Best albums of 2018 – Top 25

A bit late this year due to a long Xmas break trip overseas but rest assured that the traditional end of the year list has been done with the same level of focus and love than all previous years. A very dense year in terms of quantity of excellent records, meaning LP’s by The Dirty Projectors, Richard Thompson, Suede, Blood Orange, The Breeders, Arctic Monkeys or again Bodega could easily have been here as well. But I guess a man’s job is to do choices, right? Nice to find three jazz albums this year as well in this selection. You will find below other lists from websites or magazines; it really looks that I am the only person on Earth to find Christine and the Queens’ music irritating and full of clichés…

Anyway, without further due, let’s start with the album of the year, a real masterpiece done by an old friend.

#1 Gaz Coombes – “World’s Strongest Man”. Released in: May 2018 -Probably not a major surprise for those who follow this blog on a regular basis but I hope that this symbolic reward will make the whole world listen again or discover this amazing piece of music. This is Gaz Coombes’ third solo album and probably the best of his entire solo career or with the excellent band Supergrass. Songs are catchy, sounds are inventive and different from one track to another and the musicianship of it all is extraordinary. What makes this record different though are the lyrics and in particular the doubts, fears and hopes of a middle aged family man living in me-too times and in a society where we are all looking for a sense of purpose. RECORD OF THE YEAR!

  #2 The Lemon Twigs – “Go to School”. Released in: August 2018. The Lemon Twigs are the band of the very young d’Addario brothers and this is already their third release after their debut LP in 2016 and a great EP in 2017. Putting as number 2 record of the year a concept album about an adopted monkey going to school, feeling rejected and putting fire to his college building may seem a desperate move but trust me with this one. This is a real grower and all 16 songs are fantastic. Looking forward to catch them live again soon!

 #3 Flavien Berger – “Contre-temps”.Released in: September 2018. If I had to prove again that I do not have anything against French music, here is another example. The thing is that I do not really care and the only thing that has driven me throughout these years and with this blog in particular is to share emotion found in music. This album can also be considered as a sort of concept album because every track is really fresh and inventive. To be discovered and enjoyed by non-French speakers as well.

 #4 Rhye – “Blood”. Released in: February 2018. A beautiful, sensual and very delicate 2nd album from Canadian singer Mike Milosh. Everything great pop music should be in terms of melodies and freshness in sounds. Imagine if Sade were a man and doing her first records now…

 #5 Neneh Cherry – “Broken Politics”. Released in: October 2018. Another beautiful and very moving record from one of our favourite female artist and singer. Neneh Cherry’s releases are not as frequent as they used to be but really deserve to be listened to. This new LP in particular may be the best she has ever done, either thanks to the strength of the lyrics or to the serenity of her music.

 #6 Spiritualized  “And Nothing Hurt”. Released in: September 2018. Umpteenth album from former Spacemen Three‘s Jason Pierce. For those familiar with his art, you will find what you like, i.e. themes of love and desperation within repetitive and Velvet Underground influenced songs. For the others, this album is the perfect choice to discover this fantastic band.

 #7 Kanye West – “Ye”. Released in: June 2018. Another best of the year end list and another album from Mr. West. Although it looks his public and social life is getting weirder every day, his musical skills remain as strong as ever, in particular in this mini-album where he very openly describes his mental issues.

 #8 Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever  “Hope Downs”. Released in: June 2018. Musical movements are often things created by journalists but one has to admit there is currently an excellent wave of new and young Australian bands. The Rolling Blackouts C.F. are probably the best of the crew and this album will delight old Go Betweens fans but also a younger audience excited by new comers.

 #9 Sons Of Kemet “Your Queen Is A Reptile”. Released in: March 2018. Led by the great Shabaka Hutchings, Sons of Kemet are today’s best representative bands of the so-called new British jazz scene. In reality, all these musicians only want to respect the elders and create new sounds, mixing up traditional jazz in a context where they have all been listening to hip-hop and R’n’B.

 #10 Bill Ryder-Jones  “Yawn”. Out in: November 2018. Another great album from The Coral former member. As for all his albums, this one deserves to be listened again and again to appreciate his beauty and extreme musicianship.

  • 11. Petite Noir“La Maison Noir / The Black House”
  • 12. Interpol“Marauder”
  • 13. Jeff Tweedy“Warm”
  • 14. MGMT “Little Dark Age”
  • 15. Idles“Joy As An Act Of Resistance”
  • 16. John Coltrane – “Both Directions At Once”
  • 17. Kurt Vile – “Bottle It In”
  • 18. Father John Misty – “God’s Favorite Customer”
  • 19. Courtney Barnett – “Tell Me How You Really Feel”
  • 20. Sunflower Bean – “Twentytwo In Blue”
  • 21. Shame – “Songs Of Praise”
  • 22. Ty Segall – “Freedom’s Goblin”
  • 23. Field Music – “Open Here”
  • 24. Villagers – “The Art Of Pretending To Swim”
  • 25. Kamasi Washington – “Heaven & Earth”

Other voices’ (websites, magazines, records stores, etc…) Top 10.

You will find below a selection of other lists but there are so many of them that you may also want to go to the albumoftheyear.org website to get an aggregation of them all. You will appreciate that the Top 5 is made out of female artists.

