wears the trousers magazine


best of 2009: readers poll results #30-21

Still counting down the 50 albums you voted for in the highest number as your favourites for 2009. Numbers 30–21 right here.

* * *

30

Blue Roses
Blue Roses

[XL; April 2009]

What we said then: “Featuring a faded photograph of a barren coastal scene on its cover and no further clues as to what you might expect to find inside, this mysterious album leaves it to the music to do the talking. What is concealed inside is an instant classic debut; a patient and timeless record that offers a welcome antidote to the frantic absurdity of modern life… Blue Roses sounds blissfully unaware of the latest music industry trends. Unlike current flavour of the month Natasha Khan, [Laura] Groves seems to understand that it takes more than an ’80s drumbeat to channel the spirit of Kate Bush, creating something altogether more original and rewarding than many of her peers.” •••• Richard Steele

What we say now: It’s lovely to see Blue Roses this high up on the list – great recognition for a fantastic debut that we think will stand the test of time. The follow-up EP, Does Anyone Love Me Now?, released in December, is well worth getting too.

Download: ‘Cover Your Tracks’, ‘I Am Leaving’, ‘I Wish I…’

29

Alessi’s Ark
Notes From The Treehouse

[Virgin; May 2009]

What we said then: “There are few things more exciting than when an artist takes your wildest hopes and then goes one step beyond, as Alessi has done with Notes From The Treehouse. It’s quite incredible, really. At just 18, she’s got the best in the business on her side, the spirit and the soul of Omaha under her skin, and delivered a debut that has managed to sidestep all the critical expectations. She deserves to be huge.” ••••½ Scott Sinclair

What we say now: We knew Alessi had it in her to make a great album but we weren’t expecting to be quite so bowled over by Notes From The Treehouse. The beyond-her-years poignancy of the lyrics, the beautiful melodies and Mike Mogis’s sympathetic production all add up to a thoroughly charming, molasses-sweet confection that points to a brilliant future for this young songwriter. She’s putting out a new EP in early 2010 and we can’t wait to hear it.

Download: ‘Over The Hill’, ‘The Asteroids Collide’, ‘Woman’

28

Vivian Girls
Everything Goes Wrong

[In The Red; September 2009]

What we said then: “The songwriting on display here has a maturing quality, improving on previous material in terms of skill and benefitting from from a broadening of musical technique… But with many songs recorded in single takes, they retain their jangling, slingshot DIY impact… Impossibly cool and disarmingly charged, Everything Goes Wrong combines the Vivian Girls’ teenage-like exuberance with a blooming musical aptitude, affirming the momentum and potential from their debut as genuine indie greatness rather then just beginners’ luck, and riding it a wave or two further.” •••• Charlotte Richardson Andrews

What we say now: Maintaining the energy and magic that their self-titled debut radiated was obviously not as hard as some of us might have guessed, and though things get a little darker on this second effort, their thrashy punk stylings are still fresh and inspiring. This album revealed a band that sailed past the early-days mountain of praise and adoration with a studious, dedicated concentration. Though the majority seem keen to idolise them as cool, indie poster girls, Everything Goes Wrong is ego- and posturing-free, and all about the music; an album that keeps the Vivian Girls star burning with longevity.

Download: ‘Before I Start To Cry’, ‘The Desert’, ‘When I’m Gone’

27

Micachu
Jewellery

[Rough Trade; March 2009]

What we said then: “It would be both futile and unhelpful to categorise Jewellery. Micachu is one of those rare artists who can straddle more then one field, excel in them all, and yet remain in a category of her own. Female artists seem to be at the forefront of creating indefinably genre-less music; women such as M.I.A. and Santogold are revered for mixing genres until they blend into one cohesive style, label-less yet stamped with an inimitable, signature sound unique to the artist. [Mica] Levi is capable of this same tremendous skill, a fact made all the more potent when considering her age.” ••••• Charlotte Richardson Andrews

What we say now: Despite the lack of a ‘Paper Planes’-sized breakthrough hit, Jewellery was one of the most exciting debuts of recent years, a genre-bending album that could only have been made by a UK artist, with elements of grime, dub and Britpop indie weaving throughout. They may have fallen off the radar a tad in recent months, but Jewellery’s avant-garde singularity still stands out among the year’s best.

Download: ‘Curly Teeth’, ‘Golden Phone’, ‘Turn Me Well’

26

Sally Shapiro
My Guilty Pleasure

[Permanent Vacation; August 2009]

What we said then: “While some could dismiss the entire new wave of Italo disco as shameless theft from a now-trendy ’80s genre, it’s clear that Sally Shapiro are a cut above… In the remarkably and justifiably confident My Guilty Pleasure, [producer Johan] Agebjörn has produced another record that contributes beautifully to a still-growing scene. So confident are they that first single ‘Miracle’ is left until last, and the justification comes with the fact that it’s preceded by a full complement of potential hits, ensuring that this is one of those records that you’re almost certainly going to hear about increasingly as the summer (such that it is) unfolds.” •••• Seb Law

What we say now: There’s nothing guilty about our love for Sally Shapiro, and this second album proper just etched it ever deeper on our Scandophile hearts. How could we resist the aggressively sweet synths of ‘Love In July’, or the electro-dream-pop storm of ‘Miracle’? From the blissfully seductive intro of ‘Swimming In The Blue Lagoon’, we were hooked. What My Guilty Pleasure confirmed for us most clearly is that the principal charm of Sally Shapiro lies in their sheer lack of pretension, making their music stand far apart from the usual crowd. They’ll make you dance, not by shoving you into locomotion but by tickling your ears with a feather until you fall about.

