Please remember, all you read is subjective.
I have attempted to avoid Amazon links.
I can see why music journalists either go mad or fall silent, it’s a tricky business this attempting to translate the emotions and reactions of hearing stuff into typed words.
With age, I think I have come to require more theatrics, but off Broadway theatrics, sometimes off off off off off…
Since our last screaming match in Edinburgh, our show is Never the Twain imagined by Antonin Artaud, or a theatre of cruelty Terry and June, we have been recording a podcast which is about music, but with deviations which form the main body. As anyone who has listened to it will know, we meet with no plan, start talking, and stop when we imagine the listener screaming as their tonsils fracture,”when does this stop”.
I am glad to say that we receive emails from people who have bought albums based on the words of two middle aged men whose soft tissue is hardening and turning to ash at five times the normal speed.
Here are a few of the things I heard this year that I liked a lot. They may not have been released this year, but I was aware of them for the first time in 2014.
Because I have not sat my Mojo or Stewart Lee module on free jazz description, my likely abilities will be little more than, “I like this as it is loud and they sound like they mean it”.
“this annoys so many people that I decided I must adore it”.
I have enjoyed Robyn Hitchcock for quite a while now, though not nearly as long as my friend Ed, he was into both Hitchcock and REM long before me, and Giant Sand too. The Man Upstairs is a lovely new album, the covers upon it become his songs. Hitchcock creates things that are both idiosyncratic and beautiful, he has the most English of singing voices, something like a fallen but charismatic professor with a novel that must be read, but that only really exists when he sits, fireside, in small pub in the flatlands and talks of what has never really been typed.
Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers were introduced to me by one of the staff of The Stand comedy clubs, I find that at least 79% of Stand staff have incredibly good taste. She has that discordant, Gothic threat thing, the torch singer who winks at you and smiles, then smashes a bottle and screams, then smiles again. Delightful menace.
Warpaint are for the human I was when I danced with increasingly stretched jumper sleeves, head down, once due to the weight of a quiff, now due to the weight on the exposed skin where my hair once was. Cocteau-ish, sometimes slurred.
New Bums’ Voices in a Rented Room seems to be songs for people with flopped fringes and notebooks full of half sentences mixed with frantic paragraphs. They keep meaning to go to the art museums, but end up in the pub looking at the Magritte bookmark in a beatnik novel. Very pretty barroom sadness for people who like people-less pubs.
Music and Words by Malcolm Middleton and David Shrigley is the best swearing, fury, confusion, comedy, rock, spoken word, dance, punk crossover ever. Monkeys should be the future of Radio 4 plays, but it never will be. It is imperative this is the one album left to be found by alien species that visit our dead planet in a couple of centuries time.
I always love Tindersticks, I insist on it. Ypres is an album of music to be looped for an exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the Great War. It is very beautiful, deceptive in its seeming simplicity, very powerful without the images it is designed for.
You can create your own skull cinema exhibition just by closing your eyes and listening to it.
Viv Albertine’s autobiography has the best opening lines of a book this year.
“Anyone who writes an autobiography is either a twat or broke. I’m a bit of both”
Kate Tempest’s Everybody Down has the best opening lines of an album.
“Everywhere is monsters, tits out, wet-mouthed, heads back, shouting and screaming just to prove they exist”.
I am annoyed by Kate Tempest’s success, it means she is way to busy nowadays to do any of the gigs I organise. You can see her walking, unseen, through every image she vividly creates on this album. Bloody hell, she is good. Every time you decide poetry may be dead (probably because you haven’t ben paying attention), something like this happens.
I love the gloom of the original Carnival of Souls. I love it all over again due to the Pere Ubu soundtrack. It’s The Fall, it’s Tom Waits, it’s an actor redubbing a drowning, some Las Vegas grind peculiarity, and it is all its own too. How stupid not to have all Pere Ubu albums, I am a lazy fool.
Why not listen to jazz versions of Bowie’s Berlin instrumentals, Dylan Howe has spent years working on them, and it would be rude not to pay attention.
Mogwai’s Rave Tapes is as Mogwai as you may hope, like 65 Days of Static’s work, they don’t get enough attention because apparently, everyone loves a singer.
I am still getting to grips with Richard Dawson’s Nothing Important, I know I think I like it a lot, but it would take Stewart Lee to put it into words. I know he has more teeth than I imagine when I hear him. I like to imagine the splintered broom handle of his downstairs neighbours.
And this year, I learnt to stop fearing Scott Walker’s later work. I would have recommended Soused by Scott Walker and Sunn 0))) if I knew how to pronounce Sunn 0))) .
(and Luke Haines’ New York in the 70s, Robert Plant’s Lullaby and The Ceaseless Roar, The Best Day by Thurston Moore, Fuck off we get free pour light on everything by thee silver mt zion memorial orchestra, Total Strife Forever by East India Youth, Allo Darlin’s We Come from the Same Place, and on and on. I have also spent a lot of money at the wonderful Trunk Records) END OF PART ONE
My stupid Vitriola Music podcasts with Michael Legge are HERE (can also be found on itunes)
also, I have started doing podcasts with Josie Long again. Our first one is a right mess, as it always was, and Prof Brian Cox is with us too HERE
I am touring USA, Australia, and visiting Oslo, as well as Edinburgh, Swindon, Salford and loads more – details HERE
oh, and I know there’s Sharon Van Etten and Swans and King Creosote and Withered Hand…
And please leave comments underneath of music I should also have mentioned.