I'm very late to my music round-up for January. The main reason being I've been very busy at work. The other reason is I've decided to make the round-ups shorter or, in other words, quicker to produce. I found I was spending a good part of a day listening to all the albums I was going to review before putting pen to paper. So to save time and make things less of a chore, I'm changing the format slightly. Each month I'll be listing the albums I've been enjoying (and not enjoying) and link to the album reviews (if I did one). So from now on I'm going to start posting single album reviews whenever I've made a judgement about them.
So, as the format has now changed I haven't actually written any full reviews yet, but I do intend to post a few from last month over the next few days. In the meantime here's what I've been listening to in January 2009:
Guy J - Esperanza (+ Remixes)
Released in September 2009, this is the first of six albums I decided to buy in reaction to various end-of-year 'best of' lists. Esperanza is the debut release from Israeli DJ and producer Guy Judah and it throbs, very pleasingly. A double album comprising twelve shorter tracks (that make up the core of the album) and eight longer tracks (the longer tracks forming a type of 'bonus' CD with some remixes off the main set alongside some new tunes). Well worth investigating if you're unfamiliar.
Disc 1 - 9/10 | 11 listens
Disc 2 - 7/10 | 6 listens
Lykke Li - Youth Novels
Another one from the 'best of' lists. Lykke Li is Lykke Zachrisson, a Swedish singer with a penchant for breathy whispered vocals and sugary melodies. I like it.
6/10 | 6 listens
Loco Dice - 7 Dunham Place
Another from the best-of lists. A decent album of laidback grooves, quite striking in their lack of surprise or punch (except perhaps the Pimp Jackson track which stands out for all the wrong reasons). Most tracks are quite formulaic in the use of a repetitive sample or beat, like the Nina Simone vocal on Breakfast at Nina's or the manipulated piano sound on Black Truffles In The Snow, which is just the way I like it. It's all tastefully done too. Ideal home listening.
7/10 | 9 listens
The Mole - As High As The Sky
From the 'best of' lists. It took a few listens to fully appreciate this album, always a good sign. As a whole it's got this just-contained urgency, threatening to explode at any moment, which might make it sound a bit flirty or a tease but it works. Fuller review to come.
8/10 | 11 listens
The Orb - Resident Advisor podcast
This The Orb podcast has to be one of the best chill-out podcasts from RA since Murmur's. A heady, beatless mix with flashes of recognisable melody interspersed with textural elements. Perfect late night music.
10/10 | 5 listens
Luomo - Convivial
Another one from the best-of lists. Luomo was a new artist to me, so I actually picked up his first album, Vocalcity as well as Convivial. It turns out the two albums are strikingly different in terms of style. Convivial is completely song-based while the debut is fully instrumental.
7/10 | 7 listens
Shed - Shedding the Past
From a best-of list somewhere. Only in the context of the album title do we appreciate the name Shed, which I thought was a misleading name at first. And to be honest the music proves to be no easier to understand. It's complex, off-kilter beats prevalent throughout coupled with minimal melody make it a challenging listen.
6/10 | 5 listens
Circlesquare - Flavour mix (2+3)
There seems to be two version of this mix kicking around; they're very similar overall in terms of tracks but are different lengths. Either way, these mixes are great. A recurring This Mortal Coil track ties together some top tunes, including one of my all-time favourites Let Me Be Me by The Other People's Place. Circlesquare's own Dancers fits in nicely.
9/10 | 20 listens
Jim Byrne - On These Dark Nights
Debut solo album from Glaswegian singer / songwriter Jim Byrne is a ray of sunshine to warm your cockles on these dark nights. Reminiscent in places of Kurt Wagner (Lambchop), Elliott Smith and Will Oldham. Fuller review to come.
9/10 | 13 listens