Monday, August 04, 2014

SWSL Albums Of 2013

It's that time of year again. Or, rather, it was about eight months ago. As ever round these parts, you'll have to excuse my tardiness. Blame a desire to give each and every album reviewed below a reasonable amount of time to impress. Some didn't, but many did in what for my money proved to be an absolute vintage year for music - one of the best I can remember.

So, off we go... 

Exceedingly Underwhelming:

ARCADE FIRE - Reflektor
Reflektor was the most curious of albums: one that critiqued the superficiality and smoke-and-mirrors nature of contemporary culture while proving itself the embodiment of those same qualities. Gone (forever?) was the exhilarating, passionate, (dare I say it?) authentic howl of Funeral, and in its place came soft rock and cold, jaded, cynical sarcasm. It's tempting to blame this botched attempt at reinvention on producer James Murphy (certainly the ironic overtones bore his hallmark), but in truth this was the sound of a band who have, in Win Butler's own terms, gradually had their souls stolen by flashbulb eyes.
Taster: 'Awful Sound'

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE - ... Like Clockwork
Six years after the release of the underwhelming Era Vulgaris, during which time Josh Homme had come close to death following surgery, came the ironically titled ... Like Clockwork. While not the longest overdue and most eagerly anticipated album of the year, hopes were nevertheless high that Homme and an ensemble cast including everyone from regular co-conspirators Dave Grohl and Mark Lanegan to Elton John and Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears would deliver an album worth the wait. Sadly they couldn't, ... Like Clockwork turning out to be a pedestrian affair that suggested they'd forgotten how to rock. Even its best moments were pale imitations of former glories.
Taster: 'My God Is The Sun'

EELS - Wonderful, Glorious
Pretty much every year Mark Everett releases a new album under the Eels moniker, and pretty much every year I succumb to buying it out of a desperate hope that he might yet have another Daisies Of The Galaxy or Souljacker in him. Sadly, the evidence that suggests he doesn't is mounting up, with Wonderful, Glorious - which was neither of those two things - perched atop the pile.
Taster: 'Kinda Fuzzy'

A true car crash of an album that not even the involvement of TV On The Radio's David Sitek on production duties could really salvage. The band members may have been pulling in different directions for some time, but up to this point that tension hadn't been exposed on record. 'These Paths' was an ill-advised diversion into techno, 'Area 52' was cringeingly bad and the artwork was horrible - and it was left to the slower tracks (and 'Despair' in particular - incongruously, one of their best songs to date) to rescue it from being a complete dud.
Taster: 'Despair'

Decent Enough But Evoking A Measure Of Disappointment:

!!! - Thr!!!er
All !!! albums suffer from a pretty unsurmountable problem - and that's not just where exactly to file them in the record shop. No, it's the fact that, however good they might be on their own merits, they're forever fated to be compared to the !!! live experience - a comparison that will almost inevitably be unfavourable. Thr!!!er, despite its brilliant title, proved to be no exception to the rule.
Taster: 'Even When The Water's Cold'

LOW - The Invisible Way
It had to happen at some point, I guess: a Low album that I've been genuinely underwhelmed by. Unlike, say, The Great Destroyer or Drums And Guns, The Invisible Way was tried and tested in stylistic terms - but unlike its equally familiar-sounding predecessor C'mon, it just didn't really have the songs to stand up to anything in the back catalogue. They are mere mortals after all, then.
Taster: 'Just Make It Stop'

MUDHONEY - Vanishing Point
Grunge may have blown up, died away and now stormed back into fashion, but here were one of its grizzled originals, right back where they started on Sub Pop as if nothing had ever happened (and, on the evidence of 'I Like It Small', quite happy about it). Vanishing Point was garnished with some trademark Mark Arm wit, but there was a part of me that wished he wasn't spending his time ranting about riders ("GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY BACKSTAGE! / I hate you chardonnay") and instead properly teaching the young pups a thing or two.
Taster: 'Slipping Away'

SEBADOH - Defend Yourself
As was the case with Lou Barlow's other outfit Dinosaur Jr, pressing play on Sebadoh's comeback album was like cracking open a time capsule or opening up a portal back to the early 90s. As ever, the tracklist's schizophrenic switching between Lou and Jason songs (essentially, sensitive v scuzzy) set up an interesting dynamic, but ultimately if they were going to break college radio indie rock out of its museum case, then you'd have hoped they might do something a little more memorable with it.
Taster: 'I Will'

