Wednesday, December 24, 2014

STN Top 50 Albums Of 2014: 10-6

10 Allo Darlin' - We Come From The Same Place
Elizabeth Morris' life has changed in the two years since last album Europe – she's now married and based in Florence - and there's been a certain growing process in these songs too. Still a romantic at heart, still able to paint a picture with one line and evoke the heartfelt on the next, that title suggests a familiarity that the songs carry through not so much in a lack of musical movement, still reminiscent of the Go-Betweens' heavy hearted subjects with a light touch as they are, but something that suggests the uncomplicated and then wrong-foots the listener with a painfully honest aphorism or a piece of undiluted romance and adventure.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

9 Owen Pallett - In Conflict
Pallett's extensive work in the field of uniting baroque arrangements and singer-songwriter curiosity is increasingly more filled out as time and experience goes on, still anchored by his violin and voice both swooping for prey. It's difficult to state for certainty that a certain set of lyrics are more personal but there's much less hiding behind obvious fantastical character studies and storylines here, but again it's not a confessional as much as a great list of ideas, bad memories, notions and neuroses spread thickly across wide vistas of orchestral effects, retro synths and a man failing steadfastly despite everything to give up.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

8 tUnE-yArDs - Nikki Nack
What a presence Merrill Garbus is turning into. Turning herself into a Greek chorus and a percussion army alike, her third album has reined in some of her more flailing habits while retaining what made those records so exciting, the cut-and-shut between hip hop and Afropop rhythms, carnival parades, manic laptop mix and matching, playground chants, electronic trickery and wordplay that by turns politicises, internalises and just takes the words that sound best together. Garbus' abstract sense of how melodies fit together is key to this unique standfirst, a sense of fun with a message of nonconformism underneath. This is her normality, and it's like nobody else's.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

7 David Thomas Broughton & Juice Vocal Ensemble - Sliding The Same Way
Recorded with minimal preparation between two largely unfamiliar parties, it's remarkable how Broughton's singularly distressing baritonal eccentricity and the experimental acapella vocal trio intersect as if they'd been working together for years. That is to say, they virtually work against each other as much as complementing, stretching around the fluid, picked out circular guitar melodies and harmonising in a method you couldn't really call angelic. Broughton, of course, has his own agenda as far as songwriting goes, where death and distress constantly lurk in almost out of time terms, laying out beautiful imagery and then undermining it with one line. The mix was also remarkable live, but you already knew that.
[iTunes] [Spotify]

6 Johnny Foreigner - You Can Do Better
Ah, the annual JoFo visit to the STN top ten. Their first album recorded as a four-piece contains a lot of the same invigorating turbo clatter, melodramatic crossthreaded shouting, observations of back streets from Alexei's diary and lines that start “So...” The ride is still the thrill, especially when it's as well done as this, but they can change it down effectively and inject spite and regret in equal measure into those wordy spews. It's almost them at their noisiest and scrappiest, racing with the energy of a band starting out given the extra confidence of their having mastered their particular craft. So what does the Johnny Foreigner album sound like? It sounds like Johnny Foreigner, and that's more than enough.
[iTunes] [Amazon] [Spotify]

Top five on Boxing Day

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