Albums of the Year 2015

I listened to a lot of music in 2015, but I also changed the way I listened to music. I stopped subscribing to emusic’s download service, and instead started buying CDs and vinyl again, both as part of Rough Trade‘s album of the month subscription and by visiting record stores to buy things (something I’d not done for a while). I bought less albums, but spent more time with each one, and also had access to Spotify to listen to those things I wanted to hear but had no desire to own. By the end of 2015 pretty much everything about how I consumed music had changed, as as such I expect this list will reflect that change somewhat.

And so, without further ado, (and in no particular order) my records of the year:

Jim O’Rourke – Simple Songs

This year has been a year where a fair few of my heroes made records I was not expecting to hear. Jim O’Rourke’s first album of conventional songs since 2001 was probably the biggest shock of all, coming as it does after years of releasing largely instrumental, collaborative and avant-garde recordings from his new home base in Tokyo. Simple Songs contains eight songs, all with vocals, but none of them could really be described as simple. The sound is not unlike his previous vocal records (Eureka, Insignificance and Half Way to a Threeway), and the lyrics seem straightforward on the surface, but then reveal a barbed undertone that reminds me of his work with Loose Fur a few years ago. I expected I would like this record a lot, but I didn’t expect I’d end up playing it more than any other record this year, and if I did have to pick one of these records to put at the top of my list then it would probably be this one.

Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

I had not heard of Father John Misty before February this year. February was the month that I signed up to Rough Trade’s Album of the month deal, and also asked them to send me one additional CD as part of their albums by adventure subscription. This was what I was sent the first month, and I couldn’t stop playing it for most of the year. It’s lush orchestrated pop music with excellent and slightly humorous lyrics, and in some ways it reminds me a lot of the record directly above it on this list. I’d highly recommend this to anyone, and would also recommend the limited edition live record that followed it (which I’ll write more about later). I Love You, Honeybear has accompanied me on many a morning commute, and I suspect it’s probably a record for late night and early morning; when it’s dark and hazy and yesterday begins to blur into tomorrow.

Grimes – Art Angels

I don’t often put records released in December in my end of year list. This is the exception, partly because it was released digitally a few weeks earlier, and partly because it’s one of the best examples of modern pop music that I’ve heard for years. So many other records on this list could have been made in any year, but Art Angels is a record for 2015, and builds on everything Grimes has done up to this point and then takes it to the next level. This record deserves to be huge, with almost every song worthy of being a hit single, and I’d be quite interested to find out how it does sales-wise, because I’ve seen a lot of much worse records sell very well this year. NME made this their record of the year, and said “We already knew Grimes could write a killer pop song, but ‘Art Angels’ proved she could deliver 14 of them in a row. ‘Art Angels’ was not so much the sound of an artist trying to fit into the pop landscape as one trying to shape it in their own image. The best album of the year, from the most exciting artist of a generation.”

New Order – Music Complete

I am a big New Order fan, and own multiple copies of most of their records. Until this year I did not expect them to make another record, let alone make a record that was as good as anything they had released since the late 1980s. Music Complete does what it says on the tin – it’s music, and it’s complete. It contains a lot of the things that New Order do well, and there is very little in the way of filler material (which makes a nice change after the last couple of records which seemed to be mostly filler). If you’ve never heard New Order before then buy this along with one of the many compilations that are out there and you’ll get a decent idea of what they are about. If you’re a fan like me then I’d be interested where you would place this record in the all-time list (for me it comes after Low Life and Brotherhood but is fighting with Technique and Power, Corruption and Lies for 3rd place). I would also recommend the CD singles they have released from this album – I got the Tutti Frutti one for Christmas and it’s 51 minutes of music.

Tame Impala – Currents

Tame Impala’s previous records were guitar driven, but Currents changes the musical palate a lot, and contains more keyboards and synths (and almost no guitars). It reminds me a little of when The Cure switched from the dark and sombre sound of Pornography to the much more commercial sound of Let’s Go To Bed and The Lovecats. It’s a brave move, but one that works really well, and the end result is an interesting record that sounds nothing like anything else they have released. The first song sets the blueprint for the whole record, with soaring vocals, melodic synths, and genuine human emotion with the rough edges removed by technology. After listening to this many times over the last few months I’m very interested to see what their next move is, and I’m also interested to hear what people who have never heard this artist before think of this record, as I’m approaching it as someone who has heard (and liked) everything else they have made.

Max Richter – From Sleep

There are some records that I wouldn’t recommend to most people I know, despite really liking them and listening to them a lot. There are a few of them on this list, but From Sleep is probably the most unusual. It’s a distillation of a eight hour musical suite by German composer Max Richter; with the full length version designed to accompany a full either hours of sleep. This is the shorter version, and it has accompanied me through many an evening of trying to wind down after a hard day sufficiently to sleep. Part music, part medicine, I’ve heard nothing else like it all year, and I’d also recommend the full 8 hour version as it explores a few more ambient themes, and takes the melodies in some interesting directions.

Destroyer – Poison Season

I’m a big fan of Destroyer. I’ve got all their albums, and Kaputt was fairly high up my end-of-list the year it came out. Poison Season operates in the same lyrical and melodic areas, but replaces synths and electronics with strings and a much more organic sound. I wouldn’t say it’s better than Kaputt, but it’s certainly on a par, and it’s a record I’ve found myself coming back to over and over again in the second half of this year. The vinyl version is very well put together, but I find myself wishing it was all on one disk instead of being spread over four relatively short sides of vinyl.

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

It’s been a while since Sufjan Stevens made a record, and I was beginning to wonder if he has disappeared off the face of the earth. Carrie and Lowell is sparser than anything else he’s done, which allows the songs to shine through in a way that hasn’t been the case with his previous records. There is also a timeless quality to the music, and this record could have been made in any decade since the 1960s, although lyrically it feels contemporary and relevant to the here and now. Carrie and Lowell is an intimate and personal record that makes the listener feel privileged to be allowed to hear it, and it’s a record I played over and over again during the summer, and one that I still come back to a few months later.

