It's been a little on the quiet side on the blog so far this month and as ever I had so much more planned to get done and published. However I've just had one of the busiest weeks at work I think I've ever had the displeasure to experience. Now, don't get me wrong here because I'm all for working hard and getting on with a job I'm paid to do. When getting paid such a pittance for what I've been expected to do it just increases the existential woe factor. At the end of each day I could barely manage to look at my laptop screen after being sat in front of my work screen all day. Bah! It's over thankfully, although I only had the two paltry days off for Xmas this year. Rubbish! I'd planned to have podcast #12 done and dusted way before now but I've still not even written it up or recorded it yet.
Not really one for jumping on bandwagons - although if the band is good then I'll be jumping on it I can assure you - with all these countdowns and whatnot I thought I would share some of my own highlights and favourites from the past year. A kind of consolidation post, I suppose. But there has been so much to share I didn't want to waffle on at my usual length. So, that post is yet to come but you get all of this as an added extra special bonus. Consider it a little Christmas box if you must although I'm afraid you won't be finding any Christmas songs. Well, not the tired ones they drag out each and every year anyway. The only one I can stand to hear these days is Stop the Cavalry, something that also has me judged because of it's more melancholic nature. As far as I'm concerned all of those wretched and tired songs that get pulled out year on year ad infinitum, should all be wiped from history! I would much rather just listen to proper regular music thank you very much. Or at the least something new like the couple I have below for you. Now, who's for a (bottle of) sherry and a (six pack) mince pies? Can I make mine a bottle of bourbon instead please? In fact, while working at the weekend I stuck on some Planet Rock and they were playing my kind of 'Twelve Days of Christmas' in that the links to the song itself were tenuous. Living, Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) by Led Zeppelin fulfilled the 'Maids-a-milking' quota. And while I mention that, 'Maids-a-milking..' That's a bit rude isn't it? Or is it just me?
#1 Sleepthief featuring Kristy Thirsk - Ubi Caritas
Right then. The first Christmas song is something rather special and beautiful. It sounds so ethereal it was hard for me not to trip out somewhat. I mean this in the most legal of ways and there were no drugs involved of any kind. When music is this tranquil there's no need for any substance to evoke some form of transcendentalism. The magic in the vocals combined with the production and everything else does the job very well enough indeed.
#2 Mary Gauthier - Christmas in Paradise
Christmassy song #2 comes from an amazing songwriter and singer from across the pond as well. I feel privileged to have been introduced to Mary Gauthier's music earlier this year when I was sent her latest album, Live At Blue Rock, to review. Love, love, love it. There is such passion and depth to her songs or even just the way she works and delivers them if they're not her own. An amazing talent indeed! Christmas really is in Paradise but only if you sit back and listen to Mary sing it to you. Enjoy!
We're back over this side of the Atlantic for #3. Recorded in a conservatory to be precise and, and.....wait for it....wait for it! The music comes courtesy of Henrietta Harpist on a very real and amazing harp! It is sublime.The piece is I Giorni, a composition by Ludovico Einaudi and was recorded for the RTTV Sessions Christmas Specials. Who doesn't love the sensational sounds from the harp? I remember catching American harpist Joanna Newsom on an episode of Jools Holland's Later programme a few years back which put me in a trance I didn't return from for days.
#4 Jinnwoo - Woman
#5 Leo Stannard - Lose Yourself
#6 Mark Nichols - Guardian
Mark released his debut EP Guardian in 2011 which quite rightly saw him begin developing strong links with BBC Introducing. Things have pretty much snowballed for him since then as he received more and more airplay and ventured out on a national tour. Success continued as he was snapped up by Tanglewood Guitars who were smart enough to endorse him as a brand rep and with the release of his winter single The Storm back in January. The final quarter of 2012 has kept Mark busy following the release of his latest EP The Traveller on 17th September and a 3 month tour including a BBC Radio London live session, supporting for Juan Zelada (who I saw at Bakewell Music Festival and is full of energetic fabness by the way) and a headline set at The London Acoustic Guitar Show alongside many top well-known names. I say this about many of the acts I discuss and share but it is so evident that Mark is going to be a huge hit in the music world. He has what it takes to really break through into the mainstream but with all the depth of those that are yes equally fantastic but just who don't manage to make it through. Mark will be there for them, no doubt helping make the way for others to do so in the future in spite of how tough it is out there.
#7 Rita Payne - Stay
I've not yet had chance to check out more of their stuff but I have to admit I'm bursting and tingling with excitement at the prospect. Citing influences including Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, The Civil Wars, Bon Iver, Simon & Garfunkel, Seth Lakeman and Bruce Springsteen I can already guess Rita Payne will be featuring on my playlist a fair bit in the coming year. Visit Rita Payne's official page at https://www.facebook.com/TheRitaPayne.
#8 Aaron Shanley - sometimes people just fall out of love
#9 Nate Jones - We Are
#11 Villagers - Nothing Arrived
Villagers really did not disappoint when I saw them at Truck Festival in July this year. Conor O'Brien is truly captivating to watch and listen to live and this latest single from forthcoming album Awayland (out next month) has whetted my appetite for more new tunes so much so my salivating may require a flood warning to be issued.
#12 Wild Beasts - Stray