This time of year is kind of fun for the rock nerd. All of the Top album lists come out and as a bona fide nerd I eagerly scan them for records I missed during the year. A mate of mine helpfully emailed me the best album lists of the Guardian newspaper, Rolling Stone, Uncut, Mojo, Spin, NME, Mixmag, Q and Drowned in Sound. Now it might surprise you that their lists and mine are quite different beasts. I think the only records I liked that they bothered putting in their lists were Liars and Panda Bear. I also liked that new Interpol album but I didn’t think it was so good that it needed to be in a Best Of list but maybe I’m wrong on that. When you read these lists the main thing that struck me about 2007 is just what a completely fucked year it was for music. Arcade Fire, fucking Spoon for fucks sake. All too clever by half I say.
This is a round about way of getting to the new Battles record. Now I’d been hearing good things about this band for a while. But there are a couple of good reasons why I didn’t go near it.
- the drummer is that guy from Helmet
- the term “math rock” was being bandied about far too often for my taste. (see my Polvo post on my views about that)
- I’d been burnt by that LCD Soundsystem record of a couple of years ago
Now the third one may not make sense to some of you but that LCD Soundsystem was a piece of shit and everyone was jerking off on it like something that was worthy to jerk off too. I bought it, it was crap and I remain bitter. The same fanfare greeted this record. I decided to buy it because my parents gave me a big fat cheque for Christmas and I decided to spend it all on records and I thought “fuck it”, and took a punt.
The first two times I listened to it I just didn’t get it. The post I was drafting in my head was histrionic and a little angry. But hey, I persisted, and fuck me if this is one of those records that may not immediately grab you but sneaks up behind you and blows in your ear (but less annoying). This record is fucking great. It’s like Tortoise crossed with Polvo. There are a big mixtures of styles like an improvised jam band made up of a rock pig, jazz noodler, electro freak and a computer technician. It’s all smart time signatures, hyperkinetic drum beats. The best tracks are the super long ones Atlas, Tonto, Tij and Rainbow. Atlas is extraodinary and I’m heading off this afternoon to buy the extended EP’s they’ve released. Mirrored is all I’ve been listening to for days and it continues to delight. This makes a lot of those same lists that I’ve listed above. Maybe they are not all as lead-eared as I thought.