whiskey priest

The Obligatory Best of 2010 List - Part One

Another year has past and so bloggers and the music press the world over feel the need to try and convince you of the best albums of the past twelve months. And so as much in an attempt to fill our pages in a quite spell as convince you of anything here are not so much the best, but our most enjoyed albums of 2010.

Not a top ten, or a top 50 even, but a good old honest top 18. Because that's how many albums we really liked this year.  Part one will cover the bottom nine - come back for the rest soon.


18. There Is Love In You - Four Tet

On which Keiran Hebden stopped trying to revolutionise with every record and instead brought everything together to create something which feels a bit like a best-of approach to Four Tet. It lacked the standout moments of the classic Rounds but besides that it is his most focused work.


17. Wave and Cloud - The Whiskey Priest

Unnoticed by the press but don't let that put you off, Wave and Cloud's obscurity only serves to make it even more deserving of your time. A frail and honest record that relies on songs and little more. The coupling of the weatherworn 'A Seafarer's Lament' and the heartfelt and beautiful 'If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song' remains on of this year's best album openings.


16. Latin - Holy Fuck

Another album that appears to have been forgotten... Latin may not have garnered the praise heaped on previous album LP, but it demonstrates Holy Fuck's ability to continue to innovate. 'P.I.G.S.' remains one of the ill-est sounding joints we heard all year.


15. Swim - Caribou

The first Caribou release to really capture BlackPlastic's attention, Swim, along with Matthew Dear's Black City, was 2010's most danceable record for people that like to think. Simultaneously organic sounding and strangely electronic this is an album that felt more like a collaboration than an album by one artist ever normally could - one moment subtle and understated and the next needy and epic.

14. Real Life Is No Cool - Lindstrøm & Christabelle

Almost not on the list because we heard it in 2009 it makes it here on a technicality - it wasn't officially released until 2010. It's sun-drenched cosmic disco sound is also staggering - this is the sound of taking a dip in the 40 degree heat. By adding in Christabelle, Lindstrøm went and made his best album.


13. The Age of Adz - Sufjan Stevens

Prolific and at times frankly unfocused, Stevens only seems to release two types of record - challenging and flawed or challenging and fantastic. The Age of Adz is undoubtedly the latter, from the delicate opening of 'Futile Devices' through to the 25-minute-plus 'Impossible Soul' this is the sound of Stevens tearing up the few rules he had previously adhered to. At its best, on the furious and rapid 'I Want To Be Well', complete with it's repeated "I'm not fucking around" chorus, Sufjan sounds more vital than ever.


12. Contra - Vampire Weekend

It seems that everyone but BlackPlastic loved Vampire Weekend's debut. By rights, this - the follow up to a smash record we passed up on - should have been of little interest. And yet something in Contra really captures the listener. Whether on the tight upbeat pop of 'Run' or 'Giving Up The Gun' or the slow and considered numbers that just sparkle as on 'I Think Ur A Contra' this was pretty much the perfect pop record.


11. Subiza - Delorean

In a year when BlackPlastic returned to the White Isle nothing encapsulated the feeling of basking in the Balearic sunshine quite like Delorean's debut... If one band lead the Chill Wave movement for us then it's Delorean. A bit like Animal Collective mixed with a beach, some house vibes and quite a lot of ecstasy Subiza is just too hot and sunny to resist, particularly with songs as beautiful as 'Real Love'.


10. Causers of This - Toro y Moi

Causers of This is one of 2010's sleepers for BlackPlastic - so much so that we haven't mentioned it before now. The problem is that it is flawed, if only mildly so, in that a number of it's charms are hidden away in the latter half. 'Blessa' starts things off in a pleasant but slightly uninspiring manner but there are some of 2010's best moments here - just check the snappy, funky closing couplet in the form of 'Low Shoulders' and the title track. One of this year's most promising debuts, Causers of This is the heart broken record you can dance to.

BP x

Album Review: Christmas Gift - Various

Rainboot's Christmas Gift is a compilation truly in the spirit of the times... A set of fourteen understated, folky, Christmas influenced tracks where all of the takings go straight to a good cause - Save The Children.

