2015 Top 15 records

Here we go for our annual review of the year in music through the best new records. Lots to write about in 2015 : dramatic and very important stuff with the Paris events but as well a few more derisory facts related to music in particular. The fact that the New Musical Express became a free weekly magazine was a very depressing one for those like me who were eagerly waiting in the 80’s and 90’s for its weekly edition to build one’s rock and pop culture. On the other side, vinyls are now available almost everywhere and one can only hope this is not a posh trend but something that will stay for good. I hope you will like this year’s selection ; I was quite happy to see so many powerful and independent women part of it by the way… And now, rock’n’roll !

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” What makes a record your favourite of the year ? Well, first, it has to be indeed your favourite and not the trendy choice to look cool and in line with rock critics’ choice. Then, it has to be a grower and probably not the kind of record you love after the first listens. On top of it, it probably has to get lost of changes, different musical styles, a few parts you do not really understand, others with which you are amazed, a kind of main thread through it too ? In this case, the choice is easily made and we are very happy to welcome a classic from Mr. Lamar three years after his previous opus. LP of the year !

TWO RUNNER UPS

Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I sit and think and sometimes I just sit” I have been told that one could feel that this record is made by someone special by looking at its cover and title and I must say this is really true. This young woman from Australia has justified this year all hopes put in her first past recordings with her proper debut album. Simple and punchy songs with a soft Velvet Underground influence for the music and simple and direct words from the “now” generation. Once you got this LP, I can tell you will have to listen to it regularly so good it is. Click here for live review.

 Torres “Sprinter” Torres is the musical moniker for American female singer Mackenzie Scott and this album has been a real discovery for me as I had missed her first good but not great LP. With a prestigious cast of musicians used to work with great artists such as PJ Harvey or Portishead, she delivered with this record a series of extremely powerful and melodic songs built around a very strong personality. Difficult to describe as her music does not appear so different at first but the richness and greatness is felt little by little when one takes the time to do so. Like what all great music, you will be rewarded if you take enough time for this record. Click here for live review.

The rest of the Top 15 records in no particular order

 Sleater-Kinney “No Cities to Love” Witnessing the reunion of Mss. Tucker, Weiss and Brownstein under the Sleater-Kinney tag was one of the joys of 2015. I must admit that I missed this band when they were at their peaks and only discovered them through the 2006 “The Woods” LP. In the meantime, I did my homework and bought little by little all their amazing punchy punk and melodic albums and became a fan of the “Portlandia” series in which Carrie Brownstein acts. No such fun as in the series in this record but an excellent job done by this female trio. …and Janet Weiss on drums has been for a long time a friend of this blog as she has played with so many great bands (Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus, Quasi, etc…).

 Marilyn Manson “The Pale Emperor” I really think I would never have thought to find Brian Warner’s evil alter ego in such a list as his music had always been a mystery to me… I had enjoyed a few powerful tracks here and there but always thought the guy and his band were a bit fake and difficult to like through an entire album. Complete change of thoughts with this LP which is a real and constant pleasure for those who like bluesy and powerful music. The musicianship and sense of melody are great in all tracks but what makes this record a real gem is the way Marilyn Manson uses his amazing voice. The kind of records Nick Cave could do to soundtrack “The Road” (ok, I know he did but you got the point…)

 Father John Misty “I Love You, Honeybear” Father John Misty is the name Josh Tillman took a few years ago and this symbolic act was indeed a liberation for him. After publishing a few solo records under his own name and more famously being the drummer for the (slightly boring but) good band The Fleet Foxes, he decided to get away from his folk and hippie look and make more aerial music. This record is indeed very ambitious and could have been done in the 70’s by West Californian singers. Complex and beautiful words also influenced by his getting recently married and the eternal husband-and-wife relationship stories…

 Tobias Jesso, Jr. “Goon” Talking about simple but beautiful songs played on the piano, let me please introduce you to Tobias Jesso, Jr. His story is the kind that could have been invented. After a few failed tentatives to succeed in the music industry, and after the conjunction of a car accident and the news that his mother was sick, the young man gave up on his Californian dream and travelled back to Vancouver. Family news fortunately got better with time and he started to compose a few songs on his sister’s piano…and here you go for one of the records of the year. He was even (un?)lucky to be chosen for one of his track to be sung by a successful English chanteuse called A., whom this blog will not mention as we are talking about the best of 2015 here!

