Armies of Indifference

It’s been quiet on here of late, blame the weather if you will, or cricket, or beer, or nothing sufficient to moan about, or torpor, or indeed being far too busy on radio show construction and the record label. No excuses, but it does take something annoying, or indeed, irritating, to shake me from my reverie.

Kill Pretty had a song on the as yet unreleased third album which was called “Lotus Eaters”,  a delightful tune which opined on the way folks get sucked into a pseudo-nirvana, well that was my interpretation of it. I can conflate that with a line from “Lie Dream of a Casino Soul” by The Fall in which Mr Smith complains “It’s getting just like that here now, it just goes to show”.

On paper Manchester, like Melbourne,  should be alive with new exciting music, despite the slow demise of venues, the Ruby Lounge is next on the list, and new ones seem to be confined to Ancoats or “the university part of the town” (stop quoting Mark E Smith Bob, it’s getting boring, Editor), but somehow bloated rock gods or tribute bands appear to be sucking all the oxygen out of the “Scene”. Thank , insert deity of your own choice, for The Peer Hat where Nick and Dom are continuing to offer options, although that toilet door on the downstairs gents wants fixing, and that DJ they have on Thursday nights seems to be obsessed with The Clash.

Imagine my inner distress when the “next big Manc thing” sounds like a combination of Joy Division and The Cramps. I won’t mention their name as that’s not the sort of thing I do, but when bands of just post teens sound like “look back bores” (enough with The Fall references already…..Editor) my heart sinks. I wonder if they are all music students who have just completed the module “Post Punk 1980-1983” on their current course.  For god’s sake even the singer is adopting I Curtis mannerisms.  Maybe we have entered a “Post-Tribute” band era where bands mash-up their various tribute tropes to attempt to create a “new sound” but all it ends up sounding like is a mutated version of one or more of the original. Three chords but no big boots this time ….. the sad thing to consider is when the New Romantic re-boot might arrive.

You have to wade through a load of crap to get to the good stuff. Fortunately there is a scene, just under the radar, which, whilst not breaking the 6Music glass ceiling, manages to relieve my irritation. It needs more publicity though.

In this context the people on one the front tables at Shangri-La last Friday Night walk out muttering “a load of shite” three songs into Adventure of Salvadors’ set – when Loop is attacking his theremin with some vigour.  For some reason they were not impressed by a band that continues to offer something fresh and interesting. Their loss and everyone who remains gain. Powering through favourites like “Anne Boleyn” and “Look What You Made Me Do”  the band are on fine form, somewhat disabled by a sound engineer who appears clueless, but managing to get some of the crowd out of their chairs to throw some shapes, even Mr Doyle manages to get into some frug like moves. A new album is due and I await that with some anticipation. They close with “Welcome To My Village” which works well with its’ AoS hat on but if I am honest I do prefer The Junta version.  In timely fashion they will be appearing at the second series of Manchester Meltdown which returns in January, something Mancunian dwelling music lovers should not miss as the impressive line-up below demonstrates. These are the names you should be looking out for, a collection of the well established backbone of the scene, and some fresh new talent. Hopefully by that time Four Candles will have recorded their new album.

I won’t leave so long until the next one of these….

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There’s still some good new music out there….

I’m reconciled to the fact, that due to other commitments, there is probably only going to be one of these every month. Too many distractions prevent focused writing. However, a plethora of excellent new albums have inspired this peroration, and it’s good to share. In one way or another, the releases featured in this blog will find their way into the Aural Delights Radio Show. I offer this information in the hope you might find something interesting to listen to that you might otherwise not be aware of. It might also tempt you to listen to the show. A pleasant aural distraction while you are doing the ironing or whatever.

Such is the nature of music accessibility these days that I am swamped on a daily basis by new releases and keeping up is almost a full-time job.  But I should not complain, I recall the early days of Sounds and looking longingly at the Virgin Records advert in the rear of said august inky news-sheet and wondering how I could ever possibly afford to purchase the likes of Ars Longa Vita Brevis by The Nice,

I digress.

