Friday, December 31, 2021

Snail Mail - Valentine

So to the last day of 2021. It's been a really, interesting year for me personally, one of the most interesting and productive of my life actually. A nice thing to be able to say at the ripe old age of 56,

One thing I've been most productive in is posting on here. I've actually posted more on here than I have in any year since I started this back in 2013. That sets the bar even higher for 2023 where It Stars turns ten.

The last 'Oh this is a really great album that I haven't put on my end of year list' for 2021. And it is a really, good one. Perhaps the purest Pop Record with Depth' record that I've heard all year along with Japanese Breakfast. Those are difficult things to do.

Valentine, the second album from Snail Mail, AKA Lindsey Jordan is some record and some statement. It's the kind of record that ends up on End of Year lists and makes the person who made it a bigger and more feted star than they were before. A point of arrival.

Pitchfork love it of course. Valentine is the kind of record and Jordan the kind of artist they love annointing. I don't care for Pitchfork but I do care for Jordan. She's the real deal. Indie enough to attract the hip, Poppy enough to tempt the mainstream.

I don't like it. Some of it is just Pop. But some of it is Pop with heart and that's not the easiest thing to do.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 14 John Cale & Terry Riley - Church of Anthrax


'Cut in three days, the album is a compelling triangulation of classical, prog rock and free jazz elements...'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 777 Scott Waker - Scott 4


Song(s) of the Day # 2,896 PinkPantheress


Another great alternative Pop album from a female arist. 2021 has been a very strong year in this respect. Greentea Peng, Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail, (review coming later today), Arlo Parks,  Clairo and now this, PinkPantheress's to hell with it.

This one's very Laandon, Poppy, Soulful. Bubbly and light. Not one that will either rock or change your world in ll honesty. But it may brighten your day. More than enough.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums of the Year 2019


This is me. Looking a bit worse for wear and wistful midway through the calendar year in my new local. Here is the final rundown of my favourite records of the year. It's the fourth year I've done this Top Fifty on here, counting down one day at a time from the beginning of November. This one seems like my best list, not necessarily because the records are better this year but because the process has been the most thorough it's ever been. I can vouch fully for every album listed here. Many very good records haven't made it; Lana Del Ray, Bubblegum Lemonade, The Murder Capital, Ona, Mac Demarco, Wives, Sleaford Mods, The Persian Leaps, Jeanines, A.A.Bondy, Divino Nino and myriad others. Check out the upcoming playlist for specifics.
  1. Bill Callahan - Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
  2. Sarathy Korwar - More Arriving
  3. Vanishing Twin - The Age of Immunity
  4. Big Thief - U.F.O.F.
  5. Lightning Dust - Spectre
  6. Robert Forster - Inferno
  7. Aldous Harding - Designer
  8. Wild Firth - Lawn Memory
  9. Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains
  10. Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel
  11. Big Thief - Two Hands
  12. Mega Bog - Dolphine
  13. The Mystery Lights - Too Much Tension
  14. Wilco - Ode To Joy
  15. Cate Le Bon - Reward
  16. Little Simz - Grey Area
  17. Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising
  18. Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow
  19. Damon Locks & the Black Monument Ensemble - Where Future Unfolds
  20. Joan Shelley - Like The River Loves The Sea
  21. Olden Yolk - Living Theatre
  22. Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Colorado
  23. Elva - Winter Sun
  24. Jeremy Tuplin - Pink Mirror
  25. Shana Cleveland - Night of the Worm Moon
  26. Hand Habits - placeholder
  27. Joanna Sternberg - Then I Try Some More
  28. Adam Green - Engine of Paradise
  29. Trash Kit - Horizon
  30. Possible Humans - Aspiring to be a Bloke
  31. Kevin Morby - Oh My God
  32. Fat White Family - Serf's Up!
  33. KOKOKO - Fongola!
  34. Tiny Ruins - Olympic Girls
  35. Good Morning - Basketball Breakups
  36. Rustin Man - Drift Code
  37. Program - Show Me
  38. Neutrals - Kebab Disco
  39. Boogarins - Sombre Duvida
  40. Penelope Isles - Until The Tide Creeps In
  41. Parsnip - When The Tree Bears Fruit
  42. James Yorkston - The Route To The Harmonium
  43. Kit Sebastian - Mantre Moderne
  44. Modern Nature - How To Live
  45. Kelsey Lu - Blood
  46. John Southworth - Miracle In The Night
  47. International Teachers of Pop - International Teachers of Pop
  48. Half Japanese - Invincible
  49. Doug Tuttle - Dream Road
  50. Jenny Hval - The Practice Of Love

