Rising ambition!: how I recently read “Byrds – Requiem For The Timeless Volume 1” by Johnny Rogan and “Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles” by Geoff Emerick

Those closed to the shareholders of this blog know that the editorial team got a bit more time recently to focus on the musical side of things, hence the reason of this post. I had these two books in my library for quite a long time but I did not dare starting them before. I knew these two books would be fascinating but because they are very long to read I was afraid in not succeeding in enjoying them as much as I should have. So here you go now for your pleasure a review of these two music bibles.

  • Johnny Rogan – “Byrds – Requiem For The Timeless – Volume 1”

8ddee8c33fddcafd3b764eb413e4d9e7[1]

The author of this book is one of the best music writers and has worked on other bands such as Roxy Music or The Smiths for example. However, his main obsession by far has always been The Byrds, one of the best bands from the 60’s and the 70’s. On my side, they did not make the cut when I had to choose my top 100 of best artists of all times but they were just behind and they always have been one of my key bands.

To make it short, The Byrds were a Beatles-influenced US band, beknown for their sense of melody and use of the famous 12-string Rickenbacker sound. The classic line-up was made out of Gene Clark (voice and guitar), Roger McGuinn (voice and guitar), David Crosby (voice and guitar), Chris Hillman (voice and bass) and Michael Clarke (drums) but did not last long as such and the group were to change musicians throughout their careers. They did a few great records…but maybe not as great as other seminal bands (The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, etc…) and were as much influenced by psychedelic sounds as by country music. They are actually supposed to be the inventors of country-rock music, thanks to the influence of one-album member and Keith Richards’ buddy Gram Parsons.

the-byrds-my-tambourine-man--735x413[1]

Reading these comments, one may think that the book is an usual 350/400 page biography…but this is a mistake. This book has 1,200 pages…and this is only Volume 1! (Volume 2 should be released in the summer of 2017 and focused on the solo career of former Byrds members). So how to read such a big and heavy book as I read it in its physical format? Easy, I decided to read one chapter a day, come hell or high water, which was really great as I felt like meeting people I knew on a daily basis, reading their story from the 40’s to nowadays. This biography is for me very close to history books that one could read first in the sense of details but also on the fact that rock musicians are probably the last remaining ones to have such an incredible life. David Crosby’s life in particular is completely surreal as the guy should be dead for ages but keeps on surviving..and surprising everyone with new chapters in his life: conflict with fellow Byrds members, girlfriend dying from a road accident, new life with Crosby, Stills and Nash, heavy drug usage which led him to jail, heart attack, discovered paternity, help in making pregnant his lesbian best friends, etc… the list is endless!

If you like The Byrds or music biographies, read this book on holidays. If you do not have the time to read it, listen to a compilation or box set of The Byrds and you will feel you live in a better place than the day before.

  • Geoff Emerick – “Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles”

How many books about The Beatles did I already read? Probably too many.. but this one gives a totally different perspective (..and is “only” 485 pages!). This is actually not a book about The Beatles but the memoirs of Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer in many of their recordings at Abbey Road studios.

En-studio-avec-les-Beatles[2]

This is a fascinating reading for all Beatles fans but also for those interested about  what was London in the 60’s as it gives a fantastic historical perspective written and narrated through precise anecdotes and stories. Geoff Emerick looks quite straight to the point and objective on many topics although it would be great to have the point of view of other key people who were there at the same time.

I thought I knew everything about The Beatles but I must admit I discovered new things on almost every page. The most incredible thing is to realise how sounds and specific gimmicks were created on songs or albums I have listened to hundred of times. I thought everything was very much created with a clear plan…but that was very rarely the case, hence the important of a position such as that of the sound engineer. Many of the marvels that the Beatles created in the second phase of their careers were actually experimentations made by sound craftsmen and mastered/arranged with scissors and glue on tapes!

be03[1]

Very interesting to read as well for the subtle analysis on John, Paul, Ringo and George’s respective personalities, behaviours with others and actual music talents. Not a surprise as far as I am concerned but one of them was really above the others in terms of music skills…and gentleness with others. A must-read for all Beatles fans.

