RRP’s Favourite Albums of 2015

First, a confession: 2015 has been a strange and vaguely disconnected year. It began in Hungary, shifted back to England, and ended in the realisation that I didn’t have much of a clue about which new albums I’d actually managed to listen to since January. A severe income shortage resulted in missing out on (or not yet having enough time to quite figure out how I felt about) a host of releases that might otherwise have found their way into this final run-down. Some of those you might find pictured above, but not written about below.

That said, some elements of this list I knew all along: my #1 album, for example. It’s not an uplifting album, and in a personally not altogether uplifting year perhaps not an obvious choice of companion, but I struggle to think of another album that’s captivated and moved me in quite the same way in all my years of searching.

As for the rest? Well, you should give them all a go, but for the most part don’t get too hung up on the placement, relative or absolute. I’m sure you can’t believe I like A more than B, but you can be just as sure that to me this is not a very interesting observation: all these albums are wonderful in their own way. In my opinion, yes, but in my heart also, which is where this selection comes from. Please treat it kindly.

25 Marika Hackman – We Slept At Last

Released and listened to back in the first months of the year, We Slept At Last almost feels like something from a different lifetime altogether. Add to that its ghostly, ethereal atmosphere, symbolism, tragic heroines, tragic happenings, and you have a very unsettling beast, but one that you nonetheless can’t resist getting just close enough to in the hope of feeling the sweet pain of a glancing blow.

24 Static in Verona – Odd Anthem

Given that I managed to review less than a handful of albums in the whole of 2015, and this was one of them, and given how blown away I was at the time, there should be no surprise to see Odd Anthem pop up here. Your first thought should be: how have I not heard this before? Your second thought should be: how fortunate am I to live in an age where artists will let you download this sort of anthemic music for free? Your third thought should be: actually, if I like it, maybe I should pay for it, so Rob Merz feels like making another one.

23 The Leisure Society – The Fine Art of Hanging On

In a world of music critics falling over themselves to say something impressive about important music, is it a dereliction of my duty as a writer to retreat, once again, to familiar ground? Or is it enough that I find Nick Hemming’s way of combining a tune with its lyric so beguiling and exquisite that The Fine Art of Hanging On feels, to me at least, in my comfortable, white middle class western European environs, surrounded by wildlife and calm (as long as the neighbours have gone out), just as worthwhile, albeit for very different reasons.

Consider the birds…

22 Jemima Surrender – The Uninhabited World

Cheer up Jenny you’ll soon be dead
Can’t you make an effort for me dear?

Jemima Surrender -The Uninhabited WorldSmart and sharp, Jemima Surrender’s debut album The Uninhabited World revealed a band of wit with the songwriting and guitar-crunching chops (often in a 90s-indie style, if you’ll pardon the over-used comparison) to more than back up the threats. The tracklisting reads like a roll-call of characters up to no good (“Thomas Quick”, “Gentleman Jerk”), those having no good done unto them (“Sylvia”, “Jenny”), and generally inauspicious-sounding events (“Something Awful”, “The Cull”, “In Sickness”). The overall result is as dark as it is glorious.

21 The Maccabees – Marks To Prove It

The Maccabees - Marks To Prove ItEarning its place here as much as anything for the element of surprise, Marks To Prove It is a great example of how good things can happen to those with open minds. I’d previously associated The Maccabees with what is often (somewhat cruelly) known as “landfill indie” – a movement characterised by a dullness of tone, complexion and melody. Marks To Prove It, however, suffers from none of the above, rising from the morass with energy and verve.

20 C Duncan – Architect

C Duncan - ArchitectLet’s hear it for the Mercury Prize, shall we? OK, so it took a FIFA-esque amount of time for BBC 6 Music to announce the complete shortlist, and by the end there was the somewhat unpleasant stench of a list selected mostly on the basis that it would all be palatable enough for that station’s audience. Which is not a criticism of said audience – after all, I’m a proud member of the “6 Music is actually a pretty good station, all things considered” club. It was just a bit unexciting, is all.

It did, however, introduce me to C Duncan, for which I’m very grateful indeed. Architect is full of electro-acoustic atmosphere, all breathy vocals and gently undulating melodies. It’s as unassuming as it is entrancing.

19 Jennie Vee – Spying

Jennie Vee - SpyingAt the same time as playing bass for both Tamaryn and Courtney Love, Jennie Vee has assuredly been building a solo career. Early EPs and cover versions were followed in 2015 by her full length debut.

