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Top Albums of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 18th December 2012 at 11:00 am
 

Wowsers, has this year flown by or what? I can scarcely believe we’re ready to celebrate Christmas in a week’s time, but you know what that means, boys and girls. It’s time for the editor’s top picks of 2012. Unlike most lists that have already published either in print or online, there will be no mentions of Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar or DIIV. Sorry. No, and this year, I tried to get away from dance as I could, which seems really odd considering where I found myself 2 years ago; this is probably good commentary on the music scene at large, where beats – either urban or poppy – have invaded nearly every facet of radio and except for the odd album or two, I found these to be completely devoid of heart. Or character. (But there were 3 in my top 10 that were arguably dance albums, so maybe there’s still hope…) Without further delay, here are my picks for 2012.

The-Crookes-Hold-Fast-cover1. The Crookes – ‘Hold Fast’ (Fierce Panda) – In the shadow of love – in its electric (2010’s #1, Delphic’s ‘Acolyte’) and nostalgic, life affirming (2011’s #1, Noah and the Whale’s ‘Last Night on Earth’) forms – my #1 this year goes as far back to basics with the good ol’ pop-tinged rock ‘n’ roll of Sheffield’s Crookes. I’ve always thought that the smartest songwriters are those that can write catchy tunes while also offering up thought-provoking, intelligent lyric; guitarist Daniel Hopewell fits this description to a T.

This album would feel equally at home in the 1960s as it does in 2012. There is no studio trickery or fancy production here, just heartfelt (and heartbroken in ‘Maybe in the Dark’) feelings being sung to memorable melodies that can help to remind you of simpler times. Or simply remind you of the important people who have coloured your life. Do yourself a favour and get this album. If you’re not sold yet, read my review of ‘Hold Fast’ here.

Keston-Cobblers-Club-cover2. Keston Cobblers’ Club – ‘One, for Words’ (Beatnik Geek) – It has been shown to us time and time again that family members who sing together make some incredible music. (For one, the Beach Boys.) In Julia and Matthew Lowe, we have familial alchemy at work again, this time on some incredible folk pop. When one album can make you laugh, make you cry, make you wistful for a former lover, make you remember through happy tears your life experiences, that is truly special indeed, and that’s what I’ve gotten out of ‘One, for Words’. I expect to be playing this album again and again until my final days. You can read my review of their debut album here.

Grimes-Visions-cover3. Grimes – ‘Visions’ (4AD) – Claire Boucher is now one of the hottest commodities in the music business these days, and surely the biggest game changer from Canada since Arcade Fire. Every time I tried to catch the baby-voiced master of synths and sequencers in 2012, I never actually managed to get in. Thankfully though, I have this album to keep me company whenever things have gone boring in my life. Variety is the key word of this album, with ambient, industrial, pop and minimalist genres all touched on for one eclectic group of songs. Every time you pick up this album, you’ll hear something exciting you missed the last time around, and I don’t think it’s possible for ‘Visions’ to get old. Read my review here.

Casiokids-Aabenbaringen-over-aaskammen-cover4. Casiokids – ‘Aabenbaringen over aaskammen’ (Moshi Moshi) – There’s no way I could have forgotten the craziness of Casiokids’ third album. Even in the middle of winter, thoughts of a pineapple-shaped maraca, the sheer wonkiness of ‘Det Haster!’ and ‘Dresinen’, and disco and jungle beats working in harmony on the same album easily warmed my heart. This is controlled chaos, in a way that only Nordics manage to do it. And even if you go into this album thinking, “no way is this album going to lift my mood”, trust me, it will. You’ll even leave it with a knowing yet silly grin on your face.Read more here.

Husky cover5. Husky – ‘Forever So’ (Sub Pop) – The Husky debut album was an example of when you keep hearing the name of a band so many times, you’re wondering what the fuss is all about. Well, wonder no more. If you’re the first-ever signing to a indie label as storied as Sub Pop, then you better bring the goods, and Husky Gawenda and co. do just that in a Fleet Foxes meets the sadness of Nick Drake vehicle. If you’ve ever been slayed by gorgeous harmonies, this album’s for you. Read my review of it here.

After the cut: some albums that just missed the top 5 cut, and others that disappointed.

Continue reading Top Albums of 2012: Editor’s Picks

 

Video of the Moment #727: Memoryhouse

 
By on Monday, 5th March 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Memoryhouse‘s debut album on Sub Pop, ‘The Slideshow Effect’, just came out last week (27 February) and is likely to be one of my top 10 albums of 2012. (Read my glowing review of it here. ‘The Kids Were Wrong’ is track #2 on the album, and we gave it away as this previous MP3 of the Day back in December. Now we’ve got the video. It’s real, and beautiful in its realness. Watch it below.