  • Mojo (UK music mag): 1. Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth 2. Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino 3. Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever Hope Downs 4. Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer 5. Christine and the Queens Chris 6. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 7. Ryley Walker Deafman Glance 8. Courtney Barnett Tell me how you really feel 9. Spiritualized And Nothing Hurt 10. The Breeders All Nerve
  • Uncut (UK music mag): 1. Low Double Negative 2. Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever Hope Downs 3. Ty Segall Freedom’s Goblin 4. Spiritualized And Nothing Hurt 5. Yo La Tengo There’s a Riot going on 6. Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer 7. Gruff Rhys Babelsberg 8. Beak> Invada 9. Christine and the Queens Chris 10. Sons of Kemet Your Queen is a Reptile
  • NME (UK website): 1. The 1975 A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships 2. Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino 3. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 4. Sunflower Bean Twentytwo in Blue 5. Pusha T Daytona 6. Shame Songs of Praise 7. Kali Uchis Isolation 8. Cardi B Invasion of Privacy 9. Mitski Be the Cowboy 10. Christine and the Queens Chris
  • Rough Trade (London, Nottingham, Bristol and Brooklyn stores): 1. Shame Songs of Praise 2. Everything is Recorded By Richard Russell 3. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 4. Khruangbin Con todo el Mundo 5. Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever Hope Downs 6. Daniel Blumberg Minus 7. Goat Girl Goat Girl 8. Mark Peters Innerland 9. Courtney Barnett Tell me how you really feel 10. Oh Sees Smote Reverser
  • Fopp (UK stores): 1. Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth 2. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 3. Low Double Negative 4. Courtney Barnett Tell me how you really feel 5. Young Fathers Cocoa Sugar 6. Christine and the Queens Chris 7. Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer 8. First Aid Kit Ruins 9. Jon Hopkins Singularity 10. Nils Frahm All Melody
  • Greg Kot (Sound Opinions radio DJ #1): 1. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers Years 2. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 3. Noname Romm 25. 4. Superchunk What a Time to be alive 5. Saba Care for me 6. Our Girl Stranger today 7. Parquet Courts Wide Awake! 8. boygenius boygenius 9. Motorcade Motorcade 10. Eleanor Friedberger Rebound
  • Jim Derogatis (Sound Opinions radio DJ #2): 1. Viagra Boys Street Worms 2. CupcakKe Ephorize 3. Courtney Barnett Tell me how you really feel 4. Superchunk What a Time to be alive 5. Dessa Chime 6. Vince Staples FM! 7. Amanda Shires To the Sunset 8. The Beths Future me hates me 9. John Prine The Tree of Forgiveness 10. Parquet Courts Wide Awake!
  • Pitchfork (US music website): 1. Mitski Be the Cowboy 2. Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour 3. DJ Koze Knock Knock 4. Robyn Honey 5. Snail Mail Lush 6. Rosalía El mal querer 7. Earl Sweatshirt Some Rap Songs 8. Low Double Negative 9. Tierra Whack Whack World 10. Yves Tumor Safe in the Hands of Love
  • Paste (US music website): 1. Lucy Dacus Historian 2. Parquet Courts Wide Awake! 3. Courtney Barnett Tell me how you really feel 4. Soccer Mommy Clean 5. Snail Mail Lush 6. Mitski Be the Cowboy 7. Pusha T Daytona 8. Rolling Blackout Coastal Fever Hope Downs 9. Low Double Negative 10. Hop Along Bark your Head off, Dog
  • Les Inrocks (French mag): 1. Flavien Berger Contre-temps 2. Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino 3. Cat Power Wanderer 4. MGMT Little Dark Age 5. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 6. Courtney Barnett Tell me how you really feel  7. Kanye West Ye 8. Jorja Smith Lost & Found 9. Miossec Les rescapés 10. Neneh Cherry Broken Politics
  • The Guardian (UK daily newspaper) : 1. Christine and the Queens Chris 2. Robyn Honey 3. Janelle Monáe Dirty Computer 4. Cardi B Invasion of Privacy 5. Mitski Be the Cowboy 6. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 7. Kamasi Washington Heaven and Earth 8. Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour 9. Low Double Negative 10. Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
  • The Independent (UK website) : 1. John Grant Love is magic 2. Colter Wall Songs of the Plains 3. Christine and the Queens Chris 4. Suede The Blue Hour 5. Troye Sivan Bloom 6. Travis Scott Astroworld 7. Gaika Basic Volume 8. Ben Howard Noonday Dream 9. CHVRCHES Love is dead 10. Parquet Courts Wide Awake!
  • Magic rpm (French bimonthly magazine) : 1. Tunng Songs You Make At Night 2. Vera Sola Shades 3. The Married Monk Headgearalienpoo 4. Low Double Negative 5. Courtney Barnett Tell me how you really feel 6. En Attendant Ana Lost and Found 7. Spiritualized And Nothing Hurt 8. Beak> >>> 9. Cat Power Wanderer 10. Shame Songs of Praise
  • Noise Magazine (French bimonthly magazine) : 1. Hangman’s Chair Banlieue Triste 2. Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance 3. Turnstile Time & Space 4. Deafheaven Ordinary Corrupt Human Love 5. Alice In Chains Rainier Fog 6. Daughters You Won’t Get What You Want 7. Rendez Vous Superior State 8. Thou Magus 9. The Breeders All Nerve 10. Will Haven Muerte

February 2018 Album of the month: MGMT “Little Dark Age”

What have in common old favourites or newcomers like Franz Ferdinand, Ezra Furman, Hookworms, The Soft Moon, Joan As Police Woman, Superchunk, Born Ruffians, Grant-Lee Phillips or again The Low Anthem? Well, they all released good records in February but did not make the cut to be in this selection. One of the best month for sure since I started these reviews.

