It's my first post of the new year and, though late to the game, I wanted to share my favourite music from last year. 2016 was a notoriously terrible year (not that this year is exactly peachy so far!), but thankfully the same can't be said of the music that came out last year. It was, to quote Lisa Simpson's insensitive future fiancé, like a flower that grew out of a pot of dirt. I feel spoiled by the amount and variety of quality music I've been enjoying from last year's offerings. There are the gorgeous vintage European pop sounds of The Yearning and Lia Pamina, the visionary retrofuturism of Adrian Younge, the moving, classic songwriting of Big Smoke, the raw garage rock of The Mystery Lights, some fresh takes on dream pop, and many outings in psychedelic-influenced, experimental pop. Some of these albums have quickly become all-time favourites, not just favourites of the year. Below is a playlist of songs from my most-loved releases of 2016, including albums, singles and EPs, in no particular order. A list of my top eleven albums (I could not narrow it down to ten!) of the year – again, in no specific order – follows it.
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- Britta Phillips - Daydream (Luck Or Magic)
- Big Smoke - Honey, I (Time Is Golden)
- Margo Price - Hands Of Time (Midwest Farmer's Daughter)
- Kadhja Bonet - Fairweather Friend (The Visitor)
- The Yearning - When I Lost You (Evening Souvenirs)
- Le Super Homard - Maple Key (Maple Key)
- Gloria - Show Me Your Trail (Gloria In Excelsis Stereo)
- Lake Ruth - Helium (Actual Entity)
- Adrian Younge Presents Venice Dawn - Ready To Love (Something About April II)
- Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - A Wonderful Seed (Until The Hunter)
- Julia Jacklin - Pool Party (Don't Let The Kids Win)
Name your price download.
- Beverly - Victoria (The Blue Swell)
- Nice As Fuck - Door (Nice As Fuck)
- The Limiñanas - Dahlia Rouge (Malamore)
- The Mystery Lights - Follow Me Home (The Mystery Lights)
- Gaye Su Akyol - Eski tüfek (Hologram İmparatorluğu)
- La Femme - Le vide est ton nouveau prénom (Mystère)
- Lia Pamina - Créeme (Love Is Enough)
- Cat's Eyes - Everything Moves Towards the Sun (Treasure House)
- Innerspace Orchestra - One Way Glass (One Way Glass single)
- Whyte Horses - Peach Tree Street (Pop Or Not)
- Charlie Hilton - Pony (Palana)
- Prudence Rees-Lee - Fair Witness (Fair Witness single)
- Olympia - Smoke Signals (Self Talk)
- Juniore - Panique (Panique single)
- September Girls - Quicksand (Age Of Indignation)
- Heron Oblivion - Your Hollows (Heron Oblivion)
- Delphine Dora - Alpha centauri (Le Fruit de mes songes)
- Morgan Delt - Sun Powers (Phase Zero)
- Charles Bradley - Ain't Gonna Give It Up (Changes)
- The Honey Pot - Almost Exactly Beautiful (Inside The Whale)
- Beautify Junkyards - Constant Flux (Other Voices 08 single)
- Lush - Lost Boy (Blind Spot EP)
- Exploded View - Stand Your Ground (Exploded View)
- Bat For Lashes - In God's House (The Bride)
- Adrian Younge presents The Electronique Void - Black Noise (Black Noise)
- TOY - Dream Orchestrator (Clear Shot)
- Jarvis Cocker - Theme From "Likely Stories" (Likely Stories EP)
- The Galaxy Electric - Nightmares (Everything is Light and Sound)
- Jenny Hval - Female Vampire (Blood Bitch)
- Leonard Cohen - Traveling Light (You Want it Darker)
- John Cunningham - I Can Fly (Fell)
- Paul Kelly - Sonnet 73 (Seven Sonnets & A Song)
- The New Lines - Love and Cannibalism (Love and Cannibalism)
- Mild High Club - Homage (Skiptracing)
- COTE - London (London single)
- Samara Lubelski - What's Up Rider (The Gilded Raid)
Top 11 albums:
A mix for Halloween featuring music from 70s European horror soundtracks, eerie vintage folk-pop, contemporary pop noir and more. Last year, I made a devil-themed mix drawing from a similar range of artists, but where that one was skin-crawlingly creepy, this is more softly unnerving, with undercurrents of romance and sensuality. It makes me vaguely picture an imaginary classic horror film where a beautiful heroine is lured into a haunted forest by an irresistible but diabolical lover. Amid the prettily haunting sounds, there are still some genuinely terrifying moments – Goblin's bloodcurdling 'Sighs', from Suspiria, for example – should this ominous realm start to feel too cosy.