Spying – “inspired by love, heartbreak, NYC life and finding the light in the dark” – is the dream-pop-punk album you’ve probably forgotten you were waiting for these past 20 years or so. Hooks aplenty, and no excuse for not being carried along on the album’s sheer verve if you ask me.

18 Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion People

Ezra Furman - Perpetual Motion PeopleWhat a perplexingly rewarding album we find in Perpetual Motion People! There are moments during “Hour of Deepest Need” when I’m reminded of listening to After The Gold Rush-era Neil Young for the first time, minus the divisive Young vocal. It’s an outlier on an album of outliers: irrepressible brass stabs pop up here and there; sax plays a surprisingly big role; doo-wop is occasionally deployed as a deterrent. It’s hard to know what to make of it, but perhaps the best advice you could ever give anyone listening to something for the first time comes in the opening lines of Ordinary Life:

I’m sick of this record already
let’s wreck all the preconceived notions we bring to it
check all the baggage or better yet burn it
and start all over again

17 Pinkshinyultrablast – Everything Else Matters

Pinkshinyultrablast - Everything Else MattersWhile listening to Everything Else Matters for this end of year review there was a moment near the beginning of “Metamorphosis” when my media played wigged out and embarked on an infinite loop of a few bars. Crescendo / fade / crescendo / fade… So beat-perfect was the cut it took me a surprisingly long time to remember that something was up. Now, that probably tells you something about my pre-lunch focus levels, but it’s also a mark of how Everything Else Matters is more about the flow between ethereal dream-pop and hard-hitting walls of guitar and the thrill of cutting between the two, than it is about hits and killer hooks. You can’t just dip a toe into this plunge pool and hope to be invigorated, but immerse yourself and you’ll be rewarded.

16 Torres – Sprinter

Torres - SprinterMackenzie Scott’s second album is (auto)biographical, intense, and utterly compelling. Just don’t call it confessional.

Sprinter hits you with quiet, devastating blows, as on “Ferris Wheel” and the laying bare of closing track “The Exchange”, but also fights with the beauty of rage and a 90s guitar on “New Skin” and the title track.

15 Annalibera – Nevermind I Love You

Annalibera - Nevermind I Love YouThat Nevermind I Love You contains a good deal of emotional and musical depth should not surprise: singer Anna Gebhardt grew up around folk music, studied classical, and for a time was in a relationship with guitarist Ryan Stier. Bloom is their post-breakup song, while “Black Cat White Cat” takes in homesickness and the corresponding guilt of being away. Proving once again the power of the personal connection, it came at a time when I was ready to return to England, ready to start again. I’ve carried it in my heart ever since.

It’s about how we say, “Let’s not deal with our bullshit. Let’s stay safe and keep doing this the wrong way because we’re scared, okay? Because I can just say I love you and we feel better for a second”.Anna Gebhardt

14 The Lonely Wild – Chasing White Light

The Lonely Wild - Chasing White LightYou can download “An Introduction to The Lonely Wild” from Noisetrade. There, it suggests the band as being:

For Fans Of: Arcade Fire, Lord Huron, Calexico, Fleet Foxes, Ennio Morricone

If you can imagine Arcade Fire without some of the Glee school theatrics, Calexico with hearts of darkness, and a tilting Ennio Morricone then you more or less have it. Recorded with John Vanderslice guiding the band through a more fluidly developing recording process than on debut album The Sun As It Comes, Chasing White Light is the americana your soul has been crying out for.

13 Hooton Tennis Club – Highest Point in Cliff Town

Hooton Tennis Club - Highest Point In Cliff TownI don’t really want to play “hey, d’ya know who this reminds me of?”, but let’s just agree on Pavement meets Teenage Fanclub for this one. Except the strange thing is, there isn’t one era of TFC that Highest Point in Cliff Town particularly feels like so much as a general feeling. Or perhaps it’s the sense that they’ve cut their sound from the same power-pop cloth, even if they’ve fashioned a more raucous, reckless garment from it.

12 Lisa Alma – Sweater

Lisa Alma - SweaterIf Club 8 (spoiler alert: see below…) are the party inside the white walls and glass of a modernist house overlooking the sea, Sweater is the grass in the wind and the swirling sand outside. Its beauty, eerily silent when observed from the home’s sleek interior, can only be felt by stepping outside and drinking in the sounds, the smells, the exfoliating feel of the grains.

