For our final Best Of 2018 podcast Ali, Chris Ward, Wesley Shearer, accompanied by our very own Young Father, Ian, discuss their favourite records of the year, and the best gigs of 2018. What do they choose? Well you’ll just have to listen to find out (although the tags at the bottom of this page give some clues), but we can say that there are a hell of a lot of winners, and nary a loser in sight as they decide that the year in music was a rather fine one.
You can still listen to our review of the best books of the year, with Vikki Reilly, and the review of the year in film, also with Chris & Wesley. And in the new year we can promise you even more special guests and discussion about all things cultural which are happening in and around Scotland, starting with the muscian and writer Beerjacket, (also sometimes known as Peter Kelly).
If you are new round these parts there is also quite a substantial number of previous SWH! podcasts for you to discover. If you aren’t yet a subscriber you can do so, (or simply listen) at iTunes, on Podbean, or by RSS (but you’ll need to have an RSS reader to do so). You can also download the podcast by clicking on the relevant link to the right of this post, or, if you want it right here, right now, you can listen on SoundCloud…
But before we get ahead of ourselves – if you can fit in one more ‘Best Of The Year’ list, small but perfectly formed, this is our annual choice of the 10 best songs reviewed on these pages over the last 12 months. As ever, it’s a list which focuses on individual tracks, but if you like what you hear you should investigate further as most of them are to be found on equally awesome albums or EPs.
That’s enough preamble – here’s the countdown, listed in order of their date of release, and what we thought about them at the time, with a few relevant updates…
Carla J. Easton has made music as a member of Teen Canteen, under the name of Ette, and on multiple other collaborations. In 2018 she released the album Impossible Stuff under her own name which made it clear that no matter the moniker it is business as usual as Easton continues to prove she is incapable of making music which is anything other than magical. Exhibit A is ‘Lights In The Dark’, and it is a moody and mature slice of electro pop which shows others just how this sort of thing should be done. Carla J. Easton deserves to reach the widest audience possible and this could be the song to do just that. Take a listen and see if you agree:
I first heard Lynnie Carson at one of Warren McIntyre’s Seven Song Clubs which are held at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre every month. It was a solo set and I was immediately blown away. Her voice has a warmth which is rare and welcome, and this is to the fore on her latest single ‘Love Is’, which she recorded with her band, the excellently monikered Hawking Gimmicks, made up of some fantastic musicians as was shown with their set at the recent Seven Song Club Weekender where they were a highlight. If you get the chance to see Lynnie, either on her own or with the band, don’t miss it as this is someone with music in her very bones, and the love she has for what she does is infectious. This is ‘Love Is’:
Most of our music reviews are a mixed bag when it comes to style and content, but the one you are about to experience definitely has a theme. It features great singers and great songs – deceptively simple yet they are all the more powerful for the manner they are produced and presented. This is music which stays with you longer after the last note sounds. Put simply, all of the people you are about to hear – they mean it, man.
Stay on till the end for a bonus track which is a fitting conclusion to this review. It’s not just thrown together, you know…
Alasdair Roberts has featured on these pages many times before, either for one of his many solo projects or in collaboration with others, such as with Ross Whyte, and The Furrow Collective. The latest of the latter sees him alongside composer Amble Skuse and Concerto Caledonia head-honcho David McGuinness for the album What Newswhich the three played in full at the launch at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe. Roberts is known for staying faithful to the folk traditions, but this latest record, with McGuinness’s wonderful piano and Skuse’s understated electronica, breathes new life into old songs.
To my untutored ear, there is something about the loops of all three which works together beautifully – the structure and format of the ballads enhanced and developed by the new accompaniment, and lending the stories themselves extra strength and vigour. Whatever the reason, the result is a quite remarkable record – one of the best of the year, and one of the best of Roberts’ career to date. I urge you to seek it out, and if you get the chance to see them live then make sure you book your seats in good time. To give you a taste as to what to expect, this is ‘The Fair Flower Of Northumberland’:
The summer’s almost here and the time is almost right for dancing in the street – but not quite yet, and this month’s music roundup reflects this as great big pop tunes and excellent electronica mix with more reflective musical musings.
It’s also a welcome combination of old friends and “new to us” acts, but what unites them all is that they will bring you joy. In fact, I would venture to say that this is the most purely pleasurable roundup we have posted in some time, if not ever. It’s certainly been one of the most played. It’s all about the balance, and the following is just right…
First off is ‘Good Reason’, from HQFU‘s new mini-album. This is one of the most anticipated releases of 2016 for those with a love of the melodic, electronic and magic. It’s the sort of record that made many of us fall in love with dance music in the first place, enticing you in with the opening bars and then proceeding to throw you around the room in a manner that can only be described as gay abandon with a hint of menace – and those are the best nights, right?:
If it’s January, it must be Celtic Connections, and it’s the perfect way to blow away the new year blues, often with the blues. Arguably the world’s greatest roots music festival, it continues to offer up a programme which is quite extraordinary in terms of its scope, and we should not take that for granted.
The first ticket I bought this year was for The Bathers, who are playing two nights at The Mackintosh Church. The Bathers have made some of my favourite records, music that’s on my ‘save from a fire’ list. If you’re not aware of their work you should change that situation, and once you’ve fallen for the songs be assured that they are even better live. It’s rare for them to play these days, so this promises to be something special. Here they are playing at the peak of their powers with ‘The Belle Sisters’:
I apologise for being a bit later than normal with this, but I seemed to go on a week’s holiday by mistake. Won’t happen again. Anyway, welcome to the best new music from April of which there was quite a lot. As well as what follows, we had the long list of this year’s Scottish Album of The Year Awards (more of which below) which once again highlighted how deep and wide and tall Scottish music is at the moment.
Last month saw a lot of electric dreams, melancholic musings, and moving melodies. A track which exhibits the latter two comes from The Deadline Shakes with their new single ‘Phonecalls In The Bath’. Always an interesting band, this shows a real leap forward in their songwriting and confidence in their music. Starting slowly it builds to reach epic proportions while never going over the top, and is packed so full of hooks you could do yourself an injury. Classic pop in the tradition of The Go Betweens, The Woodentops, Camper Van Beethoven and Sugar, this gets better with every listen and for me is the first classic pop song of summer 2015. Sun out, windows down, this is the perfect accompaniment. Good work fellas. Have a listen for yourself: