My review of End of the Road Festival 2017

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Another year goes by with personal issues, great moments, not so good moments, scary things happening all over the world,…well we/you all face this and I guess this blog is no different. However, as all good things in life, there are still a few times when one feels secured, happy or comforted. It can be done through art, books, friends, family, going to see a game, fishing,…you name it. For me, despite it being only my third edition, End of the Road brings that comforting feeling.

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There was no major news this year in terms of why and how much I love this festival. It comes for the audience, the music lovers (hello Big Jeff!), the site, the peacocks, the comedy stages, etc… Please refer to my reviews of previous years (cf. tag “End of the Road” on the right of the page) and I hope being able to share all the good karma that comes out of it. I will guide you through a more summarised review this year so let’s start with Thursday evening.

  • Thursday, 31st August 2017

As with last year, the organisers decided in keeping this good idea: let’s start the festival on Thursday night with a few gigs.

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My first music note out of 24 gigs I were to attend during these four days came from a nice and friendly UK band called The Surfing Magazines. I then attended the concert of Brix Smith & The Extricated. Originally from the US, Brix used to be Mark E. Smith’s spouse and they both were members of The Fall in the 80’s. After a few years out of the music business, she is back with former The Fall members, playing a mix of old The Fall songs and new ones they created. Quite a lively and nice set I must say.

Thursday’s headliners were Slowdive. They were contemporary of bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Ride or The Boo Radleys in the late 80’s/early 90’s and part of the so-called “shoegaze” movement. After disbanded in the 90’s and focusing on their other project Mojave Three, their leaders Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell reformed the band a few years ago and released a new self-titled LP this year (cf. our May 2017 Albums of the month). As quite often with this band, they do not have so many memorable songs but their beauty lies in the way they work on sounds and musical structures. I was quite impressed by their strength and focus on stage and this was an excellent way to start the festival.

  • Friday, 1st September 2017

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Very sunny day to start the month of September with lots of great gigs as well! The difficulty at End of the Road is often to make decisions as there are almost always two gigs at the same time out of the four stages. I personally generally favour to attend concerts in their entirety when I can and chose either bands/musicians who are personal favourites or others I have never seen playing live before.

I decided therefore to miss Mac DeMarco who was headlining that day as I attended his concert recently at the Route du Rock festival in Saint-Malo.

I experienced a few nice discoveries such as the nice but slightly boring folk songs of Julie Byrne, the punchy Velvet Underground-influenced music of Ultimate Painting, the great country-rock of female legend Lucinda Williams, the surprising, demanding and beautiful music of New-Zealander Aldous Harding or the beautiful indie-rock songs of US band Real Estate.

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The two concerts I enjoyed the most though were Michael Chapman and H. Hawkline. Michael Chapman could be considered as a finger-picking legend. Now reaching 76 years, he sounds and looks like a youngster both on stage and on record (cf. our January 2017 albums of the month). On a very sunny Garden Stage, he played a great set, alone with his acoustic guitar, telling us plenty of funny stories between songs. The older I get, the more I get bored with conventional music, like boring folk musicians, bland indie bands or repetitive electro shit (hello Justice…) so watching someone being so long in the business while being so fresh is something to recognize.

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My other favourite concert was H. Hawkline, an artist I had already seen live two years ago. His attitude and music remain as fresh as I remember and this is a pity that this artist from Wales is not more famous. Catch him live if you can.

  • Saturday, 2nd September 2017 

Saturday is generally the most tiring day of a festival so I decided to enjoy the last sunny day, take my time rather than running from one place to another and appreciate the six gigs I went to.

No regret at all concerning those I missed as so great were the ones I attended. Quite funny and charming as with The Burning Hell from Canada, really good as always with Band Of Horses or amazingly dynamic and full of energy like The Lemon Twigs, lead by the D’Addario brothers (respectively 17 and 19-years old!). Nadine Shah‘s concert was impressive as well ; she has a real strong personality, her music is really beautiful, her words are clever and political…and she has a nice Geordie accent from Newcastle. Listen to her album as soon as you can (cf. August 2017 Albums of the month).

My two best moments of the day (and also of the festival) came from that day. I caught first quite early in the afternoon an artist I had never heard of whose name is Moses Sumney. In a world where we are 24/7 connected and where all sounds/records/news are supposed to be known, I was intrigued by it but also quite excited. I must say the reward was immense and very emotional. This beautiful big black guy is from the USA but with Guinean origins and has lots of interaction everywhere basically. He was assisted on stage by a young guitarist while he was singing, playing guitar, synths… or machines. His music can go from one minute to another from a heavenly melody to industrial sounds. He has the voice of an angel but does not insist too much on it as one can see his interest is more in sounds and emotion. I thought that this is a feeling that people must have had the first time they discovered Bjork on stage…and the next track he played was a Bjork cover. Discover him before he gets too massive ; his debut album will be out soon on the 22nd of September.

