Numbers 19 to 29

The next part of our Top 40 covers numbers 19 to 29, with former Clash cover stars Passion Pit, everyone's favourite neo-hippies The Flaming Lips and Devendra Banhart and the literary titled collaboration between Modeselektor and Apparat, Moderat.

Read about our Album of the Year, Animal Collective's 'Merriweather Post Pavilion', HERE, the albums in our top ten HERE, from numbers 10 to 18 HERE and from 30 to 40 HERE.

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Bat For Lashes 'Two Suns'

Multi-instrumentalist Natasha Khan is yet another one doing it for the girls. And her musical ability is something of a marvel, noting the piano, guitar, harpsichord and the wholly unusual autoharp, amongst her many talents. Often likened to offbeat songstress Kate Bush in terms of vocal style, Khan has also been praised for her unconventional dress sense, wowing fashionistas across the globe with her futuristic nymph-esque garb. So, it would seem that she has the whole package, but what about her album?

Well, the Mercury nominated success of debut LP ‘Fur And Gold’ could have been difficult to top, but Khan did it again, storming into the UK album charts at number five earlier on in the year with second offering ‘Two Suns’. A concept album that sees alter ego and blonde bombshell, Pearl, take centre stage, ‘Two Suns’ is a glittered web of imaginative narratives and intricate instrumentation. So, the multi-cultural, multifaceted classical princess has truly reinvented the face of pop as we know it, putting the meat back on the bones of the female solo artist.

Gorgeously feminine but at the same time ferociously forthright and earthy, Natasha Khan and her untouched brand of art-folk will surely stand the test of time.

Words by April Welsh

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Future Of The Left ‘Travels With Myself And Another’

Andy Falkous has been around. As the leader of McLusky and now Future Of The Left the punk warlord has more scars than a woolly mammoth and is only slightly more intimidating. Releasing ‘Travels With Myself And Another’ earlier this year the singer had nothing to prove, but still managed to raise an almighty racket on what may well be his finest effort to date. Succinct and to the point, the album rattles by in a little over half an hour with each song smashing its way into your skull and takes up residence in the cranium. Sure, there are those who still hanker after McLusky but with Future Of The Left on such soul inspiring form only a fool would look backwards.

Words by Robin Murray

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Moderat ‘Moderat’
(Bpitch Control)

After devouring their two truly incredible albums, belligerently purchasing their vinyl and religiously attending their insane live sets that always (d)evolve into a techno mosh pit, we were ready to accept Modeselektor’s ‘year off’. Yet Moderat was born as they teamed up with long time Berlin comrade Sascha Ring, AKA Apparat.

Imagine the strings, melancholic soul and icy glaze of Apparat with the alchemy of sub bass and roughed up dancehall techno of Mdslktr. It is rhythmically far ahead of its time with a pseudo-Jamaican lineage that’s obscured enough to make it distinctly their own. Tracks like ‘Slow Match’ are drenched in layers of hazy yearning mists that kick fully into the spilt blood of a riotous Brixton dancefloor. Thrilling, unique and pollinating ears everywhere like a horny swarm of queen bees.

Words by Matthew Bennett

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Anathallo ‘Canopy Glow’

This one was proof of why every album should be listened to at least three times. It’s a slow burner, so slow in fact that Anticon released it again this June after last winter’s debut, and thank God. ‘Canopy Glow’ is orchestral folk at its most sublime. Don’t expect a chilled stroll around gently thrummed guitars. This is an epic vision of acoustic muscle to masticate upon. It rambles like an old wooden Yankee house in which it sounds like it was recorded, all lean-to annexes bundled on as generations of the family of players got too big for its old parlour.

Words by Matthew Bennett

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DM Stith ‘Heavy Ghost’
(Asthmatic Kitty)

DM Stith is theatrical and moody, weird and wonderful. Much of his debut sounds like Edward Scissorhands trapped in the Sleepy Hollow woodland. Tim Burton would love this guy. Yes, Heavy Ghost is weird, but Stith’s melodies are simple and wonderful, making his experimentation easy to follow and, with his enchanting choral throughout, it’s easy to get lost in every song - or even engulfed into a new fantastical land that you may never want to escape from.

Words by Gemma Hampson

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Passion Pit ‘Manners’

In May 2009, the debut long-player of New York’s Passion Pit came to let everyone know that a glowing summer was imminent.
Clash was quick to dive into the Pit’s loveliness, extolling their glitch-pop greatness from at every opportunity, calling their album everything from “strikingly uplifting” to “a pop record that exists in a world of its own”. So, it was no surprise that the band’s leader, Michael Angelakos, found himself staring out from the magazine’s cover - on our fifth birthday issue, no less - as our first ever pre-debut cover star. A few months later and our feelings still hadn’t changed - ‘Manners’ appeared in two out of five of our just-for-fun staff charts of the best albums of the year so far. Its place in this chart was pretty much a cert by then.

Passion Pit is Angelakos’ baby - they formed as an extension of a four-track Valentine’s Day present to his girlfriend (which became their ‘Chunk Of Change’ EP) that reached the ears of New York tastemakers. Its popularity took Michael by surprise: “It was really only meant to be heard by my friends, so to see it at this level is very bizarre,” he says. “And having to develop the songs live, that was something I never properly envisaged.”

