EP of the year

So I’ve got my digital radio tuned into Radio Christmas (24 hour Christmas songs!), watching crappy soppy Christmas films on Sundays, going crazy making Christmas decorations and singing Christmas songs at school all day, eating mince pies and looking at the cool playmobil toys my son gets in his advent calendar every day!

So it must be time to look back on 2015. Each week over the next 4 weeks I’ll choose my favourite EP, video, track and finally album of the year.

This week I’m starting with EP, and the winner is -de-da-dah- Emma Kupa. She use to be the singer in a little fun band called the standard fare, and this year she put out a EP called Home Cinema, it’s  all about her family. It’s got such a breezy lush sound, and she has one of the best voices around at the moment, with personal lyrics touching on alcohol, happy childhood memories, cherry aid and the bittersweet hope family gives you when sadness comes.

If you’ve never heard her before, you should download or buy this EP. It’s really quite exceptional, and if she put together a whole album it would be a strong contender for album of the year too. Check it out below!

another girl band

These days I only listen to female singers. I don’t know why exactly, but these last few months the coolest music has been girl-led. Feels good the world is waking up to this, today in good old Boston it is official Riot Grrl Day. Which seems like a crazy joke, but is true. The Boston mayor Marty Walsh said this “The riot grrrl philosophy has never felt more relevant, with misogyny still rampant in many cultural spaces.”

You tell ’em, Marty.

Here’s some music I’ve been listening to these last few days, it’s all freedom rock. You can listen to them all below but first here’s why :

MournJack has the best opening line I’ve heard for years “You think you’re awesome, I say you’re boring…” Break ups never sounded so much fun.

Colleen GreenPay Attention Ok, you might have heard this on the radio. It feels like 90’s veruca salt at the start.That’s ok with me 🙂

Lily and Madelinethe wolf is free This is the most beautiful intoxicating song I’ve heard all year.

Joanna Gruesome –  last year Whirling guitars with an angry singer is always a hit in my house.

Girlpoolblah blah blah Another hip band. I’m sure this band are going to be huge.

Juliana Hatfield Threeif only we were dogs. I was really into this band back in 1993. This is their second album, released this year. A long time, but they sound as fresh as ever to me.

Speedy OrtizThe Graduates I’ve always liked the lyrics to Speedy Ortiz. The songs are all like little short stories that keeps you hanging on ever word.

Emma KupaHalf Sister I liked Standard Fare, and this is her first solo album all about her family. It’s sweet with just enough frustration and despair to keep things interesting.

PINStoo little too late I read about them in the Guardian, who know far more than I ever will on any subject, and they call them some kind of all girl punk revolutionaries so I’m not going to argue with that.

AlvvaysArchie, Marry me is really just such a great pop song. It makes me wish it was 1978 and I’d have this on 7 inch and play it again and again until it got scratched or Archie really did marry her.

The fraigle/tragic mind of JD Salinger

la_ca_0828_salingerOf course Salinger was nuts. It’s pretty much accepted now that he actually was Holden Caulfield, and last year I read an incredibly hearbreaking biography which shows just how disturbed and crazy he was, mostly from the results of horrific experiences in the second world war (he was with the first to enter the notorious Nazi concertraiton camp Dachau). This is a guy who told his own daughter “You never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose entirely, no matter how long you live.” Without a doubt these experiences messed his already fragile mind up. Still he had “it”. That magic that few people are born with, such artistic brilliance and natural talent that whatever happens in your life, you create art. I’m counting the days till the paperback release of Joanna Rakoff’s “My Salinger Year”, about her experiences as Salinger’s literary agent in the late 1990’s.

Until then there was a fascinating program on BBC radio a couple of weeks about looking at the spiritual life of Salinger which I really recommend you listen to here. He was heavily into Hinduism philosophy, and a rather extreme form of Buddhism. But then again he mixed up elements of Christianity and Scientology. Basically the guy was lost, confused and didn’t know what to do. Life seemed meaningless and empty to him, and he never quite figured things out. Like I said my overflowing emotion towards Saligner is sadness. But then, I’ll read Franny and Zoeey or Catcher in the Rye and just be knocked senseless by the beauty and elegance of those words.

salwroteOnce you’ve heard that cool program you might like to hear a song by a band called Airport Girl. It’s called “What Salinger Wrote“. It’s not on youtube or soundcloud but you can hear it on this link.

I’m off to Romania now for a week for Open Hands Charity. We’ve got much to do over there, and I’m going to pick up a book at the airport to keep me going.Maybe the new Matthew Thomas “we are not ourselves“.

I’m really excited about the new album from Emma Kupa later this month. But I’ll write about that, and the awesome new surprisingly loud single from sun kil moon when I’m back.

bis bald 🙂

single of the year

In those carefree childhood days before everything got crazy, I always use to tape the top 40. I also wrote down every week in my little book the top 10 singles, and all I knew about was pop music. Even now I’m amazed when I meet people who said they “Got into Bob Dylan” from going through their parents record collections. We didn’t have any records. Or tapes. Or cd’s. Actually my dad did have a Queen tape and a Bryan Ferry tape in his car. It was in the late 80’s so this was a long way off from “For Your Pleasure”. Anyway so pop music and singles were my world back then, so even now I can’t entirely shake off my love of a good short pop single.

But strangely, this year, some amazing albums have been released (you’re get to see my no.1 next week), but I’ve really wasn’t sure who to put down as my favourite track of the year.  Some great songs have been on albums, but none were released as singles. I also looked through the Pitchfork’s tracks of the year and found it boring and predictable. So I had to dig a little deeper and I got this gem, released back in February and yes, I did buy the 7 inch, and it sounds strangely 1988-esque.  It’s the guy from Hefner and the girl from Standard Fare. It’s a breezy light song, but I always think singles should be fun.

Here it is

Next Week – Album of the year

Catch up

EP of the year

Video of the year

singles club

During my brmusiceak from the internet for the last few weeks I’ve been listening to all my old records and was so inspired I even bought some new 7 inches. These days I have a Daily Telegraph record player, inherited from my grandfather, and I want to write about three new singles I’ve come across over the last 4 weeks. To hear them click on the song titles.

Johnny Cash “She use to love me a lot” – I picked this up in HMjcashV in Tunrbdige Wells, and it’s from the, err, “new” album of unreleased tracks from the 80’s. I don’t know I always thought if something wasn’t good enough to release 30 years ago why bother now, but this song is crazy addictive, and it ends on the point of bleakness before those waves of hope come crushing through Cash’s gruffy voice.

Darren Haydarrenhaymanman and Emma Kupa Boy, look at what you can’t have now is the perfect antidote to Cash’s song that if I was making a break up mixtape it would follow perfectlly. Hefner were a band I’d listen to a lot back in the early twenty first century, and from time to time I’ve picked up Darren Hayman’s solo releases which have been mixed, but this song oozes self confidence and charm.

The AnchoressWhat Goes Around” – This is really something special, produced by Paul Draper of Mansun, a band that inspired fanatical and obsessive anchoressfans back in their day.. Anyway here Draper plays guitar and supplies some sensational backing voices, but don’t be fooled it’s Catherine Anne Davies who supplies the energy, originality and warmth. This song, out this week, also has the coolest cover I’ve seen for a while. It’s worth getting just for that, surely?

Three great songs. Records are for life not just Record Store Day….

Oh I’ve also been out in Romania working for Open Hands charity. I wrote about the week here if you are interested in the great work the charity does supporting vulnerable children.

During the break I also scribbled my top 10 albums of all time but I’ll post that another time as it’s kind of embarrasing….