Let’s start with TFS or to give them their full name Tropical Fuck Storm, which is also the name of their record label. Their debut album “A Laughing Death in Meatspace” is remarkable. Emerging from the Drones (the Australian version thereof not the Manc Punkers) the line-up is  Gareth Liddiard guitar and vocals and Fiona Kitschin bass (The Drones), Lauren Hammel (High Tension) on drums and Erica Dunn (Mod Con, Harmony) on guitars, keys and other gadgets. How do you follow up from the excellent last album from The Drones? Well with this amalgam of modern rock music. Liddiard’s laconic vocal style dominates and he has great lyrics. The use of guitars is as always with Liddiard’s work a key feature but is the repetition and layering and song construction that marks this out as a ground-breaking release. The music moves through a variety of types of rock and blues but those conventions of genre don’t do justice to what emerges from this album There are strong elements of rap/urban delivery that seep into the murky corners of rock to create a singular sound. Highly recommended and a strong contender for album of the year.

I find a lot of new music by listening to community radio, there are some great DJs out there and Brad Cain and Dave Hammond are two of the best. Brad works out of Nevis FM once every couple of weeks and is also syndicated to Radio Kaos in Austin Texas. There is a lot of crossover between what Dave, Brad and I do and you’ll often find some similarities between show playlists. A recent show from Brad featured some fascinating music by a band called Ten Million Aliens. They have an album out called “Road Trip (Fall Of The Rebel Angels)”.

I may as well nick their bio from the webpage as it articulates more efficiently than I can about this album

Ten Million Aliens are the latest incarnation of the partnership of musical Übermensch John Senior with producer John Rowley, ex guitarist from John Peel favourite’s Red Guitars. While they are largely unknown outside of their local musical orbit, the pair have worked together for years on some fantastic studio projects including the legendary Lords of Zubos and recently the superb album “On The Beach” from the sadly missed Eddie Smith. Now with the addition of Rich Banks on bass and guitar they have taken it up to another level. Their collective musical credentials over the years include studio and support slots with hundreds of bands from The Smiths, Radiohead, The La’s, Cast, Pulp, Kingmaker, and the Bhundu Boys to The Voice runner up Sally Barker.

The album Road Trip (Fall of the Rebel Angels) has taken two years to complete from inception to master and all the years of studio and live experience of this trio have been pulled together and condensed into the super massive black hole that is their magnificent masterwork. Senior is a simply unstoppable tsunami of musical ideas and improvisational dexterity playing in a bewildering patchwork of styles to create a roller coaster ride into the rotten belly of a dystopian America that has just arrived with perfect timing.

They could never have imagined when they started laying down the tracks two years ago that today America would actually be re living the civil rights struggles and nuclear sabre rattling of the 60s headed up by an orange man/baby who informs his world through Fox News and Twitter.

So what you have in broad terms is the amalgamation of,   sometimes frightening, spoken word from Trumpists, with american musical styles to create an almost cinematic aural confection which both astounds and gives pause for thought. I was reminded of the work of producer Hal Wilner (especially his Mingus/Harry Partch album Weird Nightmare) in the construction and format. It is an astonishing album, both in terms of uncovering some of the dark elements of the American Dream but in its use of that countries music to deliver its message. Again another strong contender for album of the year.

Finding out about The Red Propellers has been difficult. They don’t appear to have penetrated the Google-sphere to any great extent as yet. They appear to be from Bristol or maybe Stroud in Gloucestershire.  They have an album out called “The Fragility of Love: Collected Works” which is stunning.  Vocalist James Dick appears to be channelling either Lennie Bruce or Jim Morrison in many ways but also takes it past the Lizard King ,to an evangelical preacher level indulging in MES style rants with some fervour. There’s also a bit of early VU about them. The band delivers a surging, bubbling, almost funky blues rock bed over which Dick delivers complex and impressive vocal tirades. Three of the tracks on the album come from an EP called “Images” which was released in 2016.

As can be seen from the below guitarist David McEvoy can also create some more off-kilter experimental sounds. I can’t find something from the album to embed but you can track it down on Spotify, Deezer and the like. The live track below is a good indication of what to expect. A remarkable band.

