The most important music I’ve heard this year

That none of the albums I’m about to list are in fact “new” – none of them belong to this year – speaks volumes.  But I’ve only just caught up to them, so for the five people who care, here they are, each with a link (hopefully):-

 

1. Breath Of Life – Whispering Fields

http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Whispering+Fields/9293043

After a semi-successful ethereal-electronica diversion (Silver Drops) and a good rock album whose ten great songs were unfortunately eclipsed by one embarrassing error (Everlasting Souls), Isabelle & Co finally delivered the flawless violin-topped-rock album we’ve been waiting for since Lost Children.  Most maddeningly catchy track: “Cutting Wings”.

2. Pretentious Moi

Fifteen years in the making, the album (there probably won’t be another) by the UK goth supergroup in which Tim from Manuskript finally fulfilled his potential, and coaxed Rachel from Die Laughing out of retirement.  An abundance of unforgettable smoke-scratched riffs and bitter lyrics here.  Catchiest track: the one linked to

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rzw1grZ1IjY&list=PL1F767A67C547A2E2&index=8

3. Screaming Banshee Aircrew – Sugar

If this is to be their last album, they went out on a musical high – and in a thoroughly understandable blaze of anger and frustration.  Those March Violets-like vocal countermelodies remain irresistible but the lyrics and riffs which demand your attention and/or submission make this unforgettable.  Personal fave: see the link

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTVJlf-ftsw

4. Aesma Daeva – Dawn Of The New Athens

Another essential album from the best symphonic/progressive goth-metal act in the world – where do they keep finding these heavenly voiced singers from?  So much (wonderful) detail in these short songs that the only criticism is that they don’t seem eager to return to long-form composition (imagine what the current lineup could accomplish with a Frigid Beauty tyoe album). Link to whole album

http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/Dawn+Of+The+New+Athens/4609158

5. King Crimson – The Road To Red [Boxed Set]

No links available to the actual previously-unreleased music in this vast box.  But – like the Lark Tongues box that preceded it – this is the sort of data overload everyone should experience.  A full review will be written on this page sometime, but ’til then…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFeoP1jGQuY

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A late RIP Lou Reed

my standard line on LR is –

this is the man who, for several generations of music-lovers, was New York. Representing that particular city more than anyone before or since. It’s hard to fully imagine that city having ever existed without him in it – as the poetic voice of, and physical embodiment of, its collective subconscious. And it’s hard to believe the city is still standing without him in it.

Some people have already suggested erecting a monument to him.

I’ve been saying the same thing for years – but it shouldn’t be a statute, it should be an enormous waxwork…

hidden down a dark alley, with garbage blowing around its ankles and rats racing between its legs. Wrapped in immense blue jeans and black leather jacket, immense shades on its face, with a guitar strapped on its back, and a pocket knife in one hand (while the other hand clutches a pocket-size book of Delmore Schwartz’s poems).
That’s the image we have of him – and it may be lazy cultural shorthand but it matters.

I put a personal LR playlist – with a focus on lyrics that are autobiographical (directly or “veiled”) – on YouTube. If it’s still standing when you read this…it’ll be here.