Hello. I am trying out a new idea this week. Now that quite a lot of people are competing for this reasonably meaningless title (I should sort out some sort of trophy really, wouldn’t that be nice?) it seems churlish to limit the number of albums from any one country. However, I’m still hoping to listen to music from as many countries as possible. So, this week I’m trialling a new ‘double points’ scheme where if you pick an album from a list of countries we haven’t had an album from yet (this week it was Kenya, Armenia, Panama, Haiti, Peru, Kazakhstan, Chad, Lithuania, Pakistan and Togo) your points for the week are, well, doubled. Hence me calling it the ‘double points’ scheme. This really isn’t rocket science.
And speaking of rocket science…
No. We’ll get to the rocket in good time.
We had twenty four choices this week and yet nobody picked Kate Bush, Kanye West or Kano. Too obvious? Maybe. I have made no secret of the fact that I think Kano’s Hoodies All Summer is the best album of the 2010’s, so perhaps people thought picking it would have led to them being punished for sycophancy or something. It wouldn’t. It would have got you twenty four points. No messing. That album is immense.
The recommendations that did arrive though were, potentially, the strongest selection we’ve had yet. If you don’t get many points this week, please, do not feel hard done by. The competition was fierce.
Finally, before we get started, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for not suggesting Kasabian. You are kind and wonderful people.
Right. Let’s do this…
Scoring one point – Mat Pringle
Is life fair? I don’t know. It’s quite a big question and this probably isn’t the time or the place to discuss it. However, try to bear the possibility that it isn’t in mind as I tell you a tale. Mat Pringle, who until today was top of the leaderboard, suggested a compilation called Life Is Dance which featured three songs produced Kamal Ahmed. The connection to K is somewhat tenuous, I agree, but I had planned to only listen to those three songs and judge his choice on those three songs only. Things were going to be fair. When I came to look for the album though, I drew a blank. I could find one of the songs as a single but I wasn’t convinced by it (or the fairness of allotting points based on one song). Luckily, Mat had given me a reserve choice – Con Tondo El Mundo by Khruangbin. Unluckily, I really didn’t like it. To my ears it sounds like the sound of musicians noodling and/or ‘wigging out’, neither of which can I sanction or, frankly, abide. In conclusion then, life probably isn’t fair. I know I’m certainly not.
Scoring two points – Aimee Parsons
There should be some sort of reward for nominating an album that is less than a month old (in this case, Kygo’s Golden Hour) but there isn’t because (as we have already established) life isn’t fair.
Scoring three points – Slugger
After nominating David Kitt, then being told it was his D choice, Slugger went with the closest alternative, David Keenan, and his album A Beginner’s Guide to Bravery. There is a mathematical logic to this that approaches poetry. Probably. I’m no mathematician or anything. Blimey, the things I’ve learned about 3D shapes this last week while homeschooling a seven year old. Did you know they have hexagonal prisms now? What will they think of next, eh? Anyway, as with Kygo, I strongly suspect I am far far too old to appreciate David Keenan. It’s not fair but (without wanting to labour a point or anything) neither is life.
Scoring four points – Chris Bissette
In the last of our ‘Life. Is it fair?’ selections, Chris recommended the second album by Kinesis because their first album (and his first choice) Handshakes for Bullets wasn’t widely available. Being a great all round great guy, I found Handshakes for Bullets and listened to that. We’ll never know if, had I just listened to the second album, he could have scored more points because (all together now) life isn’t fair.
Scoring five points – Graham Cox
Graham toyed with a Kenyan choice but went with his heart and chose Code 4109 by DJ Krush. Apparently DJ Krush wrote the entire album as a way to remember his PIN. It’s a funny old world and no mistake guvnor.
Scoring six points – Chris AKA ‘Pet Idiot’
I need to be gentle for a second. Chris made it quite clear that his choice, Bored Civilians by Keith Cross and Pete Ross was a personal favourite and that offering it up to judgement was an act that left him vulnerable. Simply put, Bored Civilians is unquestionably a very good album and one that I suspect many of you will love (especially if you like things like Nick Drake which (spoilers) I don’t) but it failed to win me over.
Scoring seven and a half points (doubled to fifteen points) – Sleepy and Em
Sleepy recommended Kanaval, vol 1 by King Posse and Em recommended Ret Nan Liy Ou by Klass. Both are from Haiti, so both get double points. I liked them equally, which is to say, I thought they were both alright but I had no inclination to give them further listens to pick a favourite.
Scoring nine points – Donna Morris
I will happily admit that Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway beats all of the previous choices on the strength of one song alone because Since U Been Gone is such a banger that I feel no guilt whatsoever.
Scoring ten points – Desmond
I was somewhat torn by Katsen’s It Hertz! I liked some of it a lot but, despite living in Brighton for a year, I have never seen or heard anything quite as unbearably ‘Brighton’ as their cover version of The Pixie’s Cactus is. I think I should endeavour to go back to Brighton next year, if only for a day, if only to see if a certain sandwich shop is still there.
Scoring eleven points – Plashing Vole
Vole went with Kuniko Kath plays Reich. Now, I don’t know how you feel about minimalism, but I’ve always felt it lacked something. The composition of it has always felt to me like it is a process of the head and not the heart. I was pleasantly surprised by this album though. It rubbed away a little of my prejudices, which is always a nice feeling. It didn’t sweep me away on a wave of emotion or anything like that, but that isn’t really its intention, I don’t think. It got more from me than a solemn nod of respect though, and that’s a big step.
