December 29, 2018

HCTF's best of 2018 (15-11)

HCTF's annual list of the 20 albums that will be in regular rotation for many years to come. As per usual many genres are represented. This blog covers a lot of ground and it shows in this eclectic, final tally.

Today: countdown from number 15 to 11.

Please shop at your local record store, buy directly from the artist, attend live shows. Don't block anyone's view with with your phone (better still, switch it off altogether). Shut the fuck up while the band is playing. Educate your friends. Word-of-mouth can't be beat as the prime source to discover new music.

15 Reinier Baas & Ben van Gelder ft Metropole Orkest: Smash Hits

Two Dutch jazz cats can make an orchestra swing.

Baas and Van Gelder have been playing together for years, solidifying in instantaneous musical interaction that the orchestra could latch onto. (...) The soloists found themselves surrounded by a bunch of musicians who were enjoying themselves and went out their way to be step out the faceless mode of sight-reading professionals. Fluidity interspersed with the ability to stop and start again within the blink of an eye can only be achieved when musicians are willing and able to really listen to each other.

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14 The Chewers: Downhill Calendar

Nashville noise duo scratches where it itches.

(They) shun any from of crowd pleasing and their lyrics will throw the folks at the PMRC into a hissy fit when they are exposed to Where Is the Fun?: "Sometimes I Think I'm a piece of shit // Sometimes I think I'm great // Sometimes all I can do in a day is self-flagellate and masturbate". Their warped sense of humour comes to fore in Frankie's Downhill Calendar, a Bukowskian tale of demise ("Bought himself a smart phone, found out that he was stupid").

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13 Hadley McCall Thackston: Hadley McCall Thackston

A singer-songwriter that needed some convincing to make a record.

The songs on her self-titled album touch base with the Jazz age, country and folk, all the key genres for an ace Americana record. For a newcomer on the scene her vocal delivery is pretty damn amazing: totally at ease storytelling and bravado rolled into one.

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12 Jumble Hole Clough: Bats Tidied Up Heliport

Make it weird and make it fun to teach the masses about the wonders of avant-garde.

English avant-gardist Colin Robinson has pulled out all the stops on Bats Tidied Up Heliport the latest album of his Jumble Hole Clough. He is a musician who makes eccentricity look bland and mainstream as he cooks up a wild, post-pastoral songs that will baffle - and quite possibly - slightly worry casual listeners. Being a versatile multi-instrumentalist enables him to pick any colour or texture he likes, going wild like Jackson Pollock or pinpointing the notes like the dots of Georges Seurat. Robinson isn't the world's greatest singer, but his laconic delivery fits in nicely with his off-hand wordplay (John Wayne Is Big Wobbulator), penchant for anagrams, and knack for turning casual observations into something universal.

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11 The Saxophones: Songs of The Saxophones

Gentle folk that packs a punch.

Due to their lack of volume The Saxophones deserve undivided attention. Their songs are not for casual listeners with a short attention span. In order to fully appreciate the elongated notes in Work Music, the lonesome guitar in Find I Forget or the nod to Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land in Picture it's best to draw the curtains an to disconnect the phone. Songs of The Saxophones is a prime example of ambient folk, a record that takes melancholy to the next level.

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