NO AGE - An Object
Or (as the cover suggested) should that be An Object.? Or An Object!? Or An Object,? Or An Object?? Or "An Object"? No Age's fourth studio album was a meditation on the materiality and value of the work of art, and found the duo determined to make life as hard as possible for themselves, not only by deciding to create, print, package and manufacture 10,000 copies personally but also by dispensing with drums for some songs. However laudable their determination and punk spirit, though, the result was a bit of a mess (albeit one that made slightly more sense if, like me, you were listening to a lot of Wire at the time of its release). A stepping stone en route to something more completely and satisfactorily realised? Here's hoping.
Taster: 'Lock Box'

GHOST OUTFIT - I Want You To Destroy Me
With No Age apparently hell-bent on slinking off into the wings, the stage was set for a punk twopiece to step into their limelight. Manchester's Ghost Outfit made a valiant effort, scoring points for their choice of title (best of the year?) and doing a passable impression of the Californians' deliciously hazy, minimalist punk of yore, but just didn't quite have the songs to live up to their billing.
Taster: 'Words'

WAXAHATCHEE - Cerulean Blue
Widely and wildly lauded, and by friends whose opinions I value, but Cerulean Blue's charms largely escaped me - and Katie Crutchfield's listless, lifeless performance at Gathering in October hardly helped endear the album to my ears. Like Sebadoh's Defend Yourself, it harked back to a golden age of American indie rock, albeit of the sort emanating from bedrooms rather than garages, but did so without doing much other than paying an empty kind of tribute.
Taster: 'Coast To Coast'

LOCRIAN - Return To Annihilation
Black metal albums are like buses: you wait ages to buy one (your whole life, in fact) and then two come along at once. More of the second later, but Return To Annihilation was the soundtrack to your nightmares - occasionally brutal but more frequently atmospheric and sinister in its drone-heaviness. In small doses it was fine, but there's only so much I can take of being reminded what dread feels like.
Taster: 'Eternal Return'

At long, long, long last, the wait was finally over. A mere 22 years after releasing the seminal Loveless, My Bloody Valentine were back. When M B V dropped in February, with little prior warning, journalists and fans fell over themselves to acclaim its brilliance. But by the time the dust settled, all the hyperbole looked more than a little hasty, and it started to sound more like what it was: some old material reheated and garnished with new recordings.
Taster: 'In Another Way'

THEE OH SEES - Floating Coffin
2013 was the year I finally got round to dipping my toe into the water as far as prolific psych/garage types Thee Oh Sees were concerned - the obvious starting point being their latest offering. Floating Coffin did its job proficiently enough, but I couldn't help wondering what all the fuss was about. Still, at least you knew there'd be another album along in a minute...
Taster: 'Toe Cutter/Thumb Buster'

September Girls couldn't have been much better named - comprising five girls and sounding like September (the last vestiges of summer fading into the decay and gloom of autumn). While Warpaint were the obvious touchstones, the adopted Dubliners drew on 60s girl group harmonies, late 70s post-punk, C86 indiepop and a smattering of goth. Ultimately, though, Cursing The Sea was a bit of a blur, with nothing much standing out amid the echoes and gloom.
Taster: 'Heartbeats'

BOARDS OF CANADA - Tomorrow's Harvest
Sorry, Boards Of Canada, you remain an enigma - a joke that I just don't really get and that I desperately need someone to explain to me. Sure, I can appreciate the brooding, post-apocalyptic ambience of Tomorrow's Harvest, but if ever Mogwai finally make the fully electronic album they've occasionally hinted at, then I'd imagine it'd easily trump the best efforts of their fellow Scots.
Taster: 'Reach For The Dead'

MIDLAKE - Antiphon
When lynchpin Tim Smith walked out during recording sessions for their fourth album, the remaining members of Midlake decided to scrap everything and start from scratch, Eric Pulido replacing Smith as vocalist and offering a convincing impersonation of The Shins' James Mercer. The result was a record that set its sights on the niche formerly occupied by Grandaddy, but, while it had its charms, it never really took flight. Perhaps much-lauded second album The Trials Of Van Occupanther would have been a better place to start.
Taster: 'The Old And The Young'

