The Beat – Hands Off She’s Mine/Twist and Crawl Go-Feet Records FEET 1 1980 UK
The first time I heard The Beat was at a fun fair in Didcot, on the site of where the football club used to be. I was standing by the Dodgems thinking what great fun it looked, but unable to have a go as I didn’t have money, as was so often the case. I would have been 13 years old. Blasting out of the dodgems sound system came this and it sounded amazing.
The whole ska revival was really vibrant following hot on the heels of punk as it did and reaching back into a musical past that your typical white boy living in middle England would have no idea about. 40 years later I’m listening to and buying some of those songs that were covered and given new life and a new audience.
Dreaming – Blondie Chrysalis CHS 2350, CHS2350 1979 UK
Now you may be thinking “Of all the Blondie tracks you chose this one?”, to which I will answer, no. I’m not limiting the box to one 45 per artist, this may, or may not be, the first one I picked up off the pile as I am not really doing these in any order, even though they are numbered. The numbers are meaningless.
“When I met you in the restaurant you could tell I was no debutante You asked me what’s my pleasure, “A movie or a measure”? I’ll have a cup of tea and tell you of my dreamin’ “
There was a period from the late seventies into the mid eighties when Blondie ruled the charts and pretty much everything they released went top 10, they were unavoidable, quite rightly, as they were an amazing singles band, and, of course, Parallel Lines (which this isn’t from) is one of the best albums ever.
Tubeway Army – are ‘friends’ electric? Beggars Banquet BEG 18 1979 UK
That this still sounds fresh to me even today is testament to the impact it had when it was originally released. There has been much talk about Numan appropriating this or that from various places, but nobody did this like he did this.
I had a load of singles once upon a time but I gave them away when I was 16 and moved to a new town, that is a regret I have as I can’t remember now what half of them were, but each one was so carefully chosen as they cost all the money I had.
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Christine Polydor 2059 249 1980 UK
I remember well the first time I heard this single, it sounded so rich and full and was one of those songs where you just picked up the needle when it had ended and put it back to the start to listen to it all over again. I don’t think I ever played the B-Side, Eve White/Eve Black until today, which is a shame as it’s really very good.
So good in fact that I’ll include it below as well, with the added information that I liked it much better on the second listen. Thinking about it, I may have never heard the B-side because U may not have had my own copy at the time and listened to it several times at a friends house, which, as I’ve mentioned before, was a thing in the pre-internet days.
The Beatles – Hey Jude/Revolution Apple Records R 5722 1968 UK
I loved the Beatles as a kid, and there’s a lot I still like about them now, however, after hearing it for almost 50 years I bloody hate Hey Jude, all those nah, nah nah, nana nah nah’s bore me senseless, they just go on too long and when McCartney plays it live I am just hoping he will stop soon. So why is it here? Because I love the B-Side of this single, Revolution, it is a single I had when quite young and I played that B-Side over and over again, it just rocks, and I do prefer a Lennon vocal to a McCartney one.
Imagine then, my disappointment when I first heard Revolution No.9, I was expecting a kick ass extended version and I got the cutting room floor tapes randomly glued together. Fortunately I still love this B-Side version, and though the copy I have is rather battered and bruised, it still plays well enough.
I went to Stratford Upon Avon record fair today and it was pretty big, there were certainly a lot of stalls there. I wandered around for about 90 minutes, speaking to absolutely nobody as I did some crate digging and, sadly, finding nothing that I really wanted. The more I go to record fairs the less I seem to find and, to be honest, I’m enjoying it less and less.
The problem for me is that there are certain records that I’m looking for and, more often than not, I don’t find them and when I do thy are often more than I am prepared to pay. An example today was Alpha Centuri by Tangerine Dream, I nearly bought it but it was £20 and didn’t have a gatefold sleeve. I can go on to discogs right now and get a near mint gatefold copy for £10.99 plus shipping, so why buy the one at the record fair?