 Sufjan Stevens “Carrie & Lowell” As often described for musical oeuvres that need a bit of time to get really appreciated, this album is a grower. I was actually quite surprised by its simplicity, knowing Sufjan Stevens is one of my Top 100 artists and is generally more ambitious in his records. This is  a very moving and autobiographical story based around his mother (and her demons) and his stepfather. The more one listens to this record, the most one will be touched by these amazing melodies and sense of detail. A year with a new record from Sufjan Stevens cannot be that bad. Click here for live review.

 Blur “The Magic Whip” Another quite unexpected news as although Blur had been back together for a few shows and singles, the idea of an album was not really realistic due mainly to all out-of-Blur extra activities held by Damon Albarn. Good news is that Graham Coxon is probably now the one who cherishes the most this entity called Blur and he was the real brain behind this new record. Cut from hours of jams when the band was stuck in Asia for a few days last year, he succeeded in putting structures behind these songs and suggested to Damon Albarn to add a few melodies here and there. The results are amazing and make it one of the best records from Blur. Welcome back gents.

 My Morning Jacket “The Waterfall” Seventh studio album for this incredible American band and its singer Jim James. This album has not been a real star amongst rock reviewers and I think the reasons are that My Morning Jacket are now very far from their original americana sound and that this album cannot easily be identified easily. Songs and styles all over the place indeed but to me this is what makes it probably their best record. Jim James has never sung so beautifully and I remember their End of the Road concert as one of the best of my musical year.

 Du Blonde “Welcome Back to Milk” Singer Beth Jeans Houghton went through a David Bowie (re)discovery phase, decided that life was too short to do the same music again and again and therefore decided to adapt this new Du Blonde moniker. Recorded with members of the Bad Seeds and other guests, her re-invention was really spectacular and beautiful. Powerful and melodic songs from a young woman not afraid to take risks in her career, what could one ask for more ? Click here for live review.

 This Is The Kit “Bashed Out” Mainly the project of their singer Kate Stables who spends her life between Paris and the UK, this record is to me the perfect synthesis between folk and modernity and I mean it as a real compliment. The sounds they create are really warm but with a constant sense of melody compared to other of their contemporaries. The show they performed at the End of the Road festival was amazing and probably over what they had expected, according to their reactions that day.

 Kurt Vile “B’lieve I’m Goin Down” This man has regularly been in our best of these last years when he has a new record but this is based on his high level of excellence rather than by laziness or habit. He is one of the young musician of our times I have seen the most on stage and I think there is no coincidence so brilliant he is live. The only difference vs. twenty or thirty years ago is that now such musicians bring their guitars cases on stage and do not drive in limos… A few new sounds here and there on this record with lots of piano for instance but once again the best way to describe Kurt Vile to me is an “indie” Bruce Springsteen.

 Kamasi Washington “The Epic” I think this is the first time that a so-called jazz record can actually be found in such a list in this blog. Weird I guess as jazz is probably one of the musical genres I like the most, best proof being the presence of Miles Davis and John Coltrane in my Top 100 of all times. However, to me, it has too often become a rigid style a bit far from the diversity and dynamism of new music… and this is the reason why this amazing triple album can be found here this year. Kamasi Washington often plays with hip-hop or electro artists such as Kendrick Lamar or Flying Lotus and one can feel these influences in his music. An incredible sense of urgency and melodic madness during these three hours that seem to last three minutes. A record impossible to miss.

 Robert Forster “Songs to Play” One of the finest return to form this year came from Robert Forster and that was quite an unexpected one. The former Go-Betweens co-leader has been particularly active this year either through the fantastic “G stands for Go-Betweens” box set for which he wrote the comments or with this great new record. So indeed this is not the nu-metal or grime new phase of Robert Forster but beauty often lies in classicism… Click here for live review.

