28 December 2018

Adam Littlemore Music - Mirrors EP

It has been three years since I last reviewed Adam Littlemore Music, a Sunderland based ambient guitar artist.  The first piece of music I reviewed was his six-track demo release, which you can read here.  It was a solid release, one which felt as if there was a little bit more work to be done.  The demo just felt as if he was still trying to figure out his sound.  Any artist who is making music will tell you that they're never finished that search for this sound, it never ends with a release of new music. There will always be more sounds to explore, a hell of a lot more to do, ideas to edit in your mind,  All of which will bubble over, with experiments being conducted to bring that elusive sound that haunts your dreams.  I think that Adam has been on a quest since I last heard his music, with Mirrors EP being the end result.  Now, in the three years since the release of Adam Littlemore Music, it has not been quiet on his front.  He's been a regular name around the North-East and he has been picking up attention from a lot of people.

This leads me to the initial contact I received from ALM about reviewing this EP, for the poor lad was worried about the music being released before its official release date. As new music is something that is always incredibly precious to the musician who created it, I can understand why Adam was more than a little hesitant here.  When albums are sometimes leaked by record companies (lest we forget the cock-up that Father John Misty experienced), you have to be incredibly careful of your new product.  I would certainly be worried if it were my work going out, especially if it was before an EP launch at The Cluny.  But fear not, the music supplied will not be leaked here, I would never do that to any artist.

So, a little background about the recording of this EP:  The recording session happened on 27th September 2018 at Miners' Hall Studio, Sunderland, engineering and mixing were handled by James Hutchinson, with production duties being completed by Barry Hyde (of The Futureheads).  Which brings us back to the music itself.  For me here, I'm interested in finding out how Adam has progressed from the kid with some demos, how he has grown as an artist and developed his style.

01 - Refections

Starting with an atmospheric guitar, a quite drum machine and using samples about the position of the Earth in the Universe, "Refections" is a seven-minute song which seems to pass in the blink of an eye if you let it.  It rolls over you, with the gentle force of a stream as you listen to documentary footage about Earth's place in the universe.  It's very reminiscent of Public Service Broadcasting, with the sample and slow-building atmosphere.  There is also a hint of Warm Digits to the sound here too, but with a lot of Adam's own style which he brought to his original songs too.  I like "Refections" a lot, it soothes you and you cannot help but admire the sound created.

02 - Cracked Memories

"Cracked Memories" is a mash of sounds and noises from the guitar, all looped together to create a soundboard that smashes into you in waves.  The music seems to ebb and flow like the sea hits the coast.  You can imagine a video of water with this one, as the guitar hits you over and over again.  Unlike "Refections", there is no slow build here and that is refreshing as well, plus the bonus noise attack at the end is beautifully captured.  This is another track in the tick column.

03 -  Prisms

Using samples from the Apollo 11 Moonlanding, "Prisms" is a brilliant ending track for this EP.  It builds up and there is a focus to this track which was not there in his earlier demos.  The importance of this cannot be understated, as it gives the noise a purpose, a reason apart from random noise and beautiful tones.  The song builds with a Mogwai/Public Service Broadcasting patience, letting the riffs and notes mix well with the dialogue of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.  This is the right track to end the Mirrors EP, it is the union of both of Adam's style, both the noise and the focused sides of his performance.

After listening to this EP, I can safely say that Adam has definitely made great strides in his sound.  The improvement cannot be understated here, which is a great thing to see.  You always want to see artists grow, to add to their sound and to take experiences and transform them into something else.  I can hear a lot of bands in this EP, as mentioned before I was reminded of Public Service Broadcasting, Warm Digits and also Mogwai too.  These are all cracking comparisons to be honest, something which is only natural with instrumental music.  If there was one thing about the release that threw me, it was the initial drum machine.  I wasn't too sure about it at first, but it works so well that you forget it there.  I think the additions to his sound have been added perfectly and the progress is massive.  Mirrors EP is a great release from Adam, one that will cement his growing reputation in the North East.

4 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out

Top track - Prisms

You can follow the activities of Adam Littlemore Music on Facebook here.

The Adam Littlemore Music Soundcloud page can be found here.

Here is a link to the EP Launchpage on Facebook, which is happening at The Cluny on January 20th 2019.

At the time of writing, Mirrors EP is not available to purchase or stream.  However, once it has been released, I will update the links to purchase/hear it.

17 December 2018

The ATTIWLTMOWOS Top 40 Albums of 2018

I probably say this every year, but this year was a very good year for albums.  Whilst I didn't get to review every album I wanted to, I still had over 80 that made the required mark to reach this list.  There is a certain point on this list (not gonna say where) which every album afterwards would have been the AOTY, if it were not for the albums that follow.  But this is just the way the cookie crumbles.  Now, some of these albums were records I reviewed for the brilliant Bearded Gentlemen Music (a link to the blog here, check them out, all the team are mint!  Basically, any album I reviewed was up for this list, my blog - my rules!  Anyway, don't pay attention to the size of the album covers on the collage, that might be a red herring, what you need to do is read on - Eddie.

40 - Therapy? - Cleave

I love the tone of Cleave, it's meatier, thicker and sounds like the distorted sound of old.  But there is no feeling of trying to keep up with the current vogue of the world, no attempt to recapture their youthful rage or former glories here.  It's a short, sharp reminder that Therapy? never actually went away, they've always been there producing great records, and this is no exception to that rule.  Should I dare compare Cleave to their back catalogue?  Nah, what would be the point!  Let it stand out on its own and check it out yourself.

39 - Mantar - The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze

I love The Modern Art of Setting Ablaze, it's a top-class metal album, one of the best in 2018 and is rightly receiving praise.  But the impact is not as big as their previous albums.  But no matter what, there's only one way to end this paragraph - All hail Mantar!