Perhaps you feel that offers no true explanation of the album. Perhaps you should give it a go and report back.

11 Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter

Joanna Gruesome - Peanut ButterIf I missed this on its release it’s perhaps because when I’d listened to Joanna Gruesome in the past I hadn’t managed to get through the scuzz and the fuzz to the sweetness that lies beneath. Encouraged by a friend to give Peanut Butter a go, I heard instantly what I’d failed to spot before, namely a super-abundance of silver linings in the Joanna Gruesome clouds. Like Club 8’s Pleasure, Peanut Butter is short enough to be a lingering EP, but as an album its a short sharp indie-pop high.

10 Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs

Susanne Sundfør - Ten Love SongsHalf way through Ten Love Songs, the ten-minute “Memorial” appears. It starts out all ballady, teetering between 80s power ballads you love and 80s power ballads you love, but only ironically. It then has a dangerously lingering glance over at musical theatre, and spends several minutes indulging in romanticism, before remembering what it came in for and closing out with more of its opening melody. It is the most unexpectedly brilliant delight of the year.

In its own way it encapsulates what makes Ten Love Songs so gloriously enriching, so completely enjoyable. This is pop done big, done right, never more so than on euroelectropop single of the year, “Fade Away”.

9 Stornoway – Bonxie

Stornoway - BonxieIf Club 8 are… if Lisa Alma is… (see below, see above…) then Bonxie is the naturalist striding with full-hearted joy through the landscape, charting the movements and patterns of the indigenous wildlife. Bucolic indie-folk with sweet lyrics, a knitted sweater and a penchant for David Attenborough homage, and what’s not to like about that? From opening track “Between The Saltmarsh And The Sea”, replete with foghorn into synth chord intro, all the way through to “Love Song Of The Beta Male”, Bonxie is pure delight.

8 Michael Price – Entanglement

Michael Price - EntanglementFile under: Modern Classical. Except don’t: file under transporting modern music, or don’t even file at all. Just keep it out front where you can see it, play regularly, and cherish every note. When your friends pop over for a soiree and enquire about it, tell them it’s by the bloke who did the Sherlock theme. How much of the rest you want to share is entirely up to you.

If my friends ask, I’ll tell them that the announcement you can just about make out at the beginning of “Budapest” was recorded one morning on Metro Line 1, at Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út station. It’s an announcement I’ve heard hundreds of times; knowing it was a part of the inspiration behind the music it prefaces adds so much personal resonance with the music and only makes me love Entanglement all the more.

7 The Unthanks – Mount The Air

The Unthanks - Mount The Air (single)Music serves many masters, performing a multitude of duties for them all: for some, rebellion; for others, validation. From the thrilling calm of The Unthanks there comes a tantalising glimpse of other worlds, of stories become real, legends transformed into fact. Above all, there’s the opportunity to listen to awe-inspiring harmonies and melodies, and exquisite story-telling and to never once have to feel guilty that you found it in the section marked “Folk”.

6 Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just SitYou don’t “get” Courtney Barnett. I get that. You don’t see what the fuss is about. I get that, too. You don’t like her voice, and the music’s not all that, so why exactly is everyone going nuts for her?

That, I can’t say. I can say where my love comes from, though: it could be the lyrics, it could be the attitude, or even a combination of the two: smart and knowing, arch and self-deprecating, not so much a stream of consciousness as a carefully laid brick wall. Each barb, whether it’s directed in or out, pricks something or someone; each word plays games of its own design. It’s a document of sorts, written in the razor-sharp observations of a drifter’s mind.

Head on over to page 2 for my top five albums of 2015.

Sennen – Autopilot

At this special time of year, the minds of music fans everywhere are taken up with the all-important, all-consuming task of coming up with the definitive account of the last twelve months in music (aka The End Of Year List Of Best Albums Bar None). Little room is left to take on new sounds, except those that would make their list even better than best.

It takes a momentary jolt, like seeing the name Sennen in your inbox and knowing you have no choice to find your way to the stream and hope it will be as layered and beautiful as you remember. And it’s worth the jolt, well worth the jolt. In fact, that’s part of song’s message. Singer Lawrence Holmes explains:

You can cruise through life surrounded by aspirational nonsense wherever you turn, losing yourself and falling asleep indefinitely. Those ultra-happy 60s airline ads seemed suitably mad and creepy to accompany this thought – especially when filtered through an extra layer of close-up television. But underneath, there’s always part of you trying to shake yourself awake.

