Sheer Music #AOTY 2017

It’s that time of the year again, #TeamSheer run through their favourite albums of the year. Turns out after reading last years top 10 again, I’ve listened to a lot more music this year, and I’m much happier for it. You can head over to TheColourOfVinyl to see the run downs, but here’s my list, with explanations… Let’s get cracking.

10. Gnarwoles – Outsiders (BSM)

My first listen of the album was “difficult second album” after Chronicles of Gnarnia simply bolted the first EPs together, before their self titled debut proper, both absolute belters. So this was always going to be a tough ask, but after repeated listens the album not only stood up, but became a bit of a fav. 10 tracks, 30 minutes and a Placebo parody.

Their set at 2000 Trees was absolute killer too. A band hitting their stride.

 

9. Kamikaze Girls – Seafoam (BSM)

This duo came out of nowhere for me. I hadn’t bothered with the earlier EP (you can’t listen to everything) but I found myself with some spare cutter burning a hole, and decided to pick it up, and from the off I loved it. First listen, I loved the tones, the songs, the message. For me it was pure, as I knew nothing else about the band, so it was with subtle intrigue I also caught their set at 2000 Trees, and they were superb.

They have promised to play for us at some point too………..

 

8. Heartwork – Things I Wish I’d Said (Aaahh!! Real Records)

Dan O’Dell crowd funded this debut album, and in no small part that came form a lot of the regulars that come to our shows in both Devizes and Swindon. Dan has done a lot of shows for us, supported some great acts and really built himself a nice niche in our local scene. Heartwork’s last EPs were more than splendid so finally having an album to really express himself on, Things I Wish I’d Said, was a huge step up and step forward, which is hugely encouraging of things to come. 

Whisper it… there may be a second album, and a full band show in 2018. 

 

7. And So I Watch You From Afar – The Endless Shimmering (Sargent House)

Now on their 5th album and no real reinventions of their sound here, this album is still a glorious cacophony of noise. I recently caught them at Bristol’s Thekla, supported by Gallops, and it was a fantastic show. The best parts of this album easily stack up with their back catalogue. 

 

6. Paul Draper – Spooky Action (K-Scope)

I was a HUGE Mansun fan. Apparently not as crazy as some, but crazy enough to pledge to vault recordings being pressed up. A looooong time ago Paul, Mansun’s front man admitted that he had material for a solo album, and that it would be called Spooky Action. I waited patiently for it’s release, and finally this year it saw the light of day.

To be honest, I struggled with it to begin with. The singles were excellent, but first impressions of the album didn’t instantly satisfy me. After speaking to the only other Mansun freak I knew, Phil Cooper, I stumbled across the reason why. I kept wanting it to sound like Mansun, and obviously it doesn’t. There’s no Chad. Once overcoming this obstacle, I “got” the album, and I loved it. Perhaps not quite as much as I loved Mansun albums, but certainly up there. Shortly after, I managed to catch Paul Draper on his solo tour. A tour that was mired by ill-conceived comments on social media before it even started, gave me an internal tussle over how I felt about art and artist, but I managed to settle that with myself, and enjoyed the gig. Hearing those Mansun songs made me pine for the band soooo bad, but hearing his own material made me realise all was good. After that tour Paul announced another solo tour and a live performance for the debut Mansun album, forgoing any support slots. Amazing idea, and dream come true for super fans.

I’m going with Phil, and we will have a whale of a time.

 

5. Gallops – Bronze Mystic (Blood & Biscuits)

Ahhh, now this is a band. I first caught Gallops at the International Bicycle Convention at the Barbican. They were performing in the foyer, and they were utterly awesome! A live drummer, syncopated guitars and keys, a beast of a drummer, a wall of noise. Epic. I bought the EP, 7″ and double LP, and then they split in 2013. Fast forward 4 years, and the band have reformed, recorded a new album, and then toured with ASIWYFA. The 4 year gap was worth it, as they’ve lost none of their power, despite a line up change.

 

4. Alpha Male Tea Party – Health (Big Scary Monsters) 

This was another stab in the dark, having had some extra moula in my pocket I decided to plunge for this, and I’m glad I did. More in the vein of ASIWYFA, Gallops, That Fucking Tank etc style, a sound that could only have been made by a northern band, Alpha Male came with sounds and tones never heard before, and a penchant for tunes.

