Best albums of 2017 – Top 25.

Another year goes by and the more it goes, the less it seems to make sense … but not more or less than in the previous 3,000 years I guess. On these philosophical words, let’s focus on what this blog’s editor knows best, i.e. build nice end of the year lists!

Thanks to the nice suggestion of a friend, I started at the beginning of 2017 reviews of the best albums of the month. Quite a nice story and overall it meant that I listened to even more music thanks the intensive use of the streaming service I am subscribed to but also to regular visits to my local favourite stores, Rough Trade in particular. I tried to listen to all styles of music (folk, jazz, metal, pop, world, indie, soul, hip-hop,…) and hopefully without any prejudice. I can therefore proudly claim and make official that indeed big sellers such as Katie Perry, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Miley Cyrus or again Sam Smith have all released completely boring, uninteresting or sometimes atrocious records. Not a question of snobbishness but these records are produced without any invention, emotion or soul. The below list is of course subjective but as every year is a mix of newcomers, mature bands, artist I discovered on stage or people who had an impact in 2017. I could have easily select 100 albums I can come back to on a regular basis but that was not the point.

Top 25 this year and without further due, let’s start with our Album of the Year which is a masterpiece! For the sake of clarity, you can click this year on two links: the first one will take you to the monthly review when this album went out and the second one to a potential live review if any.

Pure Comedy

#1 Father John Misty – “Pure Comedy”. Out in: April 2017Live review What makes a record one’s album of the year. Beautiful music in the way Elton John could do in his peak in the 70’s with a touch of indie rock attitude? Angry and beautiful words against the state of the world ? Sensitive songs about the difficulty in being in love and making a relationship work ? Poetry ? Amazing presence on stage ? Probably all of this but to me what made it album of the year was the constant companionship and pure rough emotion I found in this album since it went out. Joshua Tillman is definitely increasing his game with every release. Stream it, buy it, read the words, catch him live; Father John Misty has made by far the RECORD OF THE YEAR!

Yesterday's Gone #2 Loyle Carner – “Yesterday’s Gone”. Out in: January 2017. This is the amazing debut album of the young London rapper Coyle Larner. His artist name is Loyle Carner as this is the way he used to pronounce his name when he was a kid due to dyslexia. He was also diagnosed as having behaviour trouble at that age but the young man found an escape in theatre and music. After the devastating death of his father in law, he went back to his music and released this very personal album full of great soul and jazz samples. Welcome to the club of great artists young man and keep on bringing a Man Utd Eric Cantona on stage.

DAMN. #3 Kendrick Lamar – “DAMN.” Out in: April 2017. Kendrick Lamar does not need this blog to be more famous or more critically appreciated as it looks the whole world loves him now.. and other artists too as he appeared this year on many other tracks (U2, Miguel or again N.E.R.D amongst many others). This is an extraordinary album again and the young man is definitely the current most talented artist. Every new album is an exciting event so let’s hope it will last for a few more extra years.

Aromanticism #4 Moses Sumney– “Aromanticism”. Out in: September 2017. Live review. Those who are familiar with this blog may remember the emotion and positive shock I had whilst catching this young American artist live at End of the Road festival. His debut album is as amazing as he is on stage. He has the voice of an angel servicing very personal, melodic and original-sounding songs. If Bjork was a Black American young man in his 20’s, she would probably sound like him. To discover without further due.

The Loved Ones #5 Flyte – “The Loved Ones”. Out in: August 2017. A real grower that one as it was not in my August 2017 selection. This record made me young again as I discovered them after catching the cover of the record in a billboard in London (as used to be the case in ancient times). This young band from London made what I consider a classic in terms of melody and freshness of the sounds while respecting the grand tradition of great bands from the past such as Prefab Sprout, The Bluebells, Aztec Camera or again The Dream Academy. If such influences do not make you want to discover it, English pop rock bands must not be your taste!

Hot Thoughts #6 Spoon  “Hot Thoughts”. Out in: March 2017. Live review. Another great LP by this truly exceptional band. The difficulty with bands like Spoon (or The National for instance) is that one is so used to quality with each release that one has to favour more glamorous things or new ones. Let’s not fall into this easy trap and celebrate one of the most inventive bands of our times. The more they go, the better they are it seems…

Moonshine Freeze #7 This Is The Kit- “Moonshine Freeze”. Out in: July 2017. Live review. This is the second time that Kate Sable’s band ends up in our best of the year ranking after 2015 excellent “Bashed Out”. Her music is also getting more mature and accomplished and her peers start to recognize such a talent. Folk music for those who do not like it.

