January 6th, 2012 | Published in Blog
2011 was a pretty great year for me. Part of this was because 2010 was well shitty for me. But mostly because, well, I had constant reminders that humans are awesome creatures that do utterly amazing things. Too many friends, old and new, to thank for being amazing this year. I hope you know who you are.I had a new niece to add to my collection of nieces and nephew. I did a big silly 36 hour gig. I moved away from Bristol to Brighton and found that (without being too unpleasant about Bristol) I vastly prefer it here, even with the proliferation of awful cravats. I think I played more gigs than in any year previous. I came on board with the very site you’re reading right now, and a very enjoyable, productive thing it’s been too. I also became a Master of Theology (and it still feels preposterous to write that). Clive introduced me to Baby Metal. Rebecca Black went from not being a person to being something brain meltingly awesome.
There were downsides. Serious things, like the loss of Joey Chainsaw this year, another great musician/ human not given his dues by the world, who’ll be sorely missed. There were a variety of insurrections, protests, ‘riots’ which… depending on your perspective were either the green-shoots of change or the death rattles of a desperate country. Some parts of the country realise that life remains shit for a lot of people – nurses, teachers, the unemployed, the employed, women, black, disabled [etc etc] in spite of the alleged progress ‘we’ve’ made; in response, ostrich-style political commentary made a voguish return and Jeremy FUCKING Clarkson remains un-lynched. Also, I have 27p in my pocket to last me 6 days and I’m still a better economist than George Osborne.
Less seriously, Boxxy’s return wasn’t that hot, I struggled to keep my shoelaces unbroken and Haifa Wehbe is yet to declare her undying affection for me.
Anyway… the music bit…
I had wanted to do a top 5 songs of the year, but for whatever reason, I struggled to think of 5 individual songs released specifically this year that were strong enough to merit putting out there. Two things to note from this:
First, a lot of ‘experimental’ music (whatever that poisoned chalice means in late 2011) doesn’t really work in nice short segments. As Seth said on the forum about the forthcoming BtB compilation, “Very few of us make music that’s easy to excerpt, so I thought fuck it, let’s not excerpt”. So while I’ve listened to a lot of experimental (and experimental-ish) stuff this year, almost none of it’s represented here because of the nature of the form. But some stuff that really stood out as amazing in its live form – Bolide, Plurals, Mothers of the Third Reich, Hobo Sonn, Ultrahumanitarian Nil (do you lads have a website?) and too many others to remember locally; the Fall, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Erasure from the pop side of the fence.
Second thing: I, personally, have a really sweet ear-tooth. While a lot of the stuff I listen to, make, and watch live fits the broad ‘experimental’ category, a lot of the stuff I come back to is, essentially, pop music. So with that in mind, these are the songs I listened to more than any others this year. In order, then… hope you enjoy. Here’s to 2012.
1. Helmet Lachenmann – Ein Kinderspiel
(Note: The song I wanted at number one was Laura Cantrell’s cover of Kitty Wells’ ‘I gave my wedding dress away’ from her album Kitty Wells Dresses. It’s not on youtube, but the album’s very, very worth it if you’re a country fan, as I am).
2. Avril Lavigne – What the Hell
Yup. There’s no excusing the grotesque product placement, and the video is simply ghastly. I know a lot of you won’t like this, but for what it’s worth it’s my favourite pop song for years and years.
3. The Fall – Greenway
Best live show of the year for me, and the best song on their new album for the rabid Fall obsessive that I am.
4. Alvo Noto/ Blixa Bargeld – Wust
Released late in 2010, I picked up this album in 2011 and it’s just astonishing. Two legends of experimental music on top form.
5. Spice and Pamputtae – Slim vs Fluffy
Again, late 2010. Probably the song I’ve played more than any other this year. I struggle to imagine any humans not liking that, but then I’m wired in oddly…