Scoring twelve points – Nick Rayney
The first of two albums by Kojey Radical in this list. OK, so, does anyone remember a band called Regular Fries? I saw them live at a festival once. They arrived on stage to an interesting and bouncy riff and started chucking around giant letters that spelled something out (probably Regular Fries, though my memory is less than photogenic). Anyway, they then did a song that felt like the beginning of something, then another that sounded like an intro, then another that sounded like entrance music, then something that could be loosely termed an overture. They never played, what you might under normal circumstances call, an actual song. Twenty minutes passed and then they left, and while the concert had been enjoyable I wasn’t convinced it had ever really started. Anyway, this album felt a bit like that. More beginnings than middles. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying.
Scoring thirteen points (doubled to twenty six points) – Subfuscus
I really enjoyed Sven Kacirek’s The Kenya Sessions but its very form (a series of field recordings moulded into an album) played against it somewhat when it came to ranking it on a list (which, let’s be clear, is a thankless task at the best of times). It didn’t feel as ‘whole’ as other albums. If that means anything, which I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.
Scoring fourteen points (doubled to twenty eight points) jummo70
There was always going to be potential in googling ‘Good bands from Lithuania’ and in doing so, and finding Namai by Kamanių šilelis, jummo70 got himself a whole heap of points. I liked this album so much that I even forgave what sounded suspiciously like a didgeridoo on one of the tracks. High praise indeed.
Scoring fifteen points (doubled to thirty points) William Mallin
I have never fully warmed to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s music. More precisely, I tend to jump in feet first at the beginning of an album proclaiming, “This is great!” but twenty minutes in I’m less sure. Like the minimalism of Reich, it doesn’t do enough. Shahen-Shah is very good though. Especially the first four-and-a-half minutes.
Scoring sixteen points (doubled to thirty two points) George Sandison
The (in my mind at least) obvious road to take when suggesting a double points worthy composer would have been Armenia’s Aram Khachaturian. Bang the Masquerade Suite on. Boom! Bob’s your uncle! Big points! George Sandison went with the significantly less obvious Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis and, in particular, the first volume of his collected piano works. It was a gamble that payed off. George, and the Lithuanian composer, done good.
As an aside, if you ever find yourself questioning how much you have achieved in your life UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER have a glance at Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis’ Wikipedia page. He was a prolific dude, all prolific like.
Scoring seventeen points (doubled to thirty four points) – Georgia Boon
Does having the lyrics translated help you like a song more? Yes, in the case of Kazakhstan’s Jah Khalib, it very much does. Highlights from just the first track of E.G.O. include, “You have a lot of sex in you baby! Wow wow wow,” “Ocean of dirty sex (yes), and we like it so much! / Baby – you are sweet, harmful (yes), when you lie naked / I’m sticking specifically! I’m sticking to you specifically!” and my personal favourite, “Baby, you are space – and I launch my rocket at you!” Incredible scenes.
Scoring eighteen points – Daniel Carpenter
The other Kojey Radical album chosen, Cashmere Tears, is the more complete album, in my opinion only, of course, though that is quite important, obviously, what with me assigning scores to your choices and everything.
Scoring nineteen points – Neal
Neal chose Sigil by Nuru Kane, which was very good, so I gave it lots of points. Incidentally, Neal pointed out this week that I forgot to include his choice from last week which was Aza Arianao by Eusèbe Jaojoby. I said I would listen to it this week and chuck a few bonus points his way. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down a copy of it anywhere. I found other stuff by him but I have no idea whether it is representative or not. Shall we say… eight bonus points? Or nine? Let’s say nine. Why not?
Scoring twenty points (doubled to forty points) – Dave Hartley
Dave promised that Hadiqa Kiani’s Aasmaan was a banger and he didn’t disappoint. He’s good like that. On a mostly unrelated note, Dave. Have you heard Kid Moxie at all? I reckon she’s your kind of thing. Sort of an electro pop type thing. She has released a soundtrack this year that has your name on it. Not literally, obviously. That would be weird. Nobody is filming you while you sleep and making a movie of the footage, Dave. Nobody at all. Forget I even mentioned that.
Scoring twenty one points – Picky Bastards
Picky Bastards tend to win or come dead last but today will have to be satisfied with a solid fourth place with Kiwanuka by Michael Kiwanuka. It’s a great album. I suspect you all already know that.
Scoring twenty two points Dan
Dan chose Something Else by The Kinks. There is an argument to be made that The Kinks is a bit of an obvious choice but I am hearing exactly fucking none of it.
Scoring twenty three points – Doctor Princess in Isolation
I listened to some of Congotronics by Konono Nº1 while I was hanging the washing out. I don’t suppose that is a very important thing to note but I’m running out of ways to say albums are good. This was a lot easier when I did two posts a weekend. Oh well. The album is really good. Good album. The album is good.
Scoring twenty four points – Fat Roland and Rebecca Holland
A few people chose Fongola by Kokoko! but only two refused to back down and pick something else. (I’m phrasing that badly. I seem to have been writing this post forever. My mind is slipping. I think I need to find some way to make the whole process snappier) Anyway anyway good album good album good very good good good goooooooooooooood