Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sound system

Oops. February already.  Still, finally written the 2014 music post...

No list of all the records enjoyed in the year (and I will still call them records even if they were nearly all CDs or MP3s) but the cloud does cover all the artists I heard a whole album by and represents their frequency of earhole assault. Much of the explanation for this can be found in last year’s post on music so I’m not going to repeat it now. Suffice it to say that the “single CD” quest is about to reach S and I have finally got more CDs by King’s X courtesy of the wonderful “original album series” box set of their first five which I received for Christmas. So expect them to appear at a reasonable size in next year’s cloud!

Other than regular trawls through Amazon, HMV and various charity shops for discs to plug holes in my collection – especially the MIND shop in Ipswich (I still cannot fathom out why people would choose to get rid of some of the CDs that end up in there, and then come home with me) – I have actually gained a bunch of genuinely new tunes this year rather than ones that are merely new to me. So we will start off with yer actual albums of the year, then newly discovered enjoyment before a round-up of old favourites that I just had to listen to.

And to immediately contradict myself, we will start off with not an album at all, but a series of digital singles. Rather than a new album through a Pledge campaign, Ginger Wildheart went for it with his GASS project, releasing three new songs (and a couple of older demos) on to the world every month. We still have a couple of months to go but so far every track has been a winner. They offered three tiers of membership - £30 got all the music in electronic formats plus access to the web site with podcasts, videos, Q&A pages, diaries and other writings and loads of other stuff. £60 added a t-shirt and some other goodies, while £90 enabled meet and greets before shows. I have only gone for the music and definitely feel I have had value for my money. They are planning to keep it all live online after the year is up so anyone interested can still fork out the £30 and get all the music on one go.

Some of the tracks are going to get a CD release as part of his new Pledge offering. This is for a sort of autobiography told through the stories of the songs since the dawn of the Wildhearts along with an acoustic DVD which will do much the same. This could well be a highlight of 2015 for me, but we'll address that later in the year!

Wildhearts sidekick CJ also put out a solo album (Mable) in 2014 and is my favourite release of the year. Some real killer guitarwork, catchy choruses and magical melodies drew me in and won't let me go. If you want to pick it up from his Bandcamp page I can also highly recommend previous album “13” and his work with The Jellys.
Sticking with the extended Wildhearts family, sometime bassist Random Jon Poole (also a feature of Ginger's solo band) and occasional keyboard player Willie Dowling also produced an album as “The Dowling Poole” via Pledge music. Bleak Strategies is fascinating, although I will be the first to admit that I haven't listened to it enough yet to fully appreciate it. As part of the pledge package they also made available Jon Poole's solo and God Damn Whores albums and Willie's Jackdaw 4 discography. Having considered those before but been short of cash I was glad to get them at a good price and have enjoyed them as much as anything else I've heard this year.

Having had two great new albums this way was fab (not to mention the others obtained off the back of them) but part of me wishes CJ and Willie had teamed up for a new Honeycrack opus instead...

Other Pledge campaigns I backed were from Ricky Warwick (two albums – one electric and one acoustic, both enjoyable), Tony Wright (superb acoustic solo debut) and Pop Will Eat Itself (an e.p. rather than a whole album, but hopefully a good taste of what is to come this year when they do release a new full-length platter).

Going down the normal route through shops, I also really rated Mark Chadwick's second solo album Moment. Distinct enough from his day job with the Levellers to make it worth doing. The new Mark Lanegan, Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs and Linkin Park albums entertained in the ways I expected them to, and then there was U2. I've listened to it once so far and am still undecided. Never mind the delivery method, I've liked them for years so was just happy to hear something new. But am not sure if it is any real change over what has come before.

New out in 2014 from bands I adore, but not yet purchased, we have the new AC/DC and Gong albums. Hopefully more to say on those soon!

Not new in 2014 but getting their first listens from me I particularly enjoyed Anthrax's Worship Music, Public Service Broadcasting (thanks to Rigid Digit for the introduction to them) and some stuff I took a punt on from charity shops – Ben And Jason, Detritus and Three Corners.

So this year I am eagerly awaiting the new Thunder, Paul Miro and Prodigy and we will see what other surprises fate brings my way.