Thursday, December 20, 2007

Those who also entertained

In compiling as definitive as possible a list of what we loved over the course of 52 and a bit weeks, we have to make tough decisions as to what to leave aside. A lot of those that finished in the supposed next level down of our list everyone knows about - In Rainbows, A Weekend In The City, Our Love To Admire, Icky Thump, Myths Of The Near Future, that sort of thing. But this blog is rarely about bowing at the knee to populist opinion, so here's twenty less mainstream-publicised albums from the year that weren't quite strong enough for the top thirty but are still worthy of investigation:

Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
Mobius strip freak-folk, supposedly their most accessible, which by all other standards is well out there

Bill Callahan - Woke On A Whaleheart
Joanna Newsom's beau drops the Smog name and takes his pastoral storytelling in a rootsier direction

Caribou - Andorra
Dan Snaith takes multilayered 60s psychedelia through his lo-fi electronic prism for a space age summer jam

Charlotte Hatherley - The Deep Blue
Subtle textures and clever constructions push the boundaries of her punk-pop lean; far better than Ash's album

Feist - The Reminder
An apparent one-hit wonder album whose warm organic soul-pop would justly have given it chart status long before

Frank Turner - Sleep Is For The Week
Former hardcore shouter mellows, nearly, into wryly personal acoustic truth-teller

Grinderman - Grinderman
Nick Cave throws off the elegaic Bad Seeds shackles for primevally filthy rock'n'roll, plus the odd pained ballad

iLiKETRAiNS - Elegies To Lessons Learnt
It's educational! But it never gets in the way of the brooding post-rock build and release monuments

Jeffrey Lewis - 12 Crass Songs
Anti-folk bloke reinterprets anarchist screes as oddly playful idiosyncratic acoustic pop

Liars - Liars
Noisy curs return to something parallel to normality, throwing a million dissonant ideas at rhythmic almost-pop

Meet Me In St Louis - Variations On Swing
Reanimating the corpse of At The Drive-In and making it even more cussedly time signature-hopping abrasive

Miracle Fortress - Five Roses
In debt to Beach Boys harmonies, but the studio trickery means it couldn't have come from anywhere but mid-00s Montreal

Misty's Big Adventure - Funny Times
Playfully misanthropic post-Bonzos multi-handed (literally) Brummies head very slowly towards the centre

Rumble Strips - Girls And Weather
Not great art, just great indie dancefloor horn-touting pop with a kick like nobody does any more

Shearwater - Palo Santo
Stark, atmospheric dark folk storytelling on a central Nico theme from Okkervil River side project, released this year in the UK

SixNationState - SixNationState
At full pelt it's a carnival like no other; when it calms down it's how the Coral should have evolved

Sondre Lerche - Phantom Punch
Intricately minded Costelloite Norwegian stretches melodies and applies them to newfound confidence to rock

The Strange Death Of Liberal England - Forward March!
Frankly enormous walls of overwrought slow build post-rock coalesce in Constellation Records-esque calls to arms

Von Sudenfed - Tromatic Reflexxions
Mouse On Mars help Mark E Smith reconnect to his experimental dance urges while remaining completely individual

The Young Playthings - Who Invented Love?
Brits do West coast jangle direct from a David Lynch soundtrack, self-described as "The Replacements covering Jimmy Mack"

A mention also in dispatches for the smart lo-fi psychedelic melodicism of George Washington Brown's On The Night Plain, the current availability of which we're not entirely certain of, and the imagery-rich folk noir of the debut album by Ola Podrida, as yet unavailable outside import in the UK. The Young Republic's 12 Tales From Winter City would certainly have made it in too but despite a few handtooled copies making Rough Trade in October it's not getting a proper release until January, and them's the STN breaks.

What about mini-albums/EPs, then? The traditonal way to introduce a newish artist properly, reintroduce yourself as fit and raring to go again, mess about a bit or fill out a late period album campaign release, there's been plenty of goodness in the half-length format this year, and here's our top ten:

10 Chris T-T - This Gun Is Not A Gun EP
9 Tired Irie - Tired Irie EP
8 Tokyo Police Club - A Lesson In Crime
7 Grizzly Bear - Friend
6 Eugene McGuinness - The Early Learnings Of Eugene McGuinness
5 Adam Gnade & Youthmovies - Honey Slides
4 Wire - Read And Burn 03
3 Pagan Wanderer Lu - Perfection RIP
2 Emmy The Great - My Bad EP
1 Johnny Foreigner - Arcs Across The City

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