Sunday, 8 February 2009

THE BLUE IN THE AIR 2008 ALBUMS: NUMBERS 100-91




100. MICHAEL HEARST: Songs For Ice Cream Trucks

A sound: light tingling noises and burbles through the air. You can hear it long before you can see it. And it’s not just any music – it’s ice cream truck music (what other dessert has its own soundtrack?)! Hearst gives us new, sweet and only somewhat sad melodies as his truck goes on its rounds.

Likewise, this list is an ice cream truck with one hundred or so flavours and these flavours range from the old reliables to new-fangled ones which would make even the most daring chef raise his or her eyebrows in disbelief. Single and double scoops, silver scoops and wooden mini-shovels – there is something here for everyone.

99. AIDAN JOHN MOFFAT: I Can Hear Your Heart

Let’s begin with the lonely stoner who sells himself as an ice cream man at the party into which he stumbles, nominally an unknown, although in most senses the party was meant for him and only for him. There are outraged mobile messages, Greasy ruminations, 101 forgotten strings of samples, Bruce Springsteen, and a story, a wandering, in which he strives to free his mind and say to duplicity and betrayal: so what?

98. PINK: Funhouse

The answer is that she was a better rock star in 2008 than most, and this was her favoured tool.

97. YELLE: Pop-Up

Against the whiteness a French girl exclaims the New Pop world still to be here, because of the boys, the girls, and opens the door to fresher airs, bringing 1981 in with a smile.

96. POLAR BEAR: Polar Bear

Espresso flavour – it sounds like a train to them, sounds like the incidental music for the medieval film noir Oliver Postgate didn’t quite live to make. Those lips which no leaf could cut!

95. THE BACKYARDIGANS: Born To Play

A green backdrop falls, then the scene is set for multicoloured bounding adventures where energy abounds…the children of 1981 finally getting to play in the shiny yellow sunshine, and that turned out to include the ballot boxes.

94. NATASHA BEDINGFIELD: Pocketful Of Sunshine

Imperfections are proof of life, and happiness is everywhere and portable. This arrived on a cold day in Canada with the confidence of the grass under the snow, the patience too.

93. ARIANE MOFFAT: Tous Les Sens

A life in one day: four corners of the Earth sont le crains de ton rue, dans le jour tu decouvent un petit piece de magic. Quand le machine is on, sing and leave a message to yourself. Your voice lives in the wires and chips Salut, Montreal !...

92. BLACK MILK: Tronic

…and hello, D. Always on top, always now if not years ahead. Astonishing and unique, the spirit of J Dilla announces his presence, beneficent and at peace. Oh yes…

91. ENYA: And Winter Came…

…and in a digital world the analog woman stretches out her hand to feel the snow, the cold, the individual flakes of wonder and quiet, that long night which brings back the spring, where new adventures begin…

THE BLUE IN THE AIR 2008 ALBUMS: NUMBERS 90-80











90. THOMAS FERSEN: Trois Petits Tours

…et dans le fĂ´ret, un homme takes his valise and becomes a fairy godfather, in the cool mists of early spring. Tout le monde est nouvel et douce, in the branches balloons rest and tiny flowers sprout from the mud…




89. PLANTS AND ANIMALS: Parc Avenue

Elsewhere in Montreal , hiver is over and the first warmth spreads down the street, the traumas are gone with the snow and gentle breezes give you time and space to think. Why not walk to where the birds and bees live, to hear mating songs?

88. LUCINDA WILLIAMS: Little Honey

Turn it up, full blast, knowing that it is the real, actual thing. What has been longed for has happened. How long did it take? How many redemptions, sacrifices? Go to the top of the heath, the roof, and feel that circle, a long line at long last connected…

87. LADY GAGA: The Fame

…and when did it start? Disorientation. A sense of being a teenager and staking nights, lost in bars, in clubs, relationships dissolving in a phrase, a gesture. The clock in World’s End, the winking men, the GLAMOUR overrides and justifies all.

86. AKON: Freedom

Then there is the destination; the kind of security which only comes with true achievement; the man stands immaculate, but not uncaring, beside a perfect sea and an air of new blue. Freedom through machines; the tool of the indolent converted to a believer of ardent red, now, now, now.

