Yer Mam!'s Top 50 Albums Of 2008: 45-41
Eddy Current Suppression Ring; remember the name. Their chosen moniker might not trip off the tongue, but there's nothing convoluted about the music of this Aussie four-piece. Favouring a stripped-down, raw power aesthetic approach to well-worn garage-punk tropes, Primary Colours might not be the most refined album released this year, but it's certainly one of the most primally thrilling.
ECSR throw unrestrained Stooges-esque proto-punk, Mission Of Burma-like fury and Gang Of Four's wit and way with rhythm into their admittedly derivative brew but the fact that all the elements are stolen doesn't detract from the massive replayability of songs like the menacing 'I Admit My Faults' or the stark, hypnotic 'Colour Television', whose "Switch on, switch off" refrain will stick in your head like an icepick. It may take a little while to get your head around that name but the 10 songs on Primary Colours will hit immediately.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Colour Television (mp3)
Eddy Current Suppression Ring - Memory Lane (mp3)
Bonus: Very amateur footage of 'I Admit My Faults' live in Sydney.
There's no escaping from the fact that Margins Music is very much a London record. It's there in the artwork depicting a fruit and veg market stall, it's in the multifarious references to certain boroughs of the city, hell, even the album's catalogue number is LDN006. It's also in the atmosphere though, as Margins Music is a smoky, suffocating record that sounds as harsh and austere as the average London street at night.
That said, take away the obvious "This is London" shout-outs and Dusk + Blackdown's massively impressive debut album could have come from any bustling, multicultural metropolis. For all its frequent darkness however, Margins Music is also an album of rare, disarming beauty that expands the dubstep pallette to incorporate fragile Indian motifs such as alluring tablas and stirring sitars. D+B are also not afraid to bring a bit of forcefulness to proceedings as evidenced by the midsection one-two punch of 'Concrete Streets' (with Durrty Goodz) and 'The Bits' (with Trim). Margins Music is a marvellous, absorbing treatise on inner city life in the 21st Century, with a life and an appeal outside of the big smoke.
Dusk + Blackdown - Con/Fusion (feat. Farrah) (mp3)
Dusk + Blackdown - The Bits (feat. Trim) (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the great short promo vid for the album. See, advertising can still be artful.
2008 was the year of the comeback and there were fewer returns as emphatic and like-they've-never-been-away than the rebirth of Jonathan Davis aka Kamaal Fareed aka Q-Tip. From the opening treated guitar lick of 'Johnny Is Dead' and Tip's affirmation that "What good is an ear if a Q-Tip isn't in it", it was obvious that The Renaissance would be worth the nine year wait.
It really is all that and then some, arguably a better album than his last official solo effort, 1999's Amplified (which itself is a lot better than the lukewarm critical reception it received at the time suggests), The Renaissance is bright, effusive, hugely optimistic and nostalgic. It's also a very timely album, setting Tip up (if he can avoid anymore record company troubles) once again as an affable outsider alternative to the hip-hop mainstream. After all he works a Can sample better than Kanye did.
Q-Tip - Gettin' Up (mp3)
Q-Tip - Dance On Glass (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the brilliant video for 'Move'.
Along with the rest of the music-following world, I'd written Clinic off as a one-trick pony who'd forgotten how to perform its one trick. Treading water doesn't really cover just how 'meh' Clinic's albums have been since the glorious debut, Internal Wrangler way back in 2000. Thankfully Do It! is their most confident release since that brilliant first shot across the boughs and one of 2008's most pleasant surprises.
Ade Blackburn and gang have been boning up on their songcraft lately as Do It! assays at a disarmingly frequent rate. They're charming and eloquent on 'Free Not Free' and 'Emotions', fractured and punky on 'Shopping Bag' and 'Tomorrow' and woozy and psychedelic on 'Mary and Eddie' and 'Memories'. If you've tuned out on Clinic since Internal Wrangler then Do It! is more than worth tuning back in.
Clinic - Shopping Bag (mp3)
Clinic - High Coin (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the video for 'Tomorrow'.
Another year, another Deerhoof album. While Offend Maggie doesn't quite match up to the audacity of Milk Man, the frenzied, hyper-kinetic charm of The Runners Four or the streamlined, odd-pop greatness of Friend Opportunity, it's still another fittingly barmy and fulfilling entry into the Deerhoof discography.
If there's something that marks Offend Maggie out from those that preceded it, it's that it sees Deerhoof edging closer towards a union between their more outre experimental sensibilities and their clear 'gift' for classic pop music. On songs like 'Chandelier Searchlight', the band showcase some of their brightest melodies to-date, whilst 'The Tears And Music Of Love', 'My Purple Past' and 'Buck And Judy' rock almost as hard as their heroes The Who. Offend Maggie isn't their best album, but the mere existence of each Deerhoof record is cause enough for celebration and this collection further marks them out as one of America's most pleasingly consistent and idiosyncratic indie-rock bands.
Deerhoof - The Tears And Music Of Love (mp3)
Deerhoof - Eaguru Guru (mp3)
Bonus: Watch the typically strange video for 'Chandelier Searchlight'.