Thursday, 15 January 2009

end of year revue

I honestly don't have a clue what I'm talking about. This isn't a list, it's a discussion. Elle Milano's Acres of Dead Space Cadets was the album of 2008. It is a record destined forever to be a cult classic. A record defined by contradictory attitudes. Complete disdain for rock 'n' roll and the industry coupled with a thrilling example of the possibilities of rock 'n' roll in the 21st century. It leaves a funny taste in the mouth, a bittersweet pill or ten has been swallowed down the line. This is perhaps because under all the anger is a keen desire to be accepted, or if not that just get some success. Something this good deserves that surely? The lyrics are intelligent for their post-modern awareness, Adam Crisp is painfully conscious at times of the fact he is writing a pop song.

Misfortune plagued the band in the form of their guitarist leaving, and having to pull their latest tour due to personal tragedy won't have helped. The band split up at the end of October. I find it depressing that so many inferior bands are still plying their trade. Elle Milano had their flaws, perhaps discarding some incredible songs a bit hastily. But at least they wrote them. I wish they'd had the balls to release Wonderfully Wonderful instead of the somewhat tepid Meanwhile in Hollywood as the crucial lead single.

In terms of production, you cannot fault this record crafted by the band themselves. Time spent studying when they could have supported Test Icicles around Europe was clearly worth the wait. Just one seamless whole, interludes gluing everything together even though the vitality bursting through suggests collapse is never far away. It's playful as well, they know how to have fun as the below video demonstrates.

Fantasy Black Channel is a close contender but loses out due to the whole package (artwork, B-sides and everything), there isn't much more than the 12 tracks on the record - most of which have been kicking around for ages anyway. That said, they are all absolute tunes but when you think that the band have been around for quite a long time it's somewhat disappointing to see a lack of new material in the live show and even some good B-sides. Instead of B-sides, there are a series of remixes of questionable quality (Boys Noize aside). The videos are good though, the below video for Focker is top notch - the bit where the glasses fly of synth player Potter is my favourite moment. They certainly win the prize for the band that has the most fun.

In terms of production, the boy Eastgate loses out to Crisp for having the enviable assistance of Erol Alkan. Bit of an unfair advantage as coupled with his work on the second Mystery Jets album, he has surely emerged as the producer to work with currently. In terms of lyrics, the Elle man is streets ahead, but that could just be my preference. I like how Eastgate does not appear to realy be in control of the words which spurt from his mouth.

I wouldn't say that it's my song of the year, because that isn't what I'm trying to draw attention to but Time to Pretend by MGMT is the song of the past year in terms of blowing up and going ridiculously huge. Runner-up would be Young Love by Mystery Jets, whose album I have played so much I actually cant listen to it anymore, even though I have it on lovely limitewd edition vinyl from Pure Groove. Behind the Bunhouse is a brilliant, brilliant closing track.

Another tremendous closer is L'Amour et La Violence on Sébastien Tellier's Sexuality. It is the most emotionally raw track on the album, the big guy has admitted on many occasions that it's a song which means a lot to him. A confessional effort highlighting his turbulent youth, a juxtaposition of his love for violence which perhaps could be described more as intensity and his love for love. It's a moment of tranquility after a big dirty marathon of a sex album. I've had a sneaky peak at the video for this track, and it is intimate and beautiful and very Super8. Big article on Seb and my time with Record Makers to come this week before his two UK dates. The Sexuality remixes, which I'm very proud to have been involved in, are all quality. The likes of Boys Noize, SebastiAN, Danger, Kavinsky, Midnight Juggernauts, A-Trak have all been happy to rework the fusion of Tellier's eclectic style with the incredible experience of Guy-Man from Daft Punk. It's testament to the skills of Marc Teissier du Cros, the main man at Record Makers, aided and abetted by people like me and the promptings and ideas of others.

One such tipster was Derek aka Mr. Neon Gold aka Good Weather For Airstrikes blogman. His proteges, Passion Pit, look set to rip things up this year. I would go so far as to say that Sleepyhead could send them to heights currently held by MGMT. Cuddle Fuddle is my favourite track off the Chunk of Change EP. I've been very impressed with the whole Neon Gold package to date, Derek is astute and doesn't really overplay the obvious links he has with other industry peeps - such as Frenchkiss Records (run in part by his cousin who plays in Les Savy Fav) who Passion Pit are really signed to. Don't worry about the hype and the smoke and the mirrors because the vinyls look sexy as hell and I want to buy them.

what you came here for:

Elle Milano - Modern Man (their take on lists!)
Elle Milano - Wonderfully Wonderful
MGMT - Time to Pretend
Sébastien Tellier - L'Amour et La Violence (Boys Noize Main version)
Passion Pit - Sleepyhead

Tips for '09: Post War Years, Flashguns, The Whitest Boy Alive, Marina and the Diamonds, Loverman, Plugs to name but a few choice cuts.


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