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The Quietus' Reductive & Subjective Albums Of The Year List: 30 To 15
The Quietus , December 1st, 2008 04:58

Another end of year list? Well at least ours was cobbled together with the contempt it deserves . . . and we'll bet any money it will still be better than Q's. 100% Bon Iver and Razorlight free.

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Music journalism. Less pleasant and relevant than a gravel and boiling chip fat enema. Not so much like dancing about architecture as having a tearful wank during 'The Bill'. It is to writing as Harold Shipman was to geriatrics.

The only good thing about this time of year is that all the time wasting clowns are already stuck headfirst into a remorseless drinking binge that will only terminate at some point around February 4th punctuated only by the occasional, heart weakening line of 'cocaine' in the toilets of The Old Blue Last. This means that they've got less time to be driving music buying punters into paroxysms of anger with thoughtlessly tossed off copy.

In fact at this time of year all that these lick spittle, nodding dog, adjuncts to the PR industry have got time for is to bash out ill-thought out and unconvincing end of year lists, only pausing to nod mutely when the editor demands that Oasis and Razorlight appear in the top 20 before diving headfirst back into a vat of Stella Artois. And anyone would sooner have a list to ignore rather than a feature, eh?

Well, here's another one. We decided to give it all the thought it deserves, paid no mind to making it representative or inclusive and polled only three people (John Doran, Features Ed, Luke Turner, Reviews Ed, Al Denny, News Ed). And still, somehow, we can't help but feel we've come up with something that's ok and representative of the year. Or our year at least.

It's almost like when these lists aren't used as a sop to record labels, PR companies, colleagues, mates in bands, the marketing and ad department and the editor . . . they can be quite good. Almost but not quite.

We'll publish the first half of our reissues and compilations list tomorrow and the top half of both lists next week and we'll be doing some genre round ups (again chosen for purely spurious reasons) including hip hop, avant garde, art metal, African pop etc during December.

30. Beach House - Devotion

Coming on like an empty rowing boat loosed form its lakeside moorings, soporific shoegazers Beach House have upped the ante considerably with Devotion, the follow-up to 2006’s acclaimed self-titled debut on Bella Union. By rights the Maryland duo’s slow-waltzing melancholy should be as cloying as fusty old photo albums but somehow always winds up unassailably poignant. The impressionistic use of sound to evoke gauzy colour tones remains, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find Alex Scully and Victoria Legrand blossoming as songwriters with tracks as radiant and melodic as ‘Heart Of Chambers’ and ‘D.A.R.L.I.N.G’. Al Denney

29: Neon Neon - Stainless Style

This was the first review I did for The Quietus and, even though I'm not inclined to superstition, it gave me a real positive feeling, having something that was such obvious quality even on first listen to put up in my first week. For no apparent reason the original review seems to have evaporated right off the internet but this snippet remains: "Inventive and enjoyable, this is certain to be regarded as one of the best pop albums of the year." Sure enough. Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip revisit periods of 1980s musical hyper acceleration, when the progress in electro, pop and house has caused a blistering of the continuation; casually filling in gaps as they see them. This album is burning and smoking like the Delorean tyre tracks from Back To The Future no less. John Doran

28: Times New Viking - Rip It Off

"No one needs to produce their record without a bass guitar and all the frequencies compressed into one hissy mid-range clang. But then, no one this year has made a record this plain fucking enjoyable, sixteen tousled, gap-toothed rascals that rap on the door, leave muddy footprints through your living room, and leave you beaming ear to ear. "Faces on fire and your hair is a mess/Let's do something that hasn't been done yet, sings vocalist/keyboardist Beth Murphy on 'Faces On Fire'. It's not the first time, but it's every bit as fun." Louis Pattison

Read the full Quietus review of Times New Viking's Rip It Off

27: No Age - Nouns

"The... smudge of thrashed snares, joyful harmonies, and whooshing, fuzzed-out guitars has a curiously My Bloody Valentine feel to it, actually - although not that sinking feeling Alan McGee surely got used to when the studio bill arrived. Nouns is a perfect example of lo-fidelity recording techniques not revived out of empty pockets, or even some dubious fetishisation of four-track recording, but that it sounds really neat. And that, of course, is all that really matters." Louis Pattison

