Caught by the River

Records of the Year

17th December 2009

Robin’s choice:

1. Fuck Buttons ‘Tarot Sport’
2. Manic Street Preachers ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’
3. Fever Ray ‘Fever Ray’
4. Flaming Lips ‘Embryonic’
5. Animal Collective ‘Merriweather Post Pavillion’

Tracks of the year

Fuck Buttons ‘Surf Sola’ / Bat For Lashes ‘Daniel’ / Manic Street Preachers ‘William’s Last Words’ (Underworld mix) / Bill Callahan ‘Jim Cain’ / The XX ‘Teardrops’ / Mastadon ‘Oblivion’ / Doves ‘Spellbound’ / Bibio ‘Haikuesque’

No one would think the Turner household was expecting the patter of tiny feet if they spent half an hour with the music selection there over the past 12 months. At best, the sound has been psychedelic bordering on the paranoiac. At its most extreme, it’s subsonic banshee sounds inspired by long periods of sleep deprivation. Really, it’s hardly like the Venga Bus has pulled up round here. For me though, without a doubt it has been the strongest year for music in a long time, probably in the whole decade.

If I had to pick the one record that defined my year it was Fuck Buttons’ magisterial ‘Surf Solar’. Arching like rocket fire over everything else, it was the imagined sound of a nailbomb exploding on the dancefloor at Fabric. Elsewhere, Manic Street Preachers’ return to violent form showed that it was possible that a band with nearly 20 years previous could still sound as unarguably vital as ever, even if the birth methods (revisiting harrowing lyrics from a missing band member) might have been unconventional. Fever Ray’s debut album arrived almost in silence, to me at least. Never having followed The Knife (Fever Ray main-woman Karin Dreijer Andersson’s other project – were they the ones in the funny masks from Sweden?), this beautiful piece of arctic magic – written during the small hours spent awake post childbirth – offered a beguiling if a little terrifying vision of my own future (hopefully). The Fever Ray live show was a thing to behold – virtually no lighting, a band dressed like extras from a Tim Burton film and a lazer strafing the crowd. And smoke. Lots of smoke.

Thinking about it, its odd how the less I’ve had to do with the music industry this year (and we here at CBTR have waffled enough in the past about that side of things), the more I’ve fallen in love with music. With utterly glorious records from Four Tet and Hot Chip already scheduled at the start of 2010, I’m thinking I might stay on this side of the fence for a little while longer.