Lotta Sea Lice #8 Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile  “Lotta Sea Love”. Out in: October 2017. This is typically the kind of collaboration which should have been interesting at best as very often two great artists playing together do not produce something amazing. This is totally untrue here between the young Australian singer and her male American counterpart. They built a friendship while meeting on tour, experienced a few songs and then ended making a proper LP. Very refreshing Velvet Underground-sounding music and nice words relating the troubles for those travelling a lot for their work (I guess not only musicians could relate to this!).

All - Amerikkkan Bada$$ #9 Joey Bada$$  “All – Amerikkkan Bada$$”. Out in: April 2017. Firstly for those of you who follow with the same intensity as I did “Mr. Robot”, let me precise that this is indeed the same Joey who plays Leon in the series. Having said that, Joey Bada$$ is first and foremost a great MC. This is the third hip-hop album in this selection and although I have been listening to tens of them, nothing moves me more than rappers talking about the state of the world on great soul and jazz beats and samples. Am I really that old-school?

Sleep Well Beast #10 The National  “Sleep Well Beast”. Out in: September 2017. Live review. …and here they are in this selection as well. Not a surprise for regular readers of this blog as I guess they probably have been my favourite band of the current decade. Great album as usual but this time with a leap forward in terms of electronic sounds and songs structure. In other words, they keep on being more inventive while staying what they are. One of the greatest bands of our times.

Painted Ruins #11 Grizzly Bear  “Painted Ruins”. Out in: August 2017. Live reviewGrizzly Bear have once more delivered the goods and this album is probably that where you will find the most beautiful voices of them all. This band keeps on going forward in their own very singular way and every new listen brings extra discoveries and entertainment. A great album to enter their world and potentially go backwards to their previous LP’s.

A Deeper Understanding #12 The War On Drugs  “A Deeper Understanding”. Out in: August 2017. His 2014 album “Lost In A Dream” was a masterpiece although for some reason it did not end in my end of the year list at the time; not sure why… I write “his” as the band is really the brainchild of Adam Granduciel. This new opus is as good as the previous one and the way to describe it best is to associate it with the early 80’s Bruce Springsteen records (“Born In The USA” or “Tunnel Of Love”) with an indie attitude. Play it on and you will dance to it!

Songs of Experience #13 U2  “Songs Of Experience”. Out in: December 2017. A very recent release so once again quite difficult to judge as a record very often needs time to reveal if it is a good one, a classic…or a a fake! My gut feeling is that this is one of U2’s best and a few songs already sound like stadium classics. After the fantastic “Joshua Tree” tour this year, I am looking forward to catching them… backstage for their next tour!

I See You #14 The Xx  “I See You”. Out in: January 2017. This record is on the opposite side vs. the previous one in terms of date as it was released very early in January. I had already forgotten its beauty and I had to listen to it again to get it right. The song “On Hold” is particularly very moving for this blog’s writer ; the reason being probably the great use of a Hall & Oates sample…

American Dream #15 LCD Soundsystem  “American Dream”.  Out in: September 2017. Live review. So it was not really the end of LCD Soundsystem when its leader James Murphy decided to end it all in 2011 at the Madison Square Garden… Well, I guess we should be delighted then as their comeback record is as good as their previous ones, keeping the New York Grooooove Thang sound. One of the best dance machine ever is back!

Slowdive #16 Slowdive -“Slowdive”. Out in: May 2017. Live review. Excellent shoegazing band comeback #1.

Weather Diaries #17 Ride – “Weather Diaries”. Out in: June 2017. Live review. Excellent shoe gazing band comeback #2.

Mental Illness #18 Aimee Mann – “Mental Illness”. Out in: March 2017. Live review. One of the most beautiful and singular female voices.

Masseduction #19 St. Vincent – “Masseduction”. Out in: October 2017. Perfect and moving pop music from a young woman #1.

Melodrama #20 Lorde – “Melodrama”. Out in: June 2017. Perfect and moving pop music from a young woman #2.

Villains #21 Queens Of The Stone Age – “Villains”. Out in: August 2017. No Villains, only Heroes!    

Dark Days and Canapés #22 Ghostpoet – “Dark Days + Canapés”. Out in: August 2017. Former call center British employee ; all roads lead to Rome!      

Witness #23 Benjamin Booker – “Witness”. Out in: June 2017. Blues Soul Punk Rock young master.      

In Spades #24 The Afghan Whigs – “In Spades”. Out in: May 2017. Live review. Second excellent album since they reformed.

Drunk #25 Thundercat – “Drunk”. Out in: February 2017. Soul and hip hop bass player gets solo.

So it looks the power of Anglo-Saxon music is over if you read a few magazines…but my selection is made out of artists and bands from the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland only. I guess this is what moves me the most. The more it goes, the more this selection is well balanced between men and women…although I must recognize that this is still dominated by male US rock.

