Friday, December 21, 2007
Best of 2007 - Albums @ PL
This year, just like for the 2006 countdown, our "Best of" came a bit late.
Slightly different than last year's, this counting kicks off with the Top 20 Polish albums, with the first 10 albums having a small review.

These choices reflect some of the records I've listened over the past 12 months. Pop, rock, hip hop, jazz, experimental and electronic music, among others. This year there was room for all genres. Hope you enjoy my choices and let me know what you think about them.

Top 20 Polish Albums

20. Plum - Witness of Your Fall

19. Holdcut - Inept Vision
15. The Complainer & The Complainers - The Complainer & The Complainers

11. L.U.C. & Rah - Homoxymoronomatura

10.Pink Freud - Punk Freud

Dressed in improvisation, groove and genius, innovation and ordered chaos, this year Wojtek Mazolewski, on bass, loop and sampler, Kuba Staruszkiewicz, on drums, Tomek Zietek, on trumpet, and Tomek Duda, on sax, delivered us Punk Freud, an album told in 10 chapters where Pink Freud explore their sound further, combining it with new elements, handing us such a fresh sound, so live and so damn appealing. It looks as if these instruments have a life of their own.

Among the wealthy disorder reigning on this record, there is also time for smooth and delicate soundscapes as on Wszystko Plynie, for beautifully driven sax moments as on Sex Przemoc Lek i Niemoc, for trumpet and sax dialogues as shown on Piasek Piasek Kupa Piasku and for chill-out breezes as on Porno Pogoda.

Dziwny Jest Ten Kraj [Listen @ MySpace]

09. Tomek Makowiecki - Ostatnie Wspolne Zdjecie

With two albums out on the streets, the 2002 Makowiecki Band and 2005’s Piosenki Na Nie, Tomek Makowiecki decided to drop by this year with Ostatnie Wspolne Zdjecie.

Within its 11 tracks, we are taken into a world lying under pop sunlight, where streets are painted with delicate melodic colours and bathed with melancholic breezes, whispering tiny little stories as well walk through this album.

Ostatnie Wspolne Zdjecie is pop; a rich, varied and cinematic pop album that blinks an eye, here and there, to other trends. Within it, rich arrangements, catchy chorus, nicely played guitar chords, deep heart warming vocals, full-bodied textures and melodies…. melodies that flow smoothly, embracing us and making us dream of those beautiful and colourful autumn evenings…

Ostatnie Wspolne Zdjecie [Listen @ MySpace]

A 10 track album by a 10-piece electronic orchestra.

This Wroclaw-based collective has just released DigitAllLove, their self-titled debut album. A collection of songs that breathe sensibility, intimacy, warmth and relaxing tempos; majestic arrangements, fat downtempo beats, subtle and inspired electronic backgrounds; all served together with live instruments and the sensual and delicate vocals of Natalia Grosiak.

Once we step into DigitAllLove, we get face to face with the likes of Bjork, Massive Attack, Portishead or Goldfrapp. The inspirations are obvious and the album does not intend to hide it as well. Putting aside this detail, DAB deliver an album that is close to being perfect. I say close, for they lack something new here that could take them to another league.

Led by the voice of Natalia Grosiak, the superbly arranged tracks, filled with passionate string melodies, darkened moods and energy, create a very special aura around this release. Listening to DigitAllLove will take you on a journey of discoveries, many emotions and colours. As you go by the aesthetic atmospheres of Run Away, passing through the more jazzy and soul ambients of Candy Castle, the loops of Skinflower, the many contrasts and flavours of Matulu, the saturated beats of Don't Expect Too Much, I U Could and I Learn 2 Be into the angelic, Icelandic cold Navel, you find yourself looking away, widely, into the vast!!! You grab the remote and hit play!!! It is time for the second journey!!!

Run Away [mp3 Preview]

07.Hey - MTV Unplugged

And we come to our number 7.

