I’m never really been one for pulling together any ‘best of year’ lists, mainly for the fact that I’ve long been in the habit of not buying new music from September onwards so that I can offer up lists to folk who are looking to give me Xmas presents. 

2022 has been different, primarily for the fact that myself and Rachel have decided to really cut back on such extravagance and instead to go a few larger sized combined gifts in the shape of a few city breaks overseas next year.  We’ve also told extended family members and friends not to bother with Xmas presents for us this year…for too many folk, especially those with kids, every penny/pound is precious with the ridiculous increase in the cost of living these days.

All of which means I’m able to offer up a list of my favourite purchases this year.  Apart from the first mentioned, they are not in any particular order.


Happy EndingHiFi Sean and David McAlmont (Last Night From Glasgow)

It feels strange to be mentioning this double album as it won’t get a general release until February 2023, but it was provided to patrons of Last Night From Glasgow (LNFG) back in September as part of the bundle of records that came with the 2022 subscription, and indeed I’ll hang off from saying too much until it is available in the shops.

Thirteen glorious pieces of music spread across a double album (my version is on clear vinyl), I was lucky enough to be at LNFG’s headquarters when the test pressing had just arrived and so was treated to an early listen of Side A which opens with the title track.  It blew me away and got me very impatient for the arrival of the album.  My understanding is that the plan had been to have it on general release in September 2022, but capacity issues at the pressing plant meant it had to be done in various batches, and the decision was taken to push the release back to next year.  However, enough copies had been pressed to enable the LNFG patrons to be given their copy as scheduled.

David McAlmont‘s voice has always been something to treasure, but there’s something truly special about the way it matches up with Sean Dickson‘s electronic and production wizardry. Much of the album was recorded, over an extended period, in David’s home which is on the 18th Floor of a high-rise building in east London, while the added strings were conducted and recorded in Bangalore, India, which should give you a sense of how lush and exotic it all sounds. 

The duo have been trailing the release with the release of videos over on Sean’s YouTube channel – click here. Here’s one of the videos –


You Had A Kind FaceButcher Boy (Needle Mythology)

The fact I’ve placed this release below the HiFi Sean/David McAlmont album should speak volumes.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a total groupie when it comes to Butcher Boy, and the long-awaited release of a ‘best of’, courtesy of Pete Paphides‘ wonderful Needle Mythology label (on which Robert Forster has also had two long out-of-print albums issued on vinyl) did not disappoint.  Beautifully designed and packaged, complete with liner notes from award-winning novelist John Niven, the album offers up twelve of the very best from one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, while a bonus 7″ single delivered three band new songs, the first new material in five years. 

I wrote extensively about You Had A Kind Face back in April.  Click here if you fancy a read,

mp3: Butcher Boy – I Know Who You Could Be


The OverloadYard Act (ZEN F.C/Island Records)

 I can’t recall when I first encountered Yard Act.  I don’t listen much to the radio these days, so it was unlikely to have been there.  I also don’t watch too much in the way of TV, but I do use YouTube when I’m a bit bored, and I’ve a feeling that, having watched a few favourite new videos, Yard Act were a recommended watch that I clicked on, but the song did sound familiar, so I might have heard them firstly on BBC Radio 6.

It would have been for the single The Overload, an infectiously catchy effort that came out in late 2021, complete with tongue-in-cheek and memorable promo.  A few clicks here and there led me to come across a few earlier singles, and I was more than intrigued. 

The debut album, also called The Overload, came out last January and I picked up a copy, on green vinyl, in a well-known Glasgow independent record store within a few days.  It’s remained on heavy rotation ever since, to the extent that Rachel is now fully familiar with the band and will join me in going along to see them play Glasgow Barrowlands in a few months time – their previous visits to the city have coincided with me being elsewhere!

One reviewer has said that Yard Act consist of ‘sharp guitars, even sharper lyrics, plenty of fun and lots of attitude’, which is about as perfect a summary as can be offered.  They are my favourite discovery of 2022.

mp3: Yard Act – 100% Endurance


Super ChamponOtoboke Beaver (Damnably)

The onset of the pandemic was cruel to many singers and bands, none more so than Japan’s Otoboke Beaver whose members had just taken the decision to quit their full-time jobs and have a serious go at making a living from their music, ten years after first forming.

Plans for tours in the USA and Europe had to be shelved, as indeed their intention to record a new album.  The timings were initially pushed backed, and while the new album did eventually hit the shops in last Summer, the UK gigs were again pulled as COVID restrictions made travelling and touring complicated and tricky.  I hope, somehow, they can be re-scheduled for 2023.

In the meantime, Super Champon did not disappoint.  It’s the usual highly energetic and breathless mix of superfast post-punk music, with none of the songs coming close to overstaying their welcome.  Indeed, it is something of a shock to the system that the whole album is over in just a little over 21 minutes….especially when you consider you’ve actually listened to eighteen tracks!

Oh, and there are nine songs on each side of the album. Side A is something of a marathon with a running time of 14:25…..while Side B is seemingly over faster than a Usain Bolt 100m race with its nine tracks extending to all of 7:18…..with two songs taking up more than four of those minutes.

