Folk are always going on about how music isn’t as good anymore, or how there wasn’t anything to get excited about this year. Horseshit. There was loads. Loads, I tell ya! You just weren’t looking–or rather, listening–carefully enough…
Anyway, following on from Part One, and in no particular order, here are just five more albums I dug on this year…
My Morning Jacket – The Waterfall
Having first fallen in love with their alt-country stylings and vocalist Jim James’ reverb-soaked voice back in 2003, it’s been a long time since I delved into the treasure chest that is My Morning Jacket’s back catalogue. In fact, their last two albums passed me by completely. What can I say? I was busy. When I’m not so busy I’ll go back and check ‘em out. In the meantime, this will more than suffice, because by all accounts The Waterfall is an amalgamation of all that the Louisville group has done to date—minus the excessively weird bits of those albums I never heard. And you know what? It’s bloody lovely. Drawing upon multifarious influences—including everyone from AC/DC to Roy Orbison—and transforming them into a solid, ten-song set that includes delicate, folky ditties, alongside foot-stompin’ classic rock, this is surely one of the most upbeat, celebratory records released this year, with lyrics that strike the perfect balance between the intriguingly poetic and transparently prosaic.
BadBadnotGood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
In which the Wu-Tang Clan man teams up with three white kids from Toronto for an album of lush, spacey hip-hop that won’t quite blow your mind but somehow still hits the spot, thanks in no small measure to the guests that GFK gets on board. ‘Gunshowers’ is the undoubted highlight; it’s a track I always play twice (at least) and one that sees the Staten Island veteran trading verses with Detroit’s Elzhi with irresistible fervour: “I’m a activist, socialist, deadly-ass poetrist/supreme clientele, I’m a god-damn vocalist…” Other highlights include ‘Mind Playing Tricks’ and ‘Ray Gun’– the latter featuring a strong verse from longtime collaborator, DOOM. Granted, it’s a little insipid in places, but on the whole Sour Soul is the sonic equivalent of an ice cool glass of San Pelligrino with a dash of fruit cordial. The expensive stuff, I mean—I’m talking Bottlegreen Pomegranate & Elderflower, or that Belvoir shit. Check it.
Hawk Eyes – Everything Is Fine
One of the best things about getting my car cleaned by those slightly scary-looking Polish blokes in the Tesco car park is that they always unearth a CD that’s been lodged under the passenger seat for the last three months or so. The other day it was Everything Is Fine by Leeds mob, Hawk Eyes. Man, I had totally forgotten about this album! It’s so good. If you can imagine what legendary Irish noiseniks Therapy? would sound like if they’d learned to play Tool songs then this’ll be right up your alley. I think you can only buy it through their website, but buy it you should, because it’s one of the most inventive, explosive and wholly accomplished rock records of the year.
The Icarus Line – All Things Under Heaven
“Total Pandemonium by the Icarus Line is mental. Completely mental.” – Leon Carter, via Whatsapp.
He’s right. To be honest, though, I’m a bit bored of banging on about The Icarus Line. Every time they release a new album, I laud it up, making outrageous statements about how they’re the saviours of the true spirit of rock n’ roll. Not that anyone apart from Leon actually listens to me—they all just carry on sipping their skinny lattes and posting pictures of their pets. Then again, it’s not like the band themselves give a toss about their lack of popularity. Joe Cardamone—the band’s skinny, snazzy shirt-wearing frontman—is a lifer, a music-maker of the old-school order who does it because what else is there. Accordingly, All Things Under Heaven is a wild, sprawling, experimental affair. And then some. Jeez. It’s like they read this review of their last album, and went, well, screw you. We’re gonna go full-blown Swans on your asses. Clocking in at 72 minutes, spread across twelve tracks, and with guest appearances from Warren Ellis and Joe Coleman, this is the soundtrack to modern America and the darkening, entropic universe we inhabit… and it slays.
Uncle Acid – The Nightcreeper
You ever go on that Amazon website? You ever read the customer reviews? Some of them are just great. Here’s one I found of Uncle Acid’s latest:
Yep. That’s it. Not much else I need to add, really. Apart from the fact that this is deliciously evil pop-metal from darkest, er, Cambridge, and that while it makes you immediately think of Black Sabbath, it doesn’t make you want to listen to Black Sabbath instead. Which, I think, is a good thing. I don’t know. You should probably read some other reviews before you make up your mind. May I suggest Amazon?