Friday, April 08, 2022

Panic stations

Two and a half months ago we saw Panic Shack at Swn Festival. Later that night we made an official statement.



Back then, though they already had something of a home city following, they were a late replacement and an unknown quantity. We had no idea who they were until the day before the (usually) annual three day central Cardiff beanfeast, had never heard them as they had nothing publicly audible and were really only downstairs at Clwb Ifor Bach due to a combination of seeing a recommendation somewhere and rain. It was their third gig and they had six songs, two of which were covers. Even amid post-punk/punk-pop/just punk saturation there felt something different from what was around them, not just in the energy but that they were having fun. For the first time in a while it felt like we were watching an unforced girl gang who'd decided forming a band would be a thing they could do. Their big closer was about their lighter being taken. It caused pandemonium. This was all we wanted.

After that came a slow rise - Radio 1 and 6 Music play from Huw Stephens, three singles in 2020 gradually picking up their momentum, but maybe most importantly the return of live music bodies could fly around to - their Green Man set packed out the new bands stage, and when we got back to Swn they had graduated to packing out the upstairs main room. Last week they got another late call-up to a Cardiff event, this time the 6 Music Festival, and the station seems genuinely taken by what happened, playing tracks from the set (of which this is twenty minutes, though only missing two tracks from their regular, and one of those is very sweary) a few times in daytime over the next few days.



That October 2019 "moment" has practically lasted right through to today, when they release their splendidly titled Baby Shack EP. It is, of course, fantastic, some of it knowingly offbeat if not slightly silly (hey, it's the "you do not shush me in the cinema" one!) on surface but played with conviction underpinned by conviction and personal beliefs and experiences, Sarah Harvey throwing out singular aphorisms and statements made both to be bellowed back to and to underpin that her life as a young woman is not to fit into someone else's gendered expectations. Understandably the band they're most compared to are Amyl & The Sniffers, albeit a version that's less likely to point their runaway vehicle at a brick wall; however those covers they played back at Swn the first time were of ESG and Gang Of Four, pointing to a rhythmical drive - note how many of the six songs feature some kind of solo bass part. Maybe what strikes us most is that it sounds live with all the glorious lack of sheen that suggests. In fact, something occured to us about their unconscious secret lineage.

**

It was a scene with no name, or at least not one that stuck. Teen-C was aired but that really only consisted of one band even if its situationist ideals were right. NME attempted to coin Bratpop, but that didn't stick because it was the NME. The 'glitter scene' was a good one, given it was based around the kind of fanzine and make-up that was heavy on the substance. R*E*P*E*A*T fanzine's memorable piece called it '1997', which is ideologically and chronologically correct but also confusing.

What it was was a stream of bands mostly in their teens who formed in or as a result of the events of 1996, the year Kenickie became the most beloved off the radar band through releasing Come Out 2Nite and Punka while being effortlessly funny live, Bis appeared on Top Of The Pops and Ash released their debut album 1977. Those three were the immediate British (Isles) foundation stones, alongside which often lay the Ramones, riot grrrl, Blondie, Pistols, girl groups, Buzzcocks, early Manics and unashamed love of pure pop. It was indie rock by untutored youths playing songs as if clinging on to them, lo-fi and raw to a fault but evidently trying hard just so as to not be confused with the last youth movement of slackerdom. It was defiantly British in scope but running parallel rather than connected to Britpop. In fact it was if anything a reaction to Britpop's cocaine socialism, especially the Oasis hegemony and the lager culture that was settling in, with its own unspoken, maybe unknowing, debt to the "twee" we-went-and-did-it-anyway era of C86, Sarah Records, Amelia Fletcher and beyond - in fact C96 was another name toyed with, although NME ended up using it for an unrelated cassette offer. Many were sort of affiliated with London's Club Rampage, later Club P*rnstar. And, here's the key, it was mostly female.

Tampasm, Period Pains, Disco Pistol, VyVyan, Helen Love, Pink Kross, Xerox Girls, Lung Leg, Velodrome 2000, Charlie's Angels... nobody talked about gender issues or representation then, it was more that young women were getting up and doing it while most of the boys were still perfecting their power chords. (And of course it should be noted there were all-male bands involved: Midget, Gel, Agebaby, The Pin-Ups, Spraydog...) Kenickie's Catsuit City was the Velvet Underground of the scene - it didn't sell many copies, and there were only 500 to sell in the first place, but everyone who bought one either started a band, started a fanzine or bought some facial application glitter like Lauren Laverne - who bought hers from a novelty shop - wore.

There's no Cherry Red compilation of the scene available in print or to stream - most of it was released on labels far too small to have digital distribution sorted - but there were compilations, often through Damaged Goods, the Abuse Your Friends sets or the middle volumes of Snakebite City. Last week we found someone had uploaded to YouTube what at the time was the most high profile of them, And The Rest Is History...



