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December 9, 2008 |

By TK Burton | Music | December 9, 2008 |

I, like you, hate these end-of-year articles recommending albums to watch out for next year, which usually feature a pretentious gaggle of hipster jerk-offs urging you to check out a promising Unknown Gem whose first album will make them “the name on everyone’s lips in 2009.” Breathlessly swallowing the record company hype straight from some poorly punctuated press release, they scream at you to keep an eye out for the up-and-coming band of the moment, who are usually called “Les Maladroits” or “Rim! Ski! Coarser! Cough!” With this in mind, my recommendations for next year feature no debuts, and only one guitar band, because rock is over.

Also, I hate those douche-nozzles who recommend something to you that you already know: you know the sort of bore who collars you at a party and earnestly tells you should really get into “a little known experimental band I’m really digging at the moment, called Radio Head.” I’m well aware that many of you will have heard of some of these acts, if not all of them; I’m not trying to break new ground, so bear with me.

Here are the artists whose records I’m jonesing for in 2009:

David_Thomas_MG_9956.jpgDavid Thomas Broughton

David Thomas Broughton is an odd fish. In concert, he’s completely unpredictable — one of those arseholes who gets ‘in the zone’ and goes a little bit mad; he starts taking his socks off mid-song, or goes into the audience to thrust his groin at someone. That sort of thing. Somehow he gets away with it, though, because he is technically so accomplished: his folksy, haunting, difficult songs are all delicately constructed from vocals and guitar lines looped over and over. This process creates very elaborate, ever-changing music and resulted in a much-loved album — The Complete Guide To Insufficiency, his debut from 2005. That record contains only five songs, which all bleed into each other and share a dark, droll worldview. Now that he’s releasing a follow-up, 2009’s 5 Curses, I think you should listen to this new song, bearing in mind all the while that it’s just one person making all that sound, and see what’s making me so jittery:


Also, please help me find a suitable comparison for his voice. At the moment, I’m going with ‘Antony Hegarty with a mouth full of potato’.

erykah-badu_l.jpgErykah Badu

Erykah Badu released a brilliant, brilliant album in 2008. But did anyone tell you about it? Huh? Where were all the rave reviews it deserved? Eh? Well, it so happens that people did tell you about it, and the rave reviews appeared in Pitchfork and all the major newspapers. But somehow Badu’s record still feels neglected to me, in some way. And we should all be getting incredibly excited that a follow-up is due, some time next year.

The way I used to like Erykah Badu was this: I used to adore her while at the same time harboring a fear that she might be slightly bullshit. Listening to her beautiful, lazy voice singing those sassy, gorgeous songs on Baduizm, I simultaneously thought ‘Woo! This is the SHIZ!’ and ‘Yeesh - go easy on the woozy new age aphorisms, groove-sister’. And though I loved ‘Bag Lady’ and, really, everything she’s done, there was always a nagging voice at the back of my mind, reminding me that this is the woman who called her children ‘Seven’ and ‘Puma’.

Then, this year, out came New Amerykah Part One (4th World War) — and it’s such a new, brave, raging, zesty record that I fell in love with it immediately and wholeheartedly. Erykah sings the hell out of each song, and it’s a really R’n’B record, full of beats, brass and guitar-funk to make Outkast blush; lyrically, she’s chatting about terrorism, racism, America and - you know, big themes. Compared to this, Beyonce sounds like Jewel. It will be very interesting to see what she cooks up for Part Two, in her new guise as a drum-bashing high priestess. In the meantime, she is pregnant with her third child. My guesses are ‘Deliciously’ if it’s a boy and ‘Rug’ if it’s a girl.

sunset_rubdown_2_lg.jpgSunset Rubdown

This is the only band on my list - I’ve kind of gone off bands recently. Aren’t you tired of seeing four white boys, year after year, heralded as the future of rock? And don’t you find there’s something faintly embarrassing about watching someone play an electric guitar? Well anyway, no need to worry because Sunset Rubdown are perfectly OK. Perhaps it’s because there’s a girl in the band. More likely, it’s because the chaotic noisiness of their music is so artfully put together: at each listen, you can hear that everyone really knows how to play his or her instrument. The controlled madness of their songs relies on storming guitar - witness the swirling solo that kicks off their ace album Random Spirit Lover — and urgent piano, such as the one full of dread which forms the backbone of the fantastic “Stallion” on the same record. I suppose (spoiler alert: pretentious sentence coming up) the songs have great texture to them - full of echo and grizzle. They sound like the Decemberists playing Roxy Music, if that makes sense. Which it doesn’t.

