BarryGruff Albums of the Year (2015)

BGs Albums of the year 2015So it is that time of year again, lists, lists and more lists. Well, not be out done, here are my 41 (yes 41, and yes it’s a weird number) albums of 2015.

It has been such a good year for new albums, probably the best since I started the blog back in 2010. So much so that there is very little difference between the top 5, top 10, top 15 and so on. So without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2015:

There is also a Spotify playlist of the Top 20 albums, to save you time and hassle (it’s here).

41. Only Real – Jerk At The End of the Line’

40. Rozi Plain – ‘Friend’

39. Wildling – ‘Molecules To Moon’

38. The School – ‘Wasting Away And Wondering’

37. Sweet Baboo – ‘Boombox Ballads’

36. The Stammer – ‘Days In Between’

35. SexWitch – Sex Witch’

34. Faith Healer – ‘Cosmic Troubles’

33. Girl Band – ‘Holding Hands With Jamie’

32. Joanna Gruesome – ‘Peanut Butter’

31. Fort Romeau – ‘Insides

30. Soft Serve – ‘S/t’

29. Applescal – ‘For’

28. Zefur Wolves – ‘Zefur Wolves’

27. Hot Chip – ‘Why Make Sense?’

26. Drenge – ‘Undertow’

25. The Charlatans – ‘Modern Nature’

24. Gaz Coombes – ‘Matador’

23. Bill Ryder-Jones – ‘West Kirby County Primary’

22. Drinks – ‘Hermits on Holiday’

21. The Expert – Dynamic Drift

20. Boxed In – ‘Boxed In’

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2015 According to Captain Moonlight

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One of my proudest achievements on the blog this year, or any year for that matter, is the release of GruffWuff; a 19 track compilation of new, previously unreleased and exclusive recordings from some of my very favourite acts over the past 5 years of blogging.

It was a truly fantastic way to mark 5 years of BarryGruff and I am incredibly grateful to everyone involved and the overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response. As 2015 draws to a close, I have enlisted help from people who made the compilation what it was, to chat about their favourite moments and sounds from year, and up next, it’s Captain Moonlight.

Obsessive about politics, philosophy, literature, music and hurling, Kilkenny rapper Captain Moonlight, has long been one of Irish Hip Hop’s shining lights. Never one to shirk saying what’s on his mind, he tackles serious political issues, creating intelligent, hard-hitting, often humorous hip-hop in the process. One of my favourite artists over the past decade, and gent too.

Before we take a look at his 2015 sound selections, you should check out Captain Moonlight’s previous, excellent albums and his GruffWuff inclusion, ‘What Is Property’ – of which you can download here for FREE.

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Sleaford Mods – ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’

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Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods release their new album Key Markets, today, July 10th 24th via Harbinger Sound.

Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn have already shared ‘Face To Faces’ & ‘No Ones Bothered’ with us, and now they’ve added another, with their new video for ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’. Inspired by a 1977 horror movie of the same name, it is a slightly different take on their usual sound. Mellow, by their standards, with a moody bassline that’ll get inside your head providing the backdrop for Williamson’s metaphorical take on the often bleak and feverish experiences of touring. Be it the sneering sarcasm and vitriolic anger, there is a brutal honesty and realness to everything Sleaford Mods do. The new record can’t arrive quick enough.

Check out the Simon Parfrement shot video for ‘Tarantula Deadly Cargo’ below.

BarryGruff’s May 2015 Playlist

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A regular monthly feature to the blog; a nice, neat and handy playlist of tracks featured during the month.

May was another fine month for new music. We had an exclusive premier of The Expert’s new tune, ‘Da Wha?’, the lead single from his forthcoming LP. There were new tunes from Sleaford Mods, Girlpool, Applescal & Tame Impala, ahead of their respective, forthcoming albums. There were excellent new singles from Tomorrows, Telegram, SertOne, Roots Manuva, Foreign/National, The Adventures of Bert & Henry and PANKHABILLI.

Also featuring on the playlist are: GEM_DOS, The North Sea, Disconcerting P, Sweet Baboo, Heaters & Faith Healer. Yeah, so, May was pretty damn good.

Listen to BarryGruff’s May 2015 playlist below.

Sleaford Mods – ‘No Ones Bothered’

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Having provided 2014’s finest LP in Divide & Exit – a clever, often funny, foul mouthed and angry record, overloaded with attitude, vitriolic anger and righteous and infectious rantings that are as quotable as Half Man Half Biscuit – there was always going to be a high degree of anticipation for what came next for Sleaford Mods.

