This week’s double points countries were Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Iran, Burundi, Guatemala, Ecuador, Kiribati and Poland.
Let’s be honest; you can’t rank music. You can make broad distinctions, sure. I’m happy to state that Beethoven was better than Peter André is. I would also feel confident saying that Chaka Demus and Pliers are better than Peter André. I’d even go so far as to say that Peter André is better than Public Service Broadcasting. But grading twenty or so albums on a sliding scale when the majority of them are very good indeed? That’s a fool’s errand.
Thankfully, I am a fool, so let’s crack on, eh?
Georgia Boon recommended Badia Di Fogo by Neuza…
…and I am so sorry but it wasn’t for me. It sounded like something that might be played a lot on a holiday you didn’t really want to go on, if that makes sense, like the Lambada or something like that. Though I have fond memories of the family holiday I went on the summer that the Lambada was everywhere, so the metaphor doesn’t work especially well. It was the first time I ever had paella, that holiday. Good times. Good times. Anyway… one point (x2 for being from Cape Verde =) two points.
Adrian Slatcher recommended New Age Steppers by New Age Steppers
The three phrases in music that most fill me with dread are ‘dance remix’, ‘acoustic cover version’ and ‘dub’. In the right hands all three can be magical but, about ninety-seven percent of the time, the original song was far better before somebody started fucking about with it. New Age Steppers is a dub heavy album. I struggled with it. It was made by a veritable who’s who of the post-punk scene of the time (1980) so I know I will be damned for only giving it two points but I’m going to have to live with that. Frankly, I dodged a bullet when nobody recommended The Clash when we did C and it was a run of luck that was never going to last. Leave your angry comments in the comments section and I promise to skim read them before I delete them.
Neal recommended Adam’s Bushes, Eva’s Deep by Nasekomix…
…possibly thinking of the double points that a band from Bulgaria could bring. Nasekomix are – or they seemed to be to be – a (sort of) Bulgarian Garbage. Do you remember Garbage? They were massive for a year or two then disappeared. I bought the single they did with Tricky, a limited edition seven-inch with about a tree’s worth of packaging. Milk, I think it was called. I haven’t listened to it in a very long time. Double points for Bulgaria, but this still only six points. Sorry.
Desmond recommended Night Walks by Sarah Nixey
While we are on the subject of nineties music, do you remember Black Box Recorder? Everyone loved them except me. I couldn’t work out what they were for. Their vocalist has had a solo career for some time now (though I was completely unaware of that until last Wednesday when I heard this and thought, “she sounds like…” and it turned out that she was) and he solo stuff is loads better than the Black Box Recorder stuff imo. I probably would have scored it much higher than I have if I hadn’t had an echo of the Black Box Recorder stuff floating in my brain as I listened to it – a vague memory of her saying, “The children have hurt themselves / life is empty / I don’t mind though,” or some such over a minimalist piano track. It’s an unfairly low four points from me, I’m afraid.
Tom recommended Grappling Hooks by North Atlantic Oscillation
Which, unfortunately for Tom, keeps us firmly in the realms of life being not very fair because there was, as far as I could see, absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t have loved this album and yet… I didn’t. It called to me but didn’t hook me (pun not intended [and not really a pun I suppose]). It probably needed another listen or two. I didn’t love coriander the first few times I had it, but it intrigued me, and now I can’t get enough of the stuff. You never know. I was definitely intrigued. Of course, if I do listen to it more and grow to love it, it still won’t be worth any more than the five points you get today. As I said, life is unfair.
George Sandison recommended Word Jazz by Ken Nordine…
…which, before we get started, earns a surprise ten bonus points for introducing me to what is now (probably) my favourite album cover. As for the album itself? Well, I liked it but couldn’t shake the feeling that I would have liked the words even more without the jazz. I realise that isn’t the point, but… you know. With the bonus it gets sixteen points.
Mat Pringle recommended Aerolit by Czesław Niemen…
…knowing, I think, that it was something of a risk. Double points for Poland but potentially missing the top spots due to the album being a healthy mix of genius and idiocy. And so it proved, but fourteen points is still a healthy total.
