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This Weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… the 25 tracks I’ve enjoyed listening to most in 2011 December 31, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Feel free to post your own selections in comments…

Bar M83, Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk, Steve Kilbey Martin Kennedy, the Horrors, The Go! Team, Photek, Roll the Dice, Luca Bachetti and Toro Y Moi [I think] most of the music here is from times past. So don’t look to me for a round up of best/worst of 2011, though it’s not like I didn’t hear enough albums from 2011. Wire’s “Red Barked Tree” was pretty good, VNV Nation’s “Automatic” was grimly awful, R.E.M. would have been better off to have disbanded a decade earlier, Kasabian could follow suit, but this is stuff I listened to a lot this year whether it was from this year or not. In some cases for the first time, in some not, and just enjoyed listening to more than once, twice or three times.

1 McAlmont and Butler – Yes

As recommended by EamonnCork, a classic [which I hadn't listened to in the best part of fifteen years], little more to be said, other than if you ever get the chance to hear their early 2000s reunion album give it a go. Very joyous.

2 Lemon Drops – I Live in the Springtime

Since relistening to Nuggets I haven’t got this out of my head. If it gets inside yours just consider that it’s getting on for an half century old. Hey, just like me and perhaps quite a few of you…



3 Euroboys – One Way Street

This one too has been running through my mind for a while now. AORtastic pop from Norway from the early to mid-2000s, there’s a story behind this outfit which I’ll get to in the New Year.

4 Space Ritual – Walking Backwards

Nik Turner, he of Hawkwind and the Inner City Unit and other formations too numerous to mention does his thing from a few years back. It’s good.

5 RxRY – Prestina Mewloh

Electronica/ambient with an edge, subtle disruptions cut across genuinely lovely melodies and washes of sound. An interestingly reclusive individual is behind this and it’s tricky to get hold of some of the music. The eponymous album this is taken from from last year is available as a [legitimate] free download but I wish s/he/they would make the material more easily available and easy to pay for, they deserve it. An album vying for best thing I’ve heard all year.

6 Morel – Shoegazer Disco

Given that it’s not actually shoegaze, that would be Mr. Morel’s little joke. Long time sidekick of Bob Mould, but a man who works in a very different area, that of electronica/dance. Worth catching up on].


7 Steve Kilbey Martin Kennedy – Unfocussed

Here two stalwarts of Austrialian alternative link up to produce something interesting. Kennedy’s outfit All India Radio [referenced here] mixes and merges with Kilbey’s vocals to good effect. Their second album together released earlier this year is perhaps a little too narcoleptic in parts but then again…

8 M83 – Claudia Lewis

French, a double album in the shape of “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, and somehow finding the missing link between 2010 style electronica and… erm… Toto. It’s sort of the Yes, Peter Gabriel, Asia, insert as applicable that you can like because it’s contextualised in the rest of the 1980s that you’re allowed to like (Echo and the Bunnymen, etc). Whatever else about main man Athony Gonzalez, if The Horrors, see below, are channelling – ahem – somewhat commercial parts of the 1980s he goes all the way [if you’ll excuse the Toto reference], somehow just about rehabilitating slap bass on this track. That it works – for the most part – is remarkable. Close enough to the album of the year for me.

9 Bowery Electric – Deep Sky Objects

Here’s a band I only discovered this year, whose work from the early to mid 1990s is not dissimilar to that of SeeFeel and other electronica/dance experimenters. It’s great stuff, stripped down to bass drums and treated guitars with male and female vocals.

10 Astralasia – Unveria Zekt

For sheer enjoyment this track from the early 1990s has stayed with me all year. I catch myself listening to the piano and chorus with a big smile on my face. Astralasia are an intriguing outfit, formed from 1980s Hawkwind style formation The Magic Mushroom Band, they veered sharply into trance in the early 1990s. And in a sequence of albums throughout that decade and into the 2000s moved progressively towards more and more commercial forms of that style. More on them in the New Year.


11 Marco Passarani – Nova [2008]

A little bit Aphex Twin, a little bit Autechre, a little bit Black Dog, quite a lot of B12. All good.

12 The Horrors – Still Life

I used to dislike them, almost on principle. Then I listened to them and realised they were doing something… interesting with mid-1980s sounds. If M83 are going headlong towards the most commercial parts of the 1980s theres is a more oblique approach but no less rewarding. Here’s the single from their superb Skying album out earlier this year, and album that along with M83 vies for album of the year.

13 Optic Eye – Far Out Race

I’ve a post ready on Jake Stephenson and Brian Trower who were the main men behind Optic Eye and a raft of other techno/trance groups in the 1990s [this is from 1994] and early 2000s. This will suffice for the moment.

14 The Go! Team – Buy Nothing Day

Brilliant brilliant song and good advice from a band who managed to pull off the difficult third album this year with genuine ease. Another great album released this year.

