Saturday, 9 February 2013


The inevitable has happened. I now fully appreciate Peter Jackson's directorial and productive woes which led him to the decision to split The Hobbit film adaptation into not two, but three parts. Yes, my overview/review did indeed become its own trilogy. I'm reminded of reading the Lord of the Rings parody Bored Of The Rings which my Uni friends kindly bought me as part of a birthday present almost eleven years to the very day. BOTR is not a major film. It is an utterly silly parody of one of my actual favourite books so I recommend it whether you're a Tolkien fan or not. It has gone even further however. Into the realms of the quadrilogy. So from LOTR to the Alien saga. Let's hope I don't have to split it further and take on a whole other franchise but within the same one. Yes, Predator, I may be coming to get you!

Apologies for not being a tad briefer and being able to complete this overview/review all in one post. That would have been much neater. But then of course I would have no doubt missed out even more than I already did with those top albums featured in Part I. There's just so very much to look back on and include! It actually makes me dizzy doing so. Looking back at all this and trying to consolidate it into blog posts at the same time as trying desperately (and failing miserably) to keep up with this new year's fantastic offerings. When thinking about Luke Ritchie's The Water's Edge being the first album I reviewed back in early March I'm like WTFing at this crazy time speed phenomenon. Surely there must be some kind of 'Big Bad' The Doctor needs to come and sort out. Could it be The Rani did not perish during that Last Great Time War, and is now somehow siphoning off our time? I don't recall getting the memo of how we're being sucked into some bizarro world anyway. I remember writing that Luke Ritchie review just before going to Wales for a weekend break. There, I watched the awesome Norwegian film Troll Hunter. Not sure that needs to be expressed here but if you haven't seen it yet, you should do! I must warn you though, afterwards you will want to visit Scandinavia and hunt trolls. Seriously, don't laugh just yet. You just watch it and see. I can't recall if it was last year I first saw Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, or if it was 2011. No matter, it is one of those films I can (and do) watch over and over. Again, if you've not seen it, give it a try. Oh dear. Digressing once more. And so early on too. There is no hope! 

Let's crack on before Christmas really does come to smack us in the face again. Do make yourself comfortable and put those feet up. Grab a nice cup of tea or coffee, a beer or glass of wine perhaps. Once again, the below are those that really stuck out as something special last year. However, that doesn't mean I hold any of the other bands or artists in any less esteem. As with the albums, I will undoubtedly miss some and for this I apologise in advance. What can I say? Your time will come.

As with everything there are just so many songs from last year all worthy of mentioning but a few that really stood out include:

Follow Me Down by The Slow Readers Club
Easily one of, if not THE, very best of a great lot. Just such oomph and presence in this track. It verges on the epic, smashing through everything else you will have heard. It is also available to download for free so if you enjoy it why not grab your own copy. Be sure to share it too please.

Wired by The Scholars
The first of the latest set of five fantastic singles from this awesome band was released last October. This is also a FREE download so grab your copy and share your love for The Scholars.

Last of the Hobo Kings by Mary Gauthier (from the album Live At Blue Rock)
This particular song isn't exactly from 2012 but it was released in the UK late last year on Mary's latest album, Live At Blue Rock. It is a beautiful tribute to a true American character. Easily now another one of my top favourites. As is Mary, who's music I'm now following with great interest.

Paradise Lost by Syd Arthur
This tune is epic! It is anthemic. It is so off the scale marvelous there aren't words on any of the planets in the galaxy to do it justice. It is like a positive hallucinogenic experience without the need for drugs. It goes so many places it can cause motion sickness but it isn't the kind you want to avoid. Contemporary psychedelica steeped in genre history but nevertheless all its very own unique tune. Stunning!

High Lights by Whitemoor
The first single from the band's forthcoming second album Horizons. I reviewed this when it was released back in November (>>here<<) concluding it is a very sneaky tease of the greatness lying in store for us on the album due out this spring.

