martial 909s and garage psyche: best of 2010 part one – music

December 10, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in musings, new music, no audience underground | Leave a comment
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Yes, list season is upon us!  Despite being old and largely disconnected from culture, especially anything yoof-oriented like music, I can’t resist leafing through the end of year polls.  At least in the age of the internet I can convert my blank incomprehension into hipster knowledgeability with a few clicks of the mouse.  See for example the FACT magazine best of the year which links to streams of the tracks in question.  Being an underground scenester has never been more convenient…  Anyhow, here’s my own short list of notable releases.

Ashtray Navigations – The Beak Stuck Out of the Snow

Galena – Grave News For You

Voices – Aporia

I have reviewed each of these releases at length in previous posts so please scroll down for the detail of my sage opinion.  The Voices tape was the most immediately impressive thing I heard all year.  The immensely satisfying Ashtray CD contains you’d look good as a 5 pound note, my favourite track of the year.  Billy Sprague’s Galena tape was possibly my most played album of the year.  It’s simplicity and emotional depth makes it endlessly revisitable.  It helped me through some tricky months.

In guitar related matters I bow to the the wisdom of my lifelong friend and arch-druid of punk musicology, Tim Hall.  His recommendations this year have been as smart as ever.  First up: Off!.  To say this band would not sound out of place on the Repo Man soundtrack is high praise but, as it contains ex-Circle Jerks, stating the obvious.  This is not a LA Hardcore heritage act: each one minute track is a vital and relevant punk masterclass to school the young pretenders.

Next: Moon Duo.  There are many winkle-picking hairies producing Mary-Chain-ish garage psyche at the moment but this lot are my choice.  I do find myself digging the whole scene though – if you echo everything out, mumble your lyrics and replace the hi-hat with a tambourine then my love is almost automatically guaranteed.

OK, thanks Tim.  Now on to my two albums of the year.  First up: Paisajes by Tristeza.  I had the privilege of hearing this remarkable record prior to its recent official release on blog-fave label Sanity Muffin.  Billy asked me to write some liner notes type stuff to aid in promoting it.  Unfortunately, I was very mad indeed at the time and he got a nonsense epic comparing Tristeza to pretty much every musical genre of the last fifty years.  Please ignore the ravings and allow the newly medicated radiofreemidwich to soberly recommend this beautiful, thoughtful and absorbing set of instrumentals.

BUT!  Wrenching the RFM album of the year award from the hands of Tristeza at the very last minute is Lone’s Emerald Fantasy Tracks.  This release rounds up all my favourite tropes in electronic dance music: the martial 909s of first-wave techno, the woozy rush of jackin’ acid house, the stabs and sinuous synth lines of Underground Resistance (think Jupiter Jazz) and the post-rave meditations of Polygon Window.  All this goodness is cooly and concisely filtered through a properly modern sensibility and the result is an uplifting 40 minutes of damn-near perfection.

OK, that’s all for now folks.  Part two to come once I’ve answered a few emails and gone to buy a Christmas tree.

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