Many thanks to all of you who took the time to drop me a line with your personal Top 10 albums of 2016. More than 200 different records were nominated of which 34 received multiple nominations, with #1 and #2 in the list receiving by far the most. Here’s the reverse rundown of what I’ve submitted to the 2016 BAMS on behalf of the readers of The (New) Vinyl Villain:-

10.The Spook School – We Try To Be Hopeful
9. Miaoux Miaoux – School Of Velocity
8. Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space
7. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
6. Belle & Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
5. John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
4. Blur – The Magic Whip
3. Lonelady – Hinterland
2. New Order – Music Complete
1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

For what it’s worth, only two of my own Top 10 made the list, which kind of makes me worried that I’m out of touch with the readership but I console myself with the fact that I spend so much time looking backwards for the blog that I’m really unable to keep up much with new music and therefore the number of new albums I buy or listen to is ridiculously limited. Having said that, Mike over at Manic Pop Thrills has put together a mouth-watering list of new albums that are scheduled for release in 2016 and so I expect to be a bit more active on that front in 2016.

I would like to finish by posting a personal Top 10 of 2015 from ISM, a friend and occasional but discerning reader who is always telling me to end what he calls my obsession with 80s jingly-jangly indie-pop. None of his choices made the final list, but I wanted to share with you his cracking descriptions on why he fell for certain records in 2015:-

Hudson Mowhawk – Lantern

Glasgow’s supplier of beats and cutting edge sounds to Kanye West (he’s on his payroll) adds great tunes for his second album.

Four Tet – Morning/Evening

Ssublime, ambitious two 20 minute long pieces with beats, samples and tunes – fought the punk rock wars to get rid of such pretentiousness – and lost!

Mogwai – Music Industry 3, Fitness Industry 1 EP

Remixes and a blistering new tune in Teenage Exorcists.

Craig Armstrong – Far From the Madding Crowd OST

The best soundtracks are written under our noses up in Park Circus, but beware, 50% sublime orchestral tunes and 50% ‘enters room and sits on sofa’ as per most film scores.

Idjut Boys – Versions

Deep, dubby, sub-Fleetwood Mac outtake type bliss! I know, who would have thought it possible or desirable!

Damian Lazarus – One Hour With (Mixmag cover CD November)

The fine art of the DJ dance mix, taking the willing on dizzying musical trip – and leaving the unwilling grumbling ‘WTF is this all about’?!

Four Tet – Pink

Him again, this time with a compilation of magnificent sold out 12″ releases first issued in 2012 and only made available as a download in the UK afterwards (or Japanese import CD – I know, get a life) before being released on a double vinyl album a few weeks ago, SO IT COUNTS for 2015!

Admiral Fallow – Tiny Rewards

Too early to tell how good this is, but who can resist their latest efforts after absorbing their tunes after seeing so many excellent live performances?

Trevor Jackson Presents Science Fiction Dancehall

One more re-release of old stuff allowed surely? – in this case a collection of original spaced-out dub released on the On U Sound label from way back and far ahead of its time.

John Hopkins – Late Night Tales

‘Dance’ mix of tracks with hardly any beats, but instead a collection of tunes and moods forming something a lot bigger than the sum of its parts.


JC adds…..

Seems only fair to recognise his contribution along with what was a very clear winner from all you good good people.

mp3 : Hudson Mohawke – Scud Books
mp3 : Courtney Barnett – Pedestrian At Best

Oh and as part of an effort to get more with it in 2016, I’ll be doing the occasional bonus post on the occasional midday featuring new music that has caught my fancy.  You’ve been warned……..




Cardiff, Canada and Courtney

First a question – When does a song move from just being a song to qualifying as a classic? Does it have to be a certain age? Or does it just have to be infuriatingly brilliant? I ask because this week I have chosen three songs that are less than three years old, one is less than ten months old and I think all three are already classics in my mind. I know that in ten years’ time just after JC has done his 60 best C60 mixtapes at 60 series, he will revisit ‘Cult Classics’ and some young whippersnapper will pick and post a wonderfully witty tribute to these three songs, so I am getting there first. I am aware that this probably makes me Mystic Meg or something but it’s a stigma I’m willing to bear (oh and Aquarius watch out on your normal walk to work, there will be a stranger bearing bad news, particularly if you work in the public sector).