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The day ended beautifully with the Festival headliner, i.e. Father John Misty. The alter ego of Joshua Tillman, Father John Misty has been one of our favourite artists in the latest years and the current success he has cannot be more deserved. His latest album “Pure Comedy” was amongst our April 2017 best albums of the month…but really this alum is more than this. It has been personally a very emotional companion since its release and I could talk for ages about the perfect balance between beautiful 70’s Elton John’s music and Joshua’s funny, sad, complex, political and overwhelming words. The current live tour is as beautiful as the record and for his first festival headline Father John Misty was really impressive. His band is fantastic and there are around 15 musicians on stage, including strings and horns. One of my best concerts ever for a performer on top of his form.

  • Sunday, 3rd September 2017

What would be a UK festival without rain? After three days in a row without one drop of rain and two beautiful sunny days actually, Sunday was completely different and to make it short it did not stop raining all day! This did not stop your reviewer to do his job either by choosing “dry” gigs in tents or fighting the rain with the usual material (cape and waterproof clothes).

That was my busiest day with eight gigs attended, knowing that I went and see 45 minutes of each headliner rather than choosing one entire gig.

So quite a busy day indeed and a female-oriented one, either with the great C-86 UK scene influenced band Girl Ray or with the Crutchfield twin sisters. Born and raised in Alabama, their indie rock is really good and exciting: Allison Crutchfield has her own band with… Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz while Katie Crutchfield is a bit more famous than her sister with her band Waxahatchee (in which Allison also plays…shall I do it again or did you get it?). Anyway, both bands are super recommended and can be enjoyed in dry or wet weather conditions (as personally experienced!).

Other female artists I enjoyed that day were Nadia Reid from NZ and her beautiful acoustic and poetic songs and Satomi Matsuzaki who is the lead singer of the always weird but always enjoyable band Deerhoof. I could almost say that Foxygen is a female-oriented band as their two leaders Jonathan Rado and Sam France have a real non-male sensitivity in their melodies and song structures. Theirs was probably my rainier concert ever but the mood amongst the crowd was so strong that everyone almost forgot they were all heavily soaked!

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The Jesus and Mary Chain or Bill Callahan? Bill Callahan or The Jesus and Mary Chain. Both artists are part of my Top 100 and have been personal favourites for a long time. I caught Bill recently in London… and the Reid Brothers even more recently at the Route du Rock festival. So I decided to watch the first 45 minutes of Bill Callahan and the remaining 45 ones of The JAMC. I think it was the right choice as Bill Callahan‘s set (this time with a full band and not only his usual side-guitarist as early in the year) is more balanced in terms of songs’ choice whereas The Jesus and Mary Chain generally plays their most iconic tracks during the second part of their set. Despite both gigs being obviously very different, both were excellent and represent to me a certain idea of what rock’n’roll should be, i.e. mainly self-belief in one’s ideas…

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See you next year End of the Road ; I already bought my “early bird” ticket!

 

 

PJ Harvey at la Route du Rock festival (St Malo, 18th August 2017)

Back to the future! Ten years after my last attendance at the Route du Rock festival, here I was again, still young and full of hope in life! Funny also to go back to this indie festival which struggles every year to make both ends meet but succeeds year on year in having a very good line-up. So, how was the festival overall?

  • Pros: very good line-up, smaller crowds as in other festival, having a second stage brings a lot of dynamism, no rain at all this year, eating a saucisse-galette, attending a festival while on holidays and last but not least meeting again prestigious VIP’s from Rennes.
  • Cons: only seven (!) food places, lots of queue for the drinks with the new Cashless system, people smoke a lot, gigs start too late (I could not see Future Islands from 2 to 3 am), plenty of pushing and rushing from the audience… and the pile of manure brought by the local farmer (who name is supposed to be M. Lecoulant!)

 

So lots of enjoyment from gigs such as the ones from The Jesus and Mary Chain, Angel Olsen, The Arab Strap or Interpol revisiting their “Turn On The Bright Lights” album in all its glory but the real treat for me was the PJ Harvey concert.

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It was only my second PJ Harvey concert ever and I must say I had been quite disappointed the first time I saw her at the Eurockéennes festival in 2004. That was probably at an intermediary time for PJ Harvey as she was between her first straight-to-your-face guitar period and the current one, which is brainy, political and multi-instrumental.

PJ Harvey is to me more and more like jazz artists in the sense that one could quite like an album (as I was with her latest opus “The Hope Six Demolition Project“) but feel a totally different experience while attending one of her concert. The show she presented at the Route du Rock is not new as she had been doing it for around a year now…but is really beautiful. The musicianship is amazing and players such as John Parish, Mick Harvey or the legendary Terry Edwards are amongst the best in their respective fields.