Eve by fiN
There will be more about fiN in Part III of this review. Each song they produce is so unique and often completely different to what has come before it. Eve was the second of two singles released together (its partner being Twenty Three). It was also the first song of theirs I heard and pulled me deep in to appreciating their quality. Amazing!

I must leave it there for now or I will list on for infinity, as you well know.

I think most singer-songwriters aren't too at home with the label. I too, think labels should be done away with as far as possible. However, when writing up posts such as this, for award type things too, there needs to be such categories I suppose. Singer-songwriter covers a fair bit though. It must also include the art of musicianship because most, if not all, singer-songwriters have mastered at least one instrument (and most often more). Be it guitar, piano, banjo or whatever.

Luke Jackson
Luke will be featured in the Live Music post but when discussing artists that really stood out in 2012, it would be a grievous crime to omit him? Luke didn't just stand out, he jumped out with such a phenomenal force the reverberations (or reverbnations, if we wish to be droll) will still be felt come 2015, or even well beyond that I'm sure! 2012 saw him release his debut album More Than Boys, produced by Martyn Joseph with whom he also toured from October. Nominated for 2 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards this year he deserved to bag them both but naturally competition was fierce. It is safe to say those Folk Awards have not seen the last of him and I fully expect to see him pick up numerous awards in the coming years. The future is so bright for young Mr Jackson he best put on some shades to avoid the sun glare. Tonight I'm off to see him for the second time in just a few months and really cannot wait. The video below is of Wayfaring Stranger filmed live at Luke's gig at The Merchant Inn in Rugby as part of Rugby Roots. Just watch, listen and feel those goosebumps it gives you. It was even more amazing there in that room that evening. Such power and perfection! (Jump to my review of that gig >>here<<)

Aidan Logan

Another young guy with a big bright future is Aidan Logan from Belfast. I was so humbled and appreciative to him recently when he asked for my feedback and opinion on the new song he'd produced all by himself. As his debut album has been a little delayed, Aidan wanted to share something new with his followers to thank them for their support and encouragement. I'd had a rubbish day that day and was feeling sorry for myself so being asked for my opinion on this perked me up in a huge way. Standing Next To Me is an amazing effort considering it was all done on his lonesome. His talents are showcased well and you can hear the passion he has for making music so very clearly. His album is one I'm very much looking forward to this year. Aidan is a hugely talented young singer-songwriter with an incredibly bright and long future in music ahead of him.

Perry Hood
I was quite taken aback when first listening to Perry Hood's debut EP, Ropes. The songwriting, vocals and everything about the songs yells 'top talent'! It yells it so loudly there's a risk of being deafened. Deafened in the best possible kind of way. The passion in his voice as he plays is so powerful it could knock down buildings. I got to hear the track Lost before he put it out on a second EP of tunes and although seemingly a demo, it blew me away. It revealed a vocal range capable of moving you. There's a brand spanking new collection of tunes on the cards for release very soon as Perry has been working with a band to produce Skin and Bone. This will be available as a download, on CD and a very limited amount of clear vinyls. I do hope I can get to see him play at some point this year too.

Andrew Page
Andrew's debut album, Open The Door is a breathtakingly beautiful set of original songs. Again it has been almost a whole year since I first came across him and his music. His videos are always very welcome because he demonstrates such a deeply natural ability to play and sing. He knocks me for six each and every time! I will see him play live this year! Even if that involves teleportation, time travel or whatever it takes. As good old Captain Picard oft said, 'Make it so!' One of Andrew's latest videos is one of his own songs, Happiness from Open The Door which I shared on a very recent blog post so I've picked out this beautiful cover of Augustana's Boston. There are like millions of videos on his YouTube page so get viewing and enjoying because they are amazing!