TOMORROW'S WORLD - Tomorrow's World
Tomorrow's World found Jean-Benoit Dunckel of Air and Lou Hayter of New Young Pony Club teaming up to create music that drew on Suicide, the Shangri-Las and retro-futurism. Sadly, though, it was less than the sum of its parts, and all felt a bit phoned in - a shame, given the considerable promise the project held.
Taster: 'Metropolis'

A Bit Of Alright:

Four albums into their career and you might have imagined that Pissed Jeans would have mellowed with age. Even brief exposure to opener 'Bathroom Laughter' was enough to emphatically underline that you'd be wrong. The music was abrasive and confrontational, the lyrics biting and dripping with sarcasm and self-disgust. Honeys gave the lie to any suggestion that Sub Pop have gone soft.
Taster: 'Romanticize Me'

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident
Sharing Pissed Jeans' steadfast commitment to musical aggression and lyrical obsession with masculinity were Future Of The Left, sounding more like Andy Falkous and Jack Egglestone's previous band Mclusky with each passing album. How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident also boasted an array of typically marvellous song titles ('Johnny Borrell Afterlife' and 'Future Child Embarrassment Matrix', anyone?) and, on 'Singing Of The Bonesaws', a monologue about Kim Kardashian being "chased through woodland by a giant bear wearing a mask which carries the visage of recently deceased film director Michael Winner"...
Taster: 'Future Child Embarrassment Matrix' (NSFW)

THOUGHT FORMS - Ghost Mountain
If an album comes with a seal of approval from Portishead's Geoff Barrow (by virtue of being released on his Invada label), then you can guarantee two things: it'll be good, and it probably won't be the easiest or cheeriest listen in the world. Ghost Mountain saw the Bristolian trio try their hand at everything from scratchy My Bloody Valentinisms ('Only Hollow') to hypnotic, doomy drone ('Burn Me Clean'). A stronger sense of individual identity lacking, then - but not considerable promise.
Taster: 'Burn Me Clean'

YOUTH LAGOON - Wondrous Bughouse
If Youth Lagoon's The Year Of Hibernation was aptly named, a solipsistic daydream of an album, then its successor found Trevor Powers daring to venture beyond the confines of his bedroom and share neatly crafted psych-pop songs that appeared shot through with a newfound if still understated confidence. The geek may yet inherit the earth after all.
Taster: 'Dropla'

ARBOURETUM - Coming Out Of The Fog
For the most part, Arbouretum's fifth album was an accomplished work of fuzzy, pastoral, bluesy Americana to file alongside Neil Young, The Cave Singers or the mellower moments of the Dead Meadow canon - but then, right at the end, was the elegant title track, an invigorating breath of clean, cool air that really did live up to its name.
Taster: 'Coming Out Of The Fog'

WHITE MANNA - Dune Worship
"If you're not into the whole brevity thing", to quote the great Jeff Lebowski, White Manna might just be the band for you - especially if you're getting impatient for a new Wooden Shjips album. The Dude himself is a confirmed Creedence man, of course, but you get the feeling he'd dig the tracks on Dune Worship, which drift along spaced out in a fug of weed smoke and at no point sound anything like The Eagles.
Taster: 'X Ray'

SAVAGES - Silence Yourself
An all-female foursome heavily influenced by post-punk: I suppose the Warpaint comparisons were as inevitable as they were for September Girls. But that's where the similarities ended, for on their debut album Brits Savages lived up to their name, and were urgent, focused and furious unlike their languid and ethereal US counterparts, who I don't imagine are nearly so enamoured of 4AD's 80s roster. Even if you'd never seen a copy of Silence Yourself, you could have guessed that everything would be in black and white - this is a band for stark realities.
Taster: 'Waiting For A Sign'

BEST COAST - Fade Away
For someone apparently plagued by insecurity and doubt (just check out those song titles: 'I Wanna Know', 'Who Have I Become?', 'Fear Of My Identity', 'I Don't Know How'...), Beth Cosentino doesn't lack assurance when it comes to the knack of crafting instantly earwormable hooks and melodies. Mini-album Fade Away was further proof, bittersweet bubblegum indie rock that wasted little time in working its way into my affections.
Taster: 'Who Have I Become?' 