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I really liked also the beauty and simplicity of the concept: one woman and seven men, all dressed in black, no talk between songs, no “thanks”,…just the purity and strength of the songs. The setlist was quite impacted by the latest two LP’s but there were a few old songs too like the amazing “Down By The Water” for instance.

Overall great show and nice festival which I hope I will attend more regularly now.

 

March 2017 Album of the month: Spoon “Hot Thoughts”

…one more month…and what a month it was in terms of quantity and quality of records. This blog’s writer is a pro so he went until listening to music he would never listened otherwise. Lots of records in March, a few regular favourites, a few big names (Bob Dylan), youngsters, veterans, a few deceptions (IAM, Jamiroquai), etc… So for the record: 1) Drake’s new LP is ok but no more 2) If you like Ed Sheeran’s atrocious new album, you probably are very sick and this blog is your cure!

Album of the month: Spoon “Hot Thoughts” – Pop/Rock – Spoon is one of my favourite bands ever and they are actually part of my Top 100. Describing them is difficult as their music sounds so simple and direct that they do not really impress at first. Their strength is probably to be found in this easiness they have in creating punchy and very rhythmic songs with a beautiful sense of melody. This new album is no exception and every new listen brings more pleasure and subtlety. Album of the first quarter by far!

  • Runner-up: The Jesus and Mary Chain – “Damage and Joy” – Rock – A not so unexpected come back from the Reid brothers 20 years after their last album. Very close to their 1994 “Stoned and Dethroned” album in tems of sound, they remain a fantastic force in the industry with their Velvet Underground meets the Ronettes style.
  • Also recommended:
    • Depeche Mode “Spirit” – Synth Blues
    • Aimee Mann – “Mental Illness” – Pop/Rock
    • Sleaford Mods “English Tapas” – Lad’s Laptop Punk
    • Grandaddy “Last Place” – Pop/Rock
    • Thomas de Pourquery/Supersonic “Sons of Love” – Space Jazz
  • Lest we forget: album of the previous month Aquaserge – “laisse ça être”

 

It’s 1985 again ! Bob Mould, 18th November 2014, Village Underground / The Jesus and Mary Chain, 24th November 2014, Troxy / Morrissey, 29th November 2014, O2 Arena

The Queen is Dead“, “Hardly Getting Over It“, “Just Like Honey“, “Asleep“, “Never Understand“, “Hoover Dam“,… here is a sample of the fantastic songs I was lucky to listen to sung by the artists who created them in the first place. Let me add that they were all in great shape (ok, William Reid might have taken a few extra pounds…) despite all having a dark passenger in the late 90’s/early 00’s. But this is the beauty of rock music, one of the rare places where second acts are still an option and real talent always there somehow. Here are a few comments on these shows that were all occurring in the Eastern districts of beautiful London city.

Who : Bob Mould / Opening act : Young Knives / When : 18th November 2014 / Where : Village Underground, London / Place in history : rank # 27 / Setlist here

Bob Mould, Village Underground, November 2014, band
Those who are faithful followers of this blog know how fond I am of Uncle Bob, either for his extraordinary career with Hüsker Dü, Sugar and as a solo artist or for his great personal story, fantastically written in his book “See a little light“.

What is particularly great in Bob Mould’s current reincarnation is the energy and youth one can find in a 54-year old man. One of the reason is probably the trust he has in his current trio with Jason Narducy on bass and Jon Wurster on drums (same band as for the Brussels show in 2012) but as well the peace he found in his inner soul and trust in his art. Peace is probably not the right word by the way as the set was really powerful and the audience really reactive (anyone interested in pogoing with old-fashioned punks?).

Bob Mould, Village Underground, November 2014, Bob singing

That might have been the only regret of this concert held in the beautiful bricked wall-venue. The man is so good in slow and introspective songs that seeing only his hardcore side is sometimes a bit frustrating. But great show overall and looking forward to seeing him next time.

Who : The Jesus and Mary Chain / Opening act : The Amazing Snakeheads / When : 24th November 2014 / Where : Troxy, London / Place in history : rank # 69 / Setlist here

The JAMC, Troxy, November 2014, Reid brothers

Last time I had seen The Jesus and Mary Chain on stage was in 2007 at Rock en Seine in Paris and I really thought that it would be the last time as it looked the relationship between brothers Jim and William Reid was as tense as ever. This is probably what has made this Scottish band so great throughout they years : internal tension and a very clear attitude about their art and the limits above which not to go and not to compromise.