The Guardian - Albums of the Year 2021

An interesting chart. One with several albums that don't occur in end of year rundowns and that I'm not aware of. Including the Number One.
  1. Self Esteem - Prioritis Pleasure
  2. Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend
  3. Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
  4. The Weather Station - Ignorance
  5. Tyler, The Creator - Call Me If You Get Lost
  6. SAULT - Nine
  7.  Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg
  8.  Olivia Rodrigo - Sour 
  9. Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams
  10.  Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime
  11. Sam Fender - Seventeen Going Under
  12. Jazmine Sullivan - Jeaux Tales 
  13.  Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
  14. Lil Nas X - Montero
  15.  Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Carnage
  16.  Deafheaven - Infinite Granite
  17. Tirzah - Colourgrade
  18. Turnstile - Glow On
  19. Dave - We're All In This Together
  20.  Arooj Aftab - Vulture Prince
  21.  The Coral - Coral Island
  22.  Laura Mvula - Pink Noise 
  23. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises
  24.  Billie Eilish - Happier For Ever
  25. Madlib - Sound Ancestors 
  26.  Mogwai - As The Love Continues 
  27.   St. Vincent - Daddy's Home
  28. Kacey Musgrove - Star-Crossed
  29.  Clairo - Sling 
  30. Greentea Peng - MAN-MADE
  31.  Low - Hey What
  32.  Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview of Phenomenal Nature
  33. Pink Pantheress - To Hell With It
  34.  The War on Drugs - I Don't Live here Anymore
  35.  Aly & AJ - A Touch of the Beat
  36. Aya - Im Hole
  37. Erika De Casier - Sensational
  38. Goat Girl - On All Fours
  39. Hayley Williams - Flowers For Vases / Descansos
  40.  Lana Del Ray - Chemtrails Over The Country Club
  41. Eris Drew - Quivering in Time
  42. Gojira - Fortitude
  43. Chris Crsano & Bill Orcutt - Made Out of Sound
  44. Black Country, New Road - Fot The First Time
  45. For Those I Love - For Those I Love 
  46. Stephen Fretwell - Busy Guy
  47. Chai - WINK
  48. Lucy Dacus - Home Video
  49. MOL - Diorama
  50. Agnes - Magic Still Exists

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 12 New Riders of the Purple Sage - New Riders of the Purple Sage


''pop smarts, psychedelic touches and country rock grooves.'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 779 Roxy Music - Roxy Music


Higher, higher!

Song of the Day # 2,894 Reptalians


Light and airy, alternative guitar driven pop from Portland, Oregon band. Their third album is out at the end of January and should be worth a listen judging by this.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums of the Year 2018

That's me. And here are my Top 50 albums of 2018. It's been a great year for music. I can vouch for that by the number of fine records that haven't made this list. Among them; Ty Segall, Sons of Kemet, Kadhja Bonet, Hovvdy, Spare Snare, Clint Michigan, Wooden Shjips, Parquet Courts, Walter Martin, Loose Tooth, The Plastic Shoelaces, The Saxaphones, Joan As Policewoman and many more. Here are the the ones that made my list.

1. Janelle Monae - Dirty Computer
2. The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land
3. U.S. Girls - In A Poem Unlimited
4. Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs
5. Elza Soares - Deus E Mulher
6. Lawn - Blood On The Tracks
7. Low - Double Negative
8. Phosphorescent - C'est La Vie
9. Emily Fairlight - Mother Of Gloom
10. Gwenno - Le Kov
11. Bill Ryder- Jones - Yawn
12. Cat Power - Wanderer
13. Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel
14. Trembling Bells - Dungeness
15. Blood Orange - Negro Swan
16. The Goon Sax - We're Not Talking
17. The Lavender Flu - Mow The Glass
18. Richard Swift - The Hex
19. Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar
20. Papercuts - Parallel Universe Blues
21. Natalie Prass - The Future & The Past
22. Olden Yolk - Olden Yolk
23. Tomberlin - At Weddings
24. Say Sue Me - Where We Were Together
25. Alela Diane - Cusp
26. The Essex Green - Hardly Electronic
27. Vital Idles - Left Hand
28. Eleanor Friedberger - Rebound
29. Elephant Micah - Genericana
30. Amen Dunes - Freedom
31. Air Waves - Warrior
32. Emma Tricca - St.Peter
33. Fog Lake - Captain
34. Rosali - Trouble Anyway
35. Cafe Racer - Famous Dust
36. The Innocence Mission - Sun On The Square
37. New Silver Girl - New Silver Girl
38. Blue Orchids - Righteous Harmony Fist
39. Whyte Horses - Empty Words
40. The Orielles - Silver Dollar Moment
41. Kikagaku Moyo - Masana Temples
42. Yo La Tengo - There's A Riot Going On
43. Adrianne Lenker - abysskiss
44. The Shacks - The Shacks
45. Santigold - I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions
46. Frankie Cosmos - Vessel
47. Wussy - What Heaven Is Like
48. Nap Eyes - I'm Bad Now
49. Amaya Laucirica - Rituals
50. Holy Tunics - Butterdish 

