Considering its the year I decided to pen ‘Thoughts for Tonight’; the self-indulging, British, rant about what’s good on this side of ‘the pond’, it was an incredibly disheartening task coming up with an end of year list. Yet, after much careful deliberation, many re-listens and such extensive hair-pulling, that it looks like I’ve had my fingers in an electrical socket; I’ve come up with a list of the best British releases of the year, for your consumption and pleasure.
15. Emmy The Great – First Love [from First Love]
Feb 2009. Close Harbour Records
Emmy The Great is perhaps a risky first choice for a wholly British music end of year list; firstly she wasn’t born, or brought up, in the U.K., instead she comes from Hong Kong. Her inclusion however, comes from her very obvious involvement with the British music scene, around this time last year, and then at the beginning of 2009.
‘First Love’ is synonymous with the twee new/anti-folk scene that London gave birth to last year. The album is alluring and beautiful throughout, and certainly showed a diversity that perhaps, Laura Marling, was never quite capable of. The Guardian criticised Emmy for being “understated,” “winsome,” and “ultra-wordy;” three complaints I shall not be sharing with them. Her lyricism is draped in remorse, heartbreak and surprisingly non-conceited use of pop culture reference. Winter is returning, and as it does, Emmy The Great seems natural for the time of the year.
LISTEN :: First Love
14. Geddes & Alex Jones – Tubular [from The Paper Weight E.P.]
June 2009. Murmur
This collaboration was one of the best electronic dance music collaborations of the year. And if I was to be rating, reviewing, or listing record labels as well, then Murmur would definitely clinch the top spot.
The Paper Weight E.P. is a soulful serving of microhouse from two of London’s best DJs: Geddes, and Alex Jones. The E.P. closes with a hypnotic remix from Dutch DJ Lauhaus to round up one of the best electronic releases of the summer. While here the pairing’s production is great, where Geddes, and indeed Alex Jones, truly shine though is with their DJ-ing, and the former’s ability to throw the best party in London.
LISTEN :: Tubular
13. Codeine Velvet Club – Vanity Kills [from Vanity Kills]
November 2009. Island
As I stated in my recent column, CVC really are one of the most exciting new bands in Britain. And all it takes is a throwback forty years through music.
“Vanity Kills” sounds like film noir. The rock ‘n’ roll boy-girl exchanges, jaggedy guitars, and sexy ‘la da da dah”s from Lou Hickey warm you instantly; and the song’s ability to create the vision of whiskey-drenched evenings in a cabaret club is really quite impressive.
LISTEN :: Vanity Kills
12. Imogen Heap – First Train Home [from Ellipse]
August 2009. Megaphonic
Imogen Heap returned this year with the rather nice surprise of ‘Canvas’; a track that blew me away and stayed on loop for days on end.
Ellipse, unlike her previous albums, felt more coherent in terms of narrative, her soulful and eery electronic diversity is better displayed, and she’s captured euphoric bliss, contrasting the heartbreak of before. Its cliche to say an artist matures with each album. Yet there has been so much regression in music this year, that hearing Imogen Heap’s lyrical, and certainly, musical progression is welcoming. “First Train Home” beautifully introduces the album.
LISTEN :: First Train Home
11. Nathan Fake – Basic Mountain [from Hard Islands]
May 2009. Border Community
A return from Nathan Fake, after what feels like an entire decade, sees the East Anglian producer return closer to his live techno mixes, than previous productions dictate.
His debut was blissful electronica for people who found beauty in machinery. 2009’s followup in “Hard Islands” showed the record-buying world the techier side to Nathan Fake. Personal album favourite ‘Basic Mountain’ fuses together discordant pitch bends, lofi drums, and euphoric melodies; it really is a true blend of his countryside electronica, and city techno.
LISTEN :: Basic Mountain