2017 Albums of the Year

1Rose Elinor Dougall

2St. Vincent

The Underside Of Power

4Richard Dawson

5Nadine Shah
Holiday Destination

6Filthy Friends

7LCD Soundsystem
american dream

8Mark Lanegan

9Moses Sumney



2016 Albums of the Year

Forever Sounds

2Angel Olsen


4Lou Rhodes


6Leonard Cohen
You Want It Darker

7Hannah Peel
Awake But Always Dreaming

8Drive-By Truckers
American Band

9Heron Oblivion
Heron Oblivion

Puberty 2



Good Night and Good Riddance

David Cavanagh

good night and good riddanceCavanagh is a music writer famed for his extensive research (and how much of it ends up on the page).
I read his authoritative book on Creation records a few years back. That book went into so much depth that it basically covers the entirety of the UK indie music business in the UK from the 70s to the turn of the millenium.
This book is a look at the career of the much missed BBC DJ John Peel. Rather than write a traditional biography Cavanagh has listened to hundreds of Peel shows from across his thirty-odd year UK broadcasting career.
He uses the context of a few shows each year to draw a picture of what was happening in the news, what music Peel was playing and goes into certain aspects of the DJ's behind the scenes life - both personally and professionally.
It's a startling piece of work revealing not only Peel's impact on UK cultural life but also how much has changed (and indeed not changed) in Britain since the late 1960s.
If you're at all interested in Peel, pop history, pop radio or UK society in general during the time period covered then this is a must-read.
Very highly recommended.

Rating: A


2015 Albums of the Year

Ones And Sixes


2Julia Holter
Have You In My Wilderness


3Susanne Sundfør
Ten Love Songs


No Cities To Love








Y Dydd Olaf


9My Morning Jacket
The Waterfall


10Gaz Coombes


11Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

12The Decemberists
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Till It's All Forgotten

14Unknown Mortal Orchestra

15John Grant
Grey Tickles, Black Pressure

16New Order
Music Complete

Sun Coming Down

18Wolf Alice
My Love Is Cool

19Patty Griffin
Servant Of Love

20The Unthanks
Mount The Air

This year I found it very hard to choose between the top three choices - they are all SO good. In the end took the easy option I went with the order of most listens on
Choosing albums to go on the list beyond the top dozen on so was also quite difficult. I added 1771 tracks to my iTunes library in 2015 and giving all that music the attention it deserved to make album of the year choices was basically impossible. I'm happy with the list as it stands but it took a concerted effort in the last few weeks of the year to be able to make my choices.

I think I only attended a couple of gigs this year. The Ex were great at Summerhall, but I had to leave early due to toothache. Low were similarly great at the Glasgow School of Art but it was spoiled by the guy who talked non-stop through the first half of the gig.

My favourite new-to-me track of the year was Kamikaze by Susanne Sundfør.
My most listened to track was Lies by Low


2014 Albums of the Year

1O'Hooley & Tidow
The Hum

The Hum 150

2St. Vincent
St. Vincent

St_Vincent_artwork 150

3Jenny Lewis
The Voyager

The Voyager 150

4Angel Olsen
Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Burn Your Fire For No Witness 150

5Sharon Van Etten
Are We There

Are We There 150

6Perfume Genius
Too Bright

Perfume-Genius-Too-Bright 150

7Damien Jurado
Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son

Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son 150

8Morgan Delt
Morgan Delt

Morgan Delt 150

9Mark Lanegan Band
Phantom Radio

Phantom Radio 150

10King Creosote
From Scotland With Love

17118-from-scotland-with-love 150

The Future's Void

12Wye Oak

13The New Pornographers
Brill Bruisers

The Take Off and Landing of Everything

15The Afghan Whigs
Do The Beast



18Wild Beasts
Present Tense

19The War On Drugs
Lost In The Dream

20Mirel Wagner
When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day

21Sturgill Simpson
Metamodern Sounds In Country Music

22The Rural Alberta Advantage
Mended With Gold

23J Mascis
Tied To A Star

They Want My Soul


The Hum and St. Vincent were released a week apart in February 2014 and it's a testament to their quality that even with the toll of many months listening that my pick for record of the year was a straight choice between the two.
It was a hard decision but I picked the O'Hooley & Tidow record for my number one. It's a very beautiful record packed with personality and humanity. That sense of personality edged it ahead of St. Vincent's seamless, jeweled, statement of intent.

Gig of the year was Neutral Milk Hotel at the Corn Exchange. A joyous experience from beginning to end despite the slightly rubbish venue.

My favourite new-to-me song of the year was You, Sailor by Erin McKeown.
My most listened to song from a 2014 record was Coil & Spring by O'Hooley & Tidow


2013 Albums of the year

1.Queens of the Stone Age clockwork


2.Agnes Obel


3.Retribution Gospel Choir




5.The Soft Hills


6.Lloyd Cole


7.Alela Diane
About Farewell


8.John Grant
Pale Green Ghosts

Pale Green Ghosts

The Bones of What You Believe


10.The Joy Formidable
Wolf's Law


The Golden Age

12.Laura Stevenson

The Invisible Way


15.Wax Idols
Discipline & Desire

16.Laura Veirs
Warp & Weft

17.David Bowie
The Next Day

18.Mark Mulcahy
Dear Mark J. Mulcahy, I Love You

Crystal World

20.Volcano Choir

21.Jim James
Regions of Light and Sound of God

22.James Blake

23.Neko Case
The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You

Tales of Us

Pure Heroine

There was no competition for best album of the year. Nine of the ten tracks on " clockwork" are in my top ten most listened to tracks for 2013 (the other one is all the way down at 13th most listened to).