Best Ever Albums - Albums of the Year 2021

Young people's chart. Very different from mine.Eight selections in both.
  1. Black Country, New Road - Fot The First Time
  2. Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
  3. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises
  4. Tyler, The Creator - Call Me If You Get Lost
  5. Black Midi - Cavalcade
  6. Squid - Bright Green Field
  7. Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee
  8. Weezer - OK Human
  9. Low - What
  10.  Lana Del Ray - Chemtrails Over The Country Club
  11. Godspeed You!.  Black Emperor - God's Pee at State End
  12. Sufjan Stevens & Angela De Augustine  - A Beginner's Mind
  13. Spelling - The Turning Wheel
  14. The War on Drugs - I Don't Live here Anymore
  15. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Carnage
  16. Shame - Drunk Tank Pink
  17. St. Vincent - Daddy's Home
  18. Parranoul - To See The Next Part of the Dream
  19. Kanye West - Donda
  20. Injury Reserve - By The Time I Get To Phoenix
  21. Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams
  22. The Weather Station - Ignorance
  23. Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg
  24. Wolf Alice - Blue Weekend
  25. Genesis Owusu - Smiling With No Teeth
  26. Billie Eilish - Happier For Ever
  27. Silk Sonic - An Evening With Silk Sonic
  28. Lingua Ignota - Sinner Get Ready
  29.  Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview of Phenomenal Natur
  31. Turnstile - Glow On
  32. Magadalena Boy - Mercurial world
  33. The Killers - Pressure Machine
  34. Olivia Rodrigo - Sour
  35. Brockhampton - New Light, New Machine
  36. Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victime
  37. Sweet Trip - A Tiny House, In SecretSpeeches, Polar Equals
  38. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizzard - Butterfly 3000
  39. Armand Hammer & The Alchemist - Haram
  40. Lucy Dacus - Home Video
  41. Viagra Boys - Welfare Jazz
  42. Mogwai - As The Love Continues
  43. Snail Mail - Valentine
  44. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizzard - L.W.
  45. Lana Del Ray - Blue Bannisters
  46. Arab Strap - As Dats Get Dark
  47. IDLES - Crawler
  48. Iceage - Seek Shelter
  49. Lorde - Solar Powe
  50. Slowthai - Tyron

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 11 Mr Fox - The Gipsy


'British folk rock's black sheep...'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 780 The Byrds -Notorious Byrds Brothers


The highest rated album on this chart.

Song of the Day # 2,893 Kevin Louis Lareau


It's heartening to hear that 'not all songs have been sung.' Admittedly this particular song has been. Many, many times before. Mostly by the likes of Stephen Stills, David Crosby and Gene Clark. Still, Canadian Kevin Louis Lareau can d them too, judging by this. Heartening in a year when Michael Nesmith, who was also master of this particular art has moved on.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Covers - # 187 Julia Jacklin


Julia Jacklin does very nice things to a Strokes song that was always nice.

Uncut - Albums of the Year


Eleven on my list.