Catch the Canadian duo on tour in the UK and Ireland; details are here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs3xVfCG0Hg[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Memoryhouse – The Slideshow Effect

 
By on Monday, 27th February 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Canadian act Memoryhouse comprises self-professed classical music lover and composer Evan Abeele and photographer Denise Nouvion. According to the press release for debut new album on Sub Pop, ‘The Slideshow Effect’, their collaboration wasn’t initially intended to be musical in nature at all. Their original plan was to take their individuals strengths and join forces in an artistic outlet to combat the anxiety and boredom of the long, cold winter in the depths of frozen Southern Ontario. What instead occurred: they formed Memoryhouse, named after German-born English neo-classical composer/artist Max Richter’s own album of the same name and a massive influence of Abeele’s, and proceeded to use photographs as a starting point for a direction a song could be written towards. In an interview with Pitchfork, Abeele said of Richter’s work, “for me, in my musical development, there was a ‘before Memoryhouse’ and an ‘after Memoryhouse’…Hearing that fundamentally changed the way I approached composition. I just wanted to pay tribute to that. I wanted to have that to ground us, wherever we took our own music”.

I had not heard of Richter’s album before this, but I can say that for the purpose of this review, I didn’t consider it, and you shouldn’t need to either in order to appreciate it. It’s interesting to note Nouvion previously focused solely on photography, as there’s an expansiveness to the Memoryhouse sound, like looking at a breathtaking landscape. Nouvion’s voice is startling in its earnestness, and Abeele’s careful production isn’t heavy-handed at all, letting the songs breathe: all dream pop is marked with echo and reverb, but the effects used on ‘The Slideshow Effect’ never wear out their welcome and always feel like they were made for the songs they’re used on. Xylophone, which has become a more commonplace instrument in indie pop/rock over the last couple of years, never feels out of place like it does on some other bands’ records, where it can sound like a childish gimmick.

I expect other critics comparing them to Best Coast and Beach House are inevitable, but Memoryhouse’s songs are better and more memorable. And they’ve already given away two of the best songs on this album, which makes me think the duo is confident people will buy the album once they’ve heard these. ‘Walk With Me’ (previous MP3 of the Day here) is haunting in its beauty. It tells the story of a love lost that will never be forgotten but you can’t help but want to keep a hold of: “I can’t forget / the place this started / walk with me / will you walk with me?” ‘The Kids Were Wrong’ (previous MP3 of the Day here) and ‘Heirloom’ are jaunty and bracing as (dare I say it) a cold Canadian winter’s day.

But I go back to the comfort of Abeele’s production across the slower, more brooding numbers: ‘Little Expressionless Animals’ with its sorrowful violin, the slide guitar of ‘All Our Wonder’, the otherworldliness of Nouvion’s vocals in ‘Pale Blue’ all sound like perfection, wrapping you like the warm blanket your nan knitted for you when you were small. It’s definitely more of a sleepier, winter-type record, but seeing that we’re in February, that’s quite all right. Whether you’re a loner or you’re in a committed, loving relationship, this is the perfect antidote to any cold in your heart. Just as it was originally intended for the two people who made it.

8.5/10

Memoryhouse’s debut album ‘The Slideshow Effect’ is out today on Sub Pop.

 

MP3 of the Day #493: Memoryhouse

 
By on Friday, 17th February 2012 at 10:00 am
 

In advance of Canadian duo Memoryhouse‘s debut album release on the 27th of February on Sub Pop, they’re giving away a second track (after previous freebie ‘The Kids Were Wrong’ on this MP3 of the Day post). Called ‘Walk with Me’, it’s an atmospheric gem that I imagine lots of teenagers canoodling to it. Listen to and download the track for free below.

 

MP3 of the Day #464: Memoryhouse

 
By on Thursday, 22nd December 2011 at 10:00 am
 

Southern Ontario duo Memoryhouse (Evan Abeele and Denise Nouvion) will be releasing their debut album in late February on Sub Pop. Ahead of that, they’d like you to have the track ‘The Kids Were Wrong’, wonderful dreamy pop, for absolutely free. Listen to and download it from the widget below.

The band will be touring in the UK after the release of ‘The Slideshow Effect’ LP in March; catch them on the dates below.

Friday 23rd March 2012 – Glasgow School Of Art
Saturday 24th March 2012 – Dublin Whelan’s
Monday 26th March 2012 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Tuesday 27th March 2012 – Bristol Louisiana
Wednesday 28th March 2012 – London Cargo

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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