DEAFHEAVEN - Sunbather
Safe to say that few people could have predicted My Bloody Valentine's unbelievably long-awaited return would be trumped by a black metal album bearing the hallmarks of their influence. The dense, shoegazey guitars and lurid pink album cover may have upset the purists, but then I never claimed to be one anyway. Sunbather suggested that Deafheaven couldn't have chosen a much more apt name, simultaneously assaulting your ears while transporting you to a higher plane.
Taster: 'Dream House'

DEAP VALLY - Sistrionix
If you had to guess what two women who joined forces after meeting at a crochet class might sound like, you'd probably imagine demure, fey, folk-inflected indie-pop. You probably wouldn't imagine anything like Sistrionix, the sound of blues in a push-up bra and as bold a declaration of female independence as you'll ever hear.
Taster: 'Walk Of Shame'

JENNY HVAL - Innocence Is Kinky
Opening lines of albums don't come much more arresting than "At night I watch people fucking on my computer / Nobody can see me looking anyway". Like Deap Vally, Norwegian Jenny Hval might be preoccupied with gender politics, but her avant-pop approach on the John Parish-produced Innocent Is Kinky is radically different, as challenging and idiosyncratic as you might expect from someone who's written a masters thesis on Kate Bush - but it's a record that rewards repeated listening.
Taster: 'Innocence Is Kinky' (NSFW)


HOOKWORMS - Pearl Mystic
While I didn't fall quite as hook-line-and-sinker hard for Hookworms' debut as many - partly because it didn't strike me as attempting to do much new and partly because the vocals felt incongruous - Pearl Mystic was nevertheless an extremely good record, evidence that Spacemen 3's fire continues to burn brightly in others even if J Spaceman's Spiritualized are increasingly lapsing into self-parody. Plus it was a real pleasure to see a release on tiny Nottingham imprint Gringo Records blow up.
Taster: 'Preservation'

One of those albums that sounded so fresh and yet so obvious that you couldn't quite believe no one had thought of doing it before - "it" in this case being to imagine what Pavement might have produced if dosed up to the eyeballs with coffee and given half a day to record a homage to '70s NYC punk. Light Up Gold managed to walk the apparently impossible tightrope between taut and slack, and did so with inventiveness, relish, no little wit and a strong contender for the year's finest individual track in the shape of 'Stoned And Starving'.
Taster: 'Stoned And Starving'

With each album Los Campesinos! appear to both lose an original member (they're now down to three from seven) and pack breakthrough single 'You! Me! Dancing!' and debut Hold On Now, Youngster even more tightly into a box in the attic marked "Juvenilia". No Blues was an exhibition of the sort of serious songwriting chops that hinted at a longevity their early critics could never have conceived, and found Gareth indulging his obsession with the beautiful game, even sneaking in a reference to one-time Leeds legend Tony Yeboah. 'A Portrait Of The Trequartista As A Young Man' was the perfect encapsulation of the two primary facets of his character: football nerd and pretentious (self-consciously so) literary student.
Taster: 'Avocado, Baby'

THE NATIONAL - Trouble Will Find Me
I may still not be quite as rabidly enthusiastic about them as others are, but The National just seem to be getting better with every passing album. Trouble Will Find Me found them aided and abetted by a growing cast of collaborators including St Vincent, Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Sharon Van Etten and Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry. Its richer musical palette signified refinement rather than revolution, while Matt Berninger continued to plumb the seemingly unfathomable depths of his personal well of woe to memorable effect.
Taster: 'Graceless'

SIGUR ROS - Kveikur
Kveikur proved to be that most elusive of beasts, a genuine return to form. The previous two albums had been quiet, almost incidental, but departing founder member Kvartan Sveinsson appeared to have turned up the amps on his way out of the door. The new-found sinister edge to songs like opener 'Brennisteinn' and the title track was equally welcome, suggesting they're finally sick of being the go-to guys for atmospheric bedding music for TV programmes.
Taster: 'Brennisteinn'

Close But No Cigar:

If Kveikur signalled Sigur Ros' rediscovery of the beauty of noise, then Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - who had also lost a founding member, Mick Harvey - were moving in the opposite direction. While 2008's seedy, violent Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! bore the grubby fingerprints of Cave's ferocious mid-life crisis side-project Grinderman, Push The Sky Away was a much more restrained and understated affair, though arguably all the more menacing for the hushed tones that demonstrated subtlety is once again part of his musical vocabulary.
Taster: 'Jubilee Street'