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 (© JG from Garidech). Kendrick Lamar being the definite winner it seems…

  • Mojo (music mag): 1. LCD Soundsystem American Dream 2. Nadia Reid Preservation 3. Queens Of The Stone Age Villains 4. A Tribe Called Quest We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service 5. Jane Weaver Modern Kosmology 6. St. Vincent Masseduction 7. Kendrick Lamar DAMN 8. Hurray For The Riff Raff The Navigator 9. Sleaford Mods English Tapas 10. Aldous Harding Party
  • Uncut (music mag): 1. LCD Soundsystem American Dream 2. The War On Drugs A Deeper Understanding 3. Kendrick Lamar DAMN 4. The Weather Station The Weather Station 5. Joan Shelley Joan Shelley 6. Richard Dawson Peasant 7. The National Sleep Well Beast 8. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice 9. St. Vincent Masseduction 10. Hurray For The Riff Raff The Navigator
  • NME (not as great as it used to be…): 1. Lorde Melodrama 2. Wolfe Alice Visions Of A Life 3. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 4. Father John Misty Pure Comedy 5. LCD Soundsytem American Dream 6. J Hus Common Sense 7. SZA CTRL 8. Lana Del Rey Lust For Life 9. Wiley The Godfather 10. Liam Gallagher As You Were
  • Rough Trade (London, Nottingham, Bristol and Brooklyn stores): 1. Aldous Harding Post Party 2. Ryan Adams Prisoner 3. Bjork Utopia 4. Big Thief Capacity 5. Colter Wall Colter Wall 6. Cigarettes After Sex Cigarettes After Sex 7. The Big Moon Love In The 4th Dimension 8. Jane Weaver Modern Kosmology 9. Thundercat Drunk 10. Here Lies Man Here Lies Man
  • Fopp (UK stores): 1. LCD Soundsystem American Dream 2. The Xx I See You 3. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice 4. Father John Misty Pure Comedy 5. Richard Dawson Peasant 6. Fleet Foxes Crack-Up 7. Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit The Nashville Sound 8. Tinariwen Elwan 9. The National Sleep Well Beast 10. Grizzly Bear Painted Ruins
  • HMV (UK stores): 1. St. Vincent Masseduction 2. The War On Drugs A Deeper Understanding 3. The National Sleep Well Beast 4. Father John Misty Pure Comedy 5. Cigarettes After Sex Cigarettes After Sex 6. Alvvays Antisocialites 7. Aldous Harding Party 8. Jane Weaver Modern Kosmology 9. Slowdive Slowdive 10. The Horrors V
  • Greg Kot (Sound Opinions radio DJ #1): 1. Run The Jewels Run The Jewels 3 2. Ted Leo The Hanged Man 3. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 4. Sir the Baptist Saint Or Sinner 5. Downtown Boys Cost Of Living 6. Protomartyr Relatives In Descent 7. Vic Mensa The Autobiography 8. Mavis Staples If All I Was Was Black 9. Moses Sumney Aromanticism 10. Priests Nothing Feels Natural
  • Jim Derogatis (Sound Opinions radio DJ #2): 1. The Regrettes Fell Your Feelings Fool! 2. Downtown Boys Cost Of Living 3. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 4. Priests Nothing Feels Natural 5. Rips Rips 6. Aimee Mann Mental Illness 7. Vic Mensa The Autobiography 8. The Feelies In Between 9. Wire Silver/Lead 10. Courtney Barnett And Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice
  • Pitchfork (music website): 1. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 2. SZA Ctrl 3. King Krule The OOZ 4. Kelela Take Me Apart 5. Lorde Melodrama 6. Moses Sumney Aromanticism 7. Vince Staples Big Fish Theory 8. Tyler, The Creator Flower Boy 9. Fever Ray Plunge 10. Jlin Black Origami
  • Paste (music website): 1. Jay Som Everybody Works 2. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 3. Father John Misty Pure Comedy 4. Run The Jewels Run The Jewels 3 5. Courtney Barnett And Kurt Vile Lotta Sea Lice 6. Sheer Mag Need To Feel Your Love 7. Alvvays Antisocialites 8. LCD Soundsystem American Dream 9. Mount Eerie A Crow Looked At Me 10. Sampha Process
  • Les Inrocks (French mag): 1. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 2. King Krule The OOZ 3. LCD Soundsystem American Dream 4. Migos Culture 5. Alex Cameron Forced Witness 6. Juliette Armanet Petite Amie 7. Mac DeMarco This Old Dog 8. Orelsan La Fête Est Finie 9. Damso Ipséité 10. Cigarettes After Sex Cigarettes After Sex
  • The Guardian (UK daily newspaper) : 1. St. Vincent Masseduction 2. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 3. SZA Ctrl 4. Lorde Melodrama 5. Perfume Genius No Shape  6. LCD Soundsystem American Dream 7. The War On Drugs A Deeper Understanding 8. Thundercat Drunk 9. Kelela Take Me Apart 10. Richard Dawson Peasant
  • The Independent (UK website) : 1. Loyle Carner Yesterday’s Gone 2. Lorde Melodrama 3. Rapsody Laila’s Wisdom 4. Perfume Genius No Shape 5. SZA Ctrl 6. Ghostpoet Dark Days + Canapes 7. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 8. Syd Fin 9. Jessie Ware Glasshouse 10. Trampolene Swansea To Hornsey
  • Magic rpm (French bimonthly magazine, back in 2017…but already over in 2018?) : 1. Grizzly Bear Painted Ruins 2. Aldous Harding Party 3. Midget! Ferme Tes Jolis Cieux 4. Slowdive Slowdive 5. Kadjha Bonet The Visitor 6. Charlotte Gainsbourg Rest 7. Flotation Toy Warning The Machine That Made Us 8. Kendrick Lamar DAMN. 9. Forever Pavot La Pantoufle 10. Big Thief Capacity
  • Noise Magazine (French bimonthly magazine) : 1. Quicksand Interiors 2. Blut Aus Nord Deus Salutis Meae 3. Jessica93 Guilty Species 4. Slowdive Slowdive 5. Dead Cross Dead Cross 6. Algiers The Underside Of Power 7. Oxbow Thin Black Duke 8. Crystal Fairy Crystal Fairy 9. Sleaford Mods English Tapas 10. At The Drive-In In.ter a.lia

