I’m sure the world won’t be a better place just because I let it know what my favourite albums of the year are. But I’m pretty confident it will be if everyone listens to them. The normal practice is to select a top 5 or top 10, so here’s my Top 6.
Number 5 Beards – Nature Proper – Ouse Records
So there I was sitting in a Premier Inn in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, looking forward to another boring week spent with the usual crowd of lonely sad people, wondering whether I go with the banality of a night in the Brewers Fayre or spend it alone in my room. The latter usually wins btw. Then I spotted that Witching Waves are touring that week. Can’t be that far I reckon, so off I go to spend an evening with good music at the Crescent in Salford. Witching Waves were brilliant, obviously, but also playing were Beards, a new band to me, from Leeds. It was a moment*, one of those moments that you get now and again if you’re very lucky. They were wonderful and as luck would have it, they were about to release a new album through Ouse Record Label and the Audacious Art Experiment. Nature Proper can best be described as experimental post punk. But only if you feel the need to describe brilliance. I’d prefer to just wallow in the rhythms and be whisked away by the fuzz and distortion of the album. It isn’t just about the funk, oh no. Tracks like Infinite Lawn and Crowds are as heavy as anything else you’ll have heard this year. Tinker Tailor feels like it’s about to fall over at any moment, but somehow always manages to stay on it’s feet and pull you in. Like The Slits, only better. Shocked face emoji. Yes, I did. At C is reminiscent of The Wharves, which is always a good thing. I should say at this point I hadn’t intended to do full reviews here, but as this was an album that I haven’t reviewed before I’ve made an exception. And it deserves it – this is a masterful album and everyone should buy it. If you like The Raincoats, The Slits, Sacred Paws, Pop Group, Nightingales, you’ll love this.
* “moment” description courtesy of Joan Sweeney, who wasn’t there but she’ll get it. Hopefully.
Number 4 La Misma – Kanizadi – La Vida Es Un Mus
One of those albums that makes this old man very happy. And here’s where I get on my high horse and lose friends. Why do so many people my age bother with tribute acts and overweight punk bands from the 70’s when the real thing is still out there? The idea in ’77 was to get rid of the dinosaurs, all you’re doing is feeding them. 21st Century Teddy Boys. I’m not saying don’t go to the gigs, but don’t limit yourself to only looking backwards. Think about today and the future too. Bands like La Misma are the future. They’re here now and they’re just as angry as Johnny was. Kanizadi is as relevant as NMTB, and labels like La Vida Es Un Mus need your support. It’s bands and labels like this that are keeping the spirit alive. File under angry and relevant.
Number 3 Breakfast Muff – The Feels – Number 4 Door Records
This blogging lark can be a bit dodgy at times. No more so than when you choose to review an album by a band that have become friends and released by a label ran by – you’ve guessed it – a friend. Fortunately I’m a very wise person and all of my friends are brilliant so that makes life easier. And even more so when the album is as good as this. Breakfast Muff are definitely funnier than Hole, and they write bloody good songs along with the laughs. Don’t be fooled – they’re serious and they’re good at this music lark. The new songs are sounding brilliant – if I was doing my favourite songs of the year, the 74 second brilliance of I Want To Want To would be in there – but this album is as perfect a debut as anyone could wish for. If you fancy seeing them play live, why not go to 13th Note on January 8th – you never know who you’ll bump into on the door.
Number 2 Seconds/Joya Split lp – Soft Power Records
My first review, and an album that almost 4 months later still gets played in Rage Mansions at least once a week. As you’d expect from Soft Power Records, it’s essential listening that doesn’t quite fit into any particular genre – unless brilliance is a genre. I’m going to say it is. Seconds are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in Glasgow and beyond, and the new songs are sounding immense (watch this space….!) Joya have been through some changes in lineup since I first became aware of them in early 2014, but you’re always guaranteed originality and perfect pop songs. There’s nothing to fault with this album, it’s the perfect mix of pop, rock and stands out in any crowd.
Joint Number 1
Thee AH’s – Names – New Year Records and Kingfisher Bluez
Sauna Youth – Distractions – Upset The Rhythm
I tried – honest. But I just couldn’t do it. You probably couldn’t get two more different albums. Names from Thee AH’s is joyous or joyful or other words with joy in them throughout, but still manages to sound painful. Davinah, Sarah and Dahn’s vocals are perfect – the perfect mixture of hurt and hope. As I wrote recently on Facebook, they’re in serious danger of becoming my favourite band. As far as I’m concerned they can do no wrong, and why the world hasn’t realised that yet is baffling. If you haven’t bought Names yet, please do it now. You’ll feel better and the world will be better. And Davie isn’t about me. That’s a different song yet to be written. They promised (ish).
Distractions had the same effect on me on release, just for different reasons. I said then it was the album of the year and I stand by that perhaps foolhardy statement made 6 months into the year. It’s the first album in years that made me want to jump up and shout at whoever happened to be nearby, just ask our cat, Romeo. It’s controlled aggression, anger with an answer not just questions. We know what we want, just give it to us – NOW! They have a single coming out on Upset The Rhythm in the New Year, you can pre-order it here, and because I like you, you can have a listen below.
Honourable mentions to:-
Green Door Studio Collaborative Recording Project – Youth Stand Up
Storeetellers – The Royal Baeby
the ethical debating society – New Sense
Grubs – It Must Be Grubs
The Spook School – Try To Be Hopeful
Fuzzkill Records – Now That’s What I Call 666 Vol II