December 31, 2021

HCTF's best of 2021 (5-1)

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. Here Comes The Flood covers a lot of ground and it shows in this eclectic, final tally.

Today: final countdown from number 5 to 1.

Please shop at your local record store. Most of them have a website where you can order your stuff. Buy directly from the artist, attend live shows when it's safe to do so again. Tell your friends. Word-of-mouth can't be beat as the prime source to discover new music.

The Speed Of Sound: Museum Of Tomorrow

5 The Speed Of Sound: Museum Of Tomorrow

The future has been cancelled, but the soundtrack lives on.

Manchester psychedelic power pop veterans (...) can't help feeling being duped by a future that never happened. Where are the mono rails, space travel, peace? "We were offered Star Trek, but they fed us Soylent Green", the very first line of opener Tomorrow's World is a both a battle cry and setting the tone for two seamless sets of song suites that take up one side each of Museum Of Tomorrow, a retro-futuristic concept album, bursting at the seams with hooks, ace melodies, and lyrical wizardry. It is a soundtrack for a dystopian movie that tries to chase away the darkness with kaleidoscopic gusto, both in pastel and Technicolor.

» Full review

Jumble Hole Clough: Trainspotting in Angola

4 Jumble Hole Clough: Trainspotting in Angola

Avant-gardist Colin Robinson's knack "for the idea of taking a futile and furtive hobby and turning it into an extreme sport" is in full bloom.

Technology has always fascinated Robinson. As a former electrical engineer he is adamant to find out what is in the box, take it apart and reassemble it in a new way. His music is like a twisted computer motherboard that keeps acting up, spewing out unexpected results that make the listener reassess his thoughts about what can be done with sounds and rhythms. He puts the spotlight on a bloke who invented a robot that still works today with In 1950, an RAF officer and former spy built a robot that steered itself towards a beer bottle. The future of public transport on the Green Isle gets traction with The Irish are no strangers to monorails. Being tipsy can be a lot of fun (A tantalising gin, pronto!), and so can taking the piss on a genre - Prog Rock in 43 Seconds actually runs for 51 seconds. A Tribute to Laurie Johnson is lovely tribute to a composer who scored tons of tv series and films (including The Avengers and Dr. Strangelove).

» Full review

Dogzen Zendog: Walking Quickly Standing Still

3 Dogzen Zendog: Walking Quickly Standing Still

Glenn O'Halloran's dark and twisted journey through Dub, Krautrock, and a bit of jazz.

The music is gnarly, eccentric, stubborn, knee-deep in effects, with his longtime friend, collaborator and fellow multi-instrumentalist Blake Leyh as his partner in crime. O'Halloran's aloof vocal delivery will be pigeon-holed as an acquiered taste - think Ivan Doroschuk (Men Without Hats) in a pissed off mood. The atmosphere of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is brought back with Outbound, when technology acts up as he tries to get his email to work. Relying on appliances with a mind of their own apparently has gotten him into trouble more than once - there is a broken fridge in Carlisle. Anger and anxiety are powerful emotions and he uses them to create harsh but alluring melodies that keep lingering for quite awhile after a track has finished. O'Halloran wants to move forward, but he has second thoughts about where to go next. If anything, it makes him an artist with an open mind, not giving a fuck about boundaries and genres. Listeners are welcome to join him, but if not, that's fine too.

» Full review

The Gama Sennin: The Gama Sennin

2 The Gama Sennin: The Gama Sennin

Californian "21st century psychedelic rock collective" gets it right on the first try.

Fronted by Kevin McGuire they barrel through ten songs on their self-titled debut album, freed from the constraints of playing other people's music. Most of the material falls into the progressive rock niche, with some forays into slower genres like stoner and desert rock, plus cherrypicking bits and pieces from the worlds of jazz and avant-garde. (...) Following the classic theatrical three-act structure (Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution) the songs on their album tell the tale of a man descending into darkness and madness, confronting his issues and coming up on top at the end. They cite Brian de Palma's cult movie Phantom of the Paradise and Friedrich Nietzsche's acclaimed book Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future as major influences. And while those two works might seem miles apart at first sight, they both explore the idea of an evil force that is out to get control. It could be the devil offering a short cut that goes South or it could be depression, for those who are caught in the fray it can be very bad news indeed. While the back story will be way over the head of most people, it will add to the enjoyment of the listening experience for those who will take the time and effort to study the lyrics more closely.

» Full review

Ward White: The Tender Age

1 Ward White: The Tender Age

Melodies that soar and soothe. And a way with words that is mindboggling and fun.

His flawless phrasing - a mix of David Bowie and Russell Mael - and stylish rock leanings put his latest album The Tender Age in the tradition of the mid-seventies, when suits became a thing again and it was OK to be tough in a smooth guise. (...) White is never in a hurry, singing his songs in at a leisurely pace, with the rockers On Foot and Wasn’t It Here as showcases for old school power chords. He is a storyteller, but it is never straight from A to B. He takes twists and turns, setting the scene with a striking image -"Every Methodist in Holcomb blistered by the pox of deceit huddled around their oil drum fire and I thought 'easy meat'" - and cutting to the next one in the next verse. There are not that many great songs about teeth, but White adds not one, but two of them to the shortlis. Chet Baker has a cameo in Dentures, and Karate Dentist is about a man who can't help falling in love, so it makes sense that he threw in a bit of George Harrison's guitar tone. The Tender Age is an album that should be enjoyed as a whole, an artifact waiting to be discovered and cherished by anyone who has the required attention span and enjoys superb musicianship and lyrical wit. The songs sparkle and purr, thanks to the skills of engineer John Spiker who did the mix, and Joe Lambert, who took care of the mastering.

» Full review

No comments:

Post a Comment