Here's his pick of the year:
Andrew Combs - All These Dreams
This album finds Conor O'Brien back on form after the somewhat dissapointing 'Awayland' back in 2013. In fact this is probably better than his fabulous debut 'Becoming A Jackel'. Elegant and emotional.
Hard to believe this was recorded in his bedroom. Very complex and intricate sounds layered on top of each other.The multi layered vocals alone must have taken him months! It really does sound like nothing else out there. Pop music from a man with a classical background.
Not an easy listen, but worth sticking with. That Bowie-esque intro to the album, 'Time Square' drags you in. Last album ,'Kapput' was excellent but this , although very different, offers a lot. Maybe I love it because it reminds me so much of early/ mid seventies Bowie/Roxy/Mott, that was the sound of my youth.
Indeed, no sad songs as this album finds Stephen Duffy obviously in a very happy time in his life. Love, marriage and a life in the country. I doubt he'll ever recapture the great sounds of the Fontana trinity but this'll still do nicely thank you.
Josh Tillman returns with another solo album. 11 songs of passion and dissillusionment.He seems to revel in his own misery, but he sounds like a man trying to escape his past, to come clean. Quite a'heavy' album then!
Wasylyk is the pseudonym of Hazy Janes frontman Andrew Mitchell. After touring as bass player for indie hipsters Idlewild Andrew found he had both spare time and some spare songs on his hands , so in the middle of winter he dragged himself off to the Isle of Mull and recorded 'Soroky'. The result is a brooding, powerful, confident bunch of songs that show off his rich vocal. Opening track 'Last Of The Loved' is also my song of the year
Damien Katkahudas third album as MDC. He still resists the use of computers in his music which gives it a warm, organic sound. Never afraid to experiment , he takes us from his own funeral, in 'Scattered Flowers' ,to an uum pa pa drinking shanty ,'Nothing Else' and onto a catchy track called 'Old Yellow Sun', (that will, no doubt, be snatched up to promote some holiday companies advertising campaign), before moving on to the achingly beautiful' The Crooked Sea. His best album yet
The band return a beefed up, worldly wise version of their former selves.It's taken 9 albums but I think they've finally shaken that 'twee' label. Their best album since 'If You're Feeling Sinister'
I've followed Biff Smiths career since his early days with The Starlets. Always capable of writing a great song , but album wise always falling a bit short, until now!. This is big , bold and ambitious. Biff is a hopeless romantic. Musically ,there's all kinds of European folk music, Latin, (' Valentino' ), French,(The Life And Times),good old indie, ('My Ginda Guy') and heartbreaking beauty, ( 'Tenterhooks').A wonderful soaring album
Do I really need to say anything? I'd be preaching to the converted . The best of his very fine solo output. There's no other artist I'd rather listen to at the end of a long day. Headphones on and malt in hand. Now that's bliss...