Buy a T-Shirt, Help the NHS Save Lives

tshirt mock up

COVID-19 is affecting all of us in one way or another. For a lot of us, it will come all too close to home. None of us ever imagined that something like this would happen during our lifetimes, especially not on this scale. We are all relying on ourselves and each other to act responsibly right now, in order to fight this thing. We can do this by maintaining social distance and staying home as much as possible. Our country is also heavily reliant on the NHS, who are going at it, tooth and nail, 24/7, to save lives. The strain they are under is extraordinary, and we owe them so much.

I wanted to do my bit to help support the NHS. So here’s a t-shirt design depicting a group of people flouting the rules of social distancing (NO), and a person standing solitary (YES). Never before has self-isolation been so in-vogue.

So, do you like t-shirts? Do you despise COVID-19? Do you love the NHS? If you answered ‘yes’ to all three questions, then this t-shirt is for you.

100% of profits will go to NHS Charities Together.

BUY YOUR T-SHIRT HERE!

tshirt design

Recorded Zygote Poems Now Streaming on Cultured Llama’s Website

A couple of my ‘Zygote Poems’ have been recorded and set to electronic soundscapes thanks to friends Dragonfruit Planet and Veneer, with ‘Zygote Poem’ itself featuring the in-womb heartbeat of my daughter. Click here to head to the Cultured Llama website where you can read more about the project and listen to both tracks.

Remember, books are good for you, and so, you can buy ‘Zygote Poems’ in all of its paper and soft-cover form, right here.

2019: Album by Album (in Review)

Twelve months ago, in January 2019, I decided to note down every album and EP I listened to that year, as well as any new-to-me individual songs I actively discovered, in a notebook – the traditional way it’s done – as both something cool to look back on in years to come, and an incentive to discover more music, whether that’s new releases or albums I had been meaning to check out for years but hadn’t got around to. However, having barely started, it occurred to me that I could make this obsessive journey into discovering more music even more obsessive by blogging my journey every month. And so, if you scroll down through this blog you will find every month’s worth of listening for your perusal.

Having completed the task at the end of December, naturally, I have now had a couple of weeks to take a break and take stock of my journey. I say take a break, but actually, by doing this I had re-instilled a passion to actively check out new albums on what has been pretty much an everyday basis, so in one sense, my journey has only continued. The only difference is, I’m no longer blogging it.

Ultimately, what I learnt from doing this was that there is a never-ending supply of good music out there waiting to be discovered. It was exciting to listen albums that I had neglected for so long, like ‘How It Feels to Be Something On’ by Sunny Day Real Estate, a band whose debut I obsessed over so much that I neglected the rest of their catalogue (it was in equal parts gutting to know I had been missing out such an incredible album in full for all this time, having first discovered Sunny Day Real Estate and becoming obsessed with ‘Diary’ some fifteen years ago); it was also exciting to discover bands and albums that I hadn’t heard before, whether it was a 2019 release like ‘Schlagenheim’ by Black Midi, or an older release that had passed me by, but I have since fallen in love with, with like ‘Any Other City’ by Life Without Buildings. I even discovered albums that had passed me by that have now become some of my favourite albums ever, like ‘Black Phantom Crusades’ by Red Animal War, a band who had a few tracks I had loved for years, but regretfully never delved into further.

Similarly enjoyable was listening to albums and EPs by friends’ bands, and from people I know on the scene like ‘Taut Orchestras’ by Tripper (as well as the single, ‘Pilot Error’, from their upcoming collab album with Mike Watt), ‘Big Storm Coming’ and ‘Heaven’s Gunships’ by Broker, ‘Turbo Island’ by Steve Strong’, ‘Young and Cool’ by Woahnows, ‘Everyone Will Fall’ by The Natural 20s, ‘To Set Things Right’ by The Bell and the Hammer, and ‘Tiny Fires’ by SPACESHIPS, reminding me that I am surrounded by, if not connected to, hugely talented musicians. And, although it wasn’t a genre I listened to huge amounts of in 2019, I should give a nod to fellow poet, and in fact someone whose poetry I really admire, James Turner, for introducing me to classical music in the form of Shostakovich and Henryk G√≥recki, which I found to be really nice to listen to whilst drawing.

