15th April 2020

Culture / Featured / Charlie Gladstone

Charlie Gladstone’s 12 Favourite Albums of The Last 12 Months

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Charlie Gladstone and his wife, Caroline, are co-founders of The Good Life Society (The Good Life Experience, Camp Glen Dye, Camp Hawarden and Some Good Ideas), Pedlars, Hawarden Estate Farm Shops, Glen Dye Cabins & Cottages, The Glynne Arms and more. Charlie has many passions, the themes of which spread across this website, but music was his first.

Music has always been my main thing and I still devour it with fevered enthusiasm, buying several albums each week. These are my twelve favourite albums of the last twelve months. The selection is a pure reflection of my enthusiasm; there’s nothing contrived here, this is just what I like. I make no apology if a lot of this is made by mildly melancholic men of a certain age. But I am certain that if you have even a passing interest in contemporary music, there’s plenty here for you.

 

The album that I’ve played most is The National’s magnum opus I am Easy to Find. I can’t keep away from this; it’s the work of a restless band absolutely at the peak of their powers. A range of exceptional women duet on an album that has one absolute classic after another; gentle, melancholy, uplifting alternative rock.

A close second comes Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ brilliant Ghosteen. This profound expression of grief and loss reflects on the death of Cave’s teenage son and does so with love, warmth, sadness and some truly beautiful melodies. Seriously, this is a must-have and caps a brilliant trilogy of albums for Cave (Skeleton Tree and Push Away the Sky are also exceptional).

Michael Kiwanuka has made another excellent record. Kiwanuka is a classic soul record that deals with love and politics with equal passion. If you like Marvin Gaye (and I am sure you do) then this is for you.

 

Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors is a great, alternative album full of songs that manage to stay on the right side of strident and are always engaging and revealing new twists and turns. I played it on repeat for a week or two and it grew and grew on me.

Lloyd Cole made one of the best albums of his long career. Guess Work is really good; a kind of modern, sophisticated folk record rooted in the alternative, melodic guitar music that he made with The Commotions in the 1980s.

 

Leonard Cohen’s posthumous album Thank You for the Dance was created by his son Adam and a host on luminaries including Lesley Feist, Damien Rice and Beck. And it’s an essential and moving addition to the brilliant canon of work that was his second phase.

Hot Chip has made the perfect album of dance music for people who don’t like going to clubs. A Bath Full of Ecstasy is subtle, elegant and incredibly easy to sing along to. It’s their best album yet.

Toro y Moi made an equally good dance album this year. Outer Peace sounds like a gentle, eclectic, laid back early Daft Punk album. Whenever I play it people’s ears prick up and they ask who it is. Addictive, happy, intelligent pop.

After a couple of mildly annoying albums that I wanted to love but couldn’t quite, Bon Iver returned to his very best with i,i. This expansive, lovely album is a perfect distillation of Justin Vernon’s vision.

James Blake’s Assume Form is -against stiff competition- his best yet. This is perfect pop; challenging, modern, cheerful, original and incredibly addictive.

 

Aldous Harding. A masterclass in new folk music from a New Zealander in Wales, Designer is an absolute classic; richly textured and full of tunes that will earn and reward repeated listens. It is rooted in traditional music but there’s something otherworldly about it; it very much feels as if it occupies Harding’s own universe. This is mellow, original, textured pop music at its best. Harding might even merit being mentioned in the same breath as Kate Bush. High praise indeed.

Caribou. Suddenly. Daniel Snaith records under a number of aliases, but the best known is Caribou. This sparkling new album is an instant classic and occupies the point where bubblegum electronic pop meets its more intellectual, chin-stroking cousins. Suddenly is sophisticated, sunny, original, multi-layered and complex and yet it is instantly loveable. It’s somehow more accessible than any of his previous records but more complicated and rewarding at the same time. A classic.

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Charlie Gladstone and his wife Caroline, are the founders of The Good Life Society (The Good Life Experience, Camp Glen Dye, Camp Hawarden and Some Good Ideas), Pedlars, Hawarden Estate Farm Shops, Glen Dye Cabins & Cottages, The Glynne Arms and more. Throughout all their businesses, Charlie champions integrity and sustainability.

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