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 16 of a 20 part rundown of my favourite tracks of 2015
I spent a decent chunk of 2015 singing Hey Colossus’ praises to anyone would listen. And to a fair few who wouldn’t. Before getting around to reviewing both their 2015 records at the same time (here at WD we* pride ourselves on our** efficiency) I’d been screaming at people in supermarkets and yelling at passing cars to try and get the word out. “They’ve taken it to the next level!” I’d be saying into their terrified faces, “you’ve got to hear In Black & Gold!” Eventually it struck me that using this here blog might be more socially responsible, even if it would mean speaking to a smaller audience than the usual Saturday afternoon Tesco crowd.
At the time I said this about Hop the Railings:
“Hop the Railings is propelled along with the kind of almost motorik rhythm that can put some verve into the most languid of steps as gradually builds quietly to something of a stealthy crescendo. I’ve been listening to it on my morning walk to work and I swear I’m getting in 5-10 minutes earlier than usual. Unfortunately it also has the kind of don’t-give-a-fuck swagger that can lead to wanton jaywalking – there’s been at least on instance of me stepping out into traffic at the “if something’s worth doing/it’s worth doing wrong/you better run along” refrain, feeling so full of piss n’ vinegar that I figured that the cars better get the hell out of my way if they know what’s good for them.”
I stand by that awkwardly phrased sentiment. And I can also happily report that I’m yet to be involved in any accidents that listening to Hey Colossus was directly responsible for.
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.
If anyone asks I didn’t review In Black & Gold in anticipation of doing this double album feature. Ok? It’s not laziness – it’s well disguised forward planning.
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.
I like Hey Colossus! And I like Hotel Wrecking City Traders. So it stands to reason that I’m really going to like this split single, right?
Or am I?
…well, yes. Yes I am. I do hope you weren’t expecting a surprise twist there.
Part 6 of a 13 song recap of my 2013 in no particular order
Hey Colossus are a band not adverse to getting low down and dirty. They’ve been shaking up a bizarre cocktail of noise, psych, krautrock and whatever other nefarious aural stimulants can get their filthy mitts on for around a decade now. But for my money they’ve never quite gotten as low down neanderthal as this before. Hot Grave is an exercise in repetition, a single grinding riff topped with wild eyed growls and short synth waves. For nearly seven minutes. It should get dull, but it’s a hypnotic kind barbarism, like finding zen from being repeatedly punched in the face. It sounds a bit like Scissorfight might have if they’d found some room to fit some kosmische into their Southern caveman rock. Knuckles on the ground, eyes to the heavens.
The lyrics fit that vibe perfectly: a gleefully unhinged celebration of impending damnation. Whilst the guitars keeping on crashing that same riff like an ocean of piss and vinegar against a baffled shore the howls and snarls come from an audible cracked smile. Proof if ever it was needed that you don’t need to be angry to scream your lungs out. You can’t tell me the man yelling, “I’M FUCKING STEAMING!” isn’t having a damn ball. And all the while those slightly incongruous synths add an odd haze to the proceedings. They aren’t a major presence on Hot Grave but they do create a vague aura of psychedelia that the band pick up and run with throughout the rest of Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo. Which is what has made Hey Colossus such a continuously intriguing prospect for the past ten years: even whilst they’re relishing rolling in the gutter they’ve got one eye on the stars.