It’s barely three months into the year and it already seems like I’ve found two good candidates for favourite album of the year! The first is Conqueror by Jesu. Conqueror continues with the overall style of Jesu’s previous EP, Silver – that is to say it errs on the My Bloody Valentine side of Jesu’s My Bloody Valentine vs Godflesh sound aesthetic. (Yes, I know, aesthetic is visual – humour me and pretend to be synaesthetic, okay?) Unlike every other Jesu release, Justin Broadrick’s vocals are much further forward in the mix, which makes Conqueror the most personal sounding Jesu album yet.
The second early candidate for favourite of the year is Small Town by Sky Cries Mary. Small Town is the first album of new music from SCM since they disbanded on December 31, 1999 – a very sad announcement for devotees like myself. Seven years later and they’ve still got it. Small Town is filled with rich, warm, comforting sounds. It’s not as quirky as their masterful Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves, but that doesn’t detract from it all. A terrific return by one of my favourite bands ever. (I have to admit that I’ve been so starved for new SCM that they probably could have wrapped a slice of mouldy ham in a jewel case and I’d have proclaimed it the next coming. The jewel case? It’s not filled with mouldy ham.) One last thing – Small Town is a limited issue – only 500 copies on CD. Once those are gone, you’ll have to settle for the MP3 download version, so act fast.