Sun Kil Moon – Universal Themes

Another year, another great Sun Kil Moon record. Universal Themes picks up where Benji left off, and is another record full of sparse instrumentation, witty lyrical observations, and the kind of story-telling that you don’t really see outside folk music. The songs are longer this time around, but the basic premise is the same – Mark Kozelek sings about his life, and things that have happened to him recently. The songs are interesting because his life is interesting, and I enjoy listening to the observations of someone who is around my age and likes a lot of the things I like (music, travel etc.). I suspect this record might not work for people who are younger, or who don’t buy into the mythology of Mark Kozelek and the records he’s made with Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon, and various other people, and as such this isn’t a record I’d recommend as such – I just really like it and enjoy listening to it.

Georgia – Georgia

Another artist I discovered via Rough Trade, and a record I wasn’t sure about at first but that ended up being one of the first records I added to this list. Georgia’s debut album hops between genres, but I’d probably describe it as electronica, or dance music, or something far removed from the type of music I usually listen to. When I read the description of it I wasn’t sure, but after a couple of listens it started to make sense, and listening to this record has certainly made me open to trying more music with a similar sound (the Grimes record for instance, which I’ve listened to a great deal in the last few weeks of the year). I’m interested in what she might do next; this is a solid debut, but I wonder if the next record will be more of the same or an interesting tangent into something new.

FFS – FFS

FFS stands for Franz Ferdinand & Sparks rather than anything else you might think of, and it was a double blast from the past that I don’t think anyone expected. It’s a proper double album, with sixteen songs spread over 4 sides of vinyl, and each song manages to combine the sound of two bands who sound nothing like each other, and who came to prominence decades apart. The standout track is called Collaborations Don’t Work but this record proves that they most certainly do.

Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion People

Another Rough Trade album of the month, and one that I found myself coming back to throughout the year. It’s intelligent pop music, which deals with themes of gender and self-identity very well, and which also manages to be very catchy. These songs would work on the radio (although you probably won’t hear them on the radio), and despite the music sounding like it could belong to any decade since the 70s, the lyrics are very much a picture of life in 2015.

John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

I’d been looking forward to the new John Grant record for a while, and it ended up being Rough Trade’s album of the month (as well as coming with a CD version, so I have 2 copies). Grey Tickles, Black Pressures sounds like the best bits of his first two records re-imaged, which is just fine by me, and even the pink and orange vinyl didn’t put me off too much. It’s a record that needs repeated listens, and I also think that the variety of musical styles makes it the sort of record that works on a random playlist.

Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

In October I discovered a record by Protomartyr (about who I knew very little). The reviews mentioned Joy Division, and it came on green marbled vinyl with a small pamphlet of lyrics and other artwork. The Agent Intellect is a classic 45 minute 12 song album that doesn’t stick around too long but is a perfect example of what it is trying to be. Although my musical taste has broadened over the years, I still like loud guitar-based rock music best of all, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of discovering new music in this genre.

Joanna Newsom – Divers

I’ve been a fan of Joanna Newsom since I bought Ys on the day of release (largely because Jim O’Rourke had produced it and it had some very long songs on it). Divers has neither of those selling points, but is a great record nonetheless, and if you’ve not heard any of Joanna Newsom’s other records then it’s a good enough place to start. You won’t find this on Spotify, and it does take about 10 listens to start to make sense of it, but it is definitely time and money well spent.

Floating Points – Elaenia

The Rough Trade album of the month for November was Elaenia by Floating Points. It’s a largely instrumental record which genre-hops a fair bit, but which in some ways reminds me of a vocal-free re-imaging of Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden crossed with something more electronic. It took a couple of listens before I got into it, but now I really like it and think it’s probably the best electronic/instrumental record of the year.

Stara Rzeka – Zamknęły się oczy ziemi

Stara Rzeka are from Poland, and this is their second (and rumored to be final) release. It moves between melodic acoustic soundscapes and something more esoteric, and the fact that the vocals are in Polish mean I have absolutely no idea what the songs are about. The guitars remind me a little of Jim O’Rourke’s Bad Timing, and the shorter songs in particular are an excellent example of the kind of music I like to listen to when I’m writing or doing some other kind of task that requires concentration but also needs music to block out the interference of the outside world.

Mac Demarco – Another One

I think this is probably the shortest record on this list, but also one of the most immediate. Mac Demarco makes literate melodic pop music that works from the first listen, and this is probably the best example of his work that I’ve heard so far. He’s someone who deserves to be a lot more famous than he is, and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with in 2016 (I’m sure there will be at least one record, there has been every other year).

Clarence Clarity – No Now

This is another Rough Trade albums by adventure find, and is another record I would certainly have never listened to otherwise. No Now is a 20 track collection of mostly electronic music that manages to be danceable, multi-textured and incredibly clever at the same time. I have no idea what most of the songs are about, but it’s a great record that deserves more exposure. Most of the tracks have vocals, but my copy came with a bonus CD of instrumental versions which is also well worth a listen.

Emile Haynie – We Fall

I’m not normally a fan of this sort of record, where a producer will line up a load of their favourite singers to add vocals to instrumental tracks they have recorded. We Fall manages to do very well with the concept, partly because Emile Haynie’s songs are very good, and partly because his roster of vocalists includes Brian Wilson, Father John Misty, Rufus Wainwright and Lana Del Ray. From what I can tell it’s a concept album about lost love, and it’s exactly what song-based pop music should sound like in 2015. In another world this would have been a huge hit, but in the world of Coldplay and Adele it will just have to settle for being a cult classic.

Todd Rundgren/Emil Nikolaisen/Hans-Peter Lindstrom – Runddans

In the year where Todd Rundgren made his best solo record for decades, he was also involved in the creation of this mini-masterpierce. It’s one long song, lasting around 36 minutes, which fuses electronic and experimental music with Todd’s vocals and lyrics, with the end result being something unlike anything I’ve ever listened to before. The CD splits it into individual tracks (with names), but I’d recommend treating it as one long song (which it is), and I hesitated before adding it to my Spotify playlist because I’m not sure how well it works when it is carved up into smaller chunks.

Benjamin Clementine – At Least For Now

I had not heard of Benjamin Clementine before he was nominated for the Mercury Music prize, but his debut record is something really special and was a well deserved winner. It reminds me a little of Anthony and the Johnsons (not a bad thing), but there is also a real energy in each song that you don’t often get from piano/vocal music, and I still get goosebumps each time I listen to it, which can only be a good thing. Copies of this were fairly scarce for a while, but a deluxe edition has just been released (with bonus tracks, and one song slightly extended) and at time of writing could be picked up for £4.99 on CD.

