After ten years I’ve decided to move this blog on to another place so in future you can find my ramblings at Different Noises.
Hope you’ve enjoyed it here and can join me there…….
After ten years I’ve decided to move this blog on to another place so in future you can find my ramblings at Different Noises.
Hope you’ve enjoyed it here and can join me there…….
Within this top 23 are albums that could have all be number ones in the list – the difference between them in terms of quality is as thin as graphene…..so the numbering is a little arbitrary, I admire them all in equal measure…
23. Robert Forster – Inferno
With a stand out gig at the Band On The Wall, Manchester, amongst an impressive touring schedule and the release of this album and the second Go-Betweens box set this was a stellar year for Robert. Some stand out tunes on this collection.
22. Monkeys In Love – Monkeys In Love Are Ready For The Mountain
Manchester’s best kept secret – they are one of the treasures of the scene and we miss them in a live setting. This was a more considered and contemplative set of tunes compared to the ground breaking and often vituperative Live in New Stoke Newington.
21. Comfort Creature – Comfort Creature
Remarkable music from the highly talented Auður Zoega who combines laminal ambience with glitch to create imaginative soundscapes.
20. Tropical Fuck Storm – Braindrops
The second album from Liddiards post Drones work. Abrasive and thought provoking and with sounds squeezed from guitars that defy description.
19. Rob Snarski – Sparrow & Swan
In the absence of a Blackeyed Susans album we are treated to a real gem from Rob. Some of his best songwriting in play here. The next project on the list is a collection of obscure David McComb tunes!
18. Mark Snarski – I Have To Burn Everything Before I Start Cooking
Sparse, intense, bare emotions in play. Remarkable.
17. Lizard Brain – Stray
An eclectic mix of tunes, lovingly crafted over many months. On the face of it accessible pop but listen to the lyrics and you find a dark underbelly.
16. Mark Corrin – Pub Bin
Seeing Mark doing this live at the start of the year was fun, since then he has started Elastikbande…..he’s promised me a new album in the new year. Lots of people of different stripes loved this very fun and and on topic album.
15. Malcolm Hill & Live Flesh – Harmony & Destiny
This is just a great album with some stand out songs. An album that brings great joy to the listener and with tunes you can hum along to. Great head gear as well.
14. The Seven Twenty – Welcome To Jackson Heights
Relocated to New York Mr Burling branches out and extends his genre spanning reach. As usual with James the hooks are strong and tunes stay in your head for days.
13. Adventures of Salvador – Welcome To Our Village
There are a number of outstanding live bands in the Greater Manchester conurbation at the moment and this gaggle of crazy guys are one of the best. Their second album proved to be a triumph and is one of the best selling releases on German Shepherd Records. It has already made several top 50 lists.
12. The Apartments – Live at L’Ubu
Peter Milton Walsh from a couple of years back doing what he does best.
11 – Lungbutter – Honey
Intense, challenging, noisy, unforgiving, ground-breaking, wonderful….should have been huge.
10 – ATOM – In Every Dream Home
Marvellous – in the absence of new NDE work due to the rhythm section being busy elsewhere (see below) a new project melding the sound of Suicide with Garage brio….great tunes!
9. Sleeping Ducks – The Radio People
Hazel Fairbairn and Moff Skellington making a sound so completely unique that it transcends description, review and hyperbole. A ground-breaking piece of art.
8. On Diamond – On Diamond
I was hooked when I heard the track “How” on Dave Graney’s Banana Lounge Broadcasting. Lisa Salvo’s band takes elements of Sonic Youth and MBV and creates a glorious noise which is topped up with an amazing vocal delivery and incredible melodies.
7. Moff Skellington – The Infrasound Guest
You either get it or you don’t. A lot of people I know and I consider to be proper music fans (rather than just passing listeners) think the man is a genius. Moff has pointed out that I might become some sort of obsessive cartographer of his work, lost in a mossy interlude between reality and a vegetative state brought on by an over ingestion of ooffle dust and cheesey wotsits. In an anti-truth world Eddodi and Abstercot are places of refuge ……….
