As is usual at this time, end of year lists are appearing all over the net and inevitably upon reading them there are numerous albums I either hadn’t heard of or didn’t take the time to investigate before compiling my own list.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been listening to three albums in particular that have really impressed me and, had I heard them earlier, would more than likely have been included in my list. Two of these have come to my notice via DrownedinSound.com (the amount of artists and bands I’ve got into thanks to this site over the last four or five years is astounding!) one via their ‘records you hadn’t heard (of) in 2010‘ thread on their message boards and the other was placed at No4 in their end of year list.
Solar Bears are two guys from Ireland, their name apparently comes from a Russian sci-fi film by Andrei Tarkovsky (although I can find no mention of it on IMDB). Their music is predominantly instrumental electronica, in places similar to Boards of Canada and a couple of tracks (Twin Stars and The Quiet Planet in particular) could be theme tunes to 70s or 80s sci-fi TV series that were never made! In that respect these tracks remind me of the album “Deep Red” released by Deadly Avenger in 2002, and like that album I just can’t seem to stop listening to it! You can check it out here on Spotify.
This was the album that was placed at number four in DiS’s end of year list. At a brief 28 minutes this is a delicate lo-fi journey into the soul of Seattle songwriter Mike Hadreas. His voice reminds me a lot of Sufjan Stevens at around the time of the Illinois album except, as was pointed out by another blogger, Sufjan’s voice emanates more confidence where Mike’s voice almost seems to crack through emotion in places. The breathy vocals, lo-fi crackles and hisses are also reminiscent of “Lasted”, the Benoît Pioulard album that came in at No2 on my list. Check out what DrownedinSound said about it in their article. It is also being streamed in full on Soundcloud here, or you can listen to it via Spotify.
This Swedish indie-pop band released their debut in 2002 and this is their third release, so not the most prolific of artists then! This album came out back in April and is a really nice mix of indie-pop and shoegaze with echoes of Phoenix or Mew, and breathy echoey vocals similar this year’s Wild Nothing, and like that album it sounds really summery, especially the jangly dream-pop of “The Video Dept”. It’s on Spotify here.