 

 

Rock city : Alan Parsons’ master class at Abbey Road, The Rolling Stones exhibitionism & The Kinks’ musical

Abbey Road Studios

I read so many books and magazines on rock music and its history/stories that at one stage considering cities such a New York, Austin, Chicago, Berlin or London as key rock places is really obvious. However, as one knows, there is sometimes difference between theory and reality…but this is not the case for London. This is not obvious at first although you realise quickly there are more quality gigs than anywhere in the world. Then although a few of them have been closed throughout the years there are probably more record stores than any city in the world. But the real difference comes from the other options available when one is looking closely and the fact that this is not fake but really part of the culture of this city.

Abbey Road, Studio 2

One of the best moments I experienced last year was to attend a Master Class held by Alan Parsons at the prestigious Abbey Road Studios. Alan Parsons is better known by the general audience for a few hits he had in the late 80’s with the Alan Parsons Project (hello “Eye in the Sky” for instance) but for rock aficionados he is famous for his role as young sound assistant on The Beatles “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be” LP’s when he was only a 19-year old young man and later as the main sound engineer on Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” album. Many hifi sellers from the late 70’s and early 80’s own this man a few quids as this album was very often used in stores to show the quality of the hifi equipment. Quite moving and unique opportunity also as the conference was taking place in Studio 2, where the Beatles recorded around 190 of the 210 tracks they have in total (I count on Beatles geek fans to precise the exact number).

Abbey Road, George and John

Interviewed by the excellent journalist David Hepworth, the 90 minutes I spent there were a complete joy, especially when he played on the original piano the “Lady Madonna” intro or when he showed us how he and Pink Floyd created the sounds heard on their worldwide hit “Money”. There is a cool Abbey Road store full of memorabilia nearby and you can of course walk on the famous zebras!

Abbey road, zebras

Choosing between the Beatles and the Stones is like choosing between mum and dad so let’s embrace them both (although depending on the mood of the day one clearly prefers of these two bands). I went to the Saatchi Galery to visit Exhibitionism, the Rolling Stones exhibition curated and closely followed by Sir Jagger. The man is currently more active than ever these days as he is also a co-producer with Martin Scorcese of the excellent “Vinyl” HBO series, held in the mid-70’s in NY city. Putting the Rolling Stones in a museum may look like a weird idea as they were probably the antithesis of such a thing when they started their career…but the times they are a’changin’.

The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism

Do not get me wrong here, the exhibition is clearly recommended for Stones and rock music fans as the curators have gathered an impressive collection of guitars, clothes, movies, etc… The studio room in particular is a delight by the way it has been re-created and by the number of beautiful guitars owned by Keith Richards and Mick Wood throughout the years. My only problem is that I have been having with the Rolling Stones for many years now ; they want so much to control all business around their names that the exhibition lacks a bit of authenticity. I would have liked to know more about the real role of the late Brian Jones during his last years in the band or for instance more context about what the band has been in England during the 60’s and 70’s. Funny as well how Bill Wyman has been almost erased from their history. Once again, clearly recommended if you are in London but could have been even better.

Musicals on the West End are a key thing to do when you visit the city as a tourist and are the equivalent of Broadway shows in NY. I have always been sceptical about the quality of these shows but I think it was more contempt and ignorance on my side than anything else. I must admit that my only experience was the amazing “Love” musical by the Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas in 2009 so I thought it was a good moment to check this. I had read great reviews on the “Sunny Afternoon” musical based on the story of the seminal band The Kinks lead by the two Davies brothers. Ray Davies (genius songwriter) has always had a love and hate relationship with brother Dave but they really made their best work when collaborating together, not that dissimilar from a certain 90’s Mancunian band…