As the year went on, I found myself getting more and more glued to checking out albums from 2019. As soon as I listened to one, I discovered another, and there were just so many great albums being released last year that I was unable stop. This is why the latter half of my blog posts are particularly saturated by 2019 releases, resulting in my album of the year list. As I write this I am listening to my 7th 2020 release of the year, so it is safe to say that obsession has continued, and there will probably be another extensive album of the year list from me come late December 2020, but hey, there are much worse things I could get obsessed with. At least I’m eating all my vegetables and washing myself regularly.

2019, in fact, was such a great year for music, that not only did a lot of my favourite bands release new music, including The Appleseed Cast, my favourite band ever, who put out ‘The Fleeting Light of Impermanence’, which (completely unbiased-ly) made the number one spot on my AOTY list, but my top ten albums of 2019 alone consisted of six albums by bands that were new to me: Bars of Gold, Prince Daddy & the Hyena, Heartscape Landbreak, Outer Spaces, One True Pairing, and Pile.

To round things up then, here are my favourite discoveries from each month of my journey (I have purposefully chosen albums/EPs that were completely new to me as opposed to old favourites, to make it more fun for myself if not anyone else – who is actually reading this anyway?), with an alternative highlight track, as well as my favourite individual song I heard that month (so, a track that I heard by itself, and not part of an album I had checked out – I know, this is anal, and overly specific, and all those things – welcome to the cogs of my constantly overworking and anxiety-ridden brain). Before that though, because this wasn’t all obsessive enough, as I went along I put a song or two from every album and EP I listened to in 2019, as well as those individual tracks I mentioned, in a Spotify playlist, which now clocks in at 26 hours and 1 minute in length, which you can follow here.

    Highlights
    January

Album: Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place, ‘You’re Doomed. Be Nice.’ Highlight: ‘Yie Air’.
Individual track: Mineral, ‘Your Body Is The World’.

    February

Album: Sunny Day Real Estate, ‘The Rising Tide’. Highlight: ‘Killed By An Angel’.
Individual track: Unwed Sailor, ‘Heavy Age’.

    March

Album: American Football, ‘American Football (LP3)’. Highlight: ‘Heir Apparent’.
Individual track: Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson, ‘All I Remember is Punk Rock’.

    April

Album: Owls, ‘Owls’. Highlight: ‘For Nate’s Brother Whose Name I Never Knew Or Can’t Remember’.
Individual track: Outer Spaces, ‘Teapot #1’.

    May

Album: Heartscape Landbreak, ‘The Remedy’. Highlight: ‘Resentment Teeth’.
Individual track: Modest Mouse, ‘Poison the Well’.

    June

Album: The Appleseed Cast, ‘The Fleeting Light of Impermanence. Highlight: ‘Chaotic Waves’.
Individual track: Lightspeed Champion, ‘Waiting Game’.

    July

Album: Outer Spaces, ‘Gazing Globe’. Highlight: ‘Album for Ghosts’.
Individual track: Land of Talk, ‘Heartcore’.

    August

Album: Prince Daddy & the Hyena, ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’. Highlight: ‘Cosmic Thrill Seeking Forever’.
Individual track: Shield Your Eyes, ‘Drill Your Heavy Heart’.

    September

Album: Bars of Gold, ‘Shelters’. Highlight: ‘Atlantic City’.
Individual track: Brightside, ‘Just Like Dancing’.

    October

Album: Danny Brown, ‘uknowhatimsayin?’. Highlight: ‘uknowhatimsayin?’.
Individual track: SPACESHIPS, ‘Tiny Fires’.

    November

Album: Pile, ‘Green and Gray’. Highlight: ‘Bruxist Green’.
Individual track: Tindersticks, ‘Pinky in the Daylight’.

December

Album: Big Thief, ‘Two Hands’. Highlight: ‘Forgotten Eyes’.
Individual track: Tripper + Watt, ‘Pilot Error’.