Better than better than best: a new album is on the way next year: stick it on your Best of 2016 list already.

“Autopilot” is taken from Sennen’s new album First Light, released on February 26th, 2016 via Indelabel.

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Blog Sound of 2016

The Blog Sound of 2016 is a poll of UK-based bloggers to determine the most popular and favourite emerging acts among those polled. As a UK-based blog, Record Rewind Play was invited to take part (well, it was an open invite, and we jumped at the opportunity) this year and we submitted the names of three artists we love and for whom we wish nothing more than success, riches and critical acclaim in 2016. Nothing more.

And the exciting news is that none of our picks made it onto the longlist. Ho-hum.

And so, on to the list anyway, with some introductory words from Robin @ Breaking More Waves, who created and runs the poll:

The aim of the Blog Sound of poll is identical to the BBC Sound Of list; it attempts to showcase new and emerging artists, but it differs in so far as many of the voting bloggers do not work in the music industry, they are simply fans who have a passion for writing about the music they love. In previous years the Blog Sound poll has identified a number of acts such as Alt-J and Bastille that didn’t feature on the BBC list, and has been slightly ahead of the game, featuring the likes of Wolf Alice a year before they appeared on the BBC Sound of list. Each year there is also some cross-over with the BBC list and this year is no exception. For the 2016 poll 58 music blogs each voted for their 3 favourite acts and the top 15 of those acts form the Blog Sound of 2015 longlist. To qualify for a vote any act chosen must not have had a UK top 20 single or album, either in their own right or as a named collaborator prior to 6th November 2015.

Here’s some of the data from the voting:

  • This year 142 acts received at least 1 vote from the 174 total votes cast, showing that the UK music blog scene has a wide range of taste.
  • This years voting was the closest and broadest ever – the winning act only received votes from 8.5% of the 58 voters.
  • The vast majority of acts chosen were UK based even although the bloggers could choose acts from any part of the world. There are no American acts on the list, although there are acts from other European countries.
  • One of the acts on this years longlist (Mt Wolf) already featured on the the Blog Sound of 2014 poll, but then promptly split up. Now reformed they find themselves once again on the Blog Sound of 2016 list.
  • 5 of the acts on the BBC Sound of 2016 also appear on the Blog Sound of poll, namely Billie Marten, Loyle Carner, Mabel, Mura Masa and Nao.
  • Jack Garratt, winner of the BBC Introducing Award, Brits Critics Choice Award and a nominee on the BBC Sound of Poll didn’t receive one vote from the voting blogs, even although he qualified. However, last year Garratt almost made the Blog Sound of 2015 poll, missing it by just one single vote and finishing in sixteenth position. This is probably because bloggers no longer consider Garratt as emerging.

You can listen to a track from each artist on the longlist above. To help you filter, we’ve appraised them all:

Aquilo – The kind of Oh Wonder-like downtempo electropop that we’re rather partial to, as it happens.

Aurora – Norwegian singer who you shouldn’t hate for being involved in the creeping John Lewis soppification of Christmas.

Billie Marten – Yorkshire based acoustic singer songwriter.

George Cosby – The next big “oh, you’re into this sort of thing, aren’t you?” thing.

Haelos – Remember Temptation by Heaven 17? This is that, millennialised. Not saying that’s a bad thing, you understand.

Liss – The bad thing. The song you always skipped on early Now! compilations.

Loyle Carner – Sweary spoken-word. Potty-mouthed poetry.

Mabel – Slick. Neneh Cherry’s daughter, doncha know.

Mura Masa – Sorry, I popped into the other room to make a coffee while this was on. There were bleeps and a violin, though, I’ll tell you that.

Mt. Wolf – featured on a previous poll, split up, reformed, and now have their second Blog Sound nomination. To my eternal shame I was supposed to cover this single recently, but time has not been my ally. Simultaneously my favourite on the list and the least likely to be headlining the O2 this time next year.

Nao – Capturing with perfect precision the twenty-first century penchant for writing and recording a perfectly decent song and then fucking with it until it’s more or less unlistenable if your ears are old enough to drive.

Pleasure Beach – When they first popped into my inbox they were described as Bastille vs The XX, which was enough for me to move on. I was right. See George Cosby, above.

The Big Moon – Proving that I’m a big fat hypocrite, this shares traits with acts I’m happy to be casually bitchy towards, and yet it reels me in. Maybe it’s a female vocal thing. Maybe it’s a gently understated undulating melody thing. Maybe it’s not a thing at all.

