Albums of the Year

posted on December 18th, 2007 by Anthony

So here it is then, the first end-of-the-year list. I’m going to start off with music, because it’s going to be quite a big list. I still can’t believe how much quality music has been unleashed this year!

Rather than trying to force everything into a numbered, ordered list I’m going to put albums into four categories:

So to it…

Disappointing Albums

Dead 60s – Time to Take Sides

I was so disappointed in this album. Their eponymous debut blasted out a great line of modern British ska, we even travelled to Manchester to swing our pants in their presence…

Then they released this plodding, middle-of-the-road indie rock bollocks.

Such a bloody shame.

Beastie Boys – The Mix Up

It’s not an awful album this. In fact, it’s very listenable in places.

But it’s the Beasties Boys doing an instrumental album for God’s sake! That’s like releasing a comic without pictures…

The Rakes – Ten New Messages

I didn’t really want to put this album here… but it’s missing so much of their debuts fun and vigour that I was forced to toss it onto this pile.

Again it’s not a horrendous album, just a bit anonymous.

Other Disappointments

OK Albums

Good Shoes – Think Before You Speak

Every time I hear this album I think the tunes are pretty good.

Then it finishes and I forget everything about it.

The Maccabees – Colour it In

Another album that’s pretty enjoyable to listen too.

It’s just not that memorable. Other than that one about the wave machine… and Toothpaste Kisses…

No, it’s staying here, it’s not quite good enough to be in the next layer.

Mr Hudson & the Library

I like this album, and there is a huge amount of potential on show. Their sound is different, but not quite cohesive enough.

I’m hoping for more in the future.

Art Brut – It’s a Bit Complicated

So here come some controversy.

Art Brut where in a damned if you, damned if you don’t area. Stick with the unique sound, or ditch it…

They stuck, and the album is very good… but it’s not as good as their first. The debut will always be held up ahead of this. So it’s only OK.

Even though it’s very good.

Shut up, it’s my list.

Feist – The Reminder

The high points are incredibly high. (1 2 3 4, Sea Lion Woman, My Moon My Man – I LOVE My Moon My Man…)

The rest is plodding. You might think I’m probably to juvenile to appreciate the subtleness.

I’m not, I’m too busy snoring. (Love her voice though.)

Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob

This is a tough one, it’s pretty much banged it’s head on the ceiling of the category.

But it was always going to be tough following Employment.

It’s just not quite there… but it’s a close as it probably could be to being Very Good.

I might have changed my mind by the next time I’ve thought about it.

Kings of Leon – Because of the Times

If this had been released by anyone else it would have probably got a lot more recognition.

It’s a pretty solid album in my opinion.

I think we just wanted a bit more.

Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

More controversy.

This an album I’ve just kind of accepted as being around. I probably haven’t listened to it as much as it deserves.

But Funeral was just one of the greatest album, well, ever. It’s hard to follow that sort of shit. To be fair they’ve done a grand job.

It’s just not Funeral.

Harsh I know, because it’s a good album – it’s just kind of passed me by.

The Cinematic Orchestra – Ma Fleur

At times this album is so beautiful it actually hurts.

At other times it kind of doggie paddles in a sea of noodles.

Some of the tracks are absolute classics… there’s just not quite enough of them.

It’s another album close to the Very Good floor though.

Maps – We Can Create

I need more time with this album, some of it is gorgeous fare.

Some of it needs more appreciation time.

It’s already at the top end of the level…

Simian Mobile Disco – Attack Decay Sustain Release

Smatterings of really good dirty electronic house.

A whole LP was probably pushing it, and the quality suffers.

It’s always difficult for this kind of dance act to pull off, and SMD are no different.

New Young Pony Club – Fantastic Playroom

A full LP was always going to be tough for this lot too. A Mercury nomination says they did OK.

And they did do OK – some of the tracks are top notch, but I’m hard pressed to remember the rest.

In another year, with less quality music about, things may have been different.

Radiohead – In Colours

This is where I probably piss away any credentials I have as a music rambler…

*whisper* I didn’t really get this album *whisper*

I feel I should apologise.

Sorry.

I’ve never really got into Radiohead, and this album hasn’t done anything for me either.

Perhaps I should listen to it more?

Please keep reading.

Other OK Albums

Very Good Albums

Pigeon Detectives – Wait For Me

I probably shouldn’t follow up my Radiohead admission with a declaration of love for this tripe. But bollocks to it, I like this tripe.