William Mallin recommended Préstame el Camino by Ñanda Mañachi…
…with the warning that he hoped I liked panpipes. And normally, I don’t. They aren’t something I search out. They aren’t something I long for. On this occasion though, they were ok. Double points for Ecuador means sixteen points.
And now, somewhat controversially, I am going to group a few of you together because I couldn’t confidently draw distinctions of quality between your selections, sorry.
Nick Rayney recommended Vega Intl Night School by Neon Indian (which had very strong Scritti Politti vibes, I thought) Slugger recommended In An Aeroplane, Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel (which temporarily made me not hate acoustic guitars) Sleepy recommended Electric Version by The New Pornographers (which reminded me of something but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what) Dave Hartley recommended Telefone by Noname (very nice) and Dan Powell recommended Wrong by Nomeansno (which would have scored more highly if it hadn’t been for that Big Dick song which yes, I realise is against toxic masculinity, but the idea is perhaps more valid than the execution. I don’t know. I wasn’t very keen on it.) You all get eleven points.
Daniel Carpenter recommended Out of My Province by Nadia Reid…
…which, if I am totally honest, I didn’t like any more than Telefone by Noname, but I am trying to re-stoke the flames of the bitter rivalry between Dan and Dave Hartley which has waned slightly since Dave shot ahead in the standings. The comeback begins here? Maybe. Fourteen points.
Em recommended Birthplace by Novo Amor…
…which scored quite badly in the ‘album I like but nobody else does’ category a few weeks ago. There are no rules against recommending the same album twice though. And whereas a month ago I was suspicious of the validity of other people not loving its Bon Iver-esuqe sound, now I am judging the album purely on its own merits. It has good merits, all meritty. Fifteen points.
Donna Morris recommended Folklore by Nelly Furtado…
…and in doing so, made me finally confront my feelings about Nelly Furtado. Allow me to explain. Up until this week, I only knew two songs by Nelly Furtado. I’m Like A Bird (which I hate, on scientific grounds – Some species of birds migrate thousands of miles to return to the same nesting sites year after year. They know where their home is, Nelly.) and Maneater (which, obviously, I love, because it is a solid gold banger). Consequently, my feelings about Nelly Furtado’s music were mixed and confused. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given that it is the album that marks the halfway point between those two singles, I liked some bits of Folklore and didn’t like other bits of it. Under normal circumstances it wouldn’t have scored as highly as it has. However, as the only album recommended this week that helped me navigate an existential crisis I wasn’t even aware I was living through, it scores sixteen points.
Plashing Vole recommended Wrought Iron by Nancy Elizabeth…
…which got him up to the dizzy heights of receiving seventeen points which for Vole, the perennial always the distant-relative-you-have-to-invite-to-the-wedding-because-your-mother-says-so, never the bridesmaid of this competition, is uncharted territory. I was worried he was going to have one last go at getting me to like New Order or something equally awful but luckily he saw sense and introduced me to something new (and great) instead. Good work, Vole.
jummo70 recommended In Search of… by N.E.R.D….
…which totally cocked up my ellipsis formatting but I’ll forgive you because it’s a brilliant album. Top Tip: If you change the word ‘rider’ for ‘writer’ while singing the song Provider you can imagine your chosen career is both edgy and lucrative. Just me? Fine. Eighteen points.
Picky Bastards recommended Energy by Nyota Parker…
…which, as with so many of their picks, is bloody brilliant. Nineteen points.
Graham Cox recommended Let No One Live Rent Free In Your Head…
…and I believe the phrase ‘deep cut’ is the correct term here? Because despite featuring We Never Know, which is easily one of the best singles of the 1990s, this album has almost completely disappeared from the collective memory. It will be rediscovered soon enough I’m sure, maybe today, by you reading this and giving it a listen. Twenty Points.
Fat Roland recommended Blizzards by Nathan Fake…
…which total holy crap for realz is just lovely from beginning to end, tickling both your brain and your dancing bits with all sorts of bloopy goodness. You can get up to and including twenty one points for that, you know.