The Japanese House – For a moment I thought I was going crazy – so sure I’d posted about The Japanese House, but found nothing on the website. And then I remembered I’d included a track as an early newsletter exclusive (Sign up, by the way). The track featured here, Still, was Zane Lowe’s last ever “hottest track” before he left Radio 1. One for the fact fans, there.

Yak – Raucous pysch rock. The good stuff, even if it’s not something I’d reach for very often.

The most voted for and top 5 acts on this longlist will be revealed on the 5th January 2016.

So there you have it. Fifteen acts I didn’t vote for, none of which make me think I should have thought harder. But that’s my problem, not yours. And not The Blog Sound of 2016’s. Maybe I’m very far behind the curve. Maybe I’m very ahead of it. Or perhaps I’m just to the side of the curve, looking askance.

The most striking feature of the vote is this: the spread is very thin. 174 votes were cast, for 142 different acts. The winning artist received votes from 5 blogs. This is a very similar picture to last year, when 62 blogs cast 186 votes, and 148 artists picked up votes. In a draft post I wrote twelve months ago but never published, I crunched the numbers and decided:

It seems overwhelmingly possible, in fact, that some of the longlisted artists received just two nominations.

I even made a spreadsheet with a projection of how many votes each artist might have received.

I know.

This year, it’s a similar story. In the spirit of those books of logic problems you used to buy from WH Smith in railway stations, we know that 174 votes were cast, and 142 artists received votes. We also know the winning artist received 5 votes. This means that a maximum of 29 artists received more than one vote, and at least 113 received only one vote. That’s pretty diffuse – and this is no Ballon D’or either, it’s not like you have a potentially wide voting spread but a small number of obvious front-runners. On the plus-side: Breaking More Waves is no FIFA: a corruption scandal seems highly unlikely here.

It also means, I think, that at least two of the fifteen artists in the longlist received just two votes. What I’m saying is that there’s a cigarette paper between some of the names on the longlist and all of the top choices of the bloggers now sitting at home reading the longlist and wondering why their picks aren’t on it.

In a narrow sense, then, the Blog Sound of 2016 longlist doesn’t really represent the 58 blogs that voted. Last year I concluded that at least 23 blogs voted for artist no-one else voted for. The same is probably true this year. Going against my logical grain, and hazarding a guess, I’d suggest that no more than half of the voting blogs voted for one of the artists on the longlist.

But please don’t take this as a moany criticism. I’m certainly not suggesting the rest of us might as well have not bothered. In a wider sense, we are all represented by the poll. If not in the names on the longlist, then by the remarkable number of artists we all voted for. To me it doesn’t show that there’s a vast ocean of mediocrity out there, it shows that there’s a vast ocean of possibility: just as the Best Album Of The Year lists flooding the internet at this time of year represent a chance to discover albums you’ve overlooked or never heard of, the votes from all the blogs listed below, when they are published, will give everyone a chance to discover some new names. And, in the closing words of last year’s unpublished post, updated by a year:

You might like them, and want to write about them, and before you know it they’re getting a little bit more known, and maybe they’ll end up in the Blog Sound of 2017 longlist, in whatever form it happens to take.

The blogs that voted in this years poll were:

A Pocket Full Of Seeds, A World Of Music And Madness, Across The Kitchen Table, Alphabet Bands, Beat Surrender, Bratfaced LDN, Breaking More Waves, Brighton Music Blog, Buzz Unlimited, Cruel Rhythm, Chord Blossom, Daisy Digital, Dive, Details Of My Life, Dots And Dashes, Drunken Werewolf, Digital Shuffle, Echoes And Dust, Electronic Rumors, Encore Northern Island, Even The Stars, Faded Glamour, Get Into This, Get Some, God Is In The TV, I Love Pie, Just Music I Like, Kemptation, Killing Moon, Little Indie Blogs, Love Music: Love Life, Metaphorical Boat, Monkey Boxing, Music Liberation, Music Like Dirt, Music Umpire, Neon Filler, Not Many Experts, Popped Music, Pursuit Of Sound, Rave Child, Record Rewind Play, Scientists Of Sound, Some Of It Is True, Spectral Nights, Sweeping The Nation, Synth Glasgow, The Blue Walrus, The Devil Has The Best Tuna, The Electricity Club, The Evening’s Empire, The Mad Mackerel, The VPME, This Must Be Pop, Thoughts On Music, Too Many Blogs, What If I Had A Music Blog, When The Gramophone Rings

