(So. ‘Discovered in 2016…’ follows neatly and a little shamefully ‘…2015…’ – highlighting the sum total of my writing efforts here or anywhere else over the last twelve months (I have been up to some other stuff though…promise). What follows is a slightly edited transcript of a message and brief accompanying tracklist/sleeve notes for a mix CD enclosed with a number of this year’s Christmas cards. Please don’t be offended if you didn’t get one (initial supplies limited), it might still be on its way (it may well not) but if I know you IRL and you would like one regardless please shout and I will pop a copy in the post).
So 2016 has been a year of great change for me – largely with the emphasis on the great…
I’ve found new places, new people and a new direction; but those circumstances have limited to a degree my discovery of new music – either live, on record or the radio. I have, however managed to cobble together the following collection of favourite pieces encountered this year.
There is less music that’s brand new, at least compared to previous years’ efforts, due in part I think to limited exposure to 6music. What remains is a selection of that which was new to me – introduced through friends, films and occasional fate.
As always this is largely a self-indulgent exercise, hoping others will indulge my tastes. As such, the whole is unlikely to appeal totally to anyone – I do hope though that at least one or two of the tracks will find favour and that in turn they introduce you to someone, or something, new.
In spite of being drawn from a smaller pool than years passed, there was actually a longlist and I am very pleased with the result – there is some magnificent stuff here and, modestly, some pleasing segués.
I hope this finds you well and that you enjoy this all at least a little. Tracklist with brief thoughts follows…
With much love and very best wishes for your happiness in 2017…
1. ‘Ether’ – Mogwai
Just stunning. For me, forevermore, the sound of Spring.
2. ‘Roscoe’ (Beyond the wizards sleeve re-animation) – Midlake
A slight cheat, for Roscoe is already held firmly as my favourite song this century. This remix though is sufficiently fresh (and wonderful) so as to deserve a spot. Thanks Rick.
3. ‘I see a darkness’ – Acid Pauli ft. Johnny Cash (via Will Oldham)
Discovered on a minibus stereo high in the Andes. Minibus driven, and music provided, by an Argentinian named Hannibal the Animal.
4. ‘Pilene’ – The Megaphonic Thrift
Continued shift from noise-rock to shoegaze from my favourite Norwegians.
(video sadly unavailable at time of writing…)
5. ‘A hundred ropes’ – Minor Victories
From seemingly out of nowhere, a supergroup including members of Mogwai and Slowdive. The results are as beautiful as one might expect.
6. ‘Florian saucer attack’ – Black Mountain
Wonderful Canadian stoner-psych, with maybe a pinch of Rezillos. Magic video.
7. ‘Oriar’ – Heron Oblivion
A new Ethan Miller project, so of course it’s wonderful. None more psych…super noise with added hints of Sandy Denny and Jefferson Airplane.
8. ‘Hot burrito #2’ – Dinosaur Jr
How did I not know one of my favourite bands had covered one of my all-time favourite songs?
9. ‘Where eagles dare’ – The Misfits
Covered by Ezra Furman as one of my favourite encores this year. Fabulous chorus.
10. ‘Holda you (I’m psycho)’ – White Denim
So. Much. Fun. No need whatsoever for anyone to remake any 80s Bruckheimer films, but if they must then I hope this makes the soundtrack.
11. ‘Dream police’ – The Bellrays
Witnessed amongst a criminally small crown at Exeter Phoenix. The Motor City meets Cheap Trick. And it’s lush.
(excuse slightly ropey fan video/sound)
12. ‘Wonder feeling’ – Kate Jackson
I still really miss The Long Blondes. Kate Jackson has still got it. A reminder of what pop music should be.
13. ‘Glory hallelujah’ – Teleman
Joyous motorik Krautpop. Teleman somehow manage to not necessarily do anything new while still not sounding like anyone else. And they do it brilliantly. Love them.
14. ‘Everybody wants to love you’ – Japanese Breakfast
Found supporting Ezra Furman in Zurich. Lovely.
15. ‘(Your love keeps lifting me) higher and higher’ – Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends
Another cover. Ezra’s favourite song by all accounts. One of my favourite encores this year. The live version on this year’s ep, including closing shenanigans, a perfect example of why he’s been my favourite live act of the last two years. Peerless performer.
(the live version here a rather excellent fan video from Germany…)
16. ‘How to recognise a work of art’ – Meilyr Jones
Conveniently following Ezra…another standout performer from End of the Roads 2015 and 2016. Outrageously talented and sounding unlike anyone else out there (although I still maintain there’s something of a Welsh Morrissey with hint of Carly Simon).
17. ‘U.F.O.’ – Jim Sullivan
With thanks to James for the introduction to both song and artist. Sublime 70s Americana.
18. ‘There won’t be many coming home’ – Roy Orbison
Only Quentin Tarantino could close three hours of darkly comic murder with the Big O. Genius.
19. ‘Death is the road to awe’ – Clint Mansell
From Aranofsky’s ‘The Fountain’, which I still haven’t seen, but was lucky enough to see this performed live in March. Ludicrously beautiful.
(and if one cares to repeat the ordeal…I reckon the latter segués pretty well – musically, pastorally and thematically – into track 1…)