1. The Weather Station - Ignorance

2. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

3. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Carnage

4. Low - Hey What

5. SAULT - Nine

6. Arooj Aftab - Vulture Prince

7. Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview of Phenomenal Nature

8. The War On Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore

9. Black Country, New Road - Fot The First Time

10. Richard Dawson & Circle - Henki

11.  Lana Del Ray - Chemtrails Over The Country Club

12. Sons of Kemet - Back To The Future

13. Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victim

14. Saint Etienne - I've Been Trying To Tell You

15. Mogwai - As The Love Continues

16. Sleaford Mods- Spare Ribs

17. Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg

18. Hiss Golden Messenger - Quietly Blowing It

19. John Grant - Boy From Michigan

20. Modern Nature - Island Of Noise

21. Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

22. The Coral - Coral Island

23.  St. Vincent - Daddy's Home

24. Valerie June - The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers

25. Jane Weaver - Flock

26. Paul Weller - Fat Pop (Volume 1)

27. Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams

28. Ryley Walker - Course In Fable

29. Steve Gunn - Other You

30. Teenage Fanclub - Endless Arcade

31.  Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raise The Roof

32. The Hold Steady - Open Door Policy

33. Chuck Johnson - The Cinder Grove

34. Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time, Take Time

35. John Murry - The Stars Are God's Bullet Holes

36. Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark

37. Dean Wareham - I Have Nothing To say To The Mayor Of LA

38. Madlib - Sound Ancestors

39. Squid - Bright Green Field

40. Sturgill Simpson - The Ballad of Dood & Juanita

41.  Damon Albarn - The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows

42. Faye Webster - I Know I'm Funny haha

43. My Morning Jacket - My Morning Jacket

44. Rhiannon Giddens With Francesco Turrisi - They're Calling Me Home

45. Bobby Gillespie & Jehnny Beth - Utopian Ashes

46. Israel Nash - Topaz

47. Elephant 9 - Arrival Of The New Elders

48. David Crosby - For Free

49. Sunburned Hand Of The Man - Pick A Place To Die

50.  Lindsey Buckingham - Lindsey Buckingham

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums of the Year 2017


1. Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent
2. Les Amazones D'Afrique - Republique Amazone
3. The Feelies - In Between
4. Big Thief - Capacity
5. Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins
6. Oh Sees - Orc
7. Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology
8. Kelley Stolz - Que Aura
9. Benjamin Clementine - I Tell a Fly
10. Dag - Benefits of Solitude
11. Ratboys - GN
12. Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile -Lotta Sea Lice
13. Kevin Morby - City Music
14. Girl Ray - Earl Grey
15. Perfume Genius - No Shape
16. La Feline - Triomphe
17. Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination
18. James Elkington - Wintres Woma
19. Mick Head & the Red Elastic Band - Adios Senor Pussycat
20. Holiday Ghosts - Holiday Ghosts
21. Jesca Hoop - Memories Are Now
22. Peter Perrett - How The West was Won
23. H.Grimace - Self-Architect
24. Baxter Dury - Prince Of Tears
25. Wild Pink - Wild Pink
26. Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Navigator
27. Amadou & Mariam - Le Confusion
28. Novella - Change Of State
29. Tim Cohen - Luck Man
30. CTMF - Brand New Cage
31. '68 - Two Parts Viper
32. Trevor Sensor - Andy Warhol's Dream
33. Faith Healer - Try
34. Mary Epworth - Elytral
35. Grandaddy - Last Place
36. NE-HI - Offers
37. Entrance - Book Of Changes
38. Catholic Action - In Memory Of
39. This Is The Kit - Moonshine Freeze
40. Guided By Voices - How do You Spell Heaven
41. French Vanilla - French Vanilla
42. Spinning Coin - Permo
43. Ibibio Sound Machine - Uyai
44. Travis Bretzer - Bubble Gum
45. Sweet Baboo - Wild Imagination
46. Fresh & Onlys - Wolf Lie Down
47. The New Year - Snow
48. Kacy & Clayton - The Siren's Song
49. Bread & Butter - Bread & Butter
50. Karen Elson - Double Roses

There were lots of others that might have been there. Including these:

Priests, The Mountain Goats, Broken Social Scene, Waxahatchee, Beach Fossils, Bonny Doon, Sneaks, Stef Chura, Surfer Blood, Black Springs, Century Palm, DUDS, Mount Eerie, Bedouine, Ron Gallo, Sinkane, Flat Worms, Happyness, Valerie June, Zara McFarlane, Bill Baird, Chastity Belt, Wand, Rhiannon Giddens, Jay Som, Laura Marling, Tinariwen, Spoon, Rose Elinor Dougall, Moon Duo, Julien Baker.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 10 Taj Mahal - The Real Thing


'pushed blues into the future and birthed African - Americana'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 781 The Offspring - Smash


Song of the Day # 2,892 Jeffrey Martin


I know little of Jeffrey Martin, but judging by this latest song from him, I should investigate further. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums of the Year 2016

 Now a rundown of previous Albums of the Year. Starting, when I first started properly, in 2016:

By no means definitive. It was just records from 2016 I like and I made the order up as I was counting down to Bowie. Plenty of good and some great stuff missing. It was a dreadful year for music deaths; a wonderful one for new music; a bewildering one for the world!