Wry – Waves

With influences including Shoegaze, Punk and Britpop, and a career spanning fifteen years, Wry are still as new to me as they perhaps are to you. If Waves is anything to go by, they’ve spent that decade and a half wisely, perfecting a relaxed shoegazing vibe based around shimmering guitars and gently shimmying chord changes. Fighting back waves (uh-huh) of nostalgia, I’m nonetheless bound to admit that Waves delivers an ocean (uh-huh x2) of memories of the first time I heard music like this and knew I needed it in my life. Getting its point across without jabbing a finger in your face, it’s an introvert’s dream of telepathy without unwanted intrusion – unspoken agreements, unsignalled but understood.

Whales & Sharks / Deeper in a Dream is avalaible as a digital release now. Vinyl is out on January 15th, from Sonovibe Records. You can order the album on vinyl or digital from Sonovibe HERE, or from iTunes.

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Butterfly Child – Holding On

With a first album in nearly eighteen years on the way, Joe Cassidy, aka Butterfly Child, has announced a second track from the album. “Holding On” is dream pop with a classic twist: something a reflective Richard Hawley and Jason Pierce might come up with, it contains harmonies, heavenly gliding strings, and a hint of old-time twang.

It’s a sad song, but one that smiles. As Cassidy writes:

A lot of songs are about past relationships – like most everyone, I’ve gone through happy and sad times, and you rebuild and move forward, toward the future, which is where the album title comes from. It’s like I’m looking for light at the end of the tunnel.

And as he translates this into a lyric:

Though we want to make it we won’t make it on our own
Because this love may not be coming home
Still we keep holding on
Still we keep holding on

“Holding On” is taken from the album Futures, out on November 27th 2015, on Dell’Orso Records.


Public Service Broadcasting – Sputnik

By my reckoning, this is the 1000th track here on Record Rewind Play.

[wait for applause to die down]

It’s an entirely arbitrary and somewhat fudged landmark, of course, since some of the tracks actually pre-date the launch of the site and were copied from the Facebook page (hint: click HERE) of the same name. There are also hundreds of other tracks posted as part of playlists and articles here, but for single track posts, the counter has reached the stage where we need to bolt on a fourth digit. Which we will do promptly, and damn the expense.

It all started, really, with the Facebook page, which I set up in 2012 while I was deep in the writing phase of what was to become a book, also of the same name. And whereas the first track to appear here was “Happy Hour” by The Housemartins in November 2012, you have to go all the way back to April to find my first musical offering.

Taking a break from the 80s today, skipping forward to 1993, when I started going to gigs. Catherine Wheel was my first…

Posted by Record, rewind, play on Tuesday, 24 April 2012

In between tracks I made some over-excited milestone posts about how many words I’d written up to that point, very much in the “never mind the quality, feel the width” spirit. These petered out after the sixty thousand word mark, and to date I don’t yet have a book published, although I do now have two partly written. In a sense, I suppose, I could count that as progress.

The website came into being on August 25th, 2013. I don’t know that because I particularly remember the moment, but because I found the tweet in which I mentioned it. I’m not one for fanfare in general:

Starting out, this wasn’t really a new music blog, more of a loosely themed old-stuff-that-I-like blog. I added a track each day, and a playlist each month, and pretty much failed to tell anyone what I was doing, other than a few friends who’d liked (possibly under duress or a sense of loyalty and obligation) the Facebook page. I wasn’t even using twitter, really, and only changed my handle to @recrwplay in February 2014. That’s when this site really started to become what it is today: a promoter of new music of no fixed genre, with occasional album reviews and articles. It might not change the world, but all I really want is to connect musicians and music fans: any time someone discovers a new musical love that resonates with them, which maybe they, too, want to share with their friends, that’s an achievement unlocked.

So, to everyone who has contributed words, liked the Facebook page, followed on Twitter, retweeted, liked, commented, sent me a track or a link, shown an interest, or generally supported Record Rewind Play in any way – a hearty and sincere thank you. This doesn’t exist without all of your input.

I probably imagined that I’d have more twitter followers by now, and more average daily page views, but then as a mildly space (and trains, of course I was into trains… and computers… also: spying) obsessed kid growing up in the 1980s I thought we’d be at least taking regular trips to the moon, if not actually colonising it by now.

