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]
[Picture of Teeth of the Sea courtesy of @PeteCollinsMCR of ‘Having A Party Without Me’ infamy]
The Ritz is renowned for its sprung dance floor and sticky carpet. Stories of its acrid and overpowering stink are less common amongst the residents of Manchester. And my word it pongs. This irrefutable fact must have contributed to the late showing of any form of animation amongst a generally sleepy crowd gathered last night to see British Sea Power and Teeth of the Sea: trying to catch your breath whilst moving and bopping only results in the inhalation of the stench of a very ripe Camembert to the point of near suffocation.
Moving with haste beyond the olfactory, Teeth of the Sea lived up to my massively, and potentially disabling, expectations. Despite a relatively sparse crowd for their slot, through opener ‘A.C.R.O.N.Y.M’ and via ‘Swear Blind The Alsatian’s Melting’, their enormous sound translated as I hoped it would. No doubt their all-round impact would have been enhanced further with projections and some flashy lights (which a support acts, it seems, are rarely permitted), but the confederation of a flying-V guitar (played with e-bow, beer bottle and behind the head), moustache/side parted hair combinations, and zoned out/face strained drumming, made up for any deficiencies in illuminations and visuals. A wonderful slice of post-psychedelic trash indeed.
It has to be said, British Sea Power are just getting better and better with time. The niggling sense of mild disappointment I’ve experienced after seeing them in the past has been replaced by a feeling that they really knowing their sound and how to deliver it. My song of the year so far ‘Who’s In Control?’ opened proceedings and others from the brilliant Valhalla Dancehall sat nicely in a set balanced enjoyably between the old and the new – ‘Oh Larsen B’ and ‘Apologies to Insect Life’ were accompanied well by the all-out frenzies of ‘Stunde Null’ and ‘Thin Black Sail’, and a stonking encore opener of ‘Zeus’. Yet it was, as it has been many times before, the majesty of ‘The Great Skua’ followed by ‘Carrion’ morphing into ‘All In It’ to finish off the main set that had me thoroughly locked in. A somewhat reserved, but still grin-worthy bit of crowd surfing by Noble (minus flying helmet and without a backdrop of bear-wrestling) during ‘No Lucifer’, and the slight and soon forgotten discomfort of his boot on my forehead (again), finished the events for the night.
And finally, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the exemplary practice of the merchandise stall: more bands should insist on such neatness in display and wickerwork baskets of fudge.
Teeth of the Sea – ‘Swear Blind The Alsatian’s Melting’:
Teeth of the Sea – ‘Cities of Gold’:
A glitch-rock remix of British Sea Power’s ‘Carrion’ and ‘All in it’ by Pressbutton:
British Sea Power – ‘Zeus’:
Just added. TOTS at the Ritz:
Buy TOTS and BSP here.
This is one of those BBO double-headers, as I’m seeing British Sea Power tonight at the Roundhouse and there’s not much point in me reviewing it after the last excellent post. But I still wanted to rummage through my BSP souvenir box… So here’s a slightly different image (unfortunately a paper sticker not a cloth badge like you might get at Cubs) and some more post-rock Sea Power from 2003 and 2005.
‘Heavenly Waters‘ – British Sea Power – Carrion/Apologies to Insect Life CD1
‘Chicken Pig‘ – British Sea Power – Please Stand Up Enhanced CD
I’ve been thinking about those sections of gigs between the support act and the main attraction. Y’know, the bit where you get your position (always left-side of the stage for me), worry about whether you need to go to the loo (again), get another pint or if some 6.5ft brick shithouse will stand in front of you (my rule of thumb: always make sure you can see the lead singer’s microphone stand, although this depends on the genre of the show – insert laptop, big tangle of wires etc as appropriate).
So you get your position and wait, sometimes with excited anticipation (which realises that decision on needing the loo or not) and sometimes with an arrogant indifference (‘entertain me then, you fuckers’). Usually all you get to see is a few roadies testing guitars, taping down set lists and flashing their torches. With BSP the in-between section is a show in itself: yes, you get the usual tuning and checking, but you also get the arrangement of flora of different types and the placement of a variety of different bird models – last night’s show featured an owl and a heron. The various twigs, branches and birds were arranged by one roadie whom I hope has ‘Foliage and wildlife model co-ordinator’ on his laminate. He seemed to be having trouble with one rather large branch (possibly sycamore) that kept on toppling over. In addition to his laminate pass I hope he carries – like all BSP roadies should – a good quality Swiss army knife as he disappeared behind a stack of amps for a few minutes and then managed to get said twig to stand up correctly. Some good quality whittling must have ensued for this to happen.
All of this happened to a projected film about the reproductive habits of seahorses – natch.
Oh and then BSP came on. Opener ‘Atom’ did not quite have the impact it should due to a woolly sound, but by the time ‘Remember Me’ was pounding us things had got sorted. ‘Waving Flags’, ‘Oh Larsen B’, ‘Carrion’ and an outing for ‘Apologies to Insect Life’ were wonderfully executed, but the real stand out moment, once again (like the Academy gig earlier this year) was the instrumental ‘The Great Skua’: they’ve really hit on something majestic with this track and I sincerely hope they take the template further.
Sometimes it looks like the band members are going through the motions up there on the stage, but this reveals itself to be an illusion as the mayhem surrounding encore ‘The Spirit of St. Louis’ gets going – crowd surfing, balcony climbing, wrestling helmets and an eight foot bear which both grapples with band members and gets attacked by aforementioned heron model.
You know the sort of stuff.
(ok they didn’t play the latter, but I do love it so)
Orienteer yourself down here to buy.
Nice to see the Mercury Prize Panel of Illuminati Judges have been reading BBO considering the number of nominees that have appeared here. It’s true I tells ya!
BSP are in there (an album I returned to at the weekend and sounds stronger every time), as are/is Burial and Radiohead. Admittedly the latter are only favourited by one half of this here blog (i.e. me), plus I’ve not really taken to In Rainbows despite considerable aural effort.
I read elsewhere a blog which trotted out the standard critique of the Prize – y’know the kind of stuff, ‘nothing groundbreaking here’ ‘all buzz bands’, etc, blah, blah. Describing BSP as “indier-than-thou” and Burial as “bumbling dance muzak” got my heckles up, but then this blogger, like us, are just voices in a Web 2.0 world where visitors mostly head straight to the free mp3s without actually reading the entries. And to a degree I don’t blame them.
Still, Last Shadow Puppets have been nominated as well and whereas Mr. Scott Walker is probably too high on the influences agenda to make the album something original, I can’t help thinking they’re just fans and if I had the music industry muscle that Alex Turner no doubt has I’d do a homage to what I love. God knows what it would sound like mind.
Here’s the FREE STUFF. Here’s the FREE MP3s. The DOWNLOADS are BELOW:
Burial – Ghost Hardware
British Sea Power – Atom
The Last Shadow Puppets – Separate and Ever Deadly
Oh and Neon Neon are in there which is more JKneale’s territory, plus I’ve yet to buy it.
Find the display stand at Tesco’s or go here to buy (most of) them.