1. ALT-J “Breezeblock” (from An Awesome Wave 2012) I had to report back who won the Mercury Prize (see October Blailist). Not my choice but it is original.
2. TAME IMPALA “Elephant” (from Lonerism 2012) My daughters new favorite album will probably end up on many people’s year end best of lists. This is basically one guy, KEVIN PARKER, from Perth, Australia, getting his BEATLES on. The music sounds like the photo of the studio on the back sleeve of the CD: gadgets, wires and chords everywhere. And a Hofner bass. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
3. SIA “Soon We’ll Be Found” (from Some People Have Real Problems 2008) Saw this one night on Later… with Jools and looked her up. Another Aussie whose music has apparently been featured in HBO’s “Six Feet Under”.
4. AMY LAVERE “Killing Him” (from Anchors and Anvils 2007) I saw this on the same episode of Jools that SIA was on. Alt-country. Funny idea for a song, unless it’s a true story. Then it’s just funny.
5. MARNIE STERN “For Ash” (from Marnie Stern 2010) This can only be described as a an aural guitar assault. Amidst the wall of guitar, manic drumming and piercing vocals there is enough melody to catch your attention. I have to hear more of her playing as she clearly can shred.
6. GRAHAM COXON “In The Morning” (from The Spinning Top 2009) I promised my daughter I would give (her heroes) BLUR more of a chance and I am glad to have done it. They really are the “brightest witches” of their time. Throughout their career, which saw them go from Britpop stars to boundary pushing artists, they are constantly creative and interesting. This guy deserves as much credit as DAMON ALBARN in that department. On this record he embraces the rich British folk tradition and styles of DAVY GRAHAM and BERT JANSCH. By the way, my daughter is NOT getting a bunny named Graham for Christmas.
7. JAKE BUGG “Two Fingers” (from Jake Bugg 2012) So a kid like JAKE BUGG listens to someone like GRAHAM COXON and the styles and traditions of an unfamiliar bygone era are passed along. That’s how it all happens, but I don’t get the DYLAN comparisons at all.
8. BAT FOR LASHES “All Your Gold” (from The Haunted Man 2012) Decide for yourself but this kind of reminds me of PORTISHEAD. That is a good thing and this new album is very good.
9. JOHN CALE “Paris 1919” (from Paris 1919 1973) I am always trying to find the classic albums that I was either unaware of or had dismissed in my music snob youth. I always knew JOHN CALE was in THE VELVET UNDERGOUND, which did not appeal so much to my taste buds. I do completely understand why they were so important. I am more aware of all the great artists CALE goes on to produce, including NICK DRAKE, PATTI SMITH and SQUEEZE. I am woefully unfamiliar with his post-VELVETs work except for some cool collaboration albums with LOU REED and BRIAN ENO. I am working to correct that and an awesome place to start is 1973’s Paris 1919. It’s a beautiful album that is stylistically diverse. Strong songwriting and flawless execution.
10. BILL FAY “There Is A Valley” (from Life Is People 2012) FAY is an artist who made just 3 records in the early 1970s, than became disenchanted with the whole process and moved on from music. 30 years later, his songs are re-discovered by artists including JEFF TWEEDY and NICK CAVE and producer JOSHUA HENRY convinces BILL FAY to make another record. Very interesting story and very interesting lyrics in these songs. How many other great artists are out there ready to be brought back from obscurity?
11. AIMEE MANN “Labrador” (from Charmer 2012) Another quality AIMEE MANN album. It’s easy to take her for granted but each of her albums contain such high quality songwriting. I used to feel she could push herself with different arrangements and styles but realize that would likely detract from the songs themselves.
12. LUCY ROSE “Bikes” (from Like I Used To 2012) British folkie. Very Nice.
13. HAPPY MONDAYS “Kinky Afro” (from Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches 1990) That’s a 5 star album on Allmusic!? That’s a 5 star guitar riff if you ask me.
14. HOWLER “Back Of Your Neck” (from America Give Up 2012) America has not given up on super catchy bad attitude rock n roll.
15. YOUNG THE GIANT “Apartment” (from Young The Giant 2011) We gave this album a listen on a recent college visit car trip. Good album through and through. This is a good example of their hook laden alt pop. I am sure they are super popular or are soon to be.
16. TOM WAITS “November” (from The Black Rider 1993) Where I live, November looks like this sounds.