- Contra - Vampire Weekend
What We Said : Horchata' then, it sparkles with trademark world music aspects integrated seamlessly, punches it's way through police-blockades with bells, whistles and a superb arrangement.
- Your Future, Our Clutter - The Fall
What We Said : We could all create our own Fall songs, remixed from all the other songs they've ever done. We could add nonsense samples and noise and smile, pleased with ourselves. We could listen to this though and realize nobody else sounds remotely like this album does in the entire world right now. That my friends, is quite something.
- Been Listening - Johnny Flynn
What We Said : 'The Water' which is a duet between Johnny Flynn and Laura Marlin is just stupendous in both writing and performance, a song anybody would be proud of and possibly the best single track i've heard this year, bar none.
- I Speak Because I Can - Laura Marling
What We Said : 'Made by Maid' and 'Rambling Man' demonstrate more the way she weaves ordinary events and poetry into her work. Both tunes are very Dylan, although 'Made By Maid' can reasonaly also attract comparison to both Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake. Ah yes, that old Nick Drake foam upon which you place yourself. That old melancholy dreaming and wistful romance.
- Bubblegum - Clinic
What We Said : Lion Tamer' is the monster crunching thing here, 'Milk And Honey' ensures we get equal quality through the second half of the record as the first in the affecting quiet tune stakes, 'Radiostory' pinches a trick from both Tindersticks and Pulp in being spoken word over satisfyingly cheesy/weird/wonderful instrumental.... sigh. There's so much more to talk about, 'Forever (Denis Blues)', 'Evelyn' and I make no bones in declaring this record another slam-dunk from Clinic.
- Reimagines Gershwin - Brian Wilson
What We Said : Someone To Watch Over Me' is the mature mirror of Brian's own 'Caroline No' and arranged deliberately so to evoke that feel, you suspect. Brian sings this tune particularly sweetly as he does 'I Love You Porgy' - both tunes sporting vocals that defy the decades of abuse Wilson subjected to voice to.
- NonStopErotik - Black Francis
What We Said : I'm liking this album, it gets better the more you listen and perhaps some critics can miss that. I have the advantage of not having to listen to a hundred records a week, so have been able to devote some time to 'NonStopErotik'. I'll be honest, I don't 'devote time' to every release I receive, but Frank deserves it and i'm glad I did.
- The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
What We Said : 'The Suburbs' is clearly an important work from one of the most important bands we have around today. Yet for all the beauty demonstrated by 'Suburban War' most notably and the powerful likes of 'Ready To Start' or 'Modern Man' i'm sensing a lack of 'something'.
- New Amerykah Part 2 - Erykah Badu
What We Said : ‘New Amerykah Part Two’ has reached top ten in America although soon fell out of the charts and only tickled the top fifty in European countries. In my country, the United Kingdom, it reached number fifty-six on the album charts. Quite frankly, i'm absolutely disgusted. Why? Well, Badu is one of the most important, artistic and brilliant artists soul/hip-hop has produced.
- The Trip - Laetitia Sadier
What We Said : This is in effect Stereolab minus co-creator Tim Gane. Welcomingly, 'The Trip' is free from the rigidity that became an albatross around the ever-decreasing circles within which latter Stereolab inhabited. 'One Million Year Trip' for instance is just wonderful - it's bendy and friendly and excitingly cool.
- Hedonism - Bellowhead
What We Said : Bellowhead hire legendary producer John Leckie to translate their mighty live sound to the studio. Me, I really liked their last album and the risk of being honed and proficient is that you end up losing some of the charm that initially attracted people to you. One step forward, two steps back?
- Grinderman 2 - Grinderman
What We Said : Sadly, after a tremendous first half, the second half of 'Grinderman 2' simply runs out of steam, bar the odd remaining flicker of evil and energy. Spent, 'What I know' is the sound of half a song, 'Evil' much better as it drunkenly clatters angrily out of the speakers, yes, even your mobile phone speakers will make this thing sound angry and immense.
- Heartbeats - Grum
What We Said : His take on Bowie's 'Fashion' together with his own 'Power' and 'Cybernetic' are rather more traditional noughties dance fare than I would have liked before we reached 'Heartbearts', a track some in the blogosphere have called the best track of the 21st century. Can't quite reach that conclusion myself
- Ali And Toumani - Ali Farka Touré And Toumani Diabate
What We Said : The bass lines added to '56' match beautifully the playing of Ali and Toumani, this hypnotic slice of happiness runs away for nearly seven minutes, enchanting and sending you someplace. Well, we all have our fantasies yet this music tugs at your religion, at your history, whatever the religion or history. It just 'exudes' the sense of all of these things.
- The Drums - The Drums
What We Said : The Drums make music as escapism, simple melodies married to insistent rhythms and very simple, yet clean, production values. I also like the way no song much exceeds four minutes in length, there's no progressive values in terms of trying to invent a new sound - the retrospective nature of the album actually places them sideways enough to the current scene, like Vampire Weekend, that The Drums distinctiveness is almost wholly assured.