For any label to do such a thing takes balls. For it to be a boutique such as Rain Boot is really rather generous (and brave) - they came to BlackPlastic's attention earlier this year when they put out the Whiskey Priest's superb Wave and Cloud. And that surprisingly blunt yet beautiful record is a good demonstration of what to expect.

This truly is the anti-X Factor. Whilst many in the UK alternative scene get behind John Cage's (rather excellent) '4:33' for Christmas number one most of the tracks on this album would make a much more fitting replacement. These are warts-and-all Christmas songs - the second act blues of A Charlie Brown Christmas, prior to the realisation of the true meaning of Christmas. It is the aural equivalent of turning your back on Argos, pulling your collar up and walking off into the cold, present-less, because all that really matters is who you spend it with (not what you spend it on).

There are certainly stronger and weaker moments here. Tyler Butler is battered and bruised on 'Waxwing' whilst The Animal Beat feel cautiously optimistic on 'Love Again'. Unsurprisingly, given the quality of Wave and Cloud, The Whiskey Priest delivers the gut-wrenching 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear' and this contrasts with the beautifully coquettish 'Waiting To Find Me', from Sara Lewis. Where things stray into full on ballad territory is where BlackPlastic struggles a little - Travis Tucker's 'O Holy Night' is an epic Christmas song, it just feels a little over-delivered in contrast to the rest of the album.

Overall though you can't fault the package, and you certainly can't fault the sentiment. With all of the cover price going to a good cause we whole heartedly recommend you check out Christmas Gift.

BP x

Christmas Gift is out now on Rainboot, visit the Rainboot site for details on where to buy (including a pay what you want option at Bandcamp).

MP3: If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song - The Whiskey Priest

A couple of weeks ago BlackPlastic reviewed the Whiskey Priest's new album Wave and Cloud, taking time to specifically highlight how bloody lovely the tune 'If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song' is.

Well good news for you - the label Rainboot have offered the song up as a free download on Soundcloud.  You won't even need to part with any data.  BlackPlastic can't over-emphasise how good this is so take the opportunity to have a listen and then go and buy the album.

BP x

Album review: Wave and Cloud - The Whiskey Priest

As The Whiskey Priest, musician Seth Woods (along with friend Alex "Hooch" Dupree) has managed to make something truly beautiful here. For BlackPlastic, opener 'A Seafarer's Lament' totally captures the feeling of the void that fills the room when the person you love leaves it. It is the sound of a man at the mercy of his feelings - a statement that the way you feel about someone is beyond your control. You would do as well to try and change the seasons or the passing of night and day as you would choose to stop loving someone.

So from the start Wave and Cloud has a level of raw emotional impact that it is simply not possible to ignore. If 'A Seafarer's Lament' is a powerful start to an album then second track 'If a Train Was a Doctor Was a Song' is a small miracle - it manages to calm down the fire in the belly and yet still sports a heart so big on its sleeve the it must almost be physically weighing down Woods down. With an opening line like "If I was a train I would carry you along" it is pretty clear that Wave and Cloud is a gift in the form of music - it feels like Woods would be prepared to give the shirt off his back and more to the subject of his music.

But this isn't an album of passive, yet gutsy ballads - witness the defiant country stomp of 'No Man is an Island (But Me)', where The Whiskey Priest may be left wanting but certainly ain't going to buckle to demands. It's a lovely poke in the eye to the wistful romance the pervades other parts of the album. Similarly 'All The Way Back' feels like a triumphant bar room singalong and you can't help but wish you were somewhere with sawdust on the floor, bourbon in hand and a stage too small for the band's sounds so you could join in.

There has been a bit of a renaissance in recent years in honest country and folk based sing-songwriter music. Some of it is good and some of it bad and some of it just slept-on. Wave and Cloud may well end up being that latter, but one thing is for sure - it certainly wouldn't fit in the second category. This is the kind of honest, and unfussy music that is just to frank and beautiful to not love. If 2008 belonged to Bon Iver, then The Whiskey Priest deserves 2010.

BP x

Wave and Cloud is out on Rainboot today, available from Amazon.co.uk on CD [affiliate link].