Category: The music

Albums of 2016

Been a shit year, hasn’t it. At least there have been some cool records to listen to. Like these.

Lucid Dream – Compulsion Songs
Krautrock from Cumbria. Absolutely knock-out stuff.

Future Of The Left – The Peace And Truth Of…

Christian Fitness – This Taco Is Not Complete

This Becomes Us
These three can come as one. First you have a Future Of The Left album which is always to be savoured. Then comes the third instalment of Andy Falkous’s side-project before Julia Ruzicka – Mrs Falkous – sees some of her ideas for bass materialise into an LP. All different, all wonderful.

Solar Bears – Advancement
Their last, sadly. They will be missed.

Swet Shop Boys – Cashmere
Excellent collaboration between British-Pakistano Riz MC and Indo-American Heems. Politically and culturally aware, lyrically intelligent.

CTMF – SQ1
A Billy Childish record. Never not good.

Recordiau Prin – Iechyd Da
A wonderful compilation of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci covers from a bewildering array of DIY artists. Lovingly crafted and well put together.

De La Soul – …And The Anonymous Nobody
A series of collaborations hallmark the latest from the hip-hop veterans.

Dementio13 – Broxen
This time last year, it seemed like Paul Foster was done with making music, but he couldn’t keep away. Good for us all.

Mr Sterile Assembly – It’s All Over Now
Totally off-the-wall. A bit challenging, but worth putting in the time.

Nat Lyon – Random Walk Theory
One of his best. Dope Bike Man is a highlight of the year.

The Baggios – Brutown
Brazilian bluesmiths return with a blockbuster.

Scott Walker – The Childhood Of A Leader
The score to a film about a 9-year old who would go on to be a dictator. Absolutely astonishing.

Klammer
Second LP from the Leeds punks. Knowing and clever.

Andrew Weatherall – Convenanza
The remix maestro teased this at the end of 2015 and released it early this year. Still sounds great after multiple spins.

Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid
One of a number of top hip-hop records this year. Very clever.

David Bowie – Blackstar
It was a great album anyway before it took on several new dimensions when Bowie died in January, just a couple of days after the launch. An absolute masterpiece that covers everything from jazz to drum n bass.

Wave Pictures – Bamboo Diner In The Rain
The prolific trio with another record packed with great tunes.

The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Third World Pyramid
It does what a BJM record ought to do and does it well.

The Avalanches – Wildflower
Almost worth the 16-year wait.

LA Salami – Dancing With Bad Grammar
Astonishing. This guy needs to be the next big thing.

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…
Maybe the most important album of these strange times in which we live.

And that’ll probably do. What are there; 23? I know I’ve left a couple out so I may come back and add stuff, but that’s a fair cross-section of what’s been flicking my dials this year.

The football is on

There is a football tournament on, you may have noticed. And at times like this my thoughts turn to music, obviously.

Now there are two types of football song – those made by Half Man Half Biscuit and those that aren’t. So here are two playlists representing each category. First, the Wirrall geniuses at work:

Friday Nights And The Gates Are Low
1966 And All That
I Was A Teenage Armchair Honved Fan
Even Men With Steel Hearts
Dead Men Don’t Need Season Tickets
Mathematically Safe
Gubba Lookalikes
Bob Wilson, Anchorman
The Referee’s Alphabet
All I Want For Christmas Is A Dulka Prague Away Kit

And now for the rest of humanity to respond:

Three English Football Grounds – I, Ludicrous
Give Him A Ball – Sultans Of Ping
The Man Don’t Give A Fuck – Super Furry Animals
Kicker Conspiracy – The Fall
Theme From Sparta FC – The Fall
We’ll Let You Know – Morrissey
Goals In Slow Motion – Future Of The Left
Fussball – The Orb ft Lee Scratch Perry
I Was A Goalkeeper – John MOuse
Fell Off The Penalty Spotty Spot – Forkeyes

And that’s as much as I’m saying about football this summer.