38 - Marmozets - Knowing What You Know Now

Knowing What You Know Now is a great record, one which is worthy of the praise and attention that it’s receiving, it’ll also shot them into the public eye even further than their brilliant debut The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets. When they’re on point, there are few acts who could better them.  They’re as important to the British Rock scene as any band that has come through the ranks and file in years, if not so more important.  However, and it’s just a small however, they should have knocked a few tracks off this one.  It’s not a bloated album by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have one or two fillers in the mix.  But a Marmozets filler is still better than a lot of bands A-sides, so as I said – this is a small however.  Overall, Knowing What You Know Now is an important record which lives up to the hype behind the band, it’ll be up there in the albums of the year for a lot of people.

37 - Sick of It All - Wake the Sleeping Dragon

Because of the nature of Hardcore music, Wake the Sleeping Dragon is a fast and furious release.  Now, whilst I truly enjoy this album, I also recognise it's an album that sticks to their guns.  Which is exactly how it should be.  If Sick of It All had of a suddenly changed even an iota, it would have sucked.  So, more props to them for sticking to that course they started years ago.  I love each of these songs, they never put a foot wrong throughout the album and it just goes to show, you truly cannot keep a good band down.  Sick of It All are as vital and alive in 2018 as they were when they first emerged on to the New York Hardcore Scene. Wake the Sleeping Dragon is a reminder that they've never been away!  

36 - Buñuel - The Easy Way Out

With each repeat of The Easy Way Out, you're no closer to understanding Buñuel.  You can say that you are, but that's a lie.  The Easy Way Out is a beautiful piece of art, an album that mixes the poetry of Eugene S. Robinson with the wondrous music of Messrs Iriondo, Capovilla and Valente.  Is it for mass consumption, no - not even close.  It's for people who enjoy music that confronts them, it's for those who want an album that will challenge them.  I've never come away from listening to this album without being impressed with it, or feeling as if I've been taken to school.  It's an enigma, a puzzle that I bring out of my collection to take away the grime of the day.

35 - Thomas Truax - All That Heaven Allows

I think Sir Thomas might have nailed it here, and I don’t say that lightly.  Each track on All That Heaven Allows could easily be transferred into his live set, some of them already have and they sound brilliant in studio form.  Each time I have spun this record, my love for this album has grown and it’s never lost my attention.  Are there any issues?  Well, apart from one song which does not quite cut the mustard for me, it’s the best work that Sir Thomas has released (I’m still upset he’s not got his real knighthood!!!).  I would recommend going to his live shows, purchasing this album and immersing yourself in the strange and wonderful world of Wowtown, you may never want to leave…...

34 - VETO - 16 Colors

VETO for me are the natural successors to the sound that was pioneered by Depeche Mode on Songs of Faith & Devotion.  16 Colors is the perfect combination of Alternative Rock, Electronica and Dark Pop.  Whilst there are elements of other artists in their sound, VETO have a sound all of their own, one which is enthralling.  If there was any justice in this world, VETO would be on the ascent all over the world, they sound that damn good.  16 Colors is a dark record, but a beautifully constructed one as well. 

33 - Young Fathers - Cocoa Sugar

Young Fathers can do with very little instrumentation what some back with 15+ member struggle to do, they create masterpieces that skin their hooks into your heart, refusing to let go.  When they are on fire, Cocoa Sugar can send the heart soaring high above this septic world, with minimalist odes of joy and pain. Sure, there are a few missed beats, a few songs which end too suddenly, but that doesn't change the fact that this is a great record.  Much like the album, this review is sort of short, but I think that is for the best.  Cocoa Sugar is another fine record from the Scottish trio.

32 - Gaz Coombes - World's Strongest Man

World's Strongest Man is an album which you must invest time into, a record where an instant reaction is not going to be forthcoming.  Hence why I'm reviewing it so late after its original release.  My first reaction - Well, that's different once again.  However, as the weeks have gone by, I've discovered little subtleties embedded into this album.  It's not an instant classic, it's a slow burner in the classic sense.  Songs like "The Oaks" take time to get under your skin, they cannot be rushed.  World's Strongest Man is a hidden gem in 2018, one that will take people by surprise.  I reckon that Gaz Coombes is onto a world beater here, but one that might not be for the masses.  If you're looking for something slightly off the beaten path of the mainstream, this could be the album for you.

31 - Richard Thompson - 13 Rivers

Over the thirteen tracks, Richard Thompson serenades you with hard rock, folk, gentle ballads, urgent pleas for help.  Coming in at just under fifty-five minutes, but it feels a lot shorter than that to be honest.  It demands nothing but utter engagement from the listener, this is a record that you cannot ignore, and you wouldn't want to anyway.  If (like myself), 13 Rivers is your first introduction to Richard Thompson, then you're in for a treat.  Now, let's get to work on that back catalogue.

30 - KEN Mode - Loved

Loved is a fantastic album, a Pandora's box that you can't close and probably won't want to.  I love the style; the production is massive and you have ringing in your ears long after the final note has finished.  In a year with some truly epic Metal/Sludge albums, KEN Mode have created something special on Loved.

29 - Eels - The Deconstruction

Overall, The Deconstruction is an uplifting, yet heavy experience.  It's an album that defies the normal expectations of an Eels record and shows that there is more to E than meets the eye. This is quite possibly the album which eclipses Beautiful Freak for me, which is a massive compliment from yours truly.

28 - Miles Hunt - The Custodian

What I love about The Custodian is the craftsmanship, love and effort that Miles has put into this project.  The attention to detail by a man who knows his worth is beautiful to hear.  Each track has been lovely re-created, the new song "Custodian" is brilliant, and I look forward to hearing it live.  This is a body of work that he should rightfully be proud of and one that his fans will enjoy immensely.  This is an essential piece for any fan of The Wonder Stuff or music in general.

27 - Thom Yorke - Suspiria

The further into Suspiria you descend, the more you wish you had the visuals.  Thom Yorke has made this a compelling piece of art, but I feel as if I'm cheating the movie out of something here.  This is a soundtrack which deserves the dancers, the violence and the screams to make it complete.  I'm not saying that the album is poor, quite far from it!  This is one of the best solo pieces from Thom Yorke that I've ever heard.  It's such a dark record, such a deep work of art and so out of the edge, that I want to see what is fuelling it.  I love the strange noises, but I want more. Because of the lack of context, I can't give Suspiria a full mark at this juncture. 

