisory Circle: As The Crow Flies
The pinnacle of all that is deemed hauntological. Electronica that makes you misty eyed for all the things you thought you’d forgotten and thought that bored you in the first place. Remarkable.
The Advisory Circle – ‘Modern Through Movement’:
The Advisory Circle – ‘Learning Owl Reappears’:
4. EMA: Past Life Martyred Saints
This is on a lot of lists this year but that’s only right. BBO is old and grumpy enough to know hype when it sees it, and you could be forgiven for fearing a bit of that with EMA, but this is such a strong record. One of the live performances of the year, too (for both of us).
EMA – ‘Endless Nameless’:
EMA – ‘Angelo’:
3. Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
Are you over post-rock (or ‘hipster jazz’ as Jamie Audio Antihero has it)? Don’t let any of that nonsense stop you from listening to one of Mogwai’s best albums for some time. One of us saw them twice this year and is still twitching.
Mogwai – ‘Music For A Forgotten Future’:
Mogwai – ‘Mexican Grand Prix’:
2. White Hills: H-P1
Guttural glitter soaked sleaze, experimental guitar spanking, wheeling circling solos and pummelling interference: White Hills took what can be nominally called space rock and made it as mesmerising, hypnotic and intergalactic as you’d always it hoped it could be.
White Hills – H-p1 (Live at SXSW 2011):
White Hills – ‘The Condition of Nothing’:
1. British Sea Power: Valhalla Dancehall
At #1, the band who are pretty much guaranteed a place in our end of year lists every time they issue an album (see the 2009 and 2008 lists). This came out so long ago that you might have forgotten what a blast it is and how much we need bands like British Sea Power right now. It’s them or the book burning rats.
British Sea Power – ‘Who’s In Control?’ live at Westminster Reference Library:
British Sea Power – ‘Mongk II’:
We hope you like our likes and thanks to anyone who has read our mutterings this year.
Jkneale and Angrybonbon
[All of these lovely records are available from shops - independent ones, big shiny ones, online ones, ones where there isn't really a shop but you have to email some bloke. We like buying records - actually, we really do. And we think you should too, so if you like any of this and haven't already bought them, go on! They'll be cheap by now]
A brief bulletin for International Women’s Day: you should listen to this. It’s a few years old but it’s still spot on – a bit like the original sentiment behind IWD.
‘Our Daughters Will Never Be Free‘ – The Indelicates - American Demo
The Indelicates have seen the silver lining in all this economic gloom, god bless ‘em: no more parasitic art, worthless charts. And they’re using this Recession Song to sell their smart new t-shirts (‘will impress opposite sex, subject to education’). Advertising must work after all, because I want one and here I am blogging about it for them. I feel guilty… but I’m still whistling it. How very Indelicates.
The song can be downloaded from their website. For nothing – every little helps eh?
And while we’re on this subject, it’s all your fault anyway:
‘You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve‘ – Johnny Boy – Johnny Boy [buy]
Because this is a labour of love and I don’t need to try to keep up, for commercial or personal reasons, I’m now going to tell you how much I liked a record that came out in the spring of this year. The Indelicates are sharp, witty, and sardonic, but never flippant, sentimental or arch. They seem genuinely in love with what they do, while aghast that anyone would care so much for such a rotten industry; more than any other band I’ve heard recently they sum up the frustrated passion that we have for pop. If you have ever thought how limiting the ‘guilty pleasures’ argument is, then this is a band for you.
This album covers many things: the collapse of feminism (‘Our Daughters Will Never Be Free’), posh British fascist Unity Mitford (who was up and about so soon after her suicide attempt because she’d made the mistake of shooting herself in the head, tish boom), ‘the good heroin that rock stars take’ (‘Heroin’), the vapidity of following youthful fashion long after you’re old enough to know better (‘Sixteen’) and much more. And the music is lively enough to make this more than a series of pamphlets you can listen to. Of course we have heard this sort of thing before: the Auteurs, for starts. The Manics. Pulp. Art Brut. Johnny Boy. Even the shout out to supporter Jim Bob makes sense. But it’s their songs about songs that really hit home. ‘If Jeff Buckley Had Lived’ describes an alternative world where he tastes success but the knives inevitably come out, a kind of companion piece to the earlier song ‘Waiting for Pete Docherty To Die’, which traced the corrosive effect of our fascination with celebrity and disaster.
The album starts and ends with this problem: ‘The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock ‘n’ Roll’ is a requiem for the genre (‘this cruel, deceptive, vicious thing’) which is a pretty bravura way to start an album. The way you end it is with the fantastic ‘We Hate The Kids’, which lambasts bands and biz – ‘boys who should know better grin and get high/With fat men who once met the MC5′ – but then points out that while ‘there’s always a crackhead charismatic liar’ around for us to follow, ultimately, of course, that charisma, suffering and fame is our fault: ‘its no good saying it’s not in your name/’cause it is in your name’. Which brings us back to Pete. And Amy. And the rest.
I’m not sure they have a solution, which is fair enough – this is, as I said, a record about wanting to kill the thing you love. It certainly makes you think, and is painfully honest, which is more than you can say for most music. Though I think they’re joking about Bill O’Reilly. Here’s a couple from the album and one more for luck:
‘The Last Significant Statement To Be Made In Rock ‘n’ Roll‘ – The Indelicates – American Demo
‘We Hate The Kids‘ – The Indelicates – American Demo
‘Waiting For Pete Doherty To Die‘ – The Indelicates