Kasia Nosowska, Marcin Zabielowicz, Pawel Krawczyk, Jacek Chrzanowski and Robert Ligiewicz got together on the past 10th of September, at the Warsaw’s Teatr Roma, to perform their repertoire, now totally disconnected from the power. After Kayah’s performance on the MTV Unplugged series, Hey are the second Polish band invited to record an unplugged session with this network tv.
With only previously released tracks and two versions (P.J. Harvey’s Angelene and Iggy Pop’s Candy), Hey Unplugged makes it to the top 20 with its songs, completely reviewed and shown here dressed with brand new clothes and incredible arrangements, sounding as fresh as they did the first time I heard them.
String and blow instruments section, percussion, accordion, keyboards and lira, among other instruments, together with Kasia singular voice, the artists’ enthusiasm, the guests’ contribution (Agnieszka Chylinska and Jacek "Budyn" Szymkiewicz (Pogodno) on Angelene and Candy, respectively) and the audience create during these 17 tracks an unique atmosphere and several moments where you love these tracks so much you forget about all the rest; if not, listen to Dreams, Missy Seepy or Mimo Wszystko.

Mru Mru [Listen @ MySpace]

06. Muchy - Terroromans

“…The one and only polish post - beat - power - puff - dance - punk - youthloud - romantic - garage - pop extravaganza…”

Michal Wiraszko, on vocals and guitar; Tomasz Skorka, on bass; Piotr Maciejewski, on keyboards and vocals; and Szymon Waliszewski on percussion have been around since 2004 “giving” music to the city of Poznan and not only!!!
This group of friends released this 2007 their long-expected debut album, Terroromans, after presenting us, back in 2005, with the demo Galanteria.
Last year The Car Is On Fire, with their Lake & Flames, created some buzz over a sound, somehow forgotten by several bands around here. This year, this role was given to Muchy and it seems they are taking good care of it, taking this opportunity to spread their sound all around Poland.

Considered by many as one of the most promising new Polish bands, Muchy managed, with their debut, to come up with 12 tracks that constantly blink an eye to indie rock, where catchy pop-rock tunes and good mood rules, not getting you tired after the second or third time you listen to it.

With the guitar playing a major role on this album, together with keyboard painted backgrounds and fancy melodies, this quartet either takes you back in time, to the 80’s indie-pop, or puts you on your feet, dancing non-stop to songs like Fototapeta or just moving your head to the sound of Piec po Wpol or 21 Dni.

An album quite worth discovering.

Misto Doznan [Listen @ MySpace]

05.So Quiet - Summer and Winter

After releasing, early last year, So Quiet's self-titled album, late 2007 saw this artist hit the stores with a magnificent album, Summer and Winter.

With this release, Warsaw-based Tomasz Bien and his project So Quiet continue playing lo-fi and acoustic ambient music kissed by minimal electronic and melancholic melodies.

The piano is still here, so is the melodica and other acoustic instruments; delicately played acoustic breezes, blowing softly over these thirty eight minutes; little toys dancing and playing together with silence. This time, Tomasz makes more use of his own vocals; intense and sorrow, dragging itself as these eleven tracks evolve.

With Summer and Winter released on Gusstaff records and So Quiet's live performances, let's hope more and more can close their eyes and fly away, on blue fluffy clouds.

September 2 [Listen @ MySpace]

04.Gabriela Kulka - Out

This album was originally released last year, but 2007 saw it being re-released. Given this and the fact that last year, Gabriela Kulka was completely out of my radar, we've included Out on this year "Best Of", on a nice 4th place.

Owner of a fantastic voice - cool and galloping, festive and yet so strong and powerful, emotional and theatrical; piano notes that come dropping smoothly and elegantly, dressed in black and surrounded in smoke as if they'd been all night long playing on the bar right next door.

Her music takes us to the world of Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Ute Lemper or Kurt Weill. We see ourselves surrounded by jazzy, cinematic, classical and pop tunes. The arrangements give this Out another soul, making it reach other skies, making it too small for Poland alone!

Track after track, we discover more of Gabriela and her fantastic music. Diving deeper and wandering through her past releases we notice how amazing has her evolution been, release after release, constantly surprising us with her ironic lyrics and a handful of brand new flavoured sounds.

