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BEST OF 2005 - EXTRA!

Recommendations that turned up too late for inclusion in MOJO 146's Best Of The Year feature...


David Berman
Silver Jews' Pavement-approved poet

"People give me demos of their music quite often. As far as effective networking goes, this method is on the level of presenting a traffic cop with a watercolour. When I called my housesitter last month from the road, she asked if I'd mind if her cousin from Ireland could stay the last two nights of her watch. She told me he was a young doctor from Galway on the run from a soul-scarring love affair and I gave her the go-ahead. Arriving back at my house a week later I found a note from the doctor thanking me for the shelter, and a CD, just a little something he had recorded with a friend. And that's how I heard the best set of songs I heard this year. His name is John Tully. He is 26 years old and an admirable looking chap, a leading man type. He is an emergency room resident in Galway. His lyrics are ornate and encrusted and transmitted in a weaving burr. The music alternately reminds me of Richard Thompson and Rowland S. Howard. As of this writing his status remains: Undiscovered."


Henry Dartnall
Young Knives's yelpy-voiced malcontent

"Robert Wyatt is a Young Knives favourite and but we simply never got round to buying Cuckooland until this year. Maybe we were just worried that it wasn't going to be as good as Shleep. But it is. It is just one of those records that gets better every time I listen to it, there is just so much to hear. It's like a warm bath. I love so many things about the album. He sounds confused but really relaxed. It is a very spooky record and sounds like a comment on the world from someone who wishes he didn't know about the things he is telling you. The lyrics are brilliant. The song Lullaloop has some great lyrics: 'Oy! You! Wait for me, I'm out of breath, I'm ill."


"Brian Eno produced it and I love how it has cheesy but epic synths - the type you know Eno loves. The production and Wyatt's completely individual approach to songwriting stops it being just jazz or folk or anything definable. Robert Wyatt's voice is as sweet as ever; every crack and whimper is so familiar, like a spiritual and wise uncle. The melodies were almost incomprehensible at first but they have sunk into my head, I can sing the whole of Lullaby For Hamza and I'm sure it is almost completely different all the way through.

"My other choice is the new Lightning Bolt album but I still haven't heard all of it. The bits I have heard however are some kind of wonderful white noise."


Kieran Hebden
Four Tet's toiler at the organic/electronic interface

"Battles are a band based in New York playing some of the most inspired and exciting music that I have heard recently. They are yet to release a full length album, but I was lucky enough to see them live a handful of times and every show was mind-blowing. Incredible melodic patterns are looped and phased from guitars and keyboards while super-heavy rhythms and noise come from drums and vocals. Some sort of cosmic mash up of the Neptunes, Slint, and Steve Reich maybe. Music for the future.

While on tour in the US this year I came across a label called Sublime Frequencies. The releases are all compilations based around specific countries, each one made up from field recordings, radio broadcasts and cassette and vinyl finds. Stand out releases are from Cambodia, Thailand and Iraq. I have no idea what most of this music is about, having no understanding of any of the lyrics and no cultural reference points to put any of it into context. But I do know that there are amazing sounds and performances here... some of the Cambodian pop is pure raw funk."


Chaz Jankel
King Blockhead

"I found Chaka Khan's What Cha' Gonna Do For Me? [1981] trolling through the racks of a charity shop in North London. It probably has one of the worst sleeves of all time - I mean, Stevie Wonder's album covers are better than this. But the record itself's absolutely devastating. It's brilliantly produced by Arif Mardin who got it right using real drums [John Robinson] and very good musicians. Often when you get very good session players together it all gets very sterile but this is the opposite. It doesn't have the big hits on there but of all the Chaka Khan records for me it's the one that stands out. There's a fantastic high energy version of We Can Work It Out which opens the album but the highlight's a version of Dizzy Gillespie's A Night In Tunisia called And The Melody Still Lingers On. It's a lyric that she put together with Arif Mardin on that melody and it uses a short 2 or 4 bar break by Dizzy himself. I played it to my 12-year-old son, who's an aspiring bass player, and he said it was the most incredible track he'd ever heard. In terms of the energy the record is like a very polished Blockheads at times. Without the Englisness ! I'm dead wary of lending this one out at all. It just makes me smile when I put it on."

As told to Al Hutchings


Fee Waybill
The Tubes' agent provocateur

"By far my favorite CD of the year is the Foo Fighters, In Your Honor. I like the rock CD better that the ballad one. All of the songs are great, especially Best Of You and D.O.A. I love the way Dave sings, balls out, no holding back like it's the last song he will ever sing. His screams are fantastic! He sings every song like it's the last song of the last show of the tour and he doesn't have to save his voice anymore. I can't wait to see them live to see if he can do this on stage. I'm sure he can. I don't think I could sing like that for a whole show. I've been singing along for weeks now trying to get my voice in shape for the Tubes Tour but we don't rock that hard. I figure if I can sing the whole Foo Fighters' rock CD I can sing a Tubes show no problem."


Paul Gambaccini
Veteran DJ and genuine music lover

"My top album of the year is I Am A Bird Now by Antony And The Johnsons. My favorite track on it, and my top song of the year, is Hope There's Someone. The forward progress of popular music demands expansion into new areas of subject matter and instrumentation. On this album Antony deals desperately movingly with topics not previously addressed in pop. One is the anticipation of terrible loneliness at the moment of passage between death and whatever's next. Bob Dylan knocked us on the side of the head with his Time Out Of Mind, when he contemplated mortality, and Johnny Cash stunned us with The Man Comes Around, in which he dared to present himself with one foot in the grave. They forced us to consider that even the greatest amongst us must pass. Antony has given this a new twist, hoping there is someone with him at this most final of moments. The vocal is riveting and the music electrifying. It is a classic. But don't take the laser off the record after song one. The album has several astonishing and heartrending considerations of the personal. This is mature work of the highest quality."


DJ Muggs
Cypress Hill's blunted soundscaper

"I'm going backwards to find new music now. It's fun to be able to go backwards and find things that are brand new to me, something I can really enjoy. Like, right before I made the Dust album [2003] I really got into the Beatles. I knew the hits, but I never really studied the Beatles, read about them, and studied the breaks and the way they did their shit. I didn't care before.

"This year I've really been getting into Patti Smith, the Stooges and the Velvet Underground. That's really where I'm at musically right now, what I'm listening to. When I did this Grandmasters record [Muggs Vs Gza: Grandmasters, on Angeles Records] I really focused on that early punk era and the music that was coming out and the attitude and the style and what it was all saying, but particularly Patti. That first album is incredible. These motherfuckers was doing this kind of atonal thing, doing their own thing and not really caring what was happening around them. They had their own world and they made music from the heart, how they felt it, and they didn't give a fuck."

As told to Angus Batey

Posted by MOJO at 11:34AM | Categories: Features