Bacon Degrees, Graney and Meta-fictional constructs

Blog neglect is a terrible crime, although, in my defence, this is one of my many blogs and other things of a musical nature which have captured my time of late. However, as Spring tries to break through from Winter this feels like a good time to shake the dust off the writing fingers.

Modern antipodean music continues to dominate my CD player, and as is usually the case, I am prompted to write by the arrival of new music by Dave Graney. Dave looks busy at the moment, whether it be the almost relentless gigging, or literary events around his excellent “Workshy” book, or being nominated for awards for soundtracks. However, he still finds time to produce new material, and a new single, purely solo this time, comes across all “Roy Orbison” in a blues-pop style, with slide guitar, fractured guitar string sounds, and enough atmosphere to shake you out of your tribute act fever dream.  There’s a video which links back to the Watts Towers mentioned on the track Apollo 69 which was on The Coral Snakes  The Sound ‘n’ Sexy Sound album but it’s on private setting at the moment so I cannot share it. The tune is called “You’re All Wrong” and opens next weeks Aural Delights Radio Show (Thursday at 10pm on Analogue Trash Radio). Here’s a nice picture of Dave instead:

181Dave Graney

In a “Kevin Bacon Six Degrees” way the bulk of following few subjects inevitably link back to Graney, such is the nature of synchronicity in the digital age.

On this next aural matter, the first thing to say is that there are several bands called Shifting Sands around but it’s the Brisbane based Aussie version which applies in this instance (the other two I can find are in Iowa and New Zealand, there may well be more). I chanced across the band in an article published in 2015 in The Music.com.au which intrigued me because of a Graney reference. Shifting Sands – the core of which is Geoff Corbett (of SixFtHick fame) and his long-term musical co-worker Dylan McCormack (also a member of Gentle Ben) –  which is added to by  Dan Baebler (also SixFtHick), Alex Dunlop (Keep On Dancin’s) and Anna Clifford (Family Jordan), have long been institutions on the Brisbane live scene,  but their 2015 debut long-player, Beach Coma, allows them access to a wider universe by the power of Bandcamp. It’s a remarkable recording with Corbett’s world-weary drawl dominating. My immediate thought he was a softer sounding version of Johnny Dowd, but the man himself cites Leonard Cohen, Lee Hazelwood, Neil Diamond, and early Dave Graney (there’s your Bacon 6 degrees thing) as influences. On the surface, the music evokes that “striped sunlight sound” but the dark subject matter of Corbett’s lyrics transports the music elsewhere. It’s a compelling and fascinating album which will get some serious airtime on my radio shows over the next few months. As it turns out, and proving the Cosmic Bacon Spheres are aligned Dave saw the band the other night and bought the album also. It’s a small world.

Still pursuing the Bacon like cosmic linkages Graney of course played with Loudhailer Electric Company last year in Hull. The effervescent bass player of said band is, of course, Lou Duffy Howard once of Red Guitars, which evolved into The Planet Wilson. I was listening to Dave Hammond on Cambridge 105 and he played tracks from the soon to be re-released Planet Wilson back catalogue which is available digitally from April 30th 2018. The band was formed in Hull in 1985 by two former Red Guitars, Hallam Lewis (guitar and vocals) and the aforementioned Duffy-Howard (bass), and was completed by drummer Grant Ardis. Described by Sounds’ David Cavanagh as ‘Crazy James Chance meets Holger Czukay’ they released two acclaimed albums in the late 1980s. Their 1988 album ‘In the Best of All Possible Worlds’ was produced by Steve Nye and released on Virgin Records. In 1989 their second album ‘Not Drowning but Waving’ was released on Records of Achievement. Singles White Lies, Fly by Night, Taken for a Ride and Mouth to Mouth featured both 7″ and 12″ vinyl extended mixes. Howards own DHM label,  distributed by Label Worx, will release the back catalogue which will be available from digital outlets including iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Deezer, Shazam and Amazon.  The two albums are a strong reminder to the music fan of what you missed when you were not paying attention in the latter half of the 1980s. To the apposite Cavanagh comparators above I’d add a sprinkling of ’77 Talking Heads, early 10,000 Maniacs, and a strong dose of Hi-Life. In any event, I am mightily pleased that Lou has brought them back to life as they afford me the chance to enjoy what was a unique band.

