And so its the end of the year again (or the start) and we have listened to an awful lot of music, the people here. And two of us managed to churn out some words on what we consider as our favorite albums of 2011. So enjoy, hope it proves to function both as a tip sheet and as a salute to good music.
07. Jessica 6 – See the Light (Peacefrog Records)
I really, honestly didn’t think I would like this album as much as I do. Nomi Ruiz as a member of Hercules and Love Affair didn’t quite win me over, but as Jessica 6 she is amazing. So old school disco this, with the disco diva singing her tales of woe, of lust, of love. And it is all quite impressive. Some of the tracks are more dancey like opener ‘White Horse’ or ‘Prisoner of Love’, where she gets a bit of help from Antony Hegarty (Yes, he of Antony & the Johnsons fame).
However, she can also dial it down with some of the best ballads I’ve heard all year. Something like ‘Not Anymore’, which basically is just this sad, French jazz piano and her voice, but it packs so much emotion. She does that so well, and it caught me by surprise, and such a pleasant surprise it is. A ballad is so hard to do, but I’ll take some of the ones on this album before any bloke or gal with guitar trying to sing about his or her baby love (or worse). There’s something heartfelt about disco, also the slower ones, that you just cannot beat with a guitar and with subpar vocals. Add to all of this that this album borrows some sounds from different continents to make it all not that straightforward, and you’ve got a very, very good album indeed.
Jessica 6 - Prisoner Of Love feat. Antony Hegarty by Peacefrog Records
07. Los Campesinos! - Hello Sadness (Wichita)
I can’t believe that it’s already been four years since Los Campesinos! released their first album. Even though ‘Hold on now youngster...’ is still my favourite, with ‘We are beautiful, we are doomed’ a close second, this album really managed to surprise me. There’s no band I’ve seen live more often than this band, and still they manage to amaze me every single time. Be it by being a bit shit (at Shepherd’s Bush earlier this year, though it was a first time for them) or by blowing me away when playing in a student venue where everyone was 14 and I felt ridiculously old right up to the moment they started playing ‘Death to Los Campesinos!’. That was, admittedly, their third song, but it only took a second or so to turn me back into a dancing, shouting and pointing (pointing is essential for LC! gigs) teenager. Well done me for fitting in with a bunch of horny school boys.
Over the years, LC! have evolved, and they have done this very considerately as they seem to have done this synchronous to my personal musical taste. They’re still very much up the pop-ally of alternative music, maybe even more so on this album with Kim Campesinos! getting more vocals – especially on the sublime ‘The black bird, the dark slope’. Single ‘By your hand’ luckily is a horrible indicator for what to expect from the album, but with its sing-along chorus it is an obvious choice. To make up for that initial miss, the second half of the album is filled with little gems like ‘To Tundra’ and ‘Baby I got the death rattle’. I’ll definitely go and see them for a 12th time next year.
Hello Sadness by Los Campesinos!