The Nottingham duo have announced its follow-up, Key Markets, will be out on July 10th. Ahead of their new album, Sleaford Mods have released lead track, ‘No Ones Bothered’ with the pair sounding as raw, vitriolic and gobby as ever before. That recognizable no-nonsense savagery; that brutal, precise and clever wordplay from chief rabble-rouser Jason Williamson, together with that delivery, stance and energy is strewn among a bass and drum heavy, punk sound – (somewhere between The Exploited and Citizen Fish, more the latter perhaps). Refreshing as usual, and top fucking class too. Who thought we’d be hearing from Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn quite so quick? Whatever the case, their return is most welcome.

Sleaford Mods have also teamed up with The Pop Group to release a split 7”, out June 18th through Freaks R Us. You can listen to their inclusion ‘Face To Faces’ & ‘No Ones Bothered’ below.

BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2014

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So, it’s that time of year again, yeah, it’s favourite albums of the year time. Loads of great music this year, some old faces and plenty of new ones too but for those of you who care, here are my 25 albums of 2014. Enjoy!

25. Second Storey – ‘Double Divide’

24. Beach Day – ‘Native Echoes’

23. Globelamp – ‘Star Dust’

22. Sex Hands – ‘Pleh’

21. The #1s – ‘The #1s’

20. Attaque – ‘ON LY YOU’

19. Shit Robot – ‘We Got Love’

18. Mowbird – ‘Islander’

17. Oh Boland/Me & My Dog – ‘Delphi’

16. Jamie T – ‘Carry on the Grudge’

15. Pharoahe Monch – ‘PTSD’

Following on from his 2011’s W.A.R, comes fourth solo LP, PTSD (aka Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a loose-concept album which sees Pharoahe Monch speaking as a weary independent warrior against the industry machine and dealing with the struggle of the black male experience in America. It’s dense, raw and sometimes painfully raw, as he relives harrowing memories of his struggle with addiction, depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s all draped with his familiar top-notch storytelling, cavernous vocabulary, thought-provoking rhymes, precise delivery and thought-provoking metaphors, placing him right up top of the current hip-hop pile.

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Best of 2014: Johnny Feeney’s Albums of the Year

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The ever insightful Johnny Feeney pops up every now and then to share his musical musings with us, always adding an extra flavour to the blog and always a welcome one at that.

Ahead of my own albums of the year list, Johnny has kindly compiled his top ten albums from 2014 but before I leave you in Johnny’s very capable hands, I’d like to thank him for this, and all the other posts during the year, and of course the site’s renovation too.  So, without further ado, here are Johnny’s top ten albums of the year.

10. Sleaford Mods – ‘Divide and Exit’

2014 was certainly the year that Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods shot to prominence after years in the underground. Primitive programmed beats and Andrew Fearn’s menacing basslines provide the platform from which vocalist Jason Williamson volleys tirade upon aggressive tirade. Foul-mouthed, venom-spitting Williamson is the star turn here – a poet of the disenchanted lower classes in the UK. Powerful.

09. Miss Kenichi – ‘The Trail’

The third album from Berlin-based Miss Kenichi is a haunting, gloomy slow-paced affair reminiscent in parts to White Chalk-era PJ Harvey. Although sparse and dark on first listen, this album slowly reveals itself on repeat listens and is stunningly beautiful in places.

08. Benjamin Booker – ‘Benjamin Booker’

New Orleans-based Booker’s self-titled debut album is a treat of stomping, soulful blues rock. Sounding older than his 25 years, Booker’s voice is a magnetic presence throughout this record. The rollicking, rousing tunes are such good fun but Booker is equally as effective when he slows things down on tracks such as ‘Slow Coming’. Big things lie ahead for Booker, one imagines.

07. Brody Dalle – ‘Diploid Love’

Well-connected former Distillers frontwoman Dalle’s first solo album features guest appearances from the likes of the Strokes’ Nick Valensi and Garbage’s Shirley Manson but never for a moment is the spiky Dalle outshone on this fine rock record full of snarling vocals and thundering hooks.

06. Ultimate Painting – ‘Ultimate Painting’

Ultimate Painting are the very interesting side project from Jack Cooper of Mazes and James Hoare of Veronica Falls. Packed full of breezy, dreamy indie rock, lovely harmonies and incredibly infectious tunes are prevalent throughout. The easiest of easy listening.

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Best of 2014: w/ Jinx Lennon

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As has become tradition for this time year, I’ve asked bands and artists who’ve played a BarryGruff show during the year, to put their own list making skills to the test in picking their ‘favourite album of 2014′, ‘favourite song/remix of 2014′ & ‘favourite Irish song of the year’. I’ve really enjoyed these over the past few years so why break with tradition?

