Being the new year and all, perhaps it might be nice to take an appreciative glance at the wonderful music that touched our ears and hearts in 2010, and indeed continues to do so as we begin the thrilling joy that is January 2011. Now, remain/become positive chaps and chappettes, a new dawn, means a shiny new chapter. You can file 2010 away under ‘misc’ and make all sorts of resolutions on new notepaper. As arty people and appreciators of creativity, this MUST appeal to you. I personally believe that creativity can be kickstarted with music. So, if you are feeling sluggish and are already considering a nap, perhaps first quickly read my list of music that has the potential to kick the ass of thou. If you are already napping, and can not bring yourself to open your eyes, please use a person to click on an immersed youtube video and feel a small whack from one of these beauties. Then you can wallow as much as you want.
Beach House: Teen Dream, Bella Union
French born, Victoria Legrand produces the sounds of vocals and organ. A striding, confident femme fatale. With her long, dark curly hair she is all about the swipes, swooshes, ducks and flicks. Alex Scally in contrast plays his guitar delicately and beautifully. Interestingly, he was not a guitarist before Beach House and taught himself, which is why he says, he can play exactly how he wants with no preconceived notions about the role of guitar. Together they work as a flamboyant, thinking, sultry and exciting creation. Listening to them is like being stuck in the bubble of a dream pop flash lens… and loving it.
Angus and Julia Stone: Down The Way, Flock Music
So sweet and delicate. But with some serious edge. Definitely not wishy washy ‘blah’ folk. This Australian brother and sister duo are strong and create catchy songs with a distinct sound from the heart. They used to be solo artists, but decided to collaborate in 2006. One can imagine them sitting somewhere on one of Australia’s ridiculously massive and unfeasibly gold beaches, upright on a beige throw, writing their emotions out. Or on the road… with straw hats on. They tend to write separately apparently, then get together to create a structure and the harmonies. This sounds right, I personally can’t imagine writing about boys with my brother eating marmite (urgh) on toast next to me to be fair. Down The Way is glorious album and a whimsical mixture. Pay particular attention to; ‘I’m Not Yours’, ‘For You’ and ‘And The Boys’.
Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me, Drag City
Joanna Newsom; harpist, pianist, singer and model from Nevada City, USA. One of those girls at school that is both extremely talented and manages to sustain excellently long hair. Her voice is incredible, and watching her recently, she sounds softer than earlier in her career. ‘Peach, Plum, Pear, live – wow. She released a new album in 2010, ‘Have One On Me’. The gentler sound of her voice and the precise, stunning notes of her instruments leave you in awe with this album. ’81 is just fabulous. Graceful and composed, it’s like listening to a soundtrack from a party taking place in another world, where everything is unashamedly and naturally, magical.
The Acorn: No Ghost, Bella Union
A bit like Bon Iver and Elbow. More like the former, in that The Acorn are from Canada and write their music in Canadian cottages. They went to one in Northern Quebec for No Ghost.This is a highly romantic vision for me and works on many levels, not least because the music seems to reflect the surroundings they were born in. Spindly melodies and haunting humming, these songs are the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. ‘Almanac’ and ‘Misplaced’ are perfect.
Au Revoir Simone: Night Light, Moshi Moshi
All remixes of Au Revoir Simone’s songs- by the likes of Jens Lenkman and Neon Indian. The Brooklyn indie pop gals, Heather D’Angelo, Erika Forster and Annie Hart took their name from a minor character in the Tim Burton comedy; Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. This remix album is a like finding a hidden Snickers on a 20 mile walk, or the ice-cream at the end of the tunnel. I challenge you to feel grumpy when listening to the electro, pure girly voices running up and down in pitch. Come on, stand up and make a cup of tea. To use the title of their song; ‘Only You Can Make You Happy’. Drink some tea.