2019: Album by Album (December)

Here it is. The final month of my 12-month head-first dive into actively trying to discover more music. If you have followed my journey since beginning all the way back in January 2019, then thank you. I plan on doing a round-up blog post in the next week or so highlighting my favourites from each month and talking a bit more about what I discovered.

For now, here’s everything I listened to in December (that I hadn’t already listened to before, hence the absence of any Christmas songs that have occupied the last couple of weeks – when you have a 7 year old child, that does happen). As you will see it is mostly made up of 2019 releases, as there was a bunch of stuff (not to mention the 300+ 2019 albums I wanted to check out but didn’t get around to) I wanted to listen to before the year was out. I was 3 albums short from being able to compile a top 100 list, having checked out 97 albums from 2019, and so I made a top 90 list instead. Check it out here, and leave your own 2019 lists in the comments (disclaimer: if I was to make the list today it would look quite different, records by Big Thief, Kim Gordon, Jimmy Eat World, and Pedro the Lion would be higher, etc. I am actually listening to ‘Two Hands’ by Big Thief again as I write this).

Hey. Do you like Spotify playlists that are 327 all-awesome songs in length? Then this playlist, which contains a song from every album I listened to in the last twelve months (that I liked), and every individual song I heard that I hadn’t encountered previously, is for you. Ideal for playing on shuffle.

Albums and EPs

Neil Young with Crazy Horse, ‘Colorado’ – Crazy Horse is back and this album is definitely up there with some of Young’s best work. It swings from ballsy and raw to tender and sweet, as you’d expect from a Crazy Horse album, and it’s not shy of those epic crunchy riffs and jams. Highlight: ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’.

Alcest, ‘Spiritual Instinct’ – Alcest combine metal with elements of shoegaze and post rock to create something that does sound quite spiritual. I had heard a lot of hype around this record. Ultimately, it wasn’t really for me. Having said that it did have its moments. Highlight: ‘Projection’.

Great Grandpa, ‘Four of Arrows’ – A mash of indie rock and pop punk, with slight radio-friendly country pop tinges here and there. It brushes too close to Taylor Swift territory too often me. Highlight: ‘Digger’.

SPACESHIPS, ‘Tiny Fires’ – Fusing elements of shoegaze, post rock, and dream metal to create four tracks which are in turn epic, dramatic, and heartfelt. Highlight: ‘Magnetic’.

The Glow, ‘Am I’ – Mike Caridi of LVL UP returns bringing the fuzzy indie rock that made LVL UP so comforting to the table again, but this time with added pop and psych influences. Highlight: ‘Weight Of Sun’.

Fever Ray, ‘Fever Ray’ – I remember being completely compelled by the sound of this album and the eerie mood it sets. Karin Dreijer, also known for her work with The Knife, delivers 10 tracks of a brooding, moody, haunting deposition fusing electronic, ambient, alternative, and art pop. Highlight: ‘Seven’.

Big Thief, ‘Two Hands’ – This second album from Big Thief this year isn’t as immediate as the first (which I listened to last month), but is still an album of stunning indie-folk worth talking about. Highlight: ‘Not’.

Tool, ‘Fear Inoculum’ – I was aware Tool had a new album out this year but hadn’t really considered giving it a listen until a friend brought it up. My knowledge of Tool is limited to seeing 30 seconds of their video for Schism on Kerrang! back in the day which didn’t do anything for me. I thought I’d give this a go though, as tastes often change. If I’m honest, it wasn’t for me, which for an album that clocks in at 1hr 26mins, is quite a big commitment. However, during that time, I did find the odd riff or rhythm that pricked my ears up. Highlight: ‘Chocolate Chip Trip’.

Tyler, The Creator, ‘IGOR’ – I tried listening to this earlier in the year, but after a couple of tracks I had to stop as I found it grating. I thought it I would give it another go, this time committing to the full album. There are some cool moments here and there, but overall I found it a bit annoying. Highlight: ‘WHAT’S GOOD’.

