Wilco – The Whole Love
Wilco’s follow-up to the mildly disappointing Wilco (the album), is a return to form, an album of standout tracks that testify to a band finally comfortable with their sound. Tracks move between the spiky experimentalism of their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot/A Ghost Is Born days to the upbeat alt country rock of Being There-era Wilco, taking in everything in between, adding new tweaks and turns. This just might be the ultimate Wilco album, a greatest hits made up of new songs. It’s for albums like this that I have loved Wilco since way back. A great American band who keep churning out great music as surely as the music industry pumps out shit. As long as there’s a Wilco, all will not be totally lost.
Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean
2011 was the year Sam Beam pissed off a lot of folks by ‘going electric,’ and, worse still for some folks, ‘going Jazz.’ I have to say, while I love the early folksier Iron and Wine, this newer, fuller sound is just as good, if not better. The song writing is certainly as good as ever. The production of each track is spot on. This album came out the end of January and remains on heavy rotation on my iPod. It’s rootsy, groovy and there are few lyricists out there to match Sam Beam. I’m all for artists making big changes to their sound. I’d rather buy an album that moves on from the last than pay money for the same thing over and over. Like Wilco above, Iron and Wine haven’t rested on their laurels, rather they’ve released an album that marks the end of one era and the start of another. I’m eager to see where this album leads.
King Creosote & Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine
I’ve arrived late to the King Creosote party, receiving my invite via the nomination of this album for the Mercury Prize. This semi-concept album, which singer/songwriter Kenny Anderson describes as a “soundtrack to a romanticised version of a life lived in a Scottish coastal village,” drew me in and made me feel. With forty on my age horizon I can start to relate to many of the lyrics that describe the aging process and, particularly, the sudden feeling of growing old that can hit when you’re not looking. You can stream the whole of this beautiful, elegiac and downright heartbreaking/warming affair over on The Guardian’s website. This is the kind of album that should be number one for ages and ages.