Krolestwo i pol [mp3]

03.Kasia Nosowska - Unisex Blues

It took this lady 7 years to release her next solo album. After the release of Sushi back in 2000, Hey's lead singer, Kasia Nosowska, is back with a pack full of surprises!! To be precise, 14!!!

Unlike her previous records, UniSexBlues does not include Smolik on the production credits but indeed Marcin Macuk, producer and musician (Pogodno).

The difference is felt the minute the record starts playing. Era Retuszera, the first single out of UniSexBlues, has nothing to do with her previous electronic pop adventures. Catchy, filled with punk drunk pop tunes. A track that won't leave many indifferent, as the beats quickly will put anyone's lazy butt on the move!!

With guests Stanislaw Soyka, Jaroslaw Trelinski (Raz Dwa Trzy), Tomasz Duda and Yumiko Ishijima (from the Japanese group Papaya Paranoia), Kasia Nosowska does not limit herself to one kind of music. Rather, she uses all the help available and goes for a walk on the avenues of pop music, hand in hand with electronic beats, delicate spacey melodies and r'n'b. On the way, she has the time to greet some fast arse kicking rock tracks, to visit Goldfrapp (Metempsyho and My Faith Is Stronger Than The Hills), The Cardigans (Kasitet Romans) or a revitalized Patti Smith (UniSexBlues).

Even though the record does not follow a straight line, all the constant "mood" changes do not jeopardize it; on the contrary, it shows us how far this lady can go, how creative she is and gives us nothing but our number three record for this year.

Kasitet Romans [mp3 Preview]

02.Mr. S - Extracerebral

This 2007, Mr. S presented us with Extracerebral, his debut album.

On this 13 track album, released on the British label Artificial Bliss Recordings, this Bydgoszcz-based young artist cruises the vast seas of electronic music, inspired and spiced with jazz performances, downtempo textures, incredibly addictive break beats, electro pop tales and fluffy ambient magical tunes.

This amazing musical pot, together with the warm and delicate vocal contribution of Natalia Braciszewska and the collection of live instruments make this Extracerebral a superb release, moreover being Mr. S's debut, and an album to stick by within the next few months.

Apart from gathering the singles RooM23 and the great Les Enfants Mortes, there is still time for the downtempo pop Hemisphere Left, the ambient and break beat flavoured Super)(nova, Hemisphere Right and the title-track Extracerebral, the sci-fi soundtrack inspired Second Thought, the eclectic beats, rhythm and textures of SuAve, Chernobyl Karma (live) and Coda: Sunscale. The only disappointment comes with HPS, a pop and slightly boring track that distances itself from what we've listened so far, closer to Ania Dabrowska's 2006 release. Still, not enough to take Mr. S his second place.

Super)(nova [Recommended Track]

01.Stealpot - Indian Salon

Szymon 'Stealpot' Folwarczny released his debut album back in 2005. By that time, Mass Mess.Age caught everyone by surprise. An unknown young artist, hailing from Katowice, had just released one of the freshest albums of the year. By then the album gathered several good reviews and made it to countries such as Germany, England or Japan.

This year young Szymon is back with the always difficult second album. After the debut Mass Mess.Age, expectations were high for his next chapter. Indian Salon has just arrived and not only it stands up to our expectations, it is a big step forth towards its predecessor.

For this release Szymon brought together, again, Kasandra Adebowale, on vocals, and Gosia Warszawska, on flute, two artists that collaborated with him on his debut album. Anna Ruttar, on vocals, Junko Nashimura, from the French/Japanese band Mondialito, Damir Radic, Piotr Czyja, Jaszczur and many others joined this second adventure. All together, they brought a brand new sound to Stealpot.

The music now is full of life, rhythm and energy. There's space for electronic pop, nu-jazz and downtempo. The instruments sound so real. Well, they're real now. Percussion, bass, double-bass, hammond organ, rhodes, piano, guitar, a string quartet with two violins, a viola and a cello, and trumpet. Low-fi and calm jazzy textures; vocals running smoothly under trumpet radars; seductive, spacey and delicate oriental pearls. All this takes place on Indian Salon.

Kimi Na Oto [Listen @ MySpace]

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posted by SKL @ 4:10 PM  
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