Albums of the year? Go on then

Everyone else is doing it. Not that my mum would have that for an excuse.
Digressing already… Albums. Yes. I have a problem with albums and that is my DJing. I listen to a lot of individual tracks, often not giving them more than a few seconds before deciding whether it’s worth adding to a show, let alone further investigating the album. I know, I’m a terrible person. Besides, one of my favourite artists, the seminal Lesbian Horse, holds no truck with such fripperies.
But that also means that when I do give an album the time, I’m probably bang into it. Anyway, here they are. There are 22 23, quite accidentally, and aren’t in any order.

Sleaford Mods – Key Markets
Do you need to know these are still the most important band around right now? Surely you were already aware. State of the nation stuff with a unique delivery and a visceral quality.
Get it
Standout track: Live Tonight

Fold – Fold
Experimental hip-hop/funk from Leeds. Inventive samples, heavy bass, bit of brass. There’s a movement here that needs a couple of others to jump on board to kick it off.
Get it
Standout track: Detroit Red

Gang Of Four – What Happens Next
It’s been a year of old bands putting out new stuff. In this case, just one of the original gang remains, Andy Gill, and is here accompanied by a cast of guest vocalists. As such, it doesn’t feel like a Gang Of Four album, but I still like it.
Get it
Standout track: England’s In My Bones

The Chap – The Show Must Go
Their most radical album yet. It’s a diatribe on the absolute certainty that rock music has not and will never ever change the world. Angry and relentless.
Get it
Standout track: Guitar Messiah

Drenge – Undertow
Difficult second album? Not a bit of it. They’ve added a bass which lends a more rounded, more mature feel to things but without losing the raw viscerality that made their debut album so appealing.
Get it
Standout track: Running Wild

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit
About as indie as it gets and with a vocal style that greatly appeals, as anyone who has seen the seminal John Thomas in action can attest to. Call it slacker-rock if you like, but there’s a lyrical intelligence there that belies the laid-back vibe. Great title too.
Get it
Standout track: Pedestrian At Best

Therapy? – Disquiet
I’ve been a fan from the start, though the middle period avant-gardism left me cold. This, then, represents a return to familiar ground. 21 years after Troublegum, it’s the logical follow-up.
Get it
Standout track: Tides

I, Ludicrous – Dull Is The New Interesting
Another bunch of oldies back with new gear. Their first in ten years picks up exactly where they left off, subtly skewering the world of man-bag carrying hipsters arrogantly pushing their way through the highways and byways of the country while they fart around with an iPad, daft celebrity culture, dull workplaces, daytime TV and Billy Liar-type dreamers.
Get it
Standout track: Cheer Up

Squarepusher – Damogen Furies
A first solo LP in three years, so not the absentee that others on this list are. More immediately accessible than previous releases, but still sounding like absolutely nothing and nobody else.
Get it
Standout track: Baltang Ort

The Orb – Moonbuilding 2703 AD
Four tracks, about an hour long. Brilliant. You’re in classic Orb territory here, their best since U.F.Orb really.
Get it
Standout track: Moonscapes 2703 BC

Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space
After the first LP, I was worried that the concept wouldn’t stretch much further, but making this more of a concept album dodged that particular bullet with some grace. Electronic story-telling of the most magnificent kind.
Get it
Standout track: The Other Side

Sauna Youth – Distractions
This is fucking brilliant and if you don’t own it, you are doing things wrong. It’s punk, it’s noisy, it’s great.
Get it
Standout track: Transmitters

The Pop Group – Citizen Zombie
They’ll see your hiatus and raise you. It’s 35 years since their last. Unlike Gang Of Four, this is instantly recognisable as The Pop Group. It’s good to have them back.
Get it
Standout track: Mad Truth

Outfit – Slowness
More dirt in the face of the second-album deniers. This is gorgeous. From start to finish, it washes over you and rubs you with a warm, soapy chamois leather. Perhaps not as instantly catchy as their debut a couple of years ago, but all the more rewarding for it.
Get it
Standout track: New Air

Ashley Reaks and Joe Hakim – Cultural Thrift
Hakim’s Hull lilt offsets Reaks’s often-challenging music and creates something quite unique. Inventive poetry with equally novel sounds beneath it. Again, there’s a movement here if anyone wants to kick it on.
Get it
Standout track: Nature Poem

Django Django – Born Under Saturn
Do I like it as much as their first? No. Do I like it? Yes. And enough to include on a list such as this. Evolution, not revolution. Still love them. One of the best live bands around too.
Get it
Standout track: First Light

