Sunday, December 07, 2008

Cover me through the fire

While I toiled at Oxfam yesterday, a middle-aged hipster languidly entered the store and donated boxes of cool stuff. There were more foreign language art films than one could shake un b√Ęton pointu at, some charming and esoteric books and, hurrah, numerous CDs. Many I owned already (Portishead, Blur, Elbow etc.) but I snaffled up and bought a brace of belters from this year that had, thus far, somehow avoided my radar. The Last Shadow Puppets’ The Age Of The Understatement is a stylish blighter, all cinematic poise and orchestral elegance. The media have picked up on Scott Walker comparisons and I, not being a big Walker expert, can’t really comment but the songwriting is epic and beguiling and the arrangements are charismatic and enticing. I like this long player already but sense it will grow on me e’en more. My favourite of the pair on just two playings today is Damon Albarn’s ‘pop opera’, Monkey: Journey to the West, a bewitching marriage of elecronica and Chinese folk music and much more besides. This is not conventional stuff and remains a verse-chorus-verse-free-zone. It’s really beautiful though. I salute the anonymous middle-aged hepcat; he made my weekend.

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