Sunday, March 04, 2012

2012 - The story so far

I realised that I haven't really posted anything Todd or otherwise here lately so let's change that right now.

We have had two complete months so what albums have tickled my fancy thus far in 2012.

Craig Finn - Clear Heart Full Eyes.

The Hold Steady's front man delivers a debut solo record that unsurprisingly is reminiscent of THS, but is most a much more stripped down and folky/country vibed record. Takes a coule of listens, but it is a solid record that will certainly tide me over until the next THS album gets made.

Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas

I doubt there will be a better album released by a 77 year old this year. Actually I doubt there will be that many albums by anyone of any other age that will release a better record either. A fuller sounding record than he has recorded in a while and also one that most reconnects with his earlier folk roots. Show me the Place, Come Healing, Darkness ... and more. All classic Cohen.

Van Halen - A different Kind of Truth

A pleasant surprise. This album doesn't suck. A lot of the origins of the songs on this album date back to the 70s, and it shows. YOu could imagine this album coming out after VHII. THis does cause a slight issue in that it does already feel retro rather than current, but I think it is as good a VH album as most from their past. Solid hard rock album.

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp

Been playing this quite a bit. Vocally - and musically - on this she reminds me of Sarabeth Tucek, with a smattering of Aimee Mann thrown in for good measure. Kind of indie - folk vibe. Have booked tickets to see her live later in year off back of this record.

Shearwater - Animal Joy

Another band new to me, but with another album that is very much indie with a liberal slice of folk added in. Vocally I get both richard thompson and the guy from Talk Talk. Makes for interesting listening. Listen to the folky joy of the title track through to the straight indie rock of Immacualte. Good stuff.

Speech Debelle - Freedom of Speech

Much anticipated second album from Mercury Prize winning rapper. It's been a while coming but I have to say it is more than worth the wait. I'd be surprised if there was a better rap/hiphop album this year. Clever and insightful lyrics wrapped up in music that enhances rather than smoothers. Elephant in the LIving Room and Eagle Eye are two personal favs. A success.

First Aid Kit - The Lions Roar

Swedish folk/country duo, who sound like they came straight out of Nashville. Lovely little record, with title track the standout.

Lana Del Ray - Born to Die

She was never going to live up to the hype of the genius that is the song Video Games, but despite all that this is a mostly enjoyable record and Blue Jeans and the title track work for me nearly as much as Video Games.

School of Seven Bells - Ghoststory

ethereal shoe gazing music that owns much to the quieter moments of My Bloody Valentine and a lot to the Cocteau Twins. However, as I am a fan of both these bands I have found a lot to like in songs such as Love Play and Lafaye on this record.

Well, that's enough of that. I have also been to a few gigs in the past month: Ren Harvieu, The Jezabels, and Shelby Lynne.

Harvieu is a new girl on the block, whose voice and style is similar to KD Lang. Very much laid back and chilled out. Last year she suffered a serious back injury that threatened to leave her paralysed, and delayed the release of her debut album. It is now ready to come out and whilst she still needs a stick, she is out there performing. Live she has yet to find a presence on stage which means you leave cold, whilst admiring her obvious talent. Hopefully this will come and she gets more confident. Certainly, one to watch. Through the Night from BBC Session.

The Jezabels are an Australian pop/rock band who owe much to 80s bands such as Simple Minds as well as to fellow Aussie bands such as Splendid and Baby Animals. They make a good sound live and have a handful of really good songs, but still need more for me, if they want to make that step up. In Haley Mary, however, they have a truly great singer. This is Endless Summer from gig I attended (not videod by me).

Shelby Lynne. What is there to say. Beautiful, talented. This time around she was performing solo in a church - Union Chapel. Mostly playing material from her latest album and her classic I am Shelby Lynne album. She was , of course, superb. 'I'll Hold Your Head' and 'I Want To Go Back' from the Union Chapel (again not recorded by me)