The JAMC, Troxy, November 2014, Jim Reid

As a consequence, this current mini-tour was a real gift and to add up to the reward the set was dedicated to their first LP “Psychocandy” (NME Album of the Year in 1985). The above-mentioned album was played beautifully but moreover they were smart enough to start the set with a few other classics of their own. To my mind, it might have been of their best concerts. Here, maturity means integrity as the songs were played with Jim Reid singing better than ever and William reminding everyone that he must be one of the most underrated guitarists of our times. Happy to have you back guys.

Who : Morrissey / Opening act : Anna Calvi / When : 29th November 2014 / Where : 02, London / Place in history : rank # 30 (with The Smiths) / Setlist here
Morrissey, O2 Arena, November 2014, Band

London was holding yesterday evening Morrissey’s only date of his current tour. Although it looked a bit ambitious at first and in particular when watching poor Anna Calvi trying to give a bit of emotion and life to her great songs in such a big arena, the place was actually full when the great man arrived on stage. Wearing white clothes of an uncertain style (between the Loveboat series and workingman overalls) and hugging his crew of mainly American musicians all wearing beautiful “FUCK HARVEST RECORDS” tee-shirts, one could feel a certain emotion on stage and a real and beautiful connection with the British and Toulouse (South West of France) audience.

This is not a secret that Morrissey is currently not in his best-ever health shape but one should not be surprised when reading his fantastic biography as he can already consider himself a real survivor amongst his peers. But this was difficult to spot when seeing his energy and enthusiasm on stage. On top of it, I really found his voice close to perfection last night, even when he sang tricky slow ones.

Morrissey, O2 Arena, November 2014, singing on screen

The show really confirmed that his last LP “World Peace is none of your business” is really amongst his best ones. Although one could regret that Stephen Patrick Morrissey did not sing more tracks from his the Smiths and solo repertoire (as all done live at the O2 were amazing), the overall level of the quality of the set plus the emotion felt made it one of the best shows of the year.

TOP 100 Artists/Bands of all Times : 66 – 70

Here you are folks with your weekly dose of Top 100!

70. New Order

Image result for new order from : Manchester, England / first great sounds : 80’s / style : desperate dance pop / essential albums : Low-life (1985) , Technique (1989) / Click for more on the blog

Built on the ashes of Joy Division, New Order is quite a unique case in the history of rock as seldom has a band been so good and succesful after their members have been part of another great band. New Order have been masters in creating a sound you will find nowhere else, mainly due to tension and feelings between its two leaders (Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook with his very singular and great bass sound), mixing pure post-punk rock with electro-pop dance hedonism. And like in all great bands, you can listen again to all their records and it sound as if it had been going out today.

69. The Jesus and Mary Chain

 from : Glasgow, Scotland / first great sounds : 80’s / style : Beach Boys melodies with saturated guitars / essential albums : Psychocandy (1985), Darklands (1987)

Essentially based on Scottish brothers Jim and William Reid and their love/hate relationship, The JAMC were a band to cherish when you were growing up in the 80’s as they were basically representing all they you were fighting for : energy, talent, a sense of history, dedication…and a huge feeling against compromise. Their albums have recently been reedited with bonus tracks and the least I can say is that their music is still amazing and makes you feel indestructible when you listen to it.

68. Aretha Franklin

 from : Memphis, Tennessee, USA / first great sounds : 50’s / style : Lady Soul / essential albums : I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You (1967) / Lady Soul (1968)

Lady of many lives, there have been many different periods within Aretha Franklin’s music but her greatest achievements have surely been done when she was on Atlantic records in the late 60’s. At that time, she was mixing with beauty and strength her great Gospel voice with a very pure sensitiveness, singing fantastic songs which are amongst the best ones ever sang. Her role and influence in the lives of black American women is highly material as well, in particular when she adapted Otis Redding’s “Respect“.

67. John Lennon

 from : Liverpool, England/ first great sounds : 60’s / style : Lennono rock  / essential albums : John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970), Imagine (1971)

I know I am now in clear jeopardy by putting such an artist at rank #67 but let me please give my view here before potential actions from you… The John Lennon were are talking about here is the solo artist one and one has to admit that apart from the extraordinary “Plastic Ono Band” LP and a few great singles (“Instant Karma” being the best example), the great man had been doing so-so albums between 1972 and his sad death in 1980. He would probably be ranked #1 if we were to consider his personality amongst musicians and the way he wished he changed the world.

66. Otis Redding

 from : Dawson, Georgia, USA / first great sounds : 60’s / style : Mr. Soul / essential album : Otis Blue (1966)

This is always very sad when a talented young man such as Otis Redding disappears so young… Dead at the absurd age of 26 in a place crash, the question has always been what he could have achieved if fate had been different. If you are not familiar with his work and/or think you are not a soul music connoisseur, put “Try a Little Tenderness” very loud and try to stay still…

1985, a fantastic year for records: 10 golden eggs!