Oktober Fest! Part One: Grizzly Bear, London Brixton Academy.

October has been indeed a particularly busy month for this blog’s writing team with no less than six gigs in twenty days. All sorts of bands (known/less known/old/young) and in very different venues. Let’s start this particular series with one of our Brooklyn favourites: Grizzly Bear at the Brixton Academy on the 9th October 2017.

Grizzly Bear, London, October 2017

Playing the Academy means a kind of success for lots of bands or artists as it means they are in a position to reach a quite massive audience…just before the big arena sizes. Grizzly Bear is typically this sort of band. They are quite famous..but not that much and are successful in keeping their indie rock credibility. There is a huge chance for almost everyone to be familiar with their 2009 tune “Two Weeks” as it has been quite used in ads or tv series. However, I am pretty sure that the general audience does not really know their overall discography. The latter has been very consistent with five LP’s and two EP’s and one really feels that the group is constantly improving towards beautiful and simple music, while retaining a certain strangeness to it. Their latest LP “Painted Ruins” was one of our best albums of the month in August 2017 and I must say I discover new subtleties every time I listen to it.

Grizzly Bear, London, October 2017

I felt the same way while catching them live, my personal second time after the 2012 Pitchfork Festival in Paris. These guys will definitely never be rock stars (…whatever it means) as their attitude, the way they dress and how they perform on stage do not create mayhem or an immediate need to stage-dive! However, if what you want from a band is craftsmanship, beauty and amazing voices, they are the ones for you. They all are tremendously gifted musicians (often swapping instruments) but their talent is very much used for the song and not the other way round (like alt-J for instance). Despite a few slightly boring moments here and there, I must say enjoying it overall a lot and being quite moved by the beauty of a few songs. The perfect band to catch if you are in the right mood.

 

Stay tuned for Part Two with Chad VanGaalen, coming next!

August 2017 Album of the month: The War On Drugs “A Deeper Understanding”

I was really expecting to struggle to find seven good albums in August but things did not work out as planned… August was actually probably the best month of the year so far in terms of quality of albums and the ones selected below are all reaching levels of excellence.

Album of the month: The War On Drugs “A Deeper Understanding” – Pop Rock – The War on Drugs is the brainchild of Adam Granduciel. After many years in being a very good band (one of his former member being the excellent Kurt Vile), their leader defined a different formula with their 2014 LP “Lost in the Dream“. It took me a bit of time to love that album which basically topped all 2014 best of lists but I must say seeing them live at End of the Road 2015 festival convinced me entirely. Their new record goes even further in this formula with hypnotic long songs. A bit as if Bruce Springsteen were playing “Dancing in the Dark” with a proper drums sound for over an hour ; who could ask for more?

