Some traditions have been with us so long that it seems blasphemous to even consider not to follow them – if such a consideration should even occur. The Christmas period is rife with them, a minefield of time honoured rituals that simply must be followed. And so, much like turkey for xmas dinner or arguing whether Die Hard qualifies as an xmas film, we must distill our years music listening into list form and parade it in front of other list makers who can barely hide their boredom at reading Yet Another List.
The second album from stoner-slowcore trio Cloakroom was amongst my most anticipated records of 2017. To cut a long story short – it did not disappoint.
Well, it’s nearly the middle of February already – so it seems as good a time as any to wrap up this round up of the previous years best songs. They don’t call me The Timely Content Kid for nothing. Also some might call having 25 songs on a top 20 list something of a cop out. To which I have no real argument.
It was a great year for music though and I think this list demonstrates just how good. Especially since it was a year in which I didn’t find much time to delve into all that much hip hop – Busdriver and Milo narrowly missed the cut for the list but that was about it for my rap listening in 2015, bar a couple of L’Orange produced albums – and almost completely ignored what was by all accounts an excellent year for black metal. It was a year of Too Much Music and this, for better or worse, is how I spent it. And given how much fun I’ve had putting this list together I’m leaning towards, “for better.”
Part 14 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of 2015
I wrote about these guys briefly in Wanton Miscellany #2, saying that their record Further Out was so unassuming it had almost passed me by. It took some time but it eventually worked it’s way to being one of my favourites of 2015. I changed my mind again after that – fickle beast that I am – possibly due to an unforeseen period of relative serenity and borderline happiness. It became a bit like a perennially bummed out friend – sure you love them but when you’re on top of the world it can feel like a drag to spend time in their company. With friends you’ll do so all the same (unless you’re a really shitty friend) but records are easy to ignore. They just sit there until you need them next.
Before I knew it I was back to being slumped in an office chair with nothing but an endless sea of tedium around me and a window full of gray sky in lieu of any kind of view. It felt good to welcome Further Out back into my life then. Doyle Martin’s voice sounds oddly comforting when you’re down – it’s like having the lazy, drawled moan of depression itself serenading you. Whether the lyrics are angry or sad, sarcastic or earnest they’re all delivered in the same pitch. It brings to mind a Jets to Brazil line from one of my all time favourite songs: “some make exhaustion a mode of expression.” In Outta Spite the line, “Assign meaning to your ritual..” manages to sound like both a decent piece of self-help advice and a biting indictment of the pointlessness of your routine, particularly when it drifts through your headphones at the precise moment you drop your work bag in the same spot you do every day. 5pm, near enough on the dot. Kettle on, start dinner. Disintegrate into daydream and muscle memory like sugar in water. “..and slay any beast.” Yeah, sure.
Oh, and that guitar tone. You could take a bath in that fuzz and come out cleansed.
And so another year passes. As per tradition a large chunk of the internet spent the final month of 2015 seeking to make sense out of the ceaseless avalanche of music that descended upon us throughout the year by ranking the crap out of it. How else can we be sure that any of it meant anything it we don’t put our chosen records into a pile and demand that strangers look at it and agree that that our choices are indeed righteous? Where would humanity be without our ability to decree one thing to be better than another thing until we have a sufficient number of things to make a list? Why we’d surely be lost, flailing in the dark, forced to confront the futility of our endeavours.
Well fear not: today I can add my own list to the internet and stave off any such epiphany for a little while longer. My top 20 appeared alongside those of 60 other writers in Echoes & Dusts Record of the Year interactive jamboree. Which is a treasure trove of obscure gems one could easily get lost in until the next listing season is upon us.
Episode two – in which our hero contends with the realisation that Bad Guys frontman Stuart is his partially long haired doppleganger, and that perhaps he’s not the glistening adononis he imagines himself to be:
Y’know I still can’t quite get my head around the idea of music videos existing without actual music channels to play them. I know there are still technically such channels around, all with names like 90s teen girl magazines that play the same 3 videos in rotation (so far as I can tell there are only 3 videos shared by all the latest pop hits). But it’s not like it was Back In The Day when MTV stood for music television and if you sat and watched patiently for several hours you might see a decent video, is it? Those were the days. Or what about the heyday of MTV 2 where if you waited until 2am and were willing to watch 8 or 9 videos of identikit glitchy electronica you could see a few videos by semi-decent indie bands, eh? Good times. Now in this god forsaken age you can just type in what you want into an internet searchamajig and there it is. Blam: Bad Guys are singing about prostitutes right into your eyeballs. It all still seems like voodoo to me. But then I didn’t have access to the internet until I was 20 – I had to go round my mates and run up his phone bill on dial up waiting 2 hours to download the new Offspring single on Napster.
And they call this progress.
Ok, so maybe it’s not quite the stories of hardship my old man tells me about his tough Northern upbringing in the 60s. Yet I still get the feeling that when I try to explain this to my kids one day they’ll look at me the same way I did him when he told tales about hiking 7 miles in the snow to school.
Anyhow, in the absence of any kind of curated content (I’m ignoring the million or so curators on youtube; who would trust the kind of myopic psychopath who spends his time compiling internet videos?) I tend to careen sideways into music vids every now and again and go, “ooh, that’s quite good, isn’t it?” And then I put together this, the latest installment of the seemingly annual series Wanton Miscellany, in which I present some of these videos that I’ve stumbled over like a drunk idiot struggling to navigate the living room in the dark at 2am falling onto an upturned plug and screaming like he’s taken a hot knife to the liver.
That was a rough night.