The Zero Hour

Reviews, rants and oddities on video game and film culture.

5 best albums of the year

5. Humbug – Arctic Monkeys

This list will probably end up being similar to yesterdays at this rate. After The Last Shadow Puppets finished up and Alex Turner went back to his day job, everyone assumed they were going to take a more art rock approach as evidenced by Do Me A Favour and 505. Even when it was announced that the album was to be produced by James Ford and Josh Homme, it was still purely speculation until Crying Lightning found it’s way. They’d gone to America and become…well, American. Out went most of the britishisms and and wit, in came big, Stadium sized stonkers of songs. Musically, it does ahve it’s moments of hollowness, but when The Jewellers Hands finishes up with it’s trippy riff, you do feel an enormus sense of moving forward, of evolution. Once again, the band could go anywhere from this point.

4. Radio Wars – Howling Bells

One of my favourite bands of 2006/2007 were this Austrailian band, who wowed us with the country/indie/gothic wonder that was their debut. They returned this year with their follow-up and it did not dissapoint. Recorded in LA, Radio Wars is a standalone release, but finds the band entering into potential Concept album territory, with songs filled with beauty (Mrs Bells Song) sorrow (Cities Burning Down) and leaping into the unknown (Into The Chaos). Juanita’s velvety vocals and Joel Stein’s spacious guitar leave room for imgination and for wonder and leave this album feeling like a piece of art.

3. Two Suns – Bat For Lashes

Natasha Khan’s second album is a beast of two halves. One is her album and the other belongs to Pearl, her alter-ego created in the fall of a doomed life desicion. The two personalities wave in and out of each other over melodies with big bold and unique instruments and at times and become one. Of course, Khan’s voice is the obvious first step towards brilliance, perfectly showing off every emotion known to man and the duet between her and Scott Walker closes the album so prematurely, the only thing you can do is to listen again.

2. Primary Colours – The Horrors

Strange House, the debut album from The Horrors wasn’t liked by most people, however I loved it. Same can’t be said for Primary Colours though. Everyone loved it, which really surprised me. This is a band, who only 2 years ago were considered a novelty by most, a gotic The Darkness, if you will. However, this shows off them as both a serious band and a force to be reckoned with. It takes you to another place, whereas Strange House filled you with ideas of a rotting victorian city underbelly, Primary Colours bursts you into the future. I Only Think Of You is the musical equivalent of a burning out fire and of course there’s the masterpiece that is Sea Within A Sea. It’s almost perfect, there was always just one album standing in it’s way…

1. It’s Blitz – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

“Yeah Yeah Yeahs go disco” They all said. Many feared that one of the best bands of the decade were going to go out with a whimper, especially after their difficult (but magnificent) second album Show Your Bones. How wrong were they? Yes, Nick Zinner uses more synths in the album, but it works. Guitars are hidden well and everytime one is played, it feels like a revelation. and Zinner proves he can play a keyboard as well as a guitar (Which is very well, btw). Zero is the perfect opening track, mixing Watery synths and staccato guitars to brilliant effect. Karen O is on top form vocally. Giving the performance of her career in tracks like Soft Shock (album highlight), Hysteric and Runaway. It may not reach the heights of Fever To Tell, but it reaches heights nontheless and it gets that little bit better the more you listen and according to iTunes, I’ve listened to it about 67 times. Brilliant? Yes. In every way.

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