I can't wait to do our annual Top Ten albums list this year. I could probably do twenty, where last year, I could barely do ten and had to stretch to find ten *great* albums. Even better, I think I've found more good music this year as the paradigm shifted somewhere along the way. I can't quite put my finger on it, but things like lala.com, iTunes' Genius function, and social networks have given us ways to find new music where radio has failed. With a couple albums left to drop that could squeeze their way in if they're not massive disappointments like the new Snow Patrol, really good albums like Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" are likely to be on the outside looking in.
I'm still in the early stages of listening to Glasvegas' eponymous debut, but I can't imagine in not being on the list. Yes, they're overhyped in Britain, but in the US, they're as likely to be Robbie Williams as they are Oasis. Listening to the album, from the glistening and heartbreaking opener to the end track, it's a giant bundle of influences, as if everything in their music collection spilled onto the vinyl. (Yes, this album just feels like vinyl.)
Right off the bat, there's an Oasis feel in their pop songs. There's also a retro, Phil Spector vibe to the ringing guitars and girl-group pop-candy vocals. There's an obvious Jesus and Mary Chain feel that some have called "Proclaimers with a delay pedal"; I'll be a bit kinder. There's echoes of anthemic early U2, influences of angst-driven early Clash, and then a whole section of Glaswegian narrative that you'll need a Wikipedia page and a translator to get inside.
James Allan's accented vocals are a love or hate proposition and the reverbed guitars you haven't heard since early My Morning Jacket or late Phil Spector are the same. And yes, the hype around the band is as big and bad as any since Take That. The thing is here, the influences and hype don't really matter when they get it right. When Allan soars into the hook of "Daddy's Gone", when the guitar kicks in on "It's My Own Cheating Heart ..", and when you find yourself singing along with "Go Square Go", all that doesn't matter. It's just simply a stunning debut that can't be ignored.
It's as likely to be noticed in the US as The Libertines, but in Friedman's flat world, who cares about borders? Great music is great music and in the niches that Facebook defines, merit trumps sales out on the long tail, right?