Ghost Culture – Ghost Culture

January seems a long time ago now, but this record was released right at the start of the year and soundtracked many a frozen walk to work. It’s melodic electronica, with enough melody to appeal to fans of pop music, but enough interesting electronic textures to remain interesting long past the first few listens. Another debut album (there seems to be quite a few in my list this year) that makes me wonder what the artist will come up with next.

Django Django – Born Under Saturn

As I look through the list of records I’ve already written about it strikes me that many of them are what I’d call pop music. Of course, my definition of pop music is probably quite different than a lot of people, but there is a lot here that is melodic, catchy, and would work as well on the radio as on a dance floor. Born Under Saturn epitomises this idea, and represents a very good example of all that is good in English pop music in 2015. Over 13 songs Django Django manage to create something that is melodic, but also experimental; something that never forgets that it’s a pop record but at the same time doesn’t compromise anything in terms of lyrics, arrangements or instrumentation. There are very few people I wouldn’t recommend this record to, and it is one I found myself coming back to over and over again throughout the year.

Bachar Mar-Khalifé – Ya Balad

I remember the night of the Paris attacks very well. I was sat at my computer watching the news come in and struggling to comprehend what I was seeing. In the aftermath of the attacks there were only three records that made sense. One was British Sea Power’s Do You Like Rock Music?, one was the Benjamin Clementine record (that was largely conceived in Paris and has a very Parisian sound), and the third was this album. Bachar Mar-Khalife was born in the Lebanon, lives in France, and made this record as an open letter to his native country. It’s largely sung in Arabic and French, but the music is powerful and beautiful, and I found myself coming back to it again and again during the darker months of the year.

The following playlist contains all but two of my top 25 records of the year.


The best of the rest

Other records I liked but don’t really have a lot to say about include:

Autre Ne Veut – Age Of Transparency
Jlin – Dark Energy
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
Bill Ryder-Jones – West Kirkby County Primary
Royal Headache – High
Desaparecidos – Payola
Faith No More Sol Invictus
Chvrches – Every Open Eye
Paul Smith and the Intimations – Contradictions
Wand – Golem
Nadine Shah – Fast Food
The Districts – A Flourish and a Spoil
Peter Broderick – Colours of the Night
Matthew E White – Fresh Blood
Klezmerson – Amon : The Book of Angels vol. 24
The Spike Orchestra – Cerebus : The Book of Angels vol. 26
Nordic Giants – A Seance of Dark Delusions
Liam Hayes – Slurrup
Will Butler – Policy
The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
The Indelicates – Elevator Music
Steven Wilson – Hand Cannot Erase
Guy Garvey – Courting the Squall
The Fall – Sublingual Tablet
Wilco – Star Wars
Duke Special — Look Out Machines!
The Unthanks – Mount the Air
Ghostpoet — Shedding Skin
El VY – Return to the Moon

The following playlist contains most of the above, plus a few other things I’ve listened to over the last 12 months.


Live albums, compilations etc.

There are also a fair few records that don’t qualify for my main list due to being live albums/reissues etc.

The Twilight Sad – Oran Mor Session

My love of this band is well known, and I wrote about their last record this time last year in glowing terms. This year’s offering contains acoustic re-workings of 6 songs from No-One Wants To Be Here & No-One Wants To Leave along with one b-side and one cover version. The songs gain new life and new perspective from this stripped down approach, and I’d highly recommend this release to fans of the band and lovers of acoustic music alike.

Father John Misty – Live at Rough Trade

Another stripped down live record that takes an album I already love and sheds new light on it. This one is just vocals and acoustic guitar, but also contains some great banter with the audience, and manages to sound very different from I Love You, Honeybear (from which all but one of the songs originate). I don’t think you can buy this one in the shops, but I believe Rough Trade still have a few left.

British Sea Power – Sea of Brass

This record contains re-workings of old songs, with the addition of a brass band, which adds additional texture and a whole new twist on songs I’ve listened to many times before. The choice of songs is quite eclectic, with quite a few b-sides and obscure fan favourites, but quite honestly I’d be happy with any BSP song being included here as I love them all. I pre-ordered this months before it came out, and am also booked in to see them playing live with a brass band at Birmingham Town Hall in February, which I’m very much looking forward to.

Keiji Haino / Jim O’Rourke / Oren Ambarchi – Tea time for those determined to completely exhaust every bit of this body they’ve been given

This takes some getting used to, and is quite abrasive in places, but it makes quite a nice counterpoint to Jim O’Rourke’s more conventional song based music, and the more minimalistic collaborations between O’Rourke and Oren Ambarchi that were also released this year. It’s the second release documenting an improvised concert in 2013 (the first part came out last year and is also worth checking out), and it features three experimental musicians in perfect harmony, creating something that they probably only played once.

Golden Teacher – First Three EPs

I’d not heard of Golden Teacher until I received their record through the post, but I really like it (both the 8 song vinyl version and the 12 song CD). They remind me a lot of late 70s/early 80s post-punk/funk, which is not a bad thing for something to remind me of at all. There is a lot of energy in this record, and every track here would work well on the dance floor (although I’m not sure how you would dance to some of it).

Bardo Pond – Record Store Day Trilogy

Bardo Pond have released a record for Record Store Day each year since 2013. This triple CD gathers them all together in one place, which is a good thing as it’s hard to track down the vinyl now. Each record has the same concept – take two songs by existing artists and play them for about 20 minutes in the Bardo Pond style. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and hearing all three records back to back works surprisingly well.

Marsheaux – A Broken Frame & An Extended Broken Frame

This is a note-for-note cover of Depeche Mode’s A Broken Frame, which does a very good job of making the songs sound like they were written in 2015. If you like the original then you’ll love this, and the remix album that was released later in the year is also well worth a listen.

John Zorn – The Album Project (live)

This is a live rendition of songs written by combining existing John Zorn compositions with new lyrics (written by Mike Patton, amongst others). The performances shed new light on the music, and the end result is far greater than the sum of the parts. It’s not available on Spotify, but a version of the concert is available on youtube.