26 - Youth Killed It - What's So Great, Britain?

What's So Great, Britain? is a brilliant modern Indie Rock album which has influences in the past, but it's also stamped with their own identity.  They might be shaking their head at the state of this country, but they've made an album that should put them on the musical map of this country.  This is a great record and you should get it as soon as it's released. 

25 - PigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigsPigs - King of Cowards

At this point, I usually try to look for any negatives on an album, just so the review doesn't come across as a love letter.  But I can't do that here.  From "GNT" through to "Gloamer", each track is a psychedelic doom monster, one that you can invest yourself into and enjoy the moment.  With each spin, King of Cowards delivers and somehow gets better.  Everything about this release is amazing, it's over the top and it sounds glorious.  

24 - The Virginmarys - Northern Sun Sessions

With this approach, there is always a danger that it could all turn to shit.  Sometimes it can be a little bit too heavy, sometimes it can sink an album.  Thankfully, Northern Sun Sessions is not one of those albums.  The Virginmarys are a tight duo, so they know their strengths and they can make the same amount of noise as many five-piece bands.  It's an album that makes you want to jump around and fills the world with sunshine. The Virginmarys have upped the ante on Northern Sun Sessions, making all the right moves and sounding like fighting champions.  This is a passion project and it sounds great, definitely one that I would recommend to people who love their punk from the North!

23 - The Winter Hill Transmission - The Winter Hill Transmission

Much like the sound of the North West being eternally linked to Joy Division, the sound of The Winter Hill Transmission could not have originated anywhere else in the world apart from the North East of England.  It’s hard to explain, but when you listen to this album, you’ll hear the sound of the area where I grew up.  So, for me, this is a special album.  It’s a gentle record, one that contains hidden depths to immerse yourself in.   The Winter Hill Transmission is a brilliant (and long overdue) debut album, one that will fit perfectly in the collection of any music fan.  The sooner you get yourself a copy, the happier your life will be.  However, given their track record, I’ll be expecting a follow up sometime in the next decade……...

22 - Corrosion of Conformity - No Cross, No Crown

(Original review published on Bearded Gentlemen Music)

The overall sound is smoother than the feral beast that is IX, you can see the influence of Mr. Kennan’s influence on their sound and I cannot argue with the results.  We find CoC to be in fine form on No Cross No Crown, which is not surprising when you consider the pedigree of the band.  Even at this early stage of 2018, this is could be a contender for the Metal album of the year.  If there is only one issue, I have is No Cross No Crown is that it’s a little too polished when you compare it to IX, but that has turned into my favourite CoC album ever.  So, there was already a hard act to follow in my mind, but I must admit that they have done a great job here.  And the reason for that is that they didn’t play it safe and repeat the same record, they mixed their classic sound with a bit more metal and delivered the goods.  This album is a record that keeps getting better with each spin, so this could turn out to be a slow burner for the rest of 2018.

21 - Antarctigo Vespucci - Love in the Time of Email

I like Love in the Time of E-Mail a lot, it's a contradiction in terms of messages, the positivity of the music is contrasted by the meaning of the songs.  Yet it all comes together, meshing into a beautiful painting of joy and sorrow.  Somehow, they combine everything into this fantastic record that may have a cover of a photo in the snow, but it'll leave anyone who hears it elated and full of energy.  I don't think I've enjoyed a side project as much since Grinderman by Nick Cave, I think I cannot think of any praise which is higher than that. Viva La Antartctigo Vespucci!

20 - Ginger Wildheart - The Pessimist's Companion

Well, this is a hard album on the soul.  The Pessimist's Companion is a beautiful record, one that will break everyone's heart and then some.  If you thought Ghost in the Tanglewood was devastating, then you might need to only listen to this in the company of others.  It's a weeper, a bruiser and a heartbreaker, I can see why this is getting so much good press at the moment.  If you're looking for fist-pumping anthems, then you'll need to look elsewhere.  If you're looking for candy coloured pop-rock, you will be able to find that on other records.  If you're looking for someone to voice your broken words and to help you heal, The Pessimist's Companion might be able to support.  

19 - Bloods - Feelings

Due to the short nature of Feelings, you can easily listen to it twice in an hour and not get bored.  If I have one complaint about Feelings, it's front-loaded.  The first five songs, from the glorious "Bring My Walls Down" to "N C C" are really good.  The second half, whilst not poor by any stretch of the imagination, it doesn't have the same impact as those initial five tracks.  This gives the album an uneven feeling, but not enough to sink the album.  It's just my own take on this record.  Overall, Feelings is a little ray of fuzzy sunshine, one that is making this winter in the UK a nicer place.  As I said before, I wish Sweetie good luck and I hope that Bloods release more albums.

18 - Not Scientists - Golden Staples

Golden Staples is a rewarding record, it has some rough edges and I love the fact that it reveals more about itself each time.  As I previously said, if they had done a repeat of their earlier work, it would have sucked and shown them to be a one trick pony.  Golden Staples is a great record, one which has some depths that I’ve not fully explored, but that will change over time.  If you’re looking for new indie/punk heroes, Golden Staples is the album for you.

17 - MGMT - Little Dark Age

Little Dark Age is the best album that MGMT has released ever.  This is not open for debate, it’s their most consistent record, their most focused record and MGMT's most adventurous as well.  I love the fact it’s trying something different to their normal stuff, it goes out on a limb, it takes the leap of faith into the unknown.  I love that they had the confidence to release this record, I cannot praise it enough and I hope it gets the respect and reception I think it deserves.  And it's a multi-produced album that I love, this is truly a rare and wonderful beast of a record!

16 - Clutch - Book of Bad Decisions

(Original review published on Bearded Gentlemen Music)

Clutch are the modern-day Motorhead, no-one can beat them at their own game.  You couldn’t mistake this for anyone else, they are masters of this genre.  Others might imitate them, but no-one comes close to matching their sound.   They know exactly what they need to make an album perfect.  It’s never too flash, just pure rock fury.  And above all, they make it look so easy! That is the hardest part, having the ability to make it look effortless.  With Book of Bad Decisions, they have further cemented that reputation of greatness!  It’s a reputation that is justified as well.  Book of Bad Decisions is a brilliant record, one that is not a direct follow on from Psychic Warfare, but you can trace the lineage with ease. Book of Bad Decisions will be hailed as one of their best, mark my words here.  It’ll receive praise from all corners of the rock community.  Are there any issues?  Yes, it ends too soon!  They have made my end of year album chart interesting. I love this record.  To quote “How to Shake Hands” “……hot damn!”

