A Happy New Year to you all. Think I've just about got over the Christmas eating extravaganza and managed to reset my body clock so that I'm again capable of functioning before 11am. Time for my review of 2009, which should run over the next four or five weeks, first stop Albums. Had planned to have all five done by now but this is the only one ready so it might drag on longer than I intended - great start.
1. Dananananaykroyd "Hey Everyone!" - Debut album from Scottish fight-popsters which amazingly lived up to their live performances. Always tricky for a great live band to reproduce their style on record but the 'Naykroyd succeeded.
2. Bill Callahan "Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle" - The artist formerly known as Smog has not changed dramatically since he started going by his given name. Callahan writes wonderfully subtle yet cutting lyrics and he seems to be getting better with age.
3. The Decemberists "The Hazards Of Love" - It's the drums that did it for me. Their performance of "The Rake's Song" on "Later..." had nearly every member of the band pounding along to the beat. An Indie-Folk version of the Kodo Drummers. The first time I'd heard The Decemberists I dismissed them for being indie-folksters and far too fey. This album sounds a bit more stadium rock, which should be a bad thing, but ... what can I say. In fact there are a number of reasons (rock opera, concept album, repeating song cycles) that mean I shouldn't really like this as much as I do but there's something going on (Prog rock I suspect!) I like a lot.
4. Dan Auerbach "Keep It Hid" - The half of the Black Keys that isn't the drummer goes it alone for a solo album. "Keep It Hid" doesn't stray too far from the Black Keys' bluesy template. Auerbach gets the opportunity to try out a full band for size and achieves a slightly lusher and fuller sound.
5. Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears "Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!" - Another "Later ..." spot. Whatever you might think of Jools Holland he does offer great exposure for up and coming bands. This is a 60's Stax style, garage-soul revue, recorded in James Browns attic. It's not breaking any new barriers, and at times it sounds like Motown Karaoke, but it's definitely full on party music!