  • Runner-up: Grizzly Bear“Painted Ruins” – Pop Rock – It had been quite a long time since we did not get any news from this great band but it was worth the wait. Despite having a sort of hit in 2009 with “Two Weeks“, Grizzly Bear are more a band known for their work on sounds and moody atmospheres. The first track of their new LP is called “Wasted Acres” and I guess after 20 seconds you will know if you are a fan of the band or if you feel bored. On my side, the choice has been made a long time ago so I am delighted to get a new record from such a beautiful band.
  • Also recommended:
    • The Districts “Popular Manipulations” – Pop Rock – in the same genre as TV On The Radio
    • Ghostpoet – “Dark Days + Canapés” – Urban Groove- Latest opus from soul/hip hop/indie rock master of sounds Obaro Ejimiwe
    • Nadine Shah “Holiday Destination” – Pop Rock – Hypnotic pop with political words
    • Iron & Wine “Beast Epic” – Pop Folk – First proper solo album since 2013 from our beloved Sam Beam
    • Queens of the Stone Age “Villains” – Pop Rock – This record would have been album of the month any other month. Josh Homme is the best person in the music industry with Jack White and Dave Grohl!
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month – This Is The Kit – “Moonshine Freeze

 

My 2012 Autumn Music Festivals 1/2 : Pitchfork Music Festival, Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris, 2nd and 3rd November, 2012

Day Two (2nd of November)

By far the weakest day of the Festival, best examples being the soul pastiche singer Jessie Ware, the pseudo Swedish dance sensation Robyn or the quite boring Wild Nothing or Chromatics. The headliners were Animal Collective and I must say it confirmed even more on stage what I thought about this band : I want to like them, I may find the way they do music quite interesting but I do not get it at the end of the day and it leaves me emotionless. Their high-pitched non-voices were particularly annoying live although they had a great stage set (inside a giant mouth).

Main discovery of the day for me was the hip-hop band Ratking. Animated live by two very young MC’s from Brooklyn, their set was quite refreshing, mixing up weird sound à la Wu Tang Clan with a great energy and complementary attitude of the two leading voices.

The best band tonight without any doubt was The Walkmen. I had seen them this summer in Chicago but must admit that they get better and better with every set they do. This band is now for me in a R.E.M. position just before they got worldwide famous : authenticity, great songs, a real team and family spirit, many albums behind them, a growing audience,….everything actually to go from one of the best bands of the indie rock world to be one of the major bands of our times.

Day Three (3rd of November)

After having enjoyed 20 bands out of 20 in the first two days, I dramatically decreased my ratio on the third day to 8/13, being probably too old now to go to bed at 7 am. Anyway, excellent third day, starting with a very good French band I had never of called Isaac Delusion which makes beautiful music, quite close in spirit and sound of that of James Blake.

 Seeing Cloud Nothings at the Pitchfork Festival was a real pleasure as this was a first-time for me and as their 2nd LP “Attack on Memory” published this year is one of the highlights of the year. They were even better on stage creating a sort of punchy and melodic grunge music but with a real knowledge of rock history as seen in a couple of tracks that went from typical American rock (influence Dinosaur Jr.) to the best moments of German music of the 70’s (influence Can). And so happy to see guys playing powerful guitars in the middle of this electro-influenced festival!

The rest of the evening was a bit weird, mixing the great energetic but frankly a bit inaudible on stage (Liars, Death Grips) with the pop oriented sounds of Twin Shadow or Breton for instance.

But the real kings of this last day were the headliners Grizzly Bear. This band is slowly but surely building up a beautiful repertoire of songs influenced equally by challenging and intellectual rock and by harmonies as those done by The Beach Boys. This is the band that is to my mind very similar to Animal Collective (smart guys, huge music knowledge, will to change things in music but in all art forms as well) but they have one major difference : they have songs. Their music world is not one in which you will enter easily but when you found the keys, you will stay in a very welcoming and warm house. I have always liked as well the bands with more than one singer and their set was really showing how much they master the art of multiple-voice singing.

A good way then to finish three excellent (but physically exhausting) days, hoping that a third festival will take place next year. Stay tuned for a soon-to-come post about my second Paris Autumn Festival (les Inrocks, with Pulp!).

Best of 2009

No ifs, no buts, facts only. Voici comme chaque année un best of forcément très subjectif des 15 albums à avoir pour épater vos amis.

Album de l’année 2009

Truelove's Gutter

Richard Hawley : Truelove’s Gutter

La récompense d’un artiste toujours présent et dont la production est toujours sans reproche. Mais qui est donc ce Richard Hawley : 1) un ancien membre des Long Pigs et de Pulp ? 2) une sorte de parrain musical des Arctic Monkeys, Sheffield oblige ? 3) un artiste très connu au UK ? Eh bien, tout cela à la fois. On aura surtout aimé la volonté de ralentir les choses que l’on retrouve dans cet album et la prise de risque que cela implique de nos jours. Rajoutons à ceci des mélodies à tomber ainsi que l’utilisation d’instruments pas vraiment rock’n’roll (scie, harmonica de verre, etc…). Le croisement idéal entre Chris Isaak et Pulp. Album of the Year!