Nodding to the forebears with a short, ragged Kenickie B-side, And The Rest Is History... is an untutored feast of the youth of the day (some as young as 14) at the peak of their abilities and their punk-pop, fizzy lo-fi, garage rock just as ramshackle in tone as the 1960s bands that practised in garages and ended up on Nuggets, British indie with the Owen Morris influence surgically removed, cheap guitars and second hand keyboards/drum machines, handclaps, commanding strident/shouty vocals, big dreams against small room ideals, discos at weekends, sticky floored toilet circuit venues at weeknights. Teenage angst and enjoyment is writ in size 64 bold.

It's almost all undeniably exciting, outspoken in places, racing against the red lights at others. You want to be part of most of their gangs, or at least stand idly within earshot of them as they exchange bon mots and daggers. Some days we think "fuck off back to the Slimelight with your stupid ugly lanky streak of piss boyfriend, you poxy little cunt" (Xerox Girls' Keep Your Mouth Shut) is the greatest lyric ever written.

The glitter scene was always going to be transient, and not just for the obvious reason of careerism versus amateur willingness' natural barriers. If your ambitions are to have fun with your mates in a scrappy loud punk-pop band, play the Highbury Garage and maybe put a limited pressing 7" out you're not looking to build for the long term, especially when you hit your twenties. Even Kenickie were gone by the end of 1998, after their comedown album and having cleaved in two. Symposium, who in this company are the most obvious Band Most Likely To and were already on a satellite of a much bigger label, got some press wind behind them and three top 40 singles. Disco Pistol, who played a big Reading Festival stage, got signed, changed their name, went crap and quickly disappeared, though leader Mira Manga re-established her cult DIY credentials in the Duloks almost a decade later. Charlie's Angels, who got to support PJ & Duncan, did likewise. Tampasm's enthusiasm was destroyed by dealing with the music business and it's doubtful they were alone in that. Girlfrendo, who sounded more than most like people shouting in a charity shop stock room, transmuted into Love Is All and got some Pitchfork credentials in the mid-00s. Period Pains singer Chloe Alper, unaccountably, formed a prog band with a member of Gel and now, even more so, is a member of James. Helen Love is still fighting the good fight, having flirted with the Radio 1 daytime playlist, but out in Cardiff and building her own world of Moogs and Joey Ramone she was always the outlier. Practically everybody else disappeared into academia, the anonymous 9 to 5, whatever. 95% of it is almost entirely forgotten now.

The underpinning ideals didn't entirely go away. How could it, even as British indie as it was known to most faded away. There was a mini-revival at the end of the decade - Chicks, Angelica, Bellatrix, Twist - and even as alternative music got more and more professional there were outliers kicking against the pricks. The mid 00s, the crossover period between fanzine/gig networking and social network, er, networking, brought a brief window where a new generation of DIY kids converged on either bands that may not have evolved in the same way but took their musical cues from an earlier, more scrappy era - Art Brut, The Research, Help She Can't Swim, KaitO (featuring Nik Colk Void and Gemma from Sink Ya Teeth) - or latched onto bands that were sonically slightly different but still sounded like they might have heard, read and watched similar things to you when getting into non-standard music - Los Campesinos!, Bearsuit, the Long Blondes, the Pipettes. The indiepop revival of the start of the 2010s and the rise of Indietracks festival co-opted some of the above - Veronica Falls, the Lovely Eggs (Holly Ross had been in Angelica), Shrag, Standard Fare - and like most of their forebears would only occasionally raise their head above the mainstream coverage parapet.

Indietracks is gone, fanzines are PDFs, social media does some degree of the work an introductory weekly music press feature did, finding all the new music is both easier and more complex (where do you start?), but it stands to some reason that at a time when "indie-pop" is applied to everything short of Ed Sheeran and all the guitar bands on the radio seem mixed, mastered and generally buffed to a fault for hi-fi arena dynamics, then if the alternative underground is a thing it's surely time to mess things up again. From Sports Team to deep tan to English Teacher, that spirit feels like it's creeping back into the wider conscious, none more so than those responsible for maybe the week's biggest new release. Two close female friends formed a band on a whim with a stupid name so they could enjoy playing music and hang out more, with the singer learning guitar after having decided she needed to play it for the band to work, who recorded their first single in a friend's bedroom with an accompanying self-shot video and no more ambition then to get some gigs with friends at a big local venue, then wrote more songs about youthful drift and attention from shitty blokes, and less than a year after that single's release find themselves profiled in the New York Times and Rolling Stone running a headline 'Wet Leg Are the Buzziest New Band of the Year'. And actually, as with Baby Shack, Wet Leg the album is built on both the idea that women in guitar-based music shouldn't have to take up the tortured artist mantle and the neat trick of claiming to have very little deeper to say for approachability while actually being otherwise.