I wrote back in May that the album has…

…as much depth as the average jacuzzi… but you can have a lot of fun in a jacuzzi.

I stand by that statement. This album is fun, you can shout along to it, and it’s consistantly good at what it does throughout the album.

OK it’s nothing new, and has the nutritional value of a Big Mac.

Big Macs have their time and place. So do Pigeon Detectives.

Candie Payne – I Wish I Could Have Loved You More

One of Liverpool’s Payne family musical dynasty.

A much overlooked album with help from Mark Ronson in places.

Very close to being a ignored classic, but the albums overall sound is just a bit too clean for my liking.

Candie’s voice is lovely though.

Kaiser Chiefs – Your Truly, Angry Mob

Eh? Again?

OK I’ve caved.

They played Ruby on the radio on the way home… there’s too many good racks for it to be just OK…

Mark Ronson – Version

This album gets a lot of people’s backs up. I can understand why, Ronson tackles some pretty sacred songs.

But the beats! The Horns!

Oooh it’s lovely stuff. And tighter than a camels backside in a sandstorm.

White Stripes – Icky Thump

A really fun album from the Stripes.

They’ve got well past that difficult period of expectation and moved into untouchable.

(Maybe that’s what I’m missing with Radiohead…)

Rag and Bone is a great track.

Chemical Brothers – We are the Night

Another album I haven’t listened to as much as I should… but somehow I still know most of the tracks.

I said earlier that it’s difficult for most people to pull of a full dance album like this. The Chems have had it nailed for over a decade.

They put on a great live show too.

White Rabbits – Fort Nightly

One of the best break through albums for me this year.

Lovely piano, nice tunes – very consistent.

Go! Team – Proof of Youth

It’s nothing new, just more of the same…

but their same is bloody good.

Fun stuff and craziness abounds.

M.I.A. – Kala

Another difficult second pulled off with aplomb.

OK it’s not quite as fresh sounding second time around… but it’s still brilliant.

Paper Planes is the obvious stand out, but I have a lot of time for XR2.

The Wombats – A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation

Funny lyrics, dancey tunes.

Great tunes in fact.

Great album.

Probably should be in the classic category, but something’s stopping me. I don’t know what though.

Battles – Mirrored

I had this for ages and some how never got around to listening to it unitl last week.

Wow. I wasn’t expecting that.

Some of it sounds like James Brown’s band… if James Brown had been a white analyst programmer from Birmingham.

Some of it is a finely structured wall of intricate noise.

It’s mile-a-minute stuff that’s as mad and structured as it is beautiful and messy. (If you’ve heard it you’ll know what I mean)

If I’d had longer for it to sink in, it might have reached higher.

Other Very Good Albums

Classic Albums

Burial – Untrue

I was waxing lyrical about this only last week. I still can’t stop listening to it.

I still can’t work out exactly why it works as well as it does. I mean there’s nothing to it.

Filtered beats, a bit of bass, a smattering of vocals, a dashing of string.

It should be boring – it’s anything but.

I’ll say it again – Untrue is one of the best electronic albums I’ve heard in a long, long time.

The Bees – Octopus

My favourite album of the year.

If this was a list it would be number 1 without me having to think about it.

Nobody else seems to care about it. I haven’t seen anyone else mention it.

Everyone else is wrong.

Way back in February this is what I wrote about the album:

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to describe their sound for a while. I was even half considering drawing a diagram. I’m not going to, but it would have featured images of loads of influences in different quantities all passing through and massive analogue amp filter machine marked WARM.

It would have been a nice diagram.

The Bees are almost like walking sample machines. They soak sounds from the likes of classic rock, dub reggae, soul and funk and then squeeze them out over some really wholesome chunky drumming. Even with those Finest raw ingredients there is another layer of quality that is added somewhere. I can only really describe it as a warmth… a round warmth.

It’s a warm, round sound.

Octopus, as you’d expect from the name, has a bit of a nautical slant. It has sea shanties for the modern sailor – that (trust me) is a good thing. It’s a cracking album with every tune really standing up on it’s own well. Stand out tunes for me are ‘Love in the Harbour’, ‘The Ocularist’ and ‘Hot One’.

It’s a stick on for my end of year list. Already.

Damn right it was a stick on.

Seeing them live was a great experience. Every member of the band plays about 6 instruments. Don’t let the fact that David Gest is a fan put you off…

Seriously give them a whirl, this album deserves much more recognition!

Sixty Four!

That’s 64 albums up there. 64 – and that was leaving some out!

It was a good year for music.