As Michael Legge and I have discovered when recording Vitriola, describing why you like music is tricky. It is so much easier to describe why you hate, something juts out. Your horror or disdain may be generated by banal lyrics, mundane tunes, or arrogant posturing. The personally delightful is harder to scrutinise because “it just is”. Loveliness, whether it is melodic, or lovely in its seemingly grotesque nature (some of the more discordant free jazz I have started to enjoy or the brilliant confusion and ambition in Scott Walker’s more recent works) floods in and manages to disengage the critical faculty. This means that Michael and I find ourselves replacing descriptions with screeches and energetic sentences about cacophonies or sweetness that mean very little once removed from their mouthy delivery.
Now that you know we don’t do music description good at all nor be knowing of the vocabulary to educate and inform, I thought I would still list some of the things I have listened to more than seven times over the last year.
A late entry is Vamala by Champs. I believe this is the current Isle of Wight sound. I listened once in early 2015, then found myself drawn towards something less sweet-natured. I am now captivated. This fits in the previously mentioned “lovely” category. Lovely pop.
Poison Season by Destroyer is also in the lovely category. Lyrically interesting, possibly puzzling, oh and just the right amount of woodwind to bowl me over.
Algiers by Algiers – no idea where this came from, but from the opening percussion and chants, then the powerful delivery, and lyrics with purpose, I knew I would be playing this at least seven times in 2015. I reckon it is at least 23 times now.
Paunch by Bear Versus Manero – ah good, fuzzy guitars, smelly amps, growling high pitch rock singining, and thus I smile
It has been a good year for bands with Bear in the title – World Owes You Nowt by Bearfoot Beware isn’t a cacophony, but it does lots of things that might be rock jazz prog or something (I am treminded of Deus at times, but that might be because I am old and my memory fades)
No No No by Beirut is apparently disappointing, well I like jaunty things, sometimes I listen and create some choreography to the songs and I will ask Michael to do the dances once I have finished my sketches.
Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat’s The Best Place in the World does some jazz, and some poetry, and some melancholy, they sound like they see things in the studio and think, “we must get around to using that thing”…and then they do.
Undertow by Drenge created the perfect record to pogo to ghosts with. I was won over by them at Latitude when some young people attempted to pogo and jog to We Can Do What We Want and then got all tired. One fell from the big top, damp and grey on red mumbling, “I wasn’t expecting that”. Those young people, we used to be able to throw shapes for almost the whole of Blue Monday, and that went on for 27 hours.
I was not bowled over by Wolf Alice, possibly because the tent was brimming with people who felt as if they had been informed Wolf Alice were the new things and it was the gig “you simply must attend”. I risked the album, My Love is Cool, late in the year, and hastily caught up with listening to it seven times.
Get to Heaven by Everything Everything may be number two of “the highly favoured by the press” indie pop albums of 2015. I like any band that decided you should have at least three songs in any one song, and Distant Past is that.
Another album from The Fall rarely disappoints. They never tread water, always moving on, yet always sounding like The Fall. Maybe 2016 is the year I will sit down and listen to all the albums back. They are deservedly legendary, when they are gone, like their kindly benefactor John Peel, nothing will fill the space.
I have not listened to Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear seven times. The adoration was so great that it has blinded my ears. I am still going through that, “well, it all sounds jolly good, but is it THAT good” phase. I am told that witnessing him live will be my turning point.
FFS was Mr Legge’s dance my legs down to the knees long player of the year. Franz Ferdinand meeting Sparks sounds just like it should, which made it the best pop work of 2015.
I had missed the clamour around Ibeyi, so appraoched them as an unknown quantity at Latitude. Converted within seconds.
Hypoxia by Kathryn Williams, a Plath/Bell jar inspired work became my companion during the insomnia hours. Sweetly sad, that is the sort of terminology they used in the old inky print days.
Beings by lanterns on the lake. Faultlines, much like Keys by Helsinki, was a single that took me by surprise, having picked it out out of a promo pile. I then listened to it over and over again. I fitted my first seven listens into the first evening I heard it.
Lucy’s Diary by Lucy’s Diary was one of my favourite voices of 2015. I imagine they are rather good live.
Who wouldn’t want Luke Haines to record an album of instrumentals about British Nuclear Bunkers.
Another favourite single (I think it was a single, if it wasn’t, it should have been) was Lampshades on Fire from Modest Mouse’s Strangers to Ourselves.
Loin Des Hommes means there is a new soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, each new film project from them both brings new tragic beauty.
I still haven’t listened to all of Sunset on the Black Horizon by Numbers are Futile, by The Great Chimera is my almost a disco Nyman of the year.
Oh Christ, I have just realised how much more I still enjoyed. I better rush to mention Pond’s Man, it Feels Like Space Again, chirpy, jumpy, sprightly, astronaut food of music.
And while we’re on tip top space adventures, Public Service Broadcast’s second album ticked all the boxes of delight in my big list of music that I need and must have.
The Wave Pictures revealed that what they have always needed is Billy Childish when they released Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon, their best album to date.
I thought Jack Rabbit by San Fermin would find itself in more top 50s than it did, maybe I missed it, but it is an album that deserves to be noticed, an album of ambition.
As for the new Sunn 0))) album, I am about to listen to it now.
Maybe I have just been paying attention more, but this was a hectic year of variety, intrigue, pop and politics in music, if only more of our radio stations tried to reflect this as opposed to playlisting the same same same…
Also I liked (and listened at least six times to)…
Feels Like by Bully
Last Year’s Savage by Shilpa Ray
Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens (also one of my top 10 live shows)
Key Markets by Sleaford Mods
Have you in My Wilderness by Julia Holter
Shedding Skin by Ghostpoet
Ones and Sixes by Low
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World by The Decemberists
Oneohtrix Point Never by Garden of Delete
Payola by Desapericidos
The L Shaped Man by Ceremony
We Fall by Emile Haynie
Keys by Helsinki (about 50 listens at least now)
Young by Flowers
and my favourite reissues were British Steel by Judas Priest (a reissue to me, if not the ROCK public and Alan Jefferson’s bedroom space epic Galactic Nightmare)
Please recommend more
For music podcasts, Vitriola Music can be found here (and also on soundcloud)
Josie and Robin’s Book Shambles is back – latest one stars Mark Gatiss, and before that we had Stewart Lee, Salena Godden, Laura Duckbill, Chris Hadfield, Sara Pascoe, Owen Jones… They are all here