Friday, June 08, 2007

The RQ Mid-Year Review: Chris

I maintain that it is still Friday when I post this, despite what your east coast time shenanigary may suggest.

5. Hanne Hukkelberg -Rykestrasse 68

Norwegian ice-voice-angel Hanne's first album Little Things was a joyous celebration of eclecticism and light, little sounds, obviously influencing the title somewhat. Her second loses a lot of the small tinkles and loops in favour of a larger, more German feel (no doubt a result of living in Berlin for the past couple of years) and more booming music. Her voice doesn't trip across the sounds as lightly as before, but the gusto with which she tinkles now is commendable. Of particular note is her cover of (the Pixies') Break My Body as far as unexpected leaps into grandiosity go.

4. The National -Boxer

Despite a shocking choice in album opener (just about every band seems to be feeling the urge to write painfully obviously "political" songs urging their fans (who more often than not are already converted) to take note of their current "political climate" in a way that sticks out like the proverbial wounded opposable digit from the rest of their oeuvre of gentle melody), I can't help but smile as I settle into the familiar pattern of drums and baritone vocals. It's only been a little while since I heard this, but there is enough progression, enough gentle imagery pertaining to idyllic scenes with sinister stabs from slightly off camera for me to tap along and enjoy where I'm being taken. Which makes me wonder how out of place Fake Empire actually is.

3. Bracken -We Know About The Need

This would probably rank higher if Hood's lead singer Chris Adams hadn't taken a moniker I wouldn't have minded taking myself at some point in the future for his debut solo album. However, his glitchy folky dubstep foray into the solo world, accompanied by incomparable vocalisations of lyrics almost perfectly indifferent to its listeners accompanies a walk in the short gloaming of a Perth winter with such sincerity and complementary panache I have managed to overcome my sizeable jealousy. Also, I think it was originally released on vinyl in late 2006, but at a time when nobody was buying records, thus it missed out on all the best of 2006 lists. And an album this good deserves some mention somewhere.

2. The Cinematic Orchestra -Ma Fleur

ReallyFuckingGood, particularly for anyone into relaxed jazz drumming, ambient acoustic instruments and ethereal lyricless voices which abruptly break apart into (ca)noodlings on an electric piano accompanied by nothing. As a group/man dedicated to the art of the film soundtrack, this is a brilliant foray into stand alone songs.

1. Andrew Bird -Armchair Apocrypha

Possibly predictable, given my previous predilection for 'pocrypha's pleasant panderings to my penchant for pansy music. Well, not really. But I was running out of "p" adjectives. It's really lovely though. My previous criticism of overtly political songs in mind, Scythian Empire is a masterpiece of subtlety, plain old good songwriting, inventive chord progressions, delicious wordplay, various rhythmic styles, well chosen collaborations (in particular Dosh) and most of all, in my mind, delicately turned orchestration. Every song stands alone equally as well as it fills its place in the album. I really do find this to be a masterwork.

Notable Mentions:
Blonde Redhead - 23
Gruff Rhys - Candylion
Amon Tobin - Foley Room

Listen Pending:
The Clientele - God Save The Clientele
Caribou - Andorra


Amber said...

Not predictable! You do not know the pondering I went through over whether or not Andrew Bird would make the cut for me, and I was kinda sad he didn't, but this album just isn't as good! And you do know how much I love him. The previous Fingerlings version of Scythian Empires is nicer, deer. Check it owwwt [if you haven't already?].

Amber said...

P.S. Very nice list.