BarryGruff Albums of the Year (2016)

barrygruff-albums-of-2016

Yes. It is that time of year again, lists, lists and more lists. Well, not be out done, here are my 13 (lucky for some) albums of 2016.

There was lots of great music in 2016 but I decided to keep it to a short list this year. Also, I’m hoping the festive period will provide some time to catch up on some records I’ve missed throughout the year, so feel free to recommend some listening material.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2016:

There is also a Spotify playlist of all the albums, to save you time and hassle, and it is here.

13. Amber Arcades – ‘Fading Lines’

Amber Arcades‘ – Dutch-born musician Annelotte de Graaf – debut album is a dazzling blend of ‘60s tinged psych, lush jangly guitars, floating pop melodies and an abundance of propulsive, hypnotic krautrocky moments. [Listen here]

12. Tuff Love – ‘Resort’

Glaswegian scuzz-pop aficionados Tuff Love, combine a terrific trilogy of EPs into an LP of dazzling, fuzzy indie pop with sugar-sweet melodies and crunching choruses and shoegazey guitars galore. [Listen here]

11. Underworld – ‘Barbara Barbara, We Face A Shining Future’

A first proper Underworld record in half a decade, Karl Hyde and Rick Smith deliver a stomping electronic record that is up there with the best of their work. [Listen here]

10. The Coral – ‘Distance Inbetween’

Distance Inbetween – their eighth LP and first in over five years – saw The Coral rediscover their roots, mojo and discover their dark side and add a harder edge to their brand of psychedelic indie. It’s an evolution of the Wirral five piece’s sound into a cohesive, weird and imaginative psych-rock record, and one that grows with time. [Listen here]

09. Mr Huw – ‘Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr’

Gwna Dy Feddwl I Lawr is album number five from one of Wales’ finest, Mr. Huw and with it, he has delivered an irresistible set of inventive, electrifying indie. Sang in his native tongue, these are melodic songs with a spiky edge. Post-punk riffs and snappy drum-machine punctuate infectious pop melodies, mild psychedelic leanings and Huw’s affable Welsh lilt. A magnificent collection of soul consuming tunes which provide proof if proof be needed, that we should never underestimate the power of great music to overcome a small matter, like a language barrier. [Listen here]

08. Jinx Lennon – ‘Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets’

2016 saw Jinx Lennon return with two new albums – Past Pupil Stay Sane and Magic Bullets of Madness To Uplift The Grief Magnets – with each offering distinctly different brilliance. Magic Bullets… is the pick of the pair but in fairness, both find the folk punk poet at his uncompromising best. Recorded with Liverpool experimentalists Clinic, it is a collection of instantly catchy tunes that boasts a meatier, more beat-driven sound, combined with Jinx’s raw truths kicking back against the humdrum bullshit of modern life. Jinx Lennon is a unique talent, a national treasure to be exact and this is him at his inherently brilliant best. [Listen here]

Continue reading

Johnny Feeney’s Albums of 2016 So Far….

237892_1

The ever knowledgeable Johnny Feeney returns to the blog once again, sharing an eclectic selection of his favourite records from the year so far.

Always insightful and interesting, his guest posts always add an extra flavour the blog and I for one look forward to reading them – surely I’m not alone?

A huge thanks to Johnny as always, and on that note, I’ll leave you in his very capable hands.

10. Car Seat Headrest – ‘Teens Of Denial’

Virginia’s Will Toledo has been releasing albums prolifically as Car Seat Headrest for a few years now but this is only his second full release on a major label. Seriously overlong at almost 70 minutes, this is by no means perfect, but it also retains the capacity to absolutely blow you away with cracking rock songs such as ‘Fill In The Blanks’ or ‘Drunk Drivers / Killer Whales’.

09. Band of Horses – ‘Why Are You OK’

The fifth studio album from Seattle’s Band of Horses harkens back to the band’s finest moment – 2007’s Cease to Begin – after a not entirely unsuccessful foray into stadium rock over two albums in the interim period. There’s a welcome return of the shimmering guitar lines and melancholic Americana/alt-rock that made them such a beloved band in the first place. Gorgeous.

08. Savages – ‘Adore Life’

The second album from the London-based all-female foursome doesn’t veer wildly from the brooding post-punk of its predecessor, 2013’s Silence Yourself, – all dark basslines, loping guitars and lead singer Jehnny Beth’s anguished vocals. This is certainly not party music. However, there are chinks of light threatening to break out through the pervading gloom.

Continue reading

BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2013

BarryGruff Albums of the year 2013

It’s that time of year once again when every music blog, website and magazine busy themselves with list making activities, and this blog is no different. Due to other commitments this year, especially the second half, it was rather difficult to keep on top of album reviews for the blog. Saying that, I reckon I’ve listened to as many records as any other year without finding the opportunity to share my thoughts on many of them.

Without further ado, here’s the BarryGruff ‘Albums of the Year’ for 2013.

25. Crystal Stilts – ‘Nature Noir’

24. Appelscal – ‘Dreaming In Key’

23. Trwbador – ‘Trwbador’

22. Mr. Huw – ‘Cariad Affaich’

21. King Krule – ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’

20. Channel Swimmer – ‘Alphabet’

19. Valeria June – ‘Pushin’ Against A Stone’

18. Veronica Falls – ‘Waiting for Something to Happen’

17. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’

16. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’

15. Marika Hackman – ‘That Iron Taste’

A collection potent songs of enigmatic beauty, That Iron Taste is a gorgeous and charmed introduction to the delectable talents of Marika Hackman. It is done so with a striking vocal delivery, sounding both wise and beautiful, imbued with a telling level of touching emotion. She channels something beautifully rich and dramatic in telling these rather dark poetic stories. Absolutely no substandard happy-clappy folk pop nonsense on show here, on the contrary, her debut (mini) album is quite frankly a haunting, numinous experience.

[Stream on Spotify]

14. The Pictish Trail – ‘Secret Soundz, Volume 2’

Most likely the greatest album to be recorded solely in a caravan, Secret Soundz, Volume 2, is the second LP from The Pictish Trail, the alter ego of Scottish musician Johnny Lynch. Throughout the LP, he’s in a contemplative, often melancholic mood, concerned with life’s ups and downs. In contrast, musically Secret Sounds is rather chipper, spurred on by a glorious melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. A magnificent record; warm, inviting and full of charming quirks from an exceptional talent.

13. Biggles Flys Again – ‘Remember Saturday’

Ireland produces plenty of great bands but where it falls short, of say our Welsh neighbors, is when it comes to indie bands of the weird and wonderful variety. In Biggles Flys Again, the moniker of Conor Deasy, we’ve got a domestic talent flying that flag. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday displays real talent for 3 minute pop gems. It is brimming with enchanting and whimsical good old fashioned pop songs, filled with sinuous melodies and organic arrangement. This is pop in the old fashioned sense, played by a band, and with an assured sense of style.

[Stream on Spotify]

12. Akala – ‘The Thieves Banquet’

Since the release of his debut in 2006, Akala has proven himself as one of the most articulate, intelligent and talented MC’s around, a trend continued on his fourth LP. A potent wave of righteous fury crashes through The Thieves Banquet. The world is beset by many problems, varied and plentiful they may be but Akala manages to take plenty of them head on. He remains passionate, focused and sharp when tackling everything from a sense of powerlessness to change things, to berating imperialism,  slavery, capitalists, 3rd world dictators and the clergy. A very fine record indeed.

[Stream on Spotify]

Continue reading