It’s been another great year for underground music, with all my favs, BSM, Alcopop, Xtra Mile and STA releasing belters. I had previously refused to put them in an order for TCOV, which I’ll also refuse to do again here.
I love lists, but perhaps none of these deserved to be placed higher than any other, nevertheless these are my most listened to records of 2016…
AXIS OF... Mid Brae Inn (Small Town America)
I think I bought this on an off chance. I had some spare cash, the vinyl looked lovely online and I hadn’t purchased anything from STA for a while, so thought I’d give it a go. Stone wall riffs from start to finish. This is a lean record, with no ounce of fat on it. No wasted rubbish, it’s the sound of a band, who know exactly what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it. A pure delight. Released in January & still going strong!
FRANK TURNER - Positive Songs For Negative People (Xtra Mile)
Frank returned with album number 5, and manages to keep it fresh by swapping the acoustic for the electric and going gung ho for the anthem. Already filling stadiums, he hasn’t largely changed a winning formula, and if I’m honest I didn’t fall in love with this record until I saw it live. But I do love it. Was also my first picture disc LP I’ve bought.
TELLISON - Hope Fading Nightly (Alcopop!)
I’ve always liked Tellison, but never loved them, buying split singles for the other band as an example. However all that changed with the release of HFN. What a corker of an alt-indie record, bringing Stapleton’s “Capitals” album to mind. For me a really autumnal record, and the vinyl is gorgeous. The band pleaded o Twitter once “Does anyone still like us” I did, and I asked them to perform an acoustic show, perhaps in 2016 we’ll see that come to fruition!
BEACH SLANG - The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us (BSM)
For me this came out of nowhere. I hadn’t heard their previous EP’s, but BSM gave away lead track “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas” which I instantly fell in love with. Just the name of the record stirred something inside me. That’s not to say the album followed the lead tracks promise, as the rest of the record doesn’t sound the same, it’s still an amazing record, and once again, another I picked up on Vinyl.
JOANNA GRUESOME - Peanut Butter (Fortuna Pop)
Awesome record. Riot Grrl, Power Pop, short songs, back to the 90’s Peel / Lamacq, this is the sort of band PURR would have raved about at Moles, and I would have lapped up as a teenager. At 32, I’m still devouring it. Also my first PINK vinyl.
BRAWLERS - Romantic Errors Of Our Youth (Alcopop!)
What a fun live band. What a short, sharp fun record. I man handled the audio to remove the sound of front man, Harry, spitting. Otherwise, a super clean, over produced, tight record. The track Windowmisser, was one every playlist we done in 2016, belter. This was not available on vinyl.
SPECTRES - Dying (Howling Owl)
Arty, noisy, pretentious, did I say arty? came out wayyy ahead of the Naturals album, which I was expecting first. My words couldn’t justify its pretentious image that it craves, but is a good record all the same. They have managed to upset a bunch of Bristol venues, and half the industry with their anti-record store day stance. Which I kinda admire. Doing it their own way. ooh, and a grey vinyl.
SLEATER-KINNEY - No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)
WHAT A RETURN TO FORM! I didn’t even realise I was missing them, until this came out and I fell down a well of associated acts. Great, great, great album. Bury Our Friends is probably my song of the year. I also picked up Carrie Brownsteins auto-biography, which I haven’t had time to read yet, but this album will make a fitting soundtrack.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
B-SYDES - Constant Fictions (Aaahh!!)
This was probably my most listened to album of this past year – (Except maybe Axis Of, because of their January head start) Ben delivered a record which really put him among his peers. He has a unique voice, and for what ever reasons, songs that hit my buttons. I loved this album, I loved the art work, and I loved his live performances. An absolute dude.
VERY Special mentions to Nai Harvest, Birdskulls, Woahnows, Dave McPherson and And So I Watch You From Afar, who also released good records, which kept me out of pocket all year round. Every single one was well worth it.
What is on the horizon? I know that And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead frontman Conrad Keeley has a solo album out in January, and Chris T-T has already announced “9 Green Songs” & there is always an obligatory Beans On Toast album each December. And each of the labels above will be putting out records by bands that right now I don’t know, but in 12 months will love.
Check back in in December to see how they all fair.
Have a great Xmas , see you all next year!