As Rob has been meticulously drip-feeding his top twenty from 2014 into the blog over the last few weeks, I thought I’d provide an alternative listing just to show the diversity of our blogging tastes. That meant, no duplication with the Rob-o-Sphere, and so out went Curxes, Cate Ferris, Fear of Men, all of which were excellent in my book.
That left me with the following selections capturing ten (well, eleven) of the brilliant sounds and songs that emerged from our fair city over the last year in a shambling semblance/pretence of order:
1 Bentcousin – Dizzy
These terrible twins have been drip-feeding the cosmos with some ace songs, but this was the killer track for me released on a vinyl 7 inch and with some super Brighton-relevant rapping from Rory P.
2 yourgardenday – Something in the Music
A gorgeous plea for tolerance and harmony and a love of music, this had a limited release last year as lead track on Robin Coward’s Flat Stream EP, finally getting a full on-line release this summer.
3 Time for T – Free Hugs
An adorable band writing some adorable songs, this slunk of 70s soul has a great chorus and a charming video in which the band spend the whole song hugging Brighton people. Did I say it was adorable?
4 Sharon Lewis – Boxer’s Glove
Released right at the tail end of last year, this came from the Simple Things EP that accompanied Sharon’s excellent album, a melancholic tale of domestic violence, harsh but beautiful.
5 Fragile Creatures – Fragile Creatures
This band write some classic pop and none better than this – the self-named winner from their first EP which came out this summer.
6 Ellie Ford – Low
Singer-songwriter who had her debut EP re-released by Hidden Trail Records this year, from whence came this song, and also released an excellent covers EP. Ellie Ford is a singer who just gets better and better and her debut album should come out next year.
7 AK/DK – Maxwell’s Waves
This track comes from their album titled ‘Synth + Drums + Noise + Space’ which kind of sums up their sound without the excitement of their stunning live shows.
8 Slum of Legs – Razorblade the tape
This band are manic live, and their initial punky 7″ single on the Tuff Enuff label captures just half of this energy. This was the b-side.
9 Fiona Sally Miller – Lanterns
From one of three EPs released on the same day, this was one of the proper songs rather than the underwater experimental or live tracks, but like so much of Miller’s work it sounded magical.
=10 The Delta Bell – Wasted
Hiawatha Telephone Company – Dave
‘Wasted’ is a classic rambling country song sung by the gorgeous tones of Kate Gerrard and hit all the right notes in my book.
Shamelssly squeezing an eleventh song into my top ten I’ll come clean and admit that I had a hand in ‘Dave’, but it’s a song that ought to resonate in 2015 it being election year. Ripe for a cover, but for now we have this.
When I was going through my favourite Brighton based music of the last twelve months, there was one band who stood head and shoulders above the rest for me personally. A band who I got a bit evangelical about and told everyone I knew they had to listen to, including my friends from outside of Brighton. That band were Momotaro, who at the end of last year had a few demos up on Soundcloud and had given away the fantastic dubby Reverie in return for signing up to their mailing list, yet managed to come out with a fully formed album on the first of February this year. Second Side featured much improved versions of some of those demos that we’d already heard as well as tracks which they’d been refining live, where despite sounding electronic most of the instruments are played live making them considerably more engaging than someone with their head down behind a laptop. The addition of a bassist and a visual artist to their line up later in the year as well as the continual evolution of their electronic post trip hop sound has turned things up another notch, and with a new EP due imminently 2015 could be a very good year indeed for Momotaro.
With the release of the first proper debut album (last year’s Early Fragments discounted because it was just a collection of singles), Fear of Men have finally come of age. As you would expect Loom has an abundance of cultural references set to classic indie pop, bookended with intimate vulnerability but packed with strength inbetween. The album got great reviews across the board – NME gave it 8/10, and The Line of Best Fit 9/10 – which scored the band a tour support with Pains of Being Pure at Heart giving them a ready built audience all across America and Europe before they returned to play their own headline homecoming show at The Hope in September. Fear of Men are already working on demos for their next album which we can’t wait to hear.
Apparently Eagles for Hands double A side single Handprints / Glitterall was Laurie James Ross’ first official release, which is a bit odd since Lisbon was in our top ten last year. Handprints is even better than Lisbon – joyous house music with a liberal sprinkling of vocal hooks, plenty of cowbell and even more bass. If Handprints was the soundtrack to the dancefloor being filled, then double a side Glitterall was the sound of the chillout room, with huge slabs of marginally out of phase synths which unsettle you slightly and make the track feel much bigger than the sum of it’s parts. Either track on it’s own would have put Eagles for Hands in our end of year list, but it’s the union of the two which gives it such a high placing.
As I said when I made the first post of our end of year round up anyone’s lists will always be subjective. Until everyone listens to the same music and responds to it in the same way we’ll still see lists we disagree with. Vive la difference I say. However we fully endorse the record that The Quietus have picked to top their end of year list. Unflesh by Gazelle Twin unsettled and impressed us in equal measures, it’s force multiplied by compelling live performances.
Sometimes a chance encounter can lead to magical things – Rachel from GAPS met Maya Jane Coles at a house party long before GAPS were formed or Maya had found the success she now enjoys, but that meeting long ago is what led to them collaborating on this year’s In Dark, In Day EP. Where Rachel’s warm vocals and acoustic guitar are normally paired with Ed’s electronica, things were taken to another level on the three tracks (plus one instrumental) on this collaboration with the addition of Maya Jane Cole’s deep house beats.
It’s very easy to bandy around the term feel-good. It’s lazy journalistic shorthand for anything vaguely positive and in most cases there are normally many more adjectives which would better fit the bill. But feel-good is how we’re going to describe David Harks summer single Open Arms, taken from his LOMO EP which has only just got a full release this week. The balance between house and pop hasn’t sounded this great since the Beloved back in the early nineties.