Album of the month: MGMT“Little Dark Age” – Pop Rock – I must say I was not expecting anything anymore from these two Californians. As almost everyone on this planet, I liked and played a lot their debut album “Oracular Spectacular which to me was a very promising record, especially in the balance they had found between success and experimentation. It looks the band were not at ease with such a success and did everything they could to alienate themselves from their fan base by releasing two interesting but difficult psychedelic records in 2010 (“Congratulations“) and 2013 (“MGMT“). What a surprise then to have them back at such a level of excellence. All 10 songs of this LP are great, can be whistled under the shower and mix a pop easiness with cool sounds and bittersweet lyrics. I guess they needed these few years to be back on track. Enjoy!

Little Dark Age

 

  • Runner-up: Field Music “Open Here” – Pop Rock – Another amazing album from the Brewis brothers. I have been posting a lot about this band and still cannot understand why they are not more massive… Their new album is as usual very inventive in terms of melodies and sounds but this time they added up a political conscience. One should remember they come from Sunderland, known in the UK as Brexit city with its 62% of Leave voters and they are neither proud nor happy about it. “Count It Up” in particular is a nice and effective song about all the privileges we have in the so-called Western countries without realising it. I met them recently at a Rough Trade concert and signing event and they were as nice as one could guess. Keep up the good work boys.

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  • Also recommended:
    • Ought “Room Inside The World” – Pop Rock – Excellent angular music from this Canadian band lead by the great Tim Darcy.
    • Rhye – “Blood” – Syrupy Soul – Sade reincarnated as a male Canadian singer.
    • Marlon Williams “Make Way For Love” – Rock – Beautiful break-up songs. If you like Chris Isaak or Richard Hawley, this is for you.
    • Richard Russell “Everything Is Recorded” – Electro R’n’B – Soulful music from the XL label boss with invitees, including Sampha‘s fantastic voice
    • The Skull Defekts “Skull Defekts” – Noisy – Final album from this band from Sweden ; the most powerful record since the start of the year.
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Ty Segall – “Freedom’s Goblin

 

Best albums of 2016: Death is not the end

2016 yeah-ah! Remember, the year when everyone died and also the year everyone discovered mortality? Losing David Bowie, Alan Vega, Prince, George Martin, Leonard Cohen or George Michael was very sad indeed as a few of them were really young but probably also has it meant a part of our youth was vanishing. I remember not being something new as such sad news in the past already occured with artists such as John Lennon, Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash, Kurt Cobain, Elliott Smith, Lou Reed or George Harrison. Listening to their music on a regular basis is probably the best way to keeping the flame alive. Death is a weird topic in Western civilizations as we keep on doing as if it were nonexistent although this is the only sure thing…I advise for those interested by this very festive topic to read the first pages of Karl Ove Knausgaard memoirs’ “A Death in the Family”.

On top of being the year everyone died, it has been also the year everyone published records. For some reasons, I had more time than usual to listen to (almost) all records that went out this year if one considers my reviewing perimeter is confined within the pop/rock/soul/hip hop/metal/r’n’b perimeter. I am humble enough to recognize there is somewhere an amazing jazz or blues record I am not aware of but this is also probably true for a great record made by an Italian, Malian or Brazilian band. There are so many musicians in the world and so many ways to discover them with streaming platforms or the resurgence of records’ stores that this is getting frustrating sometimes.

So after death and frustration, let’s bring the good news! This was a really fantastic year in terms of records and new music and it has been more difficult than ever to keep a shortlist. A few usual favourites of this blog are not amongst the chosen few either because they are just out of this Top 15 or because their records was below expectations despite being good. In other words, it has been a great year for hip-hop and r’n’b genres and De La Soul, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, Solange or Franck Ocean 2016 records are also super-recommended. Same for a few indie rock favourites such as Shearwater, Bob Mould, Mark Kozelek, Wilco, Okkervil River, Teenage Fanclub or Pixies. As usual, I tried to stay as close to the end of the year as possible…but probably not enough as a new Run The Jewels album has just been available two days ago and a new Nine Inch Nails EP yesterday!

Anyway, always difficult to make choices but I guess that is the beauty of such lists. I had enough time this year to put on a ranking amongst my selection so here we go in reversed order. For those who did not get it, it means #1 is my record of the year!

Image result for biffy clyro ellipsis#15 Biffy ClyroEllipsis The main reason this record is here is probably that I live in the UK and that this band is really massive here. Biffy Clyro is a Scottish band made out of the twin brothers Ben and James Johnston on drums and bass and of Simon Neil on guitar and voice. On top of being known for playing bare-chested and being full of tattoos, their music has been evolving throughout the years from grunge metal to a kind of Scottish Foo Fighters. Not the most subtle music ever but it is soooooo good to shout out loud these anthems. Best stadium-rock record of the year!