85. BUSY SIGNAL: Loaded

Meanwhile the reversed clock in World’s End pronounces: “Tic Tic Toc,” a Numan PacMan chant of new muzik, striking in the dancehall, ominous enough even to incorporate and impregnate “Beat It” within its silvery musculature.

84. FLO RIDA: Mail On Sunday

Does he not deserve to prosper? 1965 Motown pleading retooled for the spaceship of the steely hip, guttural (“Low”) and all compass points centring on her “JAM” in the middle of “In The Ayer” before spreading it into strawberry Sundays of unlikely socialism.

83. KANO : 140 Grime St .
82. SKEPTA: Greatest Hits
81. GHETTO: Freedom Of Speech
80. CHASE AND STATUS: More Than A Lot

And then grime came back, as, rather less expectedly, did drum n’ bass; but as true collectivist music neither really lent themselves towards easy in/out door bogus evaluations. Kano frames the picture admirably; back on his own terms, sounding freer and lighter. The Skepta collection is a stray ray from 2007 (the first of four) which we felt it vital to include in this tale; the infectious impudence of that title spread generously throughout hilarious, pioneering storms of sneaky. Ghetto was impatient but not impudent or impotent – always on time, as were the geared-even motors of Chase and Status; less showy than Pendulum (does anyone else recall Therapy??), they chopped their drums into sublime new screws, and Kano ’s guest demolition derby, aided by Rawls and Axelrod, crashed through the corrugated grey into the peachy sunshine.

THE BLUE IN THE AIR 2008 ALBUMS: NUMBERS 79-71



79. CYNDI LAUPER: Bring Ya To The Brink

The woman looks out the window, apparently domestic but really her mind is elsewhere, thinking of that mp3 she heard from the back of the bus, the song on the radio at the corner store. Her soul is in the beats; the rhythms are in the changeable winds. She decides to go out tonight, once the soft sun has set, just beyond the golden trees.

78. COLBIE CALLIAT: Coco

Gold sand; blue salt air and white bubbles. Gentle alchemies on the edge of a continent. California gives and gives with an easy hand, but not without its nagging questions – is it good always? Easy, forever? Efforts pay off, but what lasts?

77. LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM: Gift Of Screws

A flurry of infinite guitars stretches and shakes like its own series of faults underground; or like fireworks over Macarthur Park . Peace in the night, the long-held/kept secrets are so obvious now. All there is IS now; efforts do last, but oh, OH, the pressures…

76. BRIAN WILSON: That Lucky Old Sun

The orange peel releases oils and juice as it comes off. Invigorating, soothing, the very smell of heaven itself. One who never thought he could truly sense this joy, so simple and old, has an orange juice before he exercises, jogging through his city, his pal observing the warmth, the optimism, the SUNSHINE that says OH YES.

75. THE BICYCLES: Oh No It’s Love

You fall in love and it’s good but sometimes you have the smallest problems with the biggest things. Toronto opens its arms and says “I understand.” Ask the right questions and the answers are obvious. Love is new, love was always there.

74. THE TING-TINGS: We Started Nothing

As long as you do it with love. Like The Bicycles, they were truly INDEPENDENT pop – never, thank the Lord, “indie” – not really a beat group (despite “the drums, the drums, the drums, the drums”) but they beat most British groups in 2008 by giving a damn about not giving a damn. Aloud.

73. BRYN CHRISTOPHER: My World

It’s only worth turning the page back if you intend to read – or even write – the pages not yet written. Thus we know he DOES have something to live for and can answer his androgynous muezzin wail. Too many tried to pretend that 2008 could be turned into 1968; Bryn, though, was careful not to forget 1981.

72. ELIZABETH SHEPHERD: Parkdale

Queen St West shimmers; in the Gladstone Hotel a woman plays and sings. The sweating city is cooled by her voice. A tender hand in a rough part of town, a profound love of the residents in their dire circumstances. The flower growing out of the sidewalk.

71. NIKKA COSTA: Pebble To A Pearl

Echoing Bryn, Nikka knows that you can bring the past into the present, just as you can take that durable grit and indeed make something of worth, warm as your skin and inspiring. The Hoxton crew want the jewels without the search; Nikka has the real pleasure of having her own veins, her own sea.