There wasn’t a single duff track on the album, and the epic album closer, complete with repetitive vocal line was just glorious. I even managed to sneak a live show in Trowbridge in as a warm up to their Arc Tan Gent performance. What make the whole shabang even better is that they are thoroughly, thoroughly bloody lovely people.

 

3. Ben Marwood – Get Found (Xtra Mile) 

Ahhhh Ben & I go waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy back, to just after his first EP (that upon checking has been white washed from his history!), right back to the beginning of Sheer Music some 14 years ago. We met on a band forum (remember those?) and I fell in love. Skip forward 14 years and without doubt we are listening to a musician that’s fully & comfortably grown into his sound, but still hinting at more to come. Stand out track of Ben’s year is arguably “Safe Mode” and that wasn’t even on this excellent 3rd album!

 

2. Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (Anti-)

The album opens with the stunning line “she kissed me like a chorus” and doesn’t let up over their standard 8 track records. Another band not to reinvent their sound, but instead focus on delivering quality and a distilled perfect version of what they are. To me this is inspirational road trip music, that equally soundtracks a night time city-scape as it does a daytime desert drive. This record makes me want to ditch everything, pick up my car keys and find an adventure. Powerful stuff.

 

1. TALL SHIPS – IMPRESSIONS (FatCat Records) 

I pre-ordered this album the day it was available. 2x LP with etching on side 4. Super-uber limited edition vinyl! It’s an investment! This is a band that will go down cherished in the annuals of British rock. A bit of a grower on me, as it took a number of listens to get under my skin (a familiar theme this year… maybe you need to try a little harder to get better rewards?). At times I wanted more bombast, at others I wanted the songs to get going quicker, but upon repeated plays I realised that each song was just perfect in it’s own way. I’m literally still spinning this album daily, along with a few others above and it still sounds fresh. 

 

 

Special mentions to Tellison for their re-issue of their debut album Contact! Contact!, and to Oceansize for their re-issue of Effloresce. UBER special mention to Mark Morriss for his 3rd solo album, “Look Up” that I rightly couldn’t include in the top 10 because I’m on it. Hand claps and oohs & arrs, and you know, that would be bias. 

Some awesome EPs released this year, certainly being lead by Southampton’s Sean McGowan. His vinyl EP Graft and Grief was a belter.

So that’s it. What does 2018 hold in store? You know, with everything else going on, I have no idea what’s due…. but I’m sure I’ll catch up.

See you at Xmas x x 

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Sheer Music’s #AOTY List 2016

So a week or so ago our poster designer & SnapChat administrator Rob Escott prined all our #AOTY lists, and whilst it was fun to read them all, I do like to elaborate a little further as to why my list was as it was… So here goes…

2016 was a difficult year for me musically, since the change of job (ironically) into an admin role at distributor, Discovery Records, I have learnt an awful lot more about music, just not in my usual field of interest. I now have more than a passing appreciation of Jazz, Country and World music. The world music side of things has really opened my eyes. There’s some amazing music out there that I would never of given a chance / come across normally. The side affect of this is that I haven’t had much chance to listen to my regular interest of music. 

Thus, it was much more difficult to list the albums I loved / listened to. I actually had to look through other lists of records released this year to remind myself what I had been listening to…(!) So, here is my list and reasoning, for anyone interested…

download 10. Animal Collective – Painting With (Domino)

I got into Animal Collective on the Strawberry Jam album, loved Merriweather Post Pavillion, didn’t bother with Centipede Hz, so with bated breath I delved into Painting With. Opening track FloriDada got panned critically because it wasn’t particularly subtle. Or subtle at all. “OK we get it, you’re inspired by Dadaism” the press cried, all I cared about was, is it fun & catchy? It became a bonding song between my daughter & I. She played it more than me. I used to come home after work and she’d put it on, and we’d dance to it, which when you dance as crazy as my daughter did, 3 minutes is a loooong time. This record wasn’t nearly as good as the previous two I owned, but for that one song alone it makes the list. 

download-19. Beans On Toast – Spanner In The Works (Xtra Mile)