New songs “Idiot Heart” and “You Go On Ahead” already seem pretty promising, and after the good Wolf Parade album from earlier this year it seems that Krug has plenty of ideas buzzing around in his head. You can download “Idiot Heart” and a couple of other songs here.

devon2.jpgDevon Sproule

Devon Sproule sounds like sweet Spring rain falling on a field of flowers. She sounds like sand trickling through a child’s hand into a glass jar. Or honey oozing from a honeycomb onto a dusty porch. Basically - pick something a bit natural-sounding, and that’s what she sounds like. Except yogurt. Devon Sproule does not sound like yogurt.

Sproule - it rhymes with rock’n’roll - specializes in swinging guitar country-folk-pop, sounding like a cross between Blossom Dearie and Gillian Welch. Except that that sounds absolutely horrible, and she really isn’t. What makes Sproule so special is her fusing of early jazz (Cole Porter et al) with the Appalachian blues-country and sixties folk she grew up with. On her ridiculously good album Keep Your Silver Shined from 2007, shuffling drums, double bass and clarinet complement her intricate guitar-playing on her twangy vintage Gibson. Together with Sproule’s clear, salty voice and free phrasing, this injects so much light and air into the songs that they feel like old, easy friends after just a few listens. She’s so versatile, too: listen to “Old Virginia Block” for a wicked country hoe-down, or “Stop By Anytime” for a sweet, gentle ode to her home.

Her new album is produced by her bodacious and talented husband Paul Curreri, and will feature guest vocals by gnarly folk veteran Jesse Winchester. We’re promised new songs, and others that she’s been playing live for a while now, such as the beautiful “The Easier Way,” with its echoes of Joni Mitchell, and her fantastic country number, “Don’t Hurry For Heaven.” You can watch that song here, in a clip that gives a small idea of her guitar clout, lovely voice, wit, and songwriting ability:

lupe_fiasco.jpgLupe Fiasco

Briefly: with Kanye getting a bit lost in New Wave-ish bleepy R’n’B, it’s left to Lupe Fiasco to lay down the rhymes. He’s the best rapper around at the moment, and you know it - and this year’s The Cool was an unalloyed masterpiece. So cross your fingers that 2009’s mooted triple album a) won’t be as awful as every other triple album that’s existed and b) won’t be his last record, as he has threatened. Slightly dismayingly, the record’s current title is apparently LupE.N.D. - “Everywhere”, “Nowhere” and “Down Here” (END). Beat that, Badu.

patrick_wolf_2.jpgPatrick Wolf

Like Devon Sproule, Patrick Wolf started out very young and is one of those sickeningly pretty and talented people who’ve released three albums by the age of twenty-five. So here are the facts: Wolf released the excellent The Magic Position in 2007, which showcased catchy pop and lush chamber-ballads at once, plus a nicely sombre guest appearance from Marianne Faithfull. I like how pissed off he sounds even when he’s singing a tender love song, such as the title number. Anyway, he has teamed up with noise-merchant Alec Empire, formerly of Atari Teenage Riot (thank you Wikipedia) for a double album due to be released next year. The first half will be called Battle and be correspondingly loud and angry, and the second half will display his more sensitive, soaring music. Like Sproule again, Wolf seems to have drawn inspiration from being in a loving relationship with someone really fantastic and… actually, you know what? Don’t buy his next album, and don’t buy Sproule’s either. I’ve gone right off them.

Caspar Salmon has 20/20 vision and likes silk ties, Laura Linney, and the word ‘Saskatchewan’. He loves, in the words of Aileen Wuornos, “books and movies, and shit”. He lives in London with friends, sensibly.

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Music | December 9, 2008 |

TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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