50. DIIV - Is The Is Are
49. Beth Orton - Kidsticks
48. Steve Gunn - Eyes On The Line
47. Cate Le Bon - Crab Day
46. Ulrika Spacek - The Album Paranoia
45. Holy Wave - Freaks Of Nature
44. Angel Olsen - My Woman
43. Alex Cameron - Jumping The Shark
42. Eleanor Friedberger - New View
41. Cool Ghouls - Animal Races
40. Papooz - Green Juice
39. Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve - The Soft Bounce
38. Teleman - Brilliant Sanity
37. The Coathangers - Nosebleed Weekend
36. Public Access TV - Never Enough
35. Fumaca Preta - Impuros Fanaticos
34. Lawrenca Arabia - Absolute Truth
33. De La Soul - And The Anonymous Nobody
32. Goat - Requiem
31. Exploded View - Exploded View
30. Chris Cohen - As If Apart
29. Omni - Deluxe
28. Wilco - Schmilco
27. TOY - Clear Shot
26. Allah-Las - Calico Review
25. Xenia Rubinos - Black Terry Cat
24. Nothing - Tired Of Tomorrow
23. Black Marble - It's Immaterial
22. Big Thief - Masterpiece
21. Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter
20. Esperanza Spalding - Emily's D+Evolution
19. Kikagaku Moyo - House In The Tall Grass
18. Childish Gambino - "Awaken My Love!"
17. Eerie Wanda - Hum
16. Helado Negro - Private Energy
15. Parquet Courts - Human Performance
14. Warehouse - super low
13. Fantastic Negrito - The Last Days of Oakland
12. Agnes Obel - Citizen Of Glass
11. The Moles - Tonight's Music
10. Lambchop - FLOTUS
9. Nap Eyes - Though Rock Fish Scale
8. Sunflower Bean - Human Ceremony
7. Kevin Morby - Singing Saw
6. Kacy & Clayton - Strange Country
5. Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
4. The Avalanches - Wildflower
3. Regina Spektor - Remember Us To Life
2. Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
1. David Bowie - Blackstar

Mojo - Albums of the Year

 The rundowns for the year from elsewhere. Starting with Mojo Magazine. Nine in my own Top 50. Including the Number One.

1.  Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

2. St. Vincent - Daddy's Home

3. Lana Del Ray - Chemtrails Over The Country Club

4. Low - Hey What

5. Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - Carnage

6. Paul Weller - Fat Pop (Volume 1)

7. The Coral - Coral Island

8. Sons of Kemet - Back To The Future

9. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raise The Roof

10.Villagers - Fever Dreams

11. John Grant - Boy From Michigan

12. The Weather Station - Ignorance

13. Sleaford Mods- Spare Ribs

14. Black Country, New Road - Fot The First Time

15. Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg

16. Manic Street Preachers - The Ultra Vivid Lament

17. The War On Drugs - I Don't Live Here Anymore

18. IDLES - Crawler

19. David Crosby - For Free

20. Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victim

21. The Bug - Fire

22. Amyl & The Nitrates - Comfort To Me

23. Teenage Fanclub - Endless Arcade

24. SAULT - Nine

25, The Black Keys - Delta Kream

26.Mogwai - As The Love Continues

27. Lindsey Buckingham - Lindsey Buckingham

28. Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

29. Field Music - Flat White Moon

30. Yola - Stand For Myself

31. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - LW

32. Paul McCartney - McCartney III

33. Endless Boogie - Admonitions

34. Greentea Peng - Man Made

35. The Stranglers - Dark Matter

36. Wolf Alice - Bloe Weekend

37. Sturgill Simpson - Cuttin' Grass Vol 2: The Cowboy Arms Sessions

38. Saint Etienne - I've Been Trying To Tell You

39. Jane Weaver - Flock

40. Chrissie Hynde - Standing In The Doorway

41. Nala Sinephro - Space 1.8

42. Durand Jones & The Indications - Private Space

43. Damon Albarn - The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows

44. Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark

45. Jungle - Loving In Stereo

46. Faye Webster - I Know I'm Funny haha

47. Tyler, The Creator - Call Me If You Get Lost

48. Squid - Bright Green Field

49. Public Service Broadcasting - Bright Magic

50. Matt Sweeney & Bonnie Prince Billy - Superwolves

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 9 Beaver & Krause - Gandharva


 No one had made a record that sounded like this before.'

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 782 Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion II


Song of the Day # 2,891 Kelly Sloan


Hail, hail Carole King. Canadian singer songerwriter captures her sound just beautifully here.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 8 Julie Driscoll - 1969


'what may be Driscoll's most adventurous - and accessible effort - ever.'

Music Related Books of the Year


1. Will Patterson - Bunnyman

2. Tim Blanchard - Like Magic in the Streets

3. Tracy Thorn - Rock & Roll Friend

Late Arrivals of 2021


Albums that came to my attention late in 2021 but might easily have placed high in my album rundown if I'd heard them soon 

1. Sister John

2. Matthew Milia

3. Cleo Sol

Cover of the Year - Bill Baird


Only one really came to my attention this year, but what a cover it is. Of Who Knows Where The Time Goes. Already a song for the ages.