Albums of the year 2014

This year I’ve done things slightly differently in that I’ve not paid as much attention to how many times I’ve listened to something, but instead concentrated on how much I enjoyed it. Some records just can’t be listened to that often; they require complete attention and the kind of time commitment that I just don’t have most days, and I fear I may have left out a few such records in previous years.

I’ve gone for a top 20 this year, which are in no particular order, and also added my favourite live album (which is a live rendition of something that should have been in last year’s top 10 for the reasons mentioned above), and then added a load of other records I’ve enjoyed but can’t think of much to say about.

Everything here that is available on Spotify is in a playlist. Putting this playlist off shuffle may lead to some very odd juxtapositions though, and a lot of these records work best when listened to in the intended order.

James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical

I stumbled upon this in January, when I was looking for something new to listen to during my January commute to work. I had no expectations at all, and has not heard of the artist previously (although I’ve since checked out his debut album as well). James Vincent McMorrow has the sort of voice that would work very well with all sorts of different styles of music, and on first listen this reminded me a lot of How to Dress Well (not a bad thing), but what really sets this apart is the songs, which are sparse, achingly beautiful, and which flow together as a body of work. There is a sadness to this music, but also an uplifting feeling of hope and ambition, and I look forward to seeing what this artist comes up with next (which, if interviews are to be believed, will sound nothing like anything he’s done before).

I’m very surprised that this doesn’t feature in more end-of-year lists, which I suspect is down to the fact it was released right at the start of January. It’s certainly worth a listen, although if you’re anything like me then it will probably be a grower.

Sun Kil Moon – Benji

Sun Kil Moon is the current recording project of Mark Kozelek, formerly of Red House Painters. I’ve got a broad familiarity with all of Mark’s work, and two of his collaborative records were on my list last year. Red House Painters were probably my favourite band in my early 20s (which probably says a lot about my early 20s), and I find myself going back to their early records when I want to hear something that is both sad and hopeful. Benji is both of these things, but it’s also darkly humorous, and a step forward from anything else he’s released in the last 20 years.

The subject matter largely deals with death, and how it affects other people. A lot of the songs deal with true stories, and someone dies in (or before) almost every one of them. In the hands of many other singers this concept could easily degenerate into something that is very difficult to listen to. In this case it’s very much the opposite, and the combination of Mark’s vocals and guitars and the occasional bit of drumming from Steve Shelley gives the slightly morbid tales a lighter than expected backdrop that makes the whole thing a pleasure to listen to. And just when you think you’ve got a handle on this record, along comes the last song “Ben’s My Friend” which may be the best thing he’s committed to tape since the first two Red House Painters records.

This probably isn’t a record for everyone though. It’s emotionally raw, very sparse in places, and if you need more in your life than a voice and a guitar then it might leave you a little unfulfilled. But it might also give you new perspective on life, love, family, and getting to the age where the people you care about get old and die. I think it’s a record I needed this year, and is probably this year’s equivalent of Trouble Will Find Me – something I can listen to and wholeheartedly say “I can relate to that”.

Benji was released fairly early on in the year, but I’ve listened to it pretty constantly since then, and I suspect this will be one of those records I keep coming back to.

The Twilight Sad – No-One Wants To Be Here & No-One Wants To Leave

I can’t say too many good things about this band or this record. Every record they have made has been a flawless classic, and this one is no different. If anything, it sounds a little bit like the best bits of all their other records, as if they have taken the different sounds and textures they have used previously and then written new songs around them.

Personally, I always find that The Twilight Sad make more sense in the winter. They are the perfect sound track for walking to the train station on frosted mornings, and I have many fond memories of walking through the snow listening to one or other of their previous records. We have had no snow this year, but I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this was released just as the weather started to get colder.

I’m not sure why they are not bigger. Maybe it’s the fact that James Graham sings in a strong Scottish accent, but then he speaks in a strong Scottish accent so why shouldn’t he sing in the same way? Maybe it’s that they use texture and feedback to enhance the melody of each song, and that to some people that’s just noise. Beautiful noise though, and there isn’t a word or a note of this record that I would change.

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

None of their records have really engaged me before, but I think that Lost in the Dream is probably one of two records (the other being Future Island’s Singles) that should have been huge this year. I have no idea how many copies it sold, but I think this is a great example of what melodic and thoughtful rock music should sound like. The only negative for me is that I don’t feel I can relate particularly to the songs; they are great songs, but they don’t speak to me enough about my life in the way that (for example) Trouble Will Find Me did last year.

I think a lot of people reading this will enjoy Lost in the Dream though, and I very much look forward to what The War on Drugs come up with next.

Future Islands – Singles

The other record that should have been huge this year (and which possibly was). This is more keyboard/synth lead, and when I first heard it I thought it was a singles compilation, because every song was so strong. In fact it’s a new record that happens to be called Singles, and it is easily the best thing this band have ever done. It’s melodic, but also loud and energetic. It makes me want to stand up, move around, and perhaps even dance.

I also note they are on 4AD records. I’ve just finished reading Martin Ashton’s Facing the Other Way, which is an account of the first 20 years or so of 4AD, and it strikes me that quite a few artists on this list are either currently or formerly associated with the label. In this digital age I rarely consider record labels now, although it was something I was very conscious of when I was younger. This is the sort of record I would buy based on the fact they were on 4AD and that I liked the cover. In this case I would not have been disappointed in the slightest, as it’s a great record that I suspect I will still be listening to this time next year.

School of Language – Old Fears

School of Language is the side project of David Brewis from Field Music. I’m familiar with Field Music’s work, but wouldn’t say they were one of my favourite bands. I stumbled on this record quite by accident because I liked the look of the cover, and was surprised to find something so intimate, personal, and sounding very much like a solo record from someone trying to escape the confines of a band. It’s largely keyboard led, and has strong pop sensibilities without being in any way commercial or trite. It also contains some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard this year.

Initially I wondered how records like this got made, and I don’t see Field Music as being big earners, and it sounds like it was recorded in a decent quality studio. From reading an interview with Paul Smith of Maximo Park last week I learned that Field Music actually have their own studio, which makes a lot of sense, and also goes some way to explaining how the next record in my list came about.

Paul Smith & Peter Brewis – Frozen by Sight

Talking of Paul Smith, I suppose it’s worth writing about why the latest Maximo Park record isn’t in my top 20 when everything they have ever made has made the relevant yearly lists. It’s not that Too Much Information is a bad record, it’s just that it doesn’t add anything new, and I think this is a much more interesting and enjoyable listen.

