Mid-Afternoon Compilation Saturday: Reason To Believe – The Songs Of Tim Hardin

something to believeTry as I might, I don’t think that this will ever be a regular occurrence – in my defence however, Saturday is currently the one day of the week I don’t work, so I tend to sleep right through them nowadays rather than seek out fresh compilations to badly wax lyrical about.  Nice bit of serendipity today though, as this arrived today (ahead of Monday’s release – one of the benefits of buying direct from a label), I’m already awake and it’s far too cold to go outside and do anything anyway.

I must admit I know very little about Tim Hardin, other than that his story is a troubled one and full of every cautionary pointer for any aspiring singer-songwriter to heed.  What I do  know is that he left a rich legacy of much-covered work, and that my own attraction to this collection was piqued by the wealth of artists lending their talents to this tribute.  A general rule of thumb (such a weird phrase to retain in modern language – look it up!) for me when buying non-charity compilations or tributes to unfamiliar subjects is naturally based upon the assembled artists and whether there are enough I like to warrant forking out the necessary; thankfully there is a veritable host of the familiar and the essential, plus a couple of others who I’d been meaning to give a listen to elsewhere and the remainder made up of interesting unknown quantities.  So this compilation should be tailor-made for this desk.


Best of 2012, 50-41

Ooh, is it that time already?  Well, it probably isn’t but I thought I may as well start early because it all ended up as a bit of a madness last year and I have a huge amount of non-this stuff to fit in as well between now and 6 weeks’ time, so I’m going to pace myself a bit and hope I don’t go mad in the meantime.  And if Tracey Thorn et al can release Christmas albums in October, then I can start this in the middle of November, so nyer.

Another reason for starting early is because the process for doing this was a lot stranger than the previous two years.  For one, there will definitely only be one Number One this year, breaking with a tradition that has lasted a whole two years here.  Not that I know which one it is yet, but I have a very short list of candidates.  The other thing is that it was fairly easy for me to get the year’s favourites whittled down to fifty this year, although then getting it in any sort of order was a bit of a nightmare.  Basically though, if it’s in the Top 50, it’s a favourite of mine and to be honest, everything outside the Top 10 can basically be read as a fluid joint-eleventh listed in a reasonable order.
Anyway, enough waffle for now, I’ve another 13 of these to go (plus a swift single/EP one to put in whenever time and decency allows), so off I go:


Oh, Go On Then – Alternative Mercury Prize Not Quite Shortlist

I have to say that the real Mercury Prize shortlist this year is a bit of a disappointment this year in the respect that it’s a bit on the vanilla side.  Thankfully this means that everyone can get all in a strop about *their* faves not getting a mention, and this is the real spirit of the competition.  Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way from an award named after a telecommunications company that went bust in 1999.

So, to join in with the doings, here’s an almost shortlist of my favourites that weren’t nominated keeping to a couple of mild criteria:

  • Released within the real prize’s qualification period (July 12 2011 – September 10 2012)
  • Artists involved are at least partly from the UK
  • Artists not actually shortlisted (although for the purposes of this list, only Richard Hawley – see below for comedy gold in 2006 – is omitted from this thingy)
  • Something from qualifying album is on Spotify, just to make it easy for me.  BTW, if you like something here or elsewhere on the various playlists, please buy it – no artist will ever make a living from the tiny streaming royalties they receive.


Hope there’s something you like, or violently disagree with.



Diagrams – Black Light

The first record of 2012 is here at last!  Well, the first one I’ve got round to buying, anyway.  I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while after buying their (his?) debut EP on a whim at the end of last summer and really enjoying its baffling stylistic multi-direction, each song suggesting a different direction that this project could embark upon.  Taking on board the spirits of Peter Gabriel, Elbow, Bon Iver and a healthy dose of traditional (and not-so-traditional) folk elements, the songs on that EP were elements that all fitted in with each other whilst managing to distance themselves musically.  The title of this first full-lengther would suggest more of the same, Black Light suggesting a harmonious oxymoron.

So with that in mind, it’s actually rather nice (and somewhat rare) to be able to buy a record knowing that I’m almost certain to like it but without actually having much of a clue about what it is I’m actually going to be liking…


Best of 2011 – Favourite Singles/EPs

I’m trying to ease myself into this gently this year.  Mostly because this is an even bigger pain to do than it was last year, which is a good thing, as it means that I’ve listened to more new stuff (and, more importantly, enjoyed it) than I did last year.  Or, I’ve just been less picky.

I suppose that there’s huge advantages and disadvantages to doing this on my own as opposed to by the committees that decide these things for publications from larger blogs than this (almost all of them, then) right up to the posh glossies.  On the plus side, I don’t have to argue with myself about what gets put in and in which order, and what gets left out.  On the minus side, I end up arguing with myself about what gets put in and etc etc.


I have had to cut-off at 50 albums because any more than that would have been overkill, and this isn’t a list of Everything I Have Listened To This Year, it’s going to be a list of favourites.  And any less would have been missing some stuff that I really wanted to include.  And this year, I’ve not included any unique singles and EPs in that main countdown as it felt just as unfair to kick out an album to make room for, in some cases, two great songs.  So instead, I’ve whittled down a bunch of great and short releases down to a Top 10 (sort of…), partly to get me into the habit of getting this whole hellish list thing going (and hopefully finished), and also to get me to go back over the year’s music with a fresh set of ears in order to reconnect and re-appreciate a daunting pile of records…


Diagrams – S/T EP

There’s something altogether refreshing about a debut EP.  It’s the whole “this is what we can do and this is how we can do it” nature of that initial introductory gamble that will either endear them to their new audience and leave them wanting more, or confuse the bejaysus out of everyone.  This EP is a great example of how to touch on as many bases as possible while also having that strongly-definable “this is us” about it.


It’s been out for a couple of months now, and only a general loathing of writing about EPs (they tend to finish before I get halfway through) has kept me from going on about it earlier.  But it’s certainly been one of my favourite releases of late and definitely one of the more unique ones.