A selection of some new albums that I've been getting into over the course of this bizarre year:
In Rainbows - Radiohead
The download thing was the ultimate cool step, the music had some inspired moments, I'm still finding things in this one. Check out: Jigsaw Falling Into Place (which is what it actually sounds like!)
Boys and Girls in America - The Hold Steady
It's really from late 2006 but hey. It's like Springsteen's early albums getting a Manhattan 00's makeover, but it's better than that. Check out: Chips Ahoy ("How am I supposed to know that you're high if you wont let me touch you? / How am i supposed to know that you're high if you wont even dance?")
Back to Black - Amy Winehouse
I know it's also from 2006, but this girl has got a superb shtick going: lippy soul jazz. Slapped on fingernails for the complete ripoff of Ain't No Mountain High Enough on the verse of Tears Dry On Their Own. Check out: You've heard the whole thing many times already.
Easy Tiger - Ryan Adams
People, like me, who were a little turned off by his Princeisms and arrogance of 2002-03 are going to come back to this guy over the course of many years. This is not prime Adams, but some great songs here. Check out: Two (he really does have a great voice and great phrasing)
Comicopera - Robert Wyatt
The old geezer gets some real connection in here, some tracks that really stick with you. Commercial!?! Just about... Check out: Just As You Are
Lady's Bridge - Richard Hawley
Elvis and Roy in Sheffield. Hawley's back on top form here; songs good enough that's not just a guilty retro pleasure. Check out: Valentine (kicks the album off nicely, just like Coles Corner did on the last one).
Sky Blue Sky - Wilco
They pulled a surprise again. They headed back to the middle of the road. They wrote some self-help songs. It disappointed at first and then it thrilled as we grew with them.
Cease to Begin - Band of Horses
Ben Bridwell sings autistic fragments that somehow form a beautiful whole. Critics go on about pastoral and short, but this is a great collection of songs that never drags.
Live in Dublin - Bruce Springsteen
He's having a blast. He gets to do jazz, folk, even ska, the band goes with him wherever he likes. Check out: the opening rush of Atlantic City!
Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem
NYC served up with a mix of rock and beats born (more or less) in my era...
The Real Thing (Words and Sounds Vol. 3) - Jill Scott
Ooh she's a lusty lady, and her lyrics slide poetically into all those places other voices can't reach. Some seriously good grooves.
Era Vulgaris - Queens of the Stone Age
Not a classic, but some seriously good riffing going on here and an eclectic collection of songs.
Raising Sand - Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
It didn't sound like much on paper, but the open ears heard on Mighty Rearranger that Planty is a great voice and a vital musician, this went one step further. It just worked.
Boxer - The National
Another fine effort from a band that takes Cohen lyrics into soundscapes and sets up some tricky guitar-based grooves behind them. If you haven't heard them, and you like the Tindersticks (which I most definitely do), then you should.
Lets Stay Friends - Les Savy Fav
File them near The Hold Steady but don't give them the keys to your bar.
Our Love To Admire - Interpol
Love the opening track Pioneer To The Falls. Joy Division given a 00's makeover. This one's a touch more produced than the last two, but it's still offbeat and edgy.
Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
Not quite as arresting as the first one, but some great stuff nonetheless. Worrying that it didn't drive one to keep listening again and again, but I think they'll be back with something restless and worthwhile. Gang of Four guitars'll do it every time...
Aman Iman (Water Is Life) - Tinariwen
If you've ever been to the northern Sahara, this is the sound of the caravan nights with electric guitar added. Late hours with rhythms and whisky, get up to dance, fall over, smile, sand in your hair.