6. Moff Skellington – Strange Acrylic Night Custard
…as above, this one was a smidgen more Eddodi than the preceding and made it one step up the ladder toward the top of this edifice…….don’t let the cat food touch your hands……
5. The Red Propellers – Pulse Waltz Free Fall
Regular readers will be aware of the esteem in which I hold this band. They will be playing Manchester in the new year alongside The Mind Sweepers – if you miss this gig you are a complete numpty – this is what they sound like live. I’ll see you at The Peer Hat on March 14th…..
4. Four Candles – Nettle Rash
Four loveable mop-tops carving out yet another image on the Mount Rushmore of music. Aided and abetted by Anne and Julia from Matthew Hopkins as The Matches. Progress was halted half way through the year when a heavy object was dropped on the drummers foot. However things are now back on track and new material revealed at a recent gig at Fuel demonstrate they have not lost their hunger. Watch this space for exciting gig announcements!
3. The Red Propellers – No Film In The Camera
James has a grasp of language and delivery that makes this band one of the most important in the UK today. He has a band that provides a perfect platform for his words. A remarkable collection of music with internal/external dialogue.monologue which is breathtaking…..his lyric book recently landed on my door mat and is highly recommended!
JOINT ALBUM OF THE YEAR
……aside from getting all sorts of other awards, and great reviews, Dave and Clare delivered two perfect albums. The outsider rock of Zippa etc with nods to the Stones and any number of 60s bands that you would care to mention, and with a great dual guitar interaction between Stuart and Dave, was the MistLy reaching new areas. The Dave and Clare album moved on from last years “Let’s Get Tight” to new areas demonstrating that they continue to develop and expand what they do. Watching their relentless gigging from the other side of the world makes me hanker for hopefully a UK visit at sometime in the future… thank god for You Tube pending that……..
Dave Graney & The Mistly – Zippa Deedoo What Is/Was That/This?
Graney and Moore taking another step in yet another direction. Rock and roll is where they hide…..
Dave Graney and Clare Moore – One Million Years DC
A more typically Graney/Moore album with angular sideways looks at the world of rock/pop through the slivers of a fractured mirror….
It has been around four years since the last offering from Bolton’s finest band of troubadours Limbs. They tell me they have been hard at work writing lots of music over the last couple of years and new release “Expose Myself” is the first thing to actually be recorded from that period and is to be shared with the world from January 1st 2020 on Bandcamp. I am also advised that there is much more to come, and on the basis of this new five track release, and previous efforts, this is something to look forward to.
All the elements of Limbs music are in place, piano lead chansons, combining the charm of Muswell Hillbillies era Kinks, the theatricality of Bertolt Brecht, a nod towards Jacques Brel, and, the best traditions of English popular music.
On the face of it this might sound/feel like jolly music but detailed examination of the lyrical content reveals subjects varying between criminality, the excesses of rich and powerful men and their sexual peccadilloes, through the loss of traditional landscapes, to relationships and death.
Guest vocalist Helen Taylor (of the uniquely named “Smoking Gives You Big Tits”) provides a perfect foil to Michael Chadwick during the rich and evocative “Love Like Ours” which drips with latest sensuality in the best traditions of Noosha Fox, and is the stand out track on the EP. Having said that the closing “Bad Funeral Poetry” is a tour de force with astute lyrics and a tongue in cheek epic ballad feel to it.
If you need a break from the usual tosh pumped out on the 6Music playlist and wish to bathe in luxurious well written popular song-craft then I recommend you seek this out. While you are at it check out the previous releases from this talented group of musicians.
see also : The Planets, Neuron No
It is that time of year again when I reflect on the last 12 months and select my favourite 50 albums of the year. 2019 has been a particularly strong year and whilst there is a list in number order to fit some sort of format they could probably all be equally ranked as the standard has been so high.