Gig of the year goes to John Grant at the Queen's Hall - which is just one of the most extraordinary gigs I've ever been to.

Track of the year goes to Seven by Retribution Gospel Choir. Over twenty minutes of transcendent beauty to get yourself lost in.

A playlist of all these albums on Spotify



My Top 20 Albums of 2012

The thinking behind this list is to simply pick my top twenty favourite albums released in 2012. I make no claims of special critical insight.
It was relatively easy to pick a top ten but pulling a further ten records from the sheer number I've listened to over the last twelve months was not easy and changes were made even in the final seconds before posting this!

  1. Maraqopa by Damien Jurado
  2. Blues Funeral by Mark Lanegan Band
  3. Mid Air by Paul Buchanan
  4. Traces by Karine Polwart
  5. Spooky Action At A Distance by Lotus Plaza
  6. Oh Holy Molar by Félix
  7. Animal Joy by Shearwater
  8. Attack On Memory by Cloud Nothings
  9. Tramp by Sharon Van Etten
  10. Yellow and Green by Baroness
  11. Bloom by Beach House
  12. The Marble Downs by Trembling Bells and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
  13. Banga by Patti Smith
  14. Toy by Toy
  15. Devotion by Jessie Ware
  16. Come Home To Mama by Martha Wainwright
  17. The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 by Various Artists
  18. Channel Orange by Frank Ocean
  19. The Light The Dead See by Soulsavers
  20. The Something Rain by Tindersticks

Spotify playlist of all these albums

Maraqopa went from being in the top ten to the top three after seeing Jurado perform in Glasgow. It guaranteed the album of the year spot with the release of the deluxe edition at the end of the year that includes a song called Let Us All In (a particular highlight of the live show) and a cover of Christmas Time Is Here from the 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' soundtrack that earwormed me for the whole of December. Sadly these extra tracks are missing from the Spotify playlist



Espedair Street

Iain Banks

Espedair StreetThe last review I wrote of this book is still a pretty accurate precis of the book and my feelings about it.
I get the impression that Banks was obsessed with rock music growing up. He must have been to have constructed this ur-myth of rock stardom. He takes elements from several real bands to make his perfect vision of musicial success, excess and hubris.
What struck me during this re-read was how influential this book must have been on my idea of what a band should be like and my understanding of the music industry. So many of the music crazy people I know have read Espedair Street and I can't help but think that there has to be a generation informed and maybe even inspired by Banks' charming but slight tale.
I'd still recommend this book to people but with the caveat that the 25 years since publication have rendered this a period piece and that it contains attitudes that seem wildly out of date now.

Rating: B

Filed under: B, Books, Fiction, Music, Radio Comments Off


Albums of the Year 2011

  1. Low C'mon
  2. Abigail Washburn City of Refuge
  3. King Creosote & Jon Hopkins Diamond Mine
  4. Eleanor Friedberger Last Summer
  5. The War on Drugs Slave Ambient
  6. St. Vincent Strange Mercy
  7. Kurt Vile Smoke Ring For my Halo
  8. The Decemberists The King is Dead
  9. Gillian Welch The Harrow and Harvest
  10. Le Butcherettes Sin Sin Sin
  11. The Cowboy Junkies Demons
  12. Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat Everything's Getting Older
  13. The Mountain Goats All Eternals Deck
  14. Elbow Build a Rocket Boys!
  15. Bill Callahan Apocalypse
  16. PJ Harvey Let England Shake
  17. Driftless Pony Club Buckminster
  18. Josh T Pearson Last of the Country Gentlemen
  19. EMA Past Life Martyred Saints
  20. The Antlers Burst Apart
  21. R.E.M.. Collapse Into Now

C'mon is the Duluth band's best since "Things We Lost In The Fire", the album I listened to most in 2012 and a thoroughly deserving record the year. I feel like I should note that the Low album was at number two until I realised that the only reason I had the Abigail Washburn record on top (as good as it is) was due to her relative obscurity.
One other point - the list was going to be a top 20 until I decided that as a loyal R.E.M. fan for twenty years their final release really should be on here somewhere, even if there is only one track on Collapse Into Now that I really like.
You can find 18 of the these on this Spotify playlist unfortunately the Gillian Welch, Mountain Goats and Bill Callahan records aren't available.



It's Lovely To Be Here

James Yorkston

Pleasantly enjoyable jaunt through Yorkston's tour diaries as he travels the world playing solo shows as headliner and support act.
He's a fine raconteur with a nice line in self-deprecating yarns but to be honest there's nothing more to the book than that.
Worth it only if you're already a fan of his music.

Rating: B