Bristol’s Schnauser delivered one of the year’s unexpected treats: their ‘Sound Of Meat’ album hid glass shards and crooked prog moments in its playful and winsome melodies, with its contagious thrills finding an unexpected fan in Stewart Lee. Which is nice. Investigate: www.schnauser.co.uk
Recorded music highlights of 2010:
Aside from our album (he he) we’ve been enjoying the Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti album, which managed to be brilliantly eclectic and accessible at the same time. We played with them in Metropolis in Bristol earlier this year, and hadn’t really heard anything about them other than a vague link with The Lilys (who produced a magical and eccentric album in the mid 90s). Anyway, Ariel Pink’s stage demeanour was initially odd; he was a small gribbly with lank hair who didn’t face the audience a great deal and was dressed in a very grubby rhinestone encrusted denim jacket, black leggings and wooden clogs. When he turned to the audience midway through the set and announced “You’re all just a bunch of fucking jocks and I hate you all”, there was a partial incredulous intake of breath from the crowd and then the gig continued as usual…! Quite odd.
Another great CD, Blitzen Trapper’s “Destroyer Of The Void” took a few listens to get into, as it takes a more “progressive” slant to their previous album, “Furr” which was a little more accessible in a poppy Americana way. There is still the brilliant pop sensibility in the songwriting, mixing country, prog, 70s rock and strings effortlessly to create a smorgasbord of tunes which demand replaying over and over.
The highlight album of the year for us is the Villagers CD, “Becoming A Jackal”. It’s one of those collections of songs where nothing is out of place; there’s a familiarity present which evokes a lot of great music without ever sounding like anything else and the production is understated enough to sound timeless, but with enough detail so you discover more on each listen. Highly recommended, and they’re a fine live band too. Reminded me of Forever Changes in places, which is never a bad thing.
Live music highlights of 2010:
Schnauser were lucky enough to play with Blitzen Trapper in the Thekla, Bristol in November which showed that brilliant musicians can indeed be lovely people with not a hint of ego and very enthusiastic for our stuff, despite being on tour around Europe since May, when we saw them in London. Both shows were fantastic and their banter inbetween songs was hilarious (not unlike the Fleet Foxes – also really good natured).
Euros Childs’ gig at the Louisiana in Bristol combined dry wit, quirky songwriting and fantastic enthusiastic musicianship and singing to propel his best album yet (“Son Of Euros Childs”) forth into the audience. See him if you can.
We made our way up to Koko in London a few weeks ago to see the Dirty Projectors, as the tickets to ATP in Minehead were a little out of our Christmas budget. They lived up to expectations playing most of “Bitte Orca” with a scrappy verve, highlighting the brilliance of the three harmony singers and David Longstreth’s deliciously weird guitar parts.
What else did you enjoy this year?
Werner Herzog’s skewed remake of Bad Lieutenant was possibly one of the funniest films of the year and Nicholas Cage redeemed himself somewhat after some recent dross.
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s “The Trip” could’ve been very self-indulgent and knowing, but instead managed to be poignant, moving and very funny, albeit from my perspective as a 39 year old man.
Scorcese’s Shutter Island and Polanski’s The Ghost were both very entertaining pulpy slices of film making, despite being a tad formulaic and strangely dated.
Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist was a very sweet and sad animated homage to Jacques Tati (filmed using an unused Tati script), which continued Chomet’s beautiful animated style from The Triplets of Belleville. Not generally released, but see it if you can on DVD.
2010 was… the year of Cameron and Clegg. May god help us all.
Tips and predictions for 2011… Thatcher will snuff it and we can all have a street party. The economy will nosedive once the job cuts and budget cuts hit in April, and we’ll all be forced to help each other out instead of the “every man for himself” attitude which has prevailed since the Blair years. House prices will hopefully follow suit, so anyone who isn’t on the hallowed “property ladder” can finally buy a place without digging themselves a hole of debt from which they’ll never crawl out of. To capitalise on the impending economic doom, a new hit TV show “How Low Would You Go” presented by Vernon Kaye sees the ex middle-classes munching on dog turds and sucking off tramps to save their 3 bedroom houses from being repossessed.