Another year and another album from Jay, released on his birthday. Once you’ve heard a Beans On Toast album, you’ve heard them all right? Well maybe but he has a clear idea of what he’s doing, and on SITW’s Jay raised his bar, he made everything more fun, more sweet, more twee. It’s Jay as we know and love him, but like MORE as we know and love him. He also played for us in May and August, so we were always going to be bias! 

download-1 8. Chris T-T – 9 Green Songs (Xtra Mile

Ahhh, Chris. Chris announced his new political direction with this record. Despite Corbyn, he moved even further left? Something like that. Anyway, the record came with belters such as Worst Government Ever and Love Me I’m a Liberal. Chris played a record 4 times for me in one calendar year, hitting Devizes twice, Bath and Frome for my first ever day festival. His set in Frome was one of the best I had seen him play. Controlled a crowd and gave us what we wanted, the hits. Ha. He turns 20-years-in-the-business next year, and will be doing more shows for us to celebrate. This one will be extra special, and I hope to see you all there! It’s in Trowbridge, on a grand piano. True story!

download-27. Yndi Halda – Under Summer (BSM)

Their first record, Enjoy.Eternal.Bliss was #PostRock heaven. A British band, doing the genre as good as anyone else. Eloquent, beautiful, subtle. This second record was a long time in the waiting, but when it arrived, it sank straight in, like an old friend. I once was obsessed with Post Rock. I believed it to be the natural conclusion of all music. Like classical music for a future generation, or something. Anyway, this was my post rock record of the year, well… until #4…

download-3

6. Ducking Punches – Fizzy Brain (Xtra Mile)

Dan Allan aka Ducking Punches played our Xmas show in 2015. Not long before the release of this beaut. Quite possibly the best acoustic style punk rock record released this year. They absolutely smashed it out of the park on this record, every song is a stand out. Belter after belter that you just want to shout at the top of your lungs. Dan often wears his heart on his sleeve a lot, so you know where you stand. He shares a lot and with this record he shared his heart. I fell in love at the first listen. 

download-45. Johnny Foreigner – Mono No Aware (Alcopop!)

OK so their last album, You Can Do Better, was like my fav evvr! So much so I got a tattoo. Like my fav band evvr! OK, I have a lot of favourite bands ever, but I only have one tattoo. This album had bangers, but it took me a fair few listens to really get into it. I’m not sure why, production perhaps? I don’t know, all I know is our friends Songs Of Praise put them on in Swindon, we went, we sang, we danced, we were largely the only ones there and it was still the absolute best of times! 

download-5 4. Thought-Forms – Songs About Drowning (Invada)

I could write an essay about this. But I’ll summarise. This is TT’s 3rd proper full length, the follow up to the also excellent Ghost Mountain. It’s more post rock, but this time we see the band expand to include a bassist and crucially vocals. There’s a clear development in sound, in my ears a debt of Sonic Youth included this time round. And the best bit? They’re still so young. They’ve already toured the world with Portishead and 65daysofstatic, been included in film sound tracks and more besides. This is a band just discovering their stride, and if that doesn’t excite you, nothing about British roots music does. 

download-6 3. Beach Slang – Loud Brash Of Teenage Feelings
(BSM)

I CAN’T BELIEVE DAN LEFT THIS OUT OF HIS LIST!

A great record, by a great band. It largely continued the theme and style of its predecessor, but when something is so perfect, why change a winning formula? Unbelievably I haven’t seen them live, but will be rectifying that in 2017, when they visit The Exchange in Bristol. I’ll see you down the front. 

alcopop2. Tellison – Live On A Boat On The Thames (Alcopop!)

OK, so not technically a formal release, with like, you know a CD and vinyl to show for it. In fact, I don’t even know if it even made the general public, but this live recording made by Gareth Nicholas basically encapsulated everything we’re about. At almost last minute we dragged a PA up to London in our cars, managed to organise a recording AND managed to wing it in style. The recording came out superb (all Gareth’s fault). It was all about live music, friends and experiences. We came out tighter, fitter and richer for the experience. Maybe one day you’ll hear it too. 