Here’s a track from Side A:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – Nabe Party with pocket brothers

While here’s the full 18 seconds of the fourth track on Side B. It took me longer to type out the song’s title than it did to listen to it:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – You’re No Hero Shut Up F*ck You Man-Whore


Mr Morale & The Big SteppersKendrick Lamar (Top Dawg Entertainment)

As with the Otoboke Beaver album, this one also has eighteen songs, but with the running time stretching to 73 minutes, it needs four sides of vinyl to accommodate them.

Kendrick Lamar’s first new album in half-a-decade is not an easy listen, certainly in comparison to Good Kid M.A.A.D City (2012), To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) and Damn (2017), whose songs cemented his place as the most eminent and best hip-hop artist currently on the planet.  It’s an album from which the rewards really come from repeated listens, which I was more than happy to do as I had picked up tickets for a live performance in Glasgow at the beginning of December 2022, a show for which I would write this review for SWC’s blog, No Badger Required.

Mr Morale & The Big Steppers was a long time in the making, and it comes from a period of well-documented turbulence in America, particularly for black people.  Kendrick Lamar doesn’t shirk from addressing many of these big issues, but it’s an album in which he makes reference to his own life, reflecting, often in a downbeat manner, on his upbringing, his family, his fame and success, and his unwillingness or inability to be the spokesman for his generation or community.  It’s an album in which a lot of anger and bitterness comes through, partly at the state of the world right now, but also as much at himself for his failings as a person.

As you can imagine, it proved to be a complex album to make sense of, certainly over the first few listens, but with time and my own willingness to not seek to compare it with the aerlier albums, I came to the realisation that it is a masterpiece, albeit not without imperfections.

mp3: Kendrick Lamar – N95
mp3: Kenrick Lamar – Crown

That’s the five albums I most want to highlight.

Honourable mentions also to:-

Album ClubAlbum Club (Last Night From Glasgow)
A Brighter Beat (15th Anniversary Edition)Malcolm Middleton (Full Time Hobby)
Broken EquipmentBodega (What’s Your Rapture)
Everything Was ForeverSea Power (Golden Chariot Records)
Fear FearWorking Men’s Club (Heavenly)
Summer Lightning The Bathers (Last Night From Glasgow)
The Last Thing LeftSay Sue Me (Damnably)
The Voltarol Years Half Man Half Biscuit (R.M. Qaultrough Records)
Under The BridgeVarious (Skelp Wax Records)
Wet LegWet Leg (Domino)




It was SWC who introduced me to Kendrick Lamar, in fact it was via a recommendation in an e-mail a few years ago, in which he said the 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly was a bona-fide classic. I was intrigued enough to go seek out a few tunes on-line, and from that impressed enough to pick up a copy of it, along with its predecessor, Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City from 2012.

I had no idea that the young man was a true multi-million selling superstar of the hip-hop/rap genre with a huge following back in the USA and whose name was being increasingly dropped by those who saw themselves as influencers across the media here in the UK.  I was just enjoying his music in the same way that I can with many contemporary black musicians, without me having any deep understanding of what he was singing about.

Come 2017, and I read that he was about to release new material.  It was something I really looked forward to as it would my first opportunity to pick up on something at the time of its release instead of me looking back.  The first of his new songs which was unleashed on a listening public was this:-

mp3: Kendrick Lamar – Humble

Tremendous tune, but……………………..

I was, initially, very shocked.  It sounded like an old-fashioned misogynist rant – the sort of stuff that I thought had been driven out of the rap scene, for the most part, in the 21st Century.  And from a rapper who had a reputation for dealing with all sorts of injustices and prejudices?  Something was totally wrong.

And then, having given myself a shake, aided by grabbing a few views of the promo video, I breathed that almighty sigh of relief.

There’s a review out there by Bianca Giulione which, I think, nails it:-

“….he’s audacious yet self-aware, and just the right level of smug. With just two verses of lyrical invocation at his disposal, Kendrick makes the few hundred words feel like a manifesto.”

DAMN….I wish I could sum up music like that.


45 45s @ 45 : SWC STYLE (Part 40)



6 – The Blacker the Berry – Kendrick Lamar (2015, Interscope Records)

Released as a single in February 2015 (Reached Number 83)

Before TSOBO stopped we were running down a list of the 200 Best Songs of the Decade (the 2010s that is) and this track was the track that Badger and I ranked at Number 2 – the Number 1 track will follow at Number 3 – but please feel free to place your bets as to what you think it might be. This is an extraordinary track., It’s a racially charged, fierce, and angry riposte to hatred, set largely around the time of the death of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager gunned down by a police officer in Florida.

Kendrick Lamar was, the only American rapper who could have made this record. It’s the greatest hip hop record of the last twenty years, easily, and Kendrick Lamar is, right now, the best rapper in the world. Oh and in 2014, I very nearly met his mother. Sort of.