Mention of “Workshy” above leads me on to my current listening obsession, which is Peter Milton Walsh, who is mentioned in said Graney tome as the purveyor of exotic chords, well, major sevenths, that sparked some musical activity for Dave. As an aside Workshy is well worth reading for his succinct analysis of certain artists and movements, grunge gets short shrift and Jeff Buckley gets told off for “howling”. Talking of chords  I got told off by a musician for playing a “fancy chord” in a jam session once and was advised to buckle down and play majors, but I digress. Walsh is The Apartments, and The Apartments is Walsh. Bob Auster South reminded me of them in a recent e-mail, he had come across something on You-Tube, I recalled I’d been sent their most recent new album (No Song, No Spell, No Madrigal) by a promo company, played it on the steam wireless and then promptly lost it in the great hard disc meltdown of a few years back. Much is written of the band, and Walsh, on Wikipedia, and on the liner notes to the re-issue of the debut album “the evening visits….”.  Not to over-egg the plaudits Walsh has that undefinable sound which emerges out of a group of Australian bands – Chads Tree, The Triffids, Jackson Code, and yes The Go-Betweens, which Walsh dallied with briefly for a while in the eighties.

In a Steve Erickson moment, I construct a meta-fictional reality in my head where Walsh had stayed with Robert and Grant and The GBs become huge and bloated and “successful” , the new Beatles if you would with Grant and Robert as Paul and John, and Peter as George,  and their separate bodies of work, including Walsh’s time with Laughing Clowns, had been lost to history (this is mainly because I am reading Erickson’s excellent Shadowbahn at the moment). Such an alternative history is something not to dwell on………

In any event, a longer and separate piece on Walsh and the Apartments is gestating in the back of my head, pending that here is one of the You Tube’s that t’other Bob pointed me to. Also, I’ve been heavily featuring the bands’ output on the radio show recently. That’s Amanda Brown, also of The GBs in the middle. On Every Corner is from the remarkable “Drift” release.

I’ve held off on commenting on the passing of Mark E. Smith, for several reasons, but mostly because there is a serious amount of work going on behind the scenes  to reconstruct the site, which  Martin Peters and I have been working on for nigh on ten years now, and  which aims to catalogue every live performance by The Fall and also provide a complete track record. Working backwards we have completed the 2010s in terms of gig cataloguing. The aim is to be finished by October but it may take a little longer. There is a strange logic in carrying out the work in reverse order as it allows for a better understanding of how The Fall story was de-constructed over the years.

Completing the Bacon like synchronicity of this piece…… Dave Graney covered The Fall’s “New Face In Hell” in his 2009 narrative show “Live In Hell”. You know, there’s a whole book somewhere in this linkages thing, but I can’t be bothered, there’s too much good music to listen to.

I won’t leave it so long until the next one….

 

 

Music Criticism – Objective or Subjective?

Some thoughts to close down 2017……….

Last week………As we do, over a pint, we started discussing music and, as usual, we agreed on the relative merits of quite a few things, but on many others, there was divergence. As we are friends we tend to agree that whilst one or more of us like one artists it may be one of us, for whatever reason, disagree on the relative merits of the local rocking teen combo. It’s not something to fall out over, there is some playful banter, especially when the beer has been flowing, one man’s LCD Soundsystem is another man’s New Order etc etc.

One of us made the point that “Music Criticism” had got safe, or perhaps too objective, and that you never seemed to see a bad review of anything these days. How can one retain any form of critical appraisal of the overall scene if the general output of reviewers was predominantly positive? Conversely the violent and sometimes nasty divergence of views on the relative merits of one artist over another on social media is decidedly more subjective.