As with last year Australian artists and bands, particularly those from Melbourne, have dominated reflecting the impressive music scene in that city. Local bands to me, here in Greater Manchester, have also made the list, not just because they are my friends and associates but because of the quality of their output.
It’s an eclectic mix reflecting the nature of the Aural Delights Radio show and my listening tastes. I don’t expect people to agree with this, it is subjective, by I hope you find something in this and the next programme that you might have missed, or has slipped from your memory.
50. Tomistoma – Distances
Cai Brown’s distinctive approach has echoes of early 70s rock, which couples with kosmische, krautrock and space rock, as well as the core intent of bringing doom into the mix. This sixth release, in just under a year and a half , demonstrates a fertile imagination. It takes me back to the heady days of early Atomic Rooster whilst embracing modern sounds and a forward looking approach. The two EPs he released this year were just as good.
49. The New Fools – Brilliant
Tony Jenkins is one of those polymath musicians who appears all over the Cambridge music scene in a variety of guises. As well as running Everlasting Records, he can be found further up this chart as part of Lizard Brain, and, in another guise in the duo Kammahav. This debut album from his pop/rock band was packed with melodies and hooks and clever songwriting. As usual with Tony there is something dark and mysterious lying just below the surface of the songs with lyrics that venture into places which don’t quite fit with the pop sensibility of the accompanying music.
48. The Coathangers – The Devil You Know
A year of relentless touring for this energetic trio with a sixth album, a three year gap since the last one lead to some expectation. The contrast of Julia and Stephanie’s vocals creates a tension in the music that takes them above and beyond guitar lead music of this ilk. Their polemical approach, especially on the major issues of the day in a post-truth world, is as vital as it is entertaining.
47. Tombstones In Their Eyes – Maybe Someday
Los Angeles psych-rockets who manage to break the glass ceiling of so many other bands who get labelled in this way and who have developed their own sound. This was the first long-play from them since their debut release ‘Sleep Forever’ in 2015. This album comes on the heels of some deserved critical acclaim. Shoegaze, stoner and post-rock are all in there somewhere but a new sound manages to emerge from that melange of styles.
46. Prettiest Eyes – Volume 3
Another L.A. band. This trio were compared to Suicide in one review, also being described as post-industrial (I don’t know what that means and I can’t be bothered to look it up as I have another 30+ reviews to write). Suffice to say it was suitably different to my ear which has been deluged with an awful lot of very similar sounding music this year none of which was as good as this.
45. Plastic Crimewave Syndicate – Massacre of the Celestials
My chums at Cardinal Fuzz sent a lot of new music through this year, most of it of a very high quality. This stood out as being suitably wacky and irrelevant with it’s Zappa/Gong approach to melding disparate elements together to create a fun sound. Talarie Peterson of the wonderful Spires That In The Sunset Rise (which seeps over from my Jazz Show territory) adds a wonderful counterpoint to the psychedelic freak out madness. Check out the six other items on their Bandcamp page. You won’t be disappointed.
44. Peter Jefferies – Last Ticket Home
A living legend of New Zealand underground music, from his seminal bands Nocturnal Projections and This Kind of Punishment, to his collaborative efforts in bands such as Plagal Grind and Two Foot Flame, he is perhaps best known for his solo work on “The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World” (1990) and “Electricity” (1994), as well as numerous other albums. This compilation contains rare singles, both released and unreleased, radical live interpretations, and a wealth of never released material dating from 1991-2019. An utterly unique sound and a compelling listen.
43. Low Dose – Low Dose
Featuring the final lineup of cult noise-rock band Fight Amp with the addition of vocalist Itarya Rosenberg of the Legendary Divorce, this Philadelphia band play heavy, grunge-tinged punk, the melodic side of noise rock, with comparisons with Slint and PJ Harvey being made in reviews and promo.
42. Jump For Neon – Vicious Tricycle
Ex-pat Welshman, now residing in China, William Gray never disappoints with his impressive song-craft and attention to detail. The follow up to the excellent “Put Me Down Dinosaur” continued a run of quality releases.
