As per usual, I meant to put together a few tunes that’ve caught my ears over the year…kinda left it to the last minute.
Since coming back to Scotland earlier this year, I’ll be honest, but I hardly ever listen to conventional music radio. Or at least no more so than I did in the old locale. That one time when I overheard an Ed Sheeren (or was it Sam Smith…or Bruno Mars) song was more than enough to put me off from trying further. Anyway, I try to keep my hand/ear in somehow.
So, here’s a list of songs and artists that I’ve really enjoyed this year. There’s some Americana, some Rock, some stuff that I’ve not quite worked out what ‘box’ it should be in.
Three brothers and their buddy make up this band from Detroit. Of course, there’ll be comparisons with The Black Crowes (and maybe Wolfmother), and once you’ve heard the vocalist, you’ll probably make your mind up quickly.
This lead’s on nicely to the Robert Plant album that dropped in October, ‘Carry Fire’. Whilst Jimmy Page continues to remaster and remix and reissue every conceivable Zeppelin tune you can think of (not a huge criticism tbh) and still seems to cling to the hope of some sort of reunion or new collaboration, Plant has continued to do his own thing. Backed by the splendidly monikored Sensational Space Shifters, the album explores various sonic avenues and there’s still plenty of room for guitars too.
It was great to hear new music from Spoon, The War on Drugs, Public Service Broadcasting, Ryan Adams, Steven Wilson and The National this year. I’d hoped to see most of them live at some point, but missed them all. I thoroughly enjoyed the new tunes nonetheless. For your consideration…
My favourite records of the year were Chris Stapleton’s ‘From A Room: Volume 1 and Volume 2 and Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit ‘s ‘The Nashville Sound’. Since all good things comes in 3’s…I’d throw in Father John Misty’s ‘Pure comedy’.
The quality of Stapleton’s songwriting, combined with the musicianship of all those involved and extra layers from producer Dave Cobb really take it to the next level. Don’t let that big ‘ole hat trick you into thinking this is a one-trick pony…
The Nashville Sound is probably the album that I’ve listened to the most this year. It just never gets old. Also produced by Dave Cobb, the album has a fantastic array of sounds and styles where Isbell gets to shine not only as a singer-songwriter, but also a fine guitar player. They were fantastic live too.
If you’ve never heard of Father John Misty, then this’s a great place to start. Sounds great on the bus on those early morning commutes.
A few more notable mentions.
Something heavy – Mastodon Mastodon – Sultan’s Curse
Something twangy – JD McPherson – “LUCKY PENNY”
Something that should be heard more of – The Afghan Whigs – Demon In Profile
Something that sounds from the 80’s (but in a good way) – Future Islands – Ran
Something dark – The Black Angels – Grab as Much (as You Can)
Something mellow – Iron & Wine – Claim Your Ghost
Something at 3 minutes and change – Hurray For The Riff Raff – Living In The City
Something from that guy who’s been in loads of cool bands but only plays Edinburgh – Mark Lanegan – Death’s Head Tattoo
Finally, some new artists (well, almost new) that I discovered this year. Marty Stuart was Johnny Cash’s guitar player for over 20 years…I had no idea…the album’s great. Marty Stuart – Way Out West
“Get me drinking that moonshine, Get me higher than the grocery bill”. Superb. Tyler Childers – Whitehouse Road
I liked the fusion-confusion sound that Algiers brought. Algiers – “The Underside of Power”
What did you enjoy this past year?