I found a list of my top favourite 50 albums I’d made back in 2008, and I thought it would be fun to revisit and update. More than half of my picks remained the same, so my musical tastes haven’t undergone a dramatic change in the last ten years. Organising the albums in the exact order of preference is too much headache, so after the top two it’s a loose list.
Catching up with the old alt-rock favourites; an avant-garde prog-folk concept album about the 6th century Anglo-Saxon kingdom… no really that’s what the album is about.
I haven’t been to many live gigs at all this year, either because of financial reasons or the lack of interest in tours on offer. I suspect I’m entering an age where it becomes increasingly harder for new artists and bands to really click with me to the degree where I’d pay money to see them play live. At least I’m closing the year in style with this fantastic concert last Friday at the Forum Theatre, where I got to see the Canadian songbird extraordinaire, Leslie Feist a.k.a. simply Feist.
Warm and laid-back transcontinental collaboration between two talented musicians who can’t find a comb between the two of them; more sad Scandinavian gorgeousness from the Danish songstress.
A poptastic debut and a perfect soundtrack to a wintry night.
Mark Lanegan – Phantom Radio & Gargoyle
Mark Lanegan might be my favourite male singer of all time, with a gravelly cigarettes-and-alcohol baritone that sounds so richly lived-in and is deceptively controlled and flexible. And he looks like his voice too – like a person who’s lived through some dark and troubled times. His pipes have become more brittle with years and these days Lanegan sounds less like he’s about to jump out of the speakers and punch you in the face, and his lower register on Gargoyle is almost Leonard Cohen-esque. But his grizzled vocals are no less compelling for that.
These latest two albums continue the experimentation with electronica and synths that first appeared on the 2012 Blues Funeral, while retaining the trademark dark bluesy vibes and oblique lyrics full of macabre gothic imagery and ruminations on sin, death, love and redemption. Business as usual in other words, but as long as his output remains this strong and consistent I’m not complaining. Now bring on the tour!
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Live From KCRW
I would have preferred a full concert recording from the Push the Sky Away tour, but this loose and casual 10-song show performed for the KCRW station in Santa Monica is a great live offering. It’s predictably dominated by the Push the Sky Away material, and the rest of the picks match the quiet, meditative mood of that album, bar the closer Jack the Ripper, a throwback to the fire-and-brimstone Nick Cave of old. It wouldn’t be a Bad Seeds gig without The Mercy Seat, their signature showstopper performed here as a stripped-down piano version with all the white-knuckle tension and power of the original.