15 - The Chewers - Downhill Calendar

The Chewers are showcasing everything that makes them special and unique on this album.  Downhill Calendar is a brilliant album, with its maverick spirit that possesses the trinity of Primus, the droning tone of Waheela (without the metal) and the originality of themselves, they are on a winner here.  Downhill Calendar is a neat package of noise, drone and bat crap crazy sound.  I cannot tell you how much I love this album, it's another joyful trip into the unknown and beyond.  Welcome back The Chewers, we've missed you!

14 - Idles - Joy as an Act of Resistance

In one sense, the steps forward here are not huge, some tracks could have fitted effortlessly on Brutalism.  Is that really a crime though?  It's only just been over a year since Brutalism was released, so their sound is not going to be that much different.  Therefore, it shouldn't really be an issue here.  At the end of the day, I'm focusing on how the album leaves me once the final note has rung out.  I think they've reached whatever target they set themselves. Joy as an Act of Resistance takes them further down the road towards infamy, it meets the hype head on and hits it out of the park.  It's a harrowing, vicious and brutal record in places, but who said Idles were ever easy?  I love it, it's a small improvement on everything from Brutalism, so it's not the shocker that I was expecting.  Don't get me wrong, that doesn't change the outcome for Joy as an Act of Resistance.  This is a great album and it'll be near the top of my end of year list.  It doesn't repeat the shock and awe of their debut, but that was never on the card in some ways.  

13 - Elvis Costello & The Imposters - Look Now

Look Now is the album that I was not expecting, which means it’s sort of the album I needed as well.  It's a thing of beauty and it soothes the wounded soul, I cannot stop listening to it in my spare time. From the first note to the last, each song is a little oasis of pleasure and joy.  I could easily lose myself in this record for a few hours at a time, with the music full of hooks, charm and beauty.  Every now and then, I might (for my shame) forget how great a songwriter Elvis Costello can be.  Look Now is a reminder that he's not done with this world yet, it's a passionate and beautiful record.  The album of the year list has just gotten interesting at the 11th hour, I think that if you give Look Now a chance, so will yours.

12 - Alkaline Trio - Is This Thing Cursed?

If you're a fan of Alkaline Trio, Is This Thing Cursed? will be the best thing that they've ever done as it hits all their high-water marks and the joy of having them back in the world.  If you're a casual fan, it'll deliver everything you wanted and a lot more which you'll be able to explore later.  Basically, Is This Thing Cursed? is their strongest album since From Here to Infirmity, it's that damn good and if they're cursed, then it's fuelled a fantastic record!  Let's not leave it so long next time, OK?

11 - David Byrne - American Utopia

American Utopia is a stunning record, one which shows how relevant David Byrne is in 2018 as he was back in the '70s and '80s.  Each song is a strange tale, a cautionary look at the world and seeing how it's going to hell in a handbasket.  Yes, there was the controversy upon its release, but I think that was caused by people looking for issues.  We are living in a new Puritan age after all.  This is Pop Music for Avant-Garde fans, what is there not to love?
10 - Sad Hill - Good if it Goes

Musically, Good if it Goes is a great little album.  Like most Emo music, it's not a technical master class in the same way that Frank Zappa never made a straightforward rock album.  But in it's given genre, it's spot on and a shining example that Emo has a place in 2018.  I love the honest nature of the songs, the beautiful artwork and the overall package.  Are there any issues?  To be honest, not really.  It does exactly what it says on the tin.  Good if it Goes is a God-honest Emo record, created out of love, frustration, tears, and hope.  What is there not to like?

09 - Frank Turner - Be More Kind

Be More Kind is my type of album.  Full of passions, a little political and with its heart in the right place.  It's attempting to make sense of how humanity cannot learn from its past, how we're still looking for love and wondering why we seem to let horrors return.  It's a gentle and powerful record, one which will be in in a lot of people's album of the year lists.  But the title alone is a lesson which everyone should live by, why can't we just Be More Kind?

08 - The Temperance Movement - A Deeper Cut

From beginning to end, A Deeper Cut takes all the experiences that The Temperance Movement have encountered, built on it and released a monster!  I’ve never been so excited about a traditional Rock album in such a long time, it has that special factor which makes music my all-time passion.  A Deeper Cut is one of the best albums of the year, it’s that damn good.

07 - Alice In Chains - Rainer Fog

I can wax lyrical about Rainier Fog all day, it's a brilliant album and a worthy addition to the AiC discography.  Each song is a brilliant reminder of their legend and a dark anyway which will brighten your day.  To be honest, Alice in Chains rarely placed a foot wrong.  Even when they do, it was only against their own high standards.  Are there any issues with it?  No, it's as good as they get.  It's full of melancholic noise, heart bleeding solos, breath-taking passages and top-quality craftsmanship.  When you compare it to their other records, only Dirt, Black Gives Way to Blue and the Jar of Flies EP are ahead of it.  And those three are stone cold classics.  One day I might regret only giving this nine out of ten, but that is an issue for the future.  Rainier Fog is a must have for not just anyone who considers themselves not only an Alice in Chains fan, but for anyone who considers themselves a fan of music in general.

06 - Sylvaine - Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone

Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone has bucked the trend for third albums.  It's an absolute corker, a real treat as we approach the winter months of 2018 and one that I'm enthralled with.  But the biggest pleasure I get from this album is not the music.  It's the joy in seeing an artist developing into something more.  Sylvaine has improved with each record, taking someone who was not really acquainted with Blackgaze and made him into a fan.  For that, I'm truly thankful to Sylvaine for that initial email. Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone will be high on a lot of people's end of year lists, I recommend you checking it out now.

