The post-Christmas slump has well and truly subsided, or so it seems. February was a wonderful month for records, particularly in comparison to December and January's relatively meagre pickings.
A long-awaited return from M. Ward and a plum Beastie Boys re-master, as well as Emmy The Great's eagerly awaited debut, were our scribes' top picks, but there were a fair fews 8s kicking around too: School Of Seven Bells (my personal record of the month, no contest), Crystal Stilts and the wonderful Dark Was The Night compilation are equally worthy of your time and money.
Our top five of February 2009
Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique
Says Adam Anonymous: "So what'cha want? 'Intergalactic'? Tibetan free noise ethics? With Paul's Boutique you get close to both and everything in between, only with anti-commercial ethos Thom Yorke would be proud of and a bristling sense of humour since lost post-panning The Prodigy." [Read the review]
Video: Beastie Boys 'Shadrach'
Emmy The Great First Love
Says Alexander Tudor: "It's been a while since Next Big Thing Tips by the NME and DiS but Emmy The Great's debut is a triumph, with a maturity beyond her years, and with a humour no less enjoyable for being subtler. Can you imagine what her second or third album will be like, when she's the same age Leonard Cohen made his first record?" [Read the review]
Video: Emmy The Great 'First Love'
M. Ward Hold Time
Says James Skinner: "On his sixth solo album, M. Ward turns in a star-studded set that feels at once a logical progression from 2006's Post-War and a step closer to that all-out classic his preceding suggests; an assimilation and appropriation of American blues, gospel, country and folk." [Read the review]
Video: M. Ward 'Hold Time'
School Of Seven Bells Alpinisms
Full Time Hobby
Says Alexander Tudor: "This is superior dream-pop (as Americans call it), closest to Blonde Redhead on their last album, suggestive of M83 making slightly more effort with the lyrics, and in places nodding to Cocteau Twins, My Bloody Valentine, Curve." [Read the review]
Video: School Of Seven Bells 'Half Asleep'
Various Dark Was The Night
Says James Skinner: "Whether this compilation is the equal of 1993's era-defining No Alternative remains to be seen: it'll take years before such perspective will be granted us. Too safe, too slow, too similar, too sanctimonious? Not on your alliterated life. As a document of the (musical) times, a beautiful, sundry package and admirable unification of today's very finest towards a common goal, Dark Was The Night is unbeatable." [Read the review]
And the next five
Belle & Sebastian The BBC Sessions
Matador [Read the review]
Passion Pit Chunk Of Change EP
Columbia) [Read the review]
These Are Powers All Aboard Future
Dead Oceans [Read the review]
Wintersleep Welcome To The Night Sky
Labwerk/EMI [Read the review]
Ipecac [Read the review]
DiScover Album of the Month
Crystal Stilts Alight Of Night
Says Dom Gourlay: "Go through each of the eleven songs that make up Crystal Stilts' debut long player and it almost feels like being driven through a guided tour of rock'n'roll's most incisive, dare I say coolest, esprit de corps of the previous four decades." [Read the review]
Video: Crystal Stilts 'Prismatic Room'
LPs we're looking forward to in March: Black Lips, Dan Deacon, The Decemberists, Fever Ray and Grammatics - should be another cracking month!