If one theme emerges as I look back through the choices we have all made over the last twenty days then, aside from all the wonderful new music, it has to be that 2017 was the year of the comeback. Not the ‘pay the mortgage’ quick tour of our greatest hits and a slot at the Rewind Festival, but creatively inspired comebacks, a desire to make new music, a feeling of unfinished business, of stories still to be told.
No one typifies that more than Slowdive. Perhaps because, unlike many of the other returning artists featured in our posts, they never really had glory days to look back on. They were loved by some, but vilified by many, particularly most of the music press, whilst Richey Edwards claimed ‘I hate Slowdive more than Hitler’. They never really dented the charts or the zeitgeist despite building a loyal following and releasing glorious music. A band out of time perhaps.
However over the last few decades more and more artists have seemed to be influenced by Slowdive and acknowledged the debt. Their comeback concert at the Kentish Town Forum a couple of years ago seemed like a pleasing footnote, a vindication, with onstage technology finally able to cope with their dense, shimmering sound. Little did we know that their best album – and critical acclaim – lay ahead.
Star Roving was actually the first new song I heard from anyone this year and it blew me away and still does after a scary number of repeat listens. It’s my most played track on Spotify this year and whilst the whole album is magnificent, this will always have a place in my heart. Critical acclaim, an extensive tour and a place in most end of year lists: these are their glory days.
Enjoy the final choices, from Andy, Roy and Ian below, have a great, music-filled 2018 and if you feel we have missed anything out (come on we must have missed loads) please do post it below and we promise to have a listen.
In the meantime, here is Star Roving.
My number 1 was also Richard’s number 3, and I endorse everything he said there. Namely, the album of the same name was, I felt, perhaps more so than him, somewhat below the usual high standard they’ve set for themselves but the title track was such a change in direction whilst still maintaining their distinctive sound. That’s three number 1’s, a second and a fifth from me in the past 13 years – a decent record in anyone’s estimation. I look forward to seeing them for only the second time in April 2018. Talking of next year, “I hope it’s a good one without any tears” (no prizes for naming those lyrics, it’s just for fun!). Merry Christmas to everyone reading this and I hope this lifts you up as much as it did me. Number 1…
My number 1 is from a band described by Pitchfork as “….a vision from a more progressive future: a mixed-race band from the American South fusing gospel and punk while challenging the capitalist state with righteous indignation” In 2017 I can’t think of a more appropriate artist to be my #1. The track is the title of their second album and was described by Stuart Maconie on 6 Music as a fusion of The Temptations, The Clash and Suicide – he’s not wrong. Top of the tree for 2017. Algiers, ‘The Underside Of Power’
Because I’ve seen the underside of power
It’s just a game that can’t go on
It could break down any hour
I’ve seen their faces and I’ve known them all
Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i gyd
My #1 song comes courtesy of an introduction from my 20 year old son. He saw Parov Stelar perform at the Sziget Festival in Hungary last year and the arrival of their new LP “The Burning Spider” in our house was a revelation. The band is the creation of Austrian DJ/Producer Marcus Füreder who has been active in European nightclubs since the late 1990s and he is credited with creating the music genre now known as electro-swing. His approach is to use a blend of 1920s cabaret style music performed as contemporary EDM with abundant use of samples and found sound. Unlike other mixologists, the new album makes it easy to identify the key samples used or guest performances with typical song names such as “The Burning Spider ft. Lightnin’ Hopkins” and “Soul Fever Blues ft. Muddy Waters”.
While the immediate comparison for the album is Moby’s “Play”, to my mind Füreder’s creation is the more impressive as it doesn’t rely on the melody or vocal hooks to the same extent that was evident with Moby’s album. The album’s title track “The Burning Spider” opens and includes clever use of samples from Hopkin’s song “Hard to Love a Woman” before a second movement which brings a new blues/swing creation to bear. In other significant tunes from the album, “Step Two” features Füreder’s wife and creative partner Lilja Bloom and sounds like “Vogue” era Madonna; “Soul Fever Blues” could in fact be from ”Play”; “All Grown Up” is more ballad than swing and “Mama Talking” starts as a modern scat before turning into a swing extravaganza. So many great tracks but the one which best summarises the entire album is the title track “The Burning Spider”. Look at the official video at: