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:


TORONTO TIM'S - BEST OF 2015

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...

SONGS OF THE YEAR:

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

TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR:

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 Amazon.com in the US (notamazon.uk) 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"

BUBBLING UNDER:

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.

DISAPPOINTMENTS: 
(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?

8 comments:

  1. Er, wow. That list is going to cost me a fortune. Can't agree with a few of the disappointments, but hey. Trashcans in January, apparently: http://www.poor-little-fish.com/?p=4473. Great list.

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  2. I agree Paul. This is the downside of my friendships with the likes of TT, Nick, Phil, Paul, David and your good self.

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  3. How I love a good end of year 'Best of', and this is a good 'un. As always TT has left me plenty of new music to seek out.'Future of Forestry' and 'Ducktails sound the most intriguing. I bought the Brideshead album after a friend recommended it to me. The twee button is set a little high ,that stops it being a great album, but very listenable non the less. Roman a Clef are just too Prefab soundalike. I haven't heard the full album but the tracks I've heard make me somewhat uncomfortable. I love the Destroyer album with it's shades of 70's Bowie ,but as you say 'Kaputt' was always going to be a hard act to follow. Dean Owens album is another beauty and probably his best yet....and ofcourse I love the Lilac Time album. I pledged the new Trashcan Sinatras album back in Oct 14 and just yesterday received my second track.It's gonna be a beauty!
    Trev is it OK to gate crash the party and send you my tops for the year?
    Phil Tel Aviv

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    Replies
    1. Hi Phil:
      Great to hear from you. Yeah, Brideshead is pretty... pretty... pretty twee. It's just so bouncy an FUN. I always need a little balance to of set all the seriousness, and Never Grow Up says it all...
      Same goes for Roman a Clef... Give it a chance. Only a couple of tracks are Sproutish...

      Lilac Time... Again I feel so guilty that an old favorite failed to impress. Perhaps I expect too much. This one again had a couple of great cuts, but the melodies on the rest not grabbing me. And doesn't Duffy appear to be too doggone happy these days?

      Look forward to your list!!!

      Delete
    2. Please do Phil. I look forward to these lists. I miss the CDs that would usually follow.

      Delete
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