Previously: The songs of the year, here.
Now: It may now be the future but albums still exist in this world of downloading individual tracks and all that. Lots of great songs this year where the album did not live up to it so I had to do a lot of brain time working out my Top Albums list. Here it is, with music and pictures:
The Irrepressibles: Nude. I found them via a package of remixes for a single from their debut album which was nice enough but this second album is a work of art…. almost literally in this case with all the imagery, videos and bonus bits. Some orchestral slowies, some faster electropop plus strings tracks and everything in-between. Beautiful! One of those albums that will get taken out and played for years to come.
Bright Light Bright Light: Make Me Believe In Hope. After a long lead time the album was released and it was everything the fans expected / wanted. Not a dud track on it and lots of extras like a vinyl edition, a remixes CD, some t-shirts (and a cassette that I cannot play!) and all sorts of other online bits and bobs. The quality is there so the quantity is a bonus. This album did well in a lot of end of year polls despite not having a massive commercial success which goes to show that the right music can get the attention.
Saint Etienne: Words and Music. A concept album about pop music that is one of the finest pop albums of recent years? Great idea. Perfect from start to finish, supported by an excellent live show and a tea towel. Saint Etienne never disappoint.
The Melting Ice Caps: Permissible Permutations. Another kind of concept album, from a man who, like Saint Etienne, never disappoints. The Melting Ice Caps are the best indie pop (and other things) one man band that you have not heard of and are hard to describe so how about “excellent songwriting with depth?”
No Doubt: Push and Shove. This comeback album apparently did pretty bad commercially and annoyed some of the older fans with its new sound. It has an extra layer of pop what with all those lovely synth riffs but I adored it as I go mad for a bit of anthemic synth and guitars pop. Maybe it’s the fault of classic era Duran for imprinting that on me. Anyway, it’s a marvellous upbeat pop album that still has a No Doubt feel to it.
Jessie Ware: Devotion. So much has been said about this album already and it’s everything That Emeli Bloody Sande album is not. Jessie Ware can do ‘sophisticated’ as well as uptempo and this long player may occasionally veer into slightly baffling youthful sounds but I can cope with a bit of that.
Frank Ocean: Channel Orange. I eventually investigated this one. Oh yes.
Twin Shadow: Confess. An unknown to me until I heard a track in our car, loved it, bought this album and then their debut too. Very good mixed bag of sounds that come together to make a strong set of tunes. Strong creative vision, a bit like the old days when people seemed to try harder, or am I just a grumpy oldie?
Niki & the Dove: Instinct. I missed out on the initial hype but found myself loving a song or two via bloggy pals and then bought the album which was a big success in my ears. They’re from Europe and have a great brand of slightly freaky synthpop so perfect for me.
Gaz Coombes Presents Here Come The Bombs. Easy to love this album as it’s Gaz From Supergrass and it’s great.
Foxy Shazam: The Church of Rock and Roll. Ridiculous overblown American rock anthem cliches all over the place and I like it. A lot.
Gigs of the year:
Fingersnap at Leicester Square Theatre on Valentine’s Day. Excellent music and banter, and I got my lurve dedication read out.
The Melting Ice Caps at that pub with the pint of chips with the CD Walkman.
Saint Etienne at the London Palladium. Music! Merchandise! Massive balloons!
Scritti Politti at Firestation in Windsor. Hypnotised.
All those lovely Jimmy Somerville reissues that included the first Bronski Beat album, both of the Communards ones and his first two solo releases.
Human League Dare/Fascination boxy thing, even though I had most of it already.
ZTT Reissues of all sorts of stuff from my childhood.
The four Everything But The Girl reissues because I never had them before and they were clearly made with love.
Sarah Cracknell’s album coming out in the Saint Etienne Deluxe format: lost semi-classic.
The Spiels & Autoheart : Northern Lad. Jody Gadsden and friends do one of my all time favourite Tori Amos songs and do it so very well.
Temper Trap: Love Is A Losing Game. From a cover mount CD with Q, this was a slightly raspy pleasant surprise.
Jonny Cola & the A-Grades: Ship Of Fools. I remembered how much I liked Jonny Cola and bought all their music. This cover is a joy!
Next time: Back to nerd whimsy some time soon.