It’s also often quite annoying. The whole front of a stall was blocked by people and I waited patiently to get to the one crate I was interested in, then I waited less patiently and after 10 minutes I went to another stall, came back 10 minutes later and the same guy was still microscopically checking every album in the crate even though he didn’t seem to have any intention of buying them, he was on a rather odd mission it seemed. So I never looked in that crate and left wondering if it was the one that held a record that I might buy.
There was another stall that had a lot of records, all in yellowing plastic sleeves containing quite ordinary records that were listed as mint despite the ringwear and scuffed covers. Perhaps they were mint when he got them and he has been carting them around record fairs for decades.
I am less and less inclined to go to record fairs, which is a shame, but I think there’s a much better chance of finding something good in a used record shop than at a fair.
I decided yesterday to create a box of singles that represents my music listening life up to 1983, when I turned 16. The box will contain 7″ singles that I either owned, wanted or that friends owned and each one will have a note explaining why it is in the box. I will, eventually, give it to my son so that he can put it in the attic, forget about it and one day throw it away without looking at it when having a clear out.
I have about 40 singles for the box already and will be picking at random for this series of posts. So here we go, 7″ number 1:
Toyah – IEYA
There is every possibility that the lyrics to this song are completely meaningless having been constructed by throwing darts at a copy of National Geographic, but I don’t care. I was 13, it was sort of punk and I liked it. It is probably the only song of hers that I can say I really, really like, though many of the other Punk-pop releases she did are perfectly listenable and there was a period here in the UK when Toyah was all over the singles charts. She’s very likeable, and clever, as well as, at the time, being a bundle of endless energy.
I honestly don’t know why but listening to that again now I got chills. It must just connect me to that specific time in my life. It looks a bit corny in places now but it was sort of cool at the time.
Zion, Zooberon, Necronomicon, Zion Zooberon, Necronomicon
I decided to go after all but not early. The first person arrived at 10 PM the night before apparently and it’s a small shop so it takes ages to get people in and back out the door. I eventually wandered in to town at lunch time, arriving at Seismic around 1 PM to stand in a queue about 10 deep for 15 minutes before getting in, which was nice.
I was only expecting to get 1 of the records I wanted, as I was arriving so late and that was the The Future Sound Of London release as they never seem to sell that well around here.
Which is exactly what I was expecting to find, so that was good. £27, not so good for a single album, but these things are always expensive on RSD. I then immediately found this:
Also on my list, so I’d got 2, which means the day is going much better than expected rather quickly. And then a third from my list was right there in a box on the floor at my feet:
So I’m happy at this point but conscious that the cost is increasing every time I find something. Still, I got 3 and didn’t have to get up early so, on balance, all is good. Then I found these:
That was my budget blown, however, I had managed to obtain everything I set out to get with no real effort whatsoever. I didn’t even go to Head, the other record shop, because at this point I had no reason to. Then, somebody still queuing outside sent a question in to ask if the Olafur Arnalds album was still available, apparently it was and as it was 6th on my list if I could afford it (I couldn’t) I found it and got that as well (there was more than 1 copy so the guy outside would have got his). Then I stopped, because I knew there was more I could get and I really had completely blown my budget. But I was very, very happy to have everything I wanted.
Stu, who runs Seismic, did a fantastic job under what are difficult circumstances for such a small space.
This has been around for a while but I don’t recall ever mentioning it so I’m going to do so now. Somebody played Jolene by Dolly Parton at the wrong speed and it actually sounds pretty cool, like an indie folk band with a male singer did a cover version of it.
And here is a pretty good mash up.
There are loads of remixes of this track and, while not a fan of Dolly Parton, I think it fair to say she’s a good songwriter, just look at ‘I will always love you’, not my cup of tea, but a massive world wide hit for Whitney Houston.
Finally, because it also puts an entirely different spin on a Parton song, here are The White Stripe, also performing Jolene.