DEERHUNTER - Monomania
Atlantans Deerhunter have been called many things in their time, but probably not "fun". Monomania - their first album with new bassist Josh McKay and additional guitarist Frankie Boyles - threatened to change all that, though, as they rummaged around in rock's dressing-up box and emerged clad in a number of outlandish outfits they just about managed to pull off. So it was that the Lockett Pundt-penned 'The Missing' - as classically dreamy a slice of prime Deerhunter as you could hope for - was followed up with 'Pensacola', what the Strokes might sound like if they were foot-stomping country rockers, and 'Dream Captain', a playful 'Bohemian Rhapsody'-quoting Bowie pastiche. Not dissimilar to Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Mosquito in its incoherent eclecticism, but a whole lot more successful.
Taster: 'The Missing'

JULIA HOLTER - Loud City Song
Probably the only concept album to have been released in 2013 inspired by the 1944 novella (and subsequent 1958 musical) Gigi, and most definitely the best. Holter's Domino debut Loud City Song could so easily have been dismissed as obnoxiously pretentious, if it wasn't for the fact that it was so utterly immersive, enchanting and otherworldly (even more so than its much lauded predecessor Ekstasis), capable of arresting time with its lush instrumentation and carefully crafted shifts of mood. With Kate Bush set to make her first live appearances since 1979, her natural heiress is already at the peak of her powers.
Taster: 'Hello Stranger'

FUZZ - Fuzz 
It's no reflection on the quality of Fuzz, rather a measure of the strength of 2013's field, that an album no worse than either of the Ty Segall records that ranked one and two in 2012 couldn't break into the top ten. It found Segall carrying on where he left off with Slaughterhouse - namely, raucous garage rock beefed up by someone eager to live out all of his heavy rock fantasies at full throttle and full volume. Thunderous riffs, ludicrous bass and drum solo breakdowns and ear-to-ear grins aplenty.
Taster: 'One'

To anyone familiar with the The Soft Bulletin and 'Do You Realize??', and aware of their recent whimsical antics with Miley Cyrus and other "heady fwends", The Terror may have come as a shock to the system. It was a dark night of the soul, a break-up album of the bleakest kind, characterised not by lachrymose singer-songwriter fayre but by profoundly unsettling dystopian synthscapes. The record was barely a few seconds old when Coyne, that indefatigable high priest of all things life-affirming, declared that "Love is always something / Something you should fear", and - as song titles such as 'The Terror', 'You Are Alone' and 'Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die' imply - it didn't get any lighter thereafter.
Taster: 'Try To Explain'

And now, the Top Ten:

10. THE ICARUS LINE - Slave Vows
"Nihilism, volatility, hedonism, desperation, dysfunction, destructiveness". As descriptions of what The Icarus Line are all about, Stevie Chick's attempt - in his review of Slave Vows for The Quietus - would be hard to better. For me, the album wasn't quite the equal of 2004's magnum opus Penance Soiree, as Chick claimed, but in marshalling a similarly superb array of influences - The Stooges, Swans, The Birthday Party - it blew the lame coked-up swagger of its predecessor Wildlife to smithereens, melting your speakers in the process.
Taster: 'Marathon Man'

9. CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe
Two grizzled veterans of the Glasgow post-rock scene joining forces with a twentysomething journalist to produce 24-carat electro-pop with enough hooks to satisfy Radio 1 listeners and enough lyrical menace and depth to satisfy Radio 6 listeners? You couldn't really have made it up. The worry was always that they wouldn't be able to live up to the incredible early promise of 'Lies' and 'The Mother We Share', but happily The Bones Of What You Believe delivered in spades.
Taster: 'Lies'

8. YO LA TENGO - Fade
The curse of the January release strikes again. Fade was a very early frontrunner for the top spot, but as the year wore on it gradually, well, faded away. To Yo La Tengo aficionados like myself, used to remarkably eclectic albums, it came as something of a surprise: a more conventionally coherent collection of songs. Sober, considered, wistful, restrained, short (by their standards, at least) - and quietly very, very good indeed.
Taster: 'Before We Run'

7. FUCK BUTTONS - Slow Focus
Personally speaking, of all the things trumpeted as being part of the "legacy" of the 2012 London Olympics, Fuck Buttons being introduced to the watching millions via Danny Boyle's opening ceremony should be foremost. As Slow Focus' first track 'Brainfreeze' made clear, though, the duo weren't ready to capitalise on the exposure and actively court the mainstream. Rhythmic experimentation and a sense of menace marked it out from predecessor Tarot Sport, but euphoric noise - their trademark - still snuck in towards the end.
Taster: 'Hidden XS' 

