2011′s Top Ten LPs (My Two Cents)

I read an amusing tweet earlier – Any Decent Music, the Scottish music review aggregator site, announced that “those laggards at TLOBF have finally completed their best albums list, so the Best Of The Best Ofs is now wrapped up”. That’s ADM’s epic undertaking which aggregates “best of 2011″ lists and has produced a top 50 from them. Of all the contributing publications TLOBF took the longest to get their list up, which I think says something about how seriously the editorial team took the exercise. Of course, the whole affair shows just how many publications want a look-in at the best albums game: to the music criticism world, they’re what this time of year is about.

At the same time, having an opinion is what us music writers do, and here’s my hat thrown into the ring. I make no claim that I’ve heard hundreds of records in 2011, and certainly I’ve heard a fraction of even the big ones – but this is my list of personal favourites, the records which have made the biggest impact on me and the ones which I’ll forever connect with the developments the year has brought into my own life. As usual, there’s not a lot of crossover with the lists ADM aggregated, but hopefully a few underheard gems which could do for you what they did for me. More

[Video] Foreign Slippers – “Avalanche”

Only a week or so after I mentioned that it was in the pipeline, the video for “Avalanche” by brilliant Swedish folk-pop songstress Foreign Slippers has arrived. Directed by Harry Amies and involving a great many other contributions, the video sees a pair of crude puppets in a slightly unnerving story, intercut with Gabi Frödén singing and looking suitably mystical. The song is a real highlight of the debut Foreign Slippers record Farewell to the Old Ghosts and adds some elements of dark soul to Frödén’s usual acoustic sound. Click “more” to watch the video below, or see it on Vimeo.

Foreign Slippers play Upstairs at the Garage in London on the 13th of October, supported by Burning Codes. I may just have to make plans for another trip to the Big Smoke…

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Unsung Heroes #1: Foreign Slippers

Unsung Heroes is going to be a new semi-regular feature on Wordcore in which I’ll extoll the virtues of an artist I just don’t think gets listened to or recognised enough. In each case, I’ll give an insight into their background and, where possible, provide some audio-visual stimuli to help bring new listeners up to speed.

To my mind, Farewell to the Old Ghosts is one of the finest debut albums of 2011. Although independently released in April and available to stream in full and to purchase on Bandcamp, the record by Foreign Slippers has gone almost completely unnoticed by even the indie music media. When this folk-pop project, built around Swedish songstress Gabi Frödén, has been written about it has almost exclusively been in reference to its live sets in support of the likes of Duke Special and Dag för Dag. That ought to change. More

[Audio] Stream the Foreign Slippers Debut LP

Fantastic London-based Swedish singer-songstress Gabi Fróden has her long-awaited debut LP Farwell to the Old Ghosts available to stream and buy on Bandcamp. The record contains (apparently re-recorded) versions of four songs released two years ago, plus an additional eight new tunes. Fróden’s largely-acoustic songs range from uplifting to incredibly tender and come very, very highly recommended. Foreign Slippers also play the Enterprise in Camden on July 6th and August 3rd.

Foreign Slippers Love @ PopMatters

In all the time I’ve been reviewing records for TLOBF (creating a total of more than 100 albums now, and recently starting to become readable) Foreign Slippers stands out as one of my favourite discoveries. Her EP Oh Death was one of the first things I ever reviewed for the site, and I still listen to its five wonderful tracks often. After wondering what Gabrielle Fróden was up to these days, I was inspired to pen a blog about her amazing records for PopMatters. Please have a read, and while you’re at it, grab her free EP It All Starts Now from MySpace.

Nuggets: Foreign Slippers and Blitzen Trapper

Nuggets, my series of posts about free music releases, was clearly never going to last, and indeed it didn’t. However, this post represents a return of sorts, as I’ve come across a couple of really lovely free downloads to share. First up is the It All Starts Now EP by Foreign Slippers, aka Gabrielle Frödén (pictured). I reviewed her excellent and incredibly hushed debut EP for TLOBF soon after I started writing for them, back in September 2008. Only today did I realise that last year she recorded and gave away a second, four-track EP. You can grab it at this link – I’ve listened just once, but it’s already impressive, a bit less quiet than her first EP on Izumi Records. The other download I recommend is a song called “Heaven and Earth”. It’s by the great Portland, Oregon band Blitzen Trapper, who are releasing their next LP Destroyer of the Void next month on Sub Pop. I’m lucky enough to be reviewing the record at the moment – “Heaven and Earth” is my current favourite song so I’m very chuffed that it can be downloaded as a prevew track on the Blitzen Trapper site. Enjoy!

// Thought

"There's a flaming red horizon that screams our names..."

Jeff Buckley - "Eternal Life"

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