Gillian Welch is a person, but also a duo, they are Gillian and husband Dave Rawlings, although they aren’t actually married, who occasionally record as Dave as well. Clear? Good, then I’ll continue. This is their 5th album as Gillian Welch and the first to be release on vinyl, and what a release. There are many people who say vinyl is best others who disagree and sometimes either can be right, but in this case the vinyl is perfect. There are a number of reason for this, firstly the music lends itself to the format as it is limited in instrumentation and there is no requirement for many overdubs. Secondly, it was recorded using old analogue equipment, which again lends itself to the format. When I say old analogue this is from the microphone to the amps to the desk to the tape, proper old school, and it shows. My ears are not as good as they used to be but I can still hear the difference.
I’ve mentioned before about a Billy Holiday album I have that was recorded in the 50’s, it sounds amazing, as though we are in the same room, The Harrow and the Harvest has the same feel about it. Another nice touch, for the CD version at least, was that the covers where letter pressed, which is something I’ve tried my hand at (it’s difficult) and individually coffee stained to give them an aged look. It’s small touches like this that makes this album special throughout. That and they released it on their own Acony record label.
I saw them at Warwick Arts Centre on the tour promoting this album and it was captivating, so engrossed was I that it came as a complete surprise to me when it ended as I had lost track of time. Just two people with guitars, no light show, no pyrotechnics and it was amazing. That’s the set list from the night above.
Now I fully understand that a lot of people are turned off at the mere suggestion of Country music, and while you could throw this album into that category I find it sits better in Americana. These are pretty dark songs, not about pick up trucks and other country tropes, they are often delicate and have a seam of sadness running through them, they are beautifully constructed and performed.
I have to share this about Dave Rawlings guitar playing,
Rawlings achieves his signature guitar sound flatpicking a small archtop guitar. The 1935 Epiphone Olympic that has been his primary instrument was a mid-priced guitar for its time, with a carved arched solid sprucewood top, carved arched solid mahogany back and mahogany sides. It sold for about $35 in 1935. The guitar’s lower bout measures 13 5/8 inches wide, and it has three piece f-holes.[
Rawlings “scavenged” the guitar from a friend’s attic and is now hardly seen playing anything else. As he states, “I just picked it up. It was filthy, and it didn’t have strings. You could just see the shape of it under the sawdust.” Rawlings tuned it and brought it to a recording session for the Welch’s first record. “As soon as I heard it through the microphone and through the speakers I was like, ‘I love this guitar.'” he says.
The New Yorker‘s Wilkinson described Rawlings as a “strikingly inventive guitarist” who plays solos that are “daring melodic leaps”. A review in No Depression by Andy Moore observed that Rawlings “squeezes, strokes, chokes and does just about everything but blow into” his guitar. He’s not flashy, but he is an extraordinarily emotive guitar player.
Dark Turn Of Mind
The Way It Will Be
The Way It Goes
Down Along The Dixie Line
Six White Horses
The Way The Whole Thing Ends
When Welch’s first two albums came out, critics questioned the authenticity of her music, having grown up in Southern California but performing Appalachian themed songs. This is, of course, complete crap and The Wall Street Journal’s Taylor Holliday said it best: “Stingy critics give Ms. Welch a hard time because she’s a California city girl, not an Appalachian coal miner’s daughter. But as Lucinda or Emmylou might attest, love of the music is not a birthright, but an earned right. Listen to Ms. Welch yodel, in a tune about that no-good “gal” Morphine, and you know she’s as mountain as they come.“
It’s been 8 years since this was released and it is high time that a new album was released, which could include a new track for which they received an Oscar nomination. They lost out to a song from ‘A Star Is Born’ which, in my opinion is rather formulaic, but even being nominated is pretty damn good. The song is the theme to the Coen Brothers’ Western anthology The Ballad of Busters Scruggs, the song soundtracks a pivotal gun battle between Tim Blake Nelson’s titular gunfighter and the upstart “The Kid,” played by former Old Crow Medicine Show member Willie Watson. Nelson’s character tragically loses, and he and “The Kid” duet on the song as Scruggs is lifted into heaven. Welch and Rawlings recently released their own version of “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings” earlier this month. The video is their understated but wonderful performance at the Oscars ceremony.
