Top Ten Albums of 2017, so far

Seems like everyone else is doing half year lists so I may as well have a go…..it helps to remind me when I’m totting these things up at the end of the year as well….there’s no one in the list from our record label as it’s taken as read that they are top notch anyway and it would be a tad self indulgent to include them so I’ll deal with them at the end of the year…anyhow as for the rest here they are  in no particular order

IGUANA LOVERS – SURFING CAOS

Strictly speaking this came out in 2016 but it’s only made its way over here recently from Buenos Aires. A sublime mixture of rock in a shoegaze kitchen. Scuzzy guitars, howling and gurgling synths and bubbling drums however add a space rock vibe. It’s relentless and fun filled and I would imagine quite exciting live.

THE BLACKEYED SUSANS – CLOSE YOUR EYES AND SEE

Delicious and lush music which hovers between country, blues, and rock. Snarski’s velvet voice is delightful,  the words observational and compelling. A band at their peak, delivering quality material.

TOTAL VICTORY – ENGLISH MARTYRS

A much anticipated  third album . They have a unique sound and they remain steadfast in their delivery of their music.  We were kept happy with an EP compilation last year but its been a long while since National Service. They are big in France but no so much in their own back yard which is bleedin’ typical of the scene in general around hereabouts. Dan Brookes vocals and words are as usual unique and outstanding and the band create mesmerising post-punk vistas.

DAVE GRANEY AND CLARE MOORE – LET’S GET TIGHT

This emerged as a series of singles over twelve months so it’s a bit hard to regard it as an album from 2017, but it is. A playful collection, a mixed bag of styles, with DG and CM exploring new angles and options. Dave’s observations on the music world and the wider world at large are always apposite and often give pause for thought.  They can do no wrong.

THE SEXUAL OBJECTS – MARSHMALLOW

Seems odd that a band this talented only manages an album release once every seven years. Anything with Davey Henderson’s name associated with if is guaranteed to be good and this is no exception.  A rich sound which matches Henderson’s unique vocal delivery with superior guitar music.

KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD – FLYING MICROTONAL BANANA

Extremely difficult to keep up with these chaps who appear to be as prolific as Acid Mothers Temple with three albums so far this year, this being the first, and two more planned. The motorik repetition of Rattlesnake sets the tone and demonstrates a band that seem to be totally attuned and in sync. The important thing is that they continue to develop and explore.

SANDELLS – FORWARDS

Long delayed debut from the recently reformed trio. Self described as Kraut-Punk the sound is refreshingly unique driven by Brian Benson polyrhymic drums. Some of Tim Lyons best work lyrically and with the signature sound of Dr Johann Kloos’s hypnotic guitar this beats the so called psychedelic bands out there back into their Haight-Ashbury contrived miasma. Forwards is the correct title, it explores new territories and does not dwell in the past.

LUSTERLIT – LIST OF EQUIPMENT

OK i’m pushing my luck here as it’s really an EP but it’s so damn good I’m including it. Susan and Charlie exceed at writing and delivering exceptional tunes with a literary angle. It blew me away when Charlie sent it my way and it still provides intense listening pleasure never losing its power to please.

DANNY SHORT – FORM YOUR OPINION

He seems to be constantly busy with the Transmitters these days so It’s a wonder he has managed to find the time to record and release this album. A mix of powerful pop punkery interspersed with more languid pastoral pieces. Another Boltonian who deserves wider exposure of his considerable talent. Some fantastic tunes in this collection.

THE STEVENSON RANCH DAVIDIANS – AMERIKANA

Impressive stuff. In which I learned the difference between Psych and Psyche. Vignettes of American life merging an abstracted country sound nestling in a mesh of guitars and vocal washes – the best music defies genre conventions and this does that very well.

 

 

 

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New York Stories

I’ve been reacquainting myself with the prose of Paul Auster recently.  Always an obsession, I even named one of my musical projects after him, he is one of a handful of authors I can definitively say has had a major influence on me. His initial work centered around New York City, and his rich and complex prose always conjured up detailed images of that metropolis in my head. I’ve still not managed to pluck up the courage to read his latest 700+ page opus “4321” mind you.

Coincidentally, other Brooklyn connections also emerged recently, firstly with Jesse “Cannonball” Statman.  When over here for a gig in Salford he revealed he had shared the same apartment complex as Auster. Jesse’s performance at the Eagle, Salford, on April 8th,  had broadly smiling  punters using the word genius as they left the gig room. He wasn’t to everyone’s taste but for the majority of the audience the admiration for his performance was huge, with some of the best praise I have heard for gigs we have promoted. I’m also pleased he is allowing us to release more of his material soon on German Shepherd records. His set was a whirling dervish of words and a completely unique guitar style,  unconventional and mesmerising. Some people have compared him Daniel Johnston, and I can see that, but Jesse works at a much faster pace and his use of language is more complex, and conjures up literary comparisons like Auster, Thomas Pynchon and Bill Burroughs.

Check out his sizeable catalogue of work at http://www.cannonballstatman.bandcamp.com/

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Cannonball Statman (Photograph courtesy of John Montague)

The other Brookyln connection is a duo called Lusterlit. And they have literary association also. With their songs created for Bushwick Book Club,  whose founder, Susan Hwang and contributor and producer, Charlie Nieland, have joined forces to perform as a new, literature-inspired duo. Both vocalists and multi-instrumentalists, Charlie and Susan alternate lead vocals and harmonies while supporting each other on guitar, bass, synth, traditional Korean drum and accordion.  Charlie sent me their most recent release “List of Equipment” a couple of days back and I was  utterly blown away by the quality and richness of their songs. Inspired by authors  Cormac McCarthy, Julia Child, John Wyndham, and Johnathon Lethem, the five songs on the EP are mature musical explorations which immediately stand out as superior quality material in the context of the other music that gets sent my way on daily basis. Both artists are clearly hugely talented  and their song-craft and production is exceptional, offering atmospheric, cinematic, aural journeys. Both soulful and sexy, this is an EP you can listen to on repeat and uncover multiple levels of delight from. The duo says there is a hint of Polly Jean and Melbourne Nick in what they do, I’d venture that this music is as exciting to me as the first time I heard “Countdown To Ecstasy” – it’s that damn good. I commend it to you without reservation.

 

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Charlie and Susan – Photo by Lisa Barnstone

 

The duo also released two previous albums last year as “solo” offerings but Charlie advises that material is also part of the current  Lusterlit live experience. Both are also excellent song collections and, as a whole, the three releases combined are a fantastic introduction to some great music.

LINKS

https://www.facebook.com/lusterlit/
https://twitter.com/lusterlitnyc
https://www.instagram.com/lusterlit/
https://lusterlit.bandcamp.com/
https://soundcloud.com/lusterlit