The conception and making of this record has been well documented at http://thequietus.com/articles/16924-paul-smith-peter-brewis-interview. Paul Smith is the lead singer of Maximo Park, who I would imagine are well known to most people. Peter Brewis is from Field Music, and is the brother of David Brewis (see above). Together they have made a record that sounds a little bit like Field Music, and nothing at all like Maximo Park (unless you count Paul’s vocals, which are unmistakable). Frozen By Sight is certainly greater than the sum of its parts, and occupies a similar territory as Old Fears, although the addition of some of Paul Smith’s most interesting lyrics gives it additional definition and distinction. Each song is named after a place, and from a personal perspective it acted as a nice soundtrack to Donald Harrington’s Let Us Build A City, which I was reading at the same time, and which has chapters named after (and about) lost cities in the USA.

Frozen by Sight was released fairly late in the year, but it was one of the first records I wrote down when I was compiling this list. I’d certainly urge people to give it a few listens, because it really does start to pay dividends if you give it a bit of time.

Owen Pallett – In Conflict

One of the few records I actually bought on CD this year, which was more for the gatefold vinyl-type sleeve than for the music, although the music was very good too. I’ve followed Owen Pallett’s career from afar for a few years without really engaging too much with any of his music. This record really hit the spot for me though, and is lyrically clever, musically proficient, and a step up from anything else he’s ever done.

Mirel Wagner – When the Cellar Children See The Light of Day

An artist I’d not heard of this time last year, and a record that I found myself listening to repeatedly early in the morning, when louder or more complex music just didn’t work. The songs are purely vocal/guitar, and they don’t tread any new musical ground, whilst at the same time being a highly proficient example of the musical style they do represent. Mirel Wagner’s voice is pitch perfect, and this record could have been made in any year since the 50s, but there is something about it that sounds crisp, clear, and very much belonging to the modern age. It’s also got one of the best album titles of the year, which is initially what drew me to it.

FKA Twigs – LP1

Another artist I’d not heard of this time last year, and one that I initially stumbled on through seeing the record cover and thinking it looked interesting. I don’t normally listen to much R’n’B/dance style music, but this record takes the best bits of the genre, and reminds me a bit of Massive Attack in places (which is always a good thing). I also like how she uses some very unusual sounds and textures, and yet manages to sculpt them into something that compliments the vocals and lyrics perfectly.

The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

My love of this group is well known, and to me they are the only band currently operating who deserve the tag “supergroup”. Brill Bruisers is very much a record of the summer, and is full of melodic energy, great pop songs, and some of the best lyrics that the various members of the band have ever written. I particularly like Dan Bejar’s contributions, and am hopeful that this time next year I’m writing about a new Destroyer record.

I recommend The New Pornographers to people a lot, because to my ears they make what I regard as pop music. I suspect that they might be a little weird for some tastes though, and that my definition of pop music is a few decades out of date.

Aphex Twin – Syro

Was anyone expecting this? I certainly wasn’t. I thought that Richard James has stopped making music years ago, so I was somewhat surprised when I saw that there was a new Aphex Twin record available. It’s probably not to everyone’s taste, but if you like electronic/synth music then it’s well worth a listen, and as with everything he’s done I think it’s the very best the genre has to offer.

Scott Walker and Sunn 0))) – Soused

Something else that I really didn’t expect. Scott Walker usually takes years to make records, but he is getting quite prolific recently, with this collaboration with Sunn 0))) being his 4th release in a decade (unheard of since the 60s). This collaboration is probably the most accessible record Scott has made in that decade (and is certainly the most accessible record Sunn 0))) have ever made). There are songs and tunes, as well as a whole lot of spine tingling vocals, obtuse lyrics, and interesting background atmospherics.

This record will not be for everyone, but it certainly makes me look at Sunn 0))) in a new light, and will hopefully gain Scott Walker a few new fans as well.

Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

I’ve been a fan of Thom’s work (both in Radiohead and as a solo artist) since 1994, and this record nicely summarises where he’s at today. It’s electronic/synth based, but also surprisingly tuneful, and I like the way the tracks flow into one to give a definite feeling of this being a collection of songs that belong together. I also like the way it was released, as a bit torrent download, and with minimal publicity. I suspect that if I didn’t follow Thom on Twitter then I might not have found out about this record, which would have been great shame.

It’s not available on Spotify, but can be purchased from http://tomorrowsmodernboxes.com/

Mogwai – Rave Tapes

I’ve written elsewhere about how I’ve started doing certain types of work whilst listening to music, after being a staunch fan of working in silence as much as possible for many years. I still find working to lyrical music quite hard, and as a result I’ve tried hard to find music that allows me to block out the noise of the outside world whilst at the same time allowing me to concentrate on what I’m doing.

As part of this shift, I’ve listened a lot to a Spotify playlist I created called Post Rock Classics. The title is somewhat ironic, but it largely consists of music with no words, interspaced with a few things that are largely instrumental but have occasional vocals that don’t detract from the overall mood of the music. Mogwai very much epitomise this sound to me, and are probably one of the bands I’ve listened to most in 2014 as a result.

Raves Tapes does not sound like a rave tape. It sounds a bit like their last record (Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will), but also has slightly more electronic elements. It is also probably the most consistent record they have made for a good while. If you like Mogwai then you’ll like Rave Tapes, and if you’ve not heard them before then it’s not a bad place to start. What more can I say?

Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

I wrote about Rewind the Film last year, and this record was recorded around the same time. Whilst the last record was largely acoustic, this taps into their more experimental edge, and contains some of the best music they have released since The Holy Bible (which is 20 years old this year – how did that happen?). The predominant sound reminds me a bit of Berlin-era Bowie, but it is also very much a Manic Street Preachers record, and in the year that my favourite record of theirs turns 20, it is a reminder that they still have something worth saying (and that by extension people of my age in the UK still have something worth saying).

This is another record I ended up buying physically because of the packaging, and the copy I have comes in the format of a hardback book with two CDs (one of the album, one of demos and bonus tracks). In the same way that vinyl is becoming collectable again, I think that there is still a place for lavishly packaged CDs in the digital age. I’m just glad that I don’t have to buy everything I listen to physically because I think I would run out of both space and money very quickly.

