Friday, 31 December 2010

FTC 45: Roky Erickson- Okkervil River -True Love Cast Out All Evil

45) Roky Erickson W/ Okkervil River- True Love Cast Out All Evil 

As with The Black Keys work with Ike Turner and Drive By Truckers's with Booker T, True Love Cast Out All Evil works as a historical reworking of musical history and more so than the other two , a rejuvenation of a legendary artist that has transcended with this release a reawakening of one of the lost greats of psychedelia. While Erickson has struggled with mental issues for decades and this his first studio album in 14 years, is an emotive homecoming to the recorded format. The opening track an incredibly lo-fi demo of Erickson before Okkervil River are introduced, and although the album is arguably just an Okkervil River record with Erickson on lead vocals, True Love Cast Out All Evil suitably addresses the absence of the man and his return to music, and Okkervil River have enough respect for the man at the centre that he remains the star throughout.

While any return to music is appreciated, True Love Cast Out All Evil works not just as Erickson album but by anyone, "Goodbye Sweet Dreams" is from an older man who can finally bring himself to look back upon his life and admit that he will never achieve those dreams from the past with a heavy heart and a broken soul. While "Please Judge" is a sociological story pleading with the definitions of victim and criminal and the fine line between them. And "John Lawman" directly shows that Erickson has not lost his contempt towards the men of law.

True Love Cast Out All Evil was a difficult and at times heartbreaking album but given its added implications of Erickson's return, a rich and warm hearted one worthy of acclaim for fans of the alt country rock genre.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

FTC46: Former Ghosts- New Love

I loved Former Ghost's 2009 album "Fleurs" A LOT! I dragged myself to see their great show alongside parenthetical girls (who's EPs this year have been fucking amazing too) after one of the most draining weekends of my life in May and it was incredible! Xiu Xiu's Dear God I Hate Myself and Blue Water White Death (Jamie Stewart and Johnathan Melkberg of Shearwater) accompanied me to CMJ in October and were both incredible albums. "New Love" is better, in a year where a lot of my favourite albums are despairing, self-destroying and pained (in one way or another) nothing described something as clearly as "Winter's Year" synth line covering Ruppert's disparate pleas or "New Orleans" blood stopping chorus of "It's my fault I fell in love in the first place... if you leave the city, take me with you, or don't look back..." amongst the sights, sounds and smells of a past relationship.

"New Love" will be a record that will stay with me long into 2011 and I will regret it being so low on this list.... but it is one of the last records to be released this year (a day before my 24th birthday in fact) that is really important, lyrically, musically and it is sonically one of the most beautiful and intense albums that I've listened to in the last 12 months. Former Ghosts/Freddy Ruppert perfectly captured in one of the most heartbreaking and recovery albums of the year and I look forward to an album next november? 

FTC47: Jenny & Johnny- I'm Having Fun Now

I'm a life long Jenny Lewis fan, I first heard her on The Postal Service's We Will Become Silhouettes and then picked up Rilo Kiley's "The Execution of All Things" are my life (at the time) seemed complete, the way that Nick Hornby talked about the power of pop music in High Fidelity, about scores and scores of pop songs that encouraged misery and despair, Lewis did that, with some of the most introspective and sad bunch of lyrics mostly disguised in heartwarming and upbeat backings...

Two Rilo Kiley and Two solo records later, my love for Lewis hasn't really waned, of course the 16 year old boy somewhere inside me, doesn't want Rice involved in this and while this is arguably the weakest record Lewis has been involved in... Jenny & Johnny's debut "I'm having fun now" is a mighty fine and musically tight album, It's artwork and vocal harmonies harking back to another innocent time, post-war, grease/american graffti era. And like all of those albums between the first and now, Lewis still conjures up some open ended and wordly wise comments amongst a lightweight soundtrack. It's a good pop record which is unlikely to change the world but in the dire weather, it's November release recalls summer! We Need Summer! Like Best Coast's record (which features a lot higher in this list), this record plays upon both sexes fears of each other, fears of falling and fears of falling apart, Jenny & Johnny perfectly accompaning each other... I think the 16 year old me is over it now, I'm Having Fun...

