Saturday, February 12, 2011

Listening Habits 01.11 - Anna Calvi

The first edition of "Listening Habits" for 2011 features mostly albums from last year that I’ve been listening to between late December and early February. Some of them came just in time to be included in the first version of our "Best of 2010" list with Wild Nothing’s "Gemini", a shimmering indie-pop gem, achieving a Top 20 position as well as securing a place among our favorite debuts of the year. Another excellent Captured Tracks release, The Soft Moon’s self-titled early ’80s post-punk and new wave inspired debut, reached my ears a couple of weeks too late to be included in the year-end "Best Of", but this is exactly the reason why there is always a second, bigger and better version of the list that appears later on here.

The only 2011 release in this month’s Top 15 Albums is the amazing debut of Anna Calvi, an album that introduces a major talent that looks certain to leave her mark in the new decade. With P.J. Harvey’s frequent collaborator Rob Ellis co-producing and the approval and encouragement of such luminaries as Brian Eno, Nick Cave and Domino’s Laurence Bell, Anna Calvi created a timeless debut that combines classic rock ’n’ roll with classical music elements. The guitar playing of Django Reinhardt and Jimi Hendrix is just as influential on her sound as Maria Callas’ singing or the impressionistic compositions of Ravel and Debussy. These eclectic influences are intertwined into a unique blend that is characterized by Calvi’s powerful voice and her imaginative guitar playing that emulates the sound of an orchestra. From an almost faultless record the tracks that had the most lasting impact on me are the gorgeous, pop-friendly "Blackout", the burning passion of "Desire", the haunting "No More Words",  "I'll Be Your Man" where P.J. Harvey meets the Bad Seeds, "Suzanne & I", "The Devil" and the epic "Love Won’t Be Leaving".

Top 15 Albums

1.   Anna Calvi - ANNA CALVI
2.   Gemini - WILD NOTHING
3.   The Soft Moon - THE SOFT MOON
4.   Rough Trade Shops Synth Wave 10 - VARIOUS ARTISTS
5.   Relayted - GAYNGS
6.   My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy - KANYE WEST
7.   Kills - JJ
8.   Hippies - HARLEM
9.   Personal Life - THE THERMALS
10. Northern Aggression - STEVE WYNN & THE MIRACLE 3
11. I'm Having Fun Now - JENNY AND JOHNNY
13. Here's To Taking It Easy - PHOSPHORESCENT
14. Strange Weather, Isn't It? - !!!
15. Mixed Race - TRICKY

Top 20 Tracks

1.   The words that maketh murder - P.J. HARVEY
2.   Blackout - ANNA CALVI
3.   Circles - THE SOFT MOON
4.   Chinatown - WILD NOTHING
5.   Faded high - GAYNGS
6.   I follow rivers (David Sitek remix) - LYKKE LI
7.   Two minutes - WIRE
8.   Machine gun blues - SOCIAL DISTORTION
9.   Big wave - JENNY AND JOHNNY
10. Calyer - BEACH FOSSILS
11. Stranger than kindness - FEVER RAY
12. One million year trip - LAETITIA SADIER
13. Hauntin' me - KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS
14. The cold world melts - SOFT METALS
15. Hell of a life - KANYE WEST
16. Murder weapon - TRICKY
17. I don't believe you - THE THERMALS
18. Resolution - STEVE WYNN & THE MIRACLE 3
19. Hej, me I’m light - PHOSPHORESCENT
20. Living is so easy - BRITISH SEA POWER

Here's a dazzling live performance of "Love Won’t Be Leaving" where Anna Calvi unleashes her inner Hendrix:

Sound sources: pitchfork, stereogum, spinner, one thirty bpm, altered zones. magnet

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