Kim Gordon, ‘No Home Record’ – A blistering art rock record which is charismatic and playful as much as it is relentless and important. Kim Gordon’s signature husky and evocative vocal is ever-present, and so it instantly appeals to the Sonic Youth fan in me. The chorus of ‘Air BnB’ could easily be from a Dirty-era Sonic Youth song. Similarities aside though, there’s a lot of new sounds and moods explored, as well as cut-up experimental-ism and noise for this debut solo album to stand on its own two feet. Highlight: ‘Murdered Out’.

MONO, ‘Nowhere Now Here’ – Grandiose, climatic post-rock which shifts between quiet and loud, graceful and heavy. There’s not a lot I can say about this record that hasn’t been said about other post-rock albums of this nature, but it’s a solid album nonetheless. Highlight: ‘Meet Us Where the Night Ends’.

Bat For Lashes, ‘Lost Girls’ – An atmospheric mix of art pop, electronic, and synth-pop, with elements of new wave. The songs swing between brooding and melancholic to euphoric and hypnotising, with a mysterious smokiness underlying throughout. Highlight: ‘Jasmine’. Bonus highlight (because it’s one of the best instrumentals I’ve heard this year): ‘Vampires’.

Tripper, ‘Taut Orchestras’ – A blistering EP which brings punk, post hardcore, indie rock and pyschadelic rock to a boil and then spits it in your face with a sly wink and a cheeky grin. Highlight: ‘All the Heartache’.

Cassels, ‘The Perfect Ending’ – An idiosyncratic mix of indie rock, rock and roll, and punk, going from big, ballsy riffs to clean, tender chords, and underscored by half spoken, half sung vocals that lean on social commentary and politics. Highlight: ‘A Snowflake in Winter’.

Thurston Moore, ‘Spirit Counsel’ – Clocking in at 2hrs 28mins, Spirit Counsel consists of just three tracks that bridge the gap between noise rock and post rock. I have to say, although this was by no means un-enjoyable, I’m not sure these tracks justified being so epic in length. On the rare occasion that these mainly-guitar-based pieces changed their motif it was a much welcomed breath of fresh air. I am almost certain though that it was Thurston’s intention to take the listener right to the brink before giving them any relief. Highlight: ‘Alice Moki Jayne’.

Horse Jumper of Love, ‘So Divine’ – A hypnotic mix of slowcore and indie rock, with the occasional grunge undertone, lyrically capturing memories and making them into bigger things. Highlight: ‘Volcano’.

    Individual tracks I hadn’t heard before

SPACESHIPS, ‘Babel’ – Spotify put on this track after I had listened to their ‘Tiny Fires’ EP, and I will be checking out the rest of this album in due course, for sure. SPACESHIPS definitely have ‘their’ sound down.

Try, Try, Try, ‘Give It Up’ – A saccharine slice of electronic-enthused indie pop from the same man that otherwise goes by the name Luke Leighfield.

Poolside, ‘Harvest Moon’ – A chilled electronic cover of Neil Young’s classic. Stunning.

Outer Spaces, ‘Children Love To Run’ – The b-side to ‘Teapot #1’ which was put out earlier in the year as part of Saddle Creek’s Document series is a slightly more jangly, upbeat affair.

Tripper + Watt, ‘Pilot Error’ – Shortly after listening to their EP ‘Taut Orchestras’, they dropped this exploding bomb of unrelenting, angular, and immediate punk rock, again with that trademark edge of post hardcore, indie and psychadelic rock. This first-released song from the upcoming Tripper and Mike Watt collab album promises exciting things to come.

Neil Young, ‘One of These Days’ – Mellow and tender Harvest-Moon-era-Young. Can’t go wrong.

Album of the Year, 2019

At the beginning of 2019 I decided to blog every album I listened to this year, whatever year it was released. As the year got underway, I was checking out the odd 2019 release, but it was at the beginning of summer that I really got obsessed with just listening to albums released this year, and as such, on top of everything else I listened to in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December, I also listened to 97 albums released in 2019. When I got to no. 90, I admit I tried to push it to get to a nice round 100, however, with having a 7 year old child and Christmas approaching, it didn’t happen. So, to keep things rounded, here’s my top 90. My picks range from folk, to indie, to math rock, to hip hop, to electronic, and so it goes on. So hopefully you’ll find something you like here. I listened to every album at least three times and based my rankings mainly on which record I would most like to hear again.

