A few favoured albums (2007)

All Hour Cymbals album sleeveEvery year I intend to write a “top 10 records/films/etc.” blog entry. I put it off until some time in the middle of January so I can catch up on a few releases I’d missed around the end of the year, and then either forget about it, or realise it’s too hard to reduce the list.

The easiest way round that would be to just link to my listening charts for the past 12 months over on last.fm. But right now those are rolling charts (so if you look at them six months after I write this, they’ll have changed) and they’re also skewed towards records that came out early in the year. There are certainly a few highlights in there—including Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, Feist, Grinderman, Bjork, Radiohead and Panda Bear—but there are also several missing. So perhaps it’s easiest to just throw up a few notes, and then let go of this angst for another year?

Four of the releases that have occupied much of my listening over the past few years come from women who live just across the road from each other. Sarah Masen‘s three new EPs have lived with us for most of the year, and between Kari singing with her at Greenbelt and just thinking they’re great, we’ve both listened to them a lot. Further proof that sometimes recording in a friend’s house can yield results just as satisfying as any costly production process. Julie Lee‘s latest took a little longer to grow on me, and marks a bit of a change of direction since her last release, but the more I listen, the more I enjoy.

The Battles and Burial records are often mentioned together. Between their similarity in name and sharing the general territory of “electronica” it seems like there’s a fair bit in common. In reality, they’re very different records, and both very satisfying in their ways. I find it hard to dispute Burial’s place at the top of metacritic’s charts for 2007.

Of late I’ve been very taken with the Yeasayer’s “All Hour Cymbals” and am very much looking forward to seeing them at the ICA in a few weeks. At times they remind me of Anathallo (who are also going to be in the UK very soon and are well worth an evening of your time) and they’re connected with the Brooklyn scene, but there’s more texture to their sound and better use of space than you find with most of the indie bands kicking around at the moment.

And of course there’s St. Vincent, Spoon, Of Montreal, Dirty Projectors, Ry Cooder (not as wonderful as Chavez Ravine, but a real grower), Low and a whole host more than I have time or space to do justice to even without mentioning earlier releases I only just discovered.

(nb: most of the links above will take you to pages where you can hear the artists/albums in question)

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