Sunday, December 25, 2011

make no mistake, i don't do anything for free

The Top 10 Albums of 2011

8. Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome (Swisslet)

Another album discovered purely by chance on the basis of a recommendation from a trusted source.  I’ve heard of Danger Mouse, obviously, but although I own the first Gnarls Barkley album (who doesn’t?), I don’t really consider him to be my cup of tea and haven’t really paid all that much attention to his work.  Wrong, so wrong.  This one very nearly passed me by and my life would have been all the poorer for that.

This, a collaboration with the composer Daniele Luppi is an absolutely gorgeous homage to the work of the great Ennio Morricone, the soundtrack to a film that doesn’t exist.  Featuring lush, sweeping orchestration and the contrasting vocal talents of people like Jack White and Norah Jones, this is an album that is definitely worth donning a Stetson for and squinting into the desert wind as the tumbleweeds blow by.  If this was a film, you just know that it would star Clint Eastwood.  Or maybe Jack White as Clint Eastwood.  It’s an epic, sweeping record and is entirely brilliant.

Listen to - Two Against One (feat. Jack White)

8. Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know (bedshaped)

I don’t normally warm so much to such a voice, but there’s something rich and warm, seductive and sexy about Laura’s voice. Sometimes she holds a familiar voice, then others she’s quite unique. I don’t really know anything about her, but I do know she writes a great song.

This album holds hands with folk. It’s best friends with American AOR. It brushes alongside some country. And it rubs shoulders with good old rhythm and blues. It shares it space happily with gentle acoustic ballads as much as it does with grinding guitars and pounding drums. It’s such a great album to listen to in the evening. It can fool you into thinking you’re in for some acoustic female fragility, and whilst you are, the occasional track can throw you offguard with it’s blazing guitars and belting drums. And it always feels more comfortable when listened to all the way through. Almost like a concept album. It’s fine to dip and out, but the album in its entirety gives the most satisfaction. Wonderful album from a fantastically talented singer songwriter. For people who appreciate a great singer songwriter in the realms of Alanis, Sheryl Crow, Jewel, Melissa Etheridge, Ani Difranco, Fiona will really love this album. And there’s banjo and mandolin. Not loads of it, just enough.

8. Claire Maguire - Light After Dark (LB)

From the reviews I read, there didn't seem to be a lot of love for this album.  The debut release from the 24 year old Brummie was on my radar from the first time I heard the terrific Ain't Nobody (no, not that one) and while the critics seem to agree that she has a great voice, no-one was quite sure about her choice of material.

However, I really like Light After Dark.  It's little more than a pop album but the quality of the songs and Maguire's voice means it compares very favourably to, say, Adele's 21 (an album with some superb highlights but quite a lot of dullish filler).  Singles Ain't Nobody, The Last Dance and The Shield and the Sword are tremendous upbeat pop records and my only regret was that I never managed to see Maguire live in 2011 (a jippy tummy at Glastonbury put paid to my 'must see' performance of the weekend.)

It's a likeable, upbeat album of great tunes from a real talent.  Highly recommended.

Listen to: The Shield and the Sword

2 Discussions:

Blogger bedshaped said...

Great to see another album that I'm unfamiliar with, and reading that write up, I'm off to sample me some more of this Danger Mouse album. Awesome! This is what a place like this is all about!

I really wanted to love the Claire Maguire album, and even though I did really like it, something just didn't quite click with me. I hear she's brilliant live, so I would quite like to check her out and see if she brings more life into her songs.
Good album though, yeah.

2:20 PM  
Blogger LB said...

The Danger Mouse album is very derivative but also very, very good.

And I don't own the Gnarls Barkley album, for the record.

4:07 PM  

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