This Is The Kit: Wriggle Out The Restless, Dreamboat Records
I put this album on when we visited my boyfriend’s Dad’s new house in Jersey. It’s a big, 60s, art-deco style, Gatsby type house, right on the seafront (I know, it’s idyllic). Previously I had only ever listened to This Is The Kit on my Mac, and once, seen her live. Both intimate venues, I liked to keep Kate locked in my collection as ‘mine’. However, when she was played loud with no distortion, in an acoustically happy room, it’s truly something else (as they say). Her voice resonates and echoes, as if you are actually within an enchanted forest with the most ethereal story teller you can possibly imagine. Or perhaps inside a whale traveling in the ocean. Captivating and vulnerable, she will envelop you. Whenever I play Wriggle Out The Restless, people are immediately in love. I can not recommend this album enough. See my previous review here and listen to my favourite; Moon, below.
Hidden Orchestra: Night Walks, Tru Thoughts
These guys just sound very cool. Wholesomely cool. Listening to this album is being in the countryside and looking at everything in a totally refreshing light. I think they are best listened to in such settings, but this could be my romantic side playing up again (boyfriend away on business…) – I can imagine listening to them waiting for a bus in a city, or with a glass of whisky and someone good to chat to… in a city. I am sure they are really urban actually (being Tru Thoughts and all) but amazing instruments equate to nature for me. I’m rambling. I apologize. ‘Strange’ is angelic.
Johnny Flynn: Been Listening, Transgressive
We all know how Amelia’s Magazine loves old Johnny. He is multi-talented and makes you want to stare at his face for days. Flynn’s latest album; Been Listening is a culmination of his musings, travels, thoughts and feelings as he grows, figures life out a little more, and becomes more distinctive and beautiful. It’s got a bit more bite than A Larum, but continues with the theatrical edge. Occasionally it sounds like he is swaying about with a tankard singing in your local (endearing). Sometimes it’s like he’s sitting by a river, or in the city’s compact and grimy depths. It is less haystack joviality and more gutsy than younger Flynn. ‘Barnacled Warship’ is a stomper, whilst, ‘The Water’ with Laura Marling is a duet formed in heaven. See live review by Rob Harris here.
Sea Of Bees: Songs for The Ravens, Heavenly Recordings
Lovely voice with a dark undercurrent fluttering through her lyrics. Julie Ann Baenziger is a 25 year old from Sacramento California. Unable to embrace her clear talent, she spent years secretly teaching herself how to sing, until she moved out of home at 23. She plays marimba, glockenspiel and slide guitar. This is her debut album and it is full of raw emotion, wistfulness and beauty. See my full review here.
Best Coast: Crazy for you, Mexican Summer
Singing about the ocean, sun and fun with a wholly American rocky sound, this band are surf pop at its best. The band consists of Bethany Cosentino, Bobb Bruno and Ali Koehler. Crazy for you is about Bethany’s longing for Los Angeles while spending her days in NY attending Eugene Lang College. Best Coast formed during her first days back in California. Bethany has a ginger cat called Snacks who you can find on twitter and often tweets her whilst she is on tour. Almost too cute.
Mountain Man: Made The Harbor, Bella Union
Molly Erin Sarie, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath produce sounds as sweet as honey pie. The trio use minimal instruments, and instead rely on the power of their voices in unison to produce their earthy, ethereal atmosphere. The three met in Vermont and are from West, Middle West and Eastern United States, they share a love of nature, femininity and the moon. Together their harmonies are utterly all encompassing. So calm, very real and shiver inducing in their intimacy. Made The Harbor was recorded in an old ice cream parlor from the turn of the 20th century. The sounds of the building and the artist’s breathing, welcomed.
Amelia's Magazine, Angus and Julia Stone, Avril Kelly, Beach House, Bella Union, Best Coast, Bon Iver, Drag City Records, Dreamboat Records, Elbow, Flock Music, Helen Martin, Hidden Orchestra, Jens Lenkman, joanna newsom, Johnny Flynn, Karolina Burdon, Mexican Summer, Moshi Moshi, Mountain Man, neon indian, Rob Harris, The Acorn, This Is The Kit, Transgressive Records, tru thoughts
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