I think it pretty obvious by now that I highly recommend this and all their albums. There’s something very endearing about them and they connect brilliantly with their audience, like below on a Neil Young cover:
I’ve included below an hour long concert for the BBC performed at St Lukes in London, because it is quite brilliant.
Finally, a Radiohead cover, that’s right, Radiohead. Heaven.
This was released in 2012 and, I guess, it would be classed as a mini album, having only 5 tracks and clocking in at only about 18 minutes, maybe it’s just a 12″ single, anyway, I’ve had it a while and I write about it now as I remembered something I had forgotten, which is that I’ve been to the war rooms in London. Having had a little ponder about that I listened to this and now here I am writing about it.
I was there for a seminar or conference, I can’t even remember what it was about now, but we had a tour of the place, some of which you can see in the picture above (which is behind glass, you can’t actually go inside that bit). They are called Churchill War Rooms and are one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. Construction of the Cabinet War Rooms, located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, began in 1938. They became fully operational on 27 August 1939, a week before Britain declared war on Germany. The War Rooms remained in operation throughout the Second World War, before being abandoned in August 1945 after the surrender of Japan.
My best guess is that I was there around 18 years ago, it was rather fascinating and it is worth a look around if you are ever in the area. I don’t know if the Public Service Broadcasting album is a direct reference to these rooms, but it probably is as the subject matter is the second world war.
PSB (Not the Pet Shop Boys) have a style that they stick quite rigidly to, namely a sort of post/kraut rock instrumentation overlaid with vocal samples usually taken from original sources. For example, Tracks 1, 2 & 4 contain samples from films of the same name and track 3 contains samples from ‘The First Of The Few’. When these are then combined with archive footage they become more powerful, such as when used as the below:
This happens to be a style that I rather like, although I know there are many that feel it is limiting and, perhaps, more of the same for each release. I came across them via their last full album, Every Valley based around the demise of the Welsh Mining Industry, which was something I had an understanding of and an empathy with. I’ve bought earlier albums as well, and there is a Titanic related release out now, and I still haven’t lost interest, so I’ll probably get a copy. We all like what we like and don’t like what we don’t like, and I like this, History and music combined, it is a potent combination.
I’ve actually read accounts of people leaving PSB gigs in tears, so touched where they by what they’s just witnessed, and I think I understand that. While reading a book gives us information or watching a film draws us in, there is something about music in combination with these that make people feel, actually feel, and it manifests itself in different ways for different people.
A momentous thing occurred, I got my laptop back, I missed it so much. As a result I am finally getting around to my list of the best albums of 2018. As in previous years I have to have listened to them. Im sure there are a load of great albums out there that I just haven’t heard, but all those in the list below I have and, in most cases, own a copy of my own. Now you can just quickly scroll through if you like, I don’t mind, but there’s an accompanying track to listen to for each album, and they are worth a listen. Feel free to disagree or point out something I may have missed or that I really should be listening to.
37 – Poliça ft s t a r g a z e – Music for the Long Emergency
I’m a big fan of Poliça and have another collaboration of theirs that they did with s t a r g a z e, although it was an instrumental re-imagining of a Steve Reich piece. I prefer the tracks with the more aggressive distorted vocals than the cleaner more melodic vocal tracks but it’s a decent release. The track below is the more melodic side of things developing into a rather avant-garde instrumental.
36 – Jimi Hendrix – Both Sides Of The Sky
The Hendrix vault is surely now empty, but this is a rather good way to bring it to a close. His version of ‘Mannish Boy’ is fabulous and the production trickery that has been used to make the tracks sound somewhat more contemporary work very well indeed, and it’s a previously unreleased recording which was the first ever studio session by the group Hendrix would christen as his Band Of Gypsys.
