#19 Tinariwen – Elwan

As a child growing up in war torn Mali of the early 1960’s, master guitar player Ibrahim Ag Alhabib built his very first guitar using nothing more than a tin can, stick and bicycle wire. By age 19 he had migrated to Algeria and in 1979 assembled the players who were to become Tinariwen (meaning “deserts”), ultimately returning to Mali following a cease-fire just over a decade later. Seven albums, one Grammy and some 40 odd years since their initial formation Tinariwen are back with Elwan, their first album of new material since Emmaar from 2014. Simply put, Elwan bursts with a wealth of raw Sahara Desert electric blues grooves and soulful acoustic ruminations. An absolute triumph of an album.

Rating: 8.5/10




#20 Slowdive – “Slowdive”

Formed in Reading, Berkshire, England in the fall of 1989, Slowdive, named after a Siouxsie and the Banshees song, were so brutally butchered and universally reviled by the mean spirited British music press of the day that the band packed it in and called it quits after releasing just three albums in four short years in the early Nineties. Dismissed as flavour-of-the-month shoegazers, the negative press the band received affected them personally. “It did affect us as we were all teenagers at the time”, drummer Simon Scott said in a 2009 interview, “We couldn’t understand why people were so outraged by our sound that they had to tell the NME or whoever that they wanted us dead”. After having spent the last 20 years under new music direction as Mojave 3, these onetime teenaged shoegazing rockers, now middle aged, are back with their first album in 22 years. Lush and atmospheric, it’s not so very important to be consciously aware of the words and lyrics cresting over waves of sound but rather the intent and feeling, it’s all there, poignant and purposeful. The finest rainy day record of 2017.

Rating: 7.5/10