Other top 5’s :

  • New Musical Express (UK formerly rock Bible – now free weekly bullshit): 1. Grimes “Art Angels” 2. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 3. Jamie XX “In Colour” 4. Wolf Alice “My Love is Cool5. Tame Impala “Currents”
  • Uncut (UK monthly mag.): 1. Julia Holter “Have You in my Wilderness” 2. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 3. Sufjan Stevens “Carrie & Lowell” 4. Ryley Walker “Primrose Green” 5. Father John Misty “I Love You, Honeybear”
  • Mojo (UK monthly mag.): 1. Julia Holter “Have You in my Wilderness” 2. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 3. New Order “Music Complete” 4. Tame Impala “Currents” 5. Jim O’Rourke “Simple Songs”
  • Paste (US web mag.): 1. Father John Misty “I Love You, Honeybear” 2. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 3. Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit” 4. Sleater-Kinney “No Cities to Love” 5. Hop Along “Painted Shut”
  • Pitchfork (US website): 1. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 2. Jamie XX ”In Colour” 3. Grimes “Art Angels” 4. Vince Staples “Summertime ’06” 5. Tame Impala “Currents”
  • Les Inrockuptibles (French weekly mag.): 1. Tobias Jesso Jr. “Goon” 2. Tame Impala “Currents” 3. Sufjan Stevens “Carrie & Lowell” 4. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 5. Django Django “Born Under Saturn”
  • Magic rpm (French monthly mag.): 1. The Apartments ” No Song No Spell No Madrigal” 2. Aline “La Vie Electrique” 3. Julia Holter “Have You in my Wilderness” 4. Tame Impala “Currents” 5.  Nicolas Godin  “Contrepoint”
  • New Noise (French bimonthly mag.): 1. Faith No More “Sol Invictus” 2. Failure “The Heart is a Monster” 3. Marriages “Salome” 4. Chelsea Wolfe “Abyss” 5. Vision of Disorder “Razed to the Ground”
  • Sound Opinions (US music podcast)
    • Jim DeRogatis’  1. Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit” 2. Low Cut Connie “Hi Honey” 3. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly 4. Bully “Feels Like” 5. Titus Andronicus “The Most Lamentable Tragedy” 
    • Greg Kot’s 1. Kendrick Lamar “To Pimp a Butterfly” 2. Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit” 3. Protomartyr “The Agent Intellect” 4. Shamir “Ratchet  5. Vince Staples “Summertime ’06
  • Other Music (NY records store): Top 30 in no particular order
  • Rough Trade (London records store) : 1. Bjork “Vulnicura” 2. Father John Misty “I Love You, Honeybear” 3. Courtney Barnett “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I just Sit” 4. Ezra Furman “Perpetual Motion People” 5. Max Richter “from Sleep”
  • Ground Zero (French disquaire) : Top 10 in no particular order

End of the Road Festival, Larmer Tree Park, Dorset, 4th, 5th and 6th September 2015

End of the Road 2015, Logo Day

I think I have found what I was looking for… A festival that, despite being sold out, succeeds in :

  • having as a line-up only interesting, good or great bands
  • keeping a human face and making your life enjoyable rather than miserable with great food, not too much walk between the four beautiful music stages, easiness to get access to the camping or parking areas , clean toilets without no queue, plenty of space when one attends a gig,…
  • being really different with lots of great stores, surprise concerts in the forest, other stages (comedy, disco, cinema)…and peacocks in utter freedom
  • making you feel young again compared to other festivals ! I have never seen so many babies (not children or teenagers, I really mean babies!) but people in their 60’s as well

So, yes, English summer time means 18 degrees at best but there was no rain at all during the whole festival and Sunday was sunny and wonderful so I guess we were lucky here too. No question about it : that was my best festival of all times with Austin City Limits and although a few of you might be sceptical in not finding so many big names, the density of good bands is amazing. I attended 31 gigs in three days and did not remember a bad one (ok… maybe I should exclude Sleaford Mods… but these guys remain interesting). I had to do choices so I did not succeed in seeing such big artists as Tame Impala, Django Django, Saint Etienne, Mark Lanegan, Laura Marling or Mac De Marco but I guess I have been rewarded by those I saw. Here is the list of my favourite gigs, stage by stage. Many of these artists will be found again in my best of the year 2015 list and I must say that women are more than ever leading what is interesting in pop and rock today.