35 – Thom Yorke – Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film)
This is Yorke’s first full length film soundtrack and he decided it would be pointless to replicate or reference the soundtrack of the original Suspiria by Goblin, instead, he cited inspiration from the 1982 Blade Runner soundtrack, musique concrète artists such as Pierre Henry, modern electronic artists such as James Holden, and music from the film’s 1977 Berlin setting, including krautrock acts such as Faust and Can. There’s only one vocal performance on this soundtrack, but that is sort of what one would expect.
34 – Gabe Gurnsey – Physical
I have the 1200 limited Rough Trade copy of this, and I didn’t buy it by choice as such, it was part of the monthly record club subscription, but I really like it. This is his debut album and, supposedly, is meant to represent a night out in a club. I’m too bloody old to know if that works or not but the whole thing is very listenable while sitting in my armchair as well, so perhaps it doesn’t, who knows? Not me.
33 – Mogwai – Kin (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Another soundtrack, from a film I’ve never seen, but it’s Mogwai and I like Mogwai a lot, so not having seen the film isn’t really a problem for me. KIN is a movie about a futuristic bazooka that can blast walls out of buildings and instantly turn people into dust, sounds fun, though the soundtrack is seemingly somewhat understated for that plot line. I can listen to Mogwai on a loop for days and for me this is just more of their music to listen to, which makes me happy.
32 – Ólafur Arnalds – re:member
Arnalds is the guy who did the music for the TV series, Broadchurch, which is quite marvellous. If you get a chance to watch the show listen out for his soundtrack. This album of 12 tracks is utterly beautiful to listen to and experience. It’s what classical music, so named I suppose for its timeless nature, is today, using electronic instruments and programming to create what is almost the bottled essence of beauty.
31 – Eels – The Deconstruction
I’ve been meaning to buy a copy of this for quite a while, though I’ve listened to it a lot. There’s a a double 10″ yellow vinyl in my local record store, soon it may be mine. This album reminds me a lot of ‘Daisies of the Galaxy’, which is probably my favourite Eels album, in that the songs are instantly likeable and, to quote pitchfork, “It feels like a career-straddling greatest hits collection in which all the ‘hits’ are brand new.”
30 – Suede – The Blue Hour
I came late to Suede, although I knew many of the earlier tracks from hearing them on the radio. My charity shop trawl for cheap CD’s have turned up 3 or 4 Suede CD’s and I’ve given them a good listen, and there was a good documentary on a couple of months ago as well. As a result I came at this album from a different angle than I previously would have. It’s an album of lush songs and quirky flourishes and it harks back to the past while remaining contemporary.
29 – David Byrne – American Utopia
An album that received mixed reviews on its release but I like it, it has plenty of Byrne oddness and some pretty good tunes as well. “Everybody’s coming to my house” with Brian Eno is a highlight but the whole thing hrks back to Talking Heads to a degree without actually being them.
28 – Neneh Cherry – Broken Politics
Neneh Cherry has never really seemed to me to have been taken as a serious artist, in general terms at least, but her work with Four Tet on this, and her previous release, are a long way from her hits of the 80’s. There are some misses on the album but when it woeks it really works. Side note: Cherry sang the backing vocals on The The Slow Train To Dawn by THE THE in 1987.
27 – Idles – Joy As An Act of Resistance
I’ve had so much trouble deciding about this album. Do I get it? Do I actually like it, is it any good? Well here it is at number 27 in my albums of the year so the answer is self evident, sort of. It’s bullish, aggressive and angry but that is exactly the sort of thing I was listening to in the late 70’s, and since to be honest, though not exclusively. While I find Sleaford Mods somewhat one dimensional, and there is a fair comparison between them and Idles I think, this album is at least 2D, drifting occasionally into 3.
26 – Gorillaz – The Now Now
A surprise release really, so hot on the heels of Humanz. For this album there are less guest spots, limiting themselves to only two tracks this time, with opener ‘Humility’ containing the unmistakable guitar work of George Benson and Snoop Goog & Jamie Principle on ‘Hollywood’. There was soe criticism of Humanz for the number of guest spots but I was OK with it, on the other hand, this release works really well with jut a few.