Perhaps more worrying though is the propensity for music criticism to be restrained, and confined to what is popular. What is acutely clear to me is the difficulty of breaking bands into the wider world so that their efforts might be appreciated by a bigger audience. After 45+ years of serious, and sometimes obsessive, music listening I reckon I have a pretty good take on what is good and what is bad (notwithstanding the previous comment about relative viewpoints of things) and it galls me that the same old faces keep appearing on end of year lists, and local gig guides. This is further compounded by those same old faces being cloned by tribute bands so that despite them not being available for gigs there is always a xeroxed version somewhere being trotted out to feed the nostalgia gene of your average punter.

Criticism is difficult in a music context. A general criticism is easy, a wide snipe at tribute bands is perhaps a lazy assertion on my part, struggling musicians need to earn a crust to pay for strings, plectrums and amp repairs, rehearsal room hire etc, so why should I moan about it? Well, and again it’s a subjective view I suppose, I just get the feeling that the balance between “new and innovative” and “tribute” has leaned towards the latter. And OK, if you want to go and see a tribute band that’s your choice, However when it becomes more difficult for artists genuinely trying to break the mould to get any sort of oxygen in an increasingly crowded scene then I get frustrated.

A general moan about the scene around the Manchester conurbation is that it, at least from a public perspective, “rests on it’s laurels”, with perhaps an unbalanced proportion of reportage and criticism being focused on established artists – James, Oasis (and it’s sibling progeny), Elbow,  Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays etc etc. A Heritage Theme Park for 80s/90s music? Even the more recent “darlings” – Cabbage, Blossoms etc seem to get more than their fill, when equally valid bands tend to get little air time/column inches. It’s like the attention span of the industry can only cope with one or two bands at once.

Breaking bands into the national consciousness these days, post-Peel, is increasingly difficult, with commercial broadcasters constrained by the need for advertising revenue and safe playlists, and BBC an increasingly more complex glass ceiling to break with it’s Krypton Factor like maze of getting music through the first hurdle of the unpaid work experience intern, with a pile of e-mails/sack of CDs to wade through, before it gets anywhere near a DJ/Producer. There are few notable exceptions, Tom Robinson for example, who seems to put some effort into getting less well known people some attention.

We released 50+ albums, EPs and singles this year. We’ve not made enough money to cover the cost of our distribution deal. As a not for profit label this makes it difficult to countenance continuing as we are not even breaking even. With the exception of two gigs we have made a loss on each event we have put on. Punters seem to want free entry to gigs, and free or stream-able cheap music these days. The number of cheeky chappies who try to jib into gigs is quite astounding.

As an example one of our most popular releases this year Drink and Drives “This Is What Happens When A Fly Lands On Your Food” has received 1226 plays on Spotify since it’s release. To put that in context that’s around three times higher than our second biggest artist Issac Navaro. That many plays in a month for a small label might seem good in the overall scheme of things. However just feed that amount into the online Spotify Calculator you will see it raises a paltry £3.67.  For further context if we weren’t offering a collective approach via our label the band would have to pay around £20 (which recurs annually) to get the album onto digital distribution. We can reduce that cost to around £7 for an album with one of the deals we get with the distributor. So we need around 2500 plays to break even. If we sell an album on Bandcamp (which is outside the general distribution deal) then we get hit with admin fees of around 15% from Bandcamp and around 10% from Paypal just for selling something. So a £7 album will net around £5.25. Having said that Bandcamp is probably the most cost effective way of distributing our releases given the poor stream-revenue rates with the wider digital distributors.

I write the above paragraph as context to attempt to describe how difficult it is to continue to offer new/challenging music in an environment where there seems to be an increasing reliance on what people already know, what they feel comfortable with, and where their expectation of getting it for next to nothing. And musical criticism which fails to offer a proper context, and fails to balance both an objective fact based approach, with a more visceral subjective, emotional response is not helping.