 

  • Tipi Tent

Very nice and friendly space, protected from the weather…with carpet on the floor. Temperature on site often reached around 10 degrees at night so the campfire held outside was a brilliant idea too. Three names I would like to comment on in particular. The first one was actually the first gig of the whole festival I went to (Friday 1.30pm) with a new artist named Aero Flynn. He is a friend of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and his music is a beautiful mix of American sensitivity with a electro/Radiohead touch. I finished my first day until midnight with another musician I have been following during these last 3 years : Jacco Gardner. This Dutch artist does a very melodic music with influences I can spot coming from the Byrds or Teenage Fanclub. But the best gig of the Tipi tent I have attended was without any question that of a UK band called This Is The Kit, lead by Kate Stables. Their music is difficult to describe ; it mixes folk and electro with a grunge attitude, whatever it means… The band were really amazed by the crowd packed in such a small area and my feeling is that they should be really successful in the years to come

 

  • Garden Stage

End of the Road 2015, Garden Stage

Without any doubt the most beautiful stage not only of the festival but of all of them. This is the place I spent most of my time and one could feel a real sense of happiness and achievement between the relaxed audience and the bands. Weird to hear regularly the typical sounds of the peacocks but this is one of the charms of the festival. Low, one of my favourite bands were the last band on this stage on the first day and theirs was the usual mix of Velvetian cool melodies and more “in your head” songs. Saturday was only dedicated to the label Heavenly, home of prestigious past names such as Doves, Edwyn Collins or Manic Street Preachers for instance and all the bands I have seen that day were really a pleasure (cf. gigs’ list page for details). But my main enthusiasm of the week-end went to the great retro/soul sounds of Natalie Prass, with whom I had the pleasure in having a 5-minute chat during the Rough Trade signature event.

  • Big Top

A more traditional tent stage as can be found in other festivals, this stage still had a je-ne-sais-quoi that still made it different ; probably the elephant hanging from the ballon under the roof…This stage was made to receive tougher sounds and the two artists I prefer there were really in that mood. Metz is not only the name of a French city but as well of a powerful trio signed on the seminal Sub Pop label. Difficult not to mention Nirvana such their music is powerful and demanding. Let’s stop the comparison here as not a lot of bands would be advantaged by such a thing but let me just write that I spent a hell of a moment with them, in the good meaning of the word. The other gig I would specifically like to mention here is that of the great Beth Jeans Houghton who has been facing this year a complete transformation under the name Du Blonde. Her music is like such a name could mean for me : great melodies with no fat and a close to the bone attitude, whilst still keeping a feminine touch. Without falling into stereotypes, she is one of these artists who achieve something more while on stage.

  • The Woods
End of the Road 2015, The Woods

The Woods, what a nice name rather than calling it main stage… As this is what it is about probably, the outdoor stage with the main space and the bigger names but with something different once again difficult to describe. Due to the choices described above, the only gig I attended on Friday was that of Torres but what a gig that was. Torres is the artist name of the American female songwriter Mackenzie Scott and her music is very intense and beautiful at the same time. Her latest LP is a real treasure and benefits from the presence of Adrian Utley from Portishead. To make it short and lazy, she is the new American PJ Harvey.

The names on Saturday were amazing. I had in mind to watch My Morning Jacket for 45 minutes before leaving to catch Saint Etienne on the Garden Stage but their concert was so great and authentic that I stayed until the end. I may have been too over familiar with this great American band and will dig again in all their records, such their musical evolution is interesting. And they really have an amazing leader with Jim James, who is able to sing like an angel during one song and play a saturated guitar solo five minutes later.

The main star and headliner of the festival was of course Sufjan Stevens, one of the best artists of our times (ranked #89 in my top 100). Although I feel that his music may sound not that warm sometimes on stage, his talent is so immense that he succeeds in making you feel very personal quiet songs, surrounded by thousands of other people. His interaction with the audience was very funny as well and full of wit. That was my third Sufjan Stevens gig and that was probably that where I found the best balance between his acoustic side and his electro one.

Sunday at the Woods was probably as good as the previous day. The festival had the good idea in closing with The War On Drugs, the band lead by Adam Granduciel and in which Kurt Vile used to play as well before going solo. Their LP “Lost in the Dream” was to be found in all best of the year 2014 lists and I must say there are probably even better on stage than on record, with a huge emphasis put in guitar solos. What Bruce Springsteen would be if he were to start today and was slightly less mainstream (and this is a compliment).

