A GUEST POSTING by SWC
Ten Reasons to Be Cheerful
I was sitting in a sports bar in Concourse D at Charlotte Airport, North Carolina waiting for a flight back to the UK. I am sat watching the Cleveland Indians win their 21st consecutive ball game (beating the Royals in the 10th Innings 4 to 3) – slowly munching on a plate of Nachos and sipping a Miller Lite (yeah Miller Lite, shut up, it’s quite nice) when the tannoy strikes up “Flight 245A to London Heathrow is delayed by four hours”.
Oh come on British Airways – you could nearly walk to London in that time. Sort of. What have I ever done to you? I’ve caught six flights with you in the last four months, every single one of them has been delayed and on one you lost my bag somewhere near Istanbul which is still lost now. There was a picture of me in that bag that is now being used as currency in a Turkish prison somewhere. Probably. That’s your fault you buggers.
I know it’s a first world problem and I should quit my moaning because I’m lucky. I’ve just been on a work paid trip to New Orleans, I’m healthy, happy, incredibly good looking, and I have a lovely family who will be delighted to see me when I get home in the next fifteen hours. I sigh, I stop moaning.
I sink back into my seat. I realise that I’m tired, I’m bored, and the salsa on the nachos has given me a slight bout of heartburn but I smile and get on with the wait. I then realise that I am smiling directly at a man across the bar and he is looking uncomfortable about it. I stop smiling and fish out my ipod from my bag. I’ve barely listened to music over the past four months due to being busy at work and not having a blog to write everyday – honestly, new albums from LCD Soundsystem, The Jesus and Mary Chain and Kendrick Lamar have arrived and I barely listened to any of them.
So before I left the UK I created a playlist of music released in 2017 that I have purchased, downloaded, stolen and barely listened to – about 400 tracks in all.
On the flight over I didn’t listen to any music because I watched Boss Baby and them for some reason the remake of Dad’s Army and then fell asleep.
My plan was to listen to this playlist on the flights and to reacquaint myself with what has been going on this year musically, to find some inspiration because if I’m honest I miss writing, I miss the fun of a blog, I miss the pointless compiling of lists telling you what I think are the best 50 songs that feature the weather in their title (Number One Happy When It Rains – obviously). I miss raving about how brilliant a new band is, I miss stealing other people’s ideas and claiming them as mine.
I’ll let you into a little secret, there is a chance that the WYCRA team might be reborn, because by the time you read this, Badger will probably be back from Australia, KC (now KT) will be back from honeymoon (Vietnam – a train ride from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh) and my workload will have reduced. I mean it won’t be WYCRA it will be called something else – but we have spoken about it – Anyway…
I pull out the iPod and the battery is low, it is giving me the little apple sign – bugger, it has switched itself on and had a wobbly, my fault for not locking it. It’s going to be a long four hours. My smile is reducing.
I wander over to the gate where I need to be – there is a bright shining light and choir of celestial squawking and I look over and see a long thin table full of plug sockets and ipod docks. I look up to the ceiling (where airplane fans there is a full scale model of a Bellanca 14-9L Crusair hanging – see above) and mouth ‘Thank You’ and the spirit of Biggles salutes me and flies off….
I plug in and get comfy, I press shuffle on the playlist and relax….
The four hours fly by (in the end it was three and a half hours in fact), there has been some brilliant music released this year and here are according to me the ten finest musical releases of the year so far, in reverse order and to be honest it could have been a Top 100 because it doesn’t include stuff by bands like Alvvays, The Shins, The Horrors, Fucked Up, Middle Kids, Communions and countless others. You are very welcome.
Rockabye Baby – Joey Bada$$ taken from ‘All Amerikkkan Badass’.
Just to get you warmed up. Within the first two minutes of this, Joey has jumped down your throat and called for a revolution and hollered ‘Fuck Donald Trump’ at you. Incredible, incendiary, seething hip hop from the greatest American Rapper that isn’t called Kendrick Lamar.
Percolator – Charly Bliss taken from ‘Guppy’
So I’m going to say it. Ok. Here goes. ‘Percolator’ is three things, firstly it’s the greatest song ever to have a kitchen appliance in its name, secondly it’s the greatest song by a band with a ‘name’ name since ‘Seether’ by Veruca Salt and thirdly, this, this three minute blast is what the words ‘bubblegum pop’ was invented for. There I feel better now.
Modern Act – Cloud Nothings taken from ‘Life Without Sound’
Which is pretty much the title of this piece summed up in music, a triumph call to arms. Confident, bold and yet slightly fragile. Quite easily the greatest moment of Cloud Nothings career so far.
Fade – Waxahatchee taken from ‘Out of the Storm’
‘Fade’ is a beautiful song. It comes at the end of the album, an album about heartbreak, and righting lots of wrong things. Then ‘fade’ comes on and it’s your own heart that breaks, well more melts, I suppose, as Kate Crutchfield tells you in a whispery vocal that she is “Walking Away” – it’s a compelling and intimate release.
You + Me – Public Service Broadcasting taken from ‘Every Valley’
The new Public Service Broadcasting album is a stroke of genius, the piece de resistance is this, right in the middle of it. A glorious, dreamy duet with Lisa Jen Brown of Welsh band 9Bach in which we hear the voice of PSB’s WIllgoose for the first time. It’s a ruddy delight.
Hymn for an Average Man – Algiers taken from ‘The Underside of Power’
Algiers are a difficult band to pigeonhole. What they are a devilishly clever band, ‘The Underside of Power’ is their second album and mixes funk, gospel, rock and R&B with a healthy slab of fury and noise. ‘Hymn for an average man’ takes aim at Trump voters with the aid of a skipped record sample and a sombre sounding piano and it is just stunning.
Planet – Four Tet ‘Single
I had stopped thinking that Four Tet could surprise me. I mean I knew that any new record would be incredible, but I didn’t expect this. Seven minutes of breathy vocals, thumping percussion, some synths and then this weird mesmering string thing plucking away in the back. Astonishing and the best use of a stringed instrument in a dance record since ‘The Private Psychedelic Reel’ (yes it does I’ve just checked it).
Arc of Bar – Japandroids taken from ‘Near to the Wild Heart’
You can almost hear the conversation in the recording studio “Hey Dave, you know what’s been missing from rock music over the last 70 years?”. Silence. “Songs about mosquitos”. Yup. A Seven minute tubthumping rock anthem about mosquitos (and other things) and you know what. Its totally brilliant.
Call The Police – LCD Soundsystem taken from ‘An American Dream’
“We all know this nothing” sings James Murphy. You speak for yourself young man. For me, and with a nod to the chap below, this has been the single most important musical release in the last four years. A big bold stadium rock sized anthem made just fucking perfect with a shamelessly liberal ‘borrowing’ of the melody from ‘Procession’ by New Order. Oh man. Every time I hear this I end up grinning like a chimp let loose in wool factory.
Humble – Kendrick Lamar taken from ‘Damn’
Sorry to be so utterly predictable but Damn Indeed. ‘Humble’ is incredible, a rapping masterclass, just heads and shoulders above everything else that is around. Not only is this the best single of the year, ‘Damn’ is also the best album of the year too, and that even features U2 for God’s Sake.
So there we have it and I’ve not even mentioned Run The Jewels, Spinning Coin, Swimming Tapes, Whiskey Stain, The National or Taylor Swift.
JC adds….I was going to keep this back till December in line with my request for postings that look back on the year that was for music. But I couldn’t resist. He’s been missed hasn’t he?