Right, that is enough waffling from me, it’s over to the legendary Jinx Lennon to share his picks from 2014.

Favourite Album of 2014: Sleaford Mods – ‘Divide and Exit’

It’s not a very sophisticated album, it’s bass and drum machine and a lot of words. It sounds great on vinyl and for a microsecond it makes me feel that the old ritual of walking up town with an LP under your arm has been brought back to life (for a microsecond). The singer is pissed off and like his Irish spiritual brother Captain Moonlight he can make a tune into a surreal situation without getting wildly specific. (Ok I take that back The Captain is a might more specific in his topics but i hear a similar anger and humour). I’d like to see a lot more music like this. I thought 8 years ago we’d have less chirpy beard music in Ireland but 2014 has brought more and more CBM it would almost be hilarious if it wasn’t such a pain in the balls when you turn on the fucking radio and they use that jingly wingly sound on the bank adverts now with the usual Dublin 4 breathy lass that sounds like she pisses lemonade yapping with a mid Atlantic jackeen accent that has that horrid perpetual RRR sound at the end of two out of five of her words.

Favourite Song of 2014: The Primitive Calculators – ‘Dead’

Ahhh!! The Primitive Calculators are so refreshing. Their album The World is Fucked would be my ideal soundtrack for the 2 couples get together cosy wosy ”can I show you our new fireplace/car/extension” mindfuck evenings. I’d opt for the Calculators instead of the usual let’s pretend we are still 19 at the raves dinner background music guff which usually happens at such get togethers or worse a Father John Misty/Coldplay debacle of an evening. The singer of the Calculators is a 50 year old pissed off teacher who sounds like the bane of any up and coming PTA meetings and I’m grateful he exists.’Dead’ is an existential reminder of upcoming mortality for all of us and The Calculators don’t sound happy about that fact ,but still make such a glorious racket in the ‘Vein of Suicide’ or France’s brilliant ‘Metal Urbain’. The fella with the scythe might have second thoughts about performing his duties at their gaff.Grainne Seoige should have used them for her pitiful mess of a Christmas charity single instead of that jingly wingly beard music travesty she decided to immerse herself in. Second choice, Slaves ‘The Hunter’ great live band from Lawndarn.

Favorite Irish Song?

The sound of people saying ‘Can’t Pay Won’t Pay’ all across the land at the Water Protests is music to my ears. I havn’t heard anything better this year from Ireland. Captain Moonlight’s ‘Agroculture Part 2 and 3’ still sound prescient for 2014. I sometimes want to dabble in the myriad Irish musics that I come across but I’m not getting the meat I want from the sounds I hear. I go to local gigs that have usually three acts and I’m impressed with the way that modern Irish acts are all very confident looks wise, and musically competent in a technical way with their skills on stage and it all sounds nice and multi layered and perfect candy for the earlobes but I’d prefer to see someone bang their heads off the wall or thump the shit out of each other on stage, play a guitar with one string, or even just tell me the audience member what they really feel instead of sounding like some 4th rate Death Cab for Cutie, hypnogogic chilliwave 2010 castoffs, or jingly wingly mandoliney Mormon clothed beard nonsense or electronica girls with school music exam faces, and the fucking accents RRR RRR RRR which is made worse when some buck realises mid song he’s from Navan or Sligo or the Narthsoide and forgets about that homogenous twang for a millisecond. Disaster !!! Billllloppppppppp!

Half Time Reflections: Albums Of The Year So Far (2014)

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With over half the year already passed, it is ripe time for some half-time reflection on the many albums that have preoccupying my attention so far in 2014. As it is well overdue there is no need to waste and more time, here they are, in all their glory!

Sleaford Mods – ‘Divide & Exit’

Lo-fi English punk duo of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn are Sleaford Mods, who’ve been grunting through gritted teeth since ’08. With their new album, Divide & Exit, they deliver a clever, often funny, foul mouthed and angry record, overloaded with attitude as their gripes and grievances with modern Britain (and beyond) are vehemently aired. Chief rabble-rouser, Williamson is both scathing and sardonic, who airs his many gripes and grievances, with a combination of vitriolic anger and acerbic wit. An extremely clever wordsmith, his righteous and infectious rantings are as quotable as Half Man Half Biscuit. You could argue forever as to what line in the gold-standard song is the greatest. This extremely clever wordplay is strewn among grimey beats and wiry post-punk guitars from Fearn. While owing as much to hip-hop and grime as to post-punk, and could be seen to be the the modern inheritors of the brilliance of Mark E Smith, The Streets, Shaun Ryder and HMHB. While there are traces of those artists here, there is, and never has been anything quite like Sleaford Mods. Top fucking class.

