Sheer Music’s AOTY 2019

I’ve put absolutely no pre-thought into writing this, it’s coming out in a spew right, now.

10 – DZ Deathrays – Positive Rising #1 (Alcopop Records)

A much more understated album than their last outing, which was an absolute banger, this was a more controlled version of the beast we knew. Their atmospheric & anthemic sound were still in place and the album did drive and punch in equal measure, but it clocked in at 9 tracks, so felt a bit quick.

 

9 – The Real Cheesemakers – Grated Hits (self release)

Wiltshire’s finest silly song writers finally delivered their debut after nearly 20(?) years in the making. Certainly, in the decade I’ve known them. It’s strongest attribute will probably be their biggest hold back from reaching potential fans. People just don’t like silly songs, despite the musical prowess backing it up, and there was plenty of muscle flexed on this record. However, if you enjoy songs about cheese, giant squids, dinosaurs and guest appearances from chap-hop stars, then this record really, really delivered, and crucially, it stood up to repeated listens. Support slots to Creed Bratton, Goldie Lookin’ Chain & Professor Elemental on the way tell their own story. Almost certainly ones to look out for, as they will be hitting that circuit hard in 2020.

8 – Hysterical Injury – Life Death Life (self release)

I was slightly worried this came out in 2018, given it was released so early in 2019. The band played a single release show for us at the Komedia in Bath at the tail end of 2018, and this album followed shortly after. It was quite different sonically from their debut. Less pedal to the metal bass riffs and balls to the wall drums, and instead were more noisy soundscapes, programmed drums and dancy bass beats. This departure was rewarded with a UK tour opening for BEAK>, which is the only review you need.

Friendly Fires - Inflorescent.png7 – Friendly Fires – Inflorescent (Polydor)

In what is probably a wild card from me, big-budget, big label, pop-dance crossover indie disco outfit, Friendly Fires came back finally with their 3rd studio album. They did not reinvent anything of their history, they just continued to release dance floor friendly indie bangers. Not a lot else needed to be added, except to say, if you wanted a feel-good dance record, this was it.

A hand-drawn globe against a white background, with an orange border on the left-hand side. The words "FATHER+OF+THE+BRIDE" encircle the globe, with "Vampire Weekend" and "Sony Music" printed above and below the globe respectively. 6 – Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride (Columbia)

A stunning return to form, after trailing off since their debut (in my opinion), probably in part due to the introduction of 3 new members. This was an album of short, sharp songs (something of a theme in my list this year), spiked with their usual sun-bleached tunes. All destined to feature on a film 4 film in the future, obviously.

 

5 – Chris Farren – Born Hot (Big Scary Monsters)

If you’re not familiar with Chris’s sound, rest assured that if you picked this record up, you’d be delving in at his very best. His voice just tells stories, and I want to hear him lilting them to us. He doesn’t reinvent himself, but he did reinvent his advertising campaign, which had us all hooked on Twitter for the course of the record.

4 – Brand New Friend – Seatbelts For Aeroplanes (Xtra Mile Recordings)

OK, so not technically released this year, but I picked it up this year at their Swindon show, opening for Sean McGowan. And fuck me, the only reason this isn’t top, is because I got the  year wrong, because THIS is the sound of the funnest band out there right now. Brand New Friend are the natural successors to Ash. Infectious sub-3 minute pop tunes, all power and glory at being barely 20 something. They were my favourite set at 2000 Trees & they tour the UK in 2020, and I will be down the front, singing my heart out.

Image result for gender role prang3 – Gender Roles – Prang (Big Scary monsters)

Haha, now this was a fun album. BSM always find the band that epitomize the underground at that precise moment in time, and with Prang, Gender Roles delivered 2019’s snapshot of the state of the scene. They looked goofy, the wrote goofy and they played goofy. I have a live recording of the opening date of the album tour, in Chippenham. It was a wicked fun show, for a wicked fun band. When Weatherstate played Trowbridge a few weeks ago, these were the band everyone was buzzing about.

Image result for tom jenkins misery in comfort2 – Tom Jenkins – Comfort in Misery (Self Release)

Now here is an album.  Arguably the best-crafted collection of songs released in 2019, only missing my number 1 because of the repeated plays Indoor Pets got, because their’s came out earlier! Each song is an example of utterly perfect execution song writing. Even the shorter link tracks are perfectly weighted. No song grapples with another, the flow of the record was perfect, the weight of each track tempered expertly, none outstay their welcome – It’s a stunning record from start to finish. Tom took us on a journey, and it was beautiful.

1 – Indoor Pets – Be Content (Witchita)

After catching them for the first time since the name change (they played for us as Get Inuit, opening for Ash) at 2000 Trees, their performance was forever etched in my memory, not just because of the company, but because of the passionate delivery of the best collection of indie rock songs since The Pixies (for me at any rate). Their set was brief and faultless, and this album just got repeated and repeated. I’ve not seen them since, but I need to. I drove my family up the wall repeatedly playing Pro-Procrastinator. They hate it now. Oops.

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)