The mix image is Elsa Martinelli in Roger Vadim's 1960 vampire flick, Et mourir de plaisir (aka Blood and Roses).
Tracklist (Show details)
- François De Roubaix - Les Lèvres Rouges (1971)
From the Les Lèvres Rouges (Daughters of Darkness) soundtrack.
- Beautify Junkyards - Longo Amanhã (2015)
From The Beast Shouted Love.
- Ennio Morricone - Astratto IV (1971)
From the Veruschka - poesia di una donna soundtrack.
- Marianne Faithfull - Oh Look Around You (1965)
From her self-titled debut album.
- Daniela Casa - Ignoto (1975)
From Società Malata, reissued on Penny Records in 2013, and again on Dagored this year.
- Death and Vanilla - Shadow and Shape (2015)
- Comus - Bitten (1971)
From First Utterance.
- The Paradise Motel - Bad Light (1996)
From Still Life.
- Broadcast - The Sacred Marriage (2013)
From the soundtrack to Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio.
- Jenny Hval - In the Red (2016)
From Blood Bitch.
- Cat's Eyes - Pavane (2015)
From the soundtrack to another Strickland film, The Duke of Burgundy.
- Françoise Hardy - The Rose (1966)
From Hardy's first English language album, In English.
- Piero Umiliani - Nocturne (1973)
From To-Day's Sound, reissued on Easy Tempo in 1997.
- Ennio Morricone - Metamorfosi (1971)
From the La classe operaia va in paradiso.
- Laurence Vanay - Soleil Rouge (1974)
- Espers - Flowery Noontide (2005)
- Cat's Eyes - Black Madonna (2015)
From The Duke of Burgundy.
- Les Maledictus Sound - Heathcliff Y Cry Your Name (1968)
From Attention (or arguably Les Maledictus Sound - I'm uncertain of the correct title), the only release by this band helmed by Jean-Pierre Massiera.
- Keith Seatman - A Slight of Hand (2013)
- Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - The False Husband (2006)
From Ballad Of The Broken Seas.
- Jane Weaver - Parade of Blood Red Sorrows (2013)
- Belbury Poly - Pan's Garden (2006)
From The Owl's Map.
- Spirogyra - Old Boot Wine (1973)
From the 2004 compilation Gather In The Mushrooms – The British Acid Folk Underground 1968-1974. Originally from the album Bells, Boots and Shambles.
- Phillip Lambro / Orriel Smith - Hannah Emerges In the Night (1973)
Originally from the Crypt of the Living Dead soundtrack, this was included as a bonus track on the 2011 digital issue of Smith's 1968 single, 'Tiffany Glass' (which was also written by Lambro).
- Still Corners - Demons (2011)
From Creatures of an Hour.
- Acanthus - Sleeping Beauty (Samba Des Vampires) (1971)
From the soundtrack to Jean Rollin's Le Frisson des vampires, released by Finders Keepers Records in 2010.
- Emil Richards - Opal (October) (1966)
From New Sound Element "Stones", reissued by The Omni Recording Corporation in 2012.
- Lake Ruth - One Night As I Lay On My Bed (2016)
From Actual Entity.
- Colleen - Le Labyrinthe (2007)
- Angelo Badalamenti - Laura's Dark Boogie (1990)
From Twin Peaks: Season Two Music and More (2007).
- Maxine Sullivan - Dark Eyes (1938)
From the 1997 compilation The Chronological Classics: Maxine Sullivan 1937-1938.
- Jean Prodromidès - Carmilla et Léopoldo (1960)
From the Et mourir de plaisir (Blood and Roses) soundtrack.
- Harmonic 33 - Long Shadow (2005)
From Music For Film, Television & Radio, Volume 1.
- Goblin - Sighs (1977)
From the soundtrack to Dario Argento's Suspiria, reissued on Bella Casa's The Awakening box set in 2012.
