(What an odd saying that is, by the way.)
Close But No Cigar is my quick takes on albums that didn’t make it to my “best of” list this year but are still worth checking out. Some have a great song or two, many are consistently good but not great. Not quite “bridesmaids”, the “cigars” will slot somewere south of #40 on the list when all is said and done.
But that’s just one man’s ears talking. I’m hoping that you find an artist or three that knocks your socks off and/or rediscover something that you passed on earlier. Here are ten to start with, in no particular order…
Broken West: Now Or Heaven
Imagine if Wilco teleported to the 1980s and tried to beat Europop at its own game. Some very nice melodies, whiffs of Kinks on occasion, but ultimately a juxtaposition of styles that doesn’t quite flow from start to finish. If you enjoy the aforementioned bands and 80s pop as well as revitalizer bands like The Kaiser Chiefs and The Futureheads, this might grow on you. A good highway album.
Ian McLagan: Never Say Never
Mac is a little mellower than usual on this one, but there aren’t too many bigger hearts making records nowadays. Surrounded as always by great musicians, Mac’s soulful raspy vocals and expressive playing are framed by heartfelt songs, many obvious love notes to his late wife Kim. Ronnie Lane fans will like the organic feel of “Killing Me With Love” while Faces fans will delight in the barrel-house rocker “I’m Hot, You’re Cool”. The Bump Band is on tour where Mac’s material shines brightest, and I’ll wager some alternate arrangements pop up in the set-list.