Which brings me neatly [are you sure? Ed.] round to Public Service Broadcasting, and “Sputnik”: a band name and a track that epitomise progress and growth. Now, it might be a tad lofty to suggest that Record Rewind Play can match the remit of Public Service Broadcasting – “Inform – Educate – Entertain” – but I like to think that each of those has been attained at least once in the last three or so years. Failing that, I’ll settle for one example from any category.

Also, in putting the first artificial satellite into low earth orbit in 1957, the Soviet space program achieved, it’s safe to say, somewhat more than a little music blog chuntering on about how Moose were unfairly denied greatness, that Tindersticks are the one band you absolutely have to see live if you get the chance, and that [redacted x 3] are my picks and the best picks for #blogsoundof2016.

“Sputnik” is the literally pulsing first half of a double a-side, the fourth release from Public Service Broadcasting’s 2015 album The Race For Space. It’s a mesmeric, metronomic track that brings to life the awe and wonder that must have been felt around the world after the launch of this strange, beeping creation, so alien, to the western powers a little surprising, and – given the politics of the day – so threatening. Like the tracks that make up the bulk of The Race For Space “Sputnik” creates waves of atmosphere from small gestures, perfectly timed audio snippets, and a clear love and appreciation of its subject matter; you feel the “the voice of the Russian moon” throughout the track, even though its signal comes and goes. It’s a sylph-like presence in the sky, tiny and cosmologically insignificant, but on a human scale, a powerful force that inspired and motivated people and governments: four months after the satellite’s launch, President Eisenhower responded with the creation of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA / DARPA)

Sergei Korolev (cloaked in secrecy, and referred to only as “The Chief Designer” at the time) is the subject of the release’s other a-side. He was “the talismanic figure spearheading the Russian Space program”. During his lifetime, and under his stewardship, the Soviet space program put the first man in space, and the first man in space outside his craft (Alexey Leonov). After his death in 1966, the balance of extra-terrestrial power swung away from his nation.

You can buy Sputnik from the Public Service Broadcasting store HERE, and tour tickets HERE.

Otherkin – Feel It

How do you fancy some indie rock very much in the “fuck it, let’s go” style? Yeah? Why not, I suppose. I mean, tbh (TBH!) being playlisted on Radio X (manzone! hng!) doesn’t really do it for me. But hey, if they’re giving air time to Otherkin and their rapscallion ilk (assumptions: they have ilk, they are rapscallions. Probably true) they can’t be all bad.

“Feel It” is taken from The 201 EP – out today, via Rubyworks, available on all digital and streaming platforms.

Tour Dates

Nov 13 Studio 2, Liverpool
Nov 14 Cavern, Exeter
Nov 16 Underground, Plymouth
Nov 17 Oslo, London
Nov 18 King Tuts, Glasgow
Nov 19 Quids Inn, Scarborough
Nov 20 Nation Of Shopkeepers, Leeds
Nov 21 The Rocking Chair, Sheffield
Nov 25 Oakford Social, Reading
Nov 27 Tram & Social, London
Nov 28 Night & Day, Manchester
Dec 4 Coventry Empire, Coventry
Dec 5 Hope & Ruin, Brighton

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Saltwater Sun – Wild

First there was the blistering “Habit on My Mind”, then came the Foals-meets-The-Cardigans of “Making Eyes”. Now Saltwater Sun have completed the release cycle for their debut release Wild with the EP’s title track. Happily and predictably, it’s another corker, all textures, depth and harmony, and some sort of alchemy by which they get a guitar to ride alongside Jennie Stearnes’ vocal like a swan disguised as a shark (or possibly the other way round) cruising in the wake of a crumbling analogy passing itself off as a metaphor. Again, possibly the other way round. The point being, we hope Saltwater Sun can keep building some sort of momentum through 2016 so that whenever their debut album is out, they achieve the same levels of wide acclaim as a certain female-led band with occasional male vocals and a name consisting of two words has done throughout 2015.

Wild is out on November 13th, via Hand in Hive. So that’s tomorrow, if you’re reading this today, and today really is today and this post is fresh off the presses.

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Fieu – Running

If you’ll allow me, for a moment, to indulge in discussion of the pointlessness of tags and genre descriptions…

These days I seem to be a partially lapsed indie kid with a penchant for music variously described as “synthpop” or “electropop”. Quite where the boundary lies between these I’m not sure, but I tend to feel a softness in synths, and an energy to electro. Because alliteration is awesome (also, appropriate). But even so, two things called or calling themselves synthpop did not necessarily fall from the same tree and you’ll find yourself jarred and jolted should you compile a playlist solely on the basis of one tag. This will not be news to anyone who’s let an algorithm choose the background music for their latest society soiree.