25 – Here Lies Man – You Will Know Nothing
I have the Indie Stores release of You Will Know Nothing, and though I loved the previous debut album, this is even better than the debut. It has much more light and shade, much more variation between tracks to keep the listener interested and, perhaps, provide for more repeated listenings. The Indie Only release is a blue splatter vinyl, and very nice it is too. Officially it is, according to the record company:- “very limited u.k ‘light blue clear’ exclusive indies only lp”. I’ve no idea how limited, they don’t say.
24 – Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile
This album was nominated for the 2018 Mercury prize and while I have nothing against winners ‘Wolf Alice’, this is a better album, and more relevant as it celebrates women of colour (their words not mine) who may not be all that well known, such as Nanny, queen of the Maroons, who presided over a spectacularly successful guerrilla force of escaped slaves, or Yaa Asantewaa, an Ashanti queen who resisted the white colonialists, Boudicca-style. It is also rather anti-monarchy, which is something I personally struggle with, seeing pros and cons of our current set up. Regardless, give it a listen, its really very good. Oh, and the album title is a reference to David Icke i think.
23 – The Shacks – Haze
I happen to be rather pre-disposed to a whispered female vocal so that was a plus from the start, think Stina Nordenstam if she was shouting, so very whisperery is she, and that is close to Wise’s vocal throughout the album. To make comparisons, or perhaps more bits that made me think of other bands, I felt bits of The Sundays, The Cranes and the aforementioned Stina Nordenstam. I’m also reminded of Death & Vanilla at times, and I love Death & Vanilla so there are elements of several bands/artists that I really like popping up throughout the tracks on this album.
22 – SRSQ – Unreality
This one is still fairly new to me having seen it mentioned on a youtube video I was watching a month ago, but I’ve listened to it an awful lot since then and that says a lot as if I thought it crap I wouldn’t. It’s fair to say that there are quite strong influences from early 4AD bands and I hear Cocteaus, This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance floating around, but I love them so I’m going to be predisposed to like this album.
21 – Poppy Ackroyd – Resolve
Neo Classical is a thing nowadays, which is fine by me, as a genre I like it. Poppy Ackroyd, who is also a member of Hidden Orchestra, uses piano and other instruments differently to most, using them as a percussive element and incorporating looping at times as well as other devices to produce some sublime music. I have all her solo work so I am completely biased, but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong, listen for yourself.
20 – Janelle Monae – Dirty Computer
Prince comparisons will always be made for Monae, she’s got The Purple One’s punk, mad-scientist approach but creates a world all of her own with rap, soul, pop, R&B, space-rock and whatever the hell she wants really. This album pretty much dispenses with her alter ego and she presents songs as herself, and a very interesting self it is.
19 – Aphex Twin – Collapse EP
Technically an EP, by virtue of the fact that it is one, however, I’m including it anyway, because I can. There is an intricacy to the tracks that make them perhaps more interesting than some of his other recent releases and, I think it fair to say, he is in a class of one when it comes to this genre, to the point I’m not entirely sure what the genre is.
18 – Bodega – Endless Scroll / Witness Scroll
The band are from New York and the album was recorded and produced by Austin Brown of Parquet Courts and if you like them, you might well like this, although there are a 100 different influences seemingly informing the music, some I can’t quite identify, while others are easier to spot, such as The Fall or Wire. It’s an amalgamation of post punk, contemporary pop, hip-hop, krautrock, and folk-derived narrative songwriting which congeal into a rather pleasant mess, of sorts.
17 – The Future Sound Of London – My Kingdom Re-imagined
A re-release for record store day 2018, I have the original from 1996 and this is quite different even though it i the same. I’m aware that makes no sense but it’s true. A mini album more than a 12″ inch single, the tracks are updated, in both production and arrangement to give something recognisable but new, there, that makes more sense.
