The Best Musical Discoveries of 2011

The older albums our critics listened to this year
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flying doesn't help

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A. More, 'Flying Doesn't Help'

I'm a casual fan of Slapp Happy, the loopy Kraut-pop band British experimental musician Anthony Moore co-founded in the early 1970s. But I'd never heard this 1978 solo record until a friend sent it to me this spring. I've been playing it constantly since. Moore works a nexus between Brian Eno at his gizmo-twisting blissiest, John Cale's mordant Victorian whimsy, the demented glam-bubblegum of Sparks, post-Genesis Peter Gabriel and Berlin-era Bowie. "Judy Get Down" is the perfect-world Top 40 smash, a hand-clapping, noise-spritzed ode to a hooker somewhere between the Dixie Cups' "Iko Iko" and Eno's "I'll Come Running." And the rest is bursting with playful ideas and left-field hooks too: from the dawn-over-the-moors balladry of "Lucia" to androids-at-happy-hour rockers like "Useless Moments" and "Girl It's Your Time" to the album-closing ambient ice-bath "Twilight (Uxbridge Rd.)." Moore's singing makes Bowie sound like Sam Cooke, but even that kind of adds to the record's alien charm. In England in the Seventies, every art-rock weirdo, no matter how out there, seemed to have one great oddball pop record in him. Well, this is this dude's, and it’s awesome. 

Jon Dolan


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