I’m just back from a trip to Brisbane and New Zealand where I stayed with, played with, ate with, travelled with some of the most incredible people I’ve met in a long time, so I’m uncommonly full of bonhomie right now, even despite a last-minute panic and subsequent hospitalization. You can tell I’ve had a good time when six hours at the NHS coalface can’t dampen my enthusiasm. And yet…2007 still feels like a strangely brutal year, one that laid its cards out on the table and wouldn’t let me off the hook at all. Maybe it’s all about turning 30 and that encroaching-to-all-encompassing sense of ‘life slipping between one’s hands’… But enough melodrama: here’s just a small portion of the music that survived me, and helped me survive.
For the sheer, giddy affect of the record, colorful, dramatic and joyous where a lot of music just grumbled at either end of the spectrum (beige or coal-black). “Let Me Know” was this year’s greatest single, full of loss and jouissance. In a year where relationships just got stranger (Lou Reed’s sole great words of advice: “things don’t get better, things go from bad to weird”), Murphy’s unstinting address of affairs of the heart made for simple succour.
What I wrote for Plan B magazine: “the autumnal logic of O’Hagan’s songs reminded me what music – and, by extension, life – should be: smart, stylish, genuine, and possessing a benevolent, generous, selfless core.” I listened to this record and its predecessor, Beet Maize & Corn, more than most any other album this year.
Now is just the right time for Pram to return, really, with hauntology the theoretical trope du jour. They haven’t sat so comfortably since post-rock’s first, superior British flourish in the early-to-mid 1990s.
Old Rottenhat on fine form – though is it churlish of me to want to hear a Robert Wyatt album that’s just Robert, like Old Rottenhat itself? Nevermind. I’ll take collective Wyatt over no Wyatt, any day.
Noah Lennox’s solo songs are like sucking helium out of balloons and singing along to Song Cycle on 45.
The return of one of our generation’s greats. I only just got hold of Orb, while catching up with Alastair and family at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, and though the bulk of the material is four years old, it’s profound as ever – alternating between bittersweet and blissed-out, rough shards and memory glimpses dropping from a 4-track canvas.
Old records that felt new:
Television bootlegs & the third Television album
Record I missed in 2006 that I wish I hadn’t:
Holy shit! If I’d known, I wouldn’t have paid Scott Walker’s The Drift quite so much attention. Because this is the return-to-form to top all return-to-forms – Rickie on an absolute tear, shouting down politics and religion with customary fervour. Improvised, vibrant, alive – everything you’d expect.
Gigs of the year:
Autistic Daughters at the Exeter Hotel Dining Room
By Jon Dale