TOP 100 Artists/Bands of all Times : 11-15

15. Radiohead

 from : Oxford, England / first great sounds : 90’s / style : experimental pop / essential albums : The Bends (1995) , Ok Computer (1997), Kid A (2000), In Rainbows (2007) / Click to read more in the blog

First, the attitude : no band has never less played the rock’n’roll star ego game than Radiohed. Second, the way the work : all five members are creative and an integral part of the Radiohead sound. Third, the evolution : every record is different and they always try to bring something new, which materialized in their sound (from classic indie rock to electronica influenced rhythms). And fourth, the songs : a great gift to always create fantastic melodies. We have all envied older people when they told us they have been lucky enough to see Pink Floyd or The Clash at their peak period ; well, I will tell younger kids that I experienced Radiohead live at their peak period…

14. Bob Dylan

from : Duluth, MN, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : everything but folk! / essential albums : Bringing It All Back Home (1965), Highway 61 Revisited (1965), Blonde on Blonde (1966), Blood on the Tracks (1975), Desire (1976), Oh Mercy (1989)

Everyone knows the name “Bob Dylan” and all the clichés associated to him : protest singer, folk rock, voice of a generation, blah blah… BULL-SHIT ! Bob Dylan is all but this. He is an innovator, a huge rock’n’roll and all styles of music fan and he had a tremendous life. And on top of it, he is a self egoistic bastard who did/does not want at all to be taken for a kind of hippie generation voice or something a-like. 50 years in the biz but apart from the pure Dylan fans who will buy anything, do you really know his records? If not, start with the list above and you will hear rich, moving and powerful music you might never have imagine from such a public figure.

13. Lou Reed

 from : Brooklyn, NY, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : no-bullshit rock’n’roll / essential albums : Transformer (1972), Berlin (1973), New York (1989), Songs for Drella (1990), Magic and Loss (1992) / Click to read more in the blog

I think his best enemy John Cale wrote once about Lou Reed something like “how can such an evil man can write such beautiful songs”. It might not be the exact quote but the overall idea is there as Lou Reed does not have indeed the reputation of being the nicest guy in show business… I have seen once ask the people in the audience who wanted to dance and shout to leave the theatre as this was not what he intended to do. Anyway, the guy is one of our modern geniuses, from the Velvet Underground (cf. rank #51) to all his solo records or projects with other musicians. I saw him in particular play on stage his masterpiece Berlin a few years ago and must say it was one of the best experiences of my musical life.

12. Led Zeppelin

 from : London, England / first great sounds : 60’s / style : heavy blues rock / essential albums : Led Zeppelin (1969), Led Zeppelin II (1969), Led Zeppelin III (1970), Led Zeppelin IV (1971), Houses of the Holy  (1973)

When I started being a real music fan in the mid-80’s, thanks to all these beautiful British post-punk and new wave bands, the enemies were clearly Led Zeppelin and another popular singer from New Jersey… Of course, like everyone at that time, I had in my record collection “Led Zeppelin IV” and had played air-guitar while listening to “Black Dog” or “Stairway to Heaven” but I must say it took me years to come back to Led Zeppelin, thanks to MTV and the Page/Plant unledded show where they played different versions of famous songs in Morocco or in the forests of Wales. This band was the mythic rock’n’roll band, where all excesses were tolerated and experienced. The band was made out of the four BEST musicians of the 70’s in their respective roles : Jimmy Page as amazing gifted guitar hero, the larger-than-life John “Bonzo” Bonham on drums, the best rock arranger ever on synths and bass with John Paul Jones (still very active, playing for instance with Joss Homme from Queens of the Stone Age – rank #20) and or course Robert Plant as singer and angel-like stage presence. I particularly recommend the live DVD that went out around 10 years ago if you really want to see what the band was really about.

