Thursday 31 December 2020

albums of the year (more ramblings... part 4)

(more) albums of the year... part 4: in case you missed it, I'm sharing my favourite records of 2020 (main post here) this week. Seven albums a day across the week, in release order. Enjoy!

Siv Jakobsen A Temporary Soothing (buy/stream)

I had a copy of this in my inbox sent by my favourite PR in late 2019, but, as often happens, didn't immediately check it out. So little time, so many emails, etc. The release was delayed a few months due to ~everything~ and Siv had tours cancelled. Once I finally took a listen I was overwhelmed by how stunning it was, experiencing a wave of... woah, why didn't I listen to this sooner?! Living in Norway, Siv's content is often dreamily set against snowy backdrops, it can't really get any better. Favourite tracks here include Island, Anywhere Else and Fear The Fear. More of my thoughts on the record here.

The Magic Gang Death Of The Party (buy/stream)

The band's debut (and self-titled) album dropped in 2018, around the time that I saw them playing live on the last night of The Great Escape. The Brighton four-piece are masters of catchy sunshine-fuelled indie tunes, and this new record is no different - Think, Take Back The Track, Just A Minute, What Have You Got To Lose - so many tunes. The only sad thing is that they haven't been able to play the tracks live yet! 

Declan McKenna Zeros (buy/stream)

Like a few more on the list, I hadn't listened to Declan's debut record but immediately fell in love with The Key to Life on Earth. That's easily one of the best tracks of the year and the album deserves to be on the list for that track alone. It's a superb record, arriving in between The Magic Gang and Everything Everything... what a brill couple of weeks for indie music?! Other favourite tunes here include Rapture, Beautiful Faces and Emily

Everything Everything Re-Animator (store / Spotify)

One of my favourite moments of 2020 was in the run-up to the release of this record, when frontman Jonathan Higgs called in to BBC Radio 1 with Annie Mac to premiere a new track. He'd lost track of time and was at a supermarket when his phone started to ring. Cue running through the shop (with a bag of shopping from a different store) and answering the call, and then some muffled talking... before he returned to explain to Annie that a security guard had chased him out of the shop, assuming that he'd been shoplifting. Absolute favourite live radio moment of the year. Now, to the record: I LOVE this band and this is one of my favourite records of theirs. The last two are all-time faves, but they manage to up their game on each record. Nobody does lyrics like EE. So! Good! They bring me so much joy and I only wish that I'd been able to see tracks from the record performed live this year. (But on that note - they have been pretty creative, embracing technology, and even played a live show in VR...) Fave tracks here Planets, Arch Enemy, Black Hyena and Violent Sun

Cosmo Sheldrake Wake Up Calls (Bandcamp)

This record is like nothing else on the list, or that you'll have listened to this year. I adore Cosmo's work and this is so so special. As with a couple of the other records on the list, I received this to review, completely out of the blue, a week or two before release. Apart from Cuckoo Song, the record is entirely without vocals, instead putting the songs of endangered British Birds at the forefront, blending them into a glorious chorus. It's a soothing listen from one of my favourite creators - a musical genius. Calming though it is, the record throws up important issues and puts these beautiful birds into the spotlight. It's hard to choose favourites, but I love this performance of Cuckoo Song live in the woods - playing birdsong back into nature. Magical!

Bear's Den & Paul Frith Fragments (store / Spotify)

It's no secret that Bear's Den are a big favourite of mine, and I've been loving this since it was released a few months ago. A few years back, the band played a series of live shows where the genius Paul Frith reimagined BD tracks with a live orchestra (which I'm not at all bitter or distraught about missing out on....) Fragments is a collection of these orchestrated versions, with a selection of tracks from their three studio albums, and some brand new orchestral interludes. Generally a really lovely listen, but a particular dream of an album for a Bear's Den fan! Napoleon, Isaac and When You Break are live favourites of mine, and these versions are ace.

Fenne Lily Breach (Bandcamp)

Fenne's debut record On Hold (2018) was (and is) a brilliant record and this is a superb follow-up. As with Brooke Bentham earlier in the week, this one is certainly for fans of the likes of Marika Hackman, Phoebe Bridgers, Billie Marten, and artists in that vein. I've written a bit this year about trying to actively seek out more music by women, on noticing my listening habits were orientated towards male artists. For anybody who still holds the opinion that men get more festival slots (etc) simply because they're making better music - you need to listen to these incredibly talented artists. Fenne's record is stunning. Line of Best Fit put it better than I could, commenting that the record is "a raw, cathartic, but incredibly gentle record." It fits so well. Favourite tunes here are AlapathyBirthday and Solipsism. Look out for another familiar face in the video... 

Last set of seven records tomorrow...

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