You know in all honesty I listened to fuck all new or at least what the current market brands as ‘new’ in the pop music arena at least compared to the amount of music I would digest five or ten years ago. The digital music revolution has fucked up my listening habits and I haven’t really recovered stuck in a nostalgic music haze supplemented by You Tube. My CD collection has now been consigned to history or second-hand record shops at least and for the first time in my life I have no music collection.
Of course, the tastes I developed in my late teens and in my twenties are pretty much ingrained and I remain open to different sounds but these tastes are scattered as they have always been only now they are more ephemeral, less concrete but they are still constant in the place where any great song or piece of music resides; the heart.
So unlike the cinema round-up this will be less of a conventional top ten or top five and instead I will pick several instances from music released in 2011 be they songs or albums that really caught my imagination.
Desire – Under Your Spell
This is a cheat. Actually a track from Montreal/Portland electronic combo’s 2009 album II but it drives a key scene in Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Drive. Hypnotic, slightly disturbing and achingly naïve and wide-eyed in its romanticism like much if that soundtrack it functions and compliments the films sleek retro style whilst expressing the monosyllabic protagonists dreams and possible delusions. Ultimately, though it reminded me of being an impossibly soppy young pre-teenager listening to cheesy 80’s electro ballads such as Phil Oakeys ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. I’m a nostalgia whore.
Lou Reed & Metallica – Junior Dad
Probably one of the most despised albums of this or any other year this collaboration between a legendary, wilful cult artist and mainstream metal careerists left many heads scratched and many questions left unanswered, the main one being; why? I Listened to the album and believe me, it is quite a thing to digest. Reeds vocals and lyrics are for the most part unsuited to Metallica’s riff heavy style with his voice just too weak too rise above the prevailing noise whilst his lyrics about the life of an abused dancer called Lulu supposedly based on a series of plays from the early 1900’s by German Expressionist writer Frank Wedekind sound forced and pretentious while his phrasing – surely one of his greatest strengths as an artist- dictated by the monolithic sound of the Bay Area giants. But it’s not a complete loss and this track, an elegiac post-rock style jam which transcends both the clumsy wordage of Reed and becomes something pure and haunting to exist outside of this admirable yet somewhat misjudged project.
Cut Copy – Zonoscope
More electro retro, this time from Melbourne in Oz. One of my favourite bands of recent years, their third full length album was an aural pleasure zone from start to finish and showcased an advance in the density of their pulsating, playful euphoric looking back-push forward electronic grooves.
Kate Bush- Snowflake from 50 Words for Snow
Even though it didn’t snow this Christmas, listening to Kate Bush’s latest masterwork succoured my imagination enough that it didn’t have to. A quite magical, mostly stripped down concept album full of chill and warmth. Here the space of memory and imagination flow around simple piano figures and haunted vocals evoking cold breath on winter windows and past footsteps in the snow. Magical.
E ho finito. Arrivederci comrades.