Thomas Smith
Tom drew me in with the first song I heard from him, Moon Bird. His thought-provoking lyrics, delicate yet strong vocals and goosebump-inducing music are star quality. The follow up song Mr Carroll was even more amazing and there have been a few more posted on his Soundcloud page you need to check out.  There is much much more to come this year from Thomas who is looking to appear at a few festivals over the summer as well as gearing up to record his official debut EP. Muchosly excited about this. In the meantime you can grab FREE downloads from Tom's Soundcloud page including the latest Trouble's Got You Down.

Nate Jones
Beyond WOW is how I described Nate's music after listening to just a few of his songs for the first time. The vocals are crisp, the lyrics heartfelt and poignant. For his young age, he has a very mature outlook while retaining what's important about youth. I've mentioned passion quite a bit and Nate has this by the planet-load. With a mutual appreciation for the legendary beat writer Jack Kerouac, this is just one of many influences I hear in his output. His performance lays his soul bare for all to soak up. If you buy songs from his website, 50% of the money goes to World Vision so as well as getting some truly wonderful music you will be donating to a very worthy cause. Go on. Get yourself some top tunes today. Perhaps start with the incredibly beautiful Autumn Road below. I'm now going to go and work on that teleportation device because as much as I would totally spend the cost of the air fare to get over and see Nate play live, I know my funds are never likely to stretch quite that far. *studies application for science funding*

Julie Lamb
When discussing and mentioning Julie's album Trippin' The Light before, I could not but emphasize the scale of diversity she brings to the record. There are so many styles, so many twists to the music and songs. In fact, it is so heavy from all the talent I'm surprised it didn't cost what would amount to a lottery jackpot to post it all this way across the globe to me. This is just what Julie did and is something I'm very grateful for. You can do away with your categories and pigeon-holing with this one because they just cannot apply. This is a marvelous achievement to be honest because as much as those categories can do to help there is always going to be something limiting about them. With this album, Julie manages to transcend so many she will fit into them all and more besides. I guess it is kind of like having a cake and eating it if you'll excuse me using a ridiculous saying.

I wrote as much regards this diversity back when I played Undone on podcast #9. This is a rock chic who knows her music and produces end results that torpedo her contemporaries out of the water and into deep space. Blues, jazz, rock and more. She moves effortlessly through the lot and mixes a few here and there like on the opener Tell Me Who I Am. And as deeply sad as Cold Rainy Nights is, it is such a beautiful sounding tune. The album is so tightly produced too, with layers of instruments arranged to compliment the mood of each track on an individual level. Julie also pulls no punches when it comes to her lyrics. She writes so eloquently. There's a fluidity to these words and you just know how once that spark has caught, her pen won't stop until the verses are complete. Julie Lamb was a real delight to discover last year and I'm looking forward to keeping a close eye on her continuing progress this year. She writes on her Facebook page how she wants to be doing stuff when she's 90. I can see this being a reality.

Angel Kelly
Listening to Angel is like literally listening to an angel! She was one of the first musicians I came across not long after I started getting more into Twitter and I have indie author Craig Stone to thank for tweeting lots about her music at the time. Otherwise I may never have had the immense pleasure of hearing her wonderful and beautiful songs. The moment she begins singing cements the fact she was born into a musical family. The collection of songs below are live recordings from a set at the Troubadour in Earls Court. After listening to these you can buy the EP Angel Song from iTunes >>here<< and the single Less Is More from >>here<<.

Okay, let's put a stop to this there before we bleed this page over into 2015. Sincerest of apologies for those I haven't got the space to mention. You will be coming up over the coming year anyway. You may well remember I did/do have a schedule for things this year. Well, I was trying one out but as usual it seems to have collapsed in the oven like a badly baked flan or something. I've never actually baked a flan. Do you even bake flans? Which reminds me, I need to go check the fresh chicken in the oven. This is for the cat you understand. Part III of the review covering bands will follow very very shortly. With any luck tomorrow, in fact.


PART I   >>here<<
PART III >>here<<
PART IV >>here<<

No comments:

Post a Comment