Filed under: 2009 Top 20
To be honest, this was never in any doubt.
Number One: Morton Valence – Bob & Veronica Ride Again
Although it’s probably already well-known, for the sake of fairness, I’d best declare an interest regarding Morton Valence:
Hacker (Morton Valence Jr) and Anne (Annie Milagro) are friends, and former flatmates, and I’ve known them and bassist Leo for a long time. Some of these songs were written in the little studio next to my old bedroom in Stockwell. I’ve been listening to, and watching, the band since they were Florida, a synth-based trio, years and years ago (and there’s a lot of Florida stuff that really deserves a broader audience). I’ve DJed with them, drunk with them, cursed them as they tried turning the drums up just a bit louder while I nursed a hangover just few feet away.
But fuck it, this is an absolutely brilliant album, one that totally exceeded my already high expectations. I’ve no way of working out if I’d have the same strength of feeling if I didn’t know them but I’m pretty damn sure I’d have seen the worth of Bob & Veronica regardless…
The songs have always been the point with Morton Valence (there are any number of MV classics not on this album) but I didn’t expect the album to sound quite so fucking marvellous – a whole range of styles perhaps only hinted at in the past have become more prominent here, and it really is full of surprises. I’ve found myself obsessing over the warmth of the bass sound on Hang It On The Wall, for god’s sake. Even the short linking tracks are worth inclusion (and how often can you say that?), and like a lot of others on this list, it’s a proper ALBUM, for taking in as a whole piece, ideally on headphones.
I have no hesitation admitting that Chandelier, which has to be the best thing they’ve recorded (so far – my hopes are high for next year’s country album), has made me cry more than once this year.
“We’ll let the ugly disappear
We’ll go waltzing home tonight
We’ll swing from the chandeliers
Kids – don’t say goodnight”.
Listening to those lines coming back tired and happy from a fantastic festival with some fantastic mates set me right off. Those lines, my friend, are a fucking manifesto (and, some time in 2010, something else as well – watch this space).
Do yourself a favour: get this album (it comes in a brilliant package with a book and everything) and support a proper “indie” band, doing it themselves and finally getting some attention after years of plugging away but not compromising. You can’t ask for more than that, not with songs as good as this. I’m a sentimental old twat at the best of times, but me – I’m genuinely proud to know them.
PS: this is a day early because I’ll be on my way to Edinburgh first thing tomorrow. Happy New Year, all y’all.
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