05 - Laura Veirs - The Lookout

The Lookout is one of those gentle albums which leaves you breathless, but it's as gentle as a breeze.  It also leaves you wanting more, there is a beautiful loss to the music and it stays with you long after the final notes have rung out.  This might be a short review, but it’s an honest one.  This is another classic record from one of my favourite artists, she is a trailblazer and The Lookout will be in my top albums of 2018, you can bank on that.

04 - We Are Scientists - Megaplex

(Originally published on Bearded Gentlemen Music)

The song writing has always been the key thing for me with WAS, when they get it right, they are unbeatable.   For 90% of Megaplex, they reach and achieve that high standard.  The only track which feels like a filler, is sadly the ending track, “Properties of Perception”.  It just feels a little weak after those stunning songs that preceded it, which is a bit of a shame.  However, it doesn’t change the fact that Megaplex is my most played album of 2018 so far.  It’s a bit of a charmer, you think you can put it to the side, but you just want to return to it more and more.

03 - Soul Dissolution - Stardust

Stardust is a stunning record, a beautiful piece of art that is as important to me as the last Mogwai album.  It breaks through Black Metal and Post Metal, creating one of the biggest statements so far in 2018.  You don't have to be a fan of either genre to appreciate how good this record sounds, it's that damn good.  If I had to describe it to someone, I would compare it to a fight between Agalloch, Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky, with Exxasens acting as referee.  Basically, it’s the best of both Post and Black Metal in one album.  There are no problems with the length of the album, the intro tracks are great, all the songs are amazing!  What Soul Dissolution have done here, is releasing one of the best records of 2018 so far.  I cannot praise Stardust enough, it's just a powerful and wonderful statement of intent and purpose. 

02 - Amorphis - Queen of Time

Because this is such a long album, you're either going to fully invest in it or walk away.  Queen of Time is not something to put it on for ease or to have on in the background.  You’re either going to be committed or you’re out the door.  To be honest, if you step over this album, you’ll be missing one of the best European Metal acts ever.  Everything about this album is amazing, from the opening moments of “The Bee” to the closing of “Pyres on the Coast”, there is no wasted note, no waste beat, no wasted sound.  This is an album when each band member has a moment to shine, a moment in the sun and it's a jaw-dropping experience. I was staggeringly impressed with Under the Red Cloud, I’m just as impressed with Queen of Time.

01 - YOB - Our Raw Heart

(Originally published on Bearded Gentlemen Music)

At the time of Our Raw Heart, Yob were in healing mode.  This was Mike’s way of expressing what had happened (directly or indirectly).   It was Aaron’s and Travis’s way of supporting their friend. It was producer Billy’s job to document this healing processes.  This record is bathed in emotions.  It feels like a raw nerve, it contains something which is beyond comprehension.  To be able to understand it, you need to have experienced something similar.  But most of all, this is a towering statement of how music can heal you.
If it wasn’t for the trials YOB have experienced, could Our Raw Heart exist?  I don’t know if a song such as “Beauty of Fallen Leaves” would exist.  Would “In Reverie” would have contained that same impact or sounded different?  Maybe the atmosphere of “Lungs Reach” could have changed.  Who knows, these are “what if” questions.  All I can tell you about is my own reaction to Our Raw Heart.  By the time you reach “Our Raw Heart” at the end of the record, you feel relief and joy.  But to be honest, it’s as if no time has passed at all.  I’ve found myself reaching for repeat each time I’ve listened to this record, it’s just a stunning experience.

And there you have it!  Well done to YOB and to all the other artists who made this list.  Until next year! - Eddie

10 December 2018

The ATTIWLTMOWOS Top 40 songs of 2018

It's that time of year where everyone is posting their end of year blogs!  Well, I'm no different in that front, as you will well know!  In association with Attention Please on NE1FM, this is the All The Time I Was Listening to My Own Wall of Sound Top 40 songs of 2018!  It has been a corker of a year, to be honest with you ladies and gentlemen, I could have made this list 500 tracks long.  But, I have condensed it down to the top songs which have rocked, soothed and enlighted ATTIWLTMOWOS towers this year!  Now, in a difference to most end of year charts of this nature, the songs don't need to have been released as a single.  They also don't need to be off albums that qualify for the Album of the Year poll.  No, they just needed to be cracking tunes and these (for my money) represent the best work from these artists. Enjoy! - Eddie

PS - You can listen to the live reveal of the top 30 which was done on Attention Please on NE1FM on the link below:

Attention Please: 10th December 2018: Song of the Year Show

PPS - If you like your music streamable, here is a Spotify playlist.  However, I post this with one word of caution.  As The Custodian version of "On the Ropes" by Miles Hunt is not currently available on Spotify, I've used the original on the list.  Also, purchase the damn songs from the artists, Spotify is criminally ripping them off.

The ATTIWLTMOWOS/AP Top 40 of 2018 (sort of)

40 - Layfette Regency - Helen is a UFO (Taken from the album The Story of Helen (The Rise and Fall of an Impossible Love))

Sounding like a long lost Progressive Blues anthem from years gone by, French trio Layfette Regency released this anthemic song about a lady who is beyond human comprehension.  It's a track that can make the hair on your neck stand on end and it goes by so fast that you don't realise you've spent over seven minutes under its spell.

39 - This Wild Life - Positively Negative (Taken from the album Petaluma)

This Wild Life are (in my opinion) the happiest band with a depressive view of life I've ever heard, it's great that they're back again.  It's even better that they sound as glorious as ever.  "Positively Negative" is another slab of negatively drenched in sunshine, a song about trying to break away from a black hole in your life.  I love that they can make something sound cheerful, but also let people know that others are suffering in the same way.  Depression rarely sounds so bright, God bless their cotton socks.

38 - VOLA - We Are Thin Air (Taken from the album Applause of a Distant Crowd)

A lot of people still claim that Rock is dead.  Well, I think VOLA missed that memo.  We Are Thin Air is a stunning Progressive Rock/Metal number that gives the genre as a whole a kick up the arse.  It's heavy and light in equal measure, heavy and gentle with a kick-ass riff!