11. Paul Weller (The Jam / The Style Council)

from : Woking, England / first great sounds : 70’s  / style : mod and soul / essential albums : In the City (1977), Sound Affects (1980), Café Bleu (1984), Our Favourite Shop (1985), Paul Weller (1992), Wild Wood (1993), Heavy Soul (1997), Sonik Kicks (2012) / Click to read more in the blog

Yes, there are still 11 artists I prefer to Led Zeppelin! I must admit this is a bit theoretical as the Top 15 is really made out of my musical heroes and listening to one of their records would make me probably change the ranking… Anyway, Paul Weller has been a kind of musical big brother for me as this is someone who has always been in my cloud. I was a bit too young to catch The Jam although I dig later in all their records but really discovered Paul Weller through his soul-funk-jazz Style Council period and have always found his musical choices and evolution extra-interesting. The guy as a real know-how of not being self-satisfied, which probably comes from his modest origins and the values of work he had from his family. Like for all these great musicians and people, seeing them on stage is probably the best way to understand what all this is about..

Best of 2011 : Top 20!

So here we are again, putting names and feelings and rationality in boxes and ranking… Not sure what for once more and I agree that it may seem pointless in such a history-weighted year with acceleration of events everywhere on our little planet, except as always the envy of sharing a great artistic passion in these troubled times. A year spent seeing many bands live, buying, listening and hearing literally hundreds of records, files, videos, sites, magazines, etc.. and here are the results with a Top 20 albums of 2011. Please comment, buy, listen, take a guitar and play, go to a show, whatever but any little action would mean a lot for your host. If you could particularly give your Top 3 of the year in the comments, that would be very much welcome. And if you had not been on the blog since a year ago, there are plenty of reviews to read so advertise it!

Cover (The English Riviera:Metronomy)  Album of the Year – MetronomyThe English Riviera” Really easy choice this year as this gorgeous LP did not suffer any competitors to get the number one tag, as far as I am concerned. Lead by Joseph Mount, Metronomy is an English band and this is their third album. Last one was quite good but what makes a band go from good to great is always a fascinating phenomena. With a new rhythm section (and what amazing drummer and bassist Anna Prior and Gbenga Adelekan are…), this record left a bit aside the electro side they were famous for to create pop music that is at the same time smart, danceable, intelligent, popular and…well, simply great. I would assimilate this record to the best done by LCD Soundsystem but with an English perspective. In “The Bay”, one of the best tracks of the LP, Joseph Mount sings the following lyrics “…You may have the body but do you have the songs?”. Dear Joseph, you do not have one but eleven fantastic songs and you made by far the album of the year.

Cover (Apocalypse:Bill Callahan)  My number 2 – Bill CallahanApocalypse” Bill Callahan has been an old friend (metaphorically speaking of course) of this blog and you might want to review the two concert reviews done this year on the blog. What makes the former Smog leader get in such a high position in our best of this year? Probably the fact that with these seven songs he succeeded more than ever to make simple and acoustic music sound deep. A very deep voice, deep lyrics and deep emotional music, I strongly recommend this LP to anyone who is attracted to ageless music.

Cover (C'mon:Low)  My number 3 – LowC’mon” Talking about emotion, simplicity, many albums done and two shows reviewed this year, here is my bronze medal of the year. Still based on the core married couple of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, Low plays very very slow music which could be compared to grunge music played for churches. I admit this is an easy shortcut but their music has been a beauty for many years and this record is amongst their best.

Other great records of my top 20 (by alphabetical order)

Cover (El Camino:The Black Keys) The Black KeysEl Camino” The Black Keys took everyone by surprise with this record that went out late in the year in December but their formula is more efficient than ever. Written with the help of DJ Danger Mouse (cf. below), this LP is less soulful than the previous one “Brothers” and closer to their original drums and guitar formula but sooooooooooo good! Video of the year as well for the “Lonely Boy” video ; if your feet do not move, you must be reading this from heaven or hell.

Cover (Rome:Danger Mouse) Danger Mouse and Daniele LuppiRome” I would never have enough words to praise the great Danger Mouse (real name Brian Burton) whose projects are all great, either mixing The Beatles and Jay-Z for the “Grey Album”, making an album with the singer of the Shins or as half-part of the soul/pop/hip-hop duo Gnarls Barkley. This year, he recorded an homage to italian movies of the 70’s with one Daniel Luppi, actually playing with musicians that used to play on Ennio Morricone records. The two guest singers really made the difference here: Norah Jones (her best work ever!) and Jack White always on top and concentrating on his beautiful voice. THE surprise of the year.