In 2014 I was in Los Angeles, on a whistle-stop visit to see a friend of mine who had just retired from the Los Angeles Police Department (District 17 – Devonshire – which is why I knew him). His name is Jason and he literally knows everyone in Los Angeles. He had worked for LAPD all his life, he worked on the OJ Simpson case, he worked on the Rodney King case, and he counted various celebrities as close personal friends. Largely because in 2005 his patrol patch was Mulholland Drive in Beverley Hills.

We are sat in the bar of a restaurant (Johnny, JC – It was South End) in Venice Beach and Jason has just asked me what I want to do for the rest of the afternoon. I look at him and tell him that I’m unsure. I’m quite happy strolling along the beach – I quite fancy popping up to Santa Monica and perhaps having a cup of tea in the roof top bar at the Huntley. He looks at me, shakes his head. “You are so English” he says. “Let me show you the real Los Angeles” .

We drive. Or rather he does. Our arms hanging out of the window, radio on, sun streaming into the car. In my mind we look like Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice, only in LA obviously and with better haircuts.

Our first stop is a place called MacArthur Park. Although Jason, knows all these places by their district names – This is Rampage apparently. MacArthur Park is, apparently the place to go in Los Angeles if you need to get a fake passport. It’s a beautiful spot. Jason tells me that in 2007 (six weeks before I met him in fact) that there was a riot where we stood. “A riot”, he said with a sad look in his eye, “caused by a couple of racist dumbass cops” On the way back he tells me that May 1st 2007 was the only time in thirty years that he thought he’d made the wrong career choice. As a black guy, he took a hell of a lot of shit, for doing the job he does, from both sides of the divide.

Our next stop is Compton. Gang Central if you believe the hype. Jason was born in Compton. He shows me the house where he was born. “Four rooms”, he says. “I shared a bed with my brother until I was six”. He tells me that this still feels like home, despite the fact that he now has a massive house on the edge of the desert in Palmdale.

He points at another house across the street, “you see that lady in the window, the one with the hat on” I nod. “Kendrick Lamar’s mother” he says. “That’s his grandmas house.”. What. Oh. My. Jason looks at me and winks, “He’s almost as popular around here as I am” he says with a laugh.

Being in Compton feels weird, I feel totally safe, but I can’t help but gawp at the shoes slung over the telephone wires, a sign of a gang murder nearby. I’m a tourist in a place where I shouldn’t really be a tourist. He parks his car, gives a nearby lad $5 and tells him that there is $10 more if he looks after it for an hour and we walk off. For what it’s worth, Compton is nice. I recommend it. We stop at a corner store and Jason looks at me.

“Could you go in there and get me a Lotto ticket”, he asks me. “I’ve just gotta make a phone call” He opens the door to the store and literally pushes me in. I stupidly don’t turn right around.

Inside there are four guys, three are wearing hoods and bandanas that are the same colour (Green). The three green guys sit on stools by the counter, and behind the counter is the biggest guy I have ever seen in my life. He looks like a bigger, angrier, stronger version of Mike Tyson. They all stop what they are doing and look at me. The stupid English guy in gang central.

I wander up to the counter and go all Hugh Grant on them. “I say, chaps, do you, erm, gosh, have Lotto here” is what I probably said. The big guy stands up and makes himself ever taller, its then I see the baseball bat behind the counter. He does this lip sucking thing and the three other lads all stand up as well.

“You the Feds?” he asks me. I look around for Jason. “Do I look like the Feds?” I stutter. “Yep” all four of them say at the same time. I’m sure the baseball bat has just moved. One of the guys takes a step closer. “Where you from?” he asks me, it felt intimidating at the time. I like to think that I played it cool though.

“England” I say followed by. “Long way from home…I’m just visiting…” . My voice was getting squeakier by the second. Then the door opens and Jason walks in and immediately the big guy shouts out something and walks over to Jason and embraces him. “He’s with me…” he says and I’m fairly sure that my bowel breathed a sigh of relief. They all start laughing at me. Jason hugs me and says sorry and then tells me to meet his brother Don. Don grabs me and tells me that this was all planned. Jason phoned him when I went to the bathroom at lunch.

I eventually see the funny side and as it happens this turns out to be one of the best days of my life.

Here’s two more of my favourite hip hop tracks from the last decade. One from LA and one from the East Coast just for balance. The first one’s for you Jason. You wait until you come to big bad Devon. I’m going to take you to the Big Sheep and run off and leave you.

Norf Norf – Vince Staples (2015, Def Jam Records, Did Not Chart)

Rockabye Baby – Joey Bada$$ (2017, Cinematic Records, Did Not Chart)


JC adds……the timing of this post is totally coincidental. It landed in my inbox more than three weeks ago and has long been scheduled for today as part of the rundown.

The reference to South End, the restaurant in Venice Beach, along with the namechecks given to myself and Jonny, are related to the fact that, until COVID-19 changed everything, the Villains were scheduled to spend a week in LA as the guests of Jonny and his wife, a trip that would also take in my birthday.  SWC had booked a table at South End for us to celebrate that occasion.

Maybe next year…..