As everyone has been putting up their “bands of the year” and lists of this and that, I thought I’d list my favourite pieces of writing from the last twelve months of Green Man in no particular order, so if you want an idea of what we do here, how we do it and what sort of bands we cover, this is a pretty good spring-board. Some relate to the local side of our endeavours, others to the national level efforts, all are worth checking out. Enjoy.
1. On Hire – Cole Stacey and Joseph O’Keefe
Let me draw a line connecting South American dancehalls with Wodehousian musical whimsy, another from chilled folk music to the landscape of Southern India, and then many more connecting places and thoughts, music and stories that have no business being connected. Stare at the pattern of the lines for a long time, and then shut your eyes. The stars dancing behind your eyelids is the music of these two outstanding musicians.
2. River Man – Anna Neale
An acoustic guitar driven concept album about the lives of those living in and around Pompeii, incorporating Roman literature and Islamic religious text? Any takers?
3. Some Enchanted Evening (or, Why We Bother)
….but rather than complaining that you are not satisfied with the live music options in your area, isn’t it better to make something happen that does tick all your boxes and hopefully other peoples as well.
4.Gonwards – Peter Blegvad & Andy Partridge (thanks to Sam Bates)
This is a stunning album, it’s a triumph of uneasy listening and it deserves a place on everyone’s Record Of The Year lists. Considering it’s sitting pretty with the likes of new releases by Grizzly Bear, Tame Impala and Animal Collective, that’s high praise indeed.
5. Spotlight on: Babies vs Rabies
An utterly pretentious review style for a truly avant-garde band.
6. Reclaimed – Louise Latham
Having created a bohemian studio environment in the producer Arno Guveau’s flat, the pair then lived and breathed the recording process for two months and it was this intimacy with the environment that probably lead to a channelling of the songs rather than the usual and more formal work ethic. The result is a set of songs imbued with the personality of those involved, which seem natural extensions of the artist rather than a separate creation that exists away from them.
7. Stanford Torus e.p. – Super Squarecloud
Okay, humans still don’t have enough limbs to properly dance to the tune but it comes closer to conventional grooves than a lot of their work has. But then again in the live environment most people are too fixated on the band themselves to be bothered about wig flipping and rug cutting. Time changes abound, instruments come and go, world records for simultaneous playing of instruments are attempted, all within the luscious ebbs and flows of the song.
8. Colour the Atlas – Colour the Atlas
This is the sound of a band having the resources to make the music that up until now may have only existed in their heads. Emotionally rich, musically economical and wonderfully balanced, in short, beautiful.
9. Four Minus One Equals Ten Out of Ten…at least: Nudybronque come of age.
People often try to argue that there is a difference between the local music scene and bands from out of town, make a point that they are happy to support outsiders in the same way that people latch on to acts that have made it on to TV as if that imbues them with some cool that they didn’t have before. It is why if you see any hipsters in the street you should always point and laugh at them for perpetuating this idea. The only difference between touring and home-grown bands is geography. Tonight Nudybronque showed just how fallacious that idea is, they may have been playing their home patch, but they are now ready for the big leagues.
10.Waiting For The Storm – Mark Mulholland and Craig Ward
But it is not the actual technicalities that give this album it’s greatest qualities, it is the less tangible factors that shape it, the ones that are hardest to pin down and rightly so. The mystique and medievalism, the late night jazz chill and the ephemeral and delicate nature of the sounds, the shadows that lie in the corners of the songs and the dark paths they sometimes weave are all as important, if not more so, than the musical structures and outer clothing being offered up.
11. Hello All Stations, This is Zero – Sebastopol
Taking leaves from musical books as disparate as The Police, The Liberty Horses (remember them?) The Icicle Works, Squeeze and a whole raft of post-punk underground pop, they manage to offer up songs that have an understated majesty, a clean limbed directness and musically economical and as an album it is all the better for it.
12. The Decline of British Manufacturing – Browfort
All together now “Durutti Column, but where’s Jon the Postman”