The Maxon House 2011 CD: tasting notes

So this is my hundredth post, and I was thinking I should use it for something suitably pompous like a list of films of the year or new acts to watch out for in 2012 or a testing Christmas quiz but in the end I figured that I don’t really possess anything like the necessary acumen for any of those. Here instead is something different but no less self-indulgent. Every year at this time my house compiles a CD for distribution among friends that contains recent tracks we particularly like and one or two older songs that relate to gigs we’ve been to or other significant events. People sometimes ask us about the tracks and artists, so here as a public service are some tasting notes, together with a few links.

1. The Agitator: Get Ready. Used to be known as the famous poet Derek Meins who had a nice line in filthy acoustic songs about Sigmund Freud. Has now given up the guitars in favour of urgent agit-prop beats and soulful bellowing.

2. Poly Styrene: I Love Ur Sneakers. RIP. Damn shame. But a brilliant, unapologetically right-on, album to go out on.

3. The Go! Team: Buy Nothing Day. Catchiest track of the year. You can almost hear the bright primary colours, a physical response is compulsory.

4. PJ Harvey: The Glorious Land. From the startlingly great Let England Shake. Went to see her at Ally Pally in July.

5. Real Estate: It’s Real. Deceptively smooth and tuneful indie guitar band from New Jersey. This is from their second album Days, which is so mellow and relaxing and free of dissonance it’s actually quite sinister.

6. Wire: Clay. All these postpunk conceptual outfits keep ploughing on. Didn’t rate the new Gang Of Four album much, but this is well up to par.

7. Half Man Half Biscuit: Excavating Rita. This may be the most commercial sounding track they’ve ever done, ironic given the subject matter. From the splendid 90 Bisodol (Crimond).

8. Joan As Police Woman: The Magic. Terribly awkward alias for Joan Wasser, who was Jeff Buckley’s girlfriend you know. This rather slinky track from the album The Deep Field.

9. Blancmange: The Western. Yes, even Blancmange have a new album out. This is pleasingly similar to Living On The Ceiling. Let’s party like it’s 1982.

10. Eliza Newman: Eyjafjallajökull. Jolly ditty celebrating the holiday-complicating Icelandic volcano.

11. Zoey Van Goey: You Told The Drunks I Knew Karate. I know nothing about this. But I do like the title…right, just looked them up. They’re from Glasgow.

12. Robyn Hitchcock: Dismal City. From the stopgap album Tromsø, Kaptein, which is actually a much better collection than either of his last two official releases. Saw him doing Captain Beefheart in June. Here he sounds more like The Kinks.

13. The Low Anthem: Boeing 737. This lot are ironically named, I’m guessing, as most of the tracks on their Smart Flesh album are so quiet they make the Cowboy Junkies sound like Motorhead. This one’s nicely bombastic though.

14. Anna Calvi: Blackout. My single of the year, I think. Sweeping, lush, widescreen, those sort of adjectives.

15. C.W.Stoneking: Don’t Go Dancin’ Down The Darktown Strutter’s Ball. Seen him three times this year. He does an enthralling rambly surreal intro to this when he does it live, involving a Hoodoo doctor and a prophesy that he’ll die in an eight sided room.

16. The Decemberists: This Is Why We Fight. From the best REM album in twenty years.

17. Alex Turner: Piledriver Waltz: From the soundtrack of the quirky, self-conscious, but still very likeable Submarine. Later re-done by The Arctic Monkeys but I prefer this one. Just looked him up as well, turns out we have the same birthday.

18. Magazine: A Song From Under The Floorboards. Should have been one from their new album really,  but none of the new songs are a patch on this. Saw them live in November.

19. Bonus track. My current favourite songwriter doing a cover, karaoke style.

If you’re interested I think most of these should be on Spotify, or you can contact me for a CD. And, er, Merry Christmas.

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