When I do one of these it’s always stuff new to me in the past year, not necessarily new releases. I considered writing something about all of them but that tends to turn into mini-reviews I’m no music critic and you’ll be able to find better stuff written about them elsewhere pretty easily, on the other hand I don’t want to just present a long list without any comments, so I’ll start with some general comments about what I’ve liked this year and then present the list of my favourites.
One thing that features heavily for me this year is box sets. Perhaps it was the favourable exchange rate making them more affordable. Some of these were label-based, such as the huge Ninja Tune XX box set with cds, records and a book. It’ll take me a while yet to get through all of that one thoroughly but there’s already lots of highlights. Another label based one was the excellent M-Squared set, featuring everything released by the early 80’s Sydney post-punk label. Also in post punk, I finally got the This Heat box set (this one definitely because it became more affordable), what an amazing band! Another good artist-based box set was the 10 disc Triffids set with loads of rareties and live recordings.
As well as a couple of the box sets mentioned above, I continued to find more great post-punk I hadn’t previously heard, in particular reissues of Josef K and Mark Stewart + the Maffia, and from Australia, Tactics.
On the topic of post punk, there were finally some official live releases from my favourite band of all time, the Laughing Clowns. Two are from the recent reunion gigs but best of all is one from 1982 which is amazing. These all came care of the Prince Melon Bootleg series which has now released about 20 volumes of Ed Kuepper live recordings, all essential for EK fans.
I finally got hold of Incredible String Band’s psych-folk classic The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter which I’d been meaning to find for ages. They are clearly a big influence on Trembling Bells, their second album Abandoned Love was one of the big highlights of the year. Also Joanna Newsom released a massive 3 disc album, I was fortunate enough to hear much of it live before it was released and knew to expect something special.
There continue to be lots of comebacks and some produced some great records. Of course a big one was the return of The Swans (shame I can’t see them live next year). On the local front the new albums from Crow and Paradise Motel are both fantastic.
The other big Australian highlight for me was Otouto, their album PIP is a real grower.
From overseas the standout new rock album was Magic Lantern’s Platoon, packed full of awesome Psych-rock jams. Old favourites SIlver Mt Zion came up with another great album as well.
Lots of interesting new electronica, Flying Lotus’ Cosmogramma is stunningly original and probably manages to edge out the two new releases from Autechre for my favourite electronica. I’ve also really enjoyed the latest from Caribou, while Peverelist was keeping up my interest in dubstep. On the hauntological side, finally got Moon Wiring Club’s first album (and everything else he’s done is now on the way in the mail), and love the Ghost Box Study Series of 7″s featuring a who’s who of Hauntology (Focus Group, Belbury Poly, Advisory Circle, Broadcast, Mordant Music). Have lots more of that stuff to listen to over the holiday period so those names will probably turn up more in next year’s list.
One more special mention is for Jandek. After seeing him play live (did that really happen? Did Jandek really come to Adelaide or did I imagine it?) I’ve listened to lots of his stuff this year, I’ve listed a couple of favourites but there’s not much to separate any of them.
- Autechre – Oversteps/Move of Ten
- Bernard Fevre – Black Devil Disco Club
- Caribou – Swim
- Chicks on Speed – Cutting the Edge
- Crow – Arcane
- Current 93 – Judas as Black Moth
- Death – …. for the World to See
- DJ Food – Blech 20
- Fabulous Diamonds – II
- The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter
- Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma
- GB3 – Damaged/Controlled
- Gescom – A1-D1
- Gonjasufi – A Sufi and a Killer
- Hot Chip – One Life Stand
- Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter
- Jandek – Lost Cause / Interstellar Discussion
- Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me
- Joe Morris – Today on Earth
- Josef K – Entomology
- Kid Sam – s/t
- Kraftwerk – the Catalogue
- Laughing Clowns – Live at Goma / Laughing Clowns Live / Don’t Ask Stupid Questions to An Artist, Cop
- Lou Reed Metal Machine Trio – Creation of the Universe
- Magic Lantern – Platoon
- Mark Stewart + the Maffia – Learning to Cope With Cowardice
- Moon Wiring Club – An Audience of Art Deco Eyes
- Moritz von Oswald trio – Vertical Ascent
- Ninetynine – Bande Magnetique
- Omar Souleyman – Jazeera Nights
- Oneohtrix Point Never – Rifts
- Otouto – PIP
- The Paradise Motel – Australian Ghost Story
- Peverelist – Jarvik Mindstate
- Pram – The Moving Frontier
- So Percussion and Matmos – Treasure State
- Swans – My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope to the Sky
- Tactics – The Sound of the Sound Vol 1
- Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra – Kollaps Tradixionales
- This Heat – Out of Cold Storage
- Trembling Bells – Abandoned Love
- Triffids – Come Ride With Me
- Various – Artificial Intelligence / Artificial Intelligence II
- Various – Dancehall: The Rise of Jamaican Dancehall Culture
- Various – 5 Years of Hyperdub
- Various – Ghost Box Study Series 1-4
- Various – Matador at 21
- Various – Ninja Tune XX
- Various – Terrace Industry: M Squared Box Set
- The XX – s/t
Plus a couple of extras:
Not on the list because for some reason I didn’t listen to them enough but I suspect they probably would be if I’d got around to listening to them more – Burning Star Core’s Papercuts Theatre, Philip Jeck’s An Ark for the Listener, various David S. Ware albums and Bibio’s Ambivalence Avenue.
Album I got a while ago and forgot about and found again – Bad Statistics Lucky Town Gone – Incredible, wild, freeform noise rock from NZ (and in no way a rip-off of the Dead C as that might sound).