29th January, 2006

Music Monthlies: January 2006

January’s Music Monthly sees me finally able to talk about some new albums that I haven’t been listening to for ages because of course there is no method of obtaining new music on the internet before it is released…

Incidentally, some of you thought my 2005 Music Yearly was a bit too populist this year, and I agree to an extent, although at least I didn’t mention Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party or bloody Hard Fi like everyone else. Anyway, 2006 will see me diving deep for some more obscure musical curios, but for now, I have a backlog to get through. Guess what I’m starting with?

Classic debut

OK. Their second single has also made it to the top spot in the charts, the press are going bandy for them and the album looks set to be the fastest selling album ever! Yes, Arctic Monkeys are the biggest thing in the UK right now. Not bad for a bunch of spotty teenagers, eh?

arctic monkeys

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (the title is taken from a line said by Albert Finney in the best movie ever made about Nottingham), is a testament to nights out in shit Northern towns, filtered through incredibly evocative lyrics (as good as Morrissey in the Eighties, said one colleague) and blistering guitars, funky baselines and an unquestionable belief. I fucking love this album, and I don’t care if lots of teenage girls, old men and Richard and Judy like them.

The songs we’ve all had as demos for months have been enhanced but not lost any of their rough-hewn charm. “Anticipation has the habit of settin’ you up for disappointment…” are the first words uttered on the album, but nobody’s disappointed. The new songs are genius, and the only track I wasn’t too sure about (Perhaps Vampires is a Bit Strong, But…) is now my favourite - especially the cry of “All you people are vampires!” that punctuates the mid-song silence from the back of the recording studio. Raw, pointed and funky as fuck.

I’ll shut up about Arctic Monkeys now, knowing that my obsessiveness means something to some of you - even Mr. Rutter emailed me to say thanks for banging on about them. Another convert.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!

The Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! album is a wondrous thing. Imagine that there were no clouds, then suddenly a huge white one appeared in the skies above London. People would come from miles around to marvel at it’s beauty and splendour, but wouldn’t be too sure what it was. Maybe that cloud would be a bit like Talking Heads intermingled with The Rapture, played through a fog. That’s the best description I could think of for this album. Hope it helps.

The clap

And the rest…

I’ve only just discovered the quiet brilliance of Sufjan Stevens whose Come On Feel The Illinoise! (great title) album is getting me through the quiet hours when I’ve overdosed on Sigur Ros. Same goes for Richard Hawley‘s Coles Corner. Hawley sounds like Scott Walker, and looks like he’s had a night out with Nick Cave. Beautiful songs that sound very dated in a very modern way.

I’m also loving Dream Brother, where loads of interesting artists cover the songs of Tim and Jeff Buckley. The latter’s Grace album lives permanently in my Top Three albums ever, so I’m dubious of cover versions. However, Adem, The Earlies and a few other lo-fi-ers do a grand job for the most part. Worth a go.

Worthy shouts this month also for Guillemots, whose Trains To Brazil single is quite tidy in a veering towards the middle of the road kind of manner. I’ve long loved both Diplo (Florida is amazing) and DJ Shadow, so the idea of something called Diplo Vs Shadow got me very excited - a tidy download I found via Kottke, bizarrely.

I’ve been remarkably unimpressed with the new Strokes long player First Impressions Of Earth. Not sure why, but lets face it, there’s no Hard To Explain on there. Maybe Juicebox is up there, but little else for me.

Oh blimey. I’ve waffled on for far too long again. Let that be all for this month.

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