Bete Noir of the Year 2021 - Post Punk


I like Post Punk. At least if you're talking about the original thing. PiL, The Fall, Gang of Four, Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Specials, (yes I'd include them). Wire, Pere Ubu and Television, the three bands who might be classified as simply Punk bands, but who offered a way out of its potential cul de sacs. There was a darkness about pretty much all of this music. But then again those were dark times.

These are dark times but I have a much greater problem with what is generally and rather lazily called Modern Post Punk in 2021. That generally means Black Country New Road, Black Midi, Squid, Dry Cleaning, IDLES and the like. Many of them among 2021's most lauded bands and producers of many of 2021's most lauded records.

They almost all leave me quite cold. Whereas the original crop of great Post Punk records were cold and bleak records that made you feel warm these are cold records that leave me at least feeling cold and certainly yearning to listen to something else.

Many of these bands centre round a scene that's emerged in the last couple of years around The Brixton Windmill. While it's heartening to see any 'new scene' emerge, it's tempting to think of such things as a thing of the past in music though of course they never truly will be. It's slightly depressing though to see one so mired in the past, and a past where so many much better records were made than these bands seem capable of making.

The one band at least loosely connected to this scene, (they've certainly played  at The Brixton Windmill a few times over the last few years), who I am genuinely interested in, are Goat Girl who released a fabulous second album, On All Fours early in 2021. They don't seem to have received the credit they deserve for this fine, textured record. You can't hear much of The Fall or Gang of Four here, bands that seem to be common denominators for most of the groups I listed a couple of paragraphs ago, along with Can, Slint and Free Jazz in certain particular cases.

On All Fours seems more indebted to Roxy Music and Warpaint than anything else, and Goat Girl are also clearly plotting their own course too as any decent young band should be. I'll be pleased to see Black Country New Road, Black Midi, Squid or Dry Cleaning make records that change my mind about them but early signs don't seem to auger well.

2021 Curios


Album that seem to exist in their own space. I love all four of these for different reasons:

1. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Spanish Model

2. Nell Smith & The Flaming Lips - Where The Viaduct Looms

3. Tronco - Nainoia

3. Jarvis Cocker - CHANSONS d'ENNUI TIP-TOP

2021 Music Films of the Year


Three very good ones in this particular category. They all might have one but there was something special, and extraordinary about Summer of Soul.

1. Summer of Soul

2. Get Back

3. The Velvet Underground

Songs of the Year # 1 Greentea Peng


Old School C-86 Indie Album of the Year

1. The Telephone Numbers -The Battle of Doug

2. Holiday Ghosts - North Street Air

2. The Umbrellas- The Umbrellas

Americana Albums of the Year


Keego Harbour, a record I only discovered a couple of days ago tops this category. The other two are both fine, notable records.

1. Matthew Milia - Keego Harbor

2. Fog Lake - Tragedy Reel

3. Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview of Modern Phenomenal Nature

Unofficial Movie Soundtracks of the Year

Can't beat records that sound like they're soundtracks for imaginary movies. This year, three particularly took my fancy.

 1. TEKE :TEKE - Shirushi

2. El Michels Affair - Yeti Season

3. Menehan Street Band  - The Exciting Sounds of the Menehan Street Band

Comeback Records of the Year

Now, any number of other lists. In terms of old faithfuls, I liked all of these. The ABBA return Voyage, was much better I thought than could have been hoped for. A very happy, late 2021 surprise.


2. Teenage Fanclub

3. Blue Orchids

4. Saint Etienne

5. Dinosaur Jr.

It Starts With a Birthstone - Albums of the Year


This one feels like it's been a long, and very interesting year music wise. Here is a list of albums that I've gone for. I actually started way back in September at # 100, but here is the Top 50. From ones that I've loved to ones that I've liked. No attempt at academic distance and judgement. Just records that have bought me joy. The photo here is one of me, a long, long time ago:

1. Greentea Peng - Man Made

2. Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert

3. Jane Weaver - Flock

4. Parquet Courts - Plant Life

5. The Weather Station - Ignorance

6.  St. Lennox - Ten Songs of Worship and Praise For These Tumultuous Times

7. Dark Tea - Dark Tea

8. Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra - Promises

9. Fievel Is Glauque - God's Trashmen Sent to Right The Mess

10.  Dean Wareham - I Have Nothing To say To The Mayor Of LA

11. Low - Hey What

12. Cool Ghouls - At George's Zoo

13. Goat Girl - On All Fours

14. Japanese Breakfast - Jubilee

15. Bendigo Fletcher - Fits of Laughter

16. Drug Store Romeos - The world within our bedrooms

17. Courtney Barnett - Things Take Time, Take Time

18. John Grant - Boy From Michigan

19. Astral Swans - Astral Swans

20. The Goon Sax - Mirror II

21. The God Fahim & Your Old Droog - The Wolf on Wall Street

22. Mdou Moctar - Afrique Victim

23. Lost Girls, Jenny Hval & Havard Volden - Menneskekollektivet

24. The Besnard Lakes - The Besnard Lakes are the Last of the Great Thunderstorm Warnings

25. Adrian Crowley - The Watchful Eye of The Stars

26. Tronco - Nainoia

27. Fog Lake - Tragedy Reel

28. TEKE::TEKE - Shirushi

29. Elephant Micah - Vague Tidings

30. James Yorkston & The Second Hand Orchestra - The Wide, Wide River

31. Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview of Phenomenal Nature

32. ABBA - Voyage

33. Vanishing Twin - Ooki Gekkou

34. Pye Corner Audio - The Spectral Corridor 

35. The Telephone Numbers - The Ballad of Doug

36. Hannah Peel - Fir Wave

37. El Michels Affair - Yeti Season

38. Black Twig - Was Not Looking For Magic


40. The Killers - Pressure Machine

41. Orla Gartland - Women on The Internet

42. Dusted - III

43. Fruit Bats - The Pet Parade

44. Mega Bog - Life, And Another

45.  Valerie June - The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers

46. Floatie - Voyage Out

47. Saint Etienne - I've Been Trying To Tell You

48. Durand Jones & The Indications - Private Space

49. Albertine Sages - The Sticky Fingers

50. POSTDATA - Twin Flames

Albums of the Year # 1 Greentea Peng - MAN MADE

 Both my album and song of the year are by the same artist this time round. Not an objective judgement of any sort. Just my own favourites.

 I am fifty five years old and very much aware of it. When I hear a record like this, Man Made, the debut album from Greentea Peng, very much a Yoof and London album, the sound of multicultural UK, my immediate thought is that I'm not perhaps, the constituency it was made for.

Except that it's clearly a very groovy record and I can very much get behind that. Greentea Peng may not care about the balding, might as well be grandad, at the back of the hall but he cares about her. Because, to invoke a huge cliche, 'this is massive.'

It's the kind of record that we've been making well here in the UK for almost thirty years. Since Massive Attack, Tricky, Leftfield and a bit later Ms. Dynamite. It's determined on the same basic factors. Soul, R & B, Reggae, cool rhythms and literate, righteous rapping underpinned by a vague urban unease. It bubbles away with languid grace. I'm on my second play now and am already preparing myself to buy a copy as soon as I can.

Greentea Peng in her words is a 'Psychedelic R&B' singer and songwriter from South East London and keeps her beats loose and the mood mellow for the most part though the lyrics are informed and engaged. 

It's melodic and funky and should appeal to parents, and possibly even Grandparents, who remember this kind of vibe from way back when as well as their kids, who might be slightly nonplussed that the oldies like this too.

Aria Wells, who is Greentea Peng, has already, as she aproaches her late twenties,  had a varied and worthwhile life experience judging by the variation in mood and mode of attack evident on Man Made and the basic biographical background detailed here She's already also had a slight nod from Pitchfork's direction so this might well have hipster cache. 

Never mind about that Greentea Peng, It Starts With a Birthstone has noticed you too and vastly approves of this. So clearly, the sky's the limit! If you're looking for the place where the UK is at this place or at least should be, there are worse places to look than here.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 783 Sonic Youth - Dirty


Song(s) of the Day # 2,890 Menahan Street Band


First of all, Happy Christmas! It feels like this year has been a very long one to me. But aren't they all. Heres a nice record from 2021 for a special day. One of those cool, laid back, imaginary soundtarcks to a film that doesn't exist that seem so in vogue just now. You might like to listen to it at some point today. It should brighten it up. Consider it a Christmas present.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Songs of the Year # 2 Daniel Knox


Albums of the Year # 2 Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert


Many people's record of the year. For me, just pipped, but still an incredibly powerful album.


Sure to feature majorly on all the high profile countdowns of Albu's of 2021. Little Simz Sometimes I Might Be Introvert released in late Autumn. It's a powerful and immediate record, high octane and thrilling from start to finish.

What I feel about it is a different thing. I didn't even listen to it all the way through until a few weeks after its release. I am as I keep telling myself, a man who gets closer to sixty than fifty every day. So whether I want state of the art and full on state of the nation addresses rather than a cup of tea and a biscuit while I sit down with Upstairs Downstairs or A Room With a View on a Sunday afternoon is an openand valid question. 