The Kinks, Sunny afternoon

Held in the nice Harold Pinter theatre, literally 300 yards from Piccadilly Circus, the show was the best homage one could find in such a musical. I think  Ray Davies has been closely consulted for the show as it describes so well what London was between 1964 and 196, showing at the same time the energy and optimism of the swinging 60’s without forgetting the fact that the working class was quite far to live the same kind of thing. The actors playing the band are particularly amazing bringing fresh air with an amazing quality in the musicianship (specific mention to the actor playing Dave Davies on guitar). And the songs… “Dead End Street”, “You Really Got Me”, “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”, “Waterloo Sunset”, “Sunny Afternoon”, “Lola”,…the list is endless. Not sure why they did not make my Top 100 as I have always been a huge fan… Anyway, if you spend a few days in London, go and see this play.

On top of these two examples, a couple of pictures below taken near home and showing that London will never forget great musicians. Unlike what James Murphy would sing on NY with LCD Soundsystem, London I love you and you are never bringing me down.

To read more on London, please go to the post I did last year on the Jam at the Somerset House or to the great week-end I spent a few years ago to attend the “David Bowie is…” exhibition at the V&A museum.

TOP 100 Artists/Bands of all Times : 2-5

5. The Beach Boys

from : Hawthorne,California, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : teenage symphonies / essential albums : Pet Sounds (1966) , Smiley Smile (1967), Wild Honey (1967), Surf’s Up (1971), Holland (1973), The Smile Sessions (2011) / Click to read more in the blog

My Top 5 should not be much surprise for those who know my musical tastes, starting with the Beach Boys and their genius leader Brian Wilson. I would not talk about the fact that their music has to be discovered beyond the nice pop-surf songs as this is now a known and agreed fact. “Pet Sounds” in particular has often been recognized as one of the best albums ever made and it is true that its richness and subtlety is not something you get blasé about. Even though Brian Wilson burnt his brain when doing “Smile” and never really got over it, there has been amazing songs throughout their career. The way Carl, Brian, Dennis, Mike and Al mixed their voices one with another has been for me one of the mysteries of life and I must say I always feel the same emotion when I hear such perfection.

4. Stevie Wonder

a7406fea0c9ca358b703515589ab82c1 from : Saginaw, MI, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : music of his mind / essential albums : Music of my Mind (1972), Talking Book (1972), Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974), Songs in the Key of Life (1976) / Click to read more in the blog

Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions is my favourite album ever so it might sound weird to find its creator “only” at rank number 4… I guess I wrote everything I wanted to share regarding the early 70’s for Stevie and his tremendous range of five fantastic albums in a row (please click on link above). The sounds, the melodies, the creativity, the voice, the themes,….everything good in life can be found in these albums. The man is still on top on stage as was for instance his amazing performance at Austin City Limits Festival in 2011.

3. Roxy Music

 from : London, England / first great sounds : 70’s / style : glamour rock / essential albums : Roxy Music (1972), For Your Pleasure (1973), Stranded (1973), Country Life (1974), Siren (1975) / Click to read more in the blog

Another weird ranking as Roxy Music is for sure my favourite band but I guess the artists ranked #2 are more than a band. I think I wrote as well the essence of what this band represents for me in a former post (please click above). I would only insist once again that their first 5 LP’s are absolutely indispensable and not only for the covers ! As in all strong artistic adventures, this band lived so many things in such a short time that this sounds almost unbelievable today. And with Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera and Andy McKay, you have four musicians who literally changed the way music is now.

2. The Beatles

154 from : Liverpool, England / first great sounds : 60’s / style : genius / essential albums : A Hard Day’s Night (1964), Rubber Soul (1965), Revolver (1966), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), Magical Mystery Tour (1967), The White Album (1968), Abbey Road (1969) / Click to read more in the blog

Another weird ranking as you generally either do not really like this band or you breathe through their music, consider them as Gods and put them number 1 in front of any other bands. Well, I must admit I had lots of second thoughts between the first 3 of my TOP 100. However, the Beatles are crucial for many music lovers as I was amongst the people who grew up having their records as first lovers. I remember very well saving money and buying their LP’s one by one and discovering every time an amazing universe. I have probably read around 15 books about this band and always discover new facts. What is the most amazing is what they lived in such a short period of time : music innovation, movies, travels, studio time, changes in their personal lives, etc… These guys lived forty years in ten. I hope their songs will be sung forever.