15 Roll the Dice – Iron Bridge

Swedish electronica duo whose second album from which this was taken was released this year.



16 The Golden Horde – Communist for the FBI

Since writing on the Golden Horde earlier this year some kind soul added Communist for the FBI to YouTube. Kudos. And it sneaks at least a hint of politics into this list. Still think this was their best incarnation and another track that hasn’t gone away.

17 Photek – Closer

Released and mentioned earlier this year and along with Luca Bachetti, one of the individual tracks of the year.

18 Wolf People – Silbury Sands

Hard rock/Prog/Canterbury scene revivalists, which amounts to much the same thing I guess.

19 Luca Bachetti – Tango

One of an increasing number of individual tracks I’ve started listening to. It used to be all albums. But no longer. This is great, genuinely great.

20 Ulrich Schnauss and Jonas Munk – Weightless Memories

Not a bad album but one which doesn’t really build on the strengths of either Schnauss or Munk, but this track is great. Particularly the keyboard which comes in in the first minute or so.

21 Toro Y Moi – Still Sound

The usual complaint is that he or they are hipsters, but this is a good song, albeit the melody slightly puts me in mind of a track off the first Zoot Woman album.

22 Pink Fairies – Do It/Say You Love Me

What’s to say? Early 1970s, and still amazingly ahead of their time.

23 Harold Grosskopf – So Weit So Gut

Ah, the very early 1980s, a simpler more innocent time when adult men who played keyboards and messed around with keyboards would cover themselves in silver paint for album covers – and keep their glasses on.

24 Malory – Floating

Shoegaze/electronica, it starts with a bit of spoken French, what’s not to like?

25 Electric Light Orchestra – Don’t Bring Me Down

Nostalgia is cheap, but effective. And the moment in the film Super8 where the intro of Don’t Bring Me Down kicked in was genuine nostalgia, though in Kilbarrack we didn’t have aliens, or Super 8 – it was all Single 8 where we were… [shakes fist]… all Single 8.

And with that roll on next year…

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Comments»

1. Garibaldy - December 31, 2011

No chance of me doing a top 25 Sindo Stupid Statements of the Year when I get up tomorrow. Maybe a top 3. Depending on regurgitation levels.

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WorldbyStorm - December 31, 2011

Yeah, this was a lot more enjoyable than that would be.

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2. DJ John Spart (Pro - December 31, 2011

‘Erase the traces’ – Brecht

#10 – Mark Henning – Stacked

#9 – Rrose v Bob Ostertag – Pointilism (Variation One)

#8 – Kangding Ray – Leavaila Scheme

#7 – Moby – Lie Down in Darkness (Chris Liebing Remix)

#6 – Inigo Kennedy – Scatter

#5 – Tommy Four Seven – G

#4 – Perc – My Head Is Slowly Exploding (Ancient Methods Remix)

#3 – Alva Noto – Univrs

#2 – Oscar Mulero – Descansa En Paz

#1 – Hiatus – Third (Max Cooper Remix)

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WorldbyStorm - December 31, 2011

What? No ELO? ;)

Great selection [Alva Noto and Kangding Ray in particular] and thanks a million for posting it up. I feel embarrassed now I didn’t ask people to do so in the OP. I will rectify that.

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3. sonofstan - December 31, 2011

I’m useless at these kind of lists since I generally can’t remember what last weeks ‘the greatest record ever’ was. But here’s something I heard for the first time today (though I think it’s nearly as old as me) Unfortunately, its lyric hasn’t dated one bit.

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4. anarchaeologist - December 31, 2011

Having acquired a copy of ELO’s greatest hits for the household over the Christmas, I can probably say it’s the best CD I’ve bought all year. Trivia fans might know that a lot of their stuff was recorded in Giorgio Moroder’s Musicland Studios in Munich and the bit where he seems to be singing ‘don’t bring me down… Bruce’ is actually, well, ‘don’t bring me down… Gruess’ [Bavarian for hi]. Well, you never know, it might come up in a pub quiz or something.

Enjoy 2012, we’re another year closer to the revolution!

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WorldbyStormr - December 31, 2011

+1

Re ELO, yeah, catchy isn’t the word. Or actually it is!

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sonofstan - December 31, 2011

+2
There are gems on every ELO album I’ve heard, and for the few euro you’ll pay for them in a charity shop near you, they’re well worth investigating. Actually Jeff Lynne’s entire career up to, but definitely not including, the Traveling Wilburys, is full of tuneful goodness – the Idle Race, the Move…..

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WorldbyStorm - December 31, 2011

Very true re Wilbury’s which was on many different levels appalling. But I agree completely, he was/is a great songwriter and arranger. Not that everything was brilliant by any means, but… mostly he had a good standard and some of the tracks are genuine classics.