41. Imperial Wax – Gastwerk Saboteurs
The last three long standing members of the last decade (or so) of The Fall continue with an impressive debut filled with trademark riffing and attack. I was prepared to be disappointed but was impressed by the forward steps that they had taken with this collection, demonstrating of course that MES always had the ability to surround himself with good players.
40. Hanterhir – Our Hour
Difficult to follow up last years memorable Saving of Cadan but they managed to do some with two great albums. This is one of them. A class act and with their own Cornish perspective on music. They don’t seem to do Bandcamp (unless I am missing something) so here’s a track from the album.
39. Enablers – Zones
I think this is their 11th release, and I sort of lost track with them after 2011’s Blown Realms and Stalled Explosions which the promo company sent me multiple copies of for some reason. Anyhow that’s by the by – poet, writer, and narrator Pete Simonelli makes the difference here with a world weary take on some of the darker aspects of life. Narrative delivery is a thing I am particular fond of (as will be evidenced later in this listing). Notwithstanding that the music is pretty damn fine as well. Another band with a huge catalogue of work which deserves wider exposure.
38. Alex Spencer – Shine
Her second album finds Alex working with a jazz trio to create a great folk/rock/jazz mix which doesn’t stray into the middlemass of the mundane, and has some fascinating song craft. An album about juxtapositions and metamorphosis, the recording of the vocals creates an unearthly xenochronous vibe across the piece.
37. Butch Bastard – I Am Not A Man
Butch Bastard was born when this singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, performer, producer, and director uprooted his life from Seattle to Los Angeles in 2014 and started recording tracks from the comfort of his bedroom. 10 self-produced compositions performed in character as Butch Bastard along with Josh Tillman, Father John Misty keyboardist Jonathan Wilson, and drummer Mitchell Rowland with additional engineering from Nico Aglietti. A remarkable voice with great songs. Another one who doesn’t do Bandcamp…..so here’s a vid.
36. Charlie Marshall, The Body Electric – Shiny & New
Two years on from the exceptional “Sublime” Charlie concentrates on pop, r’n’b, soul and funk with some great new tunes and a few covers. It was great to host Charlie in Manchester in 2018, he is a wonderful performer, and this collection continues his current run of fine music production. As usual there are a series of strong messages about politics, science and climate.
35. Cosmonauts – Star 69
The fifth album from the Los Angeles pysch fuzz garage heavyweights. Imagine Spacemen 3, The Stooges and The Jesus & Mary Chain with a West Coast drawl added to create a fuzzed up mixed up world.
34. David McClymont – Invisible Volatiles
Ex Orange Juicer and Moodist now based in the backwoods of Australia with a superb collection of tunes. He has featured on Mick Harvey’s albums and of late he has been working with others, notably Momus, but this collection is a solo offering. High quality stuff memorably covered on a rare radio show interview with Dave Graney, who of course made the introduction leading to the album being sent in my direction.
33. Dead Sea Apes – The Free Territory
Out of Stalyvegas with the wind in their sails the Apes again make the chart with their 15th release. More experimental and introspective elements of their work are in play with loops, evolving textures and improvisations used instead of the usual guitar bass and drums set-up . A transitional phase for the group, having been partly recorded with departing bassist Nick Harris. Nik Rayne of The Myrrors also steps in on a couple of tracks. Quality.
32. Dyson Stringer Cloher – Dyson Stringer Cloher
I’m a big Jen Cloher fan so I was bound to pay attention to this. A remarkable debut album some five years on from a country leaning EP. Wilco’s Glen Kotche fills the drum stool duties. Three strong women coming to the fore with vocals to die for and songwriter chops in full effect.
31. Two Lost Souls – Cords and Digits
Paul Rosenfeld and Ian Moss originally worked together on a track on Moss’s Words and Music project. Since that time Ian had been drip feeding me tracks for months with no clear plan, perhaps an EP might have emerged. Over time it grew into a remarkable collection which combines Paul’s guitar lead compositions with Ian’s mostly spoken word narratives. A bit of a change in direction for both artists but the sum of the parts is memorable. A selection of guest bass players make the songs fuller sounding. A few older Moss lyrics are brought back in a new context and sound fresher and more vibrant.
