Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Albums Of The Year: Number 5!

'The Hawk Is Howling'
As with their last release (2006's 'Mr Beast') The Men of Mog take up their regular number 5 slot in my albums of the year. How long can these hairy Scots keep putting out instrumental music before it gets old, you may ask? Never! Not when it's this good.

'The Hawk Is Howling' is sublime, beautiful, angry, thoughtful, and has one of the creepiest album covers I've ever seen.

And, as always, they've not scrimped on the fantastic track names either. If there was an award for best song titles, Mogwai would win all the time. This time the album opens with 'I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead'. Later we're treated to 'The Sun Smells Too Loud', before possibly the greatest song title I've ever heard. Track 7 gives us... wait for it... 'I Love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School'.

The thing is, it's not a gimmick. The titles work. 'I love You, I'm Going To Blow Up Your School' is not a joke. It's sinister, it's eerie, and yet has an underlining yearning. 'I'm Jim Morrison...' is almost a love letter from the man himself.

After god knows how many albums, are The Mog running out of steam? By this evidence, they're just getting started.

Albums Of The Year: Also-Rans

It's that time again! The festive season where I force my musical views and tastes onto all of the no people who read this blog!

Another annoyingly good year for music. Outstanding, even. The also-rans, in no particular order, are...

Sigur Ros - 'With A Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly'
So, so close to making the top 5, especially after seeing them play a storming gig 2 weeks ago. But it was between this and another band who play largely instrumental music, and they just pipped it. Worth owning for the glorious, 8-minute long 'Ara Batur' alone.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - 'With Blasphemy So Heartfelt'
A simply gorgeous album, with beauty laced in every track, only omitted as it's such a recent discovery I don't know it as well as others. But a major talent to keep an eye on.

Tom McRae - 'Live 2007'
One of my favourite artists, and I can also say I was in attendance at one of the performances included in this mix of his 2007 European tour. The odd thing, and the reason it's an also-ran, is that having been at one of the gigs I found the choices of tracks here a little disappointing.

Los Campesinos - 'We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed'
The second record in a year (it's a record, people! NOT an album!) from the post-punk, folky young upstarts of the Family Campesinos was blistering and packed full of ace tunes. Although not an official follow-up to January's debut album (that was an album, this is just a RECORD, got it?!) it was still good enough to make the Top 5, except... well, maybe they'll be making an appearance there anyway...

Bloc Party - 'Intimacy'
After a stonking debut, many felt The Bloc stumbled on their second album 'A Weekend In The City'. I didn't, I thought it was mega. But now, after the knob-twiddling grandness of the single 'Flux', they seem to have found their calling as today's jangly pop-punk techno gods with this third album. Part Chemical Brothers, part The Clash. And their decision to rush-release it, only announced 2 days before it was available, simply because they were bored makes them aces in my book.

Now on to the Top 5!...