Spotify sent me a link the other day to My Year In Music. It was a strange year, seemingly based on the music I had played the most. I say ‘seemingly’ because it didn’t truly reflect the music I had listened to on Spotify, but what my family had put on repeat at various points in the year. Five songs out of the top ten are from Abba Gold, including the top two “The winner takes it all” and “Mamma Mia”. Other songs reflect family obsessions – “A little less conversation” and “Happy” have soundtracked many dances around the house. Only three songs reflect my choices, though “Hotel California” was listened to during the writing of a Goldfish post and not for pleasure. The other two songs are “Swingtime” by Woo (a charming indie pop instrumental) and “Long hair soulful” by The National Gallery, the closing track on a late 60s LP of pop psych inspired by Klee paintings.
This makes me wonder. Just how much music do I listen to these days? Sure the radio is usually playing commercial radio in the car so I’ll hear whatever subset of whatever is popular and bland there. I used to listen to Radio 2 but can’t be bothered any longer, I don’t want to hear “Love Train” ever again. 6music has never appealed – my favourite DJ Gideon Coe has his show in the evenings so I rarely listen to him these days. So I pick up music from recommendations online from people whose opinion I trust. And whatever is on the radio in the car. But Spotify tells me I listened to over 14,000 minutes of music on there this year. And it sure as hell wasn’t all Abba.
It’s not been a terribly exciting year for music for me. Maybe I’m too insular in my tastes, stuck in my ways, not thinking outside my musical tastes box. All the year end praise for St Vincent makes me want to give the album a listen, but the problem is that it has been praised so highly it can’t live up to expectations. The War On Drugs album which is also winning end of year polls turned out to be in thrall to Dylan and the Band and Neil Young and never transcended its influences for me. And I still cant see the appeal of this year’s Beck album.
On the other hand there has been some great music I’ve heard this year. Sleaford Mods are sharp, funny, truthful and ridiculously rude. They say more about modern life in Britain than almost anybody, and by holding a mirror up to society we can laugh and cry at what we see. Neneh Cherry’s “Blank Project” album shows how powerful music can be without being overproduced overcompressed and overdubbed beyond the realms of listenability. Sloan’s “Commonwealth” is a cornucopia of melodies and riffs culminating in a side long suite of music of astonishing beauty. I will hereby publicly thank Rick Leach for tipping me off about Courtney Barnett at the start of the year, her music has made me smile a lot this year. Also huge thanks to Josh Meadows and his radio show It’s A Jangle Out There, broadcasting from Castlemaine in Australia and worth waking up early on Thursday mornings for. It’s a great mix of old and new indie tunes and has introduced me to some fab music, not least The Sudden Death Of Stars, whose sitar tinged psychedelia hits a lot of my sweet spots. And a mention is due for The Autumn Stones whose three singles this year have been stylistically different yet remarkably consistent. A new album next year should be good. Oh and the Luxembourg Signal’s LP was great, as was The Orchids’ LP, and next year promises the return of Bobby Wratten with his new project Lightning In A Twilight Hour. And there’s a new album by The Dodos in January…
Ok maybe it’s not been such a bad year, and there’s been a few more discoveries along the way these past twelve months, both old and new music. So in the manner of Mojo I’ve produced a “Best thing I’ve heard this year” list. In no particular order….
The Boy With Perpetual Nervousness – The Feelies
Keep In The Dark – Temples
Avant Gardener – Courtney Barnett
To Prove My Love – Ned Doheny
Tonight – The Move
Blue Energy Programme – The Advisory Circle
Queen – Perfume Genius
Out Of The Black – Neneh Cherry
Piano Phase – Steve Reich
Reunion – Stars
The Void – The Sudden Death Of Stars
Cold Coke – Disco and Co
Love Letters – Metronomy
Another Day – Phlumph
Forty-eight Portraits -Sloan
77 Slightly Delayed – Ashra
Suburban Love – Japan
Pulstar – Vangelis
Endless War – The Autumn Stones
She Loves To Feel The Sun – The Luxembourg Signal
We Made A Mess – The Orchids
There’s probably more songs I’ve enjoyed this year but those are the highlights, off the top of my head.
There’s more to come from Goldfish in the New Year, looking at some happy moments and dark times – sometimes within a few months of each other – and more thoughts and words on music. Continued and eternal thanks to all my readers old and new, and to those out there who have supported me, mentioned me on the radio, linked from their websites, retweeted me…. Honourable mentions to Marcello and Lena at Then Play Long, London Lee, Tim Byron at The Vine, Josh Meadows, Beth Arzy, Bob Stanley, Stephen at Everything Indie Over 40, The Riverboat Captain, Merric at Toppermost, Rick Leach, Dotty, Karen, Claire, David, Matt, Johnny, Esther in California – for telling me that Josh was mentioning Goldfish in Australia – and probably more I’ve forgotten. Sorry if I left anyone out. A huge thank you to my family too, for reading and learning and responding too!
Here’s to the future. This goldfish is gonna keep swimming….
Happy New Year!