The general idea here is not to show once more a subjective best of concerning a past year but scientifically proving that one has to go further than the regular clichés about music related to a specific period in time. For anybody, 1985 could appear as a kind of void, stuck between the early 80’s post-punk period and before the arrival of the Madchester era (Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and many others). WRONG! 1985 is a amazing year for records as you may see below (in no particular order). And frankly, apart maybe for a few tracks, major part of these records could have been made at any other decade.

Please click on covers to get more news on albums from the “All Music” site.

Cover (Meat Is Murder:The Smiths) The Smiths: “Meat is Murder” Morrissey and Marr at their top with probably their best LP with “The Queen is dead”.  Contains two of their best songs with “The Headmaster Ritual” and “Barbarism begins at home”. One should never insist enough on the quality of the Morrissey/Marr songwriting and the intensity they both created. As time passed and as our musical knowledge maybe a bit higher than when listening this record at seventeen (!), the diversity of styles is amazing too. (9/10)

Cover (Steve McQueen:Prefab Sprout) Prefab Sprout: “Steve Mc Queen” For the cover, the melodies, the warmth, the weirdness, the genius in 4-minute pop songs and for “When Loves Breaks Down”, thank you Paddy McAloon. (9.5/10)

Cover (Psychocandy:The Jesus and Mary Chain) The Jesus And Mary Chain: “Psychocandy” Ah the Reid brothers…. William and Jim, the internal fights (reminds you of another band?), the accent from Glasgow, the fuzz noises, the Beach Boys melodies, the hits! This record could really go out at any moment in time and has been so influental to musicians and music lovers everywhere.  And contrary to one of our best French journalists forecast at the time, it has aged as well as Jacques Brel. (9.5/10)

Cover (Our Favourite Shop:The Style Council) The Style Council: “Our favourite Shop” After the success of The Jam, Paul Weller surprized all his fans by creating The Style Council with Mick Talbot with the will of more freedom and being able to go a bit away from rock and get closer to his jazz/soul roots. This is their best album and every track is a winner, mixing left-oriented messages (the Thatcher years in the U.K.) amidst great dancing music. And what a great cover, one on which to spend hours (shoes, ties, actors, Curtis Mayfield,…)! (9/10)

Cover (Rain Dogs:Tom Waits)  Tom Waits: “Rain Dogs” First part of Tom Waits’ career was excellent but one was finding in it what one was expecting: piano-bar-late-night-drinking-wolf songs. And then Tow Waits met his wife-to-be Kathleen Brennan on the set of “One from the Heart” from Francis Ford Coppola, changed his approach to music and became the artist we all cherish now. After first groundbreaking LP “Swordfishtrombones” in 1983, Tow Waits went on with “Rain Dogs”, one the best LP’s ever done, mixing atmospheres, weird stories and an incredible musicianship (Keith Richards plays on a couple of tracks). Nobody has ever done such beautiful sounds and everybody should have this album in their records’ collection (if such a thing still exists…) (10/10)

Cover (Don't Stand Me Down:Dexys Midnight Runners) Dexys Midnight Runners: “Don’t stand me down” Apart from the aficionados, who does really know the genius of Kevin Rowland? Three amazing LP’s only but such classy music. I have been listening for “Don’t Stand Me Down” for years and everytime with the same joy and emotion. The LP is based on a kind of dialog betwen Kevin and Bill Graham and bears the most euphoric song I know with “This is what she’s like”. Discover this LP and you will be rewarded (10/10).

Cover (This Nation's Saving Grace:The Fall) The Fall: “This Nation’s saving Grace” The late and great DJ John Peel favourite bands, The Fall has made thousands of records so it may sometimes be difficult to recommend one of them. This is the supposed Fall “peak” period when Mark E. Smith acid words were followed by great music (file under “psychobillypostpunkpsychedelic”…).  As John Peel once said : “The Fall, always the same, always different…” (9/10).

Cover (Low-life:New Order) New Order: “Low Life” Please refer to Peter Hook’s concert review for a brief story of Joy Division and New Order. Just to write down this is to my mind the best New Order record as a LP (and “Perfect Kiss” my prefered New Order song) (9/10).