The Horrors – ‘Luminous’

On their fourth LP, The Horrors continue to refine sophisticated and colourful sound. The synthesisers are more to the fore, and a noticeably greater influence from electronic and dance music but without ever quite adapting dance-music tempos. The darkness which marks much of their previous work seems to have abated, except for Faris Badwan recoginzable brooding croon, replaced by a late ’80s tingle of euphoria, mellow synth sounds and a bouncy back-beats to create pulsating, danceable psychedelia. The Horrors are light years ahead of anyone else of the ‘indie guitar music’ canon. Tune in, drift away in this bliss of colourful groove.

Gruff Rhys – ‘American Interior’

After concept albums about a wealthy Italian Trotskyite, an eccentric car designer, and a movie in search of lost Welsh tribes in Argentina, nothing should surprise us when it comes to Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys. His fourth solo album is inspired by a recent discovery that he’s a descendent of John Evans, an 18th-century explorer, who mapped the Missouri river in a vain search for a mythical, Welsh-speaking American tribe. Concept aside, this record shares certain similarities with his previous work, cooking up lush pop songs with more immersive and introspective fare, beautiful orchestral moments and even a couple of more surreal, out-there moments. From the title track, the mournfully mesmerising ‘American Interior’ and it’s expansive, slightly melancholic rock with an infectious melody at its heart, to the rumbling rockabilly of ‘100 Unread Messages’ on synth-splashed carnival tune ‘The Whether (Or Not)’ we’re treated to exemplary spectrum of his talents. American Interior reminds us how captivating a storyteller Rhys is, who wistfully spins wonderful narratives of being carried through new worlds and visions, and only adds to the particular idiosyncratic charm that this Welshman personifies.

Malachai – ‘Beyond Ugly’

Malachai‘s latest effort, Beyond Ugly serves as a closing chapter to the Bristol duo’s ‘Ugly’ triptych, an unplanned trilogy of albums and pre-dated by the excellent Ugly Side of Love (2010) and Return to the Ugly Side (2011). Beyond Ugly is enjoyable as a standalone record if you’re unfamiliar with the previous two. It’s an imaginative journey through controlled chaos which seamlessly flits between trip-hop, hip-hop, acoustic folk, ’60s psychedelia, dance-funk and XTRMNTR era Primal Scream doses of aggressive political anger within the same breath. Expect to witness lavish sonic mayhem and delicate, thought-provoking moments on love, loss, life, politics and society. Vacuous it isn’t, there’s quite a bit of substance behind the aural salvo. A fitting conclusion to this unlikely of trilogies, saying that, hopefully it isn’t the last we’ve heard from Malachai.

Coves – ‘Soft Friday’

There are plenty of bands of Coves‘ ilk about at the moment – boy-girl duo, spectral vocals, ’60s psychedelic influences, dreamy synths – but they are in a class of their own and their debut, Soft Friday, casts a chilling spell. Swirling psychedelia is met with sweeping grandeur, as Wood’s mellifluous cooing floats above as driving riffs mingle with propulsive electro beats, drones and flickers of electronics, in a gentle whirlpool of shimmering psychedelic and glacial atmospherics. Soft Friday is a fine debut. Atmospheric, distinctive and very enjoyable, and a worthy inclusion in any record collection.

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Introducing: Sleaford Mods

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Sleaford Mods are Lo-fi English punk duo of Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn who’ve been grunting through gritted teeth since ’08. The Nottingham duo have five albums to date including Wank, Austerity Dogs and a singles collection from last year, with number six, Divide and Exit arriving at the end of this month.

Williamson is the chief rabble-rouser, both scathing and sardonic, he is a man who airs his gripes and grievances, of which there are many, with a combination of vitriolic anger and acerbic wit. Williamson’s righteous, infectious ranting, which are as quotable as Half Man Half Biscuit, is strewn among grimey beats and wiry post-punk guitars from Fearn. While owing as much to hip-hop and grime as to post-punk; Sleaford Mods are the modern inheritors of the brilliance of Mark E Smith, Shaun Ryder and HMHB. Sleaford Mods might not be for the faint of heart as they lay bare a grim tapestry of the ails that face the modern working class Britain, but there’s an endless supply of tame, middle-of-the-road bullshit in the world. We’d all be better off for hearing their expletive strewn anger and righteous, infectious ranting – well – I am for one.

Divide and Exit is out on April 28th and you can check out’My Jampandy’, ‘McFlurry’ & ‘Tied Up in Nottz’, the latter is taken from the forthcoming LP. Hat tip to Nialler9 on this one.