Six records I’m really rather looking forward to this year…
1. Oddfellow’s Casino, The Raven’s Empire
Beginning things with a locational bias, a nibble on a little Brighton-based eccentricity is perfect potion to get the coastal blood a-pumping. Described by Les Inrockuptibles as Britain’s answer to Sufjan Stevens, David Bramwell and his company of orchestrally inclined bandmates furnish us with Oddfellow’s fifth and newest album to kick-start 2012 into an Edward Gorey themed year. Expect the Brighton and Hove Concert Band, un-living memories of the West Pier before it became a stack of matchsticks, Victorian freakshows and vignettes, and the ghostly smell of pipe tobacco to assault the mind’s eye and ear. Only just out on Nightjar Records.
2. Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose
This girl has had me on the edge of my seat for three years now. Promises of records, a teaser EP, a few sporadic gigs and a whole lot of mystery later, in February, we will finally have Ms Houghton’s debut album to whimsy away to. In fact, she’s so frickin’ enigmatic that I haven’t heard it yet: it would seem she even keeps the tabs locked tight to insiders. However, I’m not going out on a limb in hedging that whatever this record sounds like, it’s going to be the cat’s pyjamas. Well, it will be if you’re into velvety, smokey vocals, pop-folk-psych arrangements, flying one-woman choral clouds, banjo, all to the backdrop of everything that’s been on musical trend of late. I also love the fact she dresses up like a beautiful lunatic. Due for release on Mute, 6th February.
3. Karen Dalton, 1966
From one mysterious woman to another, but with a good 40-year fame gap in between. Well, that’s not entirely true; Dalton came back on the scene posthumously around 2008 after her last release, In My Own Time, in 1971. The latest Dalton-shaped offering comes in the form of never-before heard, recently unearthed tracks, featuring cover versions of songs by the likes of Fred Neil and Tim Hardin. Latterly recognised as one of folk’s most important voices, Dalton, if she were alive today, would stand shoulder to shoulder with the aforementioned heavyweights plus Bob Dylan, who credits her as an inspiration for his own career. Gravelly, raw and oh so folky, if that classic Greenwich Village vibe is your thing, you need 1966 in your life. Out on Delmore Recording Society at the end of January.
4. Hooded Fang, Tosta Mista
Around this time last year, I lost my shit over Y Niwl. This year, I’ll mostly be doing the same over the latest from Hooded Fang. I love – LOVE I tell ye – that garage surf thing, so with all of this classic reverb going on, surf guitar and ’60s style drum breaks, I think I might have found a new obsession. But behind all the elevating this and that, this record actually has quite a sad concept behind it all: surprisingly it documents the disintegration of the band’s Daniel Lee and April Aliermo’s five-year relationship. Stand out track ‘Den Of Love’ supposedly typifies it all. Whatevs, heartbreak or not, Tosta Mista has been described as “the whole of the Nuggets box set condensed into an album that’s just 23 minutes long.” That’s a win on my watch. It’s out on Full Time Hobby on 12th March.
5. Department of Eagles, The Cold Nose (bonus tracks)
Ooh, look! More than one album title with the word ‘nose’ in it. That’s a bit weird. Anyway, this particular record is a re-release seven years after its original outing. What 2012 has that 2005 didn’t is up for speculation, but what this record has that 2005′s version didn’t is six bonus tracks, featuring remixes from Tunng and Deadelus. That’s a whopping 19 tracks to get stuck into! What’s it like? Well, if the kind of thing DJ Shadow does floats your boat, then you might be setting merry sail. Time Out, however, have another specific on it all: “Imagine if Thom Yorke woke up one sunny spring morning and realised that actually, everything was going to be OK after all.” Imagine if he did! 1997 would have sounded very different… Anyway, a majorly eclectic collection from DoE, The Cold Nose is out now on Melodic.
6. Diagrams, Black Light
One man show, Sam Genders, otherwise known as Diagrams, delights us this January with his debut album. Truth be told, I was expecting a well-synthy, wanky LP (I confess; I judged a book by its cover). But pleasantly, where it is a bit synthy now and then, it’s not wanky. It’s actually pretty lyrically rich, and in places, bluesy, funk-peppered and psych (the old and new variety) a-plenty. Diagrams has been likened to Hot Chip and Metronomy, which I think is where I formulated my preconceptions, but quite wonderfully – and strangely – The Guardian had this to say about Mr Genders work: “Like Sufjan Stevens and a parliament of owls in a feathery group hug, happily tumbling down an upwards escalator in slow motion.” I want whoever wrote that to come to my fantasy dinner party too. It would appear that noses and Sufjan Stevens have a lot to answer for this year… It’s out 16th January on Full Time Hobby.