Les 14 autres (par ordre alphabétique) :

Benjamin Biolay : La Superbe

On aimerait écrire trois pages sur Benjamin Biolay, sur ses débuts de musicien classique, sur ses premières productions bien propres pour les autres (Henri Salvador notamment), sur ses premiers albums bien pop et yéyé comme il faut, sur ses premières déchirures, sur ses derniers albums qui commencent à sentir le cassé, le moins propre, sur sa non-voix si bouleversante qui nous rappelle quelqu’un et enfin sur ce merveilleux double album où pas un des 22 morceaux ne montre un signe de faiblesse mais on ne fera que trois lignes. Des arrangements somptueux, de la pop, des morceaux bouleversants et surtout ce sentiment “happy/sad” qui fait les meilleurs albums. C’est une sorte d’album de l’année bis ; buy it!

Bill Callahan : Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle

Bill ne se cache plus désormais sous son ancien nom de “Smog” mais la qualité reste identique voire encore meilleure sur cet album où les mélodies et les arrangements n’ont jamais été aussi entêtants. Dans le style chanteur à spleen, Bill Callahan a toujours su broder des chansons à siffler sous la douche. Ceux qui aimeront cet album pourront rentrer dans un mode rétroactif (mais oui) et se plonger dans l’œuvre de cet artiste auteur d’une quinzaine d’albums.

Fever Ray : Fever Ray

Le 1er album solo de Karin Dreijer, habituelle moitié du groupe suédois The Knife. On y retrouve les ambiances intrigantes de ces derniers avec un je ne sais quoi de différent. Karin Dreijer a dit avoir composé cet album après son premier accouchement, la nuit notamment, dans ces moments d’éveil/sommeil durant lesquels son inspiration a fait des merveilles. Cette musique est à la fois flippante et pleine de magie ; pour ceux qui voudraient retrouver la fraîcheur des premiers Björk.

Grizzly Bear : Veckatimest

On retrouve chez Grizzly Bear un phénomène de succès spontané particulièrement rafraichissant pour ce jeune groupe qui n’a pas fait de concession particulière avec cet album. Un groupe US comme on les aime, curieux, éduqué, moderne tout en restant old school sur son ouvrage. Certains auront sans doute d’ailleurs fredonné la ritournelle “Two weeks” après avoir vu une publicité pour ouatures mais il est surtout recommandé d’aller un peu sur internet pour voir les très beaux clips de Grizzly Bear.

The Horrors : Primary Colours

The Horrors est un jeune groupe anglais au look hallucinant : des grandes asperges, avec des fringues serrées, des coiffures gothiques, enfin un rêve de groupe de rock, mélange entre les Cramps ou The Cure 1ère période. On est dans le gothique pur et dur … et on adore ça ! On était passé à côté de leur 1er album et on n’attendait rien de ce groupe. C’était sans compter sur la détermination de ces derniers qui sont allés chercher Geoff Barrow de Portishead pour la production, ce qui donne un son fabuleusement noir et pop à la fois.

Kings Of Convenience : Declaration of Dependence

Nos deux norvégiens préférés n’avaient plus rien sortis ensemble depuis 2004 et on pensait que ce groupe n’existait plus et resterait à vie un de nos trésors cachés favoris. Erreur ! Nos deux compères à guitares acoustiques se sont retrouvés comme au bon vieux temps pour nous pondre un album si berçant et plein de bonheur qu’on se croirait à Bergen do Brasil. A signaler également le projet plus dance d’Erlend Oye (The Whitest Boy Alive) tout aussi excellent.

Cass Mc Combs : Catacombs

L’auteur de ces lignes aime la pop et le rock qui bastonne mais avoue également un faible pour toute cette génération de chanteurs US dont on se sent proche aussi bien pour les références musicales que pour la recherche mélodique ou encore pour les textes accrocheurs. Excellent Sunday morning record comme disent les Anglo-saxons.

Phoenix : Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

L’année de la consécration pour nos favoris de toujours aussi bien en France (nul n’est prophète…) qu’aux US (passage chez David Letterman). Pourtant, on n’a pas accroché d’entrée, peut-être repoussé par ce nom d’album ridicule. Et puis, petit à petit, les mélodies ont commencé à s’installer, avec leurs vies à elles et il a bien fallu reconnaître que c’est un des meilleurs albums de nos petits Frenchies.

