ARCADE FIRE – Funeral (Rough Trade)
It built a following slowly, largely by word of mouth, before the journo hype machine jumped on the bandwagon. A prime target for the hipster “I never really liked them anyway” brigade, but it still sounds terrific to me. Less said about the follow up the better, though.
BLUE NILE – High (Sanctuary)
They pop up every decade, stick out an album that still uses a palette of sound that could come from their eighties heyday and promptly burrow away back into hibernation. As a fully paid up fan, I guess we wouldn’t have it any other way. High is far from perfect, but when it does hit the spot, it does so in a way that no other band can. And I could listen to Mr Buchanan singing his grocery list quite happily. Time for a follow up Paul?
FENNESZ – Venice (Touch)
My personal favourite of Christian Fennesz’s records. The ten minute section of “Transit”, with David Sylvian, and “The Point Of It All” is about as close to perfection as any music I’ve heard.
LISA GERRARD & PATRICK CASSIDY – Immortal Memory (4AD)
It sounds like a requiem suite, with nods to Arvo Pärt and Gorecki. Slow, stately and stunningly beautiful.
MURCOF – Utopia (Leaf)
On paper, a slightly ragbag collection of remixes and three new tracks. But it hangs together as well as any of Corona’s studio albums and gets played round these parts as often.
PAN AMERICAN – Quiet City (Kranky)
Another missive from Mark Nelson of quiet wonder with David Max Crawford’s trumpet and flugelhorn adding a yearning element that reminds me of Miles’s Ascenseur Pour L’Échafaud.
PAN SONIC – Kesto (Blast First)
Nearly four hours of music that ranges from the ear-splitting to the ambient (the uncharacteristically reflective hour-long drone piece “Säteily”). It covers all bases of the duo’s sound, and some new ones too.
MAX RICHTER – The Blue Notebooks (130701)
The notebooks in question were written by Franz Kafka and the recording is peppered with extracts read by actress Tilda Swinton. Pianist Richter is accompanied by a string quartet on an album whose mood is as reflective and yet slightly disturbing as Kafka’s writings.
TOM WAITS – Real Gone (Anti)
Real Gone is unusual in ol’ Tom’s canon in that it’s largely an album recorded with a standard guitar, bass, drums rock ‘n’ roll line-up. The absence of pump organs and the like doesn’t make the music any more conventional. The surrealism is intact, but there is also a harsher side, with an uncharacteristically angry side of the laconic Waits coming through.
WILCO – A Ghost is Born (Nonesuch)
Just as good as its predecessor, with pop, country and experimental wig outs rubbing shoulders perfectly happily.