Zion 80 – Adramelech : Book of Angels v.22

This is the 22nd volume of interpretations of songs from John Zorn’s Book of Angels. The basic idea behind the project was to compose short pieces of music that could be interpreted by other artists in a variety of styles, although there is a strong jazz/classical/experimental leaning as you would expect with Zorn. I’ve collected these records for a few years (along with some of Zorn’s other work), and I find them a pleasant counterpoint to the more conventional music I listen to regularly.

Zion 80 are a new name to me, and they don’t include any of the usual John Zorn collaborators. They play modern experimental jazz with a guitar edge, and do a decent job of infusing these tunes with energy and enthusiasm. As with a lot of artists who have participated in this series, I imagine I will go and check out their other work at some point, and at time of writing this is probably my favourite in the series that doesn’t involve artists I’m already familiar with (Secret Chiefs 3 and Marc Ribot spring to mind).

It’s been a good year for John Zorn records in general. As well as three strong releases in the Book of Angels series, there have also been the usual array of other records, including the truly beautiful Testament of Solomon and the last installation of the “Moonchild Trio” series, featuring Mike Patton (of Faith No More/Mr. Bungle/Fantomas/Tomahawk etc.) on vocals.

Led Bib – The People in Your Neighbourhood

And talking of jazz, something else I’ve listened to a lot this year. I’ve been a fan of this band since Sensible Shoes was nominated for the Mercury prize, and this record really didn’t disappoint. It’s probably what I would play to someone if they asked me to snapshot modern jazz music in 2014, and there isn’t a bad track on it.

Gazelle Twin – Unflesh

I stumbled on this quite late in the year, and thought it sounded like it was worth a listen. I don’t really know how to describe it other than to say it’s electronic music with female vocals, and that it is beautiful and disturbing in equal parts. I’ve found myself playing this a lot over the last month or so, and I think it’s the best example of a style of music I’ve found myself drawn to more and more this year.

These New Puritans – Expanded

I don’t normally include live records on my end of year list, but I think this one is worthy of it for two reasons. Firstly, that I really should have included Field of Reeds on my end of year top 10 in 2013, and secondly because I’ve played this to death since I got it and think it’s probably the best thing they have done.

Expanded was recorded at London’s Barbican Centre, with a full orchestra. The setting and accompaniment really fill out the already rather excellent music, and the fact that they play everything from Field of Reeds in order makes it a fitting companion to the studio album.

I think there might be a DVD version out there somewhere, which I would be very interested in seeing at some point. I am also wondering what they might do next, seeing as every studio record they have released has been in a totally different style to the one before it. They may very well be the 21st century equivalent of Talk Talk, which is an honour I do not bestow lightly.

Before I write about my last record, I just wanted to list a few other things that I’ve enjoyed a lot this year but that I don’t particularly have anything else to say about:

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Perfume Genius – Too Bright
The New Mendicants – Into the Lime
Marissa Nadler – July
St. Vincent – St. Vincent
Timber Timbre – Hot Dreams
EMA – The Future’s Void
Gazpacho – Demon
Swans – To be Kind
How to Dress Well – “What is this Heart?”
Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business
Martha – Courting Strong
Adult Jazz – Gist is
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead – IX
Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
Dean Blunt – Black Metal
East India Youth – Total Strife Forever
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for no Witness
Ought – Today More Than Any Other Day
alt-J (∆) – This is All Yours
Metronomy – Love Letters (which I managed to miss out by forgetting it was released this year)

Which brings me on to my final choice…

Pixies – Indie Cindy

For Christmas last year I received a copy of the new Throwing Muses record. It came with a book of lyrics and other writings, and would certainly have made my list last year if I’d heard it before December 25th. I was in no way expecting such a good record, and I’d not given them too much thought since the last 80s, when they were one of two American bands recently signed to 4AD records and touring the UK on the same bill. Pixies were the other band on that bill.

Anyone who has known me for a while will know how much I like the early Pixies albums. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle are two of my favourite records ever, and I still have fond memories of doodling the lyrics to Monkey Gone to Heaven on my A Level Biology exam paper when I’d run out of questions I could answer. I’ve followed Charles Thompson’s career since (as Black Francis and Frank Black), but had not expected him to record anything else that came close to those early records.

I’m still not sure he ever will, but I think that Indie Cindy is the closest he’s come for a good while. Musically it is not dissimilar to the last two Pixies records, but the sound quality is great, and the loud/quiet dynamics work so much better. Each song is strong, and it sounds like everyone concerned really enjoyed making the record. I certainly enjoyed listening to it, and I can’t believe that in 2014 I’m talking about Pixies, Throwing Muses, Swans, Morrissey, Apex Twin, Scott Walker and some band fronted by Mark Kozelek being at the forefront of making interesting and engaging music. It almost makes me feel young again.

Albums of the year – 2013

This year, as well as a list of albums that I’ve liked and would recommend, I’m also going to try and narrow it down to 10 that are interesting, that I think people really need to hear, and that define 2013 for me.

This is going to be a challenge. And whilst the top three are definitely in an order, I really can’t differentiate between the rest.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

This record would have been my number one any year since I started keeping detailed stats about what I listen to, and it is number one this year because I’ve listened to it the most, like it the most, and really feel that it soundtracks my year perfectly. Yes, it’s mournful and introspective in places, but it explores emotions that I’ve felt intensely this year, and as such there really isn’t another record that compares. Everyone reading this should listen to all of it, but if I have to pick songs then I’d go with Demons, Heavenfaced and This is the Last Time (as the three that mean the most to me right now). Musically, I’d say it was a grower, but if you’re a sucker for mournful alternative rock with a gorgeous baritone then you can’t go wrong with this, and I’ve generally had pretty good take up with people I’ve foisted it on already.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

If The National represent my introspective side, then Vampire Weekend are the other side of the coin. This is the music I play when I want to feel positive and energised, and it is the record where they take their influences (Talking Heads, Paul Simon) and forge them into something new, unique, and surprisingly modern. This is another grower, and another one where I struggle to pick a favourite song, although if you have to pick three then go for Unbelievers, Diane Young and Everlasting Arms.