Best of 2012 : Top 20 !

This is already festive season time and our worldwide-famous best of 20 of the year. No smart words to write down this year as an introduction except that no excuse not to be interested in music in 2012 as choice and diversity are here more than ever.

Albums

 Channel Orange

Album of the Year – Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE”. Frank Ocean had been around for a few years either in the collective Odd Future or  as being one of the guests of last year shared album between Kanye West and Jay Z…but really nothing was preparing us for such a beauty. A tremendous record which one can really identify as being part of the 2012 culture and themes but bearing at the same time a sense of history. The music is a mix of soul, hip-hop, R’n’B, pop, rock with a beautiful voice reminding the greats such as Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder. I particularly liked as well as the interludes within the LP that make you feel this is more than one simple record. Album of the year

Animal Joy

My number 2 – ShearwaterAnimal Joy”. Once more and as in previous years, an excellent record from Shearwater, the Austin, TX based band. I had the pleasure in seeing them live twice in Paris this year (first one in La Maroquinerie with a great talk with their singer Jonathan Meiburg and the second one in La Boule Noire this time having a talk with the great rock critic Michka Assayas). I take the risk of repeating myself but this band is really amongst the best we have either for the intensity of the music or the class of the songs and I do not understand why they are not more famous. If you never heard a Shearwater record before, start with this one.

 

My number 3 – Paul Buchanan “Mid Air”. 2012 has been a kind of old-guys-being-back list and Paul Buchanan is the first example. This is the first solo LP of the singer of The Blue Nile and this is an album not to share but to listen to on your own very late at night. Based almost only on piano and voice, this record seems so fragile and strong simultaneously, bringing a sense of sadness and serenity complicated to explain with words.

One Day I'm Going to Soar

My number 4 – DexysOne Day I’m Going To Soar”. Talking about come back, this one was probably the most incredible and unexpected one of all times. This blog has been a huge fan of Dexys Midnight Runners (their 1985 LP “Don’t Stand Me Down” being a masterpiece as far as I am concerned). The issue is that band leader Kevin Rowland had lost himself in a perfectionism will and that apart from two weird solo LP’s, the name Dexys had been buried for 27 years…. Built with the help of former Style Council man Billy Talbot, this is as if Dexys had never left the music scene, with this fantastic white soul style. A very moving return.

 

My number 5 – Benjamin Biolay “Vengeance”. Vive la France ! Hyperactive Benjamin Biolay has returned again with a great LP, mixing very different styles and guests (including Carl Barat from the Libertines and French rapper Oxmo Puccino). Fewer ballads than usual but always that emotion one can feel I guess even if they do not understand the lyrics. Looking forward to seeing him on stage in 2013.

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

 Alabama Shakes “Boys & Girls”. Debut album from the Athens, Alabama, soul and southern rock oriented band. This record could have been out forty years ago but is really fresh as well. Click on les Inrocks Festival review to get a better flavour of the band.

  Fiona Apple “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do ” Tiny American chanteuse back with her leaner album in terms of instrumentation, with songs that directly go under your skin.

  Cloud Nothings “Attack On Memory”. Nothing revolutionary in leader Dylan Baldi’s music but such a pleasure to hear a pure guitar-band, influenced by Nirvana and by German repetitive rock at the same time. Pitchfork Festival review available when clicking.

 Hot Chip “In Our Heads”. London dance band Hot Chip’s 2012 LP might be their best. If you like your classic New Order dance period and beautiful nostalgic melodies…

  Howlin Rain “The Russian Wilds”. Every year, a psychedelic rock record gives me shivers down the spine. Last year was Jonathan Wilson, this year this is Ethan Miller’s band new LP.