More than any of these, Panic Shack resemble that effective have-a-go attitude that brings with it a cult following and songs, aphorisms maybe, that people cling to. They formed as a reaction to laddish bands just as the glitter encrusted types reacted against Noel acolytes. On forming they decided who would play which instrument and only then set out to learn them, a process continued during recording. Ju Jits You is a song about unwanted male attention and the fantasy of striking back but was written off the back of some of the members having actual ju jitsu classes, in a pleasingly straightforward but actually not way. There's the gang chants and the intrinsic celebration of their coming in packs, the way they dress in tracksuits, leopardprint, modern mullets and gaudy retro because they can. They even have a semi-anonymous bloke at the back. They describe the EP as "a representation of our experiences and friendship: raw, honest and always chaotic", which is absolutely it. What they do is entirely of themselves, but they fit spectacularly into a lineage of kicking against the pricks with joy, company, energy over muso-ness and above all the fun of being in a band with something to say and the electric means to bring the whole package to people. Some might almost dismiss it as "putting the fun back into indie rock". For the people making it, however long for, it's evidently much more than that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

2021: at a glance

Well, that felt like a long one. Plenty of half decent music, though, as per, and here's where we round up what we've been doing across social media for the last year. First off: STN's Top 30 Albums Of The Year

30 illuminati hotties - Let Me Do One More
29 Fightmilk - Contender
28 Baba Ali - Memory Device
27 La Luz - La Luz
26 Hand Habits - Fun House
25 The Mountain Goats - Dark In Here
24 Emma-Jean Thackray - Yellow
23 Alice Hubble - Hexentanzplatz
22 Fortitude Valley - Fortitude Valley
21 Dave - We're All Alone In This Together
20 christian fitness - hip gone gunslingers
19 John Grant - Boy From Michigan
18 Czarface & MF DOOM - Super What?
17 The Goon Sax - Mirror II
16 Low - Hey What
15 Indigo Sparke - Echo
14 Gruff Rhys - Seeking New Gods
13 Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine - A Beginner's Mind
12 SAULT - NINE
11 Self Esteem - Prioritise Pleasure
10 Haiku Salut - The Hill, The Light, The Ghost
9 The Anchoress - The Art Of Losing
8 Field Music - Flat White Moon
7 Gemma Cullingford - Let Me Speak
6 Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark
5 Anna B Savage - A Common Turn
4 Nick Cave & Warren Ellis - CARNAGE
3 Arlo Parks - Collapsed In Sunbeams
2 Little Simz - Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
1 Dry Cleaning - New Long Leg



Throughout the year we've been keeping our rolling Tracks Of The Year playlist, from which we extracted enough tracks to produce five hour long mixes, tracklistings for which are in this thread...




...but that doesn't mean we've abandoned our once timelocked, now annual two score o'hits list. Presenting, only in the order in which they would sequence best in a continual mix, 40 From 40 Plus for 2021 - which we've also preserved as a YouTube playlist:


Friday, December 24, 2021

Christmas lists

Have you ever wondered which Christmas songs actually get the most airplay these days? Are the twin kings of Mariah and George'n'Andrew really that dominant? Is the stereotypical 70s Christmas still the dominant image of the season or have the TikTok generation wiped them out? Amid the Fairytale Of New York debate, did anybody ever point out that not only would Kirsty change the lyric in question when singing live as early as 1992, but her new lyric was the same as the one Ronan Keating was mercilessly mocked for substituting in for his own cover years later? (OK, maybe that one isn't strictly pertinent, but even so)

We've been doing this and posting the results on Twitter for the last couple of festive seasons, but what we've done is looked through the daytime playlists for Radios 1 and 2 from the 1st to 24th December and kept score on every Christmas (and Christmas-adjacent) record played, with the caveat that due to obvious bias we've skipped anything released this year.

So...

Radio 1

PROGRAMMES COUNTED: Greg James, Rickie Melvin & Charlie, Scott Mills, Vick & Jordan, Dean McCullough, Matt & Mollie, Adele Roberts, Life Hacks

19th= (7 plays)
Destiny's Child - 8 Days Of Christmas
The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping
The Wombats - Is This Christmas?

14th= (8 plays)
Katy Perry - Cozy Little Christmas
Perry Como - It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
The Pogues feat. Kirsty Maccoll - Fairytale Of New York
Sia - Santa's Coming For Us
Taylor Swift - Christmas Tree Farm

11th= (9 plays)
Elton John - Step Into Christmas
Leona Lewis - One More Sleep
Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone

8th= (10 plays)
Ariana Grande - Santa Tell Me
Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree
The Darkness - Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)

7th (11 plays)
Coldplay - Christmas Lights

5th= (12 plays)
Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?
Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