Autre Ne Veut – Anxiety

And just when you thought this was going to be a list of American alternative bands, then along comes something totally different. I don’t even know what genre this is, except to say that it’s a stunning vocal performance on top of beautifully minimal instrumentation, and that I can’t listen to it without having to stop and actually listen to it. This is a recommendation from someone who knows my taste very well, and probably represents one of the biggest shifts in my musical listening habits this year. Listen to all of it, and accept that I’m terrible at recommending individual songs.

Moonface – Julia with Blue Jeans On

I wonder if anyone reading this has heard this album. It’s certainly not mainstream, and is could be considered quite musically difficult as it’s just vocal and piano. This speaks to me in much the same way Trouble Will Find Me does, but it is sparser, and more intimate. I’ve heard pretty much every note this man has recorded, and I think this is by far the best collection of songs, and the one that feels like it is telling a definite story. It sounds like there was heartache and heartbreak involved in this record, but it also sounds like the kind of catharsis that allows someone to move on. Definitely a record for 2013.

Ghostpoet – Some Say So I Say Light

I’ve listened to a lot of rap and hip hop this year. I could quite easily talk about one of the superstars like Drake or Jay-Z here, but instead I’m going to pick Ghostpoet, for making a highly accomplished record that manages to avoid sexism, racism, and the kind of lyrics that this genre really needs to move beyond. I listened to this record for the first hour of my working day for weeks, and it takes me back to a time of being very productive in the quiet hours of the morning before descending into a day of stress and chaos. It’s also really thought provoking, and would act as a good introduction to people who are not too familiar with this kind of music.

Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe

This is what I listen to if I want to become as disconnected from the real world as it’s possible to get. I’m not sure how this music is made, or what it means, but it takes wordless vocals and instrumental textures are forges them into something spellbindingly beautiful. It reminds me of a Cocteau Twins record in some ways, but also has even more spaces between the sounds, and it is the sort of record that makes me interested to meet the person who conceived it, because I think she must have seen or otherwise experienced something of otherworldly beauty. The title is also absolutely fitting.

Manic Street Preachers – Rewind the Film

This is a band I never thought would make my top 10 again. I love their earlier stuff, but have not really found a lot to inspire me in what they have released recently. This record is an exception to that, although (as with The National) I suppose they are of my generation, and they sing about things that are relevant to my life, but this time round they do it well enough to warrant a mention. I’m particularly impressed that they have made a largely acoustic record that doesn’t sound acoustic at all, and that there are new ideas here, from a band who have not had many new ideas in the best part of 20 years.

Los Campesinos! – No Blues

Putting this list together is a fairly solitary process, but I do talk to other people over the course of the year. The week before this record was released, I couldn’t find anyone who would disagree with my top 3, although we were all excited that a new Los Campesinos! record was due, as it was likely to shake things up a little. I don’t think it has, although I do like it more with every listen, and I can’t really pass over a record that I listened to pretty much constantly for days. It also makes me feel alive and energised in the same way Vampire Weekend do, but with a definite UK slant to the things they sing about. That is important, right?

Barbarossa – Bloodlines

I know even less about this one that I do about Autre Ne Veut, but it occupies a similar place in my heart. It’s soulful, tuneful, and in some ways quite commercial, but it also taps a deep emotional vein that epitomises this year. I think this is another one most people will not have heard, but it’s definitely worth a listen.

Darren Hayman and the Short Parliament – Bugbears

Another one I’m not sure if anyone will have heard, but one that nicely epitomises my love of folk music, and of songs that tell stories. And yes, it’s the same Darren Hayman who was in Hefner all those years ago, although you wouldn’t know it from this. I’d very much recommend his whole back catalogue, but this is a good enough starting point, and a record I found myself coming back to over and over again in the latter portion of this year. Which is largely why it is last on the list.

But there are plenty of other things I’ve listened to this year that have caught my ear, and the list below is just some of them.

  • Jay-Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail
  • Villagers – {Awayland}
  • Breathe Owl Breathe – Passage of Pegasus
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
  • John Zorn – The Mysteries
  • Shearwater – Fellow Travelers
  • Tomahawk – Oddfellows
  • Drake – Nothing Was the Same
  • Mark Lanegan – Imitations
  • The Fall – Re-Mit
  • Jesu – Everyday I get Closer to the Light from Which I Came
  • Midlake – Antiphon
  • Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle – Perils from the sea
  • British Sea Power – Machineries Of Joy
  • Bill Ryder-Jones – A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart
  • Ed Harcourt – Back Into The Woods
  • Julia Holter – Loud City Song
  • !!! – THR!!!ER
  • Phoenix – Bankrupt!
  • Mark Lanegan – Black Pudding
  • These New Puritans – Field of Reeds
  • Primal Scream – More Light
  • My Bloody Valentine – mbv
  • John Zorn – Dreamachines
  • Blouse – Imperium
  • Mazzy Star – Seasons of Your Day
  • Kanye West – Yeezus
  • Mark Mulcahy – Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You
  • Joseph Arthur – Redemption City
  • Daughter – If You Leave
  • Mark Kozelek & Desertshore – Mark Kozelek & Desertshore
  • Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer – Child Ballads

One Movie a Day – part 3

Over Christmas 2012-13 I set out to watch (on average) a movie a day. I then continued the experiment over the Easter vacation (which is much shorter, but where they should still be time to watch a few things).

29th March (Good Friday) – Youth Without Youth. I had been meaning to watch this for a while, but I knew it was quite absorbing, and I have not really had a great deal of time recently. I’m glad I waited though, because this is definitely something to watch in one sitting in a darkened room. And also it is probably one to watch alone. I enjoyed it enormously, but would probably not recommend it to everyone.

30th March – (Easter Saturday) – Shutter Island. Something else from my backlog list, which explores some interesting themes and is a really well made movie that I should have watched ages ago. I am reminded of Lost at various points though, although I suppose that is not surprising seeing as it is set on an island and features a lighthouse.

31st March (Easter Sunday) – The Red Dragon. I must have watched this at least ten times already, but I am a big fan of the Hannibal Lecter films (and in fact the books), and wanted to watch something familiar while I was doing other things as well. This is probably my least favourite of the first three movies, but I do enjoy watching them in chronological order (rather than the order they were made, which is different).

