I had heard so much about this record over the years but never got the chance to listen to it until today. I’ll definitely be listening to it again.
2018 has been a strange year in so many ways. I always said that I would try and buy less music this year, and instead spend more time with the music I did buy. This has very much happened, but there is also very little on this list that wasn’t chosen by someone else (either as part of the Rough Trade club, or as a birthday/Christmas gift). That said, I love all of these records, and I think they represent an accurate summary of my journey through 2018.
- Shame – Songs of Praise
- Nils Frahm – All Melody
- Belle & Sebastian – How to Solve our Human Problems
- The Shacks – Haze
- Daniel Blumberg – Minus
- LUMP – LUMP
- Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth
- Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer
- Here Lies Man – You Will Know Nothing
- Bodega – Endless Scroll
- Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage
- She Makes War – Brace for Impact
- IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance.
- Adrianne Lenker – abyskiss
- Paul Smith – Diagrams
- John Grant – Love is Magic
- Smashing Pumpkins – Shiny and Oh So Bright (volume 1)
- Audiobooks – Now! (in a minute)
- Labaich – The Sound of Music
- AMOR – Sinking into a Miracle
It’s National Album day today, and I’ve spent the day listening to a few old and new favourites (with a short break to walk the dog once the rain stopped). This is what I ended up listening to:
- The Cure – Faith (1981)
- Father John Misty – God’s Favourite Customer (2018)
- British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music? (2008)
- Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band – Adios Senor Pussycat (2017)
- The Wedding Present – George Best 30 (2017)
- The Auteurs – After Murder Park (1996)
- Hope Sandoval – Until the Hunter (2016)
- Adrianne Lenker – Abysskiss (2018)
- IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance (2018)
- The National – Sleep Well Beast (2017)
- She Makes War – Brace for Impact (2018)
- Felt – The Pictorial Jackson Review (1988)
- The House of Love – The House of Love (1988)
- Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996)
- Pixies – Doolittle (1988)
I’ve been to a couple of very enjoyable concerts this year (Belle & Sebastian and She Makes War) and I’d very much like to go to more now the nights are drawing in and spending evenings outside is less appealing. I thought it was worth listing things I was interested in, just in case I know anyone who might want to come along.
All of these are in Birmingham, and I in no way intend to go to all of them (but some would be nice).
- Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks – The Asylum. Monday, 22 Oct 2018
- She Makes War – Hare & Hounds. Wednesday, 31 Oct 2018
- Here Lies Man – The Hare And Hounds. Sunday, 04 Nov 2018
- Paul Smith – Mama Roux’s. Tuesday, 27 Nov 2018
- Shame – O2 Institute. Wednesday, 28 Nov 2018
- Molly Burch – The Hare And Hounds. Monday, 03 Dec 2018
- Mercury Rev Plays Deserter’s Songs – The Glee Club. Monday, 10 Dec 2018
This afternoon I cycled to the post office in Erdington town centre to collect my Rough Trade Club record of the month, which was the eponymous debut by LUMP (Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay). I don’t really have a bag that is ideal for both cycling and carrying vinyl (recommendations welcome), but despite a slightly unbalanced cycle home (I did a food shop too, so added weight and bulk to the already oddly shaped bag that seemed to want to end up on my hip rather than my back) it did remind me very much of the many times I cycled to record shops when I was younger, and how much more of an occasion it makes getting hold of new music that the straightforward but soulless downloading or streaming that is largely how most of us consume music in the iTunes and Spotify age.
It’s a good record too. Short, but well worth a listen. In fact, everything Rough Trade have sent me over the last six months has really hit the spot, and has represented well over 50% of music I’ve bought this year so far. Yes, that’s 6 records – not 60 as would be the case in previous years. I’ve made a playlist (on Spotify, of course), just in case there is anyone reading this who might want to dive into some new music.
As I think I’ve mentioned already, I’m trying to rediscover my music collection this month. I’ve made a playlist with a few highlights from the first couple of weeks of the experiment.
The way I buy and consume music has changed recently. So far this year I’ve only bought 5 records (the three that Rough Trade send me, plus two Belle & Sebastian records that I pre-ordered last year). All my other music discovery has been via Spotify, and I find I’m using it more on my phone now, with a huge big playlist of new discoveries being the soundtrack to my commute. I also spent most of January and February listening to vinyl and CDs rather than music on my computer (at least when in my study – I still need digital music for when I’m travelling).
This month I’ve been doing an experiment around listening to all my old digital music, and trying to rediscover old things rather than buying new ones. I’ve been building up a library of MP3s since I got this computer, and it’s now up to about 400Gb of music, which would take several months to play. I’ve had this playlist on shuffle for about a week now, and I’m fairly sure I can manage to hold off buying too much more new music this year based on the amount of great things I’ve rediscovered that I totally forgot I owned.
I probably listened to less new music this year than any year in the last decade, although I definitely listened to each new record more, which was very much my intention at the start of the year. I also reverted to buying physical copies of music wherever possible (either on vinyl or on CD), which lead to me setting up my old stereo in my study and only really listening to digital music through Spotify or when I was on the move.
