One of the albums of the year for me (and a lot of music journos, judging by the end of year lists) was Home Counties by Saint Etienne. We can add this to the list of bands (Ride, Numan, Slowdive, OMD) who this year made arguably some of the best albums of their career, proving that form is temporary but class is permanent.
Home Counties is a soundtrack for suburban England and I could have picked any of the tracks from it really, but went for ‘Dive’ as arguably we haven’t had enough summery pop music so far. Let’s forget it’s December and get the train to Bexhill On Sea.
I can’t resist also posting ‘Popmaster’ – go on, it’s only 30 seconds long…
Continuing the theme of career-high albums, my next choice comes from a band who released their fifth and most critically acclaimed album to date. Eschewing the more experimental element of their previous work, they went for the tune jugular, but still with their trademark myriad of styles and influences . No ‘singles’ released from the album, this is one of only two tracks with an official video ( I’m pretty sure, that the other will be appearing as one of Richard’s remaining choices!) Number 9, The Horrors ‘Machine’.
Continuing the theme of tremendous new work by an old trouper, my #9 is from Robert Plant’s LP “Carry Fire”. Not since 2007’s collaboration with Alison Krauss has he been so good, with rarely a dud song on the new album. Thematically it comfortably blends romance (“Dance with you tonight”) and politics (“New World…”) with musical elements familiar to his previous work, including Celtic folk, bluegrass and middle Eastern influences. In my chosen song, Plant covers the 1950s song “Bluebirds Over The Mountain” with Chrissie Hynde.
He is touring Australia early next year. I have tickets and can’t wait.
Keen students will remember that the band that I have at number 9 in 2017 were number 1 in 2016, but apologies if I’m “repeating” myself. Not a lot has been heard from them this year but they released the “Funf” E.P. on Moshi Moshi, containing, just in case you’re less passionate about all things German, five new songs, of which this one appears to be the ‘lead’. Art Pop audio and Abstract video. Number 9…