Cover (Fables of the Reconstruction:R.E.M.) R.E.M.: “Fables of the Reconstruction” The first LP you hear by one of your top bands is always special so I was afraid of not being objective regarding “Fables”. But no, last year reissue with plenty of bonus confirmed that this is singular music, mixing Americana weirdness, jangle-jingle sounds with a huge post-punk UK influence (the fact that this album had been recorded in the U.K. is not a coincidence). When Stipe/Mills/Berry/Buck were cutting edge music makers… (9/10)

Cover (Virgins and Philistines:The Colour Field)  The Colourfield: “Virgins and Philistines”  Terry Hall’s third musical project after the Specials and Fun Boy Three, The Colourfield is probably his less famous as it only lasted for a few years and two LP’s. I may not have the talent neither in English, nor in French to express my feelings about this glorious LP so please listen (or alternately click on the cover to read a nice review about it). Amazing out-of-time music, like a musical comedy where everything could hang suspended in the air. The fact that the blog you read bears this name is self-explanatory (10/10)

Also more than recommended:

The Cure “The Head on the Door”, Madness “Mad not mad”, Nick Cave “The first Born is dead”, Sonic Youth “Bad Moon rising”, Prince And The Revolution “Around the World in a Day”, Tears For Fears: “Songs from the Big Chair”, The Pale Fountains “…From across the Kitchen Table”, Hüsker Dü “New Day rising”, The Pogues: “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash”, The Dream Academy “The Dream Academy”, Kate Bush “Hounds of Love”, Microdisney “The Clock comes down the Stairs”, Propaganda “A Secret Wish”, Talking Heads “Little Creatures” and Big Audio Dynamite “This is Big Audio Dynamite”.

And here is a summer 2011 update! All Music had done as well as the same time I did this 1985 selection their records of that same year. Click to find out the results!

Best of 2008

Vous étiez quinze puis deux cents et vous êtes désormais des millions (mais chacun si différent) à réclamer la liste. En ces temps de crise, que chacun reçoive un brot d’eau, un quignon de pain, une paillasse et de la bonne musique !

Une année bizarre musicalement parlant car de plus en plus de nouveaux groupes, d’autres à peine apparus qui disparaissent, plus personne qui n’achète des disques, des places de concert souvent à 120 Euro (à quand un emprunt spécial concert ?), le DVD qui n’assume plus son rôle de relais, etc.. Allez, on ne va pas rester sur des souvenirs tristos et rentrons donc dans le vif du sujet.

 

Album de l’année 2008

Plush : Fed

 

Contrairement à l’an dernier, on a privilégié un album un peu hors du temps, fait par un dandy avec son monde à lui. Mais quel choc émotionnel dès les premières notes de guitare qui se détachent ! Cet album a été réalisé par un certain Liam Hayes qui a notamment travaillé avec Will Oldham de Palace. On sait peu de chose sur le bonhomme et c’est d’ailleurs cette part de secret qui est excitante, un peu comme quand on découvrait autrefois un album au casque sur la platine pour la première fois. Ce n’est d’ailleurs même pas réellement une sortie de 2008 car il était sorti au Japon seulement dès 2002 mais n’est disponible dans nos contrées occidentales que depuis 2008. Un album ambitieux avec des arrangement magnifiques pour tous ceux qui aiment les artistes qui sortent du lot. Album of the Year!

 

Les 14 autres (par ordre alphabétique) :

Adem : Takes

De son vrai nom Adem Ilhan, ce Britannique vient de la scène électro avec notamment le groupe Fridge (avec le fantastique Kieran Hebden dont les disques en solo sous le nom de Four Tet sont fortement recommandés). Mais ici c’est une voie différente et même acoustique qu’il nous propose avec des reprises très personnelles de PJ Harvey, Aphex Twin ou encore Smashing Pumpkins. Le disque le plus zen de l’année.

Bon Iver : For Emma, Forever Ago

Mais oui, Bon Iver comme Bon Hiver in French ! Justin a tout plaqué dans la cité (groupe, amis, copine), a pris ce surnom (expression employée par les locaux quand il fait froid) et a noyé son spleen dans la vieille cabane paternelle perdue au milieu d’une forêt du Wisconsin (véridique !). Il nous a sorti un album très intimiste, à écouter autour de la cheminée. Et vive la musique triste !

Daniel Darc : Amours Suprêmes

On était passé un peu à côté du disque de retour de l’ancien chanteur de Taxi Girl et ses performances scéniques avait plus inspiré du respect humain que de l’enthousiasme musical. Et puis on tombe sur cet album dont on n’attendait rien mais dans lequel on prend tout. Des musiques toujours géniales de son compère Frédéric Lo à ses paroles toujours au couteau avec un grand sens des mélodies, on s’incline devant Daniel.