 Daniel DarcLa taille de mon âme” Our usual Frenchie in this list is one again Daniel Darc. Please read his story in this blog’s review of his late concert in Paris. It may be a bit tricky for non-French speakers to get it and awkward for French-speakers as well as this is pure emotional music but with a rock’n’roll mindset as well. Most funny lyrics with “J’ai peur des noix de coco depuis Keith Richards, j’irai en enfer avec Richard Hell”!

Cover (Skying:The Horrors) The HorrorsSkying” Very close to the podium for this English band for their third LP. Their second one was already one of the best of 2009 and for this one they decided to produce it themselves. They are now definitely amongst the great and these guys are really in love with music, mixing 60’s psychedelic and post-punk influences in a great way. Faris Badwan is for me the man of the year as he did another great album as half of duo Cat’s Eyes (great name too!). Please click on to read review of their Rock en Seine show.

Cover (Kiss Each Other Clean:Iron & Wine) Iron And WineKiss Each Other Clean” When one clicks Iron and Wine in allmusic website, one gets Iron Maiden as first choice of related bands! Thank you allmusic as I could describe their music as completely the opposite although I have nothing against pure good metal once in a while. Lead by the multi-talented Sam Beam, this record is beautiful as always as far as melodies are concerned but this time with more musicians and richness which makes it above what he did before. Best show of the great Austin City Limits festival as far as I am concerned as well.

Cover (I Am Very Far:Okkervil River) Okkervil RiverI Am Very Far” Another one of these bands coming from Austin, Texas, mixing at the same time epic songs in a very subtle environment. One more, why this record compared to the previous ones done before? Probably a question of timing and the fact that I had been very enthusiastic about the show they played in Paris this year. Discover this band and you will be rewarded.

Cover (Last of the Country Gentlemen:Josh T. Pearson) Josh T. PearsonLast Of The Country Gentlemen” A resurrection here coming from the former leader of Texas band Lift to Experience. After years spent in the wilderness and thanks in part to a Creperie (!) restaurant in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, Josh Pearson gave us this year his first solo LP, mainly acoustic and with very long but captivating songs. Click on for review of the show he did this year at the Café de la Danse in Paris.

 RadioheadThe King Of Limbs” One of our favorite bands ever, Radiohead went on playing tricks with their fans this year by getting this new record out of nowhere at the start of the year with the same policy as their last album “In Rainbows” with download first before any physical format such as the traditional CD or a limited edition with vinyl and newspaper inside. And the actual music in here? Well, a bit weird as impossible to remember a song from scratch but every time the needle gets on the record, one has to admit that Radiohead is still a top band, mixing electro sounds with great rhythm and the gorgeous voice of Thom Yorke.

 Lou Reed & MetallicaLulu” This may be probably the record that brought the most hatred in the music press and web community. I think I had never seen the critics so divided but boy, when people did not like it, they made it known! I personally liked it a lot and felt that this improbable meeting of two kinds made tremendous loud…but quiet music as well. I had seen Robert Trujillo in the audience attending Lou Reed show in Paris this year and one has to know that the great Lou is not in good physical shape, suffering from diabetes. The story “Lulu” is based on the play adapted by Robert Wilson on the story of this 19th century lady who fell down from high society in the gutters of life. Listen without prejudice.

Cover (Undun:The Roots) The RootsUndun” 2011 has not been the best hip-hop year for your host as I did not get the fuzz around the Odd Future crew and as Jay-Z and Kanye West’s common album was nice whereas we were expecting much better. So back to one of hip-hop oldest and best bands to deliver the goods…very late as this LP went out mid-december. The Roots are now hosting the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” show in the US and it gave them access to their studio on a 24/7 basis, allowing them to experiment basically with whatever they have in mind. “Undun” is based on the story of a guy growing, living and dying in the suburbs and was inspired by an old track from Sufjan Stevens. Mixing genres, beats and singer, this LP is a real grower, better with every listen and finishing with a classical suite (not very common in hip-hop) on which Sufjan Stevens plays the piano.