Image result for sunflower bean human ceremony #14 Sunflower Bean – Human Ceremony Sunflower Bean is a young trio from Brooklyn and 2016 saw the release of their debut album. This record is a grower has one says and this band has a perfect sense of melody mixed with an exciting in-your-face attitude. If Liz Frazer from Cocteau Twins and Kurt Cobain from Nirvana had made a record together, it would be quite close to Sunflower Bean’s sound.

Image result for kanye west the life of pablo #13 Kanye West – The Life of Pablo This record has been probably too long and complex to make in a year that was a bit tough for Kanye West. After second thoughts, all years are tough, different and weird for Kanye… The reason why this record is not higher in terms of ranking is indeed probably due to the fact it requests many more hours of thorough listening to get over it. The reason why Kanye West is once again in our best of the year is named “Ultralight Beam”. This is the song opening the record and is one hell of a tune.

Image result for michael kiwanuka love and hate #12 Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate Michael Kiwanuka is a young British singer songwriter from Ugandan origins. After a very promising debut album in 2012 and great shows in a soul/folk tradition, he eventually faced a few difficult years looking for his real musical talent and trying to be at peace with his cultural background. After being closed to leave the music industry, he came back stronger and not afraid to show at the same time new ambitions but also happy to embrace any kind of music he likes. The results are really astonishing as one goes from one track sounding like Pink Floyd to another more related to black protest song a la Curtis Mayfield.

Image result for xiu xiu plays the music of twin peaks #11 Xiu Xiu plays the Music of Twin Peaks Of course, we Twin Peaks fans are all very much excited to discover in 2017 what Season 3 will be, directed by David Lynch himself…but that is not the reason this album is here. Xiu Xiu is a Californian band lead by Jamie Stewart and their music has always been complex to say the least. Here they succeeded to keep their weirdness to reshape covers from the series and the movie “Fire Walk With Me” whilst respecting the beautiful sense of melodies these songs hold. One of the most fascinating, frightening and powerful records one could find in 2016.

Image result for red hot chili peppers the getaway #10 Red Hot Chili Peppers  The Getaway “The worst band in the world”, “a cartoonish band”, “their best material is behind us” and so on… These are the articles one could find in reviews about the latest album by RHCP. This is totally untrue and shows how this is difficult sometimes for bands and their work to be really listened to. Thanks to the extraordinary production of DJ Danger Mouse, this is their best record for a long time and a few songs are really on par with their most famous ones (“Dark Necessities” for instance). This is also the first album in which Josh Klinghoffer succeeds in being himself and shows his guitar creativity without one having to remember his amazing predecessor John Frusciante.

Image result for meilyr jones 2013 #9 Meilyr Jones – 2013 This LP is the highest ranked debut album in our list and comes from a young Welsh singer. My best description of his music would be to mention Neil Hannon and his band The Divine Comedy if they still had the flame and kept on doing exciting records… The first track of this album called “How to recognize a work of art” is the best example of what a single should be nowadays. To put it differently, if you do not want to sing out loud or clap your hands, you are probably already dead (and I should have added you in my introduction). Click for concert’s review.

Image result for beyonce lemonade #8 Beyoncé  Lemonade A record from a major maturing artist, mixing all kind of music and sounds, not afraid to grab political topics such as the role of the black woman in Africa, being very much at the peak of visual and sound production, having prestigious guests such as James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Jack White or The Weeknd? Indeed and even better than it looks like.

Image result for palermo hollywood biolay #7 Benjamin Biolay  Palermo Hollywood Would Benjamin Biolay be more famous out of French-speaking countries if he were to sing in English, like Christine and the Queens did this year with a new English edition of her album? Probably not and not sure I would like it to happen… I was a bit afraid to read that he recorded this LP in Argentina as this is not always a good idea to mix different styles. No risk here as this record is as Argentinian as The Wings’ “Band on the Run” was Nigerian when they went to Lagos to record it. Beautiful as always and as usual a very thin line between production and emotion.

Image result for radiohead a moon shaped pool #6 Radiohead  A Moon Shaped Pool Quite a bit unexpected I must say as although I found the recent experiences of their members always rewarding, I had more or less abandoned hope in listening again to a traditional great Radiohead album. I was entirely wrong as this album is probably one of their best, mixing urgency, poetic themes and more importantly super exciting music. Good also to hear more than usual the great sounds of the underestimated Colin Greenwood on bass. Take the time to discover this new album and you will be immensely rewarded.

Image result for kevin morby singing saw #5 Kevin Morby  Singing Saw Sometimes a good singer makes a new record and one can feel he has stepped up and is now part of the greats. It happened in recent years with bands or artists such as The War On Drugs or Kurt Vile for instance. Kevin Morby’s first albums were really good but this one has an extra je-ne-sais-quoi, mixing super exciting guitar music with great lyrics. If Bob Dylan were in his 20’s today and had started directly with electric music, he would not sound that different from Kevin Morby. Click for concert’s review.