- Come Around Sundown - Kings Of Leon
What We Said : Come Around Sundown' is too things, good enough hook-wise to retain the vast bulk of their newly won-over fanbase and also something containing enough songs that could happily fit on any Kings Of Leon album. Lead single 'Radioactive' is simple and edgy whilst not really being an obvious follow-up to mega hits 'Sex On Fire' or 'Use Somebody'.
- 20Ten - Prince
What We Said : Anyway, for his latest free LP 'Compassion' kicks things off sounding like a good 80s Prince track. It's got clean production, 80s styled beats and it's also got lots of energy. The female backing vocals are firmly pop backing vocals and if Prince were still interested in such things, 'Compassion' could have been a sizeable hit.
- A Postcard From California - Al Jardine
What We Said : The first ever Al Jardine solo album arrives. He could have done one in the Seventies during Beach Boys downtime and there was plenty of opportunity for him in the Eighties or Nineties, but no, he's waited. Was it worth the wait? Well, if you enjoyed the recent Brian Wilson solo material, 'A Postcard From California' compares quite well.
- Falling Down A Mountain - Tindersticks
What We Said : Side two of the album continues in a familiar Tindersticks vein, the bite of 'Black Smoke' offering a brief respite in texture, a denser composition, scratchier and layered. 'Factory Girls' becomes an album and career highlight though, the soulful croon of Stuart Staples also soulfully singing seemingly personal lyrics.
- Recovery - Eminem
What We Said : Eminem does take the majority of this album very seriously and he's generally got an awful lot to say. In terms of pure rapping ability/performance, this set is one of his finest moments, perhaps his most impressive since the '8 Mile' soundtrack. Sure, 'Cold Wind Blows' opens the set rather than a more obvious choice such as 'Not Afraid' but such commercial decisions, or lack of them, are refreshing for someone who doesn't need to chase sales any more.
- To The Rest Of The World - Trail
What We Said : Trail spent nine months raising twenty thousand pounds on slicethepie.com, attracted the interest of Faith No More producer Matt Wallace and decamped to LA to record their debut LP. The album is due to be released 22nd February 2010 in the UK, with second single 'City' following a week later. Trail do big rock, anthemic choruses.
- Write About Love - Belle And Sebastian
What We Said : There are a couple of wonderful Stuart Murdoch moments though. Well, of course there are. 'I Want The World To Stop' is a classic slice of the kind of writing, infused with both hope and sadness that Belle and Sebastian always do so well. It's classy and breezy and the lyrics and vocal hooks are all very memorable indeed.
- Acolyte - Delphic
What We Said : Two of these ways are singles 'Doubt' and 'Counterpoint', clear highlights and both wonderful moments of melody, ambition, daring and craft. We've also got the noisy and full opener 'Clarion Call', no doubt something to light up stadiums with during the years to come.
- Postcards From A Young Man - Manic Street Preachers
What We Said : t's hard to draw a straight line between 'Generation Terrorists' and 'Postcards From A Young Man'. Well, the Manics have taken the odd diversion here and there, the maligned 'Know Your Enemy' for one. Still they'd be a hell of a lot less interesting as a band if they weren't taking risks like that. 'Journal For Plague Lovers' was a risk trying to recapture 'The Holy Bible' so what does 'Postcards' try to recapture? Well, their sense of confidence.
- Le Noise - Neil Young
What We Said : 'Hitchhiker' is a great Neil Young track you know will work live, even though here it's just anguished, angry, biting Neil plus guitar doing the same - with basic drums and bass adding depthness to the sound this would be classic Neil Young, no doubt.
- Further - Chemical Brothers
What We Said : Did Chemical Brothers need to reclaim their serious artistry which they'd arguably lost somewhere down the line? Well possibly, we'll all have different views on that, but 'Further' attracts my attention like no Chemical Brothers album has done in a good ten years.
- Bang Goes The Knighthood - Divine Comedy
What We Said : Some fans of Divine Comedy have been waiting since 'Casanova' and 'Short Album About Love' for a mostly upbeat, fun pop Divine Comedy album. Well, now they've got one. Fans have been profusive with their praise yet a small bunch of fans are frowning furiously because they prefer arty/melancholy Hannon. They preferred it when he was trying to be Michael Nyman rather than Neil Innes.
- Butterfly House - The Coral
What We Said : Ah, some of the arrangements are beautiful though, the wig out at the end of the title track, the piano and the end of the folk-tinged 'Falling All Around You' which flows into the 1965 Monkees styled pop of 'Two Faces'. They should release this as a single, complete with wacky Scooby Doo style video.
- Heligoland - Massive Attack
What We Said : Massive Attack’s fifth studio album arrives a long seven years after its predecessor. The usual array of guest stars contribute, including Damon Albarn, Horace Andy and a lovely spot by Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval.
- Realism - Magnetic Fields
What We Said : coustic stringed instruments abound throughout 'Realism' which is really why this has been labelled 'folk', it reality 'Realism' is no more folk than 'i' or '69 Love Songs'. The novelty of 'Everything Is One Big Christmas Tree' will inevitably get played by indie-kids on Xmas day, 'The Dada Polka' is an intriguing mix of sounds and album closer 'From A Sinking Boat' is exceptional atmosphere