Hard News by Russell Brown


You're all fabulous

There's a lot to worry about in the world. But I'm just not there for it this week. Instead, I'm all about the music. And there is very good news there: after very protracted negotiations, Roger Shepherd has finally re-acquired the Flying Nun label and catalogue from Warner Music, in whose basement it has been mouldering.

Next year will tell what happens with Flying Nun (including what new releases might emerge, or artists return to the fold) but the possibilities for such a rich, deep catalogue are extraordinary.

And with that: the thing I usually forget to do. Below is my favourite music for 2009. Feel free to share yours.

Lawrence Arabia, Chant Darling

Elegant, nimble, literate, good-humoured, thoughtful and delightful. 'I've Smoked Too Much' is my song of the year, and, indeed, the most popular song of the year in the Rae Brown household. (I asked James Milne if he could play it with his Reduction Agents band at our Great Blend party this month. He said they'd have a crack – and they freakin' nailed it!)

Various Artists, Stroke

It's all been a revelation. From Chris Knox's terrible, traumatic stroke came this amazing collection of interpretations of Chris's songs. Stroke not only found new places to go in the songs but new dimensions in some of the artists who recorded them. And Chris's surprise performance at the launch gig was one of the most thrilling things I've seen on a stage, ever.

The Checks, Alice By The Moon

The Checks still largely draw a young crowd – perhaps because the Dads haven't realised what a clever, multifaceted album they put out this year.

Dimmer , Degrees of Existence

Shayne Carter, as ever, on the slow, slow burn. There's no weak shit here.

Metric, Fantasies

Bustling, exuberant guitar pop from …. Canada!? Emily Haines took a break from Broken Social Scene to make another Metric album. It makes me want to drive my car.

Fuckpony, Let the Love Flow

Slinky, sensual, deconstructed house and late-night sounds from Berlin-based American Jay Haze. Smart and sexy alright.

Bullion Pet Sounds, In The Key Of Dee

I'm indebted to my buddy Paul Shannon for the tip on this: a mash-up of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds with the works of the late J Dilla. This kind of work often sounds like a contrivance, but In the Key of Dee feels fully realised and somewhat mysterious.

The Bridle Path, The Monteith's Sessions

Happy to have helped bring this one into the world. David Haywood and Blair Parkes between them not only control an unfeasible portion of the world's stocks of Niceness, they're talented with it. My favourite remains the first song I heard from the demos: Blair's 'How Then Should I See It'.

Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You

Shut up. Just shut up. Yes, she's annoying, and yes she sometimes sounds like an idiot, but I played the buggery out of this album this year. It's a great pop record, haterz.

Cedric IM Brooks & The Light of Saba, The Magical Light of Saba

From 2003, but it turned up on eMusic this year, like some sort of vision. A kind of Nyabinghi Sun Ra, Brooks marshals roots reggae, jazz, salsa and mysticism into sounds as warm as a summer morning.


The Tracks

I found all of these via Hype Machine, and subsequently bought a couple, but most of them don't seem to have been for actual sale. You might find them there too.

'Blinded By The Lights (Nero Remix)' The Streets

Don't drive with this dubsteppy monster on the car stereo. You will fail the impairment test.

'Hometown Glory (High Contrast Remix)' Adele

Thanks to Pete Darlington for the tip on this soaring remix, and on the work of High Contrast in general. Because chaps should share their girly D&B disco.

'Ready For The Weekend (High Contrast Remix)' Calvin Harris

See above, but with more squee. A lot of dishes got done to this tune.

'No Turning Back' Gui Boratto

I have this on a two-song playlist with ''How Then Should I See it'. It's perfect. That's a bare, trembling, organic testament. This is sheets of sizzling, digital sound unfolding across the spreading skies of an electronic world at 1am.

'Rock With You (Frankie Knuckles Remix)' Michael Jackson

Not new, but it hit the wires anew after Michael's unfortunate demise. Languid, beautiful and piano-driven, it almost makes up for that weird funeral thing they had.

'Welcome to Jamrock (Pat Swayzak Remix)', Damian Marley

A nice, big noisy rev-up while we wait for Jnr Gong's collab with Nas to emerge.

'Fucking Boyfriend (Peaches Remix)' The Bird and the Bee

I'm not always down with Peaches, but this acid-drenched treatment of what was originally a sort of lounge tune is outrageously sexy.

'Dance Dance Dance (Grandtheft Remix)' Lykke Li

Now, I like Lykke Li. But I like her better with a little extra welly.

'Love Lockdown (Clockwork Remix)' Kanye West

Too gay? Whatever.

'You Got The Love (The Xx Remix)' Florence and the Machine

This song has am amazing history. Candi Staton recorded it for a video-only documentary (about an obese man who was trying to lose weight) in the early 80s. It was sampled variously in the late 80s in Britain, but Staton had forgotten ever singing it when she was approached about the Source version, over the track from Jamie Principle's house classic, 'Your Love', which became a chart and club hit in 1991. Florence and the Machine covered it this year, and then The Xx made this deep, beautiful remix (look out for the more dancefloor-oriented "refixx" of the remix, by Tuff Wheelz). Music nerds argued over whether 'My Girls' on Animal Collective's 2009 album Merriweather Post Pavilion, was a tribute to, or even a crypto-cover of, 'Your Love.

And with that, thanks for everything, everyone: to the wonderful writers of Public Address, the people who make the Public Address System forums so rich and interesting, creating the culture of the place every day, and to the hordes of you who just read what's here (note to Bill Ralston: the word isn't "stalker", it's "lurker").

You're all fabulous.

PS: I won't post much here for the next few weeks, but feel free to follow my witterings on Twitter: I'm @publicaddress.

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