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…
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.
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!
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!
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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)
Our favourite concept-folk-poppers Retrospective Soundtrack Players have announced their 3rd album “It’s A Wonderful Christmas Carol” will be released on 24th November, which can be pre-ordered through Xtra Mile recordings NOW!
You’ll be familiar with the band after their performances in Swindon earlier this year and a special acoustic show at The Lamb around this time last year (you can hear a recording from our Soundcloud, below).
We’ve heard the record and I can solemnly vouch for it’s incredible ability to entwine the classic Charles Dickens book, A Christmas Carol with 1946 film, It’s A Wonderful Life to mesmerising effect. It’s a record that requires repeated spins to reveal it’s true ability, but consequently it’s a very rewarding listen! You’ll also be happy to know the band haven’t strayed from their tried and tested folk-pop formula BUT I will quickly add that there is plenty of new instrumentation and sounds at work that’ll impress the old fan base.
Earlier this year the band encouraged us to email a request into Xtra Mile to get the record pressed onto Vinyl, and I’m delighted to say that this press release I’m reading confirms a limited edition red LP will be available, as well as the usual CD and digital versions.
The band will be performing a release show on Friday 21st November at Camden’s Monach, before a short tour in December with Chris T-T & The Hoorats. Which will swing by Swindon’s Victoria for us, on Sunday 14th December.
There will be new videos and a single preceding the release, which I’m sure we’ll spam you with in all the usual places, but in the meantime remind yourself why they are so ace!