But for me the main thrill of the festival was to eventually see Future Islands. I have been a huge fan of their 2014 LP “Singles” and I guess anyone who has seen a TV live performance of the great single “Seasons” and the crazy dance moves of their singer Samuel T. Herring will not forget them in a long time. On stage, the formula is simple but super efficient : no guitar but a never ending groove beautifully orchestrated on keyboards/drums/bass by the band whereas Samuel T. Herring keeps on singing and living his songs as if it were the last day on earth. Not sure I spent a better moment this year than during the hour and fifteen minutes that last their gig.

So this is the way it ended for 2015 and the 10th anniversary of the festival, full of memories and great moments. Thanks to Sofia and Simon for having created this marvellous idea ten years ago and see you next year (already got my ticket…)!

End of the Road 2015, Logo Night

TOP 100 Artists/Bands of all Times : Part Two : 86 – 90

I know you have been waiting eagerly for weeks now so here you are with our second episode of our TOP 100 !

90. Blur

 from : Colchester, England / first great sounds : 90’s / style : brit-pop with a soul / essential albums : Modern Life Is Rubbish (1994), Blur (1997)

Not many bands of the so-called Britpop movement of the 90’s have had the honour of being in this Top 100. Why so? Mainly because these bands had a gift to craft good albums and took opportunity to be included in a movement that did not really exist, apart from the will of a few journalists from the N.M.E. in a desperate attempt to pretend that all great was still coming from the UK, but had not real talent. After a traditional and not so promising start, Blur quickly made the difference thanks to two amazing personalities in the band with Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon. In a career made out (for the moment) of seven LP’s, they embraced all kind of styles with passion and envy. Damon Albarn went even further exploring African music and creating other bands and in particular the great Gorillaz. Recent “21” box-set is a must for all those who want to discover one of our great contemporary bands.

89. Sufjan Stevens 

 from : Detroit, Michigan, USA  / first great sounds : 00’s  / style : melodic pop / essential album : Illinoise (2005) / click for more on the blog

Sufjan Stevens is one of the musical joy of this new millennium and would probably never have appeared in the 20th century. The guy is so much representative of musicians we like in our ages : difficult to describe, very much educated and talented, nerdy but nice-looking at the same time, quite shy in real life but exuberant on stage, … With “Illinoise”, Sufjan Stevens had created one classical record which one can listen every other week.

88. Spoon

 from : Austin, Texas, USA  / first great sounds : 90’s  / style : easy/not-so-easy pop/rock / essential album : Transference (2010)

Led by Britt Daniel and Jim Eno (a good start with such a surname!), Spoon is one of those hidden-gem bands which built a strong following amongst music lovers in the last decade. They get better and better with every new LP and their music is at the same time very easy to listen to but with weird and original hooks that really make the difference. I only saw them once in Paris at the Elysée-Montmartre theatre a few days before it went in flames and got closed…

87. The White Stripes

 from : Detroit, Michigan, USA  / first great sounds : 90’s  / style : guitar and drums blues rock / essential album : Elephant (2003) / click for more on the blog

Jack White is a fantastic musician ; I have written it down in shows’ reviews but do not have issue in saying it again. The way this guy came in the 21st century with a very clear view about what his band was about is amazing : precise set of black/white/red colours choice, the mythology between him and Meg White (former wife ? sister ? The Velvet Underground Moe Tucker’s cool reincarnation?), his love of ancestral and authentic blues,…. The White Stripes were never as good as on stage and wrote as well one of the last hymns of our times (“Seven Nation Army”). The group disbanded a few years ago and I am not sure we will hear anymore about Meg whereas Jack is a musical force to bear with, either with his other bands (The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) or with a new promising solo career.

