3 masterpieces this week. 2 of which are my selections. There are two other great albums as well, but the week is sadly closed off with three of the lesser albums I came across here.
4. Teenage Fanclub - Bandwagonesque vs. 3. Big Black - Atomizer
Like probably most people I fell in love with Bandwagonesque very easily. I heard Teenage Fanclub for the first time only this year, through their latest album, which appeared in the Moderately Acclaimed Albums of 2016 game and then I already noticed their easy charms. They do nothing to reinvent rock music, but at the very least they make you feel like they do for 45 minutes or so. Lot's of fun.
Still, the moments the first riffs of Atomizer set in I knew Bandwagonesque didn't stand a chance of winning this match-up for me anymore; not an easy feat considering it's quality. But there is something deep and dark in the music of Atomizer that goes beyond fun, skill and beauty. It's nasty, unsettling and a masterpiece. Maybe, not as consistent as Bandwagonesque, but tracks like Jordan, Mississippi, Kerosene, Fists of Love and Strange Things make every tune of Teenage Fanclub look small and insignificant (which they aren't).
5. Morrissey - You Are the Quarry vs. 2. Santigold - Santogold
Although I wasn't paying attention when You Are the Quarry was released I understand that is was received with great hype at the time, because it was Morrissey's first album in years. All the more awesome was that he felt to revitalized. Yes, it's a good album, even if it is Morrissey being Morrissey. Still, more of the same is not necessarily a bad thing if it is done as well as here.
But Santogold is something else. It is one of my nominations and for me a rare thing: a perfect pop album. Pure pop is rarely my favorite kind of music, but Santogold is from start to finish full of surprises. I love every song here. It has a quirky nature all of it's own and Santigold's voice is a bit weird in an irresistible way. I perhaps know no album that is such a perfect bundle of joy. Not even Santigold herself could come close to it afterwards.
1. Saint Etienne - So Tough vs. 6. Spiritualized Electric Mainline - Pure Phase
Even better than Santogold is So Tough. I learned to know the album through my review for the 6000 Songs project, where Avenue was part of. There I immediately fell in love with the album and it became a very, very rare album I feel the need to return to every few weeks. It's soothing, beautiful and keeps on surprising after so many listens. Besides, the flow is amazing. If I ever for some reason would teach how you structure an album that's not a concept or story album I would pick this one. The little samples of English movies add a touch of fun, too.
Pure Phase never stood a chance here. Even so, it was still a disappointment, because I liked the little of Spiritualized that I heard before. Sometimes, it lives up to that, but mostly I just find it lifeless and it feels twice as long as it is. I've voted for a lot of atmospheric music in this game this year and Pure Phase just can't compete with most of them.
8. Rodriguez - Coming from Reality vs. 7. Georges Brassens - Chante les chansons poétiques (…et souvent gaillardes)
I still prefer Pure Phase over these two, because Pure Phase has The Slide Song, while these two have... Nothing that particularly gets to me. In the case of Georges Brassens, I can't blame him. He simply works in a mode that's not for me. There is a type of French chanson, mostly the more upbeat and sunny type, that always puts me off for some reason. Brassens works in that mode. Maybe if I could understand the lyrics it might help, but generally speaking this is not the type of music I would ever put on myself. That's not Brassens' fault, so that's why he still gets the vote.
Rodriguez, you see, works in a style I generally love. What's more, I really liked Cold Fact a lot. After seeing Searching for Sugar Man I sought out both albums, but only listened to Coming from Reality once, though I couldn't remember why I thought it was a lesser effort. Now I know: this album is just plain cranky. I love cynical and biting lyrics, but brought the wrong way it can sound like the nagging of a particularly sour person. There is something about Coming from Reality that is plain unlikable, no matter how relaxed Rodriguez looks on the cover.