Image result for nick cave and the bad seeds skeleton tree #4 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds  Skeleton Tree Nick Cave has been a sort of old companion as I have been buying his records and listening to his music for thirty years now. Unless having a heart of stone, one could only share the indescribable pain he and his spouse had last year when they lost a son. Despite a few songs already written and produced before this tragic event, this album is all about this loss. It may be of course quite harsh sometimes to listen to but one must recognize this is a fascinating record and one of his best works. With lots of very long songs and more drones and loops than usual, it might surprise those familiar with a Nick Cave sound but the effort is really recommended.

Image result for field music commontime #3 Field Music  Commontime This is another fantastic record from this band of brothers from Newcastle and probably a blessing and a curse for them as one gets used easily with quality stuff. I have already wrote a few posts on this band, in particular throughout my review of the end of the road festival. Let’s be more specific here: Field Music are the best unknown band of our times and every record is an incredibly exciting piece of music, mixing british pop sound, Prince and Steely Dan. Now get this record!

Image result for iggy pop post pop depression #2 Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression To put this record under the name of Iggy Pop only is quite an injustice as he himself recognizes that this is the work of a real band with Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) on drums and Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) on bass. But the real architect of this album is the great Josh Homme, leader of Queens of the Stone Age and main man on guitar and vibes here. Legend is that he received a text from Iggy asking “I think we should make a record together”. After a couple of days of uncertainty and pride, Josh replied also by text “I think that would be beautiful”. And beautiful and exciting and moving and funny and…name it it is! They all gathered secretly in the Rancho de la Luna studio in the Joshua Tree, California area and polished these fantastic nine songs. The best Iggy Pop record since “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life” 1976/77 Bowie era. Iggy pop made it quite clear that it would be his last traditional rock album and tour. If such were to be the case, one of the most beautiful human beings on earth has left us with a record to cherish. No better way also to end up a record (career?) with the wise lyrics taken from “Paraguay”, the last song on the album: “You take your motherfucking laptop/And just shove it into your goddamn foul mouth/And down your shit heel gizzard/You fucking phony two faced three timing piece of turd/And I hope you shit it out/With all the words in it”.

Image result for david bowie blackstar  #1 David Bowie Blackstar I swear I did not want to put this album as my album of the year as it looked a bit obvious… Blackstar has been the first record I bought this year as I got it on the 8th of January at the excellent New York Rebel, Rebel record store. This is also in NY that I got the sad news of the morning of the 11th of January and I do recognize that the way the late great man organised this record as a farewell piece of art might be over controlled. But I am pretty sure this record would still be ranked as such if David Bowie was still alive. First the music is super fresh through it and I have never heard so-called jazz musicians be used in such a “non-jazz” way on a “non-rock” record. Donny McCaslin on saxophone is particularly amazing. But the real stars of Blackstar are the songs and the melodies. Has there been a better song this year than “Lazarus” with its moving lyrics, free jazz style and The Cure influences?  I know this is difficult to listen to this record out of context but to me it stands as an immense piece of exciting musicRECORD OF THE YEAR!

 

Here we go then for 2016. Probably not my most original list ever but these records were those that brought me the most emotion and excitement this year and as a reminder this is the criteria for this list rather than any cultural or trendy meaning. Please react if you feel like it and whip me harshly for any significant record I may have missed in this Top 15!

Other voices’ (websites, magazines, records stores, etc…) Top 10. David Bowie and Franck Ocean everywhere!

