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Posts tagged conquering animal sound
Top 10 Albums of 2011 - 0, and some that didn’t make it
Here’s a self-indulgant recap of my top 10 for 2011.
10 - Talvihorros - Descent Into Delta
9 - Ringo Deathstarr - Colour Trip
8 - Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel
7 - The Raveonettes - Raven In The Grave
6 - Epic45 - Weathering
5 - I Break Horses - Hearts
4 - Chris Tenz - Frozen Arms
3 - The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - Bag of Meat
2 - Rob St. John - Weald
1 - Esben And The Witch - Violet Cries
But, dear readers, there’s a twist in the tale…
0 - Kate Bush - 50 Words For Snow
I was halfway through the lazy process of writing up my top 10 when I heard 50 Words For Snow. I knew at that point I was fucked, really.
Maybe it was for the best. I don’t want to compare this album to anything else; it’s right and proper that it sits by itself, all alone. It’s the work of a total, total fucking genius - that most tired of tired epithets. It’s so haunting, so beautiful, that I don’t even know if I prefer it to Esben’s Violet Cries, or to Rob’s Weald, or to whatever. It just exists on it’s own terms, and that’s that.
No words can describe what this record sounds like. I think that is a large part of the point of the ethereal; it is imagined, and experienced, not described.
Some That Didn’t Make It
The Horrors - Skying
Thoroughly decent third album from a band who thrive on changing their aesthetic like rain; this Nuggets-esque swirl of Krautrock and psych is compelling, but not as downright fun as Strange House and not as overpowering as their Geoff Barrow-supervised shoegazeing opus Primary Colours. It’s still fucking great, mind.
Friendly Fires - Pala
Dancing shoes = on. A worthy follow up to a brilliant first record, Pala is more concerned with layers and smooth groove rather than raggedy, Liquid Liquid funk. It’s done so well that I really don’t care.
Jeniferever - Silesia
Jeni are getting better with every record, and Silesia has the most staying power of anything they’ve cranked out yet. It doesn’t contain anything to rival From Across The Sea, but then what does? Hearths is gorgeous, the opening title track striking, with all sorts of shades of violence and chilling atmosphere in between. This album was a brave move, and a brave assimilation of influences - the only way post-rock can even hope to remain interesting. Explosions In The Sky and all the rest of you tedious old wankers, take note.
Mirrors - Lights And Offerings
Impeccable pilfered 80s electro from some of the ex-Mumm-Ra crew. The standard influences (Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk) are so obvious that it’s almost not worth pointing them out, but when there are formidably well-written pop tunes like Ways To An End, Hide And Seek and Searching In The Wilderness, who cares? Joy is precious these days. Grasp it.
Alex Turner - Submarine
Suck it And See was mainly a festering piece of turd, so it was a relief to see Al Turner’s proper songwriting surface in some form, even if his band are now above and beyond the pale. This mini-EP drafted in Bill Ryder-Jones and Owen Pallett, but primarily existed to provide a soundtrack of quiet, maudlin heartbreak for one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s remarkably affecting and despite it’s brevity, it was teetering on the edge of the top 10.
The Kills - Blood Pressures
Every time The Kills release anything, I want to love it dearly, with all of my heart. Luckily, their last attempt at weirdo grime-hop, Midnight Boom, was my favourite record of 2008 and my favourite thing ever done by one of my favourite bands. Less luckily, Blood Pressures has incredible, signature tracks, but lacks the insane invention of its predecessor, and to my impatient ears, it’s just OK. As I did with the Dead Weather’s second release last year; criticise your idols more than anyone else. Be harsh, demand more. The Kills are capable of so much better than this. It’s clearly still a great album. It’s just a step downwards, and this saddens me beyond measure.
S.C.U.M. - Again Into Eyes
S.C.U.M.’s live performances are exhibitions of wondrous, withdrawn violence and enviably brilliant shoegaze tones; I dubbed them as potentially the new Bark Psychosis earlier in the year, and I can award no higher praise. Inevitably, the resultant album never stood a chance of recreating this aloof, sullen chaos, but it is still something to be savoured nonetheless. Whitechapel remains as brilliant as ever.
Top 10 Albums of 2011 - 8
8 - Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel
It really is most odd writing about Kammerspiel as a component of 2011. These songs formed a huge part of my two years preceding this one, and so to listen to the eventual record, finally released on the saintly Gizeh Records, is more a summary than a fresh statement.
More so, CAS themselves have moved on; these songs are not, on the whole, present in their sets these days as their grand quest for radical experimentation continues deeper and deeper into the depthful, the menacing, the dark and the layered. They are not the same band any more - so Kammerspiel is a relic, then?
Perhaps; but what a relic. Each listen still happily reveals a rare gift of composition and a fiendish use of bewitching pop melodies. The album is the blueprint on which these songs were expansively, lingeringly built up on stage, with Flinch and Tracer especially glorious fragments of Anneke and Jamie’s increasingly frightening CVs.
Conquering Animal Sound are one of the boldest, bravest bands this city has ever produced, and though we’ve all changed and grown, this record is where it started, and neither we nor they should ever forget that. God bless it; this is the kind of music that soundtracks memories. I love it wholly.
Miserable Christmas 2011
I recently set myself a challenge - compile a CD of Christmas tunes designed to instill melancholy, bitterness and other assorted forms of narrow-minded, lip-quivering nostalgia.
My criteria haven’t been too narrow, a result of deciding that the first priority needed to be that everything on here should actually be a great song. So, then - cover versions are fair game, and explicit Christmas references aren’t necessarily a condition of entry - snowy ambience will do just as well (or even just a vague association with the relevant time of year). Also, no Fairytale Of New York. That’s too obvious.
1. Clem Leek - Snow Tale #1
2. Arab Strap - Xmas (Baby Please Come Home)
3. Gary Jules & Michael Andrews - Mad World
4. Mew - Snowflake
5. Galaxie 500 - Snowstorm
6. iLiKETRAiNS - Last Christmas
7. Low - Blue Christmas
8. Jacob Golden - Feeling Like Christmas (Again)
9. Frank Sinatra - It Came Upon A Midnight Clear
10. The Raveonettes - Christmas Song
11. An Insection - Awake/Alone On 25
12. Conquering Animal Sound - Not Til The Snow Has Gone
Ladies and gents, I am very proud to present Miserable Christmas 2011. Download it here, and may all your Christmases be blue.
Stag and Dagger 2011
Timetable is out! Cue schoolgirl-like squeaking. Here’s the plans -
[I don’t care about the first two acts, but why not, eh - and as long as I’m in that room for the Gents Club, I don’t give a toss anyway]
Blue Sky Archives 15:45
Victorian English Gentlemans Club 16:45
[Drinking/random wandering time until…]
Conquering Animal Sound 19:00
[A very quick dash next door for as much as possible of…]
The Art School
Withered Hand 20:30
Sons and Daughters 22:30
Hmmm. I am quite tempted to find somewhere to crash for the night. Great night is looking great, either way, with no major clashes at all. Phews!