Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'll stand beside myself so I'm not alone

The Uprock Narratives and Unknown Pleasures Album of the Year has been selected by a panel of one. Sadly, the announcement comes too late to save either Woolworths or Zavvi which, my sources tell me, were both banking on the stimulus to CD sales that this award would foster. Fulsome apologies to both organisations.

I’ve been listening to several candidates over the past few days and, out of loyalty to an old hero, gave Paul Weller’s 22 Dreams a final spin earlier this morning. It’s a fabulous long player but the flamboyantly coiffured, ahem, Modfather must wait his turn. I hate to disagree with Andrew Collins because normally I align myself with his ever-interesting views on popular culture but the assertion, on his weblog, that 2008 was a ‘terrible year for albums’ is tangibly wrong. For the first time ever, I’m going to provide a Top Ten because there was so much I enjoyed this year from preppy/perceptive pop (Vampire Weekend) to sultry and emotive balladeering (Joan As Police Woman), noodly electo-wit (TV on the Radio), breathy acoustic breathiness (Bon Iver) and heartrendingly life-affirming songsmiffery (Robert Forster).

Anyhow, with a tug o’ the forelock and a knowing nod o’ appreciation, I salute the young prince o’ pop, Beck. His L.P. bearing the title Modern Guilt is 2008’s Album of the Year in my Gloucester-based citadel. I only wrote about this album a few weeks ago so I won’t repeat myself too much. It is, however, telling that last year’s favourite, Sound of Silver by LCD Soundsystem, is cut from a similar cloth. I must like this sort of thing. Pleasing electronic riddims and sumptuous beats that defy the most reluctant toes to tap support lovely melodies and obtuse yet fascinating lyrical content. Ultimately there are ten lovely songs here that proffer the listener a challenging yet joyful aural thrill and that’s why young Beck is strutting off with the plaudits today. A final note for fans of rugby football: the haunting song, Volcano, the album’s closing number, is emphatically not about the large and vaguely disappointing Gloucester wing-threequarter, Lesley Vainikolo.

Here, pop-pickers, is the Top Ten in full:

1. Modern Guilt by Beck

2. Vampire Weekend by Vampire Weekend

3. To Survive by Joan As Police Woman

4. For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver

5. Carried To Dust by Calexico

6. Partie Traumatic by Black Kids

7. 22 Dreams by Paul Weller

8. The Evangelist by Robert Forster

9. Dear Science by TV on the Radio

10. Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes

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