Regular readers know I like a music post from time to time. This one is my end of year look at this years best albums. For me, this year had plenty of good albums, but not one I think that stood out as something really special, or ground breaking. Mojo magazine went with Jack White’s album, as their number one which shows what I mean. Good, but a bit retro. I like this album, but I haven’t played it in a few months. So for my number one, I went with something different.
Album of the year
Fiona Apple – The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do
For the second year running, I’m selecting an album by a female artist (last year it was PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake”). This one a more unusual choice for me in the respect that I had never bought anything from Fiona Apple before, prior to this year. This means to me she was pretty much a new artist, albeit one with a back catalogue to explore. However with running this blog this year, I took more of an interest in poetry, short story, song lyrics and that whole area. Fiona’s album has a clever mix of intelligent lyrics. and phrasing, and the way she delivers or sings them, with subtle adjustments in her voice, mean there is lots to continually find. It made a good balance for me against the aforementioned interests. Musically it is also pretty subtle, a little low key, a lot of percussion, but it lends a touch of freedom which shows through in the album as a “whole” (speech marks intended). Try “Werewolf” or “Regret” as examples.
Runners up, were Bat for Lashes (another female artist), which I like a lot but as a fairly recent release, I’ve not lived with it long enough. Tame Impala with its neat way of live band dance music, and rolling drum beats, is also pretty cool, and a good soundtrack to various things going on in my life.
Further close calls include Bob Mould’s “Silver Age” (regular readers will know I’m a big fan and only recently saw him live for the first time). Bruce Springsteen also had a good, accessible record in “Wrecking Ball” which seemed to fit in with this election year (in the US). See also honorary mentions which I think are all good albums work checking out.
- Tame Impala – Lonerism
- Bat for Lashes – The haunted man
- Bob Mould – The Silver Age
- Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
- Japandroids – Celebration Rock
- Ty Segall – Twins
- Bob Dylan – Tempest
- Cat Power – Sun
- Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan
- Elbow – Dead in the Boot
- Mark Lanegan Band – Blues Funeral
- Michael Kiwanuku – Home Again
- Orbital – Wonky
- Sharon van Etten – Tramp
- Damien Jurado – Maraqopa
- Spiritualised – Sweet Heart Sweet Light
- Jack White – Blunderbuss
Re-issue of the Year
Blur “21” – Although I do love the Sugar remasters, with added B sides and live gigs, and these are two of my favourite all time albums, the Blur box set with all the B-sides, fan club singles, demos and more, takes the crown. It might simply be that there is more of it. Blur were, and are a big band for me, especially through the college and university years and this set has a remastered pretty much everything along with a book, and loads of unreleased tracks. The 21 refers to both years and discs.
Runner up Re-issue
Sugar – Copper Blue / Beaster
Music DVD of the year
Led Zeppelin, “Celebration day” – Like most everybody, I didn’t get to go to the gig itself, but this really is the next best thing. Beautifully recorded and shot. Plus what a performance. Sure they rehearsed, but given they had pretty much not performed together in front of an audience, since they split (ignoring disjointed performances at Live aid and Atlantic records 40th), it was clear they had something to prove. Or maybe to state, or maybe to remember them by as a closing statement. Will they perform together again? Who knows, maybe not, and if not, this is a much better closing statement than pretty much any other band will manage. If you like Led Zep, then I would definitely recommend this.
What is your album of the year? Or failing that, what is the best thing you heard this year?
Lexicon word of the day: absense (not absence).