30. Hash Redactor – Drecksound
I think the promo sums this one up nicely…“The band is fronted by guitarist Alec McIntyre of Ex-Cult, with NOTS rhythm warriors Meredith Lones on bass and Charlotte Watson on drums, and rounded off by George Williford on second guitar……. their debut full-length dives into territory that feels distinctly untethered from their lineage and era. Drecksound is a clattering, shambolic oasis in the sleek digital desert of the late twenty-teens.” From my perspective it fills a huge Fall shaped hole in my life.
29. The Woodland Hunters – The Thoughts Of Chairman Jim
I came to this via Sand Pebbles, two members of which are in this band. Melbourne of course! A heady mix of influences from 60’s guitar wig-outs to swamp rock, 70’s jam bands to raw’n’dusty Americana. Anyone who starts an album with a track called “Strange Days For A Presbytarian” is OK in my book. As good as Dream Syndicate at their best with a bit an Elektra 60s vibe going on.
28. Third Eye of Mars – The Secret Language of Seeds
…. or Herbarium Parabolicae ou Língua Secreta das Sementes -the third release from this exceptional Brazilian outfit. Pure psychedelic rock, barking mad in places, but very high quality stuff which comes across as a mix of Amon Duul II and Gong. This requires several listenings to fully appreciate its’ complexity.
27. Jess Ribeiro – Love Hate
Extremely difficult for Jess to follow the exceptional “Kill It Yourself” but four years on she is back with another brilliant album. As with all things Jess one feels the tongue is very firmly in the cheek in parts. She has moved onto a more stripped back mid 70s New York vibe but the trade mark Ribeiro vocals are in play. Amazing that Courtney B has become huge and Jess has not, just as good, if not better in parts.
26. Ember Rev – From The Country To The City To The Sea
The prior release Premonition and Ruin was exceptional, and this mirrors and expands on that. Dan Ecclestone’s songwriting is at its peak at the moment and he has a collection of musicians around him that can realise his singular vision. A narrative spread across an album of songs covering hope, loss and redemption. Remarkable!
25. The Flesh Eaters – I Used To Be Pretty
LA’s unconventional “supergroup”, reunites the classic 1981 lineup of Chris D, Dave Alvin, John Doe, Bill Bateman, Steve Berlin, and DJ Bonebrake for their first new recording in more than 35 years. They haven’t lost a step in the intervening time. A glorious swampy bluesy sexy noise – the mutant offspring of Lux Interior, Iggy Pop, Stan Ridgeway and Fee Waybill with a soundtrack for a Troma Film that would have Lloyd Kaufman salivating pure toxic goo.
24. Shifting Sands – Crystal Cuts
The best thing to come out of Brisbane since The Go-Betweens. A remarkable follow up to the exceptional Beach Coma from four years ago. Emotional intense songwriting and performing, like Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson at their best. Check out some of the performances from their Euro tour of this year – amazing.
Numbers 23-1 to follow in a few days.
Manchester band The Battery Farm have emerged out of the dissolution of long standing The Madding Crowd with a more abrasive sound, a renewed vitality, a clearer vision. The transition from rock into punk is palpable and welcome to these ears.
Their second single presents their self-described doom-punk coherently with a more focused attack on the aural and visual senses, and the distinct sense of a new sound, much needed in a conurbation riddled with tribute bands and resting on it’s musical laurels. Unfiltered and teetering between joyous and angry this is powerful stuff, the sound is primal/basic/exciting, the message is coded in the video with the iconography of “;” being a clear indicator of at least some of thinking behind the piece. Most pleasing is that there is clear intent to strip the sound back to basics and deliver the emotional aspects without clutter.
Warning there are strobe effects on the video.