86. Prefab Sprout

 from : Newcastle, England / first great sounds : 80’s  / style : poetic pop / essential albums : Steve McQueen (1985), Jordan:The Comeback (1990)

Paddy McAloon was one of the idols of my youth as the music he created with his band Prefab Sprout was so dreamy at a time when the charts were full of horrors. Paddy was for sure the creator and leader of this band but it would never have sounded the same without the soft drumming touch of Neil Conti or without the ethereal singing of his (then) girlfriend Wendy Smith. Their career had been relatively short in albums considering the fact that Paddy was a real perfectionist. They were famous for a couple of years but came back with the 1990 masterpiece “Jordan : The Comeback” which was to ambitious a piece of work to get on par with the charts. Paddy McAloon sort of disappeared from business life due to a rare illness that made him almost blind but everyone should hear “When Love Breaks Down” if not done yet and (re)discover a tremendous band.

Sufjan Stevens, 9th May 2011, Olympia (Paris): époustufjan ! + “Illinoise” (2005) review

This blog has always been a huge fan of Sufjan Stevens and this was with excitement that we went to see his show at the Olympia last Monday. I was lucky to see him live in Paris last time he played in the Bataclan in 2007 if I am not mistaken and I remembered an incredible show. However, one must acknowledge that this tour is even more ambitious and I was flabbergasted: wings, spaceships, mad professor, balloons! Based mainly on last LP “The Age of Adz” and the visual art of Royal Robertson, Sufjan has left a bit his romantic side for a kind of nerdy dance music, very close to what the band “Of Montreal” does but with more sense of melody and emotion. Please see pictures I took below:

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He finished the show with three songs from “Illinoise“, his LP from 2006, which is to mind one of the five best LP’s done in the 2000’s. Have a listen to it and you will find a different music world where things are meticulously crafted, where instruments of all range are beautifully  played and where music is done with ambition and humility (9.5/10). And remember that after “Michigan” and “Illinoise”, Sufjan still has 48 US States LP’s to do!

Click on link to see opening song “Seven Swans“, pretty impressive! Please find as well video I took of Sufjan when he did the encore with “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.”, probably the sweetest song about a serial killer ever written!

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.

Best of 2006: Top 15 albums

La voilà enfin la liste que tous et toutes attendaient ! Si vous n’êtes pas parmi ceux-là, eh bien détruisez sauvagement et de manière rock’n’roll cet e-mail avec moults crachats, doigts et en bousculant votre voisin de l’épaule.

Pourquoi cette liste et cet exercice un peu vain de classement à partir d’une année calendaire qui ne veut finalement pas dire grand-chose et qui n’est qu’une larme dans un océan de listes de journaux ou sites web spécialisés ? Sans doute pour pouvoir enfin répondre à la question d’amis ou connaissances mille fois entendue : ” alors, t’écoutes quoi en ce moment” et ne plus faire cette tête de poisson de basses eaux surpris de ne pouvoir sortir une réponse immédiate et sans compromis, sans doute pour aimer passer encore un peu plus de temps devant son PC, sans doute pour le plaisir d’ordonner une fois de temps en temps ses propres chocs musicaux et enfin surtout dans l’espoir de dire au grand Nick Hornby au moment de le croiser :”moi aussi, j’en suis…”

Alors oui, c’est très rock et on trouve peu voire pas d’albums soul, jazz, français, blues ou world dans cette liste. Sans doute par parti pris et tempérament mais n’est-ce pas le signe que même en ces temps éclectiques le rock est finalement ce qu’il y a de plus excitant ? Allez, trêve de parlottes, on attaque :

Album de l’année 2006

return-to-cookie-mountain 

TV On the Radio : Return to Cookie Mountain

Parce que TV On the Radio, c’est une musique qui vient de nulle part, très blanche faite par des Noirs, parce que sur scène il y a eu des performances exceptionnelles, parce que chaque écoute révèle de nouvelles subtilités, parce ce que c’est à  la fois soul et rock new-yorkais, parce qu’il y a des boules à zéro et des coupes afros, parce que David Bowie (toujours le nez creux celui-là) chante sur un morceau, que c’est génial quoi et au-dessus du lot (les années où Radiohead ne sort pas d’albums) : LP of the year !

Les 14 autres (par ordre alphabétique) :

Archie Bronson Outfit : Derdang Derdang

On ne se sait pas très bien si c’est sorti cette année ou en 2005 mais à vrai dire on s’en fout tellement c’est bon. Des Américains barbus (tendance de fonds d’ailleurs avec pas mal des groupes US indie) qui jouent un rock jouissif avec de bien belles basses comme on aimerait en entendre plus souvent.