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ejh - January 1, 2012

I thought he wrote War of the Worlds for years. I only found out a few days ago it was Jeff Wayne. This is no word of a lie.

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5. ejh - January 1, 2012

This (if I can post it properly) is probably the piece I liked most in 2011

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ejh - January 1, 2012

Nope, that didn’t work. Can that be fixed, or can somebody show me how it’s done? (Why can everybody do this except me?)

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sonofstan - January 1, 2012

You just copy and paste in the youtube url – no tags, no nothing. Like this:

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ejh - January 1, 2012

Ah, OK, thanks very much. (It’s only a few months since I got told Angry Birds was “too difficult for you” by a five-year-old, and this is only going to get worse.)

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6. Phil - January 1, 2012

I was quite into ELO early on – they were the first band I ever saw live – but then they did that thing to their sound around 1975-6, and I loathed them ever after.

On the other hand, I never really took much notice of the Wilburys, but I was listening to this the other day

and was greatly surprised to find that it’s one of theirs; the first one, in fact, as it was jamming this song that made them think of working together. I think it’s rather good. I’d love to know who came up with the second verse – “day care centres and night schools” especially.

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WorldbyStorm - January 1, 2012

That is interesting. Just as a matter of interest was it the discofication of their sound or the greater emphasis on orchestral underpinnings that you found loathsome?

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Phil - January 2, 2012

They were big on the orchestral thing right from the start (the very first ELO recording, “10538 Overture”, started life as a Move B-side, with Jeff Lynne on vocals and Roy Wood on French horn and several tracks of cello). No, there’s a distinctive ELO sound that kicked in around the time of “Strange Magic” and “Livin’ Thing”, which I hated even more than I hated the Eagles – in fact, almost as much as I hated the Carpenters. It’s a very processed sound – layers and layers of keyboards and vocals*, compressed down into a slab of mechanically-produced cheese. Or something. Also, I never liked Jeff Lynne’s voice.

*Inconsistency alert! Layering different sounds on top of each other, a more recent example.

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WorldbyStorm - January 2, 2012

I kind of know what you mean. There are large parts of Out of The Blue and Discovery which I find difficult to listen to for a not dissimilar reason. The same is true of Time. The track Four Diamonds from even later is brilliant except for a similar problem. Great rock and roll track and great vocal [I quite likeJLs vocals, albeit not so keen on his soprano efforts] but something overly synthy about its production. I always thought that that was part of their tilt towards disco, which in and of itself I didn’t have a problem with.

But worse than the Eagles? Surely not.

Inconsistency is the spice of life. :)

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sonofstan - January 2, 2012

Speaking of inconsistency (tenuous link alert) in Simon Reynolds remarkably inconsistent Retromania, which I read over the holliers, there’s an interesting if not particularly relevant piece on Ariel Pink, where he contrasts the pathos of Pink’s earlier attempts to reproduce the cocaine sheen of ’80s pop on a shoestring, compared with the effect produced when he finally gets to do it properly and produces perfect radio pop – for the decade between ’76 and ’86: but, and he (Reynolds) can’t quite work out why, you know its not actually lost work by Hall and Oates or Robert Palmer – there is some index of (in-) authenticity that date stamps music indelibly. So maybe Jeff Lynne couldn’t help sounding like that then?

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WorldbyStorm - January 2, 2012

That’s a book I should read. The whole authenticity thing seems to me to be a tricky one. I think the X-Factor is inauthentic, but then again good vocalists can find bands to work in so perhaps it’s only partially inauthentic and it depends where people go next, whereas anyone, and I mean just about anyone from Level 42 onwards, who writes their own music and plays instruments is mostly authentic as far as that goes. But it doesn’t really doesn’t mean that it’s any good – isn’t that a different criterion? I’m reminded of a crowd from the late 1980s called Shadowland who released a sort of psychedelic album which one critic said sounded just a bit too processed, a bit too perfectly produced, a bit spoiled. Listening to it I knew precisely what they meant.

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sonofstan - January 2, 2012

That’s a book I should read

Except for the fact that it was at a time of year when time was not of the essence, I’d be very annoyed at it taking 400 pages to say what an old fashioned journalist would have been able to get across in 20k words. Long-winded and repetitive to say the least.

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WorldbyStorm - January 2, 2012

Urgh, that doesn’t sound good. I really enjoyed Rip It Up so this is a disappointment to hear.

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7. Gearóid - January 2, 2012

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WorldbyStorm - January 2, 2012

Great great track.

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8. Bits and Pieces: Weekend… Farewell Davy Jones, that 90’s revival, RxRy, Die Antwoord, television, a view of Dublin from the 1970s with some very special guests and Ayn Rand redux… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - March 3, 2012

[...] of the former, I’ve mentioned electronica artist RxRy in the round up of music earlier in the year. Here’s his site and various interesting materials can be found there. This guy should start [...]

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