Music this time.
These aren’t in particular order, save for the last one which is my album of the year. Big shout out to Resident Music of Brighton, where I bought all this stuff (and about another 150 albums). http://www.resident-music.com/
If you live in Brighton or travel to Brighton, stop off at Resident and have a browse. It’s an amazing record store and the staff are just the best. And they sell online too, so you don’t need to be Brighton-based to share the love.
(I’m not paid to plug them, I just love them. Have been points over the last few years when music has really saved me, so they’ve made my life better.)
Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination. She’s got a rich voice, throws ideas around, writes really edgy songs and lays it all down over a really strong groove.
Jamie Lenman – Devolver – this album starts off with very quiet and gentle vocals, but it turns into an absolute banger – driving tracks, more hooks than Ernest Hemingway’s tackle-box and the sort of album that makes your heart beat faster and your smile broader. Ace.
Baby Driver Original Soundtrack – I would have edited the hell out of the last third of this movie (even before the Kevin Spacey farago, he needs taking out of the last third), but I wouldn’t change a bar of the music. Anything that opens with Bellbottoms you know is going to be gangbusters, and indeed it is. Loads of songs where you think it’s going to be something you know really well and it turns out to be the source material that was sampled. And Unsquare Dance is the song that used to make me jig about the front room when I was about five and I heard it on TV, and I’ve always loved it.
Royal Blood – How did we get so dark?
The first album was so good, it was always going to be difficult to follow (Algiers had the same issue this year), but I think Royal Blood pulled it off. Dark, crunchy, pounding, rocky. You just want to turn it up louder, louder, louder, till you run out of volume on the dial.
Ride – Weather Diaries
Who would have thought that the indie shoegazers would come back twenty years later with an album that sounds so fresh and modern and full of swagger? It’s straight-out great. It is like someone managed to make a whole album out of the brief moment in the best Cure songs where you feel that absolutely everything is going to be right with the world.
The National – Sleep Well Beast
This is like someone spooning up to you in the night, when you’re hovering between sleep and wakefulness and you think mmm, lovely. And then they whisper something terrible in your ear. Warm, but unsettling, if that makes sense. Great songs, as always from the National. A band that just never let you down.
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E White – Gentlewoman, Ruby Man
An album of cover songs wouldn’t normally be my bag. But these are a great set of songs, and the voices are just delicious, and blend perfectly together. It’s an insane version of Grease that feels like a sexy anthem. A very close thing to being my album of the year.
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Whole lotta sea lice
If the names alone don’t make you go, oh god I must hear that, then I assume that’s because you don’t know either of them. And you should solve that, right now. Two great artists, coming together and delivering an album packed with luscious songs and ideas. Also a great Belly cover, which left me unable to breathe for a moment when I first heard it.
Kasabian – For Crying out loud
Historically the problem with Kasabian has been that (other than West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum) their albums divide too starkly into Bangers and Fillers. The Bangers have always been exceptional, but the Fillers are meh. This album solves that by dividing into Uber Bangers and Bangers. Job done. Also, get the 2 CD version, because it has the live show from King Power Stadium, just after Leicester won the Premier League, and it is just an amazing gig where the band are clearly having the best time ever, and it plays all of their best songs with even more force and oomph than usual.
Harry Styles – Harry Styles
I wasn’t really expecting the pretty one from a boy band to do one of my favourite records this year, but he has. It would have been really easy for him to make a pop record, or a George Michael record, but this is altogether more interesting. It isn’t perfect, it sometimes tries things that don’t come off, but I like it because it is flawed in interesting ways, it fails in interesting ways. To quote Samuel Beckett “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – this album gives me a lot of hope for the future career – because it is a great listen now, but you can see him grow and the potential to improve – by trying something hard rather than just pushing out something easy. Really good songs on here, and as a massive Nilsson fan, I really enjoyed what he was doing with his voice. This was hard to budge from my regular playlist, and I’ve kept going back to it throughout the year. A real surprise
Angry, dark, punchy, but often laugh out loud funny too. You’ve just got to love a band who deliver a song that is working around comparing the listener/subject of the song unfavourably to imagined accomplishments of Mary Berry and some imaginary posh cousin, Tarquin- “Why don’t you get a medal? Even Tarquin’s got a medal. Mary Berry’s got a medal – so why don’t you get a medal?”
And my album of the year
The Horrors – V
They are always great, and they never stand still – the sound always changes, moves on. This time the feel I got from it is exhuberant dance music for Goths. There’s a dash of Human League, New Order, Depeche Mode, Cure, but pushed through a very modern filter. Something to Remember me by is the song of the year – it is just a complete joy. Loved it.