Yup, it's that time again.
Everyone loves a list.
Here's the first of a few.
This from a firm friend of Hissyfit, Canadian Tim Patrick:
TORONTO TIM'S - BEST OF 2016
PLEASE PLAY ALONG!!!
Share your favorite Top 10 lists!
So much that I've surely missed!
2016 has produced another very good harvest of new music. Must confess that I usually take some pride in discovering artists who are off the radar by myself. However, this year several of my final picks were found by other friends who managed to dig up the unearthed gems, and for their excellent tip-offs I'm greatly indebted. My list includes a couple of old favorites, but mostly artists new to me. Due to some complaints about my bad arithmetic in the past... I've decided to discipline myself, paring back my "Top 10 Album" list to exactly "10" - Sorry Deacon Blue, you were at 11! Here we go...
SONGS OF THE YEAR:
KARL BLAU - "Fallin' Rain" - (from 'Introducing Karl Blau') - "Fallin' Rain" is actually a cover of an old 1971 Link Wray tune, and what a masterful cover it is!!! Running almost 10 MINUTES long, it's a soulful, hypnotic ride someone like Richard Hawley would surely be proud of. I LOVE THIS SONG!!! Special thanks to Phil (from Tel Aviv) who tipped me off to this guy's music.
BLUE ROSE CODE - "Grateful" - (from the 'Grateful EP') - An unaffected gospel tune that never fails to touch the soul. For grumpy old cynics like myself this song should be required daily listening...
JONES - "My Muffled Prayer" - Can't resist a carry-over from from last year's list. One of Trevor's finest. "Begin again... Begin again..."
TOP 10 ALBUMS OF THE YEAR:
TRASHCAN SINATRAS - 'Wild Pendulum' - Seems we had to endure an unbearably long wait before the Trashcan's latest offering. Well, the boys are certainly forgiven... 'Wild Pendulum' is magnificent... perhaps the band's best album. They dare to go beyond their comfort zone of melodic "jangle-pop" - diving head-first into previously unexplored sonic experimentation, courtesy of producer Mike Mogis. Majestic orchestral arrangements recalling Moody Blues or Spiritualized are initially a bit jarring, but at the heart of it all are the songs: elegant, textured and melodic. Add to that Frank Reader's impeccable vocals, wryly fatalistic lyrics, classy artwork/packaging - Album of the Year for me!!!
Try: "Ain't That Something" "Best Days On Earth" "The Family Way" "All Night"
SILVER TORCHES - 'Heatherfield' - Thanks to Sir Rob Hurley for bringing this very obscure Seattle based folk/rock band to my attention. 'Heatherfield' has been rising higher on my chart with every listen. Only 8 songs & 31 minutes long - but absolutely NO filler. Band-leader Erik Walters voice is a dead-ringer for War On Drugs Adam Granduciel's, and there is no doubt the band have definitely been influenced by WOD, Ryan Adams & Mr. Springsteen. Right now "download-only". Really hope a CD will be released!!! Cheers Rob. You found a winner!
Try: "Cal" "Dearborn" "Old Friend" "I Was A King" " State Route 27"
BLUE ROSE CODE - 'And Lo! The Bird Is On The Wing' - I think everyone here knows this album well enough that I need not gush on about how excellent Ross Wilson's latest collection of beautifully crafted, heartfelt tunes is. Pure delight!. Only quibble is the omission of the magnificent full length single "Grateful"...
Try: "Pokesdown Waltz" "My Heart, The Sun" "Glasgow Rain" "In The Morning Part !/2/3"
BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH - 'After The Rain' - I remember early "sampling" of a couple of cuts from this album, and them not "grabbing" me immediately. However, Meetwood Flac's persistent rave reviews prodded me to re-examine. And yes, he was correct... There is no question, 'After The Rain' is a very special album. A quiet "grower' that I nearly missed... I won't attempt a review here, as Mr. Flac has already waxed poetic with a superb in-depth dissection of this marvellous album at his Macwood Fleet blog-spot. Please check it out...
Try: "Mayflies" "Kicking Roses" "Some Other Arms" "Summer"
JIM MORAY - 'Upcetera' - Very late-entry thanks to Kathryn Marsh's recent posting of "Fair Margaret & Sweet William" - which knocked me over. Traditional storytelling folk-music - is not usually my cup of tea. But this is folk music that's been hauled into the 21st century and modernized by employing brilliant string/brass arrangements, some pedal-steel, and the warm, emotive voice of Moray himself. This one is quickly climbing the chart for me...