‘Manners’ followed, and the neon shimmer of tracks like ‘Sleepyhead’, ‘Moth’s Wings’ and ‘The Reeling’ were poppy and playful, stylish and spirited - the type of songs that effortlessly penetrate your senses. “You have a responsibility when you’re writing pop,” explains Angelakos, “to do it justice. Sure, some musicians are clearly hitting certain demographics, but if you don’t care about that you can hear the quality.”

Clearly he cares. The proof is the 9/10 score ‘Manners’ received from Clash, and not only that it appears in this chart, but that we’re still likely to be listening to it this time next year.

Words by Simon Harper

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Paul White ‘The Strange Dreams Of Paul White’
(One Handed Music)

2009 was the year of wonk. Not the seductive wonky TECHNO of Neil Landstrumm, Tobias Schmidt, Si Begg, Justin Berkovic and Christian Vogel who we grew up on, so sturdy, with their diet of slippery bass sliding around our skulls.

No, the musical culture vultures deemed that over a decade was long enough between disparate scenes and there’s no need for new adjectives to get in the way of journalism. Annoying, but there we go.

Thus, we all learnt to recycle the word ‘wonky’ to apply to the off-kilter, shattered instrumental hip-hop bursting from London, Glasgow, New York and LA. One of its most understated proponents was Paul White, a sample freak whose debut zigged and zagged its way onto the Clash stereo enough to be here now.

The laid back producer reveals more: “My influences are pretty wide: Dilla, Madlib, Can Kick, Typeface, Surreal and Bullion, who is a good friend.”

‘Strange Dreams’ is a disorientating twenty-one tracks of clips and snips stolen and re-imagined stories from other artists’ vinyl lives, all buried under a hazy film of distortion and errant percussion spiraling just out of control: “It’s all mood based and quick,” says Paul. “I try to make music spontaneously and try to get an idea out there and released and not over work it too much.”

The result is a micro manifesto of all White’s loves and accidents in the studio. It’s crackly but fizzing with the new sound of sea sick beats. This album was released on One Handed Music, the new project of scene live wire Alex Chase, a safe pair of hands to be circulating your sonic statements, yet a man who lives under a massive threat of near relentless legal cases thanks to Paul White’s renegade Akai sampler: “I’m starting to become more aware of it now but I just love it and I can’t stop sampling great records. It’s the emotion you get from a record and how you react with that, how your day blends with an emotion.”

Words by Matthew Bennett

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Woodpigeon ‘Treasury Library Canada’
(End Of The Road)

Woodpigeon is one band that’s proud to be Canadian. The rolling mountains, the vast woodlands, the gentile nature of its residents - it all comes across in the band’s 2009 debut ‘Treasury Library Canada’. It’s a glorious collection of Sufjan Stevens-esque beautiful folk, packed with rich harmonies, soothing strings and sweet melodies that help you drift into a realm of pure contentment.

The highlights have to be the gloriously catchy ‘In The Battle Of Sun Vs Curtains, Sun Loses and We Sleep Until Noon' (what an amazing song title!), which brings together the mild electro of Granddaddy with a taste of Herman Dune tweeness, and the amazing ‘7th Fret Over Andres’, which will bring a tear to your eye on every listen.

Words by Gemma Hampson

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Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve ‘Re-Animations Vol.1’
(New State Music)

It got to that point this year, when anything with the name ‘Erol Alkan’ on would make the lobes of the masses quiver with sensory excitement. Teamed with Richard Norris as a skull-faced duo, the aim was to create a remixing marriage of glittering electro and the latter’s psychedelic anglings. On occasion, routine. At other times, experimental brilliance. The final result was an LP that toyed with the playfulness of Late Of The Pier and Franz Ferdinand, whilst contriving full length masterpieces from Chemical Brothers and Roscoe.

Words by Joe Zadeh

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Devendra Banhart ‘What Will We Be’

Banhart has long intrigued but put many off with his winsome, flower child outlook and attitude to quality control. ‘What Will We Be’ saw the same players return from the ‘Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon’ sessions and, co-produced by The Bees’ Paul Butler, saw Dev finally strike an agreeable balance between hippy minstrel and rock musician. A pleasant surprise, just as I’d given up hope, ‘What Will We Be’ saw Banhart finally deliver on all that early promise.

Words by Nick Annan

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The Flaming Lips ‘Embryonic’

After a three-year hiatus, The Flaming Lips released their twelfth studio album this year. Double album, ‘Embryonic’ is seventy minutes of multi-layered experimental rock, laced with lo-fi and smothered in prescription psychedelic overtones.
The band also enlisted the help of MGMT and superwoman, Karen O, who recorded her vocals over the phone for tracks including the deliciously deranged ‘I Can Be A Frog’. It involves Karen shrieking animal noises to Wayne Coyne’s vocals; not unlike Old Macdonald’s farm if the critters had been on acid.

Following their Halloween parade in Oklahoma with three thousand people marching to the Lips dressed as skeletons, they toured the UK. As for the New Year, The Flaming Lips are planning new material and a lot more touring; exactly what they do best.

Words by Laura Routledge


Read about our Album of the Year, Animal Collective's 'Merriweather Post Pavilion', HERE, the albums in our top ten HERE, from numbers 10 to 18 HERE and from 30 to 40 HERE.

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