4th (14 plays)
Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody

2nd (15 plays)
Kelly Clarkson - Underneath The Tree
Wham! - Last Christmas

1st (16 plays)
Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You


There was a thread on the Buzzjack forum a week or so ago that in apparent seriousness asked if All I Want For Christmas Is You was the most famous song of all time. One in the eye for you there, Ludwig. Anyway, YASSS KWEEN CHRISTMAS MUM or whatever it is we're supposed to communicate around Carey accompanied by thirteen dancing face emojis and several hundred gifs of her half-smiling, but that's not the interesting thing here. Neither is Fairytale, voted quite comfortably as the nation's favourite last year in a YouGov poll, being outside the top ten, because that wavers spectacularly from year to year (five in 2019, 12 in 2020). No, it's the remarkable performance of 2013's Underneath The Tree, a Greg Kurstin production and co-write from Clarkson's seasonal album Wrapped In Red that - no, really - employs a Wall Of Sound approach. Last year it took off spectacularly with fifteen plays during the survey period more than doubling its 2019 exposure, only The Most Famous Song In History getting more airtime. It's also among those that makes regular revisits to the business end of the Christmas chart, reaching 15 in 2020 and 17 this year. And yet... do you consider it a seasonal standard? It doesn't appear in any of the myraid Best Christmas Song Ever polls, it doesn't get TV play, nobody covers it, it's likely few could recite it, and it peakd at number 15 here and 12 on the Hot 100 at the time. It has a decent position on the current Now! Christmas album (CD 1 track 10, between Leona and the Ronettes) but that's reactive given it was number 87 on 2020's Now 100 Hits Christmas and back end of CD 1 filler in 2019. Maybe time will tell, but equally it feels like nothing bar Mariah from the Nineties onwards is going to be allowed any more, Ed'n'Elt pending. Speaking of whom, Step Into Christmas was the third most played song last year, while Taylor Swift has picked up almost as much play as her single did when it was released.


OK, but what about their older sibling, which usually plays this sort of thing far more often and with a wider range?

Radio 2

PROGRAMMES COUNTED: Zoe Ball, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Steve Wright, Sara Cox, Dermot O'Leary, Claudia Winkelman, Rylan, Good Morning Sunday, Michael Ball

20th= (9 plays)
Andy Williams - It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
The Crystals - Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Darlene Love - All Alone On Christmas
Gwen Stefani feat. Blake Shelton - You Make It Feel Like Christmas
The Ronettes - Sleigh Ride
The Waitresss - Christmas Wrapping

18th= (10 plays)
George Michael - December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)
Kelly Clarkson - Underneath The Tree

17th (11 plays)
Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

15th= (12 plays)
Gabriela Cilmi - Warm This Winter
The Pretenders - 2000 Miles

6th= (14 plays)
Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas?
East 17 - Stay Another Day
Elton John - Step Into Christmas
Greg Lake - I Believe In Father Christmas
John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)
Leona Lewis - One More Sleep
Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime
Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone
Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

6th (14 plays)
The Darkness - Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)

4th= (15 plays)
Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry
Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody

3rd (18 plays)
Wham! - Last Christmas

1st= (19 plays)
Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas
Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You


Rea has been two plays behind Carey in both of the last two years so it's about time he made that step up, and the single might well top number eleven - a peak it's reached on three separate occasions - next week too. A broader spread as well as the welter of Radio 2-friendly big names releasing Christmas songs - Elt'n'Ed, Abba, Kelly'n'Ari, Buble, Barlow, Leona, the Ingrid Michaelson/Zooey Deschanel dark horse - means the numbers are down on last year, so Lewie (who, by the way, has this year achieved his highest position since original release) has continued rising up the list despite three fewer daytime outings. Apart from Keith Urban's 2019 I'll Be Your Santa Tonight going from eleven plays to none the big surprise is the charge of Stay Another Day - apart from some added bells not a Christmas song in the slightest, but only ever played at this time of year and rocketing into our list while only getting five plays on Radio 1. Is this the Sara Cox influence? Fairytale Of New York, by the way, was played six times, the same as Jose Feliciano and Jools Holland collaborating on Feliz Navidad.


And while we have it here, these are the most played Christmas songs this week across the whole of UK radio for w/e 23rd December, with the number at the end being where it was placed in the airplay list for Christmas week 2018, those exiting being Lake, Perry and Queen:

20 Mariah Carey - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (-) (what? Not played at all on Radios 1 or 2)
19 Jona Lewie - Stop The Cavalry (-)
18 The Pogues feat. Kirsty Maccoll - Fairytale Of New York (5)
17 The Ronettes - Sleigh Ride (18)
16 Andy Williams - It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (-)
15 The Pretenders - 2000 Miles (16)
14 Brenda Lee - Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree (13)
13 Elton John - Step Into Christmas (9)
12 East 17 - Stay Another Day (14)
11 Kelly Clarkson - Underneath The Tree (15)
10 Wizzard - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (10)
9 Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody (8)
8 John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (7)
7 Leona Lewis - One More Sleep (12)
6 Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas? (4)
5 Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You (2)
4 Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmastime (11)
3 Chris Rea - Driving Home For Christmas (3)
2 Shakin' Stevens - Merry Christmas Everyone (6)
1 Wham! - Last Christmas (1)

Monday, December 28, 2020

2020 in summary

Well, now. What an all-round shitshow that has been, eh?

We won't go on about the same things everybody else has been on about, only to specify that it has been quite a good year for recorded music, not that we really posted about it because who gives a shit about music blogs and specifically this one any more, but it's brought us the following...