Cover (Strange Mercy:St. Vincent) St. VincentStrange Mercy” This is the third album done by Annie Clark under the St. Vincent moniker and she really grows in stature with every year that goes on. This pretty and shy young woman makes today the most original music I know from a female perspective but always with a sense of melody. Discover this great artist, either by clicking on earlier review of her reinterpreting Tom Waits or in the excellent 4AD label sessions.

Cover (Marble Son:Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter) Jesse Sykes And The Sweet HereafterMarble Son” One of the best surprises of the year for me as I had associated Jesse Sykes with nice but sometimes boring pure Americana music in the past. Wrong! Her new album mixes at the same time nice melodies and handcrafted American epic songs with a kind of drone Sunn O))) influenced slow metal mood, which made it one of the most fascinating music of the year. And great music to drive to!

 Cover (Nine Types of Light:TV on the Radio) TV On The RadioNine Types Of Light” One of our regular bands of the end-of-the year list, TV On The Radio went from NY to California to record their new LP and one can really feel a more relaxed mood. Are we as surprised by this record as we used to be when we discovered this band? No, for sure. Are they still leading the pack in terms of excellence, creativity and emotion? Yes! If you have never heard about this band, this is a very good way to enter their world. And I give you not one but two concert reviews for 2011 you lucky readers!

Cover (Smoke Ring For My Halo:Kurt Vile) Kurt VileSmoke Ring For My Halo” Or how to be inventive and sound as completely new with a familiar basis (talk Beck or Sonic Youth but on a more laid-back mood). Kurt Vile went one step ahead this year and his album is an ongoing pleasure for whoever wants cool but demanding music. Please check the video I took in Austin to get a better idea of what I am talking about.

Cover (The Whole Love:Wilco) WilcoThe Whole Love” Having a new Wilco record is a bit like what getting a new Pavement record used to be 15 years ago : excitement, pleasure and with the same sound overall but always with a few changes in their sound or song structures. “The Whole Love” could be described as a kind of summary of all they do well, that is to say pure American rock with weird sounds interfering once in a while the whole project. They also regularly are in our best-of but that is very much deserved as Jeff Tweedy and his guys are one of the most interesting and fascinating bands of our times.

Cover (Smother:Wild Beasts) Wild BeastsSmother” This band came on top with their second album “Two Dancers” in 2009 and their latest LP is really as good as the last one, going further in the typical English vein of great voices but with groovier tracks. And they were also at Austin City Limits!

Cover (Gentle Spirit:Jonathan Wilson) Jonathan WilsonGentle Spirit” Not a newcomer in the music business as this guy owns a studio in Los Angeles and produced many records for all the US bands we cherish but this is his “real” first LP. A fantastic album with songs that own as much to Neil Young as to American great vocalists bands, this is a record either to listen to near the fire or on the beach in the summer.

Very close to this list : Arctic MonkeysSuck It And See” / James Blake S/T”/ CascadeurThe Human Octopuss” / ColdplayMylo Xyloto” / Cymbals Eat GuitarsLenses Alien” / Death Cab For CutieCodes And Keys”/ The DecemberistsThe King Is Dead” / Dutch UnclesCadenza” / Foo FightersWasting Light” / Eleanor FriedbergerLast Summer” / Noel Gallagher’s High Flying BirdsS/T”/ Arthur HBaba Love” / Joan As Police WomanThe Deep Field” / JusticeAudio, Video, Disco” / J. MascisSeveral Shades of Why” / Red Hot Chili PeppersI’m With You”/ Suuns Zeroes QC”/ Vivian GirlsShare The Joy” / Tom WaitsBad As Me” / Wild FlagS/T”… and many, many, many records not in this list!