  • Mojo (music mag): 1.David Bowie Blackstar 2. Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate 3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 4. Lambchop FLOTUS 5. Leonard Cohen You Want It Darker 6. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 7. Franck Ocean Blonde 8. Paul Simon Stranger to Stanger 9. PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project 10. Heron Oblivion Heron Oblivion
  • Uncut (music mag): 1.David Bowie Blackstar 2. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool 3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 4. Leonard Cohen You Want It Darker 5. Ryley Walker Golden Sings that have been Sung 6. PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project 7. Sturgill Simpson A Sailor’s Guide to Earth 8. Anohni Hopelessness 9. Teenage Fanclub Here 10. Beyoncé Lemonade
  • NME (formerly great, now free weekly junk): 1. The 1975 I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it 2. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 3. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 4. Skepta Konnichiwa 5. Kaytranada 99.9% 6. David Bowie Blackstar 7. DIIV Is the is are 8. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 9. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book 10. Franck Ocean Blonde
  • Rough Trade (London, Nottingham and Brooklyn stores): 1. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 2. Anderson .Paak Malibu 3. Margo Price Midwest Farmer’s Daughter 4. Mark Pritchard Under the Sun 5. Charles Bradley Changes 6. Anohni Hopelessness 7. Thee Oh Sees A Weird Exit 8. Angel Olsen My Woman 9. Powell Sport 10. Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial
  • Fopp (UK stores): 1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 2. David Bowie Blackstar 3. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 4. Mogwai Atomic 5. Bat for Lashes The Bride 6. Brian Eno The Ship 7. Field Music Commontime 8. King Creosote Astronaut meets Appleman 9. Lambchop FLOTUS 10. Skepta Konnichiwa
  • Greg Kot (Sound Opinions radio DJ #1): 1. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree 2. Franck Ocean Blonde 3. Jamila Woods HEAVN 4. Michael Kiwanuka Love & Hate 5. Anderson .Paak Malibu 6. PJ Harvey The Hope Six Demolition Project 7. Drive-By Truckers American Band 8. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book 9. Solange A Seat at the Table 10. David Bowie Blackstar
  • Jim Derogatis (Sound Opinions radio DJ #2): 1. Savages Adore Life 2. TEEN Love Yes 3. La Femme Mysteres 4. Sneaks Gymnastics 5. The Gotobeds Blood//Sugar//Secs//Traffic 6. Honeyblood Babes never die 7. Jenny Hval Blood Bitch 8. Drive-By Truckers American Band 9. The Handsome Family Unseen 10. Beach Slang A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings
  • Pitchfork (music website): 1. Solange A Seat at the Table 2. Franck Ocean Blonde 3. Beyoncé Lemonade 4. David Bowie Blackstar 5. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 6. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book 7. A Tribe Called Quest We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service 8. Anohni Hopelessness 9. Angel Olsen My Woman 10. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Paste (music website): 1. David Bowie Blackstar 2. Beyoncé Lemonade 3. Car Seat Headrest Teens of Denial 4. A Tribe Called Quest We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service 5. Mitski Puberty 2 6. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool  7. Angel Olsen My Woman 8. Lucy Dacus No Burden 9.Bon Iver 22, A Million 10. Franck Ocean Blonde
  • Les Inrocks (French mag): 1. David Bowie Blackstar 2.La Femme Mystere 3. Franck Ocean Blonde 4. The Lemon Twigs Do Hollywood 5. PNL Dans la légende 6. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 7. Leonard Cohen You want it Darker 8. Drake Views 9. Alex Cameron Jumping the Shark 10. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Skeleton Tree
  • Time Out (London free weekly) : 1. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 2. David Bowie Blackstar 3. Solange A Seat at the Table 4. Skepta Konnichiwa 5. Kaytranada 99.9% 6. Anohni Hopelessness 7. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 8. Franck Ocean Blonde 9. Beyoncé Lemonade 10. Chance the Rapper Coloring Book
  • The Guardian (UK daily newspaper) : 1. Beyoncé Lemonade 2. Franck Ocean Blonde 3. David Bowie Blackstar 4. Kanye West The Life of Pablo 5. Solange A Seat at the Table  6. Anohni Hopelessness 7. Rihanna Anti 8. Christine & the Queens Chaleur Humaine 9. Skepta Konnichiwa 10. Radiohead A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Noise Magazine (French bimonthly magazine) : 1. Dinosaur Jr. Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not 2. Cult Of Luna & Julie Christmas Mariner 3. Perturbator The Uncanny Valley 4. Iggy Pop Post Pop Depression 5. Preoccupations Preoccupations  6. Nothing Tired Of Tomorrow 7. David Bowie Blackstar 8. Neurosis Fires Within Fires 9. Savages Adore Life 10. Oranssi Pazuzu Värähtelijä

End of the Road Festival 2016 – 2nd of September – Day Two

Episode 2 of our review of the excellent End of the Road festival 2016 edition. As very often at End of the Road, the density of good bands and artists is so high that one has to do choices sometimes. My experience of festivals taught me that attending bits and pieces of concerts is not that great as one never really feels the mood so better to enjoy fewer gigs but the right way. Long justification probably to miss today’s headliners Animal Collective, knowing I found them quite boring the only time I caught them on stage a few years ago at the Pitchfork Festival.

Eleanor Friedberger, in light

But let’s start with no further due with Eleanor Friedberger on the Garden Stage, probably one of my favourite places in the world! Eleanor was one half of sis’ & bro’ band the Fiery Furnaces and she is now in a solo career with already three excellent LP’s. For those Franz Ferdinand fans out there, let me confirm that indeed she was THE Eleanor from “Eleanor, put your boots on” at a time when she and their singer Alex Kapranos were more than musical friends…Anyway, this was a great start of the day for me as she performed songs from different periods of her career. Although this is true that the songs she plays under her own solo name are probably less difficult to deal with in terms of structure than the Fiery Furnaces ones, she still has an air of mystery which makes her one of the leading female artists of her time. That day was her 40th birthday too so no better way to celebrate than being on stage with a cake.

Not a long way to go from the Garden Stage to the Big Top and catch U.S. Girls, the project led by Canadian artist Meghan Remy. I can acknowledge that something was going on here…but not sure what exactly… I did not stay long as did not succeed in feeling anything to be honest.

U.S. Girls

Back to the Garden Stage with the first revelation of the festival for me with Whitney, a band I was not familiar with. The set was beautiful and the way their drummer/singer Julien Ehrlich leads the band with a mix of humility and bravado is probably one of the reasons. If you like the Byrds and R.E.M., this band is for you and their first album “Light upon the Lake” is one of the records of the year so far.

Whitney

I relaxed afterwards in the Tipi Tent with a few songs from the very nice and charming set from Blue House, a band probably to follow in next months.

Blue House

Back to the Garden Stage for the next show from one of my favourite current bands: Field Music. They have been regularly in my end-of-the year lists but do not have the recognition they would deserve. Field Music is based around the nucleus of brothers David and Peter Brewis from Newcastle and all their records (including those from their solo projects) are more than recommended. Their music is difficult to describe so I will give influences such as Steely Dan, Prince, Prefab Sprout or even Danny Wilson for those who remember that band… Despite them arriving literally 1 minute before the supposed start of the show and thanks to the great help of the festival stage guys, they performed as always a very fresh and exciting concert.