I would love to know what your Album of the Year lists look like, post them in the comments!

If you like Album of the Year Spotify playlists, you may enjoy my top 20 playlist here.

90. Guided By Voices, ‘Sweating the Plague’

89. Kindness, ‘Something Like A War’

88. Solange, ‘When I Get Home’

87. Snoop Dogg, ‘I Wanna Thank Me’

86. Fresh, ‘Withdraw’

85. Rust Ring, ‘Genuine Me’

84. The Natural 20s, ‘Everyone Will Fall’

83. Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Bryce Dessner, eighth blackbird, ‘When We Are Inhuman’

82. Erland Cooper, ‘Sule Skerry’

81. French Vanilla, ‘How Am I Not Myself?’

80. Thurston Moore, ‘Spirit Counsel’

79. Anna Flyaway, ‘Tomorrow I Will Take a Knife to Your Confidence’

78. Cassels, ‘The Perfect Ending’

77. Holding Patterns, ‘Endless’

76. Guided By Voices, ‘Warp and Woof’

75. PUP, ‘Morbid Stuff’

74. Mac Demarco, ‘Here Comes the Cowboy’

73. Narco Debut, ‘Strange & Ever-Changing Depths’

72. Mattiel, ‘Satis Factory’

71. Pixies, ‘Beneath the Eyrie’

70. Pond, ‘Tasmania’

69. Horse Jumper of Love, ‘So Divine’

68. Alcest, ‘Spiritual Instinct’

67. Maricka Hackman, ‘Any Human Friend’

66. where is my spaceship, ‘never unhappy’

65. Blood Orange, ‘Angel’s Pulse’

64. Homeshake, ‘Helium’

63. Refused, ‘War Music’

62. The Glow, ‘Am I’

61. Leonard Cohen, ‘Thanks for the Dance’

60. Lambchop, ‘This (is what I wanted to tell you)’

59. Mark Kozelek With Petra Haden, ‘Joey Always Smiled’

58. Vampire Weekend, ‘Father of the Bride’

57. Oso Oso, ‘basking in the glow’

56. Weyes Blood, ‘Titanic Rising’

55. Otoboke Beaver, ‘Itekoma Hits’

54. Better Oblivion Community Center, ‘Better Oblivion Community Center’

53. Bat For Lashes, ‘Lost Girls’

52. Long Hallways, ‘Close Your Eyes to Travel’

51. J. Robbins, ‘Un-Becoming’

50. Astronoid, ‘Astronoid’

49. Jimmy Eat World, ‘Surviving’

48. Metronomy, ‘Metronomy Forever’

47. Foals, ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 1’

46. Foals, ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, Part 2’

45. Panda Bear, ‘Buoys’

44. Sun Kil Moon, ‘And I Also Want to Die in New Orleans’

43. MONO, ‘Nowhere Now Here’

42. Old Solar, ‘SEE’

41. The Messthetics, ‘Anthropocosmic Nest’

40. Kim Gordon, ‘No Home Record’

39. glass beach, ‘the first glass beach album’

38. Halls, ‘Infinite Loss’

37. Jenny Hval, ‘The Practice of Love’

36. Bill Callahan, ‘Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest’

35. Jenny Lewis, ‘On The Line’

34. Ada Lea, ‘what we say in private’

33. Cultdreams, ‘Things That Hurt’

32. Steve Strong, ‘Turbo Island’

31. Woahnows, ‘Young and Cool’

30. Battles, ‘Juice B Crypts’

29. Cursive, ‘Get Fixed’

28. Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, ‘Suffer On’

