Friday, December 27, 2013

What I Got For Christmas

So Christmas Day is receding into the distance and all we've got left to remember it by are leftovers and, if we're lucky, some good presents. As you'd expect, CDs tend to make up a healthy percentage of my seasonal Stack O' Loot, and this December was no different. Here's a quick rundown of the albums I got for Christmas this year, along with explanations of why I asked for them in the first place.

We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River by Richmond Fontaine
I went to see Richmond Fontaine (well, two of them, anyway) in Cardiff a little while back, and I left 10 Feet Tall that night with one particular song stuck in my mind. I later discovered what it was: The Boyfriends, the fourth track on We Used to Think the Freeway... Their earlier album, Post to Wire, was on my Amazon wishlist too (I really like the spoken 'Postcard' songs which appear on that album, and which they recreated live) but this was the one I was really enthusiastic about. Can't wait to listen to it.

Jungle Blues by CW Stoneking
I've got Josh 'Scriber' Price to thank for this one. Not because he bought me the CD (he's not that generous), but because he was the one who pointed CW Stoneking at my ears in the first place. CW was one the Green Man Festival line-up a couple of years ago, and Josh told me that he would be well worth checking out, offering The Love Me or Die as evidence. Check it out:

Now, I'm a sucker for good brass arrangements, so I was hooked from the moment those horns came in. CW Stoneking actually pulled out of Green Man in the end, so I never did get to see this racket in the flesh, but at least I've got the CD now.

Film Molecules by Tender Trap
Tender Trap's Wikipedia page will tell you exactly why I wanted this album: "On their first, electronically slanted album Film Molecules, the songs demonstrate an eclectic mix of musical styles, with a clear nod to the similarly eclectic approach taken by The Magnetic Fields on their 69 Love Songs album." That's why I asked Santa for the Film Molecules CD - Wikipedia told me that it was similar to 69 Love Songs. I've just been listening to this album, and to be honest, I'm not sure I can hear the similarity. Oh well.

Star of Love by Crystal Fighters
I already explained this one in my 5 Old Albums blog. Father Christmas very kindly got me the deluxe edition of Star of Love, with even more danceable Anglo-Spanish fun for me to investigate.

Wishmaster by Nightwish
I haven't really talked about my affinity for metal on The Album Wall before, but it's there, and it certainly made itself known this Christmas. I came across Nightwish the same way I suspect most people did: through the quite brilliant misheard lyrics video that someone created for this album's title track.

Yep, that's why I asked for the Wishmaster album over any of their others. The power of dumb YouTube videos, eh?

Dept. of Disappearance by Jason Lytle
Back when I listened to 6 Music on a regular basis, I discovered many good songs - old and new - through the twin machine that is Radcliffe and Maconie. Many a working afternoon disappeared in a flash as they spun tunes and wove in-jokes, and Your Final Setting Sun by Jason Lytle was just one example of the brilliance they brought to my ears (incidentally, I stopped listening because we're no longer allowed to stream live radio in the office. It uses up too much bandwith). I'm a big Grandaddy fan, and that one song suggested that JL's second solo album would be closer to Grandaddy's best stuff than the first one was. That assumption is based on one track and one track only, but hey, it's one very good track. Listen:

Awesome near-death stuff.

Public Glory, Secret Agony by White Skull
More metal. White Skull came to me through radio; I remember typing in 'epic metal' or something similar and spending an hour listening to the songs that came up. My favourite was a song called Might and Glory by a Tolkien-obsessed gang named Summoning, but White Skull's The Roman Empire was a close second. I would have bought this album much sooner, but it's a pretty hard one to come by - my mum must have stumped up a fair bit of cash to get this copy from Amazon. Thanks, mum!

Live from KCRW by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
The last album on this list is also the newest. In all honesty, I wasn't overly keen on Push the Sky Away - I think it sounds very good, and I enjoy listening to it, but it isn't as gripping as And No More Shall We Part or as emotionally effective as The Boatman's Call, an album to which many people found Push... to be comparable. This live album bodes much better; I haven't listened to it yet, but it contains much of the best stuff from Push... (Wide Lovely Eyes, Higgs Boson Blues, the title track), along with couple of my favourites from The Boatman's Call. You can't go far wrong with Far From Me.

So that's the music I got for Christmas. Did you find any CDs or records under the tree on Wednesday morning? Share your haul in the comments.

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