Dublin Duck Dispensary - Luanqibazao
Rack and Ruin
Luanqibazao was the best Irish album released this year. I think. Not many will agree. But then they will have had both the advantage of actually listening to a lot of Irish music (I don't really bother keeping up anymore, save GPO and Adebisi) and they will most likely have had the disadvantage of not even knowing this collection exists.
It's been tagged as no-fi. Incorrect. This is fi. It's pop-fi and it's smile-fi. It's gallop-fi and it's fist-fi. It's a selection of timeless pop moments run through a single adventurous, curious mind, that of Bobby Aherne. This isn't about your Times New Vikings and your Lovvers', this is about your Abbas (Mamma Mia!, not Mahmoud) and your early Beatles singles. Peg it with Slanted and Enchanted if you must indie-schmindie it up, but it's far lovelier.
I can't claim to have any idea what Aherne is singing about. I'm content not knowing either. It's his world, after all. The arrangements on these songs are ridiculously more interesting than most others I've heard this year. There's thought going into this, people. Original thought in that most played out of musical arenas.
There are standouts. Happy Holidays fizzes and spazzes. Break A Leg falls over itself in restrained giddiness before becoming something really quite beautiful. Roald Dahl is perfectly-judged childish pop dramatics. Brain Damage shames and embarrasses most contemporary bands in its 25 seconds.
Then again, I think Deerhunter and Beach House suck shit, so what do I know.
((I play in Bobby's live band, so I felt awkward posting about the album, but I couldn't let a list of 25 go without mentioning it, purely for the way it got into my head and fucked shit around this year. You can still get it for free on Rack and Ruin, along with acupofteaandasliceofcake and They Do The Police In Different Voices))