Other top 3’s  (PJ Harvey quite loved in the UK and Bon Iver in the US…):

-> New Musical Express (UK weekly mag.): 1. PJ Harvey “Let England Shake” 2. Metronomy “The English Riviera” 3. The Horrors :”Skying

-> Uncut (UK monthly mag.): 1. PJ Harvey “Let England Shake” 2. Gillian Welch “The Harrow And The Harvest” 3. Metronomy “The English Riviera

-> Mojo (UK monthly mag.): 1. PJ Harvey “Let England Shake” 2. The Horrors “Skying” 3. Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues

-> Paste (US web mag.): 1. Bon Iver “bon iver, bon iver” 2. Fleet Foxes “Helplessness Blues” 3. My Morning Jacket “Circuital

-> Pitchfork  (US website): 1. Bon Iver “bon iver, bon iver” 2. Destroyer “Kaputt” 3. M83 “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

-> Les Inrockuptibles (French weekly mag.): 1. The Black Keys “El Camino” 2. Metronomy “The English Riviera” 3. Wu Lyf “Go Tell Fire Mountain” Their “best of 2011 Hors-Série” is particularly recommended as excellent and coming with a CD of their prefered tracks of the year.

-> Magic rpm (French monthly mag.): 1. Girls “Father, Son, Holy Ghost” 2. Destroyer “Kaputt” 3. Baxter Dury “Happy Soup

-> New Noise (French bimester mag.): 1. The Skull Defekts “Peer Amid” 2. Battles “Gloss Drop ” 3. Cheveu “1000″

-> Sound Opinions (US music podcast) Greg Kot’s 1. Wild Flag “Wild Flag” 2. The Roots “Undun” 3. tUnE-yArDs “WHOKILL” Jim DeRogatis’ 1. Le Butcherettes “Sin Sin Sin” 2. Wild Flag “Wild Flag” 3. Das Racist “Relax”

-> Robert Haymoncollins (Bristol, UK,blog): This is a Top 10 with no particular order but we have three records in common

-> Fargo (Paris records store): 1. Kurt Vile “Smoke Ring For My Halo” 2. Bill Callahan “Apocalypse” 3. Ryan Adams “Ashes & Fire

-> Ground Zero (Paris records store): Top 10 – no order – 2 records in common

-> Other Music (NY records store): 1. Kurt Vile “Smoke Ring For My Halo” 2. Zomby “Dedication” 3. Andt Stott “Passed Me By / We Stay Together

Box Sets and Reissues

Always mixed feelings here as do we music fans have to enjoy beautifully remastered editions of great albums from the past with extra tracks, books and photos and do we have to be cynical, knowing that the records industry count on us to buy these overly priced sets? I think the right way as a consumer is to keep balance between what is really new and worthwhile vs. what is purely a repackaged stuff. Not always easy I must say… 2011 was clearly the reissue year : R.EM., Nirvana, The Jesus and May Chain, Paul Mc Cartney, The Smiths, Can, Smashing Pumpkins, Primal Scream, The Rolling Stones, This Mortal Coil, The Who, Serge Gainsbourg, Mikey Newbury, etc…

  Best Box SetThe Beach BoysThe Smile Sessions” To make it short, here is the story of this music : in 1966, Brian Wilson (leader of the Beach Boys) following the success of their LP “Pet Sounds” and wanting to compete with The Beatles’s “Revolver” began work on his “Smile” project. Drugs, mental issues and heavy pressure he put on himself made him abandon the project later in the year and he would never be the same again. A few tracks appear little by little on official albums or bootlegs but the real discovery was to see Brian Wilson back in shape in 2004 playing “Smile” live and recording what could/should have been. Now seven years after, we are given the full package in this box-set for completists (5 CD’s and 2 LP’s) with the full sessions done by the band at the time. This is something that us music fans never thought we would be able to hear but this is true now. If your budget is limited and you do not want to hear 27 sessions of “Heroes and Villains” (which I can understand!), there is a shorter great 2-CD version. BUY IT!

  Best ReissueMarvin GayeWhat’s Going On” Your host will soon be writing a best of the year 1971 as this truly was one of the best years ever for music. Voted best album ever by New Musical Express in 1985, this is the record where Marvin Gaye emancipated himself from the Tamla Motown owner (and brother-in-law) Berry Gordy, wanting to stop singing silly love songs but giving his vision of the world. Best soul music ever for me on this record and the themes in it make it so 2011 : environmental issues, war in foreign countries, corruption and tax, etc… This reissue has one LP with the original mix and 2 CD’s with a remastered version and bonus tracks. Whatever the edition you chose, no one can live without this music at home!