Read the full Quietus review of No Age's Nouns

26: Grace Jones - Hurricane

"Where Madonna once again fails to rise to the challenge and contribute anything to culture's understanding of aging womanhood beyond the second wedding hen party in Basingstoke, Jones is still predatory, powerful, intimidating and beautiful, a drinking, smoking, flirtatious and fucking woman in the prime of her life. But more than that, Hurricane shows that in her sixty-first year, Jones is as a timeless, immortal, meta-Grace, an Orlando for mean modern life, for chrome dancefloors, and polysexual boudoirs alike." Luke Turner

Read the full Quietus review of Grace Jones - Hurricane

25: Squarepusher - Just A Souvenir

"Someone snarked him for looking like a "contestant" from Robot Wars but this is exactly the Squarepusher we love; the one hyped up on the pancreas battering 'energy' drink Relentless, unconcerned with what he looks like, just hell bent on causing technological mayhem. This is 'Red Hot Car' redux but this time funk is in his sights rather than synth pop." John Doran

Read the full Quietus review of Squarepusher's Just A Souvenir

24: Burial Hex - Initiations

Do you know that bit when you're having a bad trip on far too many magic mushrooms or a lot of snide LSD where it all just evaporates and stops? And you're left there panting and slightly frazzled but in no actual physical danger at all thinking 'Oh my God, I was expecting that to go on for a lot longer.' And you haven't gone to hell; and you're not completely insane; and you aren't in some kind of experiment being carried out by all your 'friends' and scientists hidden behind all the one way mirrors. And you laugh out loud with relief. But it only lasts for a few seconds and then you pulse slowly back into the crawling horror and realise that you've still got hours/days to go? Well, this album's a bit like that. John Doran

23: Aidan John Moffat - I Can Hear Your Heart

I Can Hear Your Heart was Aidan Moffat's first vocal-led outing since the end of Arab Strap. The album came accompanied by a hard-back book and short story that shaped a tale of infidelity and bitter, lost love contained within the music, built using samples, lugubrious organ, and a couple of offensive answer phone messages. Ending with a spoken word story about a desperate night of party crashing in pyjamas, I Can Hear Your Heart made for one of the most lyrically eloquent records of the year. With that in mind, what else could the Quietus do save ask Mr Moffat to become our resident sex columnist? Luke Turner

22: Lindstrom - Where You Go I Go Too

"This shiny diamond of a debut will drag you somewhere blissfully beautiful for an hour of your life outside of this cold unforgiving world. Sometimes it’s cheesy, sometimes it’s almost easy listening and a lot of the time it’s retro in parallel- a history of disco and dance that never really happened in the first place. Buy this and gurn with your heart." Jonny Mugwump

Read the full Quietus review of Lindstrom's Where You Go

21: Wire - Object 47

"Where Wire once used guitars for clipped, intelligent minimalism that made a mockery of the more idiotic tendencies of the punks, Object 47 sees them flex their potential with a confidence not seen from the band in over a quarter of a century. “Are you an also ran, finished and inconsequential?” sings Newman on ‘One Of Us’. On the evidence of Object 47, this is not a question he needs to ask of himself." Luke Turner

Read the full Quietus review of Wire's Object 47

20: Amadou and Miriam - Welcome To Mali

This astounding couple are often referred to as playing a Malian take on rock and roll but this leaves a lot up in the air. They are not kora players like their classically trained countryman Toumani Diabate, or even proponents of the river blues of Ali Farka Toure. Instead they play a glistening international form of pop music that has, as one of its many ingredients, a modern take on Malian blues as well as electro, rock, funk, afrobeat, hi-life and synth pop. A truly original and international sound.