  JapandroidsCelebration Rock”. Two crazy motherf*****s from Canada on guitar and drums making noise as if they were ten on stage (as seen at the Paris Pitchfork Festival) but with a “je ne sais quoi” of nostalgia that makes them one of the current bands to get interested in.

  Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city”. This, the official debut from young L.A., California, M.C. Kendrick Lamar is my favourite traditional hip-hop record in a very good year for the genre. Produced partly by Dr. Dre, this narrates the story of an 25-year old guy hanging out in Compton and has the best beats and samplings (hello Beach House) I have heard in a long time.

  Bob Mould “Silver Age”. Good old Bob… In a year when the three Sugar albums have been reissued and when he played “Copper Blue” on stage, Bob Mould took the time to give us this new LP, finding back the muscular guitar oriented sound of these first Sugar records. An important and appealing personality, Bob Mould is more relevant than ever.

  SpiritualizedSweet Heart, Sweet Light”. Talking about classic bands, here is another one. And this is probably one of the best records in Jason Pierce’s long career started in the 80′ with the Spacemen 3. If you like your gospel melodies with repetitive mantra, this record is for you (click for Festival les Inrocks review)

 Tame Impala “Lonerism”. Kevin Parker, leader of this Australian band, is simultaneously a complicated young man and a huge music lover, both qualities that created a monster of a modern psychedelic record. This is probably the album in our list that requires the most listening as their music is very rich and hides many beauties.

  The Walkmen “Heaven”. Like for instance Spoon, The National or Shearwater, The Walkmen are part of these great American middle-aged bands whose punch and melodies know-how is to cherish. What is difficult with these bands is distinguish an album from another as they are all excellent. I found a very moving maturity in “Heaven” and the songs were perfect for live shows.

 Paul Weller “Sonik Kicks”. Our all-time favourite non-smiling British citizen, Paul Weller has once again delivered the goods mixing his beautiful melodies with a rejuvenated interested in repetitive Krautrock. This guy should really be a model for all young musicians as his never-ending enthusiasm is something to cherish (as seen on stage).

  Jack White “Blunderbuss”. This is probably the most beautiful cover of all year (hello blue, goodbye red) but this is not the reason why Jack White is here. Amazing first solo record, mixing soul, retro rock, ballads and even…hip-hop influences. We do love values of hard work in this blog and this is not a coincidence to find musicians such as Jack White (and Paul Weller and Benjamin Biolay…) in our end of the year list. Tremendous shows as well all year-long for Jack White!

  Yeti Lane “The Echo Show”.  This is the second LP of this French band and one of the most enjoyable LP’s of the year. I must say this is the ideal target for our blog as we like melodic repetitive music here! I had the pleasure in seeing them live as well at the Rock en Seine festival and they are very good on stage.

 Neil Young with Crazy Horse “Psychedelic Pill”. Last but not least, 2012 was also the year of our beloved Canadian with no less than two records done with the beautiful Crazy Horse and one biography (“Waging Heavy Piece”). Fantastic long songs with lots of feedback ; keep on rocking in the free world, Neil!

Other top 5’s (Frank Ocean and Tame Impala everywhere!) :

