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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Game of Mating

 

The Mind Sweepers

Mating Game

German Shepherd Records

15th April 2016

TMS-Mating Game Artwork for GSR

The Mind Sweepers were formed in 2014 and consist of Paul Winter, vocals/acoustic guitar, John McInally, lead guitar, Jack Trainer, bass guitar/harmonica, Gareth MacIntyre, keyboards/backing vocals, and Bryn Thorburn, drums.

All of their material is original, and they have enjoyed relative success with regard to securing gigs in their local area of South West Scotland, and farther afield with gigs in both Manchester and Glasgow. Any fees secured from playing live usually go into paying for studio time and they are slowly getting their first studio album recorded.

Their songs are drawn from life, usually affairs of the heart, and observations on contemporary life. The lyrical content of the songs aren’t PC, and they are adult in their subject matter and language, as Paul Winter says “you can only write about what you know after all”.

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Line-up changes have held things up for a while for the band. The current set-up, the third version, which Paul hopes is gonna stay together, have been rehearsing since late 2015. Winter says enthusiastically  “We’ve got a good dynamic going though, it’s good fun!”.  Band members have mostly done provincial gigs in a variety of different groups, but only drummer Bryn has played big venues. He was in Spacehopper and Gram Solo, indie acts,  playing “T in the Park” twice.

The band work-ethic begins with Winter presenting a song. He says “We all then break it down and suss how tae play it, technically. Everybody in this band plays, everybody leaves their mark on the song, every song is a sum of every member of the band”.

The first release from the band features two strong statements of future intent. Winters’ rich vocals, sung in a local dialect, are observational, adult and poignant. The band mix of rock and folk is reminiscent of the work of Rab Noakes, Lindisfarne and others of that ilk. Tales of urban life and relationships are weaved into well written tunes. The title track describes weekend courting rituals on any local high street with vivid images of bouncers, too much “yank beer” and post pub violence. The second track “Away We Yi Wumman”, describes an almost feral female stalker, and is underpinned by a great bluesy guitar line. Winters use of local dialect comes to the fore here with unique and memorable language. A third tune,  an alternative acoustic version of the second song,  with former guitarist Andrew McCulloch on lead acoustic and Michelle Jackson McClure on fiddle, makes for a varied and fascinating collection.

As for the future an album is gradually getting put together. Winter explains “….. it’s all dependent on how much we’ve got in the kitty. We like to play wide and far, so the studio kitty usually gets usurped by petrol money tae play in Glasgow/Manchester”.

A band to watch out for, they play  The Bar Stage, Knockengorroch Festival, Carsphairn, South West Scotland on 26th May and on 10th June Rabbies Tavern at the Eden Festival.

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Paul Winter