As is now tradition, let’s start with my favourite SONG OF THE YEAR – a full run down of all my favourite songs can be heard on one of our end of the year podcasts – the Kicker one, and, of those, my favourite is Scott Lavene‘s The Ballad of Lynsey. A proper bit of storytelling with a killer refrain.
Top 25 Albums
1 Slonk – Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?
This Bristol band, the brainchild of the prolific Joe Sherrin, were new to me this year thanks to the introduction of friend of the pod and all round top lad, Jeff Tyson. I now own their full back catalogue and could do with another tape as this one is worn out.
2 Scott Lavene – Milk City Sweethearts
3 The Reds, Pinks & Purples – Uncommon Weather
4 William Doyle – Great Spans Of Muddy Time
5 The Cleaners From Venus – Penny Novelettes
6 Von Hayes – Wa La!
7 Psychic Flowers – For The Undertow
8 Paul Jacobs – Pink Dogs On The Green Grass
9 Low – Hey What
10 Guided By Voices – Earth Man Blues
11 Cathal Coughlan – Song Of Co-Aklan
12 James Yorkston & The Second Hand Orchestra – The Wide, Wide River
13 Wurld Series – What’s Growing
14 Astral Swans – Astral Swans
15 Marconi Union – Signals
16 The Declining Winter – Recordings Of Weird Air
17 Haiku Salut – The Hill, The Light, The Ghost
18 Ronan O Snodaigh – Tá Go Maith
19 Strapping Fieldhands – Across The Susquehanna
20 Gruff Rhys – Seeking New Gods
21 Smug Brothers – Application Of The Twig
22 John Francis Flynn – I Would Not Live Always
23 Faye Webster – I Know I’m Funny Haha
24 Lewsberg – In Your Hands
25 Mimsy – Ormeology
…. and making up a top 50 albums, all of which you should own, are, in alphabetical order, 25* more:
Apeshit – Music For Pipe Smokers; Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark; Courtney Barnett – Things Take Time, Take Time; The Bevis Frond – Little Eden; Black Country, New Road – For The First Time; The Chills – Scatterbrain; Clinic – Fantasy Island; Cub Scout Bowling Pins – Clang Clang Ho; Dohnavùr – The Flow Across Borders; Ducks Ltd. – Modern Fiction; The Goalie’s Anxiety At The Penalty Kick – Ways Of Hearing; Good Morning – Barnyard; Guardian Singles – Guardian Singles; Guided By Voices – Styles We Paid For / It’s Not Them. It Couldn’t Be Them. It Is Them!; Hiatus – Distancer; The House In the Woods – Spectral Corridor; Immersion – Nanocluster Vol. 1; Kitchen Cynics – Reekinhame / Resevoir / Endbirds / In The Ruins / Songs From Room 9; Pardoner – Came Down Different; Royal Chant – Shoot The Messenger; Sleaford Mods – Spare Ribs; Veryan – Here; Wake Up – Tigers Can’t Be Choosers; Andrew Wasylyk – Balgay Hill: Morning In Magnolia; Western Edges – Dependency
*plus some extra
Top 5 Compilations
1 Portraits From Quarantine (Almost Halloween Time Records)
And not only because it features a song co-written by this particular wizard, but definitely that, and the song by The Cannanes, which is stellar, and so much more.
2 Cue Dot Sampler: Volume 1
3 An Eclectic Selection Of Music From The Arab World, Part 2 (Habibi Funk)
4 May The Circle Remain Unbroken: A Tribute To Roky Erickson (Light In The Attic)
5 Eins Und Zwei Und Drei Und Vier (Bureau B)
Top 5 EPs
1 Yard Act – Dark Days
Chorizo brought these to the pod, and I instantly fell in love with this Leeds band and their first 4 songs. The debut album, due early next year, seems sure to be a big hit in Kicker Towers in 2022.
2 Cub Scout Bowling Pins – Heaven Beats Iowa
3 Dohnavùr – Pristine Environments
4 Kitchen Cynics – Seven Meditations From A Morthouse
5 Ducks Ltd. – Get Bleak
Top 5 Reissues / Re-pressings / Remixes / Not Strictly Speaking New Stuff
1 Spare Snare – The Complete BBC Radio Sessions 1995 – 2018
Dundee’s (some say, Scotland’s) finest, The Snare put together a fantastic box set of stuff they did with Peel, Riley, Galloway, and, er, Jones over 25 years.
2 Caravan – Who Do You Think We Are?
3 Linda Smith – Till Another Time: 1988-1996
4 Devo’s Gerald V. Casale – AKA Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers
5 Pye Corner Audio – Black Mill Tapes (10th Anniversary Box Set)
Top 5 Live Albums
1 The The – The Comeback Special
A gig I regret not getting to, but am delighted to now be able to hear in full. I really hope its release signals the return of The The to the recording studio.