  • New Musical Express (UK weekly mag.): 1. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 2. Grimes “Visions3. Frank Ocean ”channel ORANGE 4. Crystal Castles “(iii)” 5. Alt-J “An Awesome Wave
  • Uncut (UK monthly mag.): 1. Leonard Cohen “Old Ideas” 2. Bob Dylan “Tempest” 3. Jack White “Blunderbuss” 4. Dr John “Locked Down” 5. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE”
  • Mojo (UK monthly mag.): 1. Jack White “Blunderbuss2. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE 3. Bill Fay “Life Is People” 4. Leonard Cohen “Old Ideas” 5. Dexys “One Day I’m Going To Soar”
  • Paste (US web mag.): 1. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE” 2. Father John Misty “Fear Fun” 3. Titus Andronicus “Local Business” 4. Fiona Apple “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do ” 5. Sharon Van Etten “Tramp”
  • Pitchfork  (US website): 1. Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city2. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE3. Fiona Apple “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do ” 4. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 5. Swans “The Seer”
  • Les Inrockuptibles (French weekly mag.): 1. Alt-J “An Awesome Wave” 2. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 3. Liars “WIXIW” 4. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE” 5. Django Django “Django Django” Their “best of 2012 Hors-Série” is as usual recommended as still excellent and coming with a CD of their prefered tracks of the year.
  • Magic rpm (French monthly mag.): 1. Chromatics “Kill For Love” 2. Chris Cohen “Overgrown Path” 3. Kindness “World, You Need A Change Of Mind” 4. Grizzly Bear “Shields” 5. Dominique A “Vers Les Lueurs”
  • New Noise (French bimester mag.): 1. Electric Electric “Discipline” 2. Dinosaur Jr. “I Bet On Sky” 3. OM “Advaitic Songs” 4. Mark Lanegan Band “Blues Funeral” 5. Cloud Nothings “Attack On Memory
  • Sound Opinions (US music podcast)   Greg Kot’s 1. Frank Ocean “channel ORANGE” 2. Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” 3. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 4. Killer Mike “R.A.P. Music” 5. Kelly Hogan “I Like To Keep Myself in Pain”     Jim DeRogatis’ 1. Tame Impala “Lonerism” 2. Kelly Hogan “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain” 3. Frank Ocean “Channel ORANGE” 4. Melody’s Echo Chamber “Melody’s Echo Chamber” 5. Spiritualized “Sweet Heart, Sweet Light”
  • Fargo (Paris records store): Top 2012 records in no particular order (4 records in common)
  • Ground Zero (Paris records store): Top 10 – not available yet.
  • Other Music (NY records store): 1. Andy Stott “Luxury Problems” 2. Frkwys Vol. 9 Sun Arraw & M. Geddes Gengras Meets The Congos “Icon Give Thank” 3. Actress “R.I.P.” 4. Kendrick Lamar “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” 5. Daughn GibsonAll Hell”

Box Sets and Reissues

Many fantastic reissues this year (The Blue Nile, Sugar, Everything But The Girl, The Beat, Can, etc…) but if I had to choose three of them, no hesitation :

Blur “21”  Yes, you read well, 21 records (well, actually 18 CD’s and 3 DVD’s…) summarizing Blur’s career. They went back on tour as well and found time to play together between Damon Albarn’s numerous side-projects and Graham Coxon’s solo records and probably published the Single of the Year for me (“Under the Westway“). Beautiful box in which to dig every other day.

The Beatles “Vinyl Box Set”  Expensive indeed but having the complete works of this quite famous band remastered in a nice box with a beautiful book might be priceless. (re)discover if need be…

Roxy Music “The Complete Studio Recordings” Jump on it ; very cheap and indispensable CD Box Set if you want your place to look like home. Best band ever?

DVD’s and Blue Rays

Experiencing Blue Ray for movies is like doing the same when you have your first automatic gear-box for cars ; very difficult to give up when you have such a degree of quality definition in pictures and sounds. I therefore warmly recommend the two following extraordinary movies in this format :

LCD Soundsystem ” Shut Up And Play The Hits” 3-Disc set with on one side the full last ever show shot in 2011 at the Madison Square Garden with guest such as Arcade Fire and on the other side the melancholic documentary about leader James Murphy future life. Basically, what will be your life when you split a music band at the height of their powers?

Led Zeppelin “Celebration Day” This is the famous 2007 one-shot concert with Jason Bonham (John’s son) on drums. 20 million people (including me) had applied on the internet to see that show and one can see why here : one of the best songs ever written played by these great men.

That’s it for 2012. Please surf on the blog as there is plenty to watch and read and see you in 2013 for the follow-up of our Top 100 bands/artists of all times!

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 !