Field Music

A quick walk to the Big Top again and here I was attending Jamie Lee’s band MONEY live. Their music is very intense and sometimes a bit embarrassing to watch as too represented by the personality of their leader. Better to listen at home or on headphones than to see live as far as I am concerned but maybe I was not in the mood after the previous shows. Anyway, I still recommend their new album “Suicide Songs” to be listened to…even if the title already tells a bit about the mood of it all…

I finished Day Two with concerts #7 and #8 again on the Garden Stage with two old American friends. The first one was Matthew Houck who has been doing constantly great music in the last decade under the monitor Phosphorescent. His set was probably the best I  have seen of him as I felt he really had a perfect balance between traditional American country-rock music and his very unique voice and sensitivity. As if the Byrds (again) has listened to too much Joy Division. Grab him live if you can.

Phosphorescent, Matthew Houck

On the other side, I was quite disappointed with Catpower‘s concert… Sure, her voice is superb, she has very good musicians…but there is something which to me sounded and looked a bit fake and without too much emotion. I have never been at ease catching her live as well as it feels like this is a real struggle for her. To be fair, maybe I was feeling also the tiredness of the day…so I left before the end of the gig to be ready and full of energy to live and review Day Three. Stay tuned!

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2010 best records

Reminder of 2010 “Best of” list

Une liste élargie cette année tant la production musicale est de plus en plus riche, diverse et exceptionnelle.

Sur le podium, les USA trustent les médailles:

Cover (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:Kanye West)

Gold medal: Kanye West “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”

Everything you will love in one LP: style, references, melodies, joy, sadness – Kanye West is definitely one of the greatest. La fable du lièvre et la tortue adaptée à cette année musicale puisque cet album n’est sorti qu’en décembre même si la plupart des morceaux ont été disponibles au compte goutte tout au long de l’année. On peut penser ce qu’on veut du personnage très médiatisé (trouvez un autre artiste nommé cette année passée à la fois par G. Bush et B. Obama) mais le musicien est irréprochable. Un album digne des plus grands artistes des décennies passées par sa créativité, son ouverture musicale (est-ce encore du hip-hop?), des samplings impeccables (King Crimson, Gil Scott-Heron) et ses invités (Bon Iver!). Et surtout des mélodies magiques avec un côté de self-depreciation rare dans une époque plus éprise d’anecdotique que d’authenticité. Album of the year by far. (http://www.allmusic.com/album/my-beautiful-dark-twisted-fantasy-r2055009/review)

Cover (Transference:Spoon)

Silver Medal: Spoon “Transference”

Great Austin, Tx band delivers the goods once gain – when simplicity equals greatness. Un de ces groupes américains qui se construit et murit avec les années. On était un peu passé à côté des débuts de ce groupe qui existe depuis 1994 mais on se demande pourquoi car cette musique a tout pour plaire aussi bien aux amateurs de mélodies qu’aux afficionados du rock indépendant. Que des tubes en puissance dans cet album dans un monde idéal. Go for it! (http://www.allmusic.com/album/transference-r1691709/review)

Cover (High Violet:The National)

Bronze Medal: The National “High Violet”

One of the current best live band succeds in keeping its indie attitude but with more catchy melodies. The National est également un groupe qui se fait sa place petit à petit dans le panthéon des grands avec son dernier album. Les vertus d’une détermination et d’un self belief portées par un chanteur fascinant et des musiciens excellents combinées au fait de se retrouver un jour au bon endroit au bon moment. Ecoutez cet album, craquez sur la voix chaleureuse et suave de Matt Berninger et sur la musique au couteau du groupe, remontez dans les temps les albums des années précédentes et surtout allez voir ce groupe sur scène. (http://www.allmusic.com/album/high-violet-r1805201/review)

15 autres albums (par ordre alphabétique):

Arcade Fire “The Suburbs”

Our favorite Canadians are back to form vs. previous album with emotional lyrics. A tous les déçus de l’album précédent des Canadiens, le groupe répond avec une musique toujours enflammée mais plus sobre et des paroles basées sur le passage à l’age adulte. Welcome back guys.

Beach House “Teen Dream”

Weird and warm songs from this Lynchian Californian girl-boy duo. Les mélodies entrainantes de Victoria Legrand (eh oui, la nièce de Michel) avec les trouvailles musicales d’Alex Scally. Du David Lynch qui se baladerait sur les plages de l’Océan Pacifique.

The Black Keys “Brothers”

Still excellent blues-rock formula from Akron with fantastic songs. La cité du pneu (Akron) nous encaoutchoute encore d’un formidable album de blues-rock au plus près de l’os pour ce duo américain. Leur projet de l’année 2009 (Blakroc) qui mélangeait blues, soul et hip-hop a ouvert des horizons nouveaux à ce groupe qui a de plus en plus de groove dans sa musique. A signaler des performances live d’exception.

