Sadly, at the moment I haven't got any imminent gigs to look forward to in Glasgow. I suppose I might drag myself along the M8 to that wee festival thing they do in Edinburgh if I get the chance, but the next concert that I've got tickets for is Damon Albarn's Africa Express on at The Arches in September, then Animal Collective in November. I've decided to pass on "Jesus Christ Superstar" featuring Chris Moyles at the SECC. So I've been looking back through some music that I've bought this year to pick out some of my favourite things. This is probably going to be a bit random and basically whatever has not yet been put onto the shelf as I've kept it playing since bought.
Tattie Toes - Turnip Famine (Pickled Egg Records)
I'll start by cheating and picking an album which was released in 2011, but I didn't come across them until I saw them supporting RM Hubbert in Stereo at the launch of his own very fine album, Thirteen Lost & Found. Tattie Toes are a four piece Glasgow based band lead by Basque singer Nerea Bello, with a Welsh violinist, a part-time puppeteer as drummer and a Yorkshire-man playing bass, at times with anything he can lay his hands on. They are fantastically boisterous, clever and energetic live and that comes over in the album too.
Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas (Columbia)
Okay, bang up to date now with a 77 year old Canadian. This album only exists because Leonard Cohen's former assistant stole enough money from his account to force him back on the road and the grumbling, stripped back tunes are poetic, humourous stories that reward repeated listening to. My favourite "late night with a glass of malt whisky in my hand" album at the moment.
Django Django - Django Django (Because Music)
Django Django are building a reputation for excellent live performances and when I enjoyed them when I saw them at Stag and Dagger earlier this year. They are a four piece who met at Edinburgh Art School and the echoes of The Beta Band are all over this album, not surprising really as the drummer is the wee brother of The Beta Band's John MacLean. However where the Beta Band produced meandering psychadelic pieces, The Djangos have it stripped down to 3 minutes of dancey, rhythmic pop. They're touring again in October and well worth seeing.
Grimes, Visions (4AD)
The second person on this list from the musical hotbed that is Montreal. Claire Boucher is a solo performer under the monicker Grimes who twiddles knobs, plays synths and sings woozily to make cheery, dancey pop. Love the album and have played it endlessly despite finding her a little trying when seen live earlier this year.
Sun Ra, The Complete Disco 3000 Concert (Art Yard)
Read full review of Disco 3000 (2012 Edition) - SUN RA on Boomkat.com ©
It's a new issue of the concert from which the 1978 Disco 300 album came, played in Milan with 4 other musicians, not his full Arkestra. It is jazz/ electronica/improvisation/ disco, etc. Sun Ra either died in 1993 or returned to Saturn, as he would have it, but this is seminal, orignal, unique and a fantastic and bonkers piece of music.
Lata, Starlings (Exotic Pylon Records) - excerpt
This isn't actually out in a physical format until the end of the month but I downloaded it a while ago. Lata is Jacob Burns, one of those people making electronic music in their bedrooms. This is a 44 minute track which is described as "channelling the sentimentality of old Bollywood singers into the resonances of South London by train". I get the rhythmic, echoey thrum of a train that comes and goes through it, though I missed the Bollywood. Builds to a nice bit of drone in the middle before fading away. I find it soothing, everyone else at home moans when it's on. Pah!
Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball (Columbia Records)
The Boss returns to form with one of his best albums in a while, in no small part due to seemingly being in a happy place stomping around the world with the E-Street Band behind him again. Whether bemoaning bankers' actions, the immigrants' struggles or ironically noting how the common man is dealt with on "We Take Care Of Our Own" it is an album of pleasing, tub-thumping, anthemic yells and growls. Great to see him live in Sunderland earlier this year, hamming it up like a good-un.
Two Wings - Love Springs (Tin Angel)
The vocals here of Finnish multi-instrumentalist, Hanna Tuulikki, can be an acquired taste, but I saw her singing a track on RM Hubbert's 13 Lost & Found and went seeking out her other stuff afterwards. She wrote this album with Ben Reynolds of Trembling Bells and Alasdair Roberts collaborator, and they have now formed this five-piece Glasgow-based band. The range of Hanna's voice is matched by the range of musical influences - soulful, folksy, gospel, psychadelic, jazzy. An album that benefits from repeated listenings, would like to see them live.
Hildur Gudnadottir - Leyou Ljosinu (Allow the Light), (Touch Records)
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Iceland produces its own wee musical bubble. I was blown away the first time I that saw someone playing alone with a laptop looping his sounds. Icelandic musician Mugison was that chap. Last week I was a bit bored with tUnE-yArDs efforts at it. It can help a solo musician make rounded music, but I think when there is a whole band behind you it becomes a shackle at times. Remember Remember I saw in Stereo many moons ago as a one man and a laptop act and he has moved forward with that and become a band with my favourite album of last year...Hildur plays this 40 minute piece live with some looping with only her voice and cello, It slowly,flows and builds then fades just when you want it to keep rising and is a lovely way to pass the time. Less is more sometimes.
Well that's my random musings on some stuff I've bought this year. Please let me know if you think I've missed anything.