And that’s why it’s time for our fourth annual Spraylist – the one moment of the year where our violently oppressive taskmasters let us write about stuff we like instead of stuff we exclusively hate. Be warned, there may be traces of sincerity in the following few posts. Urgh.
Anyway, today we’re kicking off with a look at the hecklerspray writers’ favourite albums of the year. Feel free to chip in with your own suggestions underneath, because if people care what we think, there’s no logical reason why they shouldn’t care about you…
There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how hard I battled to love Return To Cookie Mountain by TV On The Radio two years ago, but in the end the best I could muster was a grudging admiration for its density and stupid complexity. It hasn’t been played for 18 months. So, scared of looking like a clueless oaf a second time around, I avoided Dear Science with my life for a couple of months after it was released this year. And then I relented.
Turns out I needn’t have worried. Dear Science is the album where TV On The Radio kick a hole in the ceiling to let the light in – as a result it’s pretty, soulful, haunting – catchy, even. The songs are just as slippery and unpredictable as ever but, imbued with a new sense of melody, they make TV On The Radio seem like world-beaters.
The best album of 2008 is from the mighty band Eels. Its their Useless Trinkets collection, which contains no less than 50 rarities, b-sides, remixes and live recording of their most popular stuff. It’s the never before heard studio tracks that hooked me in good here.
Take a listen to Stepmother, Bad News & Open the Door to see if your socks don’t get knocked clean off. This would be convenient as you could then use them more easily to wipe your tears.
The album is more than enough to tide us over until their follow up to Blinking Lights. In related news – apparently E and the boys tried to buy exactly one second of advertising time during the 2008 Super Bowl to plug this fine piece of music. Now that sounds right affordable.
C J Davies
Honourable mentions go to Elbow?s Seldom Seen Kid (nice to see them become huge after years of quality work), Ladytron?s Velocifero, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan?s Sunday At Devil Dirt, Shugo Tokumaru?s Exit and Lykke Li?s Youth Novels. But the shiny gold medal has to go to Marnie Stern?s This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That ? an exploding star of a record that genuinely sounds unlike anything else released this year.
I don’t buy modern music anymore. That’s not to say I steal it, I just prefer to seek out weird shit that makes people change seats when I tell them about it. This is not cool weird shit either, not like obscure indie bands that are going to break in two years time. No, I’m talking old German funk or obscure Italian movie scores or – my best purchase of this year – a bootleg copy of The Professional Golgo 13 soundtrack.
This was a hell of a find being as it had been transferred from the original, barely-released vinyl. It sounds like themes from eighties TV gameshows reworked as melodic action cues with a bit of Japanese soft rock thrown in. The most glorious fiver I have ever spent.
Late Of The Pier?s Fantasy Black Channel was another spazzy style album that has all sorts of guitar actions alongside some bubbly synths. Amazingly not tagged as nu-rave muck, probably because that scene has thankfully died. A lot of the stuff I've been listening to has all come for free. Not because record companies throw CDs at me, but some artists just give it away for free.
I can only assume that artists like Death By Panda and Pretty Lights release stuff for free because they aren't like every other indie band doing the same record so they can shag models and snort cocaine off each other?s arse cracks. Both these artists have a different style and there well worth checking out as it'll cost you nowt!
After taking nearly a year to come out, the soundtrack to Sunshine by Underworld & John Murphy landed on iTunes. For once it was a score by two decent artists and a film that put some thought into creating some sort of decent background music instead of turning to ABBA.
It's rare for me to be positive about something. It's even rarer when I'm positive about something that's both genuinely really good and actually popular. Oh, plus it's rare that we're allowed to say ?I? on hecklerspray. Anyway ? channelling the glory of Bruce Springsteen?s spirit, mixing it with the guttural testicles of Tom Waits, adding a hint of poppy sensibilities and then being a damn good-looking bunch has propelled The Gaslight Anthem from being ?a bit popular? to ?a bit more popular than they were a year ago?. The ?59 Sound is their sophomore effort, as magazines like to say, and it's really ruddy good. Good enough so people obsessed with integrity and bands paying their dues like it, and good enough so your mum will like it too. Not like Scouting For Girls or any of that shit, basically. Do a listen, realise you like, realise I AM ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT THINGS.
Flight Of The Conchords, Flight Of The Conchords – An odd choice, but anyone who has watched the fantastic television series will realise that this hilarious mix of genre riffs manage to be great easy listening. I would have liked to put any number of bands in this space but it has been a disappointing year of music with no album completely satisfying apart from this. It accomplishes everything it tries to do and has more originality and creativity than most people can only cry about in jealousy. With a second series on the horizon let's hope that the Conchords manage to go from strength to strength and retain their title as the world's fourth most popular New Zealand guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo.
On Monday: The best movies of the year, according to us.