So great year one more as all years for the music lovers since.. forever. A special goodbye to R.EM. who disbanded with dignity this year and whom we will never thank enough to introduce us to American bands  and to the White Stripes. A special thought to the big man Clarence Clemmons who disappeared much too early (“Jungleland” sax solo forever!). Stay tuned to Virgins and Philistines blog and see you soon!

The Velvet Underground: the most influential band ever? A great book + Lou Reed in Paris (Grand Rex, 5th of July) + Velvet Revisited (Cité de la Musique, 7th of July)

I will not be the first and last one to use Brian Eno’s famous quote on the Velvet Underground but this is so true : “the first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band”.

Here is a short summary: young man from NY named Lou Reed (chain-composing songs for others and already subject to electro-shock treatments by his parents) meets young man from Wales named John Cale (avant-garde trained musician) in the mid-60’s to create different music. They create a band with Sterling Morrison on guitar and the boy-looking Maureen Tucker on drums (ancestor of Meg White from the White Stripes), hang around the Factory led by Andy Warhol who proposes to produce their 1st album (meaning doing nothing musically speaking but creating the buzz) and imposes German model/actress Nico on three tracks. The band did only four studio albums in their short career from 1967 to 1970, John Cale leaving after two LP’s and being replaced by Doug Yule.

Cover (The Velvet Underground & Nico:The Velvet Underground) Cover (White Light/White Heat:The Velvet Underground) Cover (The Velvet Underground:The Velvet Underground) Cover (Loaded:The Velvet Underground)

These four LP’s are indispensable for anyone with an interest in the so-called “indie-rock” scene but more generally in songs, music and art I would say. I will not make any comment on them, except that they all deserve a 10/10 (please click on the covers to know more about them and see the incredible amazing songs available on each one). I would recommend a great book that went out in 2009, giving the chance for those who lived this fantastic period of time in NY to talk about their Velvet Underground memories with tremendous pictures too. Apart from the fact that I could hear a “Sunday Morning” or “Sweet Jane” 1,000 times and being as excited and enthusiastic as the first time, The Velvet Underground gives us all contemporary pop and rock music lovers a sense of purpose and history. Remember that this is band that was basically unsuccessful at their period but that went on influencing so many great musicians, like painters did in the past, virtually getting success and recognition much after death.

The Velvet Underground

Last week was a special week in Paris as there were two Velvet related concerts:

  • First one took place in “Le Grand Rex” where Lou Reed played in Paris for the first time since 2007 for an entire performance of his “Berlin” album. Now 69, I found him not in physical good shape, as he seemed to have difficulty to walk on stage. However, after a first hesitating track, he and his band (led by the amazing Tony “Thunder” Smith on drums) began little by little to deliver the goods and that was a great show. Excellent setlist as well mixing classic Velvet Underground tracks and solo Reed ones. I felt a particular emotion when he faded out “Small Town” (from “Songs for Drella” on the story of Andy Warhol) and began playing “Mother” from John Lennon Plastic Ono Band. Here is a beautiful and cooled down version of “Sunday Morning”, the first song on the first Velvet Underground album.
  • The second one was part of the Days Off festival at la Villette and was a kind of pop/rock fan’s dream. A specific band had been indeed created for this event with the following musicians: Gaz Combes and Danny Goffey (Supergrass), Nicolas Godin (Air), Colin Greenwood (Radiohead), Nigel Godrich (fantastic producer) and Joey Warronker (from R.EM. and Beck fame), whaoouhhh! Two days of rehearsals as Danny told us and here we are, as if 40 years ago. The band played first “The Velvet Underground and Nico” in its entirety and then went on playing other great tracks for the other albums. Two female singers went on helping them playing former Nico songs (Feist from Canada and Soap and Skin from Austria). One has to admit that the show was straight with no major change vs. original songs but were played with such intensity and joy by Gaz in particular that that was a hell of a moment. Great initiative from the festival..to be done again next year. Here is another video and a few pictures from both shows.

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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 :

 

 

Cover (Truelove's Gutter:Richard Hawley) 

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 serrés, 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 Mc Cartney 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 !
Stéphane