Sonic Youth : The Eternal

Le passage sur le label Matador a fait le plus grand bien à ce groupe de NY toujours aussi pertinent après plus de 25 ans de carr..euh de bruit. Mais ils n’ont jamais été meilleurs que lorsqu’ils font du rock mélodique et punchy comme sur cet album et délaissent un peu leurs tendances avant-gardistes. A signaler d’une part l’intégration de l’ancien bassiste de Pavement mais aussi un concert surréaliste au Palais des Congrès avec des hôtesses/placeuses en tailleur bleu avant qu’une 1ère partie vienne déchirer les tympans du public et que Sonic Youth arrive pour mettre le feu sur scène tandis qu’en avant-salle, les écrans annonçaient fièrement le concert à venir de … Serge Lama !

Soulsavers : Broken

Soulsavers est le projet de moins en moins électronique de deux anglais aux noms pour le moins amusants (Rich Machin et Ian Glover) mais qui ont su s’entourer de voix magnifiques sur cet album et en particulier de celle de Mark Lanegan qui monopolise ce disque par sa présence. Mark Lanegan est l’ancien chanteur des Screaming Trees, groupe ami de Nirvana, et participe depuis à beaucoup de projets, dont les fabuleux Queens of the Stone Age. Une voix éraillée qui donne des frissons au service d’ambiances à la Ennio Morricone.

Super Furry Animals : Dark Days/Light Years

9ème album pour ce groupe qui ne rassemble pas des animaux poilus mais des Gallois chevelus pour lesquels le mot tabou n’existe pas. Sur cet album, ils nous concoctent des ambiances à la limite du psychédélisme avec toujours cette personnalité qui les rend différent du reste (l’air vivifiant de Cardiff sans doute…).

Them Crooked Vultures : Them Crooked Vultures

… plus connus sous leur nom secret de “Petits Pois” lors du dernier festival Rock en Seine. Un rêve de fan : Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) à la batterie, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) à la guitare et au chant et John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) à la basse. Parfois ces super groupes peuvent être décevants mais ce n’est pas du tout le cas ici car ça ressemble à une sorte de techno world avec des influences de trip hop et aussi… Allez stop, oui ça sonne exactement comme du Queens of the Stone Age avec le batteur de Nirvana et le bassiste de Led Zeppelin et donc c’est dément !

Wild Beasts : Two Dancers

Encore un groupe anglais dont le 1er album avait un peu laissé froid (du rock indie chanté en falsetto) et dont on n’attendait rien pour la suite. Et voici un 2ème contre-exemple ! Une musique ample et cool au service d’une voix chaleureuse et mieux maitrisée. Si vous ne voulez acheter qu’un album et êtes resté un fan pur et dur des Smiths, this is the one.

The xx : The xx

Encore un nouveau groupe d’anglais très très jeunes. Des filles et des garçons amis d’école qui ont fait un album chez eux sur des vieux synthés et cela donne quelque chose de miraculeux. Un croisement entre les Young Marble Giants et de la R’n’B. Difficile à croire mais pourtant vrai. A découvrir d’urgence pour ceux ou celles qui n’ont pas eux encore la chance de les entendre.

 

Tout près de cette liste (pêle mêle) :

Animal Collective, Eagles of Death Metal (rock’n’roll!), Franz Ferdinand, U2 (oui, oui), Fredo Viola (des voix superbes), Wilco, Jarvis Cocker (album musclé de l’ex chanteur de Pulp), Eels, DM Stith, Akron/Family, The Dead Weather (Jack White des White Stripes + Alison Mosshart des Kills), Magnolia Electric Co, Oneida (un triple album de fous furieux), Arctic Monkeys, White Denim, Yo La Tengo, Liam Hayes and Plush (notre n°1 de 2008), Air, Charlotte Gainsbourg (album écrit et joué par Beck), Julian Casablancas (escapade solo du chanteur des Strokes), Fuck Buttons, Girls.

R.I.P. Vic Chesnutt (1964-2009)

 

Meilleur DVD

Lou Reed : Berlin

Un des plus grands albums de Lou Reed et donc par conséquent de tous les temps sortis en 1973 autour de l’histoire des déambulations du narrateur et de la mère de ses enfants, junkie en détresse. Lou Reed a décidé de rejouer en intégralité cet album et c’est Julian Schnabel qui est à la réalisation. Un moment exceptionnel avec notamment la présence d’Antony dans les chœurs.

 

Meilleur Single

The Low Anthem : Charlie Darwin

Un morceau intemporel qui semble toujours avoir existé et qu’on croirait être un croisement entre un vieux gospel venant des montagnes américaines et un air d’un film de David Lynch.

 

Meilleur Coffret

Big Star : Keep an Eye on the Sky

Le groupe légendaire d’Alex Chilton fait l’objet d’un magnifique coffret de 4-CD. Ou comment ce groupe maudit de Memphis ayant fait seulement 2 albums de son vivant + un album posthume arrivait à faire mélanger des sonorités américaines du Sud du pays avec des mélodies que n’auraient pas reniées The Beatles.