2 The Fall – Live At St Helens Technical College 81
3 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts
4 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Way Down In The Rust Bucket
5 Alex Chilton and Hi Rhythm Section Boogie Shoes – Live On Beale Street
The Robert Pollard Annual Output Roundup
Guided By Voices – Styles We Paid For (a December 2020 release) / Earth Man Blues / It’s Not Them, It Couldn’t Be Them, It Is Them / Thank You Very Much For Nothing (video)
Cub Scout Bowling Pins – Heaven Beats Iowa EP / Clang Clang Ho
Reissues: Propeller x 4 (Scat); Under The Bushes Under the Stars (white); Isolation Drills (2xLP, blue/black); Alien Lanes (Newbury Comics, Red)
Hot Freaks (Subscription):
Following on from the subscription starting in May 2020, this year we received, in the form of weekly downloads, the following:
Robert Pollard – 1998 Home Acoustic Recordings / Irving Plaza, New York City, June 14, 1996 / The Batman Sees The Ball (Preview) / Before Computers (Style We Paid For Demos) / Kevin March Songs / I Sell The Circus (Demos) / Sunshine Girl (Preview) / Live at the Grog Shop in Cleveland, April 21, 2018 / Bobby Bare Jr / Robert Pollard – Carry On Bag / Lord Of The Birdcage (Roughs) / Robert Pollard – Motivational Jumpsuit (Demos) / WXPN World Cafe – July 17, 1997 / Robert Pollard– Full Sun (Dig The Slowness) / BBC Radio 1: John Peel Session, June 18, 1996 / Robert Pollard – Space City Kicks (Roughs) / Cub Scout Bowling Pins – Eggs Mother? (Preview) / Robert Pollard – Carry On Bag II / Broadcaster House / Live at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA – October 23, 2018 / Broadcaster House – Part 2.
Rather neatly this meant the full sub gave us 1000 tracks, which subsequently have been made available on a GBVUSB. Shit, yeah!
Top 5 Music Related Books (Read This Year)
1 Bela Koe-Krompecher – Love, Death & Photosynthesis
From the founder of the wonderful Anyway Records, this book provides the reader with a vivid moving description of love, friendship, music and excess in late 80s Ohio. Highly recommended.
2 Bob Stanley and Tessa Norton – Excavate!: The Wonderful and Frightening World of The Fall
3 Holly George-Warren – A Man Called Destruction: The Life And Music Of Alex Chilton
4 Tot Taylor – The Story Of John Nightly
5 Kristin Hersh – Seeing Sideways: A Memoir of Music and Motherhood
Top 3 Non-Music Related New Books
1 Justin Robertson – The Tangle
Described as a ‘mind-fuck’ on the back of the book, no description I could come up with beyond this would do it justice. Just know you need to read it, and then read it again.
2 Willy Vlautin – The Night Always Comes
3 Bob Mortimer – And Away
Top 5 Music Films Seen (But Not Necessarily Released) This Year
1 King Rocker – Robert Lloyd / Stewart Lee
Everything you could possibly want from a music documentary – informative, moving, and laugh out loud funny. It’ll make you want to get those Prefects records out again too.
2 Dunstan Bruce – I Get Knocked Down
3 The Jangling Man: The Martin Newell Story
4 Poly Styrene – I Am A Cliché
5 Sparks – The Sparks Brothers
Best Song That Didn’t Quite Make The Playlist, But Had My Favourite Music Video Award
The Stephen Jones One Man Domination Of Record Shelf Space Award
Just the 260 tracks released by Stephen Jones this year under various guises:
Babybird – Corona Christmas / Give Me Your Heart, I’ll Give You Mine (single) / Leicester Square, London, 11/2/12 / Covers & Remixes / Kids Gun
Baby Bird – I Was Born A Baby
Stephen Jones – The Floating City / Heart Boxes / Bandcamp Babybird
Death Of The Neighbourhood – Additional Tracks
Apeshit – Music For Pipe Smokers
New Musical Source Of The Year
British Achievement In Chemistry, March 1977; Concretism – Archive: Volume 1; Jilk – Welcome Lies; Dohnavùr – Pristine Environments; Oscilloclast – Nocturnal/Seasonal; Hawksmoor – Crystal World; Polypores – Myriad; Stellarays – Cosmopollinators; The Heartwood Institute – Land Of The Lakes; Correlations – Rewind The Exit Tape
Plus a number of other great records released by the label this year, but not part of the subscription:
Dohnavùr – Flow Across Borders and New Objectivity (The Remixes) EP; Warrington-Runcorn New Town Development Plan – People & Industry and Interim Report, March 1979; Den Osynliga Manteln – Insektsfolk; Clocolan – This Will End In Love; Hattie Cooke – Bliss Land; Concretism – Teliffusion; Everyday Dust – Black Water
Favourite Music Related Moments (Outside of Everything Above)
Jellyfish Reflector – bought direct from Uncle Bob via Sarah Zade-Pollard. Oh, yes.
Tom Violence – the band I was involved with back in the late 80s – found themselves included on an Almost Halloween Time Records compilation (see above). Luigi said:
“Tom Violence: The song that made me think the most. Where has she been hiding all these years? I know that one of the members of this project has an infinite record collection, it certainly went like this, the original tape it was contained on must have been placed by mistake in another shell and Darren found it putting his collection in order during the lockdown. It was not easy to find a collocation for this song which could very well be a b-side of Talk Talk or Pet Shop Boys. What if more recordings come out? I could finally update my playlist of favorite 80s songs and turn the clock back to release a bizarre classic.”
You can decide for yourself here: https://almosthalloweentimerecords.bandcamp.com/track/59-tom-violence-everything
And finally, something to enjoy with the family over Christmas Dinner, a selection of the best part of a dozen (eleven, in fact) of my favourite instrumentals of the year.
Please help support all the wonderful musicians mentioned in the lists above by searching out their records, CDs, tapes and downloads and BUYING THEM!!!