2008 has been a great year for music thus far, with a nice mix of new releases from old favourites and emerging artists. Here is a by-no-means comprehensive list of Colour favourites.
Beach House – Devotion
Utterly sublime sophomore record from Portland two-piece, Beach House. At once mournful and bright, this album sounds so unique even with such an economy of means. Victoria Legrand’s croon haunts in the true sense of the word, you can’t get it out of your mind. James
Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
Much has been made of the background story to Justin Vernon’s debut – man severs ties with his girlfriend and band and spends four months living in a log cabin in Wisconsin. However, the emotion behind the haunting, ethereal folk of For Emma, Forever Ago seems to run much deeper. An essential headphones listen to fully appreciate its creepy background atmospherics. Matt
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Lay Down in the Light
Gone are the sweeping strings of 2006s The Letting Go, on a record of pretty straightforward country that sees the ever-consistent Will Oldham sounding positively cheerful as he (mostly) extols the joys of love, friendship and family. M
The Chap – Mega Breakfast
‘Fun and Interesting’ is the title of the standout track on The Chap’s second album and it pretty much does what it says on the tin. Flirtations in electronic experimental indie, three times as witty as the last Hot Chip album thought it was, and a much better listen. J
Destroyer – Trouble in Dreams
Dan Bejar’s ticks and quirks are all firmly in place for this, another fantastic set of anthemic and complex indie arrangements. Excellent. J
Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes / Sun Giant EP
Rustic spiritualism for those sun-blissed summer evenings, laden with stunning harmonies and some great ‘70s inspired folk. They far surpass the ‘early My Morning Jacket’ comparisons leveled at them. M
Read Katie’s Fleet Foxes post here.
Lykke Li – Youth Novels
Aside from surely being a staple in the stable of slightly weird indie crushes, Lykke Li’s album is old news in her native Sweden, (thankfully finally being released here this year) and is a fantastic and inventive record of fully realised pop. J
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks – Real Emotional Trash
His finest solo effort to date, Real Emotional Trash is a set of elasticised jams that frequently slacken before being pulled back together by the tight rhythm section of drummer Janet Weiss and bassist Joanna Bolme. ‘Gardenia’ provides the mandatory three minute pop wonder. M
Neon Neon – Stainless Style
This collaboration between the Super Furry’s Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip based on the life of mad inventor John Delorean, is a shamelessly revisionist paean to Eighties excess. It’s also the most fun record of 2008 so far. M
No Age – Nouns
This record kicks arse so hard, it commits buggery. The No Age twosome refine the blueprint set out on last years Weirdo Rippers collection, of psychedelic distorted soundscapes breaking into smashing, rousing punk. (This also features the finest album artwork I’ve seen for a while.) J
Silver Jews – Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
David Berman is still a master of catchy, countrified indie and his turn of phrase is as sharp as ever on the Jews’ seventh release. After weathering depression and addiction, he revisits his weaknesses with gravity and wit. M
Read Matt’s Silver Jews post here.
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Pershing
This band make music that’s like crack for seasoned indie pop fans, filled as it is with ultra-catchy melodies, harmonies and cowbells. Who needs Weezer? M
Son Lux – At War with Walls and Mazes
An Anticon release that pushes my buttons in every department. New York native Ryan Lott’s album is all fine piano driven verses helmed by sparkling beats and production ideas, with handsome, complimentary arrangements. J
Subtle – Exiting Arm
The Oakland six-piece fuse the organic with the technological to create something truly otherworldly, foreboding and nightmarish – in a strangely melodic way. M
Read Matt’s Subtle post here.
Why? – Alopecia
A darker take on the upbeat indie hip-hop of 2005’s Elephant Eyelash, Alopecia features lyrics exploring the embarrassment of youth and the betrayal of relationships, often matched by gloomy, foreboding keyboards and harsh percussion. M
Read Matt’s Why? post here.
Peter Broderick – Docile Thirty minutes of exquisite solo piano pieces from this young serial collaborator. After listening to this very lovely album, be sure to check the fuller, orchestral record ‘Float’ and the recent Library Tapes EP on which Broderick features. Super. J
The National – The Virginia EP Odds-and-ends compilation from one of the most consistently amazing rock bands around right now. M
Growing – Lateral A sea of gorgeously arranged guitar distortion loops that should in no way sound as good as this actually does. J
Hayden – In Field & Town Weary wilderness folk from the Canadian singer-songwriter. M
High Places – 03/07-09/07 The kind of plodding ghostly noisescapes favoured by bands like Black Dice or Gang Gang Dance are given shape and warmth by vocalist Mary Pearson’s pretty The Blow-esque melodies. J
Malcolm Middleton – Sleight of Heart Great mini-album follow-up to A Brigher Beat from the ex-Arab Strap miserablist. M
Ponytail – Ice Cream Spiritual Amazingly good, lengthy ADD noise rock workouts from Brooklyn five piece. J
She & Him – Volume One Slick country-pop ballads from M. Ward and Zooey Dechanel. M
Sun Kil Moon – April Spooky, atmospheric but occasionally dull Americana from Mark Kozelek. M
Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer It’s Wolf Parade. It’s flipping awesome. J
There is still loads of great stuff to come this year, most of which we probably haven’t even heard of yet (Check out Pitchfork’s guide to what’s to come this Summer for starters). There are also a good few records from January to June that we’ve been meaning to check out but haven’t got round to yet.
Part 2: The Muxtape