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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tri's Top 10 Albums of 2009

10. The Maccabees – ‘Wall of Arms’

Despite receiving a lot of criticism for their newest album ‘Wall of Arms’, The Maccabees’ somewhat repetitive lyrics and intricate drum beats, provided by replacement drummer Sam Doyle, have pushed them to number ten in my list this year. It is true to say that their sound has changed, moving away from tracks such as ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ with playful lyrics about fleeting moments, to songs such as ‘One Hand Holding’, which depicts the all too familiar breakdown of relationships. This transition reflects that of their producer; exchanging the Britpop Stephen Street for Markus Dravs who engineered Arcade Fire’s ‘Neon Bible’. Their new album explores a larger emotional range, with more depth and instruments than can be found on their debut album ‘Colour It In’, a combination which has pushed The Maccabees into my most played artists this year.

‘If you’ve no kind words to say, you should say nothing more at all.’

9. Throw me the Statue - Creaturesque

Ok, so I have to admit, this album does not quite reach the high standard set down by their debut ‘Moonbeams’, with tracks such as ‘Lolita’ demonstrating the band’s quirky edge. However, ‘Creaturesque’ shows signs of progression within the band, and the fact that Scott Reitherman’s voice is a lot softer and less forced than previous recordings (particularly in ‘Cannonball Rays’) only increases my liking of the album.

8. Kate Voegele – ‘A Fine Mess’

Following her first appearance on One Tree Hill in 2007 and consequent release of her debut album ‘Don’t Look Away’, Kate has become successful in her career, releasing ‘A Fine Mess’ which once again showcases her strengths as not only a singer but song writer, guitarist and pianist. Some of the songs are fairly similar, but overall ‘A Fine Mess’ is a relaxing and feel good album from a talented artist.

7. Olafur Arnalds - 'Found Songs'

‘Found Songs’ - a haunting album of just seven songs, most of which consist of a slow piano riff in minor key, and minimalist in both content and structure. Many of the songs are accompanied by violins, creating a moving album that never fails to relax. This Icelandic post-rock composer proves that sometimes, less is more.

6. Jack Penate – ‘Everything is New’

Jack Penate – another artist who has changed his tone, leaving behind the lonely guitars found in his debut ‘Manitee’ to experiment with trumpets, strings and layered voices in ‘Pull my Heart Away’, even piling on the samba drums in ‘Give Yourself Away’, a personal favourite. His new album, produced by Paul Epworth (Bloc Party and Maxïmo Park), presents a desire to reinvent his image and breakaway from lovely but perhaps uninspiring songs such as ‘Learning Lines’, which provided only fleeting success.

‘The right way must be left, straight ahead is never good at all.’

5. Newton Faulkner - Rebuilt by Humans

After great success with his debut ‘Hand built By Robots’, Newton Faulkner has once more produced an upbeat acoustic album with piano, keyboards and strings all adding depth and texture to his bouncy guitar rhythms. His distinctive mellow voice provides an ‘easy-to-listen-to’ album of 18 songs, and despite some weaker contributions, others such as ‘Over & Out’ with the London Studio Orchestra more than make up for it.

‘Strangers constantly between us, wish that they would leave us.’

4. Temper Trap – ‘Conditions’

An album similar to Passion Pit’s ‘Manners’ in its composition of falsetto voices and synth-pop sounds. Created by Australian four-piece band Temper Trap, this debut album brings together imaginative drum rhythms by Toby Dundas in ‘Drum Song’, with guitarist Lorenzo Sillitto’s ability to mount tension throughout ‘Resurrection’ and bring each song to a dramatic climax. It seems myself and fellow blogger Chloe both enjoyed this album enough to put it in our top ten.

‘There’s a science to fear, it plagues my mind and keeps us right here.’

3. Passion Pit – ‘Manners’

This album may stand out against the rest of my choices, as the band of five, including the imaginative Michael Angelakos, have produced a surprisingly varied album of what has been named ‘synth-pop’. A combination of falsetto choruses and layered synths provides us with standout songs such as ‘Sleepyhead’ and ‘The Reeling’, which subtly reminds me of the 80’s. ‘Little Secrets’ uses a chorus of children which adds to the diversity of ‘Manners’. Overall a great album that just makes me want to get up and dance – however embarrassingly!

‘They crowd your bedroom like some thoughts wearing thin.’

2. Tegan & Sara – ‘Sainthood’

Well, what can I say. After listening to this album on repeat for just under a month, I am still not tired of the upbeat rhythms and perhaps repetitive lyrics with underlying meanings that make ‘Sainthood’ stand out against the rest. It is clear that the Quin twins have matured since their last album ‘The Con’ - (‘I know it turns you off when I start talking like a teen’), but are no less successful in their collaborative song writing style. Songs such as ‘The Cure’ and ‘Alligator’ are personal favourites, but then again, so is the rest of the album.

‘When your bed is empty do you really sleep alone?’

1. MoZella - Belle Isle

So we’ve finally reached number one. MoZella, or Maureen McDonald, released her second album under a new studio Universal Motown Records in October. ‘Belle Isle’ is an intricate combination of truthful lyrics, playful guitar riffs and most of all Maureen’s distinctive voice, which makes her sound unique. Perhaps it is because she writes about situations to which so many can relate, or because her songs are so memorable that I have chosen this album as my number one year, and cannot wait to hear more!

‘And the darkness outside is a mirror to my eyes, ‘cause my soul won’t reflect any light.’

1 comment:

Eileen said...

I didn't realise Kate Voegele had a new album out- it shall be the first thing I download when I get my new laptop for Christmas- well, the second thing; I should probably download ITunes first so I can actually listen to it :)

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