Did this change the sort of music I listened to? I don’t think so, but I definitely found myself exploring the back catalogues of several of the artists responsible for the records below in a way I probably wouldn’t have in previous years, and I think that might have lead to the list being slightly more biased towards established artists I already owned music by than new discoveries and more diverse genres.
The list I’ve come up with for this year (in alphabetical order) is:
Aldous Harding – Party
Belle & Sebastian – How to Solve Our Human Problems (part 1)
The Big Moon – Love in the 4th Dimension
Big Thief – Capacity
Bjork – Utopia
British Sea Power – Let the Dancers Inherit the Party
Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex
Colter Wall – Colter Wall
Conor Oberst – Salutations
Destroyer – Ken
The Fall – New Facts Emerge
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Here Lies Man – Here Lies Man
Idles – Brutalism
The Indelicates – Juniverbrecher
Lorde – Melodrama
Los Campesinos! – Sick Scenes
Lost Horizons – Ojala
Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog
Mark Eitzel – Hey Mr Ferryman
Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band – Adios Señor Pussycat
The National – Sleep Well Beast
The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions
Richard Dawson – Peasant
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Slowdive – Slowdive
Sun Kil Moon – Common as Light and Love are Red Valleys of Blood
This is the Kit – Moonshine Freeze
The Unthanks – Diversions vol. 4 : The Songs and Poems of Molly Drake
The Wedding Present – George Best 30
Yorkston/Thorne/Khan – Neuk Wight Delhi All-stars
I’ve also created a playlist containing all the above and a few other things I’ve enjoyed over the last 12 months:
This week I’ve attended a carol service, eaten nut roast, drank mulled wine, made an excessively glittery Christmas card, listened to Christmas music, and voluntarily walked in the snow. I think that means I’m actually celebrating Christmas this year.
I’ve also made a preliminary list for my albums of the year blog post, mostly because I’ll be overseas during the time I usually write it so I want to give myself a head start. One thing I suspect will feature is the new Bjork album, which I’ve listened to a fair bit over the last couple of weeks, and which I do seem to be recommending to people a lot right now. I like all of it, but this is the song that fits best with the usual subject matter of this blog:
At the start of the year I wrote a blog post about things I might do differently this year. Not resolutions as such, just lines in the sand and broad statements of intent. As the year is nearly two thirds of the way through (how?), I thought it was time to look at those statements of intent, see if anything had noticeably changed, and note anything else eventful that had happened.
The first thing I wrote about was visiting the cinema more. Apart from a slight lull in the spring this has gone very well, and I’ve seen 14 films this year so far. It’s not quite enough to make the unlimited card worth it, but when you add in discounts on food and drink and other benefits it’s just about paid for itself (although I do resolve to go to the cinema slightly more often in the cold winter months to make sure I get value for money). I also set up a (private) WordPress site to record everything I’ve seen, everything I want to see, and to otherwise document my cinematic adventures. Let’s face it, if I’m doing something then there is probably a WordPress site somewhere to document it.
The second thing I wrote about was my relationship with technology, and in particular how I was using my iPad more for personal computing (and my Surface Pro 4 for work computing). The last 8 months has probably been the least remarkable period of time in regard to changes in how I use technology, and I don’t think a single thing has really changed (apart from my diminishing love of the Surface). I’ve not bought a computer of any type this year, and spent a very small amount of money on technology in general. I’ve travelled several times with just an iPad, and have found that the thought of doing that is nowhere near as remarkable as I thought it might be at the start of the year. If anything has changed it’s that I’m using MacOS and Ubuntu at the same time rather than choosing between them, due to having a bigger desk that will fit two monitors, although the jury is still out as to whether I’ll actually replace the Mac when it finally dies or becomes obsolete (it’s 6 years old now).
The third thing I wrote about was music, and how I planned on buying less but listening to it more. This has largely gone as expected, although I did go through a period in the spring where I bought a few extra CDs, and it really took me until about May before the vision of the future I was aiming for actually came to pass. I’ve also noticed that I’ve started listening to older music a lot more this year, with as lot of old favourites getting significantly more airtime that records that came out this year. I’m not sure whether this is a blip or a trend yet, but it will be interesting when I do my yearly review to see how many records from before 2017 make the list.
The last thing I wrote about was socialising, and how I wanted to do more of this (but didn’t have a plan). This is probably the area where the most has changed, and I’ve been more socially active (especially with people from work), and have done a wider range of things (cinema, walking and comedy nights rather than just food and drinks). As predicted, it sorted itself out organically, and I can’t pretend I really did anything to make this happen.
The other key thing that happened recently is that I stopped eating meat (and then eventually fish) at some point at the start of this year. It wasn’t a conscious decision (at least not at first), but once I realised I’d stopped and I felt better for it then it was a bit of a no brainer to just make it a thing I didn’t do any more. I’ve found it surprisingly easy, and I’ve found I’m learning more about food and how it affects my body as a result.
I think the only other things of note are that I bought my first pair of varifocals last week after a period of diminishing eyesight, and that at some point in the spring I started drinking proper coffee again and tried to cut out the instant rubbish as much as possible. Both of these are probably only of interest to me, although I’m sure people around me are glad I can now do things like read menus in restaurants and actually see what is on the screen of my phone.