With Mum off on holiday I’ve abandoned Macclesfield for the foreseeable future and am wobbling my way out of Manchester Piccadilly. I miss the Virgin Pendolinos, at least they didn’t make me vaguely nauseuous. Since I’m stuck with a few hours to kill in a poorly-ventilated box and haven’t really written much for the site yet, I figure there are worse ways to start than giving you an idea of what to expect from this blog than to go through my ‘records of the year’.
I haven’t ranked the list, mostly because it’d be fairly arbitrary and I’m fond of the albums for a bunch of different reasons that don’t really fall along any sort of linear scale.
Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
If you get all your music news from blogs and RSS feeds it can be pretty easy to confuse indie-scene critical acclaim with actual popularity. I’d pretty much assumed that most people I know would have heard this, the thing has been all over every American blog for months, Pitchfork gave it 10.0 for fuck’s sake, and West himself is all over the news for all the reasons we’ve come to expect, so it came as kind of a shock to find out that hardly anyone I know has actually listened to MBDTF yet.
It’s a shame really because the record is stunning. I’d never been a fan of Kanye, I guess I’d bought into the whole media image of the guy as being a narcissistic asshat and got so pissed off by ‘Diamonds from Sierra Leone’ that I was convinced he was a talentless hack. Watch the VMA performance of ‘Runaway’ and it becomes very very clear that he’s actually an earnest guy who lives up to the incredible hype he’s created for himself. I could wax on about my favourite tracks for hours, Jay-Z’s verse on ‘Monster’ is the best thing he’s done in years, but I’ll just point you in the direction of the VMA performance and the rendition of ‘Power’ on SNL and let you see for yourself.
Meursault – All Creatures Will Make Merry
I feel a little bad that this is the only Scottish band on the list, I’m not very up on what’s happening on the local scene at the moment. Hopefully I’ll be able to remedy this in the coming year, there are a few albums I keep meaning to get but not getting round to; The Scottish Enlightenment, Inspector Tapehead, Yusuf Azak, Eagleowl, The Last Battle, etc. That’ll be a decent start at least.
In the meantime I’m more than happy to be living in a city where I can see Meursault play on a regular basis; they’ve nailed a sound that’s huge and intimate and they’re consumate performers.The album itself is sad and memorable in all the best ways and the production gives the whole thing a rain-drenched, wind-swept sort of atmosphere. I suspect their next album will top this by quite a distance but I have to admit I can’t think how.
N.B. The video above is a live one from the Song, by Toad site that includes an extra verse at the end of the song. It’s one of those ‘Oh, now this makes much more sense moments’…
Los Campesinos – Romance is Boring
Since recording this they’ve swapped in three new members to fill the spots left by the departure of Aleks and Ollie so I suppose you could look at this as the last release by the band as it was. Not a bad send-off though, it’s probably not a better record than ‘Hold On Now, Youngster!’ but not by much.
The musical palette is broader and the tone while not a bleak as ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ is still darker than the first album. Gareth’s writing and singing continue to improve and the band always know when to drop in one of those group shouts that make me grin like an idiot, so I’m more than happy to stick around and see what they do next. They’ve just launched a zine too, which you can take a look via the link below.
N.B. And this one is off the first album, I just really like it. Besides the videos they did for RIB are kinda pants.
To be continued…