As I sit here with the sounds echoing up the stairs of the excellent Paul Lewis Beethoven piano sonatos, I contemplate the year's acquisitions and new finds.
In no particular order then:
Carla Bruni: thanks be to Bob, without whom I would probably not considered or acquired this gem. A lovely voice and beautiful melodies. What more can you ask for?
Max Richter: a Selectadisc acquisition, of course. Musing through their Post-Rock section, I took a gamble on this potentially appealing collection which is interspersed with the mighty Bobby Wyatt on readings. Blue Notebooks - which is on my 'to-buy' list - features the luscious Tilda Swinton in a similar role. Delightful.
CSS: if ever there was going to be an artiste from this year I would have laid money on coming to me via lovely George, Cansei de Ser Sexy were top bet. So it proved that the band cropped up on the latest George collections - well, given that Jarvis likes CSS how could I fail to be charmed?
Beirut: courtesy of Rough Trade so this was in the Crockatt and Powell visiting bag. It came to us along with Neutral Milk Hotel's 1998 gem In the Aeroplane over the Sea. Both beautiful in their own ways. Beirut's "Gulag Orkestar" fits in well with several other East European inspired joys in our collection including Black Ox Orkestar (one of our favs through 2004 and 2005).
An Pierle: an eMusic find, thanks to a stunning piano accompanied version of "Are 'Friends' Electric?" on a Gary Numan tribute album (strange but true, it actually contains a number of cracking versions/tracks). Anyway, am rather fond of the An Pierle and White Velvet so they're on the 'get-more-of-these' list for the new year.
Sophie Solomon: one of our finds from Summer Sundae and her album has been an oft-played delight, not least for the lovely collaborations with KT Tunstall and the mighty Richard Hawley. Purchased direct from the lovely girl's hands as she came off-stage to a heroine's welcome by adoring and new fans alike.
Captain: as recommended by Patrische, even though I missed them at Summer Sundae. As described here so I can't say fairer than that! Another Selectadisc grabbed joy.
Tunng: fabulously folkie and a quiet stunner at Summer Sundae, their disturbing lyrics and soundscapes sit on breathtaking melodies. We grabbed a front row spot for their quiet subversion and loved every second of it.
Regina Spektor: her style has been pilfered by legions of female vocalists since it came to prominence early in 2006 (well, at least to us she did - via BBC6Music). I would complain but since it's such a beautiful approach it feels churlish to do so. She remains the best at it though and the video for "Us" with its delightful stop-motion photography (and those shoes she wears - sigh...) still sends shivers through me.
Amplifico: Scotpop charmers, another inevitable introduction from the George late in 2005 and regularly enjoyed throughout 2006. A record contract for these should get an album out - preferably soon! Donna Maciocia should be a star!
Okay, that's a flavour of the past year. There has been plenty of other stuff crossing our CD players and computers but that gives a reasonably representative sample of our new(ish) finds.