FTC48: Magic Kids- Memphis

48) Magic Kids- Memphis (True Panther Sounds)

In 2010, seemingly everyone was in a way in awe of California,The Summer and The Beach Boys, with the genre chill-wave dead how about we raise the genre of "recorded in a bathroom by a group of people who loved the sixties and have heard pet sounds..."

Magic Kids were more in awe of Tennesse and the title of their debut album title confirmed this, but given the youthful age and energy of Magic Kids, the album was less filled with knock-offs and instead filled with songs in complete adoration of artists that have come before them, Hence Memphis is at 48 as Magic Kids totally seemed to wear the influences in the title, on the sleeve and in every beat of their songs with a warm fruitful production featuring an array of brass and strings of vocal harmonies which would have been plucked from my youth, if I was born in fifties america and were a member of the Brady Bunch. If "Hey Boy" gave any indication of gritty (it didnt), every song of the album was plucked from innocent days, not ones fuelled by sex but by holding hands and stolen kisses and no other album contained as much of the false memory as Memphis and who can be so against such naive aspirations in a world of self despair.

FTC49: Luke Abbott- Holkham Drones (Border Community)

49) Luke Abbott- Holkham Drones (Border Community)

Abbott's debut full length is an album which carefully combined contrasting and intricate sounds to a haunting and uplifting (in the same beat sometimes) effect. Droning, Dream-like rhythmic semi-classic in places, It's a often repressive record and hence why it continues to remind me of my home county, and there are very few "dance" records this year that really left me more than cold (as I engage so much with lyrics and singers than just beats or synths) It's an often difficult listen but enjoy with headphones and let the drones overtake you , or take some drugs and let the beats guide you. Reasons to be from Norfolk...

FTC50: Twin Sister- Vampires With Dreaming Kids/Colour Your Life

Twin Sister- Vampires With Dreaming Kids/Colour Your Life (Double Six) 

 Although Arguably not an album,  but two EPs brought together for a UK Release, there is no doubting Twin Sisters beguiling, hypnotic and genre dodging debut with the extraordinary vocal talent of Andrea Estella. The EPS are filled with emotionally driven and intoxicating anti-anthems...

Twin Sister remind me of cold winters mornings, leaving home too early, bus journeys but also of discos and when I fell in love with Feist's Let it die, it's a pretty but painful record, "Lady Daydream" recalling elements of Broadcast and Stereolab, the lyrics pleading but also comforting "If you can't find the sea I will take you there... Even though I'm losing doesn't make me a loser..."  remind me of a time this year when I needed comforting and everything seemed a bit cold. While "All Around and away we go" is playful disco (the video is below) and conjures up old nights at sonic... While not genre defining, Twin Sister makes no. 50 because of the feelings in conjures, the musical genre changes in each song, combined through a mutual sonic pattern, a vocal style and a melancholy... there have been a lot of painful records this year but not many had this sense of support and hand holding as superbly as Twin Sister's debut double.


Everyone has a favourite album of the year list... I always look forward to reading other peoples/publications/record shops for whatever reason... personal ones are the best whether your a person who listens to albums for lyrics, instruments, atmospherics or whatever, we all have a different reason for why music is/was a massive part of our lives.

I dont write for a publication, I write this haphazard blog because I have a great time listening to bands I've never heard of/reading blogs/taking recommendations and searching out for new music so that I can go to the small shows and try and make a connection with these sounds early on, for self-righteous reasons obviously. I like books and films and television shows, but I was brought up to buy Tapes and records and CDs and still do and Mp3's too, I have a big record collection and I hope in twenty years time it will be still be important to me. As I dont write for a publication no-one really gives a fuck why this album is my favourite, so fuck critical, I like these 50 records because personally they effected me, I wanted to buy them or I went to see the live show or I bought the t-shirt or I sung along or for one reason or another I CARE about this record.... and I care about most of these records. I don't wanna be BFF's with Surfer Blood or become the umpteenth member of Broken Social Scene but both of these albums were a part of 2010 and as I don't keep a diary that by looking back on these 50 albums I will recall something about 2010 that was special.

This is all a bit Peyton Sawyer, but being passionate sometimes means showing passion and declaring spirit, so these are the 50 records I loved in 2010 and why....