STN's top 50 albums of the year


50 Charmpit - Cause A Stir
49 The Mountain Goats - Getting Into Knives
48 Cable Ties - Far Enough
47 LYR - Call In The Crash Team
46 Alex Chilltown - Eulogies
45 Summer Camp - Romantic Comedy
44 All Things Blue - Get Bit
43 Honey Cutt - Coasting
42 Ghostpoet - I Grow Tired But Dare Not Fall Asleep
41 illuminati hotties - FREE I.H: This Is Not the One You've Been Waiting For
40 Soccer Mommy - Color Theory
39 U.S. Girls - Heavy Light
38 Gwenifer Raymond - Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain
37 The Mountain Goats - Songs For Pierre Chuvin
36 Wife Patrol - Too Prickly For This World
35 Seazoo - Joy
34 Andy Bell - The View From Halfway Down
33 Magana - You Are Not A Morning Person
32 Anna Burch - If You're Dreaming
31 Eve Owen - Don't Let The Ink Dry
30 Elvis Costello - Hey Clockface
29 NNAMDI - Brat
28 Sarah Walk - Another Me
27 TORRES - Silver Tongue
26 Emma Kupa - It Will Come Easier
25 Islet - Eyelet
24 Marlowe - Marlowe 2
23 The Beths - Jump Rope Gazers
22 Keeley Forsyth - Debris
21 Protomartyr - Ultimate Success Today
20 Owen Pallett - Island
19 Shopping - All Or Nothing
18 Bob Mould - Blue Hearts
17 Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher
16 Dana Gavanski - Yesterday Is Gone
15 Other Lives - For Their Love
14 Laura Marling - Song For Our Daughter
13 Sufjan Stevens - The Ascension
12 Run The Jewels - RTJ4
11 Grawl!x - Peeps
10 Harkin - Harkin
9 SAULT - Untitled (Black Is)
8 Adrianne Lenker - songs/instrumentals
7 Chemtrails - The Peculiar Smell Of The Inevitable
6 Baxter Dury - The Night Chancers
5 SAULT - Untitled (Rise)
4 Nadine Shah - Kitchen Sink
3 Bill Callahan - Gold Record
2 Perfume Genius - Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
1 Fiona Apple - Fetch The Bolt Cutters



And here's the selected tracks to represent the year. Now, we know full well that 40 From 40 was intended to cover 1970 to 2009, but it's a brand now - even if one that only we know about and believe in - so there.

40 From 40 Plus: 2020





And for your 2020 deep dive, the rolling Spotify playlist we've been updating all year.

You know, while we're here and making the annual post to keep up appearances, we may as well look ahead to what will either be the great release of a year or even worse, 2021. Obviously this doesn't count surprise quarantine-made drops, and doubtless there'll be another seventeen SAULT double albums to come, but these are either already announced or we know they've been or are about to be recorded and the prospects for each are exciting, so...

21 For '21


Arab Strap (5th March)
Arcade Fire
Arlo Parks (29th January)
Big Thief
Cloud Nothings (26th February)
Courtney Barnett
Dry Cleaning
Fightmilk
The Goon Sax
illuminati hotties
Jane Weaver (5th March)
Lorde
Noname
Parquet Courts
Peaness
Public Service Broadcasting
Spoon
St. Vincent
Still Corners (22nd January)
TORRES
Weyes Blood

Sunday, December 29, 2019

2020's 20

Being twenty things that, knowing our previous record, will be very scattershot in terms of actually coming good. Sorry, everyone.


There Is No Year is the slightly confounding title of Algiers' third album, due 17th January. The Underside Of Power was our album of 2017 and as much as genre-hopping is promised it's not like things have got much prettier since.

Proving that the base for punning band names isn't dead after all, Alex Chilltown is built around Croydon's Josh Esaw invoking modern suburban anxiety via forceful dreampop. After three years of one-offs debut album Eulogies is out 24th January.

Still only 19, the hazy bedroom beats poetry of Arlo Parks has been gaining steam over the year culminating in a BBC Sound Of 2020 nomination and a collaboration with Easy Life (hey, we all make mistakes) A proper breakthrough could be imminent.

The lounge rake's lounge rake, Baxter Dury unveils a whole new cast of lowlifes, the insecure and deluded on sixth album The Night Chancers, out 20th March.

Brooklynites Bambara have been quietly gaining belated attention over the last few months as their past-midnight house of horrors heads towards the more weirdly beatific fourth album Stray, out 14th February.

Practically anything with Dan Snaith at its helm is worth keeping an eye out for, Caribou's fifth album Suddenly due 28th February heading further down his experimental club instincts.

Grouped together for ease of both alphabetical order and spoken word, expect more soonish from the deadpan non-sequitur drone-post-punk of Dry Cleaning and Nottingham's swagger-in-air-quotes 'if James Murphy never got over his Mark E Smith phase' collective Do Nothing.

Field Music's eighth studio album Making A New World, out 10th January, is a ninteen track concept album about the aftermath of World War I, inspired by an Imperial War Museum commission, and if any band's going to pull that off...

Having established herself as (mostly) US indie's favourite guitar/keyboard gun for hire Katie Harkin looks set to step things up, an album of adaptable spiky melodicism reputedly in the can.

