Winter Popfest 2014

It’s not them, it’s me. If DsD is falling for sappy ballads in his dotage, i seem to be going for feelgood pop in mine. I really wanted to be hooked on droney stuff, like the Swans and Temple and Parquet Courts. Or grab my pipe and slippers and hang out with Beck, or stare out the window at the dismal weather with the War On Drugs, or brood with Bonnie Prince Billy. But seems that most of what i found this year that hit the spot is a spectrum of pop.

So maybe it’s not just me then. We’re living in some fairly shit times here. My country is about to blow. Most likely the UK is right there with us. There have been handwringing articles from the Graun to the NYT whinging about how artists are failing people because the art isn’t telling them what they think it ought to in reflecting the social and political climate. (I’ll spare you my comments to those articles, they’re pretty savage.) And yet everyone and his brother and sister this year seems to want to do pop and retro. Head in sand? Party before the apocalypse? Looking back to better times for comfort? Fuck if i know, i’m no sociologist. I’ll just enjoy.

1. New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers Pure joy. From Canadians?!? Deffo in my top 10 this year.

2. Real Estate – Had to Hear Gently melancholy jangly surf pop, purty as it comes. (Yep, New Jersey has beaches too.) What the Allah-Las might sound like if they polished up a bit. Whole album is lovely.

3. The Men – Get What You Give Never heard of these guys before, but apparently they used to be metalheads? Or at least rockers? Well, now they’re retro popsters, apparently, but it’s some luscious stuff.

4. Decemberists – Make You Better First single off an upcoming album. Well, you want to be popsters now, it sure is pretty. If there’s any passive-aggressive nastiness in here, it’s so far too subtle for me.

5. Ex-Hex – Hot and Cold Somehow associated with Sleater-Kinney (i forget how). Infectious girl band pop fun.

6. Weezer – The British are Coming wtf album of this year. Mess of an album. Midlife crisis? They’re mid-40s now, too old for the snotnose stuff but can’t quite let it go either. Some kinda nice retro pop tunes, some frustratingly brief flashes of metal riffs that could work if given time and space, a prog pisstake, lotta fuzzy guitars both gratituous and that work, some gorgeous melodies and jangles, unnecessary falsetto. So why did i even bother. Well, there’s something there, somewhere. Hope they find in in the future and make it work.

7. Conor Oberst – Zigzagging Towards the Light Not really big on most of what i heard from the album, but this is nice enough. Maybe i need another listen in a differnt mood.

8. Black Lips – Drive By Buddy My guys pull the retro thing off beautifully on this album for the most part. I think i’ve posted this Monkees channel somewhere before. Top 10 album for me.

9. Ty Segall – Manipulator Dunno, is this a Beatles channel? First song on the album and the best for me, i actually got bored halfway through the album. Dunno if he needs a break or if i do, but this album felt mailed in.

10. Thee Oh Sees – Drop These guys pull off the retro psych pop better than Ty i think. Top 10.

11. Azealea Banks – Nude Beach a Go Go Girl surf pop!

12. Waterboys – November Tale Channeling the old soul here, and doing a lovely job of it for my money.

13. The Men – Settle Me Down Another retro beauty.

23 thoughts on “Winter Popfest 2014

  1. Ooh, looking forward to having a listen to these. Went to see The New Pornographers last night (as facebook friends may have spotted) – surprisingly heavy compared to the record(s) but good fun. I think Champions of Red Wine is my favourite from the new album but there’s many a great pop tune there.

    Less surprisingly for me, pop has dominated my year too. All three tunes sent through to shoey are firmly pop-based, and I’ve been hooked on – among others – Lykke Li’s album, the new Bright Light Bright Light, Taylor Swift’s newie and various other lady Skandipop tunes including this, probably the poppiest of the lot (and ideal for these drawing-in nights):

    • Taylor Swift showed up on a lot of lists, but the screeching had me bailing out halfway through the first tune! I’m off to work here soon, but i’m hoping to have some more pop to listen to later on, including this one.

      My three tunes sent to Shoey were all pop too 🙂

      I have another list in progress (not really a b-list) of non-pop tunes that i’ll save for after the Festive. I’m figuring this list doesn’t really encroach on the Fest.

      • Finally got a chance to listen to these – believe it or not, i loved the Marlene too – that’s my big pick of those 3. A good set of pipes sans screech goes a long way with me. It remineded me a lot (the backing chorus anyway) of a better known song (not from this year), it will come to me.

        I did like that Sinead better that the one you posted a few months ago. I think she could be a brilliant pop singer with the right producer. Be nice to see her happy enough to let loose.

      • Ok, thought of it – Dream Academy’s Life in a Northern Town. Which now that i figured it out, it doesn’t really sound like at all.

  2. Listened to the first nine now – brilliant stuff. Who knew so much Teenage Fanclub-ish, 60s-esque guitar pop had been released this year?! Will plug back in for the rest tomorrow…

  3. Brill Bruisers has some great stuff on it, I’ve loved it too. the bit where it goes quiet a min and a half into the title track is bliss. I like the Men’s earlier albums which are definitely rock. didn’t get the one this year but may yet be convinced. can’t really agree on Ty Segall – one of my albums of the year. I think it’s probably longer than it needs to be and the earlier tracks are stronger – tracks 1 through 6 are just great for me, esp The Singer and Feel.

    I haven’t gone for pop in my 3 choices 😀 but if you want more, try this album out which I’ve quite enjoyed this year

    • I admit that it might be me with Ty this year. He showed up on some other lists that liked it as much as you did. Dunno, maybe it was downhill a bit for me from Melted.

    • Can’t complain about that tune.

      After i get this knot of holiday stuff over with, i’m going to have another listen to Ty’s album.

      • “Let Me Go” by Krasnoznamennaya diviziya imeni moey babushki

        But my fav is ‘Shlyapa volshebnika’ which has a male voice more prominent and a ska flavour to it… kind of a Russian collective that just bundles on stage and has fun. I love it.
        Most of the one on youtube are the female dominated singing which won’t apple to you as much as the shouty blokes.

      • dunno, that one didn’t work so well for me. Which i think had little to do with having a female vocalist, and a lot to do with being maybe a bit too Eurovision for these American ears 🙂

  4. Yay. Office day tomorrow – unless I wake up to a DsMam list of Jobs To Do – so I’ll have a listen then. Feeling crap (only physically ’cause’ve a probable cold; nothing to worry about) so off to bed now.

  5. I think I’m going to enjoy listening to this tomorrow. Ex-Hex is one of the only two “proper”, new, non compilation/re-release albums I’ve bought this year.

  6. Nice to see The new Waterboys single on your list, album ‘Modern Blues’ in the New Year. If anybody is interested, I have two free tickets to see them at Paradiso in Amsterdam tomorrow night. It’s one of a pair of smaller scale shows there which are being filmed as part of a Waterboys’ biography. I’m going to be there but the kids bailed out at the last minute so if anyone can use the tickets get in touch. dstatankayotanka at gmail.com.

  7. Having only heard 212 before, that Azealia Banks was not what I was expecting at all! Rather liked it though. Perhaps not as much as 212 but I’m a sucker for a bit of potty-mouthery.

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