Case in point: “Running”, the new single from Australian singer Fieu. It’s the first fruit (enough with the analogies already!) of a collaboration with Eskimo Joe’s guitarist and Western Australian based producer Joel Quartermain. Calls itself synthpop, but don’t let that lull you into looking forward to a quiet evening in – “Running” is fizzing with electropop sparkle. Synths shoot up and down, meeting stunning vocals coming the other way, and occasionally some huge bass leaps out grabs you by the shoulders, shakes you up then calmly lets you go, picks a speck of fluff from your jacket and sends you on your way again.

To celebrate the release of “Running”, Fieu has announced an east coast tour, including two showcases at this year’s Australian Music Week in Sydney.

Live Dates

Nov 18th – The Pier, Port Macquarie
Nov 19th – Australian Music Week Showcase, Sydney
Nov 20th – Australian Music Week Showcase, Sydney
Nov 22nd – Element Bar, Coffs Harbour

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Meilyr Jones – How To Recognise A Work Of Art

Normally when the press release comes swaggering in, all talk of glorious years and rave reviews of live slots supporting the great and good I have to take it on its word, but leave it. Not so when it comes to the hugely talented and charismatic Meilyr Jones: he supported Richard Hawley on his recent tour, and I have first-hand and not soon-to-be-forgotten knowledge of the utterly fantastic joy of experiencing his live, full band set.

How To Recognise A Work Of Art, the new single from the former Race Horses frontman, is no less of a thrill. Exploring authenticity and the cult of the artist, the song makes a soulful indie star of Jones and bursts with sounds and ideas. Its effect is roughly what you’d get if you multiply the excitement of discovering Belle & Sebastian going Northern Soul with the clipped thrills of the percussive precision of Field Music.

As Jones says:

I wrote the song about the preposterous world of art collectors, the panic of what is popular, what will succeed, telling people what to like, what to eat, and the recycling of pop culture. I also wanted to make something light and fun, and full of humour.

The video, meanwhile, was inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2:

I imagined the story of the video to the song really clearly and worked with Theatre director Wils Wilson to bring to life the ideas in my head. I love getting people together. My grandmother was an amateur theatre director and I loved going to watch her rehearsing plays in the evenings when I was a boy, you’d see people from the town making the costumes, and singing, my granddad would have designed the set, and the spirit of the whole thing was great. We worked with a group of 12 actors, and over a period of 4 days, transformed a warehouse in Cardiff from scratch to a film set, building and painting the sets.

“How To Recognise A Work Of Art” is out on January 8th, via Moshi Moshi.

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The Lonely Wild – Snow

Just the other morning I was sighing dejectedly at the thought of all the potentially great and to-be-loved-by-me albums that I had overlooked, been ignorant of, or set aside for later never to then reset afront this year. And then I started watching the new video for Snow, the opening track to The Lonely Wild’s 2015 album Chasing White Light, and I knew that I had to add one more to the fuzzy list I keep. So that’s infinity plus one I have to worry about now, and that, as you know, is a pretty large number.

But what can you do? Or what can I do? Except buy the album (tick!), listen to the album (coming soon!) and share the opening track, with its gambolling folk-rock coming across like the best of Okkervil River (who are much loved around these parts, by the way) with a glorious video in tow. Why wouldn’t you take the time to listen? As they themselves sing – “there’s nothing on the television”.

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Ski Lodge – Heaven is Now

In the past Ski Lodge vocalist Andrew Marr has declared his love for The Queen is Dead (his tour bus album of choice), and gone all Morrissey on “Our Love Is Over Now”. For “Heaven is Now” he and Ski Lodge make the transition from mid-to-late 80s indie pop to a slightly earlier new wave period in the same decade. While the guitar owners union might gently weep at such a move, in reality it’s a gentle, subtle shift – a differently shaded polo neck perhaps. Lyrically, it speaks of similar human emotions, and the guitar/synth swap is the difference between a shy kid telling his bedroom wall his woes and his more grown up, outwardly mature equivalent speaking to the object of his affections.

By the way, guitar-men – those strings on The Queen is Dead? Totally synthed.

“Heaven is Now” will appear on Ski Lodge’s next EP, due out in 2016 on Old Flame Records.

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