Slug – Ripe
Jerky, nervy, awkward and hugely entertaining. It almost feels like it shouldn’t work, but it does. Musically and lyrically hugely intelligent.
Get it
Standout track: Running To Get Past Your Heart

The Go! Team – The Scene Between
It’s The Go! Team and it sounds like The Go! Team. The aim was, apparently, to create “delicious, curvy, undeniable, sunshiny songs”. Job done.
Get it
Standout track: The Scene Between

Girls Names – Arms Around A Vision
Splendid pop with an edge and then it ends with a discordant six-minuter completely at odds with what’s gone before. This is a brilliant thing to do.
Get it
Standout track: A Hunger Artist

Christian Fitness – Love Letters In The Age Of Steam
It’s Andy Falkous, so you know it’s going to be good. His occasional side-project (not solo) returns with the follow-up to I Hate Everything That Isn’t Me. It’s not Future Of The Left – that comes next year – but neither is it far away.
Get it
Standout track: The Harder It Hits

Flies On You – etcetera
Completely DIY stuff from the Leeds post-punks. Angry, cutting and witty. Recorded on a budget of nowt, you really should buy it from them if only to encourage them to make more.
And while I’ve picked out a different track as the standout, everyone must hear this:

Get it
Standout track: Action Stations!

Nightingales – Mind Over Matter
Another bunch of aging post-punkers with new material. Again, it’s the lyricism that draws you in. Knowing, meta, lots of other words. You know what you’re getting from Nightingales. This is among their best.
Get it
Standout track: Gales Doc

EDIT
Heavyball – Black Eye Diaries
My wife pointed out that I’d missed one, so here it is as a late addendum. I don’t know how I forgot it as it was in the car all summer. Ska-infused indie pop. Genius.
Get it
Standout track: Black Eye Friday

I apologise for the lack of female voices on here – it honestly wasn’t deliberate. And apologies to all the ace people who also made ace albums that I didn’t listen to right the way through or didn’t include here before getting bored and ending it. I’m capricious like that sometimes.
Top 50 tracks (that are on Spotify) coming soon.

Sheffield

You may recall the In Bed With Maradona New York assignment, a bunch of great articles about that city to which I contributed a 50-track playlist. Well the assignment is back and this time it’s Sheffield.

It’s great. I’ve not worked my way through it all yet, but what I’ve sampled is really good. Well researched, passionate – it’s an homage to that great city. There’s also some pillock rambling about Rugby League in it.

The same pillock has repeated his 50-track playlist gimmick. It was a joy to put together. All the ones you’re expecting are in there and loads of other stuff old and new. I found myself only just now finding out that some of these bands are indeed from Sheffield. Which may make you wonder when track 1 is by a Derbyshire band. Three things:
1 – They’re very much part of the Sheffield scene, regardless of their heritage
2 – It’s a perfect track to open with
3 – shut up

Here comes the full track listing. It’s not quite got the same narrative structure as I did with New York, but it does a bit. The start and end are very deliberate however, though I won’t get mad if you stick it on shuffle. And I think it’s commendable of me to keep it to just the one Cabaret Voltaire 12″ remix.
Anyway…

