January Highlights – 2012 off to a good start!

As well as checking out a couple of newies, this month has mainly comprised of listening to albums that came out last year that I failed to either take notice of or just hadn’t heard of at the time. If you’ve seen my 2011 end of year list you’ll hopefully agree it wasn’t due to me being lazy on the listening front, it’s just not possible to listen to everything that gets released!

I’ll start with some of the ones from last year then mention the new ones.

First up is “One” the debut album by Reading prog metal outfit TesseracT. I actually did hear this last year on Spotify but for some reason at the time it didn’t really do anything for me so I discounted it. I don’t know what has changed or maybe it’s just giving it another listen but this time they really hit a good spot! Complicated time signatures, mathy guitar work, vocals switching between clean and screamed, and a word until recently I had never heard, djent. That an onomatopoeic word describing a guitar sound has become a genre itself says something about music, although I’m not sure what that is!

From progressive metal we take a drastic swerve towards dirty, slightly scary hip-hop with Death Grips  and their album from last year “Exmilitary“. I saw this in the end of year list drawn up by the regularly excellent website The Quietus towards the end of last year but did not get around to listening to it until this month. From the opener that starts with a vocal sample of Charles Manson to  spat out lyrics like “I fuck the music, I make it come!” on Spread Eagle Cross The Block  and “Head of a trick in a bucket, body of a trick in a bag,” on Guillotine you know you’re not in for an easy ride. But it’s not all nasty, 5D recreates the Pet Shop Boys’ West End Girls, it’s only 45 seconds long though, so a very brief respite! MC Ride’s brutal invective, tats and beard make him seem like a man with whom one would not want to fuck!

Bringing it all back down now with the rather gorgeous “Kaputt” by Canadian band Destroyer. This was on a lot of lists last year but it’s taken a good few listens to really start to click with me. The results of the dawning realisation about this album will determine whether I embark on the rather daunting task of investigating the previous eight albums! If anyone reading out there has pointers as to where is good to start please let me know in the comments section!

Last of the missed 2011 gems for the time being is “Felt” by German neo-classicist Nils Frahm. The album is released on Erased Tapes who released my top 5 album A Winged Victory For The Sullen last year and this release shares that one’s quiet gentle introspection. Piano compositions that are so hushed at times you are able to hear the sounds of the instrument’s inner workings and the player’s breathing, the intimacy this creates is quite startling. The deserved receiver of a 9/10 review on DrownedinSound.

Ok, now for a couple of new releases I’ve heard that you would do well to investigate;

Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses released their second long player this month, “Tough Love” sees them really expanding on their tongue in cheek, balls out punk rock they began on their well received self titled debut from 2010. Tom Hudson’s raucous vocals and James Brown’s guitar work really seem to have progressed, production on this album by Gil Norton who was at the helm for Pixies’ seminal “Doolittle“, probably also adds to the generally “bigger” feel of this short but extremely fun album.

A brief mention now for Alcest’sLes Voyages De L’Âme“. I reviewed this the other week so I won’t go over it again, but this is still getting regular spins, as I said in the review, not as exciting as their previous offering but a really nice album of shoegaze, post-metal inspired songs with gentle black metal leanings!

The next month brings a couple of albums I’m really looking forward to getting my ears around, the new double CD by Crippled Black Phoenix, the band behind “I, Vigilante“, 2010’s fifth best album (according to yours truly!), dropped through my door yesterday and “(Mankind) The Crafty Ape” will be getting its first listen this afternoon. Also on my listening agenda is “No One Can Ever Know“, the third album by Glasgow’s The Twilight Sad released on February 6th. Here’s the rather unsettling video for the first single off it, Another Bed;

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