Tag Archives: I Break Horses

Top 5 Records of 2011

Missed doing this last year as I was toasting myself to a crisp on a beach in Thailand, so it seems long overdue!  I know you are probably all a little weary of ‘best of’ lists, but it has been such a cracking year for music that it would be an awful shame not to share some of the love with your ears.

1. I Break Horses – Winter Beats

In a year so full of albums to fall in love with – from Slow Club to Oneohtrix – it seems cruel to have to choose one, but I Break Horses’ debut Hearts demands the accolade.  Layers and layers of perfection, so the songs blow you away on first listen but still keep enough back to reveal further delights on subsequent plays, it is a beautiful, beautiful piece of wonder.  If you don’t already own it, you MUST.  No question.  And if you don’t believe me, trust The Line of Best Fit, who made it their album of the year.

There are a couple of gems I could have picked, but I have gone for the one I discovered first, the stunning Winter Beats:

2. Octo Octa – I’m Trying

A sublime, silky, Amerie-sampling, soul-laden piece of loveliness from American producer Octo Octa, certain to get you in the mood for whatever tonight’s celebrations may bring:

3. Sully – Let You

I first discovered Sully via his mix for FACT magazine, yet it has been difficult to find out much else about him, as he seems to be that rare breed of producer that shuns publicity.  First album Carrier is another essential listen, mixing strong beats with soulful melodies to sound, in the way all good dance music does, brand new and classic at the same time.

Again, it is tough to choose a favourite, so here is the one that first caught my ears’ attention, with its sparse beats and tough bassline, Let You:

4. I Draw Slow – Goldmine

Slight change of pace for this one, a song I discovered via a friend and have rarely gone a day without playing since, a true mark of quality.  I Draw Slow meld American bluegrass and traditional Irish melodies to provide the perfect accompaniment to this haunting tale of a bad girl falling for a good guy:

5. The National – England

No-one following me on Twitter or reading ten minutes hate this year could have missed how much I fell for The National, even more so once they were able to play their long-delayed Tokyo gig.  I know that latest album High Violet was released in 2010, but hey – my site, my rules.  So I choose this stunner, the words to which never fail to put a tingle up my spine:

So, that’s my 5!  I am sure to have missed many other gems, so please let me know yours in the comments.  It has been such a crazy year for news, politics and life that concentrating on music seems at times dreadfully self-indulgent.  However, I like to think the opposite is true and that we need great music more than ever right now.  Whatever comes, I wish a very happy Year of the Dragon to everyone who has read the site this year.  Thank you!

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What a difference a day off makes…

Yesterday:

Today:

And may I recommend Load Your Eyes from the excellent I Break Horses:

Time to kick back, recharge the batteries and get ready for the fray.  Rage levels will no doubt be back to normal very soon.

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New term, new tunes

You can tell it’s September.  This time of year always feels like the start of something for me, maybe because my birthday is fast approaching, or because my arrival in Japan was 12 months ago and I’m reminded of how it was when everything was new.  Anyway, record companies must operate on similar lines, because there are loads of new tunes flowing through my headphones at the moment.  Here are some I think you will enjoy…

The first one ‘Yeah So’ has not been very far from my ears since it came out in 2009, so I was really happy to discover a stream of Slow Club’s second album ‘Paradise’ on the NME site.  On first listening it seems to be more to the darker side of their earlier songs, so there’s nothing here as joyful as ‘It Doesn’t Always Have to Be Beautiful’, for instance.  However, that is no bad thing, their voices and songwriting having matured so that the ‘difficult second album’ conundrum has been deftly sidestepped.  I especially love the line, ‘and I know, soon you’ll go’ on the utterly gorgeous ‘You, Earth and Ash’, as well as the sultry ‘Where I’m Waking’:

After finding Swedish band I Break Horses and the slice of wonderfulness that is ‘Winter Beats’ via Twitter, I am completely in love:

Totally coveting the album ‘Hearts’ and will write more as soon as I have it!

I always knew local lad Betamax DC made great hip-hop, but he’s been so entertaining on Twitter lately that the music had slipped to the back of my mind.  And that was really stupid of me, because ‘Gringos’ is a cracking album and no-one should wait any longer than necessary before grabbing themselves a copy.  Blending an array of influences into something that sounds like nothing else is the mark of greatness:

Welsh band Masters In France have been compared to Snow Patrol and Kasabian on various websites, but that can’t be true because – unlike those other generic indie stalwarts – I like them.  Masters In France are streaming six songs on Sound Cloud here, my favourite of which is the very danceable Mad Hatter:

I’ll always be happy with an Alice-tinged video as well.

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