16 – Public Image Ltd – Concert: Live At The Brixton Academy 27.5.86
Another RSD 2018 release which I added to my now quite extensive P.I.L collection. As with any live album, it captures a moment in time and this particular moment was when P.I.L where actually impacting the singles charts with tracks like Rise, included in this set. I could be wrong, I could be right, I like it though.
15 – Daniel Blumberg – Minus
Blumberg is an English artist, musician, songwriter and composer who has released music under a variety of names, including Yuck, Hebronix, Oupa, Heb-Hex, and Guo, of which I have heard of exactly none. He has also collaborated with musicians including Low, Silver Jews, Lambchop, Neil Hagerty, Seymour Wright, Terry Day, Jad Fair and Norman Blake, of whom I have heard of exactly some. This is an album of fingernails down the blackboard and tiny, fragile beauty, each perfectly placed. I saw the title track performed on Jools Holland, a wonderful performance, and it was rather nice knowing who the hell he was having already received and listened to the album.
14 – Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 – Black Times
I think it reasonable to state that if you hear a song and it makes you go out and buy the album it came from then you are on to something good. This is exactly what happened for me with this. Seun Kuti, youngest son of late and great Fela Kuti, if you don’t know him look him up, Fela died in 1997 and Seun, then only 14 years old, became the lead singer of Egypt 80, continuing his fathers human rights activism through music. This is his fourth album and I’m recommending it to everybody, even if I don’t think they will like it!
13 – Rosalía – El Mal Querer
I like modern flamenco, who knew? Not me for sure, until I was told what genre this actually fell into. Apparently the album is based on a Occitan novel from the 13th or 14th century and documents a toxic relationship where the mans jealousy drives him to imprison a woman. This was part of her degree thesis I believe and the whole album was under her complete control, delivered to the record company for distribution only. It is a triumph.
12 – The Amorphous Androgynous – The Isness (The Abbey Road Version)
This is not a choice based on sales as only 1000 copies were made for Record Store Day 2018 on 180 gram vinyl. I have one, hooray for me. This is basically The Future Sound of London again and the original of this is quite scarce and is relatively expensive because of it. This is a different version but still magnificent.
11 – Fever Ray – Plunge
Swedish singer Karin Dreijer is completely bonkers, which is why I like her. Previously best known as one half of The Knife, alongside her brother, Olof, Dreijer, she has changed quite dramatically from her first solo record, the one which contained the opening music to The Vikings, and this is much more in the pop spectrum at times while still retaining that certain something that shrouds everything in strangeness. It is no understatement to suggest that at some point in the future she will be talked about in the same way that Bjork has been up until now.
10 – Belle & Sebastian – How To Solve Our Human Problems (Part 1 – 3)
Here we are at the top ten, which opens with an album that was released as three 12″ E.P’s, sold separately, or in a box all together. I didn’t know there was a box, I bought them individually which is lovely from a marketing perspective as they were £11 each, so £33 for the album, bit steep but I don’t have regrets. If you like witty, tuneful indie-pop then you will find it here.
9 – Suuns – Felt
I stumbled across Suuns quite by accident a few months after a record store day a couple of years ago. There was a remix album still in the racks so I streamed it in the record shop and bought it, because I liked it. I then bought their next album and then this one. There is something slightly off kilter and dark about Suuns that I can’t adequately articulate, but it makes me like them.
8 – Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
I’m not particularly a fan of Artic Monkeys, not that I dislike them, I just don’t normally pay them very much attention. Radio 6 played a track from this album that I heard in the car and that afternoon I saw it for sale in a supermarket, so I picked up a copy. As Tranquility Base Hotel is a lounge-pop concept record set in a casino piano bar on the moon I think I was quite right to be intrigued by it and though it has had mixed reviews, I salute their desire to try new directions and, personally, I think the songs on it are great.
7 – Lump – Lump
Lump are Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (founding member of Tunng) and they may, or may not, release another album as Lump, but this one record they’ve put out I absolutely love. It came as part of a Rough Trade subscription so it was a complete surprise but I’ve played it, and enjoyed it a lot since it arrived and that, I think, is the best way to decide if an album is actually any good or not. Decide for yourself.