Field Music “Measure”

Amazing third LP from this band from Sunderland, England who will warm up XTC fans. Le Royaume Uni n’est pas oublié de notre sélection avec le troisième album des frères Brewis. Très ambitieux album d’ailleurs avec pas moins de 20 titres travaillés dans leur studio personnel de Sunderland. Un groupe qui devrait être énorme tant la qualité de leurs chansons rappelle celles du meilleur XTC. A découvrir.

John Grant “Queen of Denmark”

First solo LP from the former leader of the Czars played with the Midlake musicians. John Grant est l’exemple du miraculé incompris et déprimé devant ses échecs musicaux précédents pour lequel le mot seconde chance a un sens. Un magnifique album dans la lignée de ce que fait Midlake, c’est à dire un rock très 70’s soft mélangé à du pur Indie avec des textes au scalpel. Meilleur titre de chanson de l’année pour “Jesus Hates Faggots”.

Grinderman “Grinderman 2”

Old men rock! Nick Cave’s trash band better than ever. Grinderman est le groupe sans piano de Nick Cave dans lequel sa verve plus blues et trash peut s’épanouir au mieux. Quelle musique et quelle jeunesse. A signaler la créativité instrumentale de Warren Ellis, l’alter ago du bon vieux Nick. Pour réveiller le loup ou la louve qui dort en nous.

LCD Soundsystem “This is happening”

James Murphy’s influences from punk rock, Talking Heads, Brian Eno and Can put him almost in the podium. Nouveau disque exceptionnel de James Murphy et son groupe qui sera d’ailleurs sans doute le dernier sous cette forme. Tout ce qu’on aime dans la musique se trouve chez cet homme-là. A signaler les London Sessions disponibles chez tous les bons vendeurs numériques et en solo l’excellente bande originale du film Greenberg avec Ben Stiller.

Local Natives “Gorilla Manor”

Geeks rule the earth with great indie melodies! Sans doute le groupe qui pourrait disputer à Hot Chip le titre de groupe le moins sexy du monde mais de magnifiques mélodies californiennes pour tout ceux qui veulent prolonger toute l’année le sable de la plage qui reste dans les oreilles.

Massive Attack “Heligoland”

Trip Hop Bristol veterans reinvent themselves with great invited musicians. On n’avait presque oublié cet album mais sa réécoute l’a finalement fait préférer à celui de Gorillaz pourtant également excellent. La marque de fabrique de Massive Attack est toujours présente mais pleine de fraîcheur de nouveau grâce aux invités et notamment Tunde Adebimpe de TV on the Radio et Damon Albarn qu’on ne présente plus.

Janelle Monae “The Archandroid”

Amazing record from this young lady. What Jimi Hendrix would do if he were 20 in 2010. Eh oui, pas moins, une jeune artiste noire américaine qui mélange tout: hip hop, soul, R’B, rock psychédélique, pop, etc… Toujours un immense plaisir de découvrir de tels nouveaux talents. A signaler également une participation croisée avec Kevin Barnes sur cet album et celui d’Of Montreal.

Sufjan Stevens “All Delighted People EP/The Age of Adz”

The great man back from months of illness with more electronics influences than before. Certes, il a été absent quelques mois du fait d’une maladie rare mais en échange on récupère en 2010 deux albums pour le prix d’un même si le premier n’est pas censé être un LP complet… Tout n’est pas du niveau de Illinois dans ces 19 chansons mais il y a quand même des perles. A ne pas manquer en concert pour ceux qui le peuvent.

Teenage Fanclub “Shadows”

Latest LP by the Scottish Band, one of the all-time greatest. Ils prennent leur temps pour faire des albums et c’est tant mieux. The Beatles, The Byrds, Love, The Go-Betweens, XTC, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, rien à rajouter.

Richard Thompson “Dream Attic”

New songs played live from the epic folk rock guitar player. La liste est diverse comme le montre la présence dans celle-ci de l’ancien leader de Fairport Convention, goupe anglais de folk rock des années 60 qui a pour ainsi dire inventé un genre à lui tout seul. Cet album plus qu’un autre car Richard Thompson met plus en avant ses talents exceptionnels de guitariste.

Warpaint “The Fool”

100% West Coast female group for one of the best debut albums of recent years. Certes, le fait qu’une des deux chanteuses soit l’ex-girlfriend de l’ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers John Frusciante (producteur de leur premier EP) augurait du meilleur mais pas autant que la profonde originalité de ce groupe 100% féminin. Un groove étonnant quand même très rock avec des voix magnifiques.

Neil Young “Le Noise”

Still young after all these years. Young and Lanois straight to the bone. Incroyable de pouvoir encore compter sur Neil Young en 2010! Un de nos 10 artistes préférés de tous les temps encore capable de sortir des disques importants. Un disque en pur solo avec un son de guitare incroyable trafiqué par le Canadien Daniel Lanois, producteur entres autres de U2 et Bob Dylan. D’où le jeu de mots du titre…

Egalement recommandés:

Owen Pallett, These New Puritans, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, Hot Chip, Broken Bells, Liars, Midlake, Gorillaz, MGMT, Shearwater, Caribou, The Fall, Paul Weller, Band of Horses, Drake, Best Coast, Interpol, Philip Selway (le batteur de Radiohead en solo), Robert Plant, Deerhunter, Swans, The Walkmen, Cee Lo Gren (le chanteur de Gnarls Barkley), Kid Cudi, The Roots et N.E.R.D.