Even if they’d just put out one album Fujiya & Miyagi would probably have still topped our list, but this year they managed two. Granted, the second was a reissue of Transparent Things, their breakthrough album, which came out in 2006 but really gained momentum in 2007 (the first time we saw them live was August 2007 at Loop Festival) so it’s an anniversary release of sorts. It didn’t get a vinyl release first time around which has been remedied with the reissue – it’s clear rather than black vinyl, so a transparent thing in more than just name. There was also an eponymous album – Fujiya & Miyagi was the collection of the three EPs that had been put out over 2016 and 2017 – But where Transparent Things hadn’t had a vinyl release originally, the EPs only came out on 12”, only coming out on cd / digital download upon the release of the album. It’s no understatement to say that it’s one of their strongest releases for years – from the self-deprecating lyrics on Extended Dance Mix to the throbbing electro of Serotonin Rushes, Fujiya & Miyagi are on top form right now.
We Are Millionaires by Pete Fij & Terry Bickers was released back in July, quietly understated but at the same time accomplished and powerful. The band describe their songs as being miserable, which you can’t deny, but there’s also a majesty to them too. Most of all though, they make it look effortlessly easy, which everyone knows is the really tricky bit.
This year, AK/DK released their second full length long player Patterns / Harmonics, a further refinement of their anarchic analogue kraut-punk-techno sound and the follow up to 2014’s Synths + Drums + Noise + Space. As great as they are on record though, it’s live where the band shine and their album launch at the Green Door Store in October was our gig of the year.
We haven’t managed to make it along to many Bleeding Hearts Recordings related things this year, but we’re still fans of what they do with their regular monthly nights ploughing a different furrow to everyone else. They’ve only put out one record this year, which felt (to us at least) like it was a long time coming. Since the recording of the three tracks on grasshopper‘s Nothing Like Us single they’ve changed guitarists a number of times, but have now settled on a line up which has added some meat to the post-punk bones of their previous post-punk incarnation. Where so many guitar bands in Brighton opt for a grungey shoegaze sound it’s always refreshing hear grasshopper (which you can do on the 3rd January at the Green Door Store)
We’ve put a couple of bands in our top five who only had short form releases, whose music we love and we feel still deserve a place in our list despite not having released an album. The first of these is Anneka, who released her Life Force EP at the end of April on Anti-Ghost Moon Ray. The tracks managed to be both electronic and organic at the same time, layering synths over ethereal vocals and blurring the distinction between the two. When we met up to do her Brighton Rocks shoot in May she told us that there was a follow up planned at some point so hopefully we’ll see that soon in 2018.
We gave you numbers 25 through to 11 last week, now it’s time for the bottom half of our top ten
10 : Saint Etienne Home Counties is one of our most listened to albums this year, and Saint Etienne would have score even higher if more than just one of the trio lived in the city. Pete Wiggs is also half of The Séance DJ duo alongside James Papademetrie, and have just released a track called Chetwynd Haze on compilation All The Merry Year Round for the experimental music site A Year In The Country.
9 : Alien Stadium
There was a period when I was younger when supergroup was a dirty word – a sign of excess and mutual back slapping. However, Living in Elizabethan Times – The Super Furry Animals-esque aliens-are-watching concept mini-album made by Steve Mason and Primal Scream’s Martin Duffy – doesn’t overstay it’s welcome with only four tracks, and sounds like two world class musicians making the music that they want to make, free of the constraints of delivering a dozen three minute songs to make an album for a record label.
8 : Porridge Radio
Technically Porridge Radio’s album Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers originally came out in last year, but it’s vinyl pressing only came out in March and the number of barnstorming gigs they’ve played this year have earned them a place in our top ten.
7 : Dog in the Snow
Helen Brown’s debut album Consume Me was released in very busy autumn for her. As well as her own launch shows, she’s also been part of the touring band for Simon Raymonde’s Lost Horizon’s project.
6 : Physics House Band
Physics House Band are one of those local acts I’d implore everyone to see live, simply to marvel at their musicianship and incredible talent. On top of that they’ve had a fantastic album out this year – Mercury Fountain which came out in April.
Making end of year lists is tough, especially for us. No, hear us out – this isn’t just some sob story. Most of the bands we write about are just starting out, so haven’t had albums out yet – should they be lower down the list or even omitted because they haven’t put out a long player? And conversely what about the bands who have released an album – surely they shouldn’t be higher in the list by default. And what about the more established bands – should we be including them at the expense of smaller bands? And how are we going to get around the fact that bands with more recent release or live dates are nearer the front of our mind than those who put records out at the start of the year? It’s a metaphorical minefield, so our list is rather arbitrary. It could easily have been twice as long, and as usual we’ve gone for bands rather than tracks or albums to get around it. Here’s numbers 25 through to 11: