In November 2019, Real Gone reached its ten year anniversary of being online. To celebrate, we shared thoughts on ten albums we loved from that decade. That list came with two strict rules beyond becoming favourites: each year had to be represented by one album and each album had to in some way have helped our site to become more established.
As we reach the end of the year, it’s time to look back more broadly on some of our favourite albums of the ’10s; albums that have kept us listening for pleasure long after the reviews and coverage have been completed. If you’re a regular visitor to Real Gone, lots of these names will be familiar by now, but we hope this time for looking back helps to reconnect with a couple of old favourites, or find you a new one somewhere along the way. [Full reviews & streams can be found by clicking on the individual titles.]
In an unexpected move on his 2015 release ‘Lights On’, Strange Majik – aka David Pattillo – cast aside the raw blues of his band The Dead Exs for a deep voyage into funk and soul textures. The results were the very definition of “mixed bag”; while the music was often great, the variety of vocalists – and, rather more specifically, the inclusion of rap elements – meant some tracks worked far better than others, and it didn’t always connect with his existing fans. Taking a musical sidestep on 2016’s ‘Raised On Rock ‘N’ Roll’, it seems Pattillo has taken a long hard look at his musical past and crafted a record from the best of his findings. In many ways, it is the missing link between The Dead Exs and the first Strange Majik project. The funky edge and some soul aspects from ‘Lights On’ are firmly present, but the rap is cast aside. The end results firmly grasp the Santana-ish and Funkadelic grooves from that LP, but fuse them with a little blues and rock along the way…and with Pattillo handling all vocal duties, everything sounds like the funked up cousin of The Dead Exs, with some hard grooves delivered by a crack selection of back-up musicians.
Strange Majik mainman David Pattillo is a well known studio hand from New York, whom between 2011-2013 was most often seen as half of garage blues duo The Dead Exs. After two excellent albums in that stripped back and distorted style, his Strange Majik project finds the multi-instrumentalist spreading his wings. Pattillo’s Strange Magik guise is primarily a vehicle to experiment with a world of music that largely would never have fit The Exs straight ahead mood and also allows him to work with a revolving cast of musicians and vocalists. The end results straddle funk and r ‘n’ b, with a swathe of old fashioned psychedelic guitars beefing up the sound – the message here is to close your eyes, open your mind and feel the majik.
When done right, the two man garage-rock/garage blues set up can be absolutely thrilling. It represents the minimum band configuration to make a noise most effectively. Less distorted than the US’s ¡Vamanos! but more ferocious than the UK’s most excellent Brockley Forest, Huddersfield’s own Knuckle blend garage rock and blues with a touch of stoner groove – as per 2014 breakthrough act Royal Blood, but with an element of DIY sincerity those guys lost by jumping straight in with a major label release. The results on Knuckle’s debut EP, although fairly typical of the genre, are enthralling with a broad range of sounds and styles throughout the six tracks.
In the five years of Real Gone’s existence, there have been dozens upon dozens of fine releases. Some we’ve loved instantly, some demanded a little more time before their magic became wholly apparent. To mark five years worth of internet presence and hundreds of reviews written in that time, we present a brief look back at ten of our favourite albums to ever fill Real Gone’s columns. In no particular order…drum roll please!