Thursday, January 15, 2009

2008: the leftovers

The inevitable and somewhat frustrating thing about putting so much time and effort into ranking and researching a supposedly watertight albums of the year chart is the virtually the moment you finish work on it all manner of other candidates will suddenly force their charms on you. Before we can entirely put the musical year of 2008 to bed, then, we'd better do some sweeping up. If the credit crunch can be put on hold for just a little longer, may we commend buying the following to the house.

While we knew about and loved the preceding single, we had no idea that Hello Saferide had actually got an album out until other bloggers voted it into 36th place in our end of year poll. So much for being authoritative. More Modern Short Stories From Hello Saferide is Swedish singer-songwriter Annika Norlin's second album under that pseudonym (her Swedish language project Säkert! released an album in 2007, which ended up winning two Swedish Grammys) As with her earlier Introducing... album, progressing from that album's voyage of youthful discoveries to a certain semi-maturity (if the very odd KT Tunstall echo) and a sex/parenting thematic, it's rooted very much in unpicking day to day activity for signs of humanity and companionship with the lightest of intimate touches, both lyrical and musical, even when the production takes it into wider areas. And yeah, they pretty much are modern short stories, or at least songs of experience and regret, imperfect realisations made musical. The opener compares people to songs with an acoustic backing and manages not to sound twee. Modern pop rarely has the insightful capacity to make you think; Norlin has it in spades.

Hello Saferide - X Telling Me About The Loss Of Something Dear At Age 16

Meanwhile, the video for Anna:

And this is Norlin and Anna Järvinen of Granada (melodic popsters, apparently, although we'd like to see her sit in for Fred Talbot) covering With Every Heartbeat in Swedish with only an accordion, harmonica, chimes and metronome to hand:

Silvery are the band who for a Christmas single covered You Give A Little Love, which you may know better as the closing song from Bugsy Malone. Far more than mere passing novelty interest, though, their album Thunderer And Excelsior landed in our laps right at the start of December and while it didn't make an immediate impact it had a way of creeping right up on us. A band who count Steve Lamacq as a big and well-placed fan, the main influences are fairly well trodden - early Sparks, music hall Blur, XTC - but you'll also hear the Cardiacs, Barrett-era pop shapes Pink Floyd, pre-Berlin Bowie, Madness, horror soundtracks and all manner of 'great live band, no sales' late Britpop oddities. Essentially, this is what the Kaiser Chiefs could have been if they hadn't started caring about sales, a whirling organ driven eccentricity that could have earned itself a certain following at any point in the last forty years.

Silvery - Devil In The Detail

Video for Horrors? Certainly.

Cardiff's Spencer McGarry Season were in last year's Class Of '08 covermount, when we described them as "smart, very English power pop". Well, you know what we meant. Episode One, released in November locally but at some indeterminate point this month nationally on McGarry's own Businessman Records (they put out the borderline remarkable Gindrinker single a year ago), which comes with a extra features mini-site featuring a commentary, 'deleted scenes' extra tracks and a gallery. It's the first in a themed six album project and is as such "a rock record in the style of my favourite rock records". Those records being the Kinks and the Who's mod rabble rousing, XTC's redefinition of power pop to give it a brain and Talking Heads' outre white funk, a kind of amorphic, harmonic beat pop that slowly grows on you. There's a song called A Title Sparks Would Have Used. This isn't it, although it's an almost equally excellent title.

Spencer McGarry Season - The Unfilmable Life And Life Of Terry Gilliam

So finally, inexorably, what of Anathallo? Longtime readers will recall the moral panic we indulged in when our delivery of Canopy Glow got delayed and missed the top 50 of the year cutoff point. Well, it arrived a few days later, so stand down. While it seems the accusation often thrown at them of being merely a junior Sufjan seems to hold more weight than before, although Animal Collective's fireside folk moments are also suggested, the harmonies are stronger, the arrangements pared of Floating World's tendency to meander off into spaced-out formation while retaining their potential to surprise and like the winner of an album from The Acorn recently they've worked on the discipline required to pull in influences from various rhythmic sources into a dense, concise whole. Spin are giving away The River; they've made a video for Bells:


Steven B. said...

Thanks for the brilliant Norlin and Anna Järvinen video! I hadn't seen it yet. It's lovely.

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