Download: ‘Dying In Africa’, ‘Love In July’, ‘Miracle’

25

Au Revoir Simone
Still Night, Still Light

[Our Secret Record Company; May 2009]

What we said then: “With the band’s popularity running higher than ever before, you might expect Au Revoir Simone to up the ante and go for a more accessible sound. In fact, Still Night, Still Light does the opposite and lends a noticeably but not overpoweringly darker overtone to their music… On the best tracks, Au Revoir Simone command an almost church-like reverence with Erika, Annie and Heather’s vocal arrangements more akin to a heavenly choir than to indie-pop figureheads, and this is perhaps where much of the album’s grown-up feel comes from.” •••½ Hugh Armitage

What we say now: Look, let’s just say it outright – we were a bit disappointed by Still Night, Still Light. It’s a perfectly lovely and accomplished album, but we were expecting more from Au Revoir Simone after the brilliance of The Bird Of Music. This one just hasn’t stuck with us in the same way.

Download: ‘Anywhere You Looked’, ‘Knight Of Wands’, ‘Only You Can Make You Happy’

24

Polly Scattergood
Polly Scattergood

[Mute; March 2009]

What we said then: “Eponymous albums present themselves as a self-portrait rather than an untitled work, and the portrait Polly Scattergood presents of herself here is unsettling but beguiling. Drowning in insecurities, uncertain of men and uncertain of people in general, her energy comes from a slowly stewed anger that surfaces through some pretty blunt lyrics… Scattergood uses songwriting for catharsis. Though indulgent, her references to failed relationships, unconvincing self-help mantras and general insecurities are delivered with enough conviction and pleasing bitterness.” •••½ Daniel Clatworthy

What we say now: An impressive showing for Polly Scattergood here, voters. This diverse and interesting debut introduced a prodigious young talent expressing a complex musical language. Though the sophistication of her arrangements wasn’t quite matched by her lyrics, which proved to be a stumbling block for some, there was plenty to absorb and think about. In some ways she reminds us of the pop equivalent of KatieJane Garside, which can’t be a bad thing at all. We’ll be paying close attention to what she does next.

Download: ‘Bunny Club’, ‘Nitrogen Pink’, ‘Please Don’t Touch’

23

Camera Obscura
My Maudlin Career

[4AD; April 2009]

What we said then: “Camera Obscura have no doubt felt a certain burden expectation in the making of My Maudlin Career. But it really doesn’t show… As an album, [it] has a delicately light touch. It’s full of pleasure and warmth and is perfectly constructed. It feels like it is over in a few seconds and leaves you wanting to listen more and more – essentially the perfect pop formula. Buy it, love it: come October you’ll be listening to it longingly, remembering the summer that was.” ••••½ Scott Sinclair

What we say now: It feels like My Maudlin Career didn’t quite receive the same degree of adulation afforded to Let’s Get Out Of This Country, and it certainly hasn’t been nearly as present in others’ year-end lists as we might have expected, so it’s great to see so many of you speaking up for it. Confident and emotionally complex, its abundant moments of absolute pop genius bestow the album with a radiance that’s easy to love.

Download: ‘James’, ‘Other Towns & Cities’, ‘The Sweetest Thing’

22

Sarah Blasko
As Day Follows Night

[Dew Process; July 2009]

What we said then: “[Sarah] Blasko has crafted an elegant third record – her first to be entirely self-penned – that could well see her join the ranks of Paul Kelly, Daniel Johns and Sia Furler as one of Australia’s greatest songwriters… It’s been a promising year for Australian female artists thus far, but perhaps no album has the potential to capture the world’s attention quite like As Day Follows Night… The heartbreaking lyrics and emotive voice are still there, but what’s more exciting is that her music is still evolving and maturing. For Blasko, the growth possibilities are seemingly endless.” •••• Dane Hodges

What we say now: As Day Follows Night may not be as sonically adventurous as Blasko’s previous album, What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have, but there’s incredible beauty in the simplicity on display here. The vocals are flawless and the production sublime, and we’re really glad to see the album get a full UK release through Dramatico Records in early 2010. Sarah Blasko deserves to be huge all over the world, not just down under.

Download: ‘All I Want’, ‘Down On Love’, ‘Sleeper Awake’

21

Cortney Tidwell
Boys

[City Slang; June 2009]

What we said then: “There is an equal balance of discord and unity throughout the album, creating a sense of excitement for the patient listener in search of sonic innovation. Lush arrangements make for a psychedelic experience, as swirling guitars and synthesizers meld with the reverberating vocals – sometimes so well that it becomes difficult to differentiate between the two… In some cases the songwriting plays second fiddle to the experimentation, which may frustrate those who enjoyed the more conventional direction of her debut. These niggles aside, Boys remains an exciting and impressive document of Tidwell flexing her creative muscles.” •••½ Dan Everett

What we say now: Boys was a definite grower for us this year. Replacing the celestial charms of her 2006 debut Don’t Let Stars Keep Us Tangled Up with an earthier and harder hitting approach was definitely a risk for Cortney Tidwell, but it pays off beautifully. Her gritty determination shines right through these songs about the men in her life, making for a deeply, esoterically personal record that reveals its immense emotional power slowly.

Download: ’17 Horses’, ‘Solid State’, ‘Watusii’

* * *

Additional commentary by Charlotte Richardson Andrews (#27, #28) and Alan Pedder (the rest).

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Polly Scattergood is one of the most annoying singers around right now. I just can’t warm up to her.

Sierra Swan has a new album out, how come it’s not getting press with you guys?

Comment by Angie

You’re not alone in thinking that Angie!

We actually have a brand new interview with Sierra Swan going up next week. Watch this space!

Comment by Wears The Trousers magazine

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