Death Cab For Cutie : Narrow Stairs

Ben Gibbard et son groupe Death Cab For Cutie (chanson du film Magical Mystery Tour de The Beatles) font partie de ces musiciens du patrimoine américain qui vendent beaucoup de disques tout en vivant dans un relatif anonymat. Pourquoi donc plus cet album que d’autres ; eh bien sans doute pour la qualité des intros des morceaux et des ambiances dans lesquelles on s’installe (rien à voir mais les amateurs de The Cure sauront de quoi on veut parler…)

The Last Shadow Puppets : The Age Of Understatement

Difficile de ne pas retrouver Alex Turner des Arctic Monkeys dans notre palmarès. Cette année, suite à une amitié liée en tournée avec leurs groupes respectifs, il s’est uni à Miles Kane (The Rascals) pour cet album à influence Scott Walker ou David Bowie toute première période Decca avec l’aide de l’arrangeur des cordes d’Arcade Fire. Un projet enthousiasmant et une nouvelle réussite pour Alex Turner.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks : Real Emotional Trash

L’ancien leader de Pavement a enfin retrouvé la formule magique de son ancien groupe (formule qu’il oublie d’ailleurs parfois sur scène…). Au menu : des mélodies magnifiques, des arrangements compliqués et surtout ce qu’on adorait chez Pavement, ce mélange de punk américain dans le format des chansons et de rock US des 70’s dans les solos de guitare. Welcome back Stephen !

Merz : Moi et mon Camion

Un disque totalement passé inaperçu et pourtant quel merveilleux mélodiste. Merz est le surnom que s’est choisi le natif de Bristol Conrad Lambert et dans cet album il nous narre les différents déménagements personnels vécus ces dernières années (hence the title…). Un album dans lequel on se sent bien.

MGMT : Oracular Spectacular

Difficile de passer à côté de ce nouveau groupe américain en 2008 tant leurs chansons nous ont accompagnés dans nos lecteurs mp3, sur scène, dans les palmarès de fin d’année, voire même au générique de l’Euro! Mais une reconnaissance méritée tant ce groupe est inventif et doué. A suivre pour voir comment ils sauront gérer la hype qui les accompagne. Indispensable en tout cas cette année.

Portishead : Third

La plus grande surprise de l’année. Déjà, le fait qu’ils refassent de la musique 10 ans après. Mais en plus cette musique ! On craignait le trip trip-hop, genre disque à mettre en soirée quand on reçoit ses amis en musique de fond, soit la négation absolue de la musique, mais non point. Une intro en brésilien et tac c’est parti et ça dépote ; puis s’enchainent les morceaux fabuleux avec la voix de Beth Gibbons qui chante comme si sa vie en dépendait. A mettre en musique de fond si vos amis sont fans de Sunn O))).

R.E.M. : Accelerate

L’album qui a disparu de tous les classements de fin d’année… On l’a donc ré-écouté pour conclure que, oui, c’est bien le R.EM. qu’on avait découvert il y a plus de 20 ans, avec des arpèges de guitare, des morceaux de pur rock, la voix incroyable et mystérieuse de Michael Stipe.

Shearwater : Rook

Longtemps en balance avec Plush pour le titre d’album de l’année. Shearwater est un groupe américain dont le leader Jonathan Meiburg a une voix qui rappelle de manière troublante celle de Mark Hollis dans les derniers Talk Talk. On retrouve donc le côté américain très rock et libéré avec des plages plus européennes où l’accent est mis sur la voix et les ambiances. Un disque exceptionnel.

TV On The Radio : Dear Science

Quel plaisir de retrouver nos leaders de 2006 pour un album qui perd peut-être dans l’expérimental ce qu’il gagne en sensualité. Des musiciens exceptionnels, des voix démentes et un producteur à la pointe avec David Sitek (cf. plus bas). Et toujours ce mélange indéfinissable entre les Cocteau Twins et la soul Motown.

Vampire Weekend : Vampire Weekend

2ème groupe de l’Est des USA le plus hype de l’année après MGMT, ces musiciens au look d’étudiants d’Harvard nous font un dosage savant entre rock US et rythmes africains sous influence Graceland de Paul Simon. Le disque qui nous a sans doute donné le plus le sourire aux lèvres cette année.

Kanye West : 808s & Heartbreak

Le seul qui reste dans la liste par rapport à l’an dernier est celui sur lequel on aurait le moins parié. Et pourtant, Kanye West nous livre un album qui est tout sauf du hip-hop, avec une voix travaillée à l’auto-tune et dans lequel il se met à nu suite à des événements personnels douloureux. Une suite de morceaux ni commencés, ni finis mais qui sont les plus attachants entendus depuis longtemps dans ce monde hip-hop où on préfère souvent mettre en avant ses dollars et ses décapotables plutôt que son vague à l’âme.

 

Tout près de cette liste (pêle mêle) :

-> les jeunes : Fleet Foxes, Born Ruffians, Black Kids, Glasvegas, Santogold, My Morning Jacket, The Black Keys, Gnarls Barkley, Elbow, Foals, The Week That Was, Bloc Party, Peter Broderick (pour ceux qui aimeront Bon Iver), Friendly Fires (pour ceux qui aiment Talking Heads), School Of Language, Get Well Soon, Fujiya & Miyagi.

