MUSIC. You know the drill. Music which I have enjoyed. In no particular order and all released this year apart from the first, which I only discovered this year, and is too ace to be missed out and AS IF YOU CARE ABOUT ME BREAKING THE RULES FOR IT. To be honest I think most of you come here for the theatre, so consider this an interlude. Where I will be way less articulate than usual, because this ain’t my form, man.
First up, FOLK PUNK AWESOME. ONSIND’s Dissatisfactions at first listen had me feeling it was a bit… I dunno, gaudy, but it properly, properly grew on me, and I always loved the first track, shouty righteous, and why the hell shouldn’t we shout about these things? Stand out track: Heterosexuality is a Construct
Next up, found – rather appropriately – on a late night stumbling through the internets. Biff from Crash of Rhinos morphs into Emphemetry (which I can never spell properly) with an album inspired by the streets of Derby. A Lullaby Hum for Tired Streets comes in a beautiful card/art booklet CD case. Sounds like orange streetlights and clammy streets and glimpses through the bright lit windows of strangers. Stand out track: Four Million Silhouettes.
Another Derby band, now, quite a new one, but full of awesome melodic energy and vocals with just the right amount of edge to them. Papayér’s EP (they also have a split with Nai Harvest on their bandcamp which you should definitely check out) is one of my favourite leaping-around-unnecessarily records. Stand out track: Dress for December
Last up from Derby, which I should really make an effort to get to more shows at in 2012, is the magnificent Crash of Rhinos with Distal. Physical copies put out by twitter mate Nick Moreton (@roundonefight). Tastily but not too thickly layered noise, bits of guitar feel nicely early-mid 2000s era Hundred Reasons/Reuben type stuff – but LOADS of well up to date vocals; feels like sheets of snow, crunchy, but you can sink into it really satisfactorily. Stand out track: Gold on Red.
In another version of this year I probably would have included Tellison here, I was going to SHOUT about them being STOLEN by associations with an evil* ex, but if it could be taken away I guess the music was only really loaned to me anyway. FEAR NOT, noble reader, it does not matter, for it made room for another ace Big Scary Monsters Recs band; the Sheffield-based Algiers. Their debut Four Priests EP has gloriously poppy vocals, ace driving drums, and nice chunky lyrics which I actually can’t resist singing along to. Stream one of their songs here. Better lyrics than Tellison, actually, I reckon. SO WHO WINS NOW, EX. Ahem. Stand out track: These January Versions.
*not actually evil, a nice chap, really.
Now this one, I actually could understand some people not liking, mostly because it relies so heavily on the lead’s quite distinct vocals. But I find them proper beguiling, so I love it – Winter Forever by Seahaven. Some really good storytelling in the lyrics, too, makes up for occasionally unimaginative guitar-ing. Which is definitely a word. Standout track: Black and White.
Birmingham-based &U&I are formed of most of Blakfish, who apparently you should know if you like your math rock, which no doubt you all do. Anyway, &u&i are a bit more palatable and driving than Blakfish, which I find all kinds of ace. The Chancer’s Paradise EP is another must, but linking to a part-stream of their Light Bearer album release here. All the tasty changes in timings you’d expect from math rock (this is where I pretend I know about genres), with soaring proper firery sounding vocals. Stand out track: Belly Full of Fire and a Heart Full of Blood; mostly for its ability to injure me if I run to it.
This next one is probably at least top 3 for me, Brighton trio Tall Ships’ EP There is Nothing But Chemistry Here. Samples, synths, guitars, really foot tapping drums; half instrumental but with a fucking gorgeous array of vocals and clever lyrics at just the right moments. Feels like floating in the sea, balanced, sometimes serene but unpredictable, prepared to proper hurt you*. Stand out track: Vessels. Just listen to it. And also buy it. Big Scary Monster Recs again. Might just head over to Oxford so they can put a face to who’s buying all of their stock.
*can you tell I was a rubbish surfer? Waves hurt.
“PETER FUCKING WYETH”, once you listen to him (which you must) you will see why this excited shout (from me) was frowned upon by most of the audience. Humming New Time is full of quiet, delicate, soaring, exquisite, sampled, looped sounds all made by one man and an array of instruments/pedals. I loved it so much I cornered him after the gig and tried to convince him he should be making sound installations for theatre. Which he should. And he actually looked more interested in the idea than frightened by me, so if you’re a) in a position to do so, b) actually still reading, and c) interested in commissioning quiet immersive, transporting sound from him, DO. Would fit ace into a small airy room of BAC for the one-on-one fest, for example. Anyway, here’s the record. Hand lithographed hard copies a must-buy, too. Stand out track: ALL OF THEM. But if I had to choose, Sing to Me.
And finally, from Worcester, Watch Commander’s Closer to Home EP. The opening of the first track totally makes me feel 17 again; full of hubris and energy and fucking joy. Classic punky guitars and a good grate-y vocal (I mean that as a quality not a complaint). The kind of thing to leap around to with mates. Which is always a good note to end things on. Stand out track: Places.
et la fin.
Have an ace Christmas, and if you like these tracks, give the bands/labels money for them. Bandcamp makes that uber easy.