6. THE BESNARD LAKES - Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO
Over the course of their previous two records, Montreal outfit The Besnard Lakes had elaborated their own unique vision of prog, a sumptuous amalgamation of slo-mo shoegaze, portentous drones, subtle orchestration, surf guitar and Beach Boys harmonies. Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO trod the same path, the only surprise being that they managed to sustain the same level of quality. Fuck Bon Iver - this lot are the real jewel in Jagjaguwar's crown.
Taster: 'Colour Yr Lights In' (NSFW)

5. SIX BY SEVEN - Love And Peace And Sympathy
And the prize for the unlikeliest and most spectacular comeback of the year goes to... Ever since 2002's The Way I Feel Today until their messy dissolution in 2008, Six By Seven albums had seemed like diminishing returns, debut The Things We Make and follow-up The Closer You Get towering over everything else. But then Chris Olley, reinvigorated by the recruitment of former Placebo drummer Steve Hewitt, reconvened the band, and the result was stunning - glowering, mesmeric, majestic. Six By Seven and I go way back, so it brought a lump to the throat - even if no one else was listening.
Taster: 'Change'

4. LANTERNS ON THE LAKE - Until The Colours Run
Just as I'd almost given up hope of ever coming across a band from my native Newcastle that I like, along came Lanterns On The Lake - all the more remarkable for the fact that it transpired they included my closest childhood chum among their ranks. Following the (in hindsight) tentative steps of folky debut Gracious Tide, Take Me Home, this was a beautifully constructed and nuanced album, one that set personal heartache and small-town angst against a stunning widescreen sonic backdrop that revealed them as keen students of label- and tourmates Explosions In The Sky.
Taster: 'Another Tale From Another English Town'

3. ICEAGE - You're Nothing
It was always going to take something special for me to forgive Iceage their utterly awful showing at the 1-2-3-4 Festival in 2012. And this was it - another stupendous album, as good if not superior to their debut New Brigade. Few punk bands are better on record than on stage, but Iceage certainly are; and few albums can justify a track called 'Interlude' only three songs in, but, in the wake of the blistering blitzkrieg attack of 'Ecstasy' and 'Coalition', this one could. Driven by nihilistic fury, You're Nothing was hardcore with a suitably experimental edge for anyone left disappointed by the No Age album. As for the faint whiff of dubious politics, if Matador are comfortable signing them, then that's good enough for me.
Taster: 'Morals'

2. THE DRONES - I See Seaweed
There's something seriously, seriously wrong with the world if this album is (as seems the case) only available on import. Like The Drones' 2006 masterpiece Gala Mill, it was bookended by two absolute behemoths, the title track's tale of environmental apocalypse and 'Why Write A Letter That You'll Never Send?', which worked itself up into a splendidly splenetic rant about everything from the Holocaust, bombing Mogadishu and Nazi popes while somehow retaining a disarmingly tender chorus. What came inbetween was hardly shoddy, either. Easy listening? No. Bitter, bilious, fire-and-brimstone country-blues, drunk on despair, disgust at humanity and (occasionally) romantic ideals? Absolutely.
Taster: 'I See Seaweed'

1. CHELSEA LIGHT MOVING - Chelsea Light Moving
I'm nothing if not predictable - and make no apologies for it. When the news emerged that Thurston Moore had a new album out, you could have put a pretty safe bet on it topping my end-of-year list. If 2011's solo effort Demolished Thoughts hinted that the fiftysomething might finally be reaching for the proverbial pipe and slippers, Chelsea Light Moving suggested the exact opposite, taking the trademark Sonic Youth sound and embellishing it with some seriously hefty metal riffage. All of a sudden, his previous band's demise didn't look like such a bad thing.
Taster: 'Alighted'

As ever, huge thanks to everyone who burned/loaned/bought me albums. It's your fault that this post is so long and late... 

And finally, lest we forget, the Top Ten for 2012:

10. BEST COAST - The Only Place
9. JAPANDROIDS - Celebration Rock
8. BEACH HOUSE - Bloom
7. TAME IMPALA - Lonerism
6. BAT FOR LASHES - The Haunted Man
5. TURING MACHINE - What Is The Meaning Of What
4. GRIZZLY BEAR - Shields
3. GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
2. TY SEGALL BAND - Slaughterhouse 
1. TY SEGALL - Twins

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