37 - Sick of It All - Bad Hombres (Take from the album Wake the Sleeping Dragon)

Sick of It All are angry at the moment, they see bad stuff happening and they shout about it!  And rightly so, Hardcore has always been a litmus paper for the state of the world, at the minute it's going down the shitter.  Bad Hombres is a damning condemnation of Donald Trump's stupid idea of a wall at the Mexican border.  Whilst I try to stay out of politics, they are spot on here.  Listen to it, it's a great hardcore number for 2018!

36 - Childish Gambino - This is America (Non-album Single)

If there was a blog about music videos in 2018, this would have won it hands down.  In fact, that is what I'm going to post here.  My words won't do this song justice, you need to see this video.  This song is important and this is why.

35 -  Therapy? - Wreck It Like Beckett (Taken off the album Cleave)

You can't keep a good band down and Therapy? are one of those acts that keep grinding away.  The opening track to Cleave is a blast from the past in some ways, but it's not a nostalgia trip.  This is Therapy? in full flight, in the zone and creating a monster riff!  It's such a loud number, best listen to with your speakers at full volume!

34 - Le Butcherettes - spider/WAVES (Taken from the forthcoming album Bi/Mental)

In a change from the sound of A Raw Youth, spider/WAVES represents the first new material of their forthcoming new album.  It's a sinister and hypnotic track, one which sounds fantastic when played live as well.  If this is an indication of what their next record will sound like, it could be a world beater.

33 - Alkaline Trio - I Can't Believe (Taken off the album Is This Thing Cursed?)

As much as I enjoyed Matt Skiba's involvement in Blink-182, I've got to say it's brilliant to see Alkaline Trio back again.  They are (and always will be) one of my favourite modern Punk acts, they just have the right combination of drama and noise, which combines to create another anthemic moment like I Can't Believe.  A song about someone who is falling to pieces, it sounds as if they've never been away.  This is just one of many highlights on Is This Thing Cursed?, with its massive hook in the chorus that drags you along, willingly or not.

32 - Stand Atlantic - Lost My Cool (Taken from the album Skinny Dipping)

Australian Pop-Punk three piece Stand Atlantic are a band on the rise.  With their barely contained anger and easy style, they're a band who will go from smaller venue to places like Brixton Academy very quickly.  Lost My Cool is a song that was stuck in my head for weeks, it was also one that required a radio edit to play on my show, but don't let that stop you listening to it.

31 - Bloods - Bring My Walls Down (Taken from the album Feelings)

Another Australian band!  This time it's Power-Rock/Pop outfit Bloods, making a nice bit of fuzzy racket with Bring My Walls Down.  A song that sounds like a beefed out, female-fronted version of early Teenage Fanclub, Bloods make great little three minute anthems to dance around to, "Bring My Walls Down" is a great example of how they do this!

30 - Miles Hunt - On The Ropes (Taken from the album The Custodian)

"On the Ropes" is a reworking of The Wonder Stuff classic by its creator on acoustic guitar, taken of his double album, The Custodian.  The original of this song is one of my favourite songs ever, seriously, it still takes me back to that place in my late teens.  So when I heard "On the Ropes" had made the cut, I was looking forward to hearing this version.  Miles has not disappointed, taking an Indie fist-pumping track and re-working it into a heartbreaker with his characteristic touch.  I doth my cap to the good man and recommend you all checking the album out as well.

29 - Sad Hill - New Warden (Taken from the album Good if it Goes)

"New Warden" is taken from the debut album of Australian Emotional Punk act Sad Hill, the album is called Good If It Goes.  They are a relevantly new band to be honest, but you'd think they'd been together for much longer.  "New Warden" is the sort of song which gets under your skin and stays there for such a long time.  It's quick, to the point and sounds amazing.  Sad Hill are definitely one of the act to that you should keep your eye on in the future.

28 - Man Make Fire - One Hand Friend (Taken from the Forthcoming album Man Make Fire)

With a sound like the Crazy Gods of Endless Noise, Man Make Fire deal in the fuzzy end of Rock between Alternative, Grunge and Retro.  Taken off their latest album Man Make Fire, "One Hand Friend" is a song that hits all the right spots for me.  It's one that feels as if it should be heard live, with a catchy chorus and a great riff as well.

27 - The Winter Hill Transmission - How Could We Ever Know (Taken from the album The Winter Hill Transmission)

"How Could We Ever Know" is a song which is taken from an album about ten years in the making, The Winter Hill Transmission.  This song (for my money) is a perfect representation of what The Winter Hill Transmission are all about.  A bit of melancholy, a slice of regret, an untold story and huge degree of talent, "How Could We Ever Know" is a song that feels ready for breaking hearts in a moments notice.  It's also one that could only have been created in the North East of England, it might mention Paris, but its heart is from the heart of the Tyne.

26 - The Virginmarys - SOS4UNI (Taken from the album Northern Sun Sessions)

Sounding as if they're playing for their lives, The Virginmarys have come back late in 2018 to lay claim to their throne once more.  "SOS4UNI" is a stomping number, one which shows that people who think Rock is dead are full of shit.  This song has all the key components required to be a classic, an easy chorus, a massive hook and it sounds like the devil is on its heels.  A cry for help has rarely sounded so inviting.

25 - Richard Thompson - The Storm Won't Come (Taken from the album 13 Rivers)

"The Storm Won't Come" is a song about expecting damnation and an escape from depression, but nothing is happening.  The desperation is vivid in the mind of the audience and the protagonist of the song as well, but there is to be no sweet release.  I love this song, the brooding manner of the music, the aggression and impatient longer is so inviting.  This song stunned me upon hearing it, I keep forgetting how powerful music can be, it doesn't always need to shout.  Richard Thompson is an artist that I will be investigating further (and to my shame, I should have done a hell of a lot sooner).

24 - Not Scientists - Orientation (Taken from the album Golden Staples)

Coming across as an Indie version of the Descendents, French Indie Punks Not Scientists burst into my life earlier this year with a band.  Taken off their latest album Golden Staples, "Orientation" is a song about not being able to move, losing a sense of self and a friend, mixed with anxiety and depression.  It's a moody number, with pounding drums and massive guitars.  The energy coming off this song is amazing, easily one of my favourite Alternative songs of 2018.