Drenge – Running Wild
The Human League – Being Boiled
Richard Hawley – Open Up Your Door
Longpigs – On & On
Comsat Angels – Independence Day
The Crookes – Bear’s Blood
Babybird – Good Night
Moloko – Sing It Back (Mousse T’s Feel Love remix)
Pulp – Sorted For Es And Wizz
Heights Of Abraham – Boogie Heights
J*S*T*A*R*S – Spanish Hustle
Bromheads Jacket – Clear To Some
Future Loop Foundation – Sunshine Philosophy
The Last Shadow Puppets – My Mistakes Were Made For You
High Hazels – French Rue
Eccentronic Research Council – Another Witch Is Dead
Nai Harvest – Sick On My Heart
The Sherlocks – Escapade
Faerground Accidents – She Makes Me Want To Die
Mike Hughes – (That Girl Is…) Misery
Best Friends – Happy Anniversary
Arctic Monkeys – Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
Cabaret Voltaire – I Want You (12″ mix)
Slow Club – Two Cousins
65daysofstatic – Radio Protector
Milburn – Send In The Boys
Screaming Maldini – Summer, Somewhere
Low Duo – Kiss In The Lamplights
Hey Sholay – Wdyrwmtb
Reverend & The Makers – The Machine
ABC – All Of My Heart
Heaven 17 – (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang
The Long Blondes – Once And Never Again
I Monster – Daydream In Blue
Kings Have Long Arms – F1 Nymphomaniac
Guru – Lost Souls
Derek Bailey – Sheffield FC
Richard Hawley – Leave Your Body Behind You
The Sweet Nothings – 32 Feet Per Second Per Second
BabyPinkStar – Let’s Start Now
Honeyroot – Radiant
Smokers Die Younger – Yer Actual
Spoonfed Hybrid – Heaven’s Knot
Fauxstar – Star
Libitina – My Heart’s Kingdom
World Of Twist – The Storm
Young Peculiar – More Curious Than Certain
The Dylans – Love Vibration
The Anti Group – Broadcast Test
Jarvis – Running The World

Have a read, have a listen, prepare to lose a day.

The NYC playlist

Something I did for In Bed With Maradona who are, at time of writing, having a New York City love-in is a 50-track Spotify playlist. Prompted by a tweet from someone who can’t get Spotify where they are, I figured I’d write a bit about it, but first here’s a track listing.

Sonic Youth – Sugar Kane
Anthony Naples – Tusk
Miss Mobile Home – Phototaxis
Interpol – Untitled
Beverly – Honey Do
Pharmakon – Bestial Burden
New York Dolls – Personality Crisis
The Strokes – New York City Cops
Swans – A Little God In My Heart
Holy Ghost! – Dumb Disco Ideas
Rob Swift – Some Laid Back Cool Shit
LCD Soundsystem – North American Scum
Willy Mason – I Got Gold
The Phenomenal Handclap Band – The Unknown Faces At Father James Park
Schizo Fun Addict – Solon
Tom Tom Club – Downtown Rockers
Friends – Va Fan Gör Du
Ramones – California Sun
Talking Heads – Once In A Lifetime
The Drums – Best Friend
Darwin Deez – You Can’t Be My Girl
Lotion – Famous Redheads
Luna – Sideshow By The Seaside
Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Blank Generation
Cults – I Can Hardly Make You Mine
Phantogram – Nothing But Trouble
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll
Scissor Sister – Comfortably Numb
The Velvet Underground – What Goes On
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Higher Than The Stars
Mantronix – Got To Have Your Love
Charlie Parker – Summertime
Buddy Rich – Mexicali Noise
Grandmaster Flash – The Message
KRS-One – Sound Of Da Police
Beastie Boys – Intergalactic
Parquet Courts – Stoned And Starving
Grizzly Bear – Speak In Rounds
Bear In Heaven – The Sun And The Moon And The Stars
Hospitality – I Miss Your Bones
TV On The Radio – Caffeinated Consciousness
Diiv – How Long Have You Known
David Byrne – Dance On Vaseline
Harry Nilsson – Coconut
Kelis – Trick Me
Frankie Knuckles – Your Love
Afrika Bambaataa – Planet Rock
Mos Def ft Slick Rick – Auditorium
A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It
Lou Reed – Vicious

Yeah, Frankie Knuckles. I know he made most of his music after he’d moved to Chicago, but he was a New Yorker and he was also ace, so he’s in on a) a technicality and b) because I made the rules.
No Blondie? Well, I do hate to be a cliché. And I was told 50. And you have to end these things somewhere. In hindsight, maybe I’d have ditched The Strokes or Diiv – one of whom has made a total dick of himself on Twitter this week – instead, but hey ho, decision made and I’ll stand by it.
I don’t have a problem if you stick it on shuffle, but there is some sort of order to it. Then again, I’m not expecting anyone to sit through three and a half hours in order to appreciate that. Just play it and enjoy some belting tunes from just some of New York City’s finest artists.

And if you are in a territory where Spotify isn’t available, feel free to recreate it on a streaming service of your choice and we’ll link to it from the IBWM Twitter.

And the best thing? I’ve already started on the playlist for the next IBWM assignment.