Ben Corry – Vocals/Guitar
Dominic Corry – Guitar/Vocals
Paul Worrall – Bass/Vocals
Sam Parkinson – Drums
This afternoon I was discussing the recursive nature of music with a good friend and I concluded after much thought , that there possibly four levels of music viz:
The relative merits of each of those categories I’ll leave up to people’s personal tastes. From my perspective I tend to listen mostly to 1. and occasionally 2. Of course it’s probably a lot more complicated than that but I won’t go down that rabbit hole.
The Wraith fall into category 2.
Less than three years since forming this L.A. post-punk band has completed its debut full-length, Gloom Ballet, with Puscifer guitarist/producer Mat Mitchell. The foursome just signed to Southern Lord Recordings, who’ll release the album worldwide on November 29th.
“Southern Lord owner Greg Anderson has been amazing to work with, and we really appreciate his willingness to incorporate a different sound into his roster,” said Wraith guitarist Kaz Alvis.
This album presents a modern take on pre-goth ‘80s UK post-punk (Death Cult, Killing Joke, Chameleons, New Model Army) mixed with SoCal deathrock (T.S.O.L., Samhain) in an interesting combination, with the balance being with the former rather than the latter.
The Wraith was founded by frontman Davey Bales, formerly of Virginia peace-punks Lost Tribe, and Alvis shortly after they separately arrived in L.A. Their irresistibly distinctive sound – skeletal basslines and tribal beats propelling Alvis’ textured swathes beneath Bales’ poetic, anguished bark – immediately gained a following, with homemade demo “Comatic Romance” racking-up thousands of YouTube views.
The Crass like imagery of the cover will not be lost on people old enough to remember Dave King’s iconic designs, somewhat apposite given his recent passing.
West Coast shows honed the songs that became The Wraith’s lauded 2017 EP, “Shadow Flag”. A couple of videos and line-up changes later – the band is now completed by returned drummer Scott Raynor and Brit bassist Paul Rogers –sound earned the ear of Mitchell (who’s also worked with Love and Rockets, The Flaming Lips, Meat Puppets, King Crimson and more).
“The Wraith is a flashback to many of the bands that inspired me to start making music,” said Mitchell. “Given the opportunity to work on an album with them, how could I turn it down?”
With bands like Klammer bringing this sound back to the fore last year, this is probably a timely release. Original lovers of the 80’s- sound will recognise and possibly enjoy this slightly harder edged treatment, newer/younger listeners will enjoy it’s energetic anthemic brashness. I would imagine this is music which works best in a live setting.
Well worth a listen…….. 8/10
In 1974, two Catholic schoolgirls met at the age of 5 over a scabby knee and sang together in praise of the lord, ‘til they discovered Salvation in the form of Hex Enduction Hour. An explosion of hair spray, eyeliner and ideas ensued.
Julia moved to Blackpool and joined the band The Tingletones as singer before moving to Manchester, when she became singer for the short lived Arthur Badfrown Band. A move to London at the turn of the century saw her finally pick up a guitar. Upon returning to Manchester, she joined Government Death Epidemic as guitarist. She has recorded with Craig Scanlon and Steve & Paul Hanley (ex The Fall).
Anne has sang, go-go danced and played tambourine in 60’s- garage outfit The Stags since 2001. They are stalwarts of the garage scene playing around the UK and Europe and worked closely with Frank Sidebottom.
Max, Anne’s son, has been playing drums and guitar with bands since the age of 13. He is currently playing his own material in duo Fibs as well as occupying the drum stool for The Stags.
A hiatus in both womens’ musical projects gave them the chance to get together and get creative – Matthew Hopkins was born in 2016. Max completes the team, bringing exceptional musicality and skill to the bandi
The trio’s marriage of tight harmonies and a post-punk sound gives them a unique sound which is rapidly gaining attention on the Manchester Music Scene.
Anne and Julia have also contributed vocals to Four Candles recent album “Nettle Rash”.
Here is their first release on German Shepherd Records.
And here they are live at Manchester’s Peer Hat Venue…..