Friday, 11 December 2015

My favourite songs of the year 2015

Here it is my loves: my songs of the year 2015 - click captions to listen to the songs (a different one for Jennifer Castle as not online) or play all of them (except Groupuscule - but do check out Groupuscule via Vimeo - it is BRILLIANT) via this Youtube playlist - enjoy xxx

Already worth putting a PS on - I love Father John Misty and I love Jon Brooks and god the Destroyer album was great and what about the superb Tuxedomoon album   - as always - too too much good stuff. xx

Pure funky pop - The No 1 song in heaven for 2015

Dreamy - Best just doing what they do well - well - of 2015

Emotional - Best LP of 2015 (also best musical goddess)
Heart-breaking - Best live performance - not just good - jaw-droppingly good

Classic - Best complete evil genius master-god of pop 2015

Anthem - Best singing along in the car of 2015

Exotica - Best evocation of living in a tropical paradise of 2015

Surprise- Best 'amazing support act' find (Destroyer gig) 2015

Velvety - Best 'keepin' it simple' groove of 2015

Soul girl - Best 'voice like honey' soul of 2015

Down in the subway at midnight - Best dubstep originator who hasn't gone really crap (like Zomby) of 2015

1981 - Best obscure electronica on impossibly small scale label of 2015

Dark - Best French-Canadian dark wave of 2015

Exhilaration - Best torrent of beautiful guitar noise of 2015

Layers of loveliness - Best 'kaleidoscopic trip to outer space' 2015

South Africa - hot - best of a brill year for SA music in 2015


So I did the 7 days 7 songs thing on Facebook

I did it with a twist (all old artists that I only discovered in last 2 years or so) - just shows you that music lovers should never fear running out of invigorating fuel.

Millie Jackson - (If loving you is wrong) I don’t wanna be right
I completely overlooked Millie Jackson when I was a young boy with a burgeoning appetite for musical explorations of all genres. She was so potty-mouthed and just plain raunchy - clearly a terrifying prospect for a wan indie lad such as I was then. So I stuck to Chic, Parliament and all the other NME-endorsed soul acts of the time. Absolutely nothing wrong there obviously, BUT … had I listened to this album ("Caught up") back then I’m certain I would have matured much much earlier and been way more successful with women throughout the 80s and 90s. Yes it’s that good!!

Joni Mitchell - Both sides now
I should mention my brother Peter at this juncture because I remember him playing Joni Mitchell in our house (sometime around 1980 I guess) and I HATED it. I mean really, like it literally made me SQUIRM - sounding both insipid and ludicrously fiddly/jazzy at the same time. I think it was the album Blue. Well - 35 years on and something has changed (me) and I’m finally into my Joni Mitchell phase (the early stuff mind!). This track "Both Sides Now" isn’t from “Blue" (it’s from “Clouds") and admittedly I always liked the Glenn Campbell version - and it’s probably one of her most well known songs. Still, I’m here to say I now really like Joni and am the proud owner of  3 LPs (incl Blue!!) -  so Pete - I was wrong!!

Judee Sill - The kiss
Short story here - this is one of the most beautiful songs you’ll ever hear. Long story: after doing my usual Google-surge on finding a new-to-me artist, it soon became apparent that I’m not alone in discovering Judee Sill late in the day (though admittedly I’m later than most). During that web trawl I turned up a great little Radio 4 documentary about one fan's "Judee moment" and subsequent voyage into the artist’s life and repertoire (a very troubled life - and early death - it turns out). A segment on that programme featured XTC’s Andy Partridge expressing his love for this song and simply breaking down listening to it - he wept and couldn’t carry on talking. It is that sort of song - a bit overwhelming - especially when considered to the narrative of Judee Sill’s pretty extraordinary and very tragic back-story. Aside from that it’s just lovely, and like a few things on my ‘#‎sevendays’ it’s hard to imagine it lay in relative obscurity for so long.

… and if you like it just watch this wonderful live version (you have to get past Whispering Bob Harris first or I’d have done the main link to this version)

Fluxion - Lark
No excuses for missing this when it came out in 1998. I was well into this kind of thing at the time but clearly not quite as ear-to-the ground as I supposed I was. Anyway thanks to the brilliant Type records which re-issued this collection of all Fluxion’s 12 inch singles (originally on Germany’s Chain Reaction - a legendary label) it came onto my radar in 2013. It’s quite simply amongst they very best in class of the kind of subtly undulating minimal techno honed in Germany in the 90s (although Fluxion is from Greece). Lots of people just can’t hear any musicality in this sort of thing (like a lot of people can’t ‘get’ abstract art). But to me the tiny nuances in tone and timbre, in what at first glance can seem monolithic walls of machine-sound, lend the music a really primal and nature-evoking feel. “Lark" is a fantastic track but to be honest EVERY track on the collection is special and it’s one of my most played albums of the last few years.

