Thursday, 31 December 2009

Annals retentive: art decade

There's storms forecast for Melbourne at the strike of midnight tonight. Something about that, despite not wanting to think many self-scaremongering thoughts, seems entirely fitting. While it feels futile to relate the pulsation of the moment to the current calendar system that peoples are using, this still feels like a decade i'd be very, very keen to hold onto for a bit longer. For personal reasons as well, i guess; at the turn of the millenium i was in my early teens, and now i'm in my early twenties, so, tempestuous times as they may have sometimes been, it is also the period which i'm sure i will always think of the most fondestly. These are - i think - roughly my favourite ten albums from what i hate calling the noughties. You should listen to them rather than read the reams of praise i'd be showering them with, although i won't entirely because it'd take me about a week to do any of them anything close to justice. They are pretty much in reverse order of preference, but not really, because being definitive about that sort of thing was to hard.

Cornershop - Handcream For A Generation
i watched that fairly patchy documentary 'Live Forever' the other day, and because i tend to watch all the crappy extras that are dumped onto DVDs too i ended up watching the extended interview with Jon Savage. In one part he suggested that Britpop didn't really reflect the beauty of mid-nineties uk diversity because some alternative artists who had big hits at the same time - he mentions the incredible White Town and the...uhm...well...Babylon Zoo - were left out of the club to an extent, perhaps because of their ethnicity. A loaded point i guess, but it would make sense with Cornershop, who had one of their ploddy whimsical songs beefed up, had a smash hit, and the full extent of their awesome talent remained largely unbothered by the mainstream audience. Nevertheless, i can't help but feel that if Handcream For A Generation was released in the mid-Nineties it would be mentioned in the same breath as turds like Maxinquaye and What's The Story...? Instead it was released in the strange hinterland between The Strokes and No Name so only Lammo and John Peel played stuff from it. Listening to this album today makes me feel like there was barely a cloud in the sky all the way throughout 2002.

Broken Family Band - Cold Water Songs
Although i have a huge soft spot for 'Balls' (make your own joke up) that otherwise seems worryingly unloved, the moment The Broken Family Band accidentally invented Anglicana is a moment i'll always be thankful for. When most end-of-decade polls will be celebrating the fact that Arctic Monkeys sing in their own accent, i'll be pleased that some lads from Cambridge tried both lyrically and vocally to sound like country and western stars.

Chris T-T - London Is Sinking
It turned out he was right, too. A strange trajectory Chris seems to have had over the last ten years; at the beginning of the decade he was probably best know for writing songs about Eminem's sexuality and maiming Lisa from Steps, and now he's most regularly recognised as one of the kings of lefty British politi-pop, the awfully-named genre that thankfully nobody made up (except me, just now). Last year's Capital was excrutiatingly under-valued, but the central pillar of his London trilogy, a long-player that tracked a narrative of sorts on a boat along the Thames, has more romance, death, anger, imagination, intrigue and heartbreak than any gritty Beeb drama could squeeze into a six-part series.

People Like Us - Stifled Love
When the music industry grinds to a halt and we have to rely on artists chopping up bits of long-lost exotica as the primary source of entertainment, this is who i want to make everything i listen to for the rest of time. Rather than hear me ramble about how wondrous, sarcastic, warm and human her plunderphonic adventures are, you can download this album in its entirety for free from here. i have no idea why the hell you would not do this.

Mclusky - Do Dallas
This should speak for itself:

Pagan Wanderer Lu - Fight My Battles For Me
Some people said that it was too long. Then again some people think Cheryl Cole is entertaining and fucking dogs is a good idea, so people aren't to be trusted.

Applicants - Life In The Bus Lane
An amazingly enjoyable album containing songs about pizza's involvement in relationship problems and Spike Milligan being a cunt. The best pop songs i've ever heard by someone who used to be on Digital Hardcore. Deserved to be downloaded more than the Dan Brown / J.K. Rowling sex tape. Next album will be pretty good i bet.

Misty's Big Adventure - ...And Their Place In The Solar Hi-Fi System
i personally think that when John Peel called Grandmaster Gareth 'the new God' he was talking Gareth down a bit. Dismissing Misty's as a novelty band - as many idiots did - for being inspired by the Bonzos, named after a Magic Roundabout reference and recording a song with Jeremy Vine/Noddy Holder ignores the swathes of frustration, world-weariness and paranoia that flow through most of their songs - it'd be like calling Radiohead a comedy band because they wrote a song about a watering can and did that video where someone fell over lol. They just happen to be very entertaining too...or fun, if you must. All of their albums are worth exploring, but these songs are the ones that i'd most like to be still singing to myself even after i've forgotten my own name.

Bearsuit - Team Ping Pong
The band that most defined the last decade for me; i'll be wearing my blue Bearsuit t-shirt when i'm dragged kicking and screaming into the next one. It's a close call between this and their first 'proper' album Cat Spectacular!, as Team Ping Pong is (as far as i can tell) a truncated version of their attempted debut In Charge Of Meats, but for containing all the planet-beating songs that made me pretty much fall in love with them in the first place* this edges it. If i die suddenly play 'Minerals Made Me' at my funeral please.

*although the distinct lack of 'Poor Prince Neal' left me a bit miffed.

Super Furry Animals - Rings Around The World
i wrote something about this here earlier in the year, kind of knowing that it would still be my favourite album by this point. Thanks. Happy new year.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Annals Retentive: Two Thousand And Fine

This is sort of some of the best things i heard this year. It is dedicated to Norman Borlaug. i realise that trying to honour a recently-departed agricultural scientist said to have saved over a billion lives by just sticking some mp3s together and saying "this is for you" seems a bit arrogant, but in a year where a pop star got about a billion times more attention in death i feel like any mention of Borlaug's incredible achievements is worth doing.

This is my favourite pop video of the year:

This is good too mind. i especially like the thing that happens when "He feels that the ethics of punk can be applied to the world of work" is sung:


Here is the mix. Enjoy. (ysi)

High Places - Late Bloomer
Joy Orbison - Hyph Mngo
Thermals - When I Died
Acoustic Ladyland - Sportsmode
MJ Hibbett & The Validators - My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
Cornershop - Free Love
Micachu & The Shapes - Golden Phone
Anti Pop Consortium - Volcano (Four Tet remix)
Internet Forever - Cover The Walls (Dreamtrak session)
Nordloef - Buddy Holly
Paul Hawkins & Thee Awkward Silences - Sleep The Clock Around
Silence At Sea - Fields Of Fire
Leyland Kirby - Memories Live Longer Than Dreams
Pagan Wanderer Lu - Ten Cities Is Not A European Tour