An industry which maintains the familiar (and some might argue bland) to the exclusion of the genuinely new and exciting and different is heading into an evolutionary blind alley. Criticism need to describe where artists are treading water and repeating what they have done before. Criticism needs to be honest. As a case in point “Luciferian Towers” feels safe and predictable in the context of “F♯ A♯ ∞” – the shock of the new of the 1997 release being reduced to a pallid copy in the 2017 – a balanced critique demonstrates that point but it still gets into a chart of one of the best releases of the year.  Play it alongside the aforementioned Drink and Drive album and you can see the marked difference between what feels like cosy conformity with a model that works and sold units and the righteous anger of something like “Itch Scratch Cycle”.

So what does the subjective part of my brain scream at me while I am reviewing the best of the year lists for 2017? Here are a few thoughts……….

Current darlings Public Sector Broadcasting appear to be on a revolving carousel of producing the same thing album by album, yes they are good but where is the progression and doesn’t it all sound a bit like Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds or Rick Wakemans Journey to the Centre of the Earth?  Hergist Ridge was no Tubular Bells. Why does the industry allow musicians to repeat/xerox themselves?  Do Sleaford Mods really need to be encouraged to continue to  produce the same formula each year? Can I really be bothered to wade through all this stuff when our record label is putting out stuff which I believe is more challenging and ground breaking – m.t. scott, Moff Skellington The Screaming Love Collective, Cannonball Statman, Issac Navaro and Four Candles to me seem more interesting than established bands that repeat themselves. But I would say that wouldn’t I?

Not to come over as too negative 2017 has been a genuinely great year for music, even beyond the boundaries of German Shepherd records, with new bands emerging, and material from the past being discovered from the first time. So I do move into 2018 with a degree of optimism. One goal. or resolution if you will, should be to ensure that any blogs or radio shows don’t slip into a tired recycling of bands that should be stretching themselves when they are treading water.

Ian Moss’s Manchester Meltdown at the Peer Hat in January will set a benchmark for the year — with a manifesto to expose genuine talent to audience that needs to be refreshed,  – Different Music For Your Ears – if you are willing to listen?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all……

 

 

The time has come the Walrus said

So I set this blog up, a few years back now, to capture what I was doing when I was at the local radio station mostly, and since then it has grown to encompass a wider variety of things. In that time it has become a little disparate and unfocused. So for 2017 I have decided to tidy things up a little.

News of new podcasts, plus associated reviews of new releases, gigs , and general music news will now be captured at the separate Bob’s Podcasts 2017 site. For this blog the intention is to concentrate on more detailed overviews of bands and artists, both old and new, and perhaps to reflect in a more measured way the music that shapes my listening, and act as a historical archive of what makes up a ridiculously large music collection.

Watch this space.

moff-moet

 

 

 

 

The Best of 2016 #3 – Singles and EPs

This one is going to be a little different due to the nature of releases this year. All will become apparent as I meander through things. The nature of what I do on an almost daily basis i.e. putting together radio shows/podcasts and running a record label means that a serious amount of individual tracks come in for potential airplay or indeed for release on the label. So trying to do a definitive list of the “best” is nigh on impossible – if they made it onto the podcast or got released by the record label they are, because they got through that gateway, “better than the rest” so i’ll generalise…..and this is in no sort of order of importance as I love them all with equal fervour……with the stuff at the bottom of the page being the “top of the pops” as it were

The Moss Brothers – various releases by Ian and Neil under various aliases – the work rate of Ian Moss is legendary, add his sibling into the mix and you have a an even faster production line of fascinating music – whether it be Ian & Neil, Sebastien the Tortoise, A Magpie and a Goldfish, or 2 Big Brothers it’s all great.

Taser Puppets : Fossil – their latest EP and first with German Shepherd proved to be their best yet. A health scare for front man Shaun put things on hold for a while but a barn storming set at the Salford Music Festival but them back on the North West musical map.

Alana Bondi : Alana Bondi EP – another artist who battled through health problems in 2015/6 to deliver a remarkable debut EP and stunning video to the opener “Four Walls” plus a run of shows including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The Sideshow : How It Goes – a remarkable single, pure pop for now people as Nick Lowe once said. Should have broken through this one and still a mystery as to why it didn’t.