(and also) – The Silence of the Lambs. Because I’m on a roll, and because it remains one of my favourite mainstream/blockbuster movies. The subject matter is not pleasant, but it is familiar, and familiar is what I needed today. I suppose I should watch Hannibal tomorrow now.

1st April (Easter Monday) – Hannibal. This one is always a treat for me, because I’m a fan of Ridley Scott’s directing in general, and this was always my favourite book (although I prefer the ending of the book to the film). I find it hard to watch without having just seen the other two movies, but to me this is the one that stands out and the one I keep wanting to come back to. Next up, I think I would like to watch something I’ve not seen before, but that might have to wait a few days as I am pretty busy for the rest of the week now.

One Movie a Day – part 2

The second half of my quest to get into the habit of watching high quality cinema again.

25th December – Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me (I just received a boxed set of David Lynch movies for Christmas. I thought I would start with this one as I’m a little full of food and wine and wanted to watch something with a vaguely linear narrative. It’s also Twin Peaks, which means I could pretty much watch it all day)

26th December – Dune (Something else from the David Lynch box set. It’s still one of my favourite movies of all time, and I thought it was quite suitable as a Boxing Day treat before diving into more challenging things tomorrow)

27th December (a.m.) – Eraserhead (Very strange and surreal, but I think it actually makes sense on several levels, and I do really like the music and think it adds so much to the narrative. I have seen it once before, but I think it is something that is worth coming back to every few years to encounter new perspectives on what it actually means)

27th December (p.m.) – Lynch: One (80 minute documentary that came with the Eraserhead blu-ray, and which was on my wish list in it’s own right. I like watching how creative people work, as I think it helps me understand the creative process itself)

27th December (and into 28th) – The Krays (This probably doesn’t count, because it is actually on TV, but is is very surreal seeing the Kemps playing the Krays)

28th December – Three Colours : Blue (A trilogy I have wanted to own for ages, this was my Christmas present to myself this year. I was utterly transfixed from beginning to end and may have to watch the other two in fairly short order)

28th December (later) – Three Colours : White (See above. I really enjoyed this one too)

29th December – Three Colours : Red (Absolutely perfect, and a very fitting ending. I need more movies like this in my life I think)

30th December – Wild at Heart (Something else from David Lynch, and one of the few that I’ve not already seen. I like it, but it doesn’t quite stand up to everything else I’ve watched this week)

(and a couple watched after I posted this)

31st December – Lost Highway (I saw this ages ago, but could remember nothing about it. I actually quite enjoyed it this time round)

1st January – Mulholland Drive (An old favourite, but every time I learn something new).

The experiment is now over, but it has taught me that I should certainly find time to watch more movies once I’m back at work.

Albums of the year – 2012

I think 30 choices is appropriate again this year. They are in vague order (certainly near the top), but I think some of them really depend so much on what sort of mood I’m in on a particular day.

  1. Shearwater – Animal Joy
  2. The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
  3. How to Dress Well – Total Loss
  4. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die
  5. Bill Fay – Life is People
  6. Scott Walker – Bish Bosch
  7. Chromatics – Kill For Love
  8. Craig Finn – Clear Heart Full Eyes
  9. Metric – Synthetica
  10. Moonface – With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery
  11. The North Sea Scrolls – The North Sea Scrolls
  12. Paul Heaton – Paul Heaton Presents The 8th
  13. A.C. Newman – Shut Down The Streets
  14. Stars – The North
  15. The Indelicates – Diseases Of England
  16. David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant
  17. Simon Joyner – Ghosts
  18. Swans – The Seer
  19. Paul Buchanan – Mid Air
  20. Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz – Abraxas: The Book of Angels Volume 19
  21. Pog – Between the Station and the Sea
  22. Tennis – Young & Old
  23. Lambchop – Mr. M
  24. Errors – Have Some Faith in Magic
  25. Tame Impala – Lonerism
  26. John Zorn – The Gnostic Preludes
  27. Japandroids – Celebration Rock
  28. Allo Darlin’ – Europe
  29. Yeasayer – Fragrant World
  30. Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

One Movie a Day – part 1

Over Christmas I set out to watch (on average) a movie a day. This is what I chose (and why) over the first few days.

19th December – Let Him Have It (the story that inspired the Elvis Costello song ‘Let Him Dangle’ which has always been one of my favourite songs)

20th December – Pollock (the artist Patti Smith named her son after. I listened to her new record this morning and it blew my mind. The music at the end of the movie is ‘World Keeps Turning’ by Tom Waits who I also adore)

21st December – Prozac Nation (I read the book ages ago, but somehow managed to miss the movie. Mental illness is a subject close to my heart right now, and Lou Reed playing Lou Reed is always worth watching in any movie)

22nd December – A Dangerous Method (I love David Cronenberg as a director, and thought I would round off my series of movies based on true stories with this. Despite only being made last year it does a very good job of looking significantly older, and it makes me really look forward to Cronenberg’s next movie which is an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis and which will feature music composed by Metric)

23rd December – Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe (I’ve just read Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids’. This movie-length documentary covers roughly the same period of time, and adds new perspective to an already familiar story)

24th December (a.m.) – New York Stories (This is probably one of my favourite movies, and one I keep coming back to when I want something familiar and not too mentally challenging. It also reminds me a little of Paul Auster’s ‘New York Trilogy’ which is one of my favourite books)

24th December (p.m.) – The Last Waltz (I stumbled on a CD of ‘Music From the Big Pink’ in a bargain bin this year, and I keep coming back to these amazing songs that I couldn’t get enough of at University. I think this is a fitting way to see in Christmas)

There will be more over the next few days. Largely a lot of things I’m getting for Christmas with one or two old favourites thrown in. I may also start documenting some of my listening habits regarding records made before I was born, which I’ve not really touched on elsewhere.

Christmas projects

I have all sorts of things planned this Christmas, some of which may happen and some of which may take a little longer to reach fruition.

  • Albums of the year (which I always do), and which will be ready on or around 31st December.
  • One movie a day, where I will watch one decent movie a day, and list them all with a few notes on why I chose them and how they all fit together.
  • A writing project, which I’ve started, and which might end up being a “one poem a day” type exercise.

It is good to have some time to work on this sort of thing, and I’m hopeful it will redress the balance a little after a year of too much work, too much responsibility and not enough creativity.