Picking just ten albums out of the pack is always a tricky thing. This site has reviewed around 500 pieces of music this year from throw-away pop singles to album length progressive flights of fancy, from the well trodden grounds of classic rock to cutting edge experiments which are creating a whole new musical future. Add to that the fact that I am lucky enough to largely write about music I find interesting, which means if it even makes the page there is something I like about it. Anyway, below is 10 of the standouts of the year, I could write another 10 articles like this, but I won’t, better you explore the site and make your own mind up. Enjoy, comment, discuss and leave the cash in a brown envelope in the usual place! (I wish)
Albums should grab you from the off, entice you, draw you in and wrap you up in their own musical plane of existence. The Dayoffs are aware of this, even if they are not aware that they are aware of this, because from the opening salvo of hazy loveliness that goes by the name of 15, I was smitten. Its blend of rapturous, shimmering yet structured shoegazery took me back to a host of great bands from my own formative post-punk days, when Bunnymen echoed, Icicles worked, The Church were surprisingly anti-establishment and (early) Lush were just that. After such a glorious opening salvo you can do nothing less than settle down and wait for the rest of the songs to wash over you, which they do like a sonic tsunami.
Although the term shoegaze implies a certain looseness, ethereality and experimental progression that would normally take the music away from conventional structures, this Russo-Japanese NYC duo seem able to capture all those elements without straying away from recognisable song forms or addictive hooks, of which there are many and used to great effect. By the time we get to Bottled Rainwater a slightly darker, crunchier JAMC element emerges as warped and overdriven guitars spar lay down a dark hypnotic groove. The results are nothing short of majestic.
It’s a neat trick to sound underground and cultish one moment, and accessible and commercially viable the next, to do it across an album which is cohesive and focused is this nothing short of remarkable. But that is what The Dayoffs manage to do, and do so effortlessly. At one moment I Can’t Believe I’m Dead is a howling banshee of a song wandering into Iggy Pop realms of intense, punked out insanity, Love Love Love plays to an 80’s post-punk gallery and Two Actors In a Cage is perfect for the modern underground pop set. And yet despite the fact that these songs seem custom built for a variety of audiences, they make perfect sonic bedfellows.
The album is a wonderful tapestry of dream pop soundscaping, introverted shoegazing, the occasional grunge work out, darkly detached and emotive vocals, and razor wire riffs bound together by meshes of wild and warped guitar. The word here is texture, like an exotic hand made Persian rug, musical lines are warped and wefted to wonderful effect and despite the riot of colour, nothing is wasted, no one thread obscures another, the complex beauty is apparent for all to see.