27. Neil Young with Crazy Horse, ‘Colorado’

26. Anamanaguchi, ‘[USA]’

25. Big Thief, ‘Two Hands’

24. Stef Chura, ‘Midnight’

23. La Dispute, ‘Panorama’

22. Strange Ranger, ‘Remembering the Rocket’

21. Avey Tare, ‘Cows on Hourglass Pond’

20. Beirut, ‘Gallipoli’

19. Slaughter Beach, Dog, ‘Safe and Also No Fear’

18. Snooze, ‘Familiaris’

17. Unwed Sailor, ‘Heavy Age’

16. John Vanderslice, ‘The Cedars’

15. Danny Brown, ‘uknowwhatimsayin?’

14. Big Thief, ‘U.F.O.F’

13. Black Midi, ‘Shlagenheim’

12. Mini Mansions, ‘Guy Walks Into A Bar’

11. Pedro The Lion, ‘Phoenix’

10. Pile, ‘Green and Gray’

9. One True Pairing, ‘One True Pairing’

8. The Get Up Kids, ‘Problems’

7. Remo Drive, ‘Natural, Everyday Degradation’

6. Outer Spaces, ‘Gazing Globe’

5. Heartscape Landbreak, ‘The Remedy’

4. Prince Daddy & the Hyena, ‘Cosmic Thrill Seekers’

3. Bars of Gold, ‘Shelters’

2. American Football, ‘American Football’

1. The Appleseed Cast, ‘The Fleeting Light of Impermanence’

2019: Album by Album (November)

From chiptune-inspired rock to Mark Kozelek talking for 19.5 minutes, here’s everything I listened to in November (that I haven’t already blogged), in one neat and tidy list for your perusal.

You can scroll through my blog to see what else I’ve been listening to this year, and if you like, you can follow my Spotify playlist, in which you will find an ever-expanding selection of songs that I’ve enjoyed listening to over the course of 2019.

    Albums and EPs

John Vanderslice, ‘The Cedars’ – John Vanderslice said ‘Dagger Beach’ would be his last album and over the years got lost in his depression. With the encouragement of his label and producers we went back into the studio and worked on this album from the ground up, experimenting with noise and electronics to create something more experimental than his previous work. Highlight: ‘I’ll Wait For You’.

Battles, ‘Juice B Crypts’ – The new album feels like the most difficult listen of their discography, but after a few listens, it doesn’t feel all that far away from ‘La Di Da Di’. Highlight: ‘Last Supper On Shasta Pt. 1’.

Various Artists, ‘Let’s Just Do It And Be Legends’ – A strong compliation from Big Scary Monsters of punk, indie, post hardcore, post rock, math rock, and more from some of the label’s best bands on their current roster. Highlight: mewithoutYou – ‘Kirsty w/ the Sparkling Teeth’.

Pile, ‘Green and Gray’ – Pile mix indie rock with post hardcore and post punk, swinging from big ballsy riffs to sweet melodies. This is my first foray into Pile, and this album currently stands at no. 10 on my AOTY list. Highlight: ‘Lord of Calendars’.

Mark Kozelek With Petra Haden, ‘Joey Always Smiled’ – As ever Mark Kozelek isn’t happy with putting out one album in a year, so along with this year’s Sun Kil Moon effort which you can find in June’s blog post, this record expands on his ever-more-talky output with some really beautiful songs. Highlight: ‘1983 Era MTV Music is the Soundtrack to Outcasts Being Bullied By Jocks’ and I’ve got to give a nod to this heart-tugging cover of ‘The Power of Love’.

Big Thief, ‘U.F.O.F’ – A stunning album of folk and indie, with some incrediblly intricate yet catchy songs, and a whole host of dreaminess to boot. Highlight: ‘Cattails’.

Pixies, ‘Beneath the Eyrie’ – Having listened to the last two albums in April, and having enjoyed ‘Indie Cindy’ but not so much ‘Head Carrier, I was looking forward to checking this new one out to see if the band would redeem themselves. I liked a handful of these songs, but overall it felt like it was lacking some oomph. Highlight: ‘On Graveyard Hill’.

Halls, ‘Infinite Loss’ – Originally put out in instalments, I blogged about the first two parts last month. Now we have the full body of work, in which Halls takes more experimental pop approach to his unique brand of brooding indie on an album which mourns the loss of his dad and losing himself in the process. Highlight: ‘Hallelujah’.

Snooze, ‘Familiaris’ – This album manages to be mental and melodic at the same time. It’s math rock brushed with a pop glaze. Highlight: ‘Dig Doug’.