Holodrum, brought together from a whole host of Leeds bands, are a septet who sound like 99 Records with a spare Paradise Garage groove or two. They've played two gigs, released two tracks and are surely going to do a lot more on both fronts in the year ahead.

Hourglvss are Katherine and Sophie, Northerners based in Brighton, doing big pop chorus right amid darkly harmonic, electro-rhythmically based mystery undertows.

Islet's inventive take on psych-pop propulsions and live exultations have been long-term favourites of ours and they're back with third full-length Eyelet on 6th March.

Mr Cocker has been teasing the Jarv Is... project since early summer with the single Must I Evolve? and a handful of live appearances stretching back to 2018. Got to be bearing more fruit soon, surely?

Probably best known as a contestant on All-Star Family Fortunes: Heartbeat vs Peak Practice (/RHLSTP), Keeley Forsyth turned heads towards the end of 2019 for her minimal haunting electronic soundscapes and wracked vocals. Debut album Debris is out on 17th January.

Nicole Atkins and Jim Sclavunos have been promising a project first teased with track A Man Like Me back in March. The label blurb promises "krautrock grooves sitting alongside deconstructed sambas, space-rock confessionals and wistful ballads".

Panic Shack, Cardiff's bastard daughters of Voodoo Queens and the Au Pairs, are already filling decent venues at home and going to be a lot of people's favourite new band the moment they actually officially release something.

Doesn't look like long until professional Frank Hovis impersonator Joe Casey and his merry men of Protomartyr will be back, Casey having revealed it was all in the can back in July.

Shopping's fourth album All Or Nothing heralds, they say, disco, new wave and big pop elements into their hi-life nervy post-punk. They haven't put a step wrong so far, so mark down 7th February.

Torres' fourth album (and first for Merge) Silver Tongue finds Mackenzie Scott negotiating love and desire's strange byways, the two advance tracks suggesting something stripped right back from usual. Out 31st January.

Winter Gardens are an interesting case, in that they put out a cracking debut track Coral Bells in January and then nothing else all year, instead their shimmering drive earning a live following. An EP, Tapestry, is promised for the new year.


HONOURABLE NEW ALBUM MENTIONS: Adwaith, Alexandra Savior (10th Jan), Another Sky, Beak>, The Beths, Boy Azooga, The Chap (10th Jan), Chorusgirl, Daughter, Derrero (13th Mar), Dinosaur Jr, Dream Wife, Everything Everything, Fightmilk, Fleet Foxes, Future Of The Left, Gallops, Holy Fuck (17th Jan), IDLES, Illuminati Hotties, Jehnny Beth, Kendrick Lamar, Lanterns On The Lake (21st Feb), Laura Marling, The Lovely Eggs (April), Luke Haines & Peter Buck (6th March), M Ward (3rd Apr), Nadine Shah, Parquet Courts, Peaness, Perfume Genius, Phoebe Bridgers, PINS, Public Service Broadcasting, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Run The Jewels, Seazoo, Sink Ya Teeth (28th Feb), Smoke Fairies (31st Jan), Soccer Mommy, Spinning Coin (21st Feb), Spoon, St Vincent, Stephen Malkmus, Summer Camp, Tugboat Captain, Walt Disco, Warpaint, Waxahatchee, Whyte Horses (17th Jan), Wire (17th Jan), Woodkid, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Saturday, December 21, 2019

40 From 40 Plus 10: 2019

Time to round off both this extended feature and this misbegotten year the way we've treated all the decade's, and previous four decade's, music - by picking out forty great tracks and putting them in the order they mix together best in. If you'd rather see the year's best albums in a neat order, there's that. Or if you think this just isn't enough we kept rolling playlists throughout the whole year, here for the first half and here for the second, totalling 318 tracks. Skimming off the cream leaves us with...



Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen
Outer Spaces - I See Her Face
Mermaidens - Crying In The Office
Julia Jacklin - Pressure To Party
Rose Elinor Dougall - Take What You Can Get
Nicole Atkins & Jim Sclavunos - A Man Like Me
Jemma Freeman & The Cosmic Something - Black Rain
Jarv Is... - Must I Evolve?
Priests - The Seduction of Kansas
The National - You Had Your Soul With You
Black Midi - Talking Heads
Sacred Paws - Brush Your Hair
Lizzo feat. Missy Elliott - Tempo
Sudan Archives - Confessions
Arlo Parks - Super Sad Generation
Billie Eilish - Everything I Wanted
Dave - Black
Jeremy Warmsley - January
Kate Davis - rbbts
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Bright Horses
Angel Olsen - Lark
Andrew Bird - Sisyphus
Weyes Blood - Movies
Purple Mountains - Nights That Won't Happen
Bill Callahan - The Ballad Of The Hulk
Big Thief - Not
Clinic - Laughing Cavalier
Holodrum - No Dither
Walt Disco - My Pop Sensibilities
Ladytron - Until The Fire
Drahla - Stimulus For Living
Do Nothing - Gangs
Stella Donnelly - Tricks
Olden Yolk - Cotton & Cane
Harkin - Mist On Glass
Mammoth Penguins - Closure
Seazoo - Throw It Up
Squiggles - Bend Becomes Break
Martha - Love Keeps Kicking
Dry Cleaning - Goodnight



PREVIOUSLY: 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

STN's top 40 albums of the year 2019

Well, here we go again. Another tumultuous year has passed and passed on a series of albums which we've listened to, admired and eventually ranked. As always, direct from band/label buying links where applicable.