Still, it's an excellent record. Lyrical, funky and literate, in the way Soul II Soul and Massive Attack records were when I started getting into stuff like this first time round thirty years or more ago. In a year when Arlo Park's, Collapsed in Sunbeams, a middle class record to Simz deeply street one, scooped the Mercury Prize the two make interesting listening contrasts.

Sometimes I Might Be Introvert  is rarely a comforting or consoling record in the way that Collapsed in Sunbeams often is. It's urgent and upbeat while Sunbeams consistently seems concerned with doing what it can to sedate the patient and encourage their temperature down. for better or worse.

I'd say the Little Simz record is much, much better, which is why it features much higher in my chart for the year. It will be well, well into December until I post its position, for those waiting with bated breath for thmy higher chart positions. That doesn't mean I'll listen to it that often it that often. I refer you back to the sixty and fifty thing. But I can recognise what a powerful and far ranging record it is.

It's a primed and toned middleweight, itching for its title challenge, skipping on its toes. Scaring the hell out of its ring opponent for whom the end is surely nigh. It's certainly one of the best albums of 2021.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 784 Madonna - Like a Prayer


Song of the Day # 2,889 Grand Funk Railroad


Homer Simpson's favourite band. Not hugely, respected and reviled by many during their time, but they got to places the MC5 couldn't get to and much of their music still sounds fine or better. Meanwhile, this clip, of them playing a TV programme in 1969, is a priceless document of the time.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Songs About People # 1,320 Vincent Price


Hail, hail Vincent Price. In many respects the American equivalent to Christopher Lee.

Mojo - 1971 Nuggets - # 7 Eugene McDaniels - Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse


'40 minutes of sulphorous, psychedelicjazz and soul, topped withMcDaniels wry takedowns of rich kids posing as flower children.'

Songs of the Year # 3 The Telephone Numbers


Albums of the Year # 3 Jane Weaver - Flock

 Jane Weaver, an old and very good friend of this blog with her latest, probably a natural culmnation of the last few:


This is a very, very good album. If I hear a better record in the whole of 2021 I'll be deeply content. I'm getting the sense from the things I've heard thus far that this is going to be a very good one for music but it's going to need something very special to top this particular record in terms of my affections as so many things on Flock align in almost perfect symmetry to my personal radar.

I knew I was going to like this before I started listening to it but I have to say on the second run through it that I'm surprised how much I'm deeply taken by it already. It reminds me of one of my first, true music loves, Simple Minds' wonderful peak of creative activity New Gold Dream 81, 82, 83, 84. The records seem to share DNA to me. There's something so assured and intuitive about both records. A sense of arrival to a place where both artists were heading towards almost inevitably with the records they put out previously.

Jane Weaver has been a fixture on this particular blog for several years. Ever since the release of The Silver Globe in 2015 she seems to have moved forward with a clear and particular vision that has led her to Flock, to my mind her best record and certainly her most commercial sounding one. She's always had an appreciable Pop knack but The Silver Globe and the records that succeeded it were definitely more outre in terms of their trappings. She was on the Finders Keepers record label after all. The spiritual home of those who treasure the obscure and esoteric.

Flock is something else and it reminds me most of all of two particularly glorious British Pop eras. Two years really. 1972, when Roxy, T.Rex,  Sparks and Bowie first strutted into the pop sunlight, shaking away the residual dust of the sixties as they made their way into the charts and onto Top of the Pops. Then ten years onward to 1982 when  the equally outlandish and extraordinary likes of Associates, Simple Minds, Japan, Visage and ABC miraculously did a similarly wonderful thing, I can hear all of this in Flock ,but at the same time it never feels like a mere retread, more like a new dawn. All on one record. It's that good.

Of course what came between 1972 and 1982 among other things were Bowie's Berlin albums, Krautrock and most particulary Kraftwerk, and Neu! and I'd say that these are the bands that form the bedrock of the sound that Weaver has martialled so successfully on previous records and which now comes to full pop fruition  on Flock. This sounds almost like a collection of hit singles to me. They probably won't be, though I would expect the album to make some kind of commercial splash. It certainly deserves to.

Add Funk to the mix, and Flock is seriously funky at times, (Jane channels Prince, I promise you), and a couple of tracks that are more Stereolab than Stereolab, but in a great way, and you have this record. A musician who has always done exactly what she wants has arrived at her 11th album to make a record she 'has always wanted to make'To see an artist coming to this peak of achievement so far into their career is a joy, pure and simple. 

This is a model lesson in sticking to your guns and guiding principles and striding down a path of your own making. Flock is a record that surpises constantly, while remaining constant to the core values established by Weaver's previous work. Hear it. It's a wonder. A dream you never want to end.