Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Back in the swing.

It has been a busy and strange couple of weeks. Upon returning for Term 2 after weeks of staying in and writing, I was expecting to get straight back into 'normal' life, but of course this is never the case! A whistle-stop return home for a family funeral and then a lovely day celebrating Daniel's graduation made everything a little unusual. But here I am, back to my blogging, and hoping to build a new routine as soon as possible!

I don't really feel inspired to write about any particular part of my life right now. I just feel like writing something. So, I will do something I've been intending to do for a while: a short summary of 2009 from a musical perspective. I wait until the 'Best of 2009' listings come out every year, and then spend all of my Christmas money on albums which take my fancy. So here is a selection!

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

This was named the Album of 2009 by various publications, one of which being Uncut magazine, whose opinion (or musical opinion, at least) I tend to trust. From what I'd heard on the radio, and the many comparisons I'd read liking them to the Beach Boys, I wasn't expecting to enjoy this all that much, but actually, I do like it quite a lot. In an age where you can't avoid Thom Yorke's political wailing unless you abandon the airwaves altogether, it's refreshing to hear songs about bringing up children, being happy with your lot, and all other aspects of middle-class domestic bliss. Not my favourite, but fun all the same!

Grizzly Bear - Vekatimest

This is one of those lovely, unimposing albums which doesn't grab you all of a sudden but instead carries you along until the end, when you realize that you've just been somewhere very beautiful. A lovely lilting album with some really great harmonies.

Wild Beasts - Two Dancers

I bought the first Wild Beasts album earlier in the year, and was so excited by the really daring falsetto mixed with pure mysogeny that I had to buy the new (and highly rated) album. Then I was disappointed when it didn't grab me straight away. It feels produced, and I always prefer a bit of scratchiness in an album, it makes the music more reachable somehow. Anyway, I listened again, properly, while cleaning up, and quite suddenly fell in love. It's a little more sensitive then Limbo, Panto, less raucous and wild, but that's fine by me!

The Raincoats - We Three

I first heard The Raincoats while watching a documentary about The Smiths, and the sheer energy I saw in the one-minute clip of the band made me want their album. As it happens, they re-released We Three this year, and so it was relatively easy to come by (I don't use Amazon where possible as I am on a plight to save what is left of the record shop). The Raincoats combine the energy and attitude of the 'riot grrl' genre with some really reallly reallllly awesome music; I absolutely love the grinding violin (and I never though the violin could be described as 'grinding' until I heard them) and the attention to musical detail which is often forgotten in the heat of feminism. Love it love it love it; it takes me back to my punk days without feeling like an adolescent again!

The Unthanks - Here's The Tender Coming

The Unthanks were nominated for Best Album at the the BBC folk awards, and after hearing them on the radio I decided I needed this CD. However, after the first listen I returned to my previous opinion of folk music: not for stereo. It seemed a bit too clichéd, too unoriginal, too folksy (unsurprisingly, maybe). But then I listened again. An hour later, the album finished, and I put it on again. Since then it has left the CD player once, soon to return. It's a really lovely album, and brings out the best of folk, in fact: the tradition, the storytelling, the simple but beautiful music. Suddenly it stopped being folksy and became something original, music in its own right. I'm excited to get to know this album more, and will be doing so later this evening.

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