- Harper / Russe / St. George - Nightwalker (1972)
From Electrosonic, a library music record Don Harper, Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson (the latter two under pseudonyms) made for KPM, reissued by Glo-Spot in 2006.
- Clara Rockmore - Rachmaninoff: Vocalise (1977)
From The Art of the Theremin.
- Ela Orleans - Nocturne (2012)
From Tumult In Clouds.
- Elysian Fields - Black Acres (2000) – Free download available from Epitonic.
From Queen Of The Meadow.
- Luboš Fišer - Blood Red Rose (1972)
From the Morgiana soundtrack, released by Finders Keepers Records in 2013.
- Mono In VCF - We Could've Owned The World (2008)
From Mono In VCF.
In this clip from Show Tom Jones, which aired on French television on July 30 1966, Serge Gainsbourg performs his marvellous 'Qui est "In" qui est "Out". The show was a one-off special hosted by Tom Jones and mostly features performances by him, but some French artists show up as well, including Françoise Hardy, Eric Charden, Zouzou and Pussy Cat. There are a mix of live and lip-synched performances – Gainsbourg's here being the latter, though he is as charismatic as ever.
Who needs fancy effects when you have Gainsbourg, a razor blade and some large paper signs? I enjoy his manner here, a mix of his natural shyness and an amusingly affected disinterest. This is one of my favourite Gainsbourg songs – it has that groovy organ, great guitar and a relentless stomping beat, and there's the nerdly satisfaction of the way the first two lines of each verse end with "in" or "out" syllables. And nothing beats upbeat cynicism in pop, of which Gainsbourg is of course the master. But amidst the thick cynicism here – which I think you can feel even if you don't understand the lyrics – there is something about the melody I find oddly moving. I get strangely emotional when I hear this song, both because of that quality and just because I find the song so overwhelmingly good.
Though Gainsbourg's appeal and a sense of emotional connection to his songs transcend language, there is something key those of us who don't speak French miss out on. Luckily, there are some resources that help bridge that gap. My Own Role is an excellent collection of English translations of Gainsbourg's songs, but sadly 'Qui est "in" qui est "out"' is not there. But there is a good translation on the blog French One Song At A Time, though it's worth noting "le Cashbox" in the lyrics actually refers to the music charts magazine Cashbox. There's also Mick Harvey's English cover 'Who Is "In" Who Is "Out"' from 1997's Pink Elephants. I love Harvey's versions – the translations are faithful while being carefully adjusted to suit the English language and to preserve rhyming schemes. Happily, he has just released a new album of Gainsbourg covers, Delirium Tremens.
I have a couple more clips from this show up on Youtube: Marianne Faithfull singing 'Si demain', and Françoise Hardy performing 'La Maison ou j'ai grandi' & 'Il est des choses', briefly chatting with Tom Jones between songs.
I'm feeling spoiled this year thanks to all the quality Christmas music I've found online that the artists have generously made available for free download. Below is my list of finds. Got any more to add?
There are plenty of Go-Betweens mp3s on the sites posted below for the uninitiated, or anyone whose CD collection has mysteriously whittled down over time. I do prefer the originals, but these covers are a little more in line with what I usually post:
To me, a sign of flawless pop is that it can stand up to various interpretations. Interesting to hear how easily these tracks lend themselves to this style - chic, gentle pop with femme vocals. My hope would be that, for those of you who would not normally be drawn to The Go-Betweens' style of music, hearing these could serve as a bridge to appreciating it. There is much prettiness to these, but to me, more beauty in the originals.
'Spring Rain' is actually a Robert Forster song, but I thought it would be nice to include Spanish band Souvenir's cover (in French), to show how far and wide love for them has spread over the years. And because I know you guys are suckers for the French stuff.
Lindy Morrison interview (ABC)
J Files: The Go-Betweens (streaming audio, including live tracks)
out of print
- February 19 2017
- February 2 2017
- December 24 2016
- December 23 2016
- November 25 2016
- November 19 2016
- November 11 2016
- October 29 2016
- October 7 2016
- September 1 2016
- August 29 2016
- July 30 2016
- July 19 2016
- July 14 2016
- Sun, Jul 03 2016
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