40 Haiku Salut - The General
39 Golden Fable - Alchemy
38 Personal Best - What You At
37 Kate Davis - Trophy
36 Hayden Thorpe - Diviner
35 Mammoth Penguins - There's No Fight We Can't Both Win
34 Florist - Emily Alone
33 Dave - Psychodrama
32 Suggested Friends - Turtle Taxi
31 Bob Mould - Sunshine Rock
30 Little Simz - Grey Area
29 Ladytron - Ladytron
28 Cate Le Bon - Reward
27 Julia Jacklin - Crushing
26 The Mountain Goats - In League With Dragons
25 Hand Habits - placeholder
24 W H Lung - Incidental Music
23 Sacred Paws - Run Around The Sun
22 Jeremy Warmsley - A Year
21 Outer Spaces - Gazing Globe
20 Andrew Bird - My Finest Work Yet
19 Drahla - Useless Coordinates
18 Tiny Ruins - Olympic Girls
17 Clinic - Wheeltappers And Shunters
16 Christian Fitness - You Are The Ambulance
15 Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains
14 Weyes Blood - Titanic Rising
13 The National - I Am Easy To Find
12 Sudan Archives - Athena
11 Meursault - Crow Hill
10 Jemma Freeman & the Cosmic Something - Oh Really, What's That Then?
9 Rose Elinor Dougall - A New Illusion
8 Stella Donnelly - Beware Of The Dogs
7 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen
6 Martha - Love Keeps Kicking
5 Angel Olsen - All Mirrors
4 Big Thief - Two Hands
3 Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow
2 Bill Callahan - Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest
1 Big Thief - UFOF

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The last three weeks of the decade: STN's TV and radio guide

Not including those million channels on Sky all of which loop the same smallish pool of Christmas videos...

Saturday 14th December

12am TOTP2 Christmas (Gold)
7.00pm TOTP2 Christmas (BBC4)

There isn't a new compendium of the Corporation's seasonal song output anywhere this year so various outlets are filling space with some of the old selections. The first is from 2012 with Francoise Hardy, Lily The Pink, Mikey Dread's Reggae Reggae Christmas and Merry Gentle Pops by the Barron Knights; the second 2010 with Geraldine's Christmas single (remember? Peter Kay? No?), one of the other Mariah songs and the Sugababes (not the current ones, who are the old ones, but not these old ones) doing Santa Baby.

7pm Take That Live: Wonderland (Sky One)
Luckily this year is overwhelmed as usual with live performances. This is the trio version from 2017 at the O2.

7.05pm Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)
Taylor Swift performs, and we hope someone tells her about the complaints after the recent same-sex dance so she changes her plans and does You Need To Calm Down.

8pm Pet Shop Boys: Inner Sanctum – The Super Tour (Sky Arts)
TV premiere of Neil and Chris recorded last July at the Royal Opera House.

9.10pm Rod Stewart: Reel Stories (BBC2)
Dermot O'Leary seems to make one of these shows a year where he talks a pop star through their contribution to the BBC TV archives, this one with Sir Rod The Sir Mod kicking off a whole evening...

9.40pm Imagine... Rod Stewart: Can't Stop Me Now (BBC2)
11.05pm Rod Stewart Live At Hyde Park (BBC2)

...featuring Alan Yentob's 2013 meeting and a 2015 live set.

10.10pm The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV)
Jason Derulo who's in Cats, Taron Egerton off Rocketman and Keane by their powers combined and placed awkwardly on a sofa.

10.15pm A Kylie Christmas (Sky Arts)
From the Royal Albert Hall in 2015, incorporating duets with Chrissie Hynde and Frank Sinatra, one more present than the other.

11.50pm Songwriter (Talking Pictures TV)
The first of several intriguing pick-ups from the film section of the TV guide planner's most quixotic channel, a 1984 satirical comedy-drama starring and loosely based on the life of Willie Nelson with songs and acting support by Kris Kristofferson.

RADIO: Brian and Eddie Holland join Radcliffe & Maconie (6 Music, 7am); John Grant, Jarvis Cocker, Gruff Rhys and Simon Raymonde compare notes on Music Life (World Service, 12.05pm, or download it as a podcast now)


Sunday 15th December

8pm The X Factor: The Band – Live Final (ITV)
This was originally advertised as an X Factor All Stars series but the celebrity version tanked so badly - 2.6m watched the final, less than half the number who saw last year's close - that Cowell changed his mind and it became a search to find a new group, in no way intended to undermine the similar BBC/Little Mix show announced for next year, except they'll likely do it in more than four ad hoc days of which only this one is live.

RADIO: Cerys Matthews (6 Music, 10am) celebrates a calypso Christmas with Keith Waithe.