23 - Manic Street Preachers - Hold Me Like a Heaven (Taken from the album Resistance is Futile)

Whilst I found Resistance is Futile to be a tad disappointing, you can always count on the Manics to have an anthem or two up their sleeves.  "Hold Me Like a Heaven" has a sing-along chorus, one that could make a grown man cry and look moodily at the horizon.  It might represent their youth, but it does represent their current form in the best fashion.  Its melancholic worldview is the sound of people who are wondering how to fight, wanting to feel loved and to rest.  It's a strange one, but I love it so much as well.  Tragedy and regret in one moment.

22 - Laura Veirs - The Lookout (Taken from the album The Lookout)

Taken from the album with the same name, "The Lookout" is a song to a lover who acts as an anchor to its creator.  It's about feeling that you have someone fighting your corner, a fear of what might have happened, a sense of vulnerability and determination to be faithful to that lover.  It's short, sweet and gentle, and at first glance, it might seem a bit of a contradiction on this list.  But I love this song, it sounds like a call from home and I also love the album that bears its name.

21 - Antarctigo Vespucci - Freakin' U Out (Taken from the album Love in the Time of E-mail)

Pounding their way through this sound in just under three minutes, Antarctigo Vespucci will have you moving around the room like your pants are on fire.  This song is about trying to explain your deepest feelings and fears, but also you don't scare people away with your intensity.  "Freakin' U Out" is a crazy, beautiful Indie song, mixed with a Punk DIY spirit and a sense of reckless abandon that makes it sound so good!

20 - Middle Kids - Mistake (Taken from the album Lost Friends)

Another band from Australia (it's been a very good year for Aussie acts), this time it's Indie three-piece, Middle Kids.  Whilst I found Lost Friends to be missing something, I always had time for "Mistake" as well.  It's a song that latches onto and it doesn't let go, not for anything.  The loose story of the song is open to interpretation and it's all held together by a driving drum beat from drummer, Harry Day.  Also, since seeing them live (and conducting an interview for NE1FM), I have figured out what was missing from the album.  It's their live presence, as they are fantastic at their gigs.  I'll be following them in the future as well, I recommend you do the same.

19 - Portugal, The Man - Feel It Still ("Weird Al" Yankovic Remix) (Non-album single)

It rare that a remix reaches these lists, even rarer when it's from a band I've not really encountered.  I've no idea of anything about Portugal, The Man; to be honest, apart from this remix, I still don't have any real idea.  However, I know a lot about Sir Yankovic the Weird.  This remix has his trademarked Oompah band sound, with a manic energy and style that can be heard from the depths the oceans to the skies themselves.  It's a great song, one day I'll probably listen to the original as well (Sorry P,TM - I will check it out).

18 - Young Fathers - In My View (Taken from the album Cocoa Sugar)

Minalmist, driven and captivating.  These three words best describe the first single released from Cocoa Sugar, the third album from Young Fathers.  After the success surrounding their work on the Trainspotting 2 OST, as well as their previous two albums, they still sound hungry and that second best is not their aim.  "In My View" was released in January 2018, it's still a powerful statement almost 12 months on.

17 - Peter, Bjorn and John - Living a Dream (Taken from the album Darker Days)

I'm forever getting the name of this song work! I keep writing or saying "Living the Dream", but it's "Living A Dream".  It doesn't help that they use the phrase "Living the Dream" in the chorus as well!!!!!  However, my dyslexia and confusion aside, this song is an Indie Pop dream, a song about achieving your goal and running with it.  I love the chorus, I love the verses, I just wish I could get the name right!

16 - We Are Scientists - Your Light Has Changed (Taken from the album Megaplex)

To be honest, I could have picked any song from Megaplex for this list.  "Your Light Has Changed" shows the punk side of We Are Scientists, with a massive bass hook to the song.  Dealing with a problematic relationship, "Your Light Has Changed" was the second song I heard from Megaplex, I loved it from the first drum click to the last note.  If these guys ever split up, it'll be a sad day at ATTIWLTMOWOS.

15 - Houndmouth - This Party (Taken from the album Golden Age)

"The Party" by Houndmout is an Eighties-inspired synth song, all about wanting to leave a party, missing a lover and wishing they were attending so they could get it on.  It's an incredibly simple, but an effective number.  The chorus alone will have Depeche Mode and Erasure checking if they wrote it first, the hook is destined to be used for some Summer Anthem compilation, it just has everything I want from a modern Indie Pop song.  It's shiny, silly and fun!

14 - MGMT - When You're Small (Taken from the album Little Dark Age)

For me, until hearing their latest album, MGMT have always been a colourful act, all sparkles and shinning.  "When You're Small" smashes that view of the band, but it such a fantastic style that I can't complain.  It's a cautionary tale, about looking after one's self, as you can fall from a great height if you're up in the clouds.  Also, it's about not to ignoring the little guy.  They have a sense of community, love and family some people will never have.  Also and above all else, nothing to really lose.  It's a depressing song, you don't put it on for pleasure.  But it's a stunning song as well.

13 - Idles - Colossus (Taken from the album Joy as an Act of Resistance)

At the moment, Idles are the band on everyone's lips.  They're selling out shows all over the place, moving up venues and sounding as unrepentant as ever.  "Colossus" is the stunning opening to Joy As An Act of Resistance, with a menacing style that has always been their calling card.  When I first heard it, it was a stop still moment.  Whilst it's missed out on the top ten, it's still a standout moment in 2018.

12 - Editors - Magazine (Taken from the album Violence)

I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to something think of music in a visual way.  Making my own videos in my mind, which is a sign I'm head over heels for a song.  "Magazine" is one of these numbers, it would be a Vegas-style production that is mocking the nature of celebrity culture.  It would have been great, but alas, I'm not a video director.  "Magazine" is a tale of defence, of fighting and underhanded tactics.  It's also a song that was in the top ten until a few weeks ago.  The fact it's no longer there is not a sign of my interest waning, but a sign of how strong 2018 has been for songs.  I love "Magazine", if I don't get to hear it once a week, it's a poor week.  I still class it as another one of the standout moments of 2018!