The Appleseed Cast, ‘Two Conversations’ – With recent repress of this album on vinyl, it brought me back to an Appleseed Cast record that I hadn’t listened to in a while and I was instantly reminded of how good it is. Arguably their most accessible album and one that brought them as close to a mainstream audience as they will ever get, it borrows indie rock and pop sensibilities to mix with their unforgettable emo/post-rock sound. Highlight: ‘Hello Dearest Love’.

Anamanaguchi, [USA] – An exciting fusion of chiptune and rock music. This album powerful, energetic, and vibrant. Highlight: ‘On My Own’.

glass beach, ‘the first glass beach album’ – On the basis that I liked the new Anamanaguchi record, it was recommended that I check out glass beach. This is another fun, idiosyncratic, and experimental album that fuses so many genres I struggled to keep count. Highlight: ‘classic j dies and goes to hell part 1’.

Erland Cooper, ‘Sule Skerry’ – A moving album which draws on modern classical and alternative music alike. The second album in a triptych that sets out to capture the spirit and the soul of the Orkney Islands. Highlight: ‘Spoot Ebb’.

Leonard Cohen, ‘Thanks for the Dance’ – Having partly recorded these songs that didn’t make ‘You Want It Darker’ before his passing, he left them to his son to complete with the help of friends. The vocals, which at this point in his life, his Leonard talking rather than singing, are very much the centre-point of each track, and hark back to his poetry-reading days. Highlight: ‘Happens to the Heart’.

Mattiel, ‘Satis Factory’ – For the most part this is a solid album of indie, pop, garage rock, and blues. I did however feel there were a few cliches and over-borrowing of ideas in parts. Highlight: ‘Keep The Change’.

Anna Flyaway, ‘Tomorrow I Will Take a Knife to Your Confidence’ – Before Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate, Keith Latinen was making music under the name Anna Flyaway, and recently went back to complete and release the album that had been shelved, in which you can hear the groundwork being laid for his musical output to come. Highlight: ‘The Low Light Before Dawn’.

Guided By Voices, ‘Sweating the Plague’ – I had mixed feelings about their other album this year, ‘Warp and Woof’, when I listened to it back in September. Of the two though, that is the one I definitely prefer. There was the odd moment on this new one that I enjoyed, but overall, I found it pretty boring. Highlight: ‘Downer’.

    Individual songs I hadn’t heard before

John Vanderslice, ‘Exodus Damage’ – A catchy, arty, indie song. John Vanderslice always delivers.

Hiss Golden Messenger, ‘Happy Birthday, Baby’ – Indie-folk. A massive earworm burrowing it’s way through this one.

Scott Walker, ‘Jackie’, ‘When Joanna Loved Me’ – Classic crooning pop but with something just slightly ‘off’ about it, which makes it way more interesting.

The Walker Brothers, ‘No Regrets’, ‘The Electrician’ – ‘No Regrets’ is a classic pop song from the band that started Scott Walker off. ‘The Electrician’ is brooding and idiosyncratic. Both are great in their own way.

Tindersticks, ‘Pinky in the daylight’ – I’m not sure how, but instead of listening to ‘The Electrician’ by Scott Walker, I ended up listening to this (all the whilst thinking I was listening to ‘The Electrician’). It wasn’t until I went to listen to ‘The Electrician’ again and discovered a song completely different to this one that I realised what I had done, although not before completely tripping out. Both are great songs, so I got two for the price of one I guess.

Haim, ‘Hallelujah’ – The opening part of this song reminded me a lot of Danielle Haim’s songs on the new Vampire Weekend record. I’m quite into this. I picked ‘Hallelujah’ as the highlight on Halls’ new album, and Leonard Cohen is on this list too. I think I have entered the Twilight Zone.

Neil Young with Crazy Horse, ‘Shut It Down’ – This is a solid track, with everything you want from Crazy Horse. I can’t wait to check out the whole album.

The Modern Lovers, ‘Pablo Picasso’ – This song came on Spotify after I was listening to Leonard Cohen’s new album. Sometimes Spotify throws on something completely unexpected and my ears prick up. This was one of those times.