Try: "Fair Margaret & Sweet William" "Another Man's Wedding" "William Of Barbary" "Sounds Of Earth" "Lord Franklin"
ABC - 'The Lexicon Of Love - Part II' - When I first heard the rumour that Martin Fry was cooking up a "SEQUEL" to the 80's classic 'Lexicon Of Love' I cringed... A risky, potentially disastrous proposition which I surmised might tarnish the original LOL by association. Therefore, I approached the eventual release of 'LOL II' with a healthy dose of wariness. Needless to say Fry & Anne Dudley have managed the extraordinary feat of creating a worthy sequel loyal to the spirit & concept of the original, whilst avoiding outright imitation. Widescreen melodies, absolutely breathtaking orchestral arrangements by Dudley and Fry's definitive croon still in fine form. What can you say... ABC's best album in 34 years!!!
Try: "Confessions Of A Fool" "Kiss Me Goodbye" "Ten Below Zero" "Viva Love"
MODERN STUDIES - 'Swell To Great' - Glasgow/Yorkshire based band creating stately chamber folk/pop, inspired by the sounds made by an antique Victorian pedal harmonium. The result is a dreamy collection of melancholy songs with its heart in traditional rural folk, but delivered in a very contemporary style. There is an understated beauty and sense of discovery to each track that reward repeated listens. One of the few "buried treasures" that I managed to dig up myself this year. Truly lovely... Mainly digital download, but available on CD only from the band web-site.
Try: "Father Is A Craftsman" "Bottle Green" "Black Street" "Bold Fisherman"
BEAR'S DEN - 'Red Earth & Pouring Rain' - Evolving from the modern-folk revival movement of their debut 'Islands' and transforming into a band sounding a helluva lot like a British "War On Drugs" - steeped in the pop polish of 70's/80's rock, yet still retaining a modicum of the lilting folk of their debut. Early contender for my top album of the year. However, has faded a little as others ascended. Clocking in at over a full hour, and not a lot of sonic variation, maybe too much of a good thing. Still remains one of my favorites this year.
Try: "Emeralds" "Auld Wives" "Dew On The Vine" "Napoleon" "Gabriel"
NICK CAVE - 'Skeleton Tree' - Everyone knows the sad back-story to 'Skeleton Tree'... They say that adversity breeds creativity, and although Cave's's music has never been "easy listening", his song-writing has often utilized role-playing characters. This is personal. Never has Nick bared such raw emotion, and sounded so broken... Beautiful & harrowing... One cannot help but engage and empathize...
Try: "Distant Sky" "Skeleton Tree" "I Need You"
RAY WILSON - 'Song For A Friend' - Our dear pal Meetwood Flac is wholly responsible for strong-arming me to give Ray Wilson a listen. Highly skeptical about a guy that subbed for Phil Collins as vocalist in Genesis for a short period in the 90's. Ummm, really? Karaoke prog-rock then? Fact is, this Mr Wilson is rather good... A talented sing-songwriter with a remarkable voice reminiscent of fellow-Scot Justin Currie of Del Amitri. 10 finely-crafted songs telling thought-provoking stories. Worth it for the moving title track alone, which tells the tragic story of a dear friend who became paralyzed in a diving accident & confined to a wheelchair- which he chose to drive off a harbour wall - and into the sea. Final track a Pink Floyd cover ("High Hopes") which Wilson carries off with aplomb! Cheers Nick!
Try: "Song For A Friend" "Not Long Till Springtime"
We're in a grey area with 'Happy Blue' because of "official release" this year, but "early release" last year. Of course, my 'Best of 2015' already included the album near the top of my list, but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least do a quick cut/paste from last year, courtesy of our resident musical genius's fine album. What's the harm?
JONES - 'Happy Blue' - Jones proves there's still fire in the belly of the old boy, as he continues his prolific streak of perfect pop music for thinking adults. I'd venture to say it's his most accessible and immediate album as a solo artist. A more traditional format, featuring a straight-up set of melodic tunes with a solitary spoken-word piece on the outro. A lot of classy "new sounds" contributed by talented guest -musicians, combined with Marcus Cliffe's always stellar production make for a very special listen. Excellent entry in the MM/Jones canon...
Try: "Ghost Of Song" "St Cecilia" "Battersea Boy" "My Muffled Prayer"
FILM OF THE YEAR:
"SING STREET". Since it's music-related, I can't let my 2016 list end without short mention of this little charmer! Guaranteed to please any 80's music lover...