11 - Bad Rabbits - Dollar and Change (Taken from the album, Mimi)

Whilst I might have had issues with some aspects of Mimi, I'll never deny that Bad Rabbits are one of the most exciting bands I've heard in the last few years.  "Dollar & Changes" is a love song about spending your last coins to make their lover smile, which makes the world a better place.  That is such a simple and effective song, a beautiful thought and a song that will make Prince nod in appreciation from the stars.  You cannot fail to smile when you hear it, it makes the world a better place by existing.

10 - Elvis Costello & The Imposters - Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter (Taken from the album Look Now)

Elvis Costello is a man who has been known to write a great song in his time, his work with Burt Bacharach is legendary as well.  Well, he can add this joint composition with Carole King to the list.  The third track on Look Now, "Burnt Sugar Is So Bitter" is a song about a lady who feels life has not ended how it should.  It's a beautiful song, a warm and wistful number, with a sense of irony as well to the music. 

09 - The Temperance Movement - Children (Taken from the album A Deeper Cut)

The Temperance Movement have slowly, but surely, been working their way up the chains of the British Rock scene.  It's a number that made a great impression on me when I first heard it, mainly down to the stark beauty and refreshing voice of singer, Phill Campbell.  Taken from their album A Deeper Cut, "Children" is a song about wanting to return to an innocent state, before a love affair went sour.  It's a gentle number, piano-led with a slide guitar playing throughout.  You'd need a heart of stone not to be moved by the beauty of this song.
08 - A Perfect Circle - So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Taken from the album Eat the Elephant)

Let's all be honest with ourselves here: We might be happy hearing new songs from A Perfect Circle, but we all want the return of Maynard's "other" band to become a reality (and no, we're not talking about Puscifier).  Taken its name from the Douglas Adams fourth instalment of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the song is a sarcastic look at the meaning of modern human existence and the absurdity of what humanity has inflicted on the world.  It sounds like you would have a massive "USA on a Navy boat" concert, mixed in with images of famine, war and the destructive nature of man.  One of the brighter moments of Eat the Elephant, it was destined to be in the upper end of this list.

07 - Steve Amber - What the Radio Plays (Taken from the EP From the Temple on a Hill)

Anglo-French band Steve Amber released their second EP, From a Temple on The Hill earlier this year.  "What the Radio Plays" is the final track on their EP From the Temple on the Hill, and what a track it is!  From the first note to the last, it doesn't rest or relent in its goal of getting under your skin.  It does a little lull, but that is only to build atmosphere before they launch into the final psychedelic ending.  It's a massive song, hopefully, it'll be played all over the world!

06 - The NX - Ladies Night (Non-album Single)

Hardcore?  A Cowbell??  The illegitimate son of Shawn Michaels on vocals???  Well, whilst two of those last statements are true (the last one "might" be a lie), "Ladies Night" is another reminder of how massive The NX are to the North East music scene.  Coming out with all guns blazing, "Ladies Night" is a mosh pit waiting to happen. They're currently in record mode for their next release (not sure if it's going to be an album or EP), either way, they've set the bar at a fucking massive height!

05 - Frank Turner - Make America Great Again (Taken from the album Be More Kind)

Ah Frank, he can make the heart swoon.  But, asides from my man-crush, he is also rather good at this song-writing malarky.  "Make America Great Again" is a song which is a damning condemnation of Donald Trump's current version of the United States, talking about the things that are great about America and also the things that are (for want of a better word) - shit.  I've played this so many times before I start my show on NE1FM, I've got a feeling I'll be playing it many more times until it finally happens.

04 - Amorphis - Amongst Stars (Taken from the album Queen of Time)

Featuring vocals from Anneke van Giersbergen, "Amongst Stars" is the best representation of modern Scandinavian Metal scene and the crowning jewel in the album, Queen of Time.  You have pipes, you have the voices of angels and devils, you have massive guitars, pounding drums and drama.  What more do you want from this sort of song?  It's a great song, so catchy and infectious.

03 - Dunes - Seapig (Taken from the EP Dunes EP2)

Dunes have been a massive influence on me this year, and I don't say that to blow smoke up their collective posteriors.   "Seapig" is taken from the cunningly title Dunes EP2, it was the second song to be released from the EP and was backed by a cover of Nadine Shah's "Fool" and a song called "Riverside".  It sounds as if they've brought the desert to the North East of England, with a Stoner vibe you could roll up and smoke.  When you get to the groove at the end of the song, you should be moving around like there is no tomorrow.  It's another song I've played a lot this year, and it's one I've never grown sick of.  I can't wait to see what they do next.

02 - Clutch - How to Shake Hands (Taken from the album Book of Bad Decisions)

Hot damn!  Seriously, that could be the review of this song. A song about how Neil Fallon is going to be president, how the files on U.F.O. are going to be released and how Hendrix and Hicks on the US bank notes.  "How to Shake Hands" is the best Clutch song for me since "Earth Rocker", to be honest, it's my favourite Clutch song ever.   You'd have to be dead to sit still when it's on.

01 - Ghost//Signals - Queen of the Oxygen Thieves (Non-album single)

"Queen of the Oxygen Thieves" is quite possibly one of the best titles I've ever seen, it's also the best songs of the year so far.  With each song, Ghost//Signals show a different side of themselves, a different facet of their soul.  "Trauma! Trauma! Trauma!" was the heavy artillery, "Start Families/Avoid Hip Parties" was the ground troops, this makes "Queen of the Oxygen Thieves" is the air force.  They followed it up with the equally massive "Hectoring", but I preferred this one, it has everything I want from a song.  A massive chorus, huge guitars and it sounds different to the rest of the pack out there.  It's a brilliant song, one that should be getting airplay around the world and praise from all corners of the globe.  It's a stunning single, still awaiting that EP or album lads....?

Congratulations to all the bands on this list and onwards to 2019 - Eddie!

PS - You can listen to the live reveal of the top 30  on Attention Please on NE1FM on the link below:

Attention Please: 10th December 2018 - Song of the Year Show.

Past sermons

Greatest hits