The Screaming Love Collective : Three Singles – proof that repetition in music is still potent as a way of delivering ideas that are fresh.

The Mind Sweepers : The Mating Game – Vicky Middles asked if we could help out with this one and we were pleased to get involved. They call themselves genre defying and they certainly deliver on that score.

Bouquet of Dead Crows : Epicentre – a great collection of alternative versions, live cuts and a remix crowned a great year for the “Crows”  – a new album is in the pipeline and an album of radio sessions is promised for the new year.

The Madding Crowd – a good year, a great EP, an epic EP launch and a sense of renewed promise and hope for this north Manchester band.

Stalagmites : Between City and Cellar Door – back with a bang with a great EP, Brad Lynch is one of the best songwriters Salford has delivered with fantastic lyrics and epic tunes.

The Parish Church Fire : Locamente – another one where I sit here with a puzzled expression wondering why it wasn’t huge.

Staggs : Adult Loonies and A Rum Do – when I am fed up I turn to Staggs to cheer myself up – the diversity across these two releases is a testament to the skill and inventiveness of Ridley and Scott – punk, electronica and krautrock,  there’s something for everyone.

The Get : The Private Men EP – The Get are remarkable, their lo-fi approach to what they do, their relentless charm and enthusiasm is infectious. A great collection of songs.

Moff and Moss – aside from a remarkable debut album an epic single which dwelt on Mr Crowley and other strangeness. Expect new stuff in the New Year which is development at the moment – it will all become clear at the gig at the Castle in March!

Rose and the Diamond Hand : Universe Is Woman – should be huge, a remarkable voice, an amazing band, and a great live show, add a fantastic debut EP and you have a great year for Rose and co.

and the top three

3. KIT B – Weird Water – impressive song-writing from a great live band who broke into the festival circuit this year and garnered some impressive live reviews

2. m.t. scott – The Broken EP and 13 Queer Street – Michael left the wonderful world of Staggs for a while  to create two collections of aural wonderment. Cinematic in their scope and impressive in their musical depth he is clearly a creative force that requires/demands/deserves  a wider audience. I’ve been lucky enough to listen to these collections develop from ideas into fully formed pieces of aural magic.

1. The Graney and Moore Singles Releases – throughout the year Dave and Clare have released a digital single a month (more or less there will be one in January) in an effort, I believe, to escape the usual routines in the music industry. I can’t decide which is the best amongst any of them, so I’m bringing all ten into a collective number one, but if you were to push me the latest one “I Ain’t Hi Vis” is probably my favourite. The variety across this set of releases is impressive, the trademark Graney wit is in full effect, and musically, as is always the case, they are top notch. Notably there is more than a bit of a jazz tinge than is usual which of course ticks a lot of boxes for me. You can grab them all at the DG bandcamp page.  For the record the releases were:

I’m a Good Hater
This Is the Deadest Place I’ve Ever Died In
I Been Trendy
Drifting Donna Reed
Are You Out Of Your Mind? (Get Back In)
You Need a Kleek, Klook
Rupert’s Pet’s Grave
Matey, From On High
Let’s Kick this Mob Out
I Ain’t Hi Vis

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The Best of 2016 # 1 – Albums

It has been a busy year, and a bit of task to try and get down the 100s of albums that have come my way down to a top 25. This years list reflects, very much, the local music scene and our record label, a little display of nepotism perhaps, but I’d argue that if I didn’t like them then we would not put them out into the world.

So here we go with a handful of notables that did not make the list to kick off.

EPs of the year, singles of the year. and gigs of the year will follow over the holiday period……

Notable ones that didn’t make the list

  • Cavern of Anti-Matter – Void Beats/Invocation Trex
  • David Bowie – Blackstar
  • Dälek – Ashphalt for Eden
  • Van Der Graaf Generator – Do Not Disturb
  • Ten East – Skyline Pressure

25.

24.

23.

22.

21.

20.

19.

18.

 

17.

16.

15.

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14.

13.

12.

 

11.

10.

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9.

8.

7.

6.

5.

4.

3.

2.

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1.