-> les vieux : Tindersticks, Paul Weller, Nine Inch Nails, Spiritualized, Deus, Beck, Leila, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Oasis, Mercury Rev, Aimee Mann.

 

Meilleur DVD

Various : From the Basement

Le meilleur d’une émission de la TV anglaise dans laquelle on peut voir les musiciens jouer en live mais sans public. Des performances exceptionnelles de Sonic Youth et Radiohead en particulier.

 

Meilleur Single

Midnight Juggernauts : Shadow

Ce morceau ou d’ailleurs n’importe lequel de l’album de Midnight Juggernauts, ce groupe australien découvert aux Eurockéennes de Belfort. Les fans de Justice ou de Daft Punk adoreront.

 

Meilleur Coffret

The Jesus and Mary Chain : The Power of Negative Thinking

Un titre qui en dit long sur l’énergie qui animait les frères Reid de Glasgow à leurs débuts avec souvent des sets de 15 minutes montre en main qui finissaient en émeute. Mais sur le plan musical peu de groupes ont aussi bien intégré l’héritage du Velvet Underground. Un magnifique coffret de 4 CDs, bourré d’inédits et de reprises. Comme quoi, 25 ans après, on peut parler de The Jesus and Mary Chain comme de Jacques Brel.

 

Meilleure Compilation

The Smiths : The Sound of the Smiths 

C’est certes sans doute la 512ème compilation des Smiths mais c’est de loin la plus complète de toutes. Et quel groupe!

 

Reissue of the Year

David Bowie : Live Santa Monica ’72

C’est toujours émouvant de retrouver un artiste en plein phase d’ascension. C’est ce qu’était David Bowie dans ce concert resté pirate des siècles avant d’être proprement réédité pour le plaisir de nos oreilles.

 

Man of the Year : Tom Waits

Le plaisir et l’honneur de l’avoir vu enfin en concert dans nos contrées avec un spectacle époustouflant. Et également ce disque OVNI de reprises par Scarlet Johanson produit par David Sitek de TV on the Radio. Comme il le dit lui-même, elle chante dans cet album un peu comme si Cendrillon avait pris trop de sirop contre la toux…

 

D’autres TOP 10

– NME (fanzine british) :

1.MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

2.TV On The Radio – Dear Science

3.Glasvegas – Glasvegas

4.Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

5.Foals – Antidotes

6.Metronomy – Nights Out

7.Santogold – Santogold

8.Mystery Jets – Twenty One

9.Kings Of Leon – Only By The Night

10.Friendly Fires – Friendly Fire

– Paste (best US mag.) :

  1. She & Him – Volume One
  2. Sigur Rós – Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust
  3. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend
  4. Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago
  5. Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
  6. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
  7. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals
  8. Sun Kil Moon – April
  9. Lucinda Williams – Little Honey
  10. Deerhunter- Microcastle

 

– Les Inrocks (more music please) :

  1. MGMT : Oracular Spectacular
  2. Fleet Foxes : Fleet Foxes
  3. Vampire Weekend : Vampire Weekend
  4. Santogold : Santogold
  5. The Last Shadow Puppets : The Age Of The Understatement
  6. Kanye West : 808s & Heartbreak
  7. Portishead : Third
  8. TV On The Radio : Dear Science
  9. Sébastien Tellier : Sexuality
  10. Bon Iver : For Emma, Forever Ago

 

– Mojo (Rock Bible Mag.) :

  1. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes
  2. Last Shadow Puppets – Age of the Understatement
  3. Paul Weller – 22 Dreams
  4. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
  5. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Dig!!! Lazarus, Dig!!!
  6. Hold Steady – Stay Positive
  7. Glasvegas – Glasvegas
  8. The Week That Was – The Week That Was
  9. The Bug (Kevin Martin) – London Zoo
  10. Neil Diamond – Home Before Dark

 

– Pitchfork (best music web site in the world) :

1 Fleet Foxes – Sun Giant EP/Fleet Foxes

2 Portishead – Third

3 No Age – Nouns

4 Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours

5 Deerhunter – Microcastle / Weird Era Cont.

6 TV On The Radio – Dear Science

7 Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

8 M83 – Saturdays=Yout

9 Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules and Love Affair

10 DJ/rupture – Uproot

 

– Ground Zero (où acheter ses disques à Paris ?) : pas de Top 10 cette année mais un TOP 25 sans ordre. Allez voir sur le site et allez acheter des disques chez Ground Zero!

 

Pas de déprime en 2009 ; on sortira toujours quelques minutes de la morosité en se mettant un petit Led Zep à fond !

 

Bonne année à tous!