Best of 2010 #1 Part 2: John Grant – Queen of Denmark

To be honest, I’d only written about this one less than a fortnight ago, so trying to find something new to explain why this so quickly became such a strong favourite of mine seemed a bit tricky.  Then I listened to it again.

This year has been full of good and great records – I’m not sure if this is because it has been freakishly good compared to recent years, or if I had been a bit more careful about looking for stuff to listen to for the purposes of keeping myself occupied with this blog.  However it happened, I’m thrilled that it did.


Best of 2010, #1 part 1: My Jerusalem – Gone For Good

And so to the first Number 1.

I’m quite happy that there are two of these, as it probably goes to show that one person trying to compile and number a list of favourite things is a bit futile – because to be honest, every record I’ve written about this year whether as part of this top 35 or so, or during the course of the year, has been an absolute favourite at one point or another.  So it’s nice to be able to pick two, one from earlier in the year (and one that I had been looking forward to for a long time), and one that I bought just a couple of weeks ago and that instantly became wedged in my heart.

Coronary metaphors aside, I have really enjoyed doing this.  It’s been tricky at times to write about something that I had already written about in depth, but the flipside to that is that I’ve been able to hear and understand things much better for having them played over and over again and to just dip in and out of an album after being so initially familiar with it during those excited “again!” moments when a record has finished playing for the very first time.


Best of 2010, #2: Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore – Dear Companion

Well, it’s been too nice a day to be sat inside a cafe with free wireless internet, so I didn’t.  I didn’t the day after either, hence this really stupid timeline that will make no sense to anyone but me.

Instead, I spent the day wandering about the grounds of an ancient church trying to read weather beaten gravestones from the 18th Century and (possibly) earlier, and pottering about on the seafront being harassed by seagulls which was a largely necessary evil, as weirdly enough, right up on the beach as close to the incoming tide as possible has been the only place to get a decent 3G signal on my phone.

And so on to my choice of second-favourite album of this year.  As the TV behind me is currently beaming reports of a student protest being met with a sadly over-the-top response from the police (not excusing those who have turned up to bait the police by surging – from the back – people towards the lines, but charging with horses was disproportionate and unacceptable) and political discourse in general across the Atlantic being largely portrayed as being groups of people trying their hardest to shout over the top of other groups of people who respond in turn with more shouting, this record stands out as people with something important to say, saying it with a calmness and grace that has been lacking elsewhere.  This approach may not garner the headlines as much as much noisier gatherings, but it is still a powerful plea and is one that is as steadfast and strong as the mountains that it has set out to try to protect.

Best of 2010, #3: Erland and the Carnival – S/T

Neighbour’s password isn’t “password” after all.  Curses.
So instead, I’ll just park all of this onto Notepad and copy it all over when I get to the De La Warr Pavillion tomorrow (note: actually two days ago now), where the Wifi is free and provided by Eddie Izzard, according to the pamphlet.  It doesn’t state anywhere however whether he stands behind you providing it from somewhere about his person while us mere mortals surf away.  It’s a lovely thought though.

And so, onto Number 3.  What I’m finding with these is that I always get really giddy about writing the next one rather than the one I’m currently doing.  And what I know for certain now is that this list will have not one, but two number one choices as I can’t pick between them due to the reasons for me loving them so much are so completely different that it’s pointless putting them up against each other.

I have to admit that updating this blog had become a slight chore not long ago – work getting busier, free hours becoming fewer etc.  But knocking this list together (however randomly organised and reported) has made me remember why I set this little unread corner of the internet in the first place; to remind me of the fun and excitement in listening to something new for the first time, and also the fun in wittering on about it to people who have better things to do than pay attention to this excitable Northern idiot.
This is getting a bit in the way of blogging a couple of new records (and a few old ones into the bargain), but it’s a welcome diversion for me, and they’ll still be there when this list is out of the way.

At some point as well, I’ll add something else before the year is out, but I’d better get this finished before getting any more bright ideas!