 

Meilleure Compilation

Various : Dark was the Night

Une compilation de 31 morceaux du label 4AD au profit de l’association Red Hot qui récolte des fonds dans la lutte contre le Sida. Les bonnes causes ne sont pas synonymes de qualité artistique la plupart du temps mais ici, c’est tout l’inverse dans la mesure où on retrouve toute la brillante actuelle scène US dans ce disque : Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, The National, Antony, Spoon, Arcade Fire, Andrew Bird,Yo La Tengo, etc… Avec en prime un inédit exceptionnel de Sufjan Stevens.

 

Reissue(s) of the Year

The Beatles : everything !

Certes, battage médiatique ; certes, cela valait-il le coup ; certes, il y a un peu de business… Mais on reste naïf et enthousiaste devant le travail de remastering qui a été fait sur tous les albums des Fab Four. Cela permet en plus de remettre les pendules à l’heure et de réaliser que malgré tous les listes de best of ou autres nouveautés musicales, ce sont toujours ces disques qu’on prendra sur une île déserte. Ajoutons à cela la vision du merveilleux spectacle “Love” du Cirque du Soleil ainsi qu’une tournée de Paul McCartney à couper le souffle et le choix s’impose de lui-même.

 

D’autres TOP 10

– NME (UK) :

  1. The Horrors – Primary Colours
  2. The XX – The XX
  3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
  4. Wild Beasts – Two Dancers
  5. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
  6. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
  7. The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
  8. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
  9. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
  10. Jamie T – Kings & Queens

– Paste Magazine (USA) :

  1. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You
  2. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Paviliont
  3. Elvis Perkins in Dearland – Elvis Perkins In Dearland
  4. The Low Anthem – Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
  5. David Bazan – Curse Your Branches
  6. Brandi Carlile – Give Up The Ghost
  7. The Decemberists – Hazards of Love
  8. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  9. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone
  10. Frank Turner – Poetry of the Deed

– Les Inrocks (French) :

  1. The XX : The XX
  2. Fredo Viola : The Turn
  3. Charlotte Gainsbourg : IRM
  4. Animal Collective : Merriweather Post Pavilion
  5. Phoenix : Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  6. Julian Casablancas : Phrazes for the Young
  7. Gossip : Music for Men
  8. Peter Doherty : Grace/Wastelands
  9. Jay-Z : The Blueprint 3
  10. Passion Pit : Manners

– Mojo (UK) :

  1. Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
  2. Bill Callahan – Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle
  3. Richard Hawley – Truelove’s Gutter
  4. The Horrors – Primary Colours
  5. Tinariwen – Imidiwan: Companions
  6. Bob Dylan – Together Through Life
  7. Florence And The Machine – Lungs
  8. Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport
  9. Madness – The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
  10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

– Pitchfork (excellent US Web Site) :

01 Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

02 Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca

03 The xx : The xx

04 The Flaming Lips : Embryonic

05 Raekwon : Only Built for Cubal Linx… Pt. II

06 Grizzly Bear : Veckatimest

07 Bat for Lashes : Two Suns

08 Phoenix : Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

09 Fever Ray : Fever Ray

10 Girls : Album

– Other Music (NY Store) :

01 Dirty Projectors : Bitte Orca

02 Animal Collective : Merriweather Post Pavilion

03 Dam-Funk : Toeachizown

04 Cold Cave : Love Comes Close

05 Broadcast & the Focus Group : Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age

06 The xx : The xx

07 Fever Ray : Fever Ray

08 King Midas Sound : Waiting for You

09 Phoenix : Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

10 Girls : Album

– Rough Trade (London Store) :

10 albums sans ordre : The xx : The xx / The Low Anthem : Oh My God, Charlie Darwin / The Horrors : Primary Colours / Fever Ray : Fever Ray / The Pains of Being Pure at Heart : The Pains of Being Pure at Heart / Grizzly Bear : Veckatimest / The Leisure Society : The Sleeper and the Product of the Ego Drain / Fuck Buttons : Tarot Sport / Forest Fire : Survival / The Very Best : Warm Heart of Africa

– Ground Zero (Paris Store) :

10 albums sans ordre : Animal Collective : Merriweather Post Pavilion / Grizzly Bear : Veckatimest / Cass Mc Combs : Catacombs / DM Stith : Heavy Ghost / The Pains of Being Pure at Heart : The Pains of Being Pure at Heart / Yeti Lane : Yeti Lane / The Whitest Boy Alive : Rules / The xx : The xx / The Phantom Band : Checkmate Savage / Here We go Magic : Here We go Magic

Bonne année à tous et bonne écoute !