Tuesday, 22 December 2015

2015's best live performances

In total this year I've seen 142 live performances at numerous gigs and various festival. Here are the highlights.

Top Ten gigs:
  1. Atomic Bomb! live feat. David Byrne, Hot Chip, Sinkane, Money Mark & many more - Royal Festival Hall, London. Watch the whole thing live below.
  2. Jon Hopkins - Brixton Academy, London
  3. Sinkane - XOYO, London
  4. Public Service Broadcasting - The Roundhouse, Camden
  5. Songhoy Blues - Oslo, Hackney
  6. Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Islington Assembly Hall, London 
  7. Algiers - The Lexington, London
  8. The Gaslamp Killer Experience - Koko, Camden 
  9. Run The Jewels - 100 Club, London
  10. Caribou - Brixton Academy, London
Top Ten Festival appearances:
  1. Patti Smith - Field Day Sunday, London
  2. Beck - BST Festival, Hyde Park, London
  3. Son Lux - Visions Festival, London
  4. Clark - Field Day Saturday, London
  5. The Flaming Lips - Victorious Festival Saturday, Portsmouth
  6. Future Islands - BST Festival, Hyde Park, London
  7. Super Furry Animals - Victorious Festival Sunday, Portsmouth
  8. Peter Hook & The Light - Victorious Festival Saturday, Portsmouth
  9. Loyle Carner - Visions Festival, London
  10. Run The Jewels - Field Day Saturday, London

Monday, 21 December 2015

Albums of the Year 2015 - the top 40

It's been a pretty good year for albums I reckon. There's been some that smacked you right in the face the moment you first heard them, and others that have been slow-burners and slowly wormed their way into your brain throughout the year. Here's my thoughts on the Top Ten.

1. 'Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett 
Sassy, intelligent lyrics, brilliant tunes, and overall such a great attitude and joie de vivre that you can't help falling in love with Courtney. For me this was the album that proved that there's still a future for guitar-based music. Full review here.

2. 'To Pimp A Butterfly' by Kendrick Lamar
Probably the most talked about, analysed (over-analysed maybe) and generally dissected album of the year. Big hitting, powerful lyrics, jazz and funk-themed music and top-notch collaborators (Flying Lotus, George Clinton, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg) combined to make this an immense record that has definitely earned a place in the history of black music. See blog post here.

3. 'Foam Island' by Darkstar
An electronic reflection on life in northern England in 2015, the tracks feature interviews with the people of Huddersfield talking about their town, their hopes and their dreams. This is matched with a great selection of music as the band show their skills in writing great melodies. Full review here.

4. 'In Colour' by Jamie xx
A fantastic ride through the rainbow colours of British dance music in 2015. Mixing great samples with deft touches and cool guest vocals, it's the soundtrack to a night out you never want to end. Oh, and the vinyl set was beautiful to look at too. Full review here.

5. 'All We Need' by Raury
A warm, touching and uplifting album that mixes 60s flower-child mentality and 70s vibes with bang up to the minute raps. I've been going on about Raury for a couple of years now, and he's continued to prove my faith in him is justified. Still only 19, and global superstardom beckons. Full review here.

6. 'Projections' by Romare
Mostly instrumental, with snippets of samples deftly woven into a collage of emotions, this is a brilliant début album full of heart and history. Ninja Tune certainly know how to pick a winner, and I hope Romare goes on to make many more albums. Full review here.

7. 'The Epic' by Kamasi Washington
Epic by name and epic by nature, if you want to listen to this triple album all the way through you'll need to put three hours aside. It's worth it though - the best jazz album for years in my opinion, and with his role in Kendrick's album as well it's been a mega year for Kamasi Washington.

8. 'The Good Fight' by Oddisee
Consistently my favourite rapper both on record and live, the fact that Oddisee isn't more well known continues to astound me. Intelligent and intellectual lyrics matched with smooth, quality beats (that he produces himself) results in a record that's maybe just too good for the masses to appreciate. Full review here.

9. 'The Delta' by Brolin
Another great début album, as the reclusive producer from Leeds crafts a sleek and soulful album. Influenced by the synaesthesia he experiences when making music, the record feels like a journey of discovery. I reckon there's a lot more to come from him. Full review here. 

10. '1989' by Ryan Adams
In which Adams completely reinvents Taylor Swift's pop masterclass, swapping the pop smarts for emotions, and in doing so makes the record he's secretly wanted to make for years. Cover version heaven. Full review here. 

And numbers 11-40...to be honest the ordering is fairly arbitrary, but you ought to be able to find something you like in here.

11. 'Music Complete' by New Order
12. 'The Race For Space' by Public Service Broadcasting
13. 'Perpetual Motion People by Ezra Furman
14. 'Golden Ticket' by Golden Rules
15. 'Born In The Echoes' by The Chemical Brothers
16. 'Algiers' by Algiers
17. 'Multi-Love' by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
18. 'Shedding Skin' by Ghostpoet
19. 'Lost Themes' by John Carpenter
20. 'Culture of Volume' by East India Youth
21. 'Inji' by LA Priest
22. 'Beauty Behind The Madness' by The Weeknd
23. 'La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful' by Petite Noir
24. 'Panda Bear vs, The Grim Reaper' by Panda Bear
25. 'Evangelist' by Gavin Clark & Toy Drum
26. 'Hinterland' by LoneLady
27. 'Bones' by Son Lux
28. 'EarthEE' by THEESatisfaction
29. 'Solo' by Nils Frahm
30. 'Get to Heaven' by Everything Everything
31. 'Music In Exile' by Songhoy Blues
32. 'Fold' by Fold
33. 'Return To The Moon' by El Vy
34. 'I Declare Nothing' by Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe
35. 'I Need New Eyes' by Larry Gus
36. 'White Men Are Black Men Too'by Young Fathers
37. 'Portraits' by Maribou State
38. 'Personal Computer' by Silicon
39. 'Magnifique' by Ratatat
40. 'The Most Important Place In The World' by Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Remix of the Day: 'Montage Resolution (Truss Total XTC Remix)' by East India Youth

Taken from a new 3-track remix EP, this is a great way to round off the year and the success of the 'Culture of Volume' album by East India Youth. As well as this remix by Truss, the EP features versions by Blank Mass and Yosi Horakawa. I love the insistent, pounding rhythm of this and the fact that it keeps up all the way through the track.

You can stream or buy the whole EP here.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Remix of the Day: 'Four (Darkstar Remix) by Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm

The original version of this track can be found on the 'Loon' EP, which came out on Erased Tapes earlier this year. Darkstar's mix builds and builds, based around a guitar riff that Aiden started playing as they listened to the track. It's fair to say that Darkstar & Nils Frahm are currently two of my favourite artists so this is a real treat for me, and I hope it is for you too.