Beth Orton – Sugaring Season
Beth Orton has been out of circulation for quite a while and it’s great to have her back. Trailer Park was very much a favourite back in my post-student days and while the sound of her voice coupled with woozey strings hits me with a wave of nostalgia the sound chimes perfectly with the best of the current folk-influenced singer-songwriters. There’s definitely an air of Carole King which gives Sugaring Season a timeless quality.
Bob Mould – The Silver Age
You can really tell that Mould has been touring Copper Blue recently. The Silver Age is much less reflective than recent solo albums and the vigour of the Sugar material has infused the new material. Really good stuff!
Martha Wainwright – Come Home To Mama
Come Home To Mama sees Wainwright reflecting on motherhood following the birth of her son and death of her mother Kate McGarrigle. The Wainwright siblings have never been scared of covering the deeply personal (both have written seriously venomous songs aimed at their father) so it is unsurprising that the lyrics have an element of catharsis. That said this isn’t a dark album. Sonically it is much more electronic than you might expect, which gives it a reflective mood.
Patrick Wolf – Sundark & Riverlight
Revisiting and re-recording your back catalogue seems to be quite common these days. While I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it – essentially covering your own material seems rather lazy if I’m honest – sometimes a new spin on the familiar can work really well. It’s easy to forget how prolific Wolf has been and this stripped back collection is a timelyreminder of just how good he is.
Bright Light Bright Light – Make Me Believe In Something
I downloaded this after a very enthusiastic report of their Scissor Sisters support slots. Really good electronic pop with a foot firmly on the dance floor. This is what Hurts would sound like if they cut down on the tedious ballads…
Tracy Thorn – Tinsel & Lights
Possibly a bit early for a Christmas album, but Tracy Thorn was guaranteed to produce something more classy than your average seasonal album. A great collection of understated songs, including a wonderful version (with Green Gartside) of ‘Taking Down The Tree’ from Low’s benchmark of Yuletide-indie, the mini-album ‘Christmas’.
Tame Impala – Lonerism
Excellent follow up to the Aussie threesome’s psychedelia-infused-rock debut Innerspeak. Is prog back? Possibly, but when it’s as good as this I think we can forget the more self-indulgent past of the genre!
Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
There was an inevitability that this would win the Mercury Music Prize this year. I have to say it’s grab-bag of styles hasn’t really convinced me. I can’t help thinking there were other albums more worthy of the accolade (such as Django Django’s fantastic début) – but such is often the way of the Mercury…