Minnie Ripperton - Les Fleurs
Here I offer my confession that the early works of Minnie Ripperton (in fact all the works except for the sublime hit “Lovin' you” - which EVERYONE knows) had never graced my ears before FEBRUARY this year, when, courtesy of the Gideon Coe show I copped this track as I was dosing off to sleep. Criminal I know! It’s a truly great - ambitious, sweeping - soul epic not a million miles from the vibe Marvin Gaye struck on his “What’s Going On” album. She didn’t release many albums (and sadly died very young) but this album (“Come to my garden”) and it’s follow-up “Perfect Angel” (which includes “Lovin’ you”)  are full of gems and are both close to perfect. 

Tomita - Claire de Lune”
The easy/exotica/lounge revival in the late 90’s opened my ears to loads of things I might have previously ignored. One was Wendy/Walter Carlos - famous for not only being an early high-profile trans-gender person but also for hugely successful Moog-synth interpretations of classical music (“Switched on Bach”) and for incredible soundtrack contributions to films, especially “Clockwork Orange”. Ten years later this trail led me belatedly to Isao Tomita. Tomita was massively inspired by Carlos it turns out. And boy did that inspiration reap fruit. His interpretations of Debussy pieces on the album “Snowflakes dancing” cast them as future lullabies played out in the loneliness of outer-space. It’s truly haunting stuff. Like Carlos there is incredible expertise in both performance and sound-creation (and synthesiser music then didn’t use computers to ‘play’ the music and synths could only hold one sound at a time so every time you changed sound you had to move dozens of knobs). “Claire de lune” is such a beautiful piece anyway, but here it somehow reverberates like the trail of comets and evokes the glow of galaxies.

Sammi Smith - Saunders Ferry Lane
I’d never even heard of Sammi Smith before this year. But I like a bit of melancholic kitchen-sink country and this is that par-excellence, so ears pricked up when it wafted over the 6music airwaves back in January. Apparently afficianados of the genre rate Sammi very highly and reckon she deserves to be up there with Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton etc. High praise indeed - and based on this track I’d say I agree. 

Actually I had two day 7s - cheating a bit:

day 7 #‎sevendayssevensongs with a twist (all old artistes that I only discovered in last 2 years):
Phil Ochs - Pleasures of the harbor

Finishing on something of an epic. An eight minute chamber-pop opus by 60s folkie,  Phil Ochs. Something of an oddity on this list in so far as nothing much else I have heard by this artist has struck a chord with me. This though - this is a WOW - very ornate and VERY orchestrated. 

Friday, 11 April 2014


This is a band that sounds like a discovery from the late 70s early 80s post-punk era, but were actually active in the 90s. The band released on various labels including Stereolab's DuoPhonic. You'd think they'd be highly regarded and collectable because some of their stuff, like this track is really magnificent. But weirdly they seem very unknown still (not much on Google). It reminds me of Sudden Sway a few years ago - you could buy their stuff dirt cheap everywhere but now it's like gold-dust. Maybe go on Discogs and buy some Dymaxion now!!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A little bit (not brimful) of Asha

I asked on FB for people to suggest some cool 70s Asha Bhosle stuff or any similar old Bollywood songs along the lines of this classic Asha Bhosle one from 1971.


Well one friend suggested I cast an ear over some Pencilface mixes on Mixcloud. Here's one that caught my ear. Actually more disco-funki-fied than what I was after but actually a great little treasure trove all the same (though a bit frustrating that in the mix you get some frustratingly short fragments of a few songs):


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Connan Mockasin - I'm the man, that will find you - VIDEO

I'm loving his new LP and this song in particular. But there's no getting away from the fact that this video is slightly sinister and creepy. Intenionally .. I don't know?!!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Julia Holter - Rise Records in-store gig

Me and my daughter (gratuitously used to engineer the shot) with Julia Holter after her great in-store show at Rise Records in Bristol. She did a fab mini-set with the full band before doing a sell-out show at the Cube later tonight.