It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the time for lists, lists, lists and more lists! Here are my favourite albums of the year. I was planning to do a Top Ten, but I think there were five albums that stood head and shoulders above the rest. So let’s get on with it, in no particular order!
Future of the Left – The Plot Against Common Sense
If you don’t know Future of the Left, then The Plot Against Common Sense is a good play to start. It’s a noisy, punky, aggressive, yet intensely clever album. The songs are accompanied by brilliant, smart, incisive lyrics. A particular favourite is Sorry Dad, I Was Late for The Riots.
Best of all, you will smile when you listen to it. Future of the Left have a point to their songs, but there they are a fiercely charming band. The Plot Against Common Sense is filled with the kind of vitriolic passion that you won’t have felt since you were a you-versus-the-world teenager.
The Unwinding Hours – Afterlives
I love The Unwinding Hours. Their first album is still one of the best unknown albums ever recorded, and the band’s previous work as Aereogramme stands out as one of the most unique styles I have ever heard. That said, I was a little nervous about hearing their sophomore effort: how, exactly, do you follow up on perfection?
Thankfully, they created another fantastic album. Afterlives is wonderful, beautiful, mesmerising indie-rock. The vocals are, are delicate, with minimalist yet emotive lyrics, and the instrumentation is as expressive as always. Look out for a specific blog post on these guys soon, as I start introducing you lovely readers to the lesser-known bands in my music collection.
Purity Ring – Shrines
I first heard Purity Ring last year and immediately fell in love. In the world of electronic music, currently dominated by the likes of Deadmau5 and Skrillex, they were a subtle, enjoyable and fresh sound. Of all the albums released this year, Shines, their debut, was the one I was most looking forward to.
It doesn’t disappoint. Shrines is a wonderfully produced, insanely catchy and intelligent album. There is a tantalising use of vocal effects, shifting, shimmering synth, and great quiet/loud dynamics. Give it a listen and hear for yourself.
Mark Lanegan – Blues Funeral
You certainly know what you’re going to get with Mark Lanegan: brooding, smoky overtones, smart and emotive lyrics, and boldly-written songs. What you don’t know, though, is exactly how it’s going to sound. With this album, Lanegan incorporated several fresh elements, including the intricate use of sequencers.
It’s not all unexpected, though: Blues Funeral is just as dark as the name suggests. There are a few standout tracks, such as the wonderful Phantasmagoria Blues and The Gravedigger’s Song, but there is quality throughout. Lanegan is, amazingly, still developing as a songwriter, and Blues Funeral proves that he is one of the most consistently interesting musicians around.
Deftones – Koi No Yokan
Deftones are the best anomaly of the nineties. A band that originally found a home amongst the world of alt- and nu-metal, they are one of the few survivors of that era and are the only one that have kept making top-level albums. Koi No Yokan is no exception. In fact, there is a case to be made that Koi No Yokan is the best album they’ve ever released.
It’s rare in modern music, but this is an album that actually feels like a single entity rather than just a collection of songs. It flows tremendously well, from the hard riffs of Poltergeist and Leathers to the more layered Tempest. In spite of all the fantastic rage, it is a delicately-written piece of art and it deserves to be heard.
And that’s the end of that chapter. More posts soon, I promise!