19: Rolo Tomassi - Hysterics

"Alongside their new, glossier setpieces, there remain the structural inventiveness, the perfect asymmetry, and the rampage that mark their most confident work. 'Abraxas' and 'Fofteen' in particular share the band's characteristic turmoil: riffs like lava, like storms of fire. But the album's sombre, 14-minute closing track, 'Fantastia', with its stunning, slow-build outro, is a persuasive argument for Rolo Tomassi's new, more tempered strengths." - Petra Davis

Read the full Quietus review of Rolo Tomassi's Hysterics

18: Simon Bookish - Everything/Everything

"In this Britain where combining intelligence and panache is mistakenly derided as pretentiousness, the 'eccentrics' of pop are either historical artifacts or, if allowed to exist at all in a contemporary setting, merely a useful hook for Sunday supplements to build spurious 'scenes' around. That artists like Bookish are ignored in favour of a bleak vista of landfill indie is surely a crying shame. But as Bookish sings on the warm final track 'Colophon' (a term used in publishing to denote the typesetting information found at the back of a book'), "it's not too late to rewrite history / It's not too late to save ourselves"." Luke Turner

Read the full Quietus review of Simon Bookish - Everything / Everything

17: Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping

"The 40-something “black she-male” (male – female – male) who used to be in a bad ass funk band called Arousal but now stands in the beautiful psychic wreckage of this album laughing at your attempts to make sense of it. Is Georgie Fruit like Tiresias - a man who becomes a woman for some time and thus able to say which gender enjoyed sex more? He is, after all, similar in some ways to one of the fractured voices of TS Eliot’s Wasteland, a prescient study of the collapse of the self in the modern age. I have no idea really. I just know that I love this album." John Doran

Read the full Quietus review of Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping

16: Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

Californian DJ and producer Steven Ellison’s second long player and debut full length for Warp is an endlessly rewarding trick bag of smudgy atmospherics and superbly detailed beats. With nary a hook to hang your hat on throughout, FlyLo succeeds by creating a flow as diverse as it is liquid, like witnessing at close quarters the workings of a dream-like apparatus of unknowable intent. Pulsing with the playful energy of Jay Dilla or Endtroducing…-era DJ Shadow without breaking sweat, Los Angeles is cooler than a slap off an Eskimo and almost as unexpected. Al Denney

15: These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid

Although half the tracks on These New Puritans' debut had emerged in one form or another before the album came out, this was nevertheless one of the most confident debuts of the year, arguably topped only by the 'Puritans Domino labelmates Wild Beasts. Their Fall-inspired moniker was a clue to their sound - stern beats, fractious guitars and Jack Barnett's hectoring on subjects diverse as Elizabethan magicians and, er, the rain. An fine start to what promises to be one of Britain's most interesting bands of the forthcoming decade. Luke Turner

The List

30: Beach House - Devotion

29: Neon Neon - Stainless Style

28: Times New Viking - Rip It Off

27: No Age - Nouns

26: Grace Jones - Hurricane

25: Squarepusher - Just A Souvenir

24: Burial Hex - Initiations

23: Aidan John Moffat - I Can Hear Your Heart

22: Lindstrom - Where You Go I Go Too

21: Wire - Object 47

20: Amadou and Miriam - Welcome To Mali

19: Rolo Tomassi - Hysterics

18: Simon Bookish - Everything/Everything

17: Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping

16: Flying Lotus - Los Angeles

15: These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid

Think you can do better? It's a rhetorical question - of course you can. We will print the best top tens we get. Send them to info@thequietus.com with any notes you want to include.

Read the rest of The Quietus' reductive, subjective and spurious albums of the year list next Monday, December 8th. Who will be Number One? A world awaits, trembling

jonny mugwump
Dec 1, 2008 10:27am

what the fuck is so and so doing at number fucking something when it should well have been the other- you people must be stone fucking deaf etc etc (just getting in the end of year mood y'know) :)

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Kev Caracas
Dec 4, 2008 7:15pm

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=qWivxuDZ8q8

Improv Jazz #1

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