6 – Jack White – Boarding House Reach
As I have all the White Stripes Albums, plus some Dead Weather the Raconteurs and some Jack White solo albums there was a pretty good chance I was going to like this album, and I do. It’s not all hits, ‘Why Walk a Dog/’ leaves me a little cold but otherwise it’s solid. ‘Over & Over’ must have been, to my ears, influenced by Frank Zappa because I hear him all over & over it.
5 – S U R V I V E – RR7400
This was a Record Store Day release 2018 and limited to 1600 copies (I have one). Apparently, according to the hype sticker ‘S U R V I V E pays homage to the Peel Sessions with nine new studio recordings of songs from their live set. In case you aren’t aware 2 of the guys from S U R V I V E created the Stranger Things soundtrack. So, for complete transparency, I absolutely love S U R V I V E, not just the music but becasue of all the analogue synths they use and how, even though it is quite creepy at times, I find it comforting.
4 – Mogwai – Ten Rapid (Collected Recordings 1996-1997)
Another RSD 2018 release, and the last on this 2018 list. Limited to 2000 copies (yes, I do have one) and technically a re-release, although it’s never been easy to get. I do love Mogwai, and they appear in this list twice as a result. This one is a compilation originally released in 1997 that brings together various songs recorded and released between 1996 and 1997. “Tuner”, for example, is a rerecorded version of the band’s March 1996 debut double A-sided single, “Angels versus Aliens” is a rerecorded version of the July 1996 split single with Dweeb. “A Place for Parks” was given away free to attendees of a show in Camden. “I Am Not Batman” was given away free to attendees of the Ten Day Weekend Festival in Glasgow, so none of these are tracks that would easily be found and when I first played it I hadn’t heard them so it is just like a new album to me.
3 – Kamasi Washington – Heaven And Earth
In many ways this album is ridiculous, 5 discs, one of which is hidden, 10 sides of music. Fortunately, it is great music. It can be a little overwhelming as a package but it gives the whole thing longevity when there is so much to discover. Some traditionalists consider his sound derivative, but almost everything is in some way and it feels like elitist crap to me to suggest it. The one true measure of whether music is good or not is made by the individual listening to it, if they like it they like it. And I, and many others, love this album. Opening with ‘Fists Of Fury’, a cover from the soundtrack of the Bruce Lee film is just brilliant, and referencing the video game Street Fighter (video below) is somthing I’m pretty sure traditionalists wouldn’t approve of, but who cares? Not me. It’s an expensive package on vinyl, but get CD’s, stream it, listen and love it.
2 – Solomon Grey – Human Music
I stumbled across Solomon Grey quite by accident when browsing in a record store and finding their debut album, a double, discounted to £6, I took a chance and it paid off massively. Sometimes there a artists who just speak to you and through repeated listenings they just somehow get into your bones, Solomon Grey are one of these artists for me.
Many of the tracks have a cinematic quality, listen to Clouds for example, it really is quite beautiful. I think CultureFly sum it up in this sentence: symphonic electronic indie that sits somewhere between M83, Damien Rice and the Stranger Things soundtrack. If you like your jams as cool and hefty as an iceberg, this is the music for you.
1 – Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt
And here we are at my number 1 album of 2018. I’m always excited at a new Spiritualized release and this time i got the special edition, which comes in a 2-piece card box containing: Orange 140g vinyl, 24 page book & download card. I can’t remember when I last used a download card though. Jason Pierce is Spiritualized and this album is his eighth under that name, but he claims it is the last, if so it’s a damn fine album to end on.
I did see Spiritualized a couple of years ago and it was equally unlistenable and beautiful, 7 minutes of dissonance followed by 7 minutes of joy, and so it went on. It made the overall experience less than satisfactory, unlike this album, which has track after track of greatness. The sognwriting seems to have improved over the course of his career and there is a fragile tenderness evident which tells more than perhaps was intended. Just go and buy it.