1. Chris Farren – Can’t Die (Side One Dummy)download-1

This record didn’t hang about. 29 minutes the 11 tracks come in at, less than 3 minutes each. And it’s glorious POP. It’s the sum of all Chris’s previous parts, distilled into what I think is his perfect vision. Uncomplicated, catchy, glorious pop. All the ingredients are there, Americanisms, his voice, twee synths, little “whoops” here and there and just HAPPYNESS with massive choruses!

 

So there you have it. Looking back at last years list I don’t think 2016 has been as strong for me personally, but 2017 already looks great, with the new JAPANDROIDS album on the way. Chris T-T‘s 20 year anniversary thing, the new Tall Ships and Gnarwolves too record and so much more than I’ve forgotten because my mind is mush and I’m horribly out of the loop. 

We also have some huge live bookings to announce (Cassette Boy – live VJ show!), Emily Barker, Gaz Brookfield, a festival or two, and that there guy from wayyy back when. 2016 sucked on many levels, let’s never go back. 

Honourable mentions to… Conrad Keeley (loads of tracks, not really a balanced album) Future Of The Left (hated it, such a disappointment) The Joy Formidable (“not as good as their last one”) Savages (I enjoyed it) Metronomy (Was missing a gaping Oscar Cash hole) Christian Fitness (we get the idea now…) Pixies (Surprisingly good) Mogwai (seems like they release an album a year…) White Lung (we new to me, it was all right) 

Emperor Yes! come to Swindon.

The London based, almost twee indie-electro-poppers EMPEROR YES! hit up Swindon for the first time, as part of their tour to support début album, “An Island Called Earth” this Friday the 24th October.

Performing at The Victoria, they bringing to mind bands such as Super Furry Animals, MGMT and Passion Pit. The trio of drums, keys and guitar make a glorious mix of harmonious and saccharine  pop, enough to ruin your fillings.

Their first three singles, released on Tape Club, include The End Of The World, dubbed “A happy marching song about the apocalypse” which pretty much sums up what they’re about. I described it as, what a British band would do with Flaming Lips’s sound.

For those of you who, like me, love a bit of pretentious arty wank to go with it, you’ll be ticked pink to know the band held art exhibitions based on imagery from the videos to Cosmos and Wasps – you can see the video to latter below.

Having already notched up some coveted tour supports to Tim Wheeler (Ash), Emmy The Great and Tall Ships, the band have also been seen supporting bands like Brawlers and Whoanows before. If that doesn’t confirm you suspicions of their quality, nothing will.

The album was released through AIM Best Record Label winner, Alcopop! Records, on 2nd October, you can grab a copy from Awesome Distro. The band support Sam Green & The Midnight Heist this Friday at Swindon’s Victoria. Entry is £4 otd.

The sort of useless piece of info, that I get off on… Their member, Ash, does live sound for Three Trapped Tigers, and has produced ASH, Emmy The Great and Sparkadia – You can find more about him OVER HERE.

EOTW_TOURposter_V3

Our first show in Bath for 6 years… JOHNNY FOREIGNER

I am SUPER HAPPY and proud to be relocating the Johnny Foreigner Moles show at the end of the month, and keeping it in Bath!

The good people of The Nest, literally a stones throw from the original venue, have allowed us to step in and take over their club for the evening, to host this uber cool indie run down. This is our first gig at The Nest, and our first in Bath since 2007, like aaaaaages ago. Please give us all a little luv’

Johnny Foreigner who are on tour promoting their 4th album “You Can Do Better” released via the excellent Alcopop!, winner of AIM’s Best Small Label award, earlier this month – to critical acclaim, will be in Bath on Sunday 30th March – less than 2 weeks away. 

Tickets are now £7 on the door. Due to the short lead time, we’re not doing advance tickets. Doors 7pm, and we have a strict curfew of 10.30pm, so it’ an early Sunday night finish. 

Support is still Radstewert and Oui Legionnaires – and I’m trying to slip DEAD ROYALTIES in there too, watch this space. 

We wish Moles a speedy recovery, and we’re sorry to be picking the corpse of their shows, but we didn’t want to see JoFo miss out (one of the unluckiest bands, EVRRRR)

“Some of the most exciting indie-pop sounds committed to record by a British band in a long while’ – Drowned in Sound

 

Of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a Umh… 

Songkick /Last.fm