Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Hang the DJ top spot for '08!

And so my two standout albums of the year: Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago has been much written about and debated but it’s an album i’ve loved since getting an early copy on import from the US. The story behind the album’s genesis seems too romantic for some people, but for me it’s just a great album – sad and bruised and hopeful all to once – that has been a genuine word of mouth success. It hasn’t been hugely marketed, as sometimes happens (yet, at least), it wasn’t mined for singles and spin offs, it was just allowed to sit there and be talked about and discovered. His live shows too were stunning, i saw him twice and the songs seemed at once the same and different as you saw them played by his three piece band. Top marks from me.

My second record of the year is the Northline Soundtrack by Willy Vlautin & Paul Brainard, a forty minute instrumental album that accompanied Vlautin's sophomore novel published back in February (which is the only original soundtrack i know by the author of a published novel). I do admit to a bit of a bias here, having worked on the novel, but this is a beautiful piece of music – think Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas meets Ennio Morricone and you’re in the right dusty field. Fans of Richmond Fontaine will know all about Paul Brainard’s pedal steel playing (also with the Sadies, M. Ward etc.) but the arrangements he and Vlautin came up with for acoustic guitar, steel, drums, harmonica and trumpet were gorgeous, evocative and moving – from the haunting title theme and its refrain to ‘Doc Holidays’ , ‘Paul Newman Saves the Night’ and on. This is still only currently available with the original edition of the novel, but if this is your kind of thing you should really track it down (and the novel is a stunner too), here's a taster...

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