Thursday, 24 December 2015

Hissyfit 'Albums of the Year' 2015

Joint 21: John Grant: Grey Tickles, Black Pressure/Father John Misty: I Love you, Honeybear

These two albums are inseparable for me.
Is it the concussive confusion between self loathing and self deprecation that binds them so tightly?
I wish that I cared.
Bile fueled bitterness and heartache are obvious bedfellows but there's an unrelenting arch smugness to both Johns' humor that prevents me from truly loving the songs.
Both Johns are full of life.
Both Johns are full of shite.
Both Johns are bloodless.
Both Johns sure can spell 'irony' and boy... are both Johns eager to prove it.
Both Johns are knowing, cutting and cooly cynical.
Both Johns are half heart, half smart and... just too clever by half.
And although both Johns desperately shout 'CHARISMA!' at you they lack any engaging character.
It's all persona and no presence.
Why top 21 then?
Well... there's never a dull moment and the tunes are great.
Taken out of smug situ there are some wonderful songs here.
Both Johns can break your heart but you kind of know that your tears would be met with a knowing cackle and a whacky wink.

                                               20: Emily Barker: The Toerag Sessions

Meanwhile, this is just plain and simply beautiful.
Porcelain perfection.

                                                        19: Boo Hewerdine: Open

Boo says that he found the tapes of these 'lost songs' in a box in his garage.
Demos from 2003 apparently.
And that box was chock full of everything that the afore mentioned two Johns lack:
These spartan snapshots perfectly capture Boo naked, although it seems that he kept his glasses on as the emotional focus of these candids is as pin sharp as ever.
We await fresh material with bated breath but until then, this'll Boo nicely.        

                                                           18: Max Richter: Sleep

I have trouble sleeping, particularly when Di's away.
This helped greatly.
Richter's intensions for the album:
“It’s my personal lullaby for a frenetic world. A manifesto for a slower pace of existence. I want people to start playing it while they are getting ready for bed, so that they hear it in their sleep.” 
And it does what it says on the tin. Quite beautifully.

                                           17: Dave Rawlings Machine: Nashville Obsolete

Dave Rawlings and soulmate Gillian Welch have long been producing their own inimitable brand of 'Southern Gothic'. Welch takes a back seat here affording Rawlings the opportunity to stretch out and test his mettle. The songs are long and languorous; the fiddles have been replaced by string sections and it's that luxuriant luster that makes the whole affair so appealing.

                                                 16: All Your Favorite Bands: Dawes

They wear their influences unashamedly. If you like Jackson Browne you'll be thrilled at the recognitions. This is no tribute band though; there's an unimpeachable focus and emotional integrity that gives Dawes a little extra. Think The Eagles' easy accessibility tempered with Warren Zevon's bite and wicked homour and you have a sure flavor of these sweetly bitter ditties. It's all drawn together and beautifully produced by David Rawlings.

                                             15: John Moreland: High On Tulsa Heat

Throaty, heavyweight tales of loss and retribution. These gems don't reveal their beauty easily. They are coated with just enough dust and gravel as to ensure their rugged virtue. You have to dig deep, but there's treasure here.

                                                       14: Lord Huron: Strange Tales

Like War on Drugs but better.
This album was a fairly constant companion this year: strange tails for the familiar daily commute. 

                                                       13: Dean Owens: Into the Sea

The first 8 songs pack as emotional a honey punch as any other release this year.
This is immensely likable crumpled romanticism from an immensely likable, crumpled romantic. 

                                                     12: Robert Forster: Songs to Play

2008's 'The Evangelist' was a cathartic and sombre response to the death of Go-Between's co-founder and confidant Grant McLennan in 2006.  
"The romantic plan was to stop when we were around the age of 60 and then come back at 70 and make our masterpiece. That was the plan - it didn't happen".  
7 years later Forster has surrounded himself with young bucks (including his son) and the spring in their step has invigorated Australia's premier pop poet. As elegant and archly dry as ever, the bard's world weary humor is duly tempered by a newfound restless energy, perfectly illustrated when he tells us "I got no patience. I'll stop for petrol and I'll stop for Dylan, but that's the limit when I get moving…" 

                                               11: James McMurtry: Complicated Game

A little bit of Springsteen, Zevon and Browne in the mix.
Expansive yet local, blue collar poetry.
These are unrelentingly bleak yet tender tall tales from America’s underbelly.
'Honey, don't be yelling at me when I'm cleaning my gun.' 
McMurty should write a script for Paul Thomas Anderson to direct. 

                                                   10: Guy Garvey: Courting The Squall

I like this man greatly.  He holds an admirably reliable Northern work ethic and sensibility.
Garvey seems bereft of vanity; there's poetry in his observations on the mundanities of life:
"In the hills it's an overcoat colder ... "
This is unashamedly emotional music to cry into your stout too until the next Blue Nile album comes around...  And alongside the affable bear hugs there's enough invention to keep your attention.

                                          9: Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free

It didn't quite reach the heights of 'Southeastern' for me but it was still a stellar collection fueled by failing, blue collar malaise and muscular sensitivity. It also contained my 'ear worm of the year':
"You thought God was an architect, now you know. He's something like a pipe bomb ready to blow..."
I found myself chanting this in supermarket queues much to the local's disquiet...

                                                       8: Calexico: Edge Of The Sun

I saw Calexico touring this album at the beginning of the year. One of the year’s finest gigs. They were brilliant but support band The Barr Brothers were even better. The Barrs didn’t release an album this year but did put out some outtakes from ‘Silent Operator’. One of those (‘Alta Falls’) is my ‘Song of the Year'. 
I digress...
For some reason 'Edge of the Sun' reminds me of a night out in Aarhus a couple of years ago. The evening was winding down after a fine night of live music and chat. We were at Jimmy's CANblau restaurant and had had some late night tapas, bellies full and happy. Our host (the charming Folmer Jepsen) recommended a night cap. We all expected brandy or a single malt but were given no choice; Our host returned from the kitchens bearing a tray laden with liter glasses of gin & tonic, strong, lime laced and fizzy. Their sour, icy effervescence kick started what we all assumed was the dying of the day and instead of sloping off into the night we hit the town again reenergized. There's a similar unexpected and intoxicating energy here. After the relative introspection and dusty late night charms of 'Algiers' came this exuberant outing. The smoldering delicacy anticipated is still there in occasional moments of calm but this is mostly a big band, bold, blazing and unfettered. The Morriconesque instrumentals are back alongside Mariachi Horns and some barking guest appearances. I imagine that Joey Burns's and John Convertino are more tequila than G&T but it seems like they've had a few with Folmer (I wouldn't be surprised) and are dancing on the tables.

7: Villagers: Darling Arithmetic 

"Remember kissing on the cobblestone
In the heat of the night
And all the pretty young homophobes
Looking out for a fight".

A brave and gentle release.
Conor O'Brien delicately exposes himself and it’s a true and honest revelation.
That takes courage...

                                                 6: Andrew Combs: All These Dream

There’s a lightness of touch to the easy listening Americana that is deceptive; a slow burning
gravity permeates these wonderful songs.
Glen Campbell, Paul Simon and Harry Nilsson would be proud to call themselves an influence.

                                                         5: Unthanks: Mount the Air

The Unthanks were responsible for one on this year's best nights out for me. Perfect preparation: a few pints of stout with a pickled Egg before a spellbinding performance at Islington's Union Chapel.
There is a dark, almost unholy beauty to these ethereal songs; the previous brass band traditionalism is artfully tempered by jazz chops and (yup) occasional prog rock noodlings. It’s all skillfully rendered and hauntingly realized by a fleshed out ensemble.

And yet through it all Rachel and Becky remain very much at the heart of things. The sisters' ambition is lofty yet very much of this earth. They mount the air but with clogs firmly on the ground. Theirs is a sober sense of place and propriety tempered by a righteous recognition and graceful acceptance of their lot.  I've heard their music described as 'songs about dead people'. which is harsh but fair.  They hold a genuine affection for their North Eastern origins but the Geordie Toon observations are rendered oddly universal by these tender homilies. Mindful of fast fading faith, the sisters' beloved roots are starkly captured in aspic with empathy and care, ensuring an authentic rawness that grounds them, bleak as buggery, starless and bible black for sure. Hymnal yet haunting, the heartstrings are tugged and surely cat gut, but with Rachel and Becky’s sublime yet homely voices you know that there’ll always be fishy on the dishy and surely some tender coming…

                                           4: The Lone Bellow: Then Came The Morning

Zach Williams, Kanene Donehey and Brian Elmquist make a glorious and genuinely joyful sound.
It’s all about hush, lush crescendo and clatter with these guys, and nobody currently does that tremulous holler and thump better.
I have seen them live a few times already alongside Di; a woman so fixated by them that she dutifully brought 18 tickets to one concert next year.
Beyond the call of duty?
It was a late night purchase.
Then came the morning...

                                                  3: Bob Dylan: Shadows in the Night

I've been listening to a lot of Sinatra this year; possibly a reaction to my Dad's passing. Terry liked a bit of Frank. I have to admit that this album snuck up on me. Like most folk I was a little non-plussed by the idea of one of the great songwriters wrestling with the well worn classics rather than creating more of his own. It was the enthusiasms of Tony Garnier at this year's Aarhus Festival that refocused me. Tony was the bassist and musical director on this album and he swore blind by the affair, revelling in the knowledge that there was another full album's worth of 'similar but better' performances in the can. Tony told that the toughest initial challenge was to try and capture (if not recreate) the spirit of the original, sophisticated string, brass and woodwind arrangements, using a very different, stripped down line up: just drums, pedal steel and acoustic guitar. But it's those very limitations that help refine and define this recording. The stripped down sound is stunning, the resulting ambience woozily compelling. It's obvious that Dylan regards these prime cuts - taken from the Great American Songbook - with great affection. His famous resistance to rehearsal renders these as intensely instinctive performances. There's a touching vulnerability to Bob's croaking croon. The lack of orchestration offers up much spartan space for the 73 year old to inhabit. He's been concerned with mortality and the passing light since 1997's 'Out of Time' and you can almost hear his bones creaking as he throws himself into these songs with... well, what's the opposite of 'gay abandon'? 'Gray intent'? This is no 'easy listening'. There's a sweet bitterness to the interpretations, much of it gut wrenchingly moving. Sure, some of Dylan's 'one take' vocals could have been improved upon, but 'perfection' was surely never the intention. And it's all about 'intent'. Dylan doesn't so much inhabit the songs as haunt them. The overall effect is ghostly, ethereal and sonically exquisite. Although Tony did good with the sweet vibes Bob did the bitter better.
The journey's all but done.
Dylan knows that he's nearly out of time.
And yet... he's still there, still standing, spirited, undaunted; squinting at the past, hopeful of its benediction; counting his blessings whilst staring down the grim reaper and praying for one more day, one more night and, perhaps, one more for the road.

                                                   2: Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell

"Spirit of my silence I can hear you
But I'm afraid to be near you"

Stevens squints at his demons. The bleak and brave beauty reminds me a little of the Villagers' album but here there’s a visceral edge that keeps you on the edge of your seat: There's a jaw dropping honesty in Sufjan's toting of domestic travails. Home spun for sure, but far from cozy:

"There's blood on that blade
F*** me, I'm falling apart
My assassin, like Casper the ghost
There's no shade in the shadow of the cross"

The pain is palpable: Stevens has reigned in his musical invention for a song suite (no less) that recognizes family loss but celebrates life with authenticity and intention. Gone is the twitchy sonic experimentation; the template is deceptively simple: folk: organic, stark and fragile, yet its sparsity is touching; an embrace that’s all enveloping and heartbreakingly tender.

                                                   1: Milk Carton Kids: Monterey

Till all the dreams we left in our wake
Come back to me as the joy we forsake
Tell me whatever is burning the fires we made

Here's yet more mournful melancholy but here with occasional moments of bluegrass relief. These kids have found a winning formula and they're sticking with it. There's nothing original here; plaintive voices float delicately upon a bed of beauteous acoustic guitars; The Everley Brothers meeting a young Paul Simon and getting on famously.
Lyrically the album doesn't really deal with specifics, it's more notional than that. There's no hollering or hankering for heaven, just a rueful recognition and acceptance of all things earthly.
It's mainly about the oxygen of life; detailing desire and what fuels that fire:

"I long to hear the melodies
that one time played inside my mind
and to love another helplessly
so breathing feels like putting out a fire"

It squints at the confusions of desire's loss:

"I've tried to think what happened to the fire
It's burning out made me into a liar"

Oftentimes it simply - and heartbreakingly - reviews the year's cycle, toting the injuries of self denial, noting our base nature ("the heart that beats nocturnal") and questioning the very air that we breathe:

"Asheville Skies"

Good God, is it November?
The leaves burn auburn red
The Asheville skies and timber
Are holding on to it

But I cannot remember
That fleeting hopeful song
That rose of our September
My word, what have we done?

I'd love nothing more than to cover my face
Forget who I am and get out of this place
Pretend to be somebody other than me
And go on living that way

Till all the dreams that I had in mind
Come back to me by next year this time
Tell me whatever became of what I left behind

Could hope have sprung eternal on darkened, dreary roads?
The heart that beats nocturnal knows not where it goes
We listen for the signal to raise the dirt again
Our livelihood is equal to the air that breathes us in

I'd welcome you home just to turn you away
Shuffle the cards by the light of the day
Pretend that the worst of it got left behind
And go on living that way

Till all the dreams we left in our wake
Come back to me as the joy we forsake
Tell me whatever is burning the fires we made

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Best of 2015: Phil Hogarth

Phil Hogarth has been a friend of Miracle Mile and my solo stuff since way back when. 
Here's his pick of the year:

In my opinion 2015 has been a bumper year for great new albums and it's been difficult choosing a top 10.
I'll go with TTs format and start with a few choice tracks:

Black - The Love Show
My Morning Jacket - Get The Point
Andrew Wasylyk - Last Of The Loved
Dean Owens - The Only One
Jones - Happy Blue

And on to my 'Bubbling under',  which is really no's 20-11:

Andrew Combs - All These Dreams
The Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World
Sarah Cracknell - Red Kite
Black - Blind Faith
Linden - Rest And Be Thankful
Calexico - Edge Of The Sun
Richard Hawley - Hollow Meadows
Stornoway - Bonxie ( Also check out the Bonxie Unplucked ep, which is a beauty)
Dean Owens - Into The Sea
The Leisure Society - The Art Of Hanging On

All the above albums are wonderful and in another year more than a few of them would have made my top ten, but this is one hell of a strong year!
And those who made it:

10 The Villagers - Darling Arithmatic. 
This album finds Conor O'Brien back on form after the somewhat dissapointing 'Awayland' back in 2013. In fact this is probably better than his fabulous debut 'Becoming A Jackel'. Elegant and emotional.

9 C Duncan - Architect.  
Hard to believe this was recorded in his bedroom. Very complex and intricate sounds layered on top of  each other.The multi layered vocals alone must have taken him months! It really does sound like nothing else out there. Pop music from a man with a classical background.

8 Destroyer - Poison Season. 
Not an easy listen, but worth sticking with. That Bowie-esque intro to the album, 'Time Square' drags you in. Last album ,'Kapput' was excellent but this , although very different, offers a lot. Maybe I love it because it reminds me so much of early/ mid seventies Bowie/Roxy/Mott, that was the sound of my youth.

7 The Lilac Time - No Sad Songs. 
Indeed, no sad songs as this album finds Stephen Duffy obviously in a very happy time in his life. Love, marriage and a life in the country. I doubt he'll ever recapture the great sounds of the Fontana trinity but this'll still do nicely thank you.

6 Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear. 
Josh Tillman returns with another solo album. 11 songs of passion and dissillusionment.He seems to revel in his own misery, but he sounds like a man trying to escape his past, to come clean. Quite a'heavy' album then!

5 Andrew Wasylyk - Soroky. 
Wasylyk is the pseudonym of Hazy Janes frontman Andrew Mitchell. After touring as bass player for indie hipsters Idlewild Andrew found he had both spare time and some spare songs on his hands , so in the middle of winter he dragged himself off to the Isle of Mull and recorded 'Soroky'. The result is a brooding, powerful, confident bunch of songs that show off his rich vocal. Opening track 'Last Of The Loved' is also my song of the year

4 The Mostar Diving Club - Horizontal Hotel. 
Damien Katkahudas third album as MDC. He still resists the use of computers in his music which gives it a warm, organic sound. Never afraid to experiment , he takes us from his own funeral, in 'Scattered Flowers' ,to an uum pa pa drinking shanty ,'Nothing Else' and onto a catchy track called 'Old Yellow Sun', (that will, no doubt, be snatched up to promote some holiday companies advertising campaign), before moving on to the achingly beautiful' The Crooked Sea. His best album yet

3 Belle And Sebastian - Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance. 
The band return a beefed up, worldly wise version of their former selves.It's taken 9 albums but I think they've finally shaken that 'twee' label. Their best album since 'If You're Feeling Sinister'

2 A New International - Come To The Fabulon
I've followed Biff Smiths career since his early days with The Starlets. Always capable of writing a great song , but album wise always falling a bit short, until now!. This is big , bold and ambitious. Biff is a hopeless romantic. Musically ,there's all kinds of European folk music, Latin, (' Valentino' ), French,(The Life And Times),good old indie, ('My Ginda Guy') and heartbreaking beauty, ( 'Tenterhooks').A wonderful soaring album

1 Jones - Happy Blue. 
Do I really need to say anything? I'd be preaching to the converted . The best of his very fine solo output. There's no other artist I'd rather listen to at the end of a long day. Headphones on and malt in hand. Now that's bliss...

I don't really have any album let downs. In todays 'Try before you buy' age of the internet there's no need to take chances. Gone are the days of taking a punt 'cause the cover looks good.
I'd like to add a best compilation, and that goes to Tracy Thorn - 'Songs and Collaborations'. Although I'm still waiting for another Everything But The Girl album, Tracy still does just fine without Ben by her side.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Toronto Tim Says: TT's Best of 2015

Time to revive 'Hissyfit'.
I've been lingering too long on the Facebook pages and have ignored this blog.
I'll need it as an extra point of contact once 'Happy Blue' is released in 2016 (Feb 5).
And what better way to rekindle a damp squib than by getting someone else to rub the sticks together for you whilst you prepare for the annual auditions of 'This Year's New Jesus/Prat'?

We all like a list don't we?
And here, in time honored tradition, is Tim Patrick (Toronto Tim), with his pick of the year's releases:


Yes it's that time of year again to share... Top 10 lists! Looking forward to the contributions of many other folk playing along, to inform/educate about all the great music that I and others surely have missed in 2015... 

In my humble opinion, 2015 has yielded another bumper crop of new music. A few old favorites, but mostly artists new to me... Last year, I felt somewhat uncomfortable observing that my top album (War On Drugs - 'Lost In The Dream') was one which actually concurred with most of the credible journos. Something which has NEVER occurred in the past. My contrary streak had me very tempted to reach for something under the radar, however I just could not help but agree with the critics that WOD deserved the crown for 2014. This year I promise to revert to my ornery, obscurist predilections. Here we go...


LONE BELLOW - "Then Came The Morning"
DEAN OWENS - "Closer To Home"
JONES - "My Muffled Prayer"


FUTURE OF FORESTRY - 'Pages'- You want obscure? Well here's one I'm absolutely certain won't be on anybody's list! And it's a beauty... I know very little about the band. Appears that like Civil Wars, Over The Rhine, Innocence Mission etc. they've managed to have crawled out from the wretched "Christian music" ghetto into the secular independent music world. Unlike previous rockier offerings by FOF, 'Pages' is gentle, acoustic folk music very reminiscent of the Civil Wars, Eastmountainsouth & Hem. Immaculate instrumentation & orchestration paired with absolutely heavenly intertwining boy/girl vocal harmonies. Main man Eric Owyoung creates a delicate, organic sound throughout - tinkling piano lines here, warm acoustic guitar tones there - subtle strings, percussion and pedal steel drifting in and out of the mix. It's a poignant break-up record, written in the distant wake of the songwriter's divorce. As the album title suggests... a "page by page" reflection on the journey towards healing a broken heart. Sad yet hopeful, very mellow late-night fare that will leave you swooning if it's your cup of tea - a sparkling diamond in the rough... 
'Pages' was issued as a surprise release to fans on their FOF website, without any advanced notice, zero promotion/marketing or follow-up tour. You'll have a helluva time finding this one. Not on Spotify or Bandcamp, but entire album listenable on Youtube in US (UK?). CD only available on in the US ( or through band website. Also on iTunes if you're a down-loader.    
Try: "How To Fly" "Cross The Oceans" "Fireflies" "Learn To Love" "You're Mine" "Someone"

BRIDESHEAD - 'Never Grow Up' - My top "pop" album of the year. Brideshead are a band that have been around since the late 90's, however I've only recently discovered their music. Twee Swedish/German guitar jangle-pop that sounds like a cross between Belle & Sebastian and Orange Juice. Catchy as hell. Earlier albums 'In And Out Of Love' and 'Some People Have All The Fun' are even better than 'Never Grow up'... I'm pretty sure old mates David A and TelAviv Phil would like this band! 
Try: "At 45 RPM" "Me And The Stars And The Sea" "Love And Happiness" "The Mermaid"

JONES - 'Happy Blue' - Not sure this one qualifies, since official release is next year. Oh well, what's the harm? Jones proves there's still fire in the belly of the old boy, as he continues his prolific streak of perfect pop music for thinking adults. I'd venture to say it's his most accessible and immediate album as a solo artist. A more traditional format, featuring a straight-up set of melodic tunes with a solitary spoken-word piece on the outro. After the lean 'To The Bone', it's a treat to hear the addition of some quality meat on this one. A lot of "new sounds" combined with Marcus's always stellar production make for a very special listen. Classy musicianship by all of the players. Wonderful to hear BJ Cole squeezing out sparks again! Real drums... nice. Gustaf Ljunggren's brilliant contribution of clarinet & WTF... saxophone! Always got the impression that sax was taboo with TJ...
Try: "Ghost Of Song" "St Cecilia" "My Muffled Prayer" 

DESTROYER - 'Poison Season' - After the masterpiece that 'Kaputt' was, the follow-up was bound to be a letdown. And in many ways it is just that. 'Poison Season' is unfocused and poorly paced, with a clunky mess of musical styles. Meanwhile Dan Bejar is as word-drunk and eccentric lyrically as ever. He's abandoned the synths that were ubiquitous on Kaputt, and some of the songs seem to have been intentionally sabotaged with quirky off-putting sonic changes/lyrics in an effort not to repeat Kaputt. Still there are so many wonderful moments, particularly the tracks with string sections; and I must say that this is the album that has been in my CD player most often this year. Challenging and often difficult listening, 'Poison Season' still makes my Top 5. 
Try: "Girl In A Sling" "Times Square" "Bangkok"

ROMAN A CLEF - 'Abandonware' - Hell yeah, they've copped the sound/style of Prefab Sprout a few times here, but I love this little album. Pretentious lyrics, clever chord changes, sweet co-lead vocals by the angelic Jen Goma, member of my top pop band of 2014 - The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart. I'm sure Father Paddy will forgive them their sins. They mean well, and this is beautiful stuff...
Try: "The Prisoner" "Bye/Gone" "Lucky Toasts"

DEAN OWENS - 'Into The Sea' - I believe everyone here is familiar with this fine Scottish country troubadour. Owens has done himself proud...
Try: "Closer To Home" "Up On The Hill"

TALL TALES AND THE SILVER LINING - 'Tightropes' - Horrible name for a band, but this Laurel Canyon sounding americana/soft rock really struck my fancy with this release. Just the right amount of pedal steel/strings with laid back vocals make for a sunny soundtrack for California dreaming...
Try: "Something To Believe In" "Unknown Forces"

TALLEST MAN ON EARTH - 'Dark Bird Is Home' - Another crap moniker for a band. Saw him on Letterman and he's a short bugger! Good album though...
Try: "Sagres" "Timothy"

MERCURY REV - 'The Light In You' - My "weird" entry... Surprising return to form after a string of mediocre turds. Huge, bombastic string arrangements & choirs... love it!
Try: "Central Park East" "Coming Up For Air"

DUCKTAILS - 'Saint Catherine' - Critics have made comparisons to Prefab Sprout with this band, but I don't hear it... Side-project of Real Estate's Matthew Mondanile, features woozy, layered reverb guitars, dreamy atmospherics. Reminds me a lot of the 2012 solo project Lightships: 'Electric Cables' by Gerard Love of Teenage Fan Club... which is a gem I highly recommend as well.
Try: "Headbanging In The Mirror" "Heaven's Room"


LONE BELLOW - 'Then Came The Morning' - a few stand-out cuts, but the over-emoting gospel crescendo formula gets tiresome over the course of an entire album. (surely, Di will beg to differ, right TJ?)

BUTCH WALKER - 'Afraid Of Ghosts' - Produced by Ryan Adams, and sounds just like him. "Father's Day" is a beautiful, touching track, but Walker has way to many tattoos, plus his name is Butch! Sorry, pet peeves...

THE LATE CALL - 'Golden' - "Carry" is a terrific single, with a few other good tunes. Honorable mention, but not top 10 worthy.

(apologies, to several old favorites...)

THE LILAC TIME - 'No Sad Songs' - (forgive me Phil...)
JOSH ROUSE - 'Embers Of Time'
JOSH RITTER - 'Sermon On The Rocks'
GRETCHEN PETERS - 'Blackbirds'
MARTYN JOSEPH - 'Sanctuary'
RICHARD HAWLEY - 'Hollow Meadows'
SUN KIL MOON - 'Universal Themes'
CLUB 8 - 'Pleasure'
TRASHCAN SINATRAS - Delay... Delay... Hey! Where's that new album promised?