I’m starting to think I’ve stupidly create more work for myself, but then again- I’ve got sod all else to do but write so I’ll stop whinging and carry on. This year, a lot of dark, menacing records have come out. I’m going to mention a few of my favourites in this next piece. As much I love music that makes me feel like I’ve collapsed into some kind of trance like state; I adore anything that is dark, bold, cruel and brutal. Maybe it makes up for the fact that I’m stupidly laid back and a semi decent person (I don’t want to say I’m a good/gentle person because I’ll sound like an egotistical twerp.) Right, pointless introduction out of the way.
Anna Calvi-Anna Calvi: I’ve been a fan of Anna Calvi since 2009, so I’ve been waiting for this debut record for a long time. When I first heard her voice, I immediately felt exactly how I felt when I first heard Florence in 2007. That massive dark, grand sound with such a powerful voice just shattered my soul and caused a riot. I had to find anything and everything to do with Anna’s music. Her cover of Jezebel is mind-blowing. The drums at the start followed by the echoes of JEZEBEL!!! It’s so haunting. What I cherish the most about Anna Calvi’s music is how it makes you feel like you are in some warped kind of film. It fucks with your mind and rules your body. Think David Lynch but with a more romantic feel to it. Her music is like being chased through a dark forest, stumbling over scattered twigs and stones. You run and run, but sooner or later whatever is chasing you will probably get you. It’s okay. Her music is so bold and atmospheric. This is music to take a walk in the dark as the fog rules the night sky and you cannot see where you are going. Walking into the unknown whilst listening to something so beautiful yet sinister at the same time. It’s so spooky and eerie. Her voice, when whispered into your ear, causes your body to just shake. You tremble and just turn to mush. Then her huge powerful voice kicks in and your jaw drops. Her guitar playing, oh shit. She is a beast on the guitar. Her music makes you feel like you are on a film set, lurking in the shadows- standing where you shouldn’t be. Seeing things you shouldn’t be seeing. It’s an incredible record and as far as debut records go- Anna really did raise the bar at the start of the year with this one.
CocknBullKid-Adulthood: Another debut album I had been waiting so long for. Worth the wait? Of course. I’ve been a huge fan of Anita’s work for years. I remember first hearing On My Own and just being in awe of her. She was offering something that was so badly needed in the music industry. She cites Morrissey as one of her influences, and it is so clear in her music. She has these wonderful dark lyrics that are cleverly hidden over a cheery beat. I adore Adulthood so much. It touches on the angst and fury of growing up. They say being a teenager is hard- they don’t tell you that being an adult is even harder. This album lets you embrace all the mistakes you may have made in your life. It allows you to be a mess and in a vulnerable state. All of these things are totally okay to feel. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you HAVE to be secure or stable. People’s high expectations can cause tremendously low self esteem. It’s probably the reason why we sometimes do the things that we do. Hold Onto Your Misery has some gorgeous lyrics, a particular favourite of mine is: “A little cynicism will do you good.” I had the pleasure of interviewing her last Halloween, it was one of the best interviews I’ve done- she’s just a fantastic person who is so charming, smart and passionate about what is doing. Oh and she’s a fan of Seinfeld, that itself makes her amazing. I remember when Anita was starting out and stupid publications (also ignorant too) were calling her a Grime artist just because of the colour of her skin. The same happened with Santigold when she started out, people were quick to assume she was a rapper just because she’s black. Skin colour doesn’t play a part in the music an artist creates. Fuck, your skin colour isn’t important at all. What I love about Anita is that her lyrics are honest and vulnerable. She doesn’t used pretentious vocabulary in order to make you feel what she is saying. As it comes from the heart, you feel it in yours.
Kurt Vile-Smoke Ring For My Halo: Sticking with dark albums, Kurt Vile put out an exquisite and haunting album this year. Smoke Ring For My Halo has got to be one of the most underrated albums of the year. It just oozes a fuck load of fragilty. The lyrics shoot right into your heart and just make you fall over through sheer pain of feeling every word he sings to you. Baby’s Arms is one of the most gorgeous love songs. It isn’t your traditional love songs though. It’s basically Kurt saying he can’t stand anything or anyone- but the person he loves. We’ve all felt that way. You just feel so disappointed in the world and you want to turn your back on it. Then you fall into the arms and eyes of the one that you adore, and nothing else matters. To some it sounds a bit too much and sickly, but the way Kurt does it is almost in a Tom Waits kind of way. Kurt has this distinctive deep tone that reminds you of artists such as Lou Reeds. He has a bluesy and traditional rock & roll feel to his music. It’s an album that will make you want to throw some clothes and books in the back of car, and make you just drive off somewhere. Pretty much how Blood Pressures by The Kills should make you feel. Just drive on a dusty, desolate road and off into the unknown. Who knows where you’ll end up, the journey will change your life. Kurt Vile is an astounding artist who just tugs and tugs at your heartstrings with his music, but it doesn’t feel forced. It’s a natural thing, and that is why it is easy to embrace this record. It’s exceptional.
Dirty Beaches-Badlands: CANADA! If you were a woman, I would kiss you. Canada, this year you’ve given us some treats. The Weeknd, Feist’s new album and of course- Dirty Beaches. Badlands is a gritty, creepy, passionate record. Lord Knows Best was one of the songs at the start of the year to have truly gripped my heart and kept a secure place there throughout the year. Everything about Badlands is everything I want in a record. Take the track Horses, it sounds like a 60s garage rock track. It’s so amazing. I love this record because it does something to your brain. A lot of records I have loved this year are ones that you play by yourself with no interruptions; Badlands is one of them. I find listening to music a private thing. I wouldn’t ask a bunch of people to come round and listen to the new record by..I don’t know with me. Mainly because everyone I know hates the stuff I listen to. I’m fine with it to be honest. Badlands sends you off into a different place entirely. You feel like you are in the 60s, then you feel you’re back in 2011. It fucks your brain up, seriously but you love it. It is done in a good way- trust me, that can happen. It has a lo-fi feel to it mixed with hints of garage rock. It just merges everything I love into one. This record just makes you want to drink some Whiskey (I’ve never tried Whiskey) and listen to this album whilst sat in a huge, comfy chair. First listen I fell in love with this record- many more listens later, I’m still in love. A solid record that you should probably open your heart and ears to.