So let’s start with a blast from the past – well November 2011 at least – and ‘Polymers Are Forever’ by Cardiff’s Future of the Left. Future of the Left formed in 2005 when the much missed McLusky and the not so much missed Jarcrew split and some of its members formed Future of the Left. The driving force behind the band is one Andy ‘Falco’ Falkous, and I do not shrink from this statement, a man who is perhaps the greatest songwriting talent in Britain today. Yes better than Morrissey, and yes even better than Gary Barlow. His lyrics are brilliant, funny, political, polemic and poignant. He has written sings about everyone and everything from Seb Coe to Robocop (Wonderfully called ‘Robocop 4 – fuck off Robocop’) via Kim Kardashian.

In November 2011 they released the track ‘Polymers Are Forever’, which in my mind is the closest thing Future of the Left have ever got to writing and recording a pop song, although they would probably kill me for saying it. This is one of the things I love about Future of the Left, behind all the noise and ferociousness of the lyrics and energy of the guitars there are tunes snapping away. This one has a chorus that includes the words” ba ba ba ba” for christs sake. It is kind of two songs in one this, the first bit is a shouty pop song and then it goes into a beautiful little ode to Polymers. It is also the only song ever written to feature the words ‘Quantum Mechanics’ and for that reason alone, you must own this song.

mp3 : Future of the Left – Polymers Are Forever

It was the taster for the bands second album ‘the plot against common sense’ in which all songs were listed without capital letters, I don’t know why. It comprises 15 tracks and its worth every one of the seven pounds or so that I paid for it. It is a wonderful album and one for me that gets better everytime I play it.

After this the band announced that their next album would be crowdsourced through the website Pledge. After five hours they had enough money to record it. We then saw the release of ‘How to stop your Brain in An Accident’. That too is wonderful.

Next time a short hop into 2012 and to the Canadian rock duo Japandroids. At the end of 2012 when everyone was writing lists of their Top Ten this and that, one song for me stood out – it was in nearly everyones lists (not interestingly the NME’s) – and yet I have never heard of it or of the band that made it. That song was ‘The House that Heaven Built’ by Japandroids. So I checked it out.

Japandroids for those of you who don’t know describe their music as one part classic rock one part punk and claim to be heavily influenced by Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. I was say that they are more than two thirds punk and little under a third classic rock, but I’m a pedantic arse. What they are bloody brilliant. I can’t think of a better place to introduce their music to you if you haven’t heard it than ‘The House That Heaven Built’ – for me its one of the best songs of the last fifteen years. How this hasn’t been a massive hit in the UK I have no idea (actually I have but let’s leave that debate for the Daily Mail Comments Page). It sounds a lot like the early 90s grunge sound that I’ve written about – and if you liked the Buffalo Tom song I wrote about a few weeks ago then you will love this. Simple riffs, massive chorus, repeat until you tired of smiling.

mp3 : Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built

On top of this song Japandroids then released the album ‘Celebration Rock’ an album which Rolling Stone claimed to be ‘One of the Ten Coolest Albums Ever’. Now regular readers will know that I am all over cool and am happy to act as the ‘Spokesperson of cool’ for this blog, and I have to say normally I find Rolling Stone so far up its own arse its shoving tissue up it to blow its nose – but on this occasion they are right. ‘Celebration Rock’ is one cool record. One you need to own if you don’t already. It is already a classic, there I’ve said it. Happy now.

Coming right up to date, earlier on I said that Andy Falkous was the songwriting genius of this generation, well time to meet another one. An Australian one at that. Not sure why that is relevant right now, but bear will me and my closely edited Guardian reading acceptable xenophobia.

Around Christmas 2013 was the first time I heard ‘Avant Gardener’ by Courtney Barnett. It was ‘One of those Moments’. I was running through the streets of Exeter in a pathetic attempt to shed that extra mince pie I had the night before. This came on the Ipod it was on a bunch of songs given to me by a friend. I had to stop, not because I was tired, sweating and looking like a stuck pig, but because of this song. A song that tells the story of a lady who has an anaphylactic panic attack whilst gardening in the sun in the middle of an Australian heatwave (See it was relevant). Lyrically it is wonderful as well, it contains the immortal line “The paramedic thinks I’m clever cos I play guitar, I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying.” Brilliant. It also I think is the only song written to feature the word ‘Pseudoephedrine’.

mp3 : Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

It featured on the EP ‘A Sea of Split Peas’ and got precisely nowhere in the charts. Yet there at the end of year polls it sat, It was song of the year according to Pitchfork, number 6 in the NME Tracks of the Year. It is an incredible record, half sang, half rapped in a lazy, wonky kind of a way that makes you wonder what on earth you have just heard. Now this song is only ten months old but is anyone going to tell me that its not a classic….