Arctic Monkeys : Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Album de l’année chez NME et les Inrocks, très hype, records de vente en Grande-Bretagne pour un premier album, en gros tout pour être dubitatif et cynique… Eh bien non, nos p’tits gars font une musique qui rappelle The Jam ou l’énergie primitive des Dexys, avec des paroles très “Ken Loach/fish and chips” et surtout une grande présence scénique et beaucoup d’humilité. A suivre sur la durée of course.

Cansei de Ser Sexy : CSS

Quel bonheur de sortir de l’ornière US-GB avec ce groupe brésilien de São Paulo composé de 4 filles et un barbu. CSS, ça veut dire en portugais “marre d’être sexy”, phrase qu’aurait lancé un beau jour la tanche Beyoncé. C’est du rock de furieuses sous influence british très 80’s avec un groove latin (assez caché certes). L’OSNI (Objet Sonore Non Identifié) de l’année.

Eels : With Strings – Live at Town Hall

Juste pour rappeler que E (leader des Eels) est une des meilleures plumes du rock dans tous les styles. A acheter en CD ou DVD pour avoir ou voir tous les merveilleux titres de ce concert live enregistré lors de la tournée acoustique du bonhomme. On recommande particulièrement le solo de percussions de valise…

Hot Chip : The Warning

La mélancolie des meilleurs New Oder vous manque, c’est à dire ce mélange de synthés évocateurs et de puissance rock sous-jacente ? Le premier album de ce groupe anglais est pour vous. L’autre grande révélation british de l’année.

Mazarin : We’re already there

Une arrivée surprise dans notre monde, une naissance qui nous avait été cachée, sauf que ce groupe dont on ne sait rien est lui bourré de talent. Pour ceux qui aiment les Beach Boys de Brian Wilson, les petites sonorités bizarres et le rock indie anglo-saxon. 

Midlake : The Trials of Van Occupanther

Encore des barbus américains qui jouent un truc étonnant, mélange de Fleetwood Mac et de Radiohead. Comme dirait la pub, un excellent compromis où Monsieur et Madame s’y retrouveront. Et une pochette pour les enfants…

Mudhoney : Under a Billion Suns

Sans doute la surprise dans cette liste… Oui, les mêmes Mudhoney qu’on avait un peu perdus de vue, oui les légendes du grunge (mot un peu réducteur) contemporains du Nirvana des débuts qui signent un super album de mecs qui ne veulent pas sonner djeuns’ mais font évoluer leur musique vers plus de recherche avec même pas mal de …cuivres ! A acheter en vinyle pour la belle pochette et la belle initiative d’un lien pour télécharger l’album gratos pour son mp3.

Phoenix : It’s never been like that

Pas d’histoire de quota pour expliquer la présence dans cette liste de nos Versaillais bien de chez nous mais simplement le fait que peu de groupe mélangent aussi bien mélodies et énergie. L’impression étrange de retrouver des amis de longue date à chaque fois qu’on se replonge dans les albums de Phoenix. Buy it for the French economy!

The Raconteurs : Broken Boy Soldiers

Le groupe de Jack White des White Stripes monté avec son pote l’excellent Brendan Brenson et la section rythmique des Greenhornes que l’on attendait comme un aimable passe-temps a dépassé toutes nos espérances de disque et de scène. Ce Jack White est décidément quelqu’un qui marquera l’histoire du rock. L’album que ferait Led Zeppelin s’ils étaient de cette époque. Album de l’année pour le magazine musical Mojo (lisez Mojo!).

Red Hot Chili Peppers : Stadium Arcadium

On n’est pas vraiment objectif avec ce groupe car oui, on les adore et on va les voir dès qu’ils jouent quelque part. Bizarre les critiques relatives à cet album et ces 28 (!) morceaux ; certains y voient des concurrents des Beatles, d’autres de… pas grand-chose. Une section rythmique au top, un Anthony Kieldis en constant progrès au chant et surtout un John Frusciante qui réinvente ce qu’on peut faire avec une guitare au fil des ans. En résumé, pas vraiment de choses pertinentes à dire sur cet album, sauf qu’il y a des morceaux géniaux qui rendent euphoriques.

Sonic Youth : Rather Ripped

Une ambiance plus apaisée et mélodieuse chez nos New Yorkais chéris chez lesquels le temps ne semble pas avoir d’effet : Kim Gordon a plus de cinquante ans mais une énergie et des jambes de jeune fille alors que Thurston Moore ressemble toujours à ce grand frère cool qu’on rêverait tous d’avoir. A avoir comme chaque nouveau LP du groupe ; la meilleure cure contre le vieillissement…

The Strokes : First Impressions of Earth

On a l’impression que cet album est depuis toujours avec nous mais ne pas oublier qu’il est sorti l’hiver dernier. Certes des nouveautés avec des solos de guitare mais toujours cet esprit du Velvet chez nos amis new-yorkais et surtout un Julian Casablanca qui chante de mieux en mieux ; best of both worlds comme dirait l’autre. A signaler qu’Albert Hammond Jr. (un des deux guitaristes) a sorti un sympathique album en fin d’année.

Thom Yorke : The Eraser

Last but not least dans cette liste alphabétique le premier album solo du chanteur de Radiohead. Comme on pouvait l’attendre, c’est une musique de facture plutôt électronique mais les mélodies sont du niveau des meilleurs morceaux de Radiohead et chacun des membres est venu donner un coup de mains. Un superbe cadeau en attendant le nouvel album du groupe prévu pour 2007.

Tout près de cette liste (pêle mêle) :

The Long Blondes, The Rapture, The Thermals, Tapes’n’Tapes, Beck, The Lemonheads, Sean Lennon, Badly Drawn Boy, Sparklehorse, The Guillemots, Bob Dylan, Muse, Cat Power, Broken Social Scene, Mogwai, Two Gallants, Johnny Cash, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, Bruce Springsteen, Donald Fagen , Pascal Sevran, The Flaming Lips, Secret Machines, The Dears, Peter Bjorn and John, Pearl Jam, ESG, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bonnie Prince Billy, My Morning Jacket…

Meilleur DVD

Gorillaz : Demon Days Live

Une magnifique prestation scénique du génial leader de Blur Damon Albarn où apparaissent en guest stars tous les invités de l’album (Neneh Cherry, Ike Turner, Shaun Ryder, etc…). En attendant son nouveau projet 2007 avec Paul Simonon des Clash !!!

Meilleur Single

Gnarls Barkley : Crazy

Vous ne connaissez sans doute pas ce morceau si vous venez de passer 12 mois en retraite spirituelle au Tibet ou bien si pour vous les initiales U2 n’ont pas de signification particulière. Derrière ce projet se trouve DJ Danger Mouse qu’on retrouve aujourd’hui partout où il y a des choses musicales intéressantes qui se passent, dont notamment Gorillaz.

Meilleur Coffret

Tom Waits : Orphans

Le grand Tom nous livre un objet hybride fait de vieux et de nouveau morceaux répartis sur trois CD. Comme toute l’oeuvre du grand homme devant lequel nous devrions tous nous prosterner 10 minutes par jour, c’est assez intemporel et sera meilleur demain qu’aujourd’hui.

Meilleur Disque de Reprises

Grant Lee Phillips : Nineteeneighties

Le “cover LP” est un exercice assez casse gueule et souvent il faut bien le dire sans grand intérêt. Quand c’est l’ancien leader du groupe très US Grant Lee Buffalo qui s’y colle pour faire des reprises de groupes anglais des années 80 (The Cure, The Smiths, Echo and The Bunnymen,The Psychedelic Furs,…), c’est IN-DIS-PEN-SA-BLE !

Man of the Year : Sufjan Stevens

Il n’a pas sorti de véritable album cet année mais quand même deux compilations : une de chutes de studio de son album précédent, une autre de chants de Noël (!). Il a fait des concerts brillants et plein d’originalité et le bonhomme a un talent et une créativité peu communs. Ceux qui aimaient l’esprit de Prefab Sprout aimeront l’ami Sufjan.

Voilà. C’est au choix sans intérêt ou pathétique ou super subjectif mais si cela peut permettre à quelqu’un d’aller acheter un vinyle, un CD, d’aller télécharger ou d’aller voir un concert, eh bien ce n’aura pas été entièrement vain.

Have a nice year 2007 !