Best of 2010, #4: Smoke Fairies – Through Low Light & Trees

I’m typing this one in a hurry as I’m off down South tomorrow, and fairly grateful that the weather has let up enough for me not to be approaching this in abject terror.  Then again, the destination with its sultry tropical promises of many benches, a golf course that isn’t so much ‘crazy’ as ‘really depressed’ and a rock in the middle of a lawn where the first ever motor racing Grand Prix took place (presumably the rock appeared afterwards, or the sport probably wouldn’t have taken off).  So, the next couple of bits might be delayed till the weekend while I try to find a free wifi spot, although in a town where the benches seem to outnumber the population by a fair-sized margin in the winter, this may be tricky.  So, the next installment may well be transmitted from the front garden of someone whose wireless security password is “password”…


Best of 2010, #5: Richard Warren’s Laments

This may well get confusing.  Because after counting these installments up from one to three, I’m now counting down from five to one.

I have nothing against the number 4 in particular (which will hopefully become apparent during the course of my next update), unlike – interestingly enough – people who plan Hospitals in Japan, where the Floor 4 is usually nowhere to be found.  This is completely true, but has nothing to do with anything else here other than to kill a bit of time in a hopefully educational and whimsical manner.

On with the show then – putting the top five (which, as will be made clear eventually, is now six) in any sort of order is fairly arbitrary, as these are all records that thrilled, moved and wowed me to an extent where putting them in numbered boxes seems a bit silly.  Still, I’ve had a go and this the closest to a sensible, definitive and vaguely accurate indication of what’s kept my ears occupied this year.

So here we go then.


End of Year Doings, Part 3

Yes, quite.

Just realised that in doing a top 35 (which isn’t exactly 35 anyway), splitting it into chunks of ten will eventually offend some law of mathematics or other.  Whoops.

Undeterred by this, the last five(ish!) will be individually added daily next week from Monday – although as I’m attempting a jaunt off down to the South Coast on Wednesday for three days this might get delayed a bit depending on internet connection and whether or not I stuff the car into a snowdrift on the way down there.  Will be brilliant when/if I arrive (not least because of a gig I’ve been looking forward to for months), must admit to being a bit twitchy about the journey although I’m sure it’s nothing that a shovel, spare socks and a flask of Bovril can’t sort out…  Will certainly be finished by next Sunday anyway, as I’m getting to the point where I just want it done and out of the bloody way!


End Of Year Doings, Part 2

The problem with starting this nonsense early enough to get it all finished before Santa doesn’t bring me any of the stuff I asked for yet again, is that I’m still hearing new stuff and in one particular case, being utterly blown away by it.  So, what’ll probably happen is that I shall cheat even more than I already have done and include a joint “something in the top 3″, as I’m not sure exactly where it’s going to go yet.  Something as good as this (which I hope to find the time to witter properly about sometime this week) can’t be left out.

Anyway, more on that when I get round to it – bit gutted that Joseph Arthur’s show in Manchester tomorrow (or, as it’s now know, today – as this took longer than I thought it would) is cancelled as I was really looking forward to that, although with any luck I’ll be off to see Sleepy Sun on Tuesday instead providing the temperature doesn’t drop any further than it already has done.  Then again, they might be just the ticket to put the cold out my head for an hour or two…


End Of Year Doings, Part 1

I hate end of year lists.

Usually, it’s because the ones I read usually either are full of bands and records that I’ve never heard  of and therefore make me feel old, or they’re full of bands and records that I have heard of but are in what I believe to be the wrong order.

And this year I get to hate them even more because I get to write one, in a year where I’ve listened to lots and liked and loved far too much of it.  So, what should have been a simple top 10 at the end of the year has turned into a top 35, as that’s as short a list that I could manage.  And I cheated a few times in that list as well, although that’ll become apparent as this goes on.

And yes, it’s still November.  But given that Christmas ads on the TV have been on for weeks, I’ve probably already started late.  And given that I’m still undecided about the very top of the list of my favourite albums and EPs of 2010, hopefully by Christmas Eve I’ll have made my mind up.  If I haven’t, then I’ll probably just toss a coin and nobody will be any the wiser.

I should also point out that none of this really matters – basically, there are about a dozen records this year that I’ve absolutely loved, and about twice that number again that I have merely “liked a hell of a lot” (ones I thought that ranged from merely OK to awful I’ve simply omitted), so everything included in this comes very highly recommended for the various ways that they have moved this knackered soul during the course of this year.  The difference between something placed at number 33 and one placed at number 18 for example is utterly minimal, and most placings are of the “that looks about right” school of applied musical logic.  So if anyone thinks that their favourite record is placed 3, 10 or 30 places incorrectly (or not placed at all), then good – because your passion for whatever form of music or band or artist and the way that they move you is unique and brilliant and keep up the good work!