Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Albums of 2012

Albums of 2012

01.Boys and Girls - Alabama Shakes
Not only the discovery of the year for me personally but easily the album of the year also. Songwriting, performance, soul all combined with an honest love for the music that influenced them. Live they are a revelation that keep the crowd with both eyes on them all the way. Incredible vocals from Brittany Howard throughout.

02.Blunderbuss - Jack White
Is he ever gonna slip up? Jack White's Midas touch and ability to bring the best out of each band/artist he works with hasn't been lost when editing and producing himself. A great album from the opener 'Missing Pieces' to the cover of Little Willie John's 'I'm Shakin'.

03.TempestBob Dylan
For the doubters out there that think Dylan has lost a few steps and isn't the artist of days gone by just give his mammoth 14 minute track to the sinking of the Titanic 'Tempest' a listen and see that the winding, hallucinatory, stream of conscious lyrical ability may sometimes lay dormant but is still burning low none the less. The album also includes stone cold classics as 'Scarlet Town', 'Early Roman Kings' and the beautiful 'Soon After Midnight'.

04.Signs And Signifiers - J.D McPherson
There is a difference between being 'retro' and simply playing your influences genuinely and heartfelt, J.D McPherson is the latter. Not only does he caputure the essence and soul of the 1950's records he clearly loves but he also writes great songs as well, an area some artists have missed out when they've tried to capture an older classic sound. A great album full of great tracks including the Little Richard screamer 'North Side Gal'.

05.Aufheben - Brian Jonestown Massacre
A truly sonically impressive collection of songs from everyone's favourite rock and roll psychedelic maverick Anton Newcombe.

06.Old IdeasLeonard Cohen
2012 seemed to be the year for members of the 'old guard' to show the new guys how it should be done and with Leonard Conhen, Neil Young and Bob Dylan all producing great work that sits comfortably in their own canons of releases it's no surprise that compared to a lot of new music it proves that inspiration and imagination to re-create the form isn't only for the young but also for the 'should know better' as well.

07.Psychedelic PillNeil Young & Crazy Horse
A Psycheldic feedback drenched opus from a guy that has quit all drink and drugs? Only Neil Young does this stuff and thank God that is the case. His guitar playing hasn't progressed and still sounds like a cranky teenager who's un-refining his solo's as he gets old as to get closer to the source inside him that fires it. She's Always Dancing is a particular standout with Crazy Horse at their loose best.


09.Locked DownDr John
The good doctor returning to his 'Gris-Gris' New Orleans or 'Newarrrlinnes' R&B "Fonky" sound with the help of Black Keys guitarist and frontman Dan Auerbach. Not for everyone but the stongest thing Dr.John has produced in a long while and when the medicine is available you take it.

10.Sweet SourBand of Skulls

Tracks of 2012

01.R U Mine?Arctic Monkeys

02.DefaultDjango Django

03.I'm Shakin'Jack White

04.You Ain’t Alone - Alabama Shakes

05.HonkyThe Ho-Dads (1963) *old record but it’s new to me and it’s my list so shut up*

06.I Can’t ComplainJ D McPherson

07.Soon After MidnightBob Dylan

08.Now There Is NothingHot Chip

09.Doom & GloomThe Rolling Stones

10.Corner of an English Field - Tribes

Friday, 2 November 2012





Performing their biggest headline slot tonight at Shepherds Bush Empire are Dry the River who’ve managed to turn the historic venue into an after hours lock in. Their set list was made up of tracks from their debut album Shallow Bed including standouts such as ‘New Ceremony’ and ‘Bible Belt’ although the gig itself was short by normal standards (barely an hour long including encore). The songs were performed professionally although a little too rehearsed for my taste, almost to the point of auto-pilot (hey at this point we’ll both jump off the drum riser etc.) although they still managed to keep the music ball in the air throughout and energy high all the way through.

The band themselves are a strange bunch, they play acoustic based folk-rock but have a rhythm section that would rather be in Metallica. A strange moment in the evening came during the set where I watched the bass player head banging like Jason Newsted to a mid tempo folk ditty while the tattooed drummer flails through drum fills fulfilling in his own Tommy Lee fantasies especially in one of their harder numbers ‘Lions Den’. Somewhere in the record company there is a finger twitching stylist itching to get their hands on the group to try and ‘Mumford’ them up a little and make them a more uniformed group that actually ‘look’ like a group rather than a rag tag bunch of school mates in their first band.

The playing is professional and precise although it’s their vocal abilities that really sell the band as ‘one to watch’, with close harmonies throughout (especially on the fan favourite ‘Weights and Measures’ which was performed initially without microphones or electric instruments). The risk of trying songs a cappella is a risky one in front of a rowdy audience as a group like The Futureheads found out when they performed their recent Rant album on the road. The encore song ‘Shaker Hymns’ was performed with just acoustic guitar, fiddle and vocals sandwiched in the middle of the crowd without amplification and just the glow of a thousand phones lighting them up. Amazingly the crowd fell completely silent throughout to hear the inflections and harmonies. Overall a good gig although falling a little short of great. A strong taster of things to come in 2013.



'originally on 405'