Monday 16th December

9pm Bohemian Rhapsody (Sky Movies Musicals)
But if they hadn't recorded with Freddie for years before Live Aid how did they make Radio Ga Ga, I Want To Break Free and One Vision?

RADIO: Ziggy Stardust Came from Isleworth (Radio 4 Extra, 8.30pm) is a 2010 documentary about Vince Taylor, the erratic early rock'n'roll star who inspired Bowie. Mark Lanegan is in session with Marc Riley (6 Music, 7pm); Justin Hawkins is Ken Bruce (Radio 2, 9.30am)'s Tracks Of My Years guest.


Tuesday 17th December

8pm Carpool Karaoke Special: Celine Dion (Sky One)
Having somehow become R&B's hippest name drop the often game Celine joins Corden in his car of unspeakable doom.

RADIO: Jo Whiley (Radio 2, 7pm) presents from her house with Jamie Cullum, Will Young, Snow Patrol, Kate Tempest, Alex James (interesting off-air discussions likely between those two) and Lucy Rose.


Wednesday 18th December

Do something better with your life for now.

RADIO: Marc Riley (6 Music, 7pm) presents the first of four best of the year's live sessions shows, the second of which is on Thursday.


Thursday 19th December

8pm Capital Jingle Bell Ball (Sky One)
Like the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party if it had had nearly all its humour surgically removed. Taylor Swift, Stormzy, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Rita Ora, Sam Smith, AJ Tracey, Tom Walker, Mabel, The Script, Sigala, Anne-Marie and Ava Max, who apparently is a real person and not an AI designed for massive commercial radio support while not penetrating any other area of culture, perform today and tomorrow at the same time.

9pm Freddie Mercury: A Christmas Story (Channel 5)
The flood of Queen documentaries has turned into a deluge. Already scraping the barrel, this examines the band's affinity with Christmas - Bohemian Rhapsody, the famous Christmas Eve gig (which another channel has the actual broadcast rights to) and, um, Freddie really liked Christmas.

10pm The Story Of Fairytale Of New York (BBC4)
A forensic examination of the song, lyrics and legend within a framing device of the band setting up to perform the song, which they never actually do.

11.20pm TOTP2 Christmas Special (BBC2)
The usual set again taken from 2015, but when did you last hear Just Jack's Starz In Their Eyes?

RADIO: The listing doesn't say so but we think this will be Gideon Coe (6 Music, 9pm)'s annual three hour Christmas show.


Friday 20th December

8pm Top Of The Pops 1988 (BBC4)
9pm Top Of The Pops 1988 (BBC4)

The end of another year of BBC4's glorious stroll through the neon back catalogue, which in a marvellous feat of self-defeating starts with the Christmas special - presumably with Gary Glitter joining the Timelords edited out - and follows it with the year's final regular show with Kylie & Jason, A-ha, the Four Tops and pregnant Neneh Cherry.

9pm Queen: From Rags To Rhapsody (Sky Arts)
10.15pm Queen And Adam Lambert: The Show Must Go On (Sky Arts)

Firstly the final part of the Rhys Thomas trilogy, telling the story up to 1975 in detail, and then jumping forward to 2011 when they're *checks notes* better than ever!!!

9.30pm Country Music by Ken Burns (BBC4)
10.25pm Country Christmas (BBC4)

The last part of the documentary series goes up to 1996 with Garth Brooks, the New Traditionalists and Johnny Cash's American Recordings, them Trisha Yearwood fronts the CMA's tenth annual holiday hullaballoo.

10.55pm Staying Alive (Paramount)
The difficult second John Travolta as Tony Manero movie, co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone six years after Saturday Night Fever for all the good that suggests. 0% on Rotten Tomatoes!

RADIO: The Official Chart Show (Radio 1, 4pm) gets the Christmas number one nonsense over and done with. Dance Monkey getting the title by dint of having its twelfth week on top would be very funny, wouldn't it?


Saturday 21st December

8.15pm Michael McIntyre's Big Show (BBC1)
Robbie Williams, who has a Christmas album out, surprises some karaoke singers. Do South Of The Border!

10.15pm Ed Sheeran: Austin City Limits (Sky Arts)
2017 performance on the long running live series.

10.25pm Robbie Williams: Radio 2 In Concert (BBC2)
As heard live on November 29th. Not many of the huge hits.

11.30pm David Bowie: Glass Spider Tour (Sky Arts)
Of course Bowie would tell you that the production values and theatrics would inspire many others, but that doesn't make this notorious nadir of the Dame's down period much better regarded. For more of his work in this period Labyrinth is on Sky Movies Musicals at 7.15pm.

RADIO: Radio 4 Extra has a good breakfast time double of repeats, with David Bowie: Verbatim (8am, repeated 3pm) telling his story in his own words and Peel Acres: John Peel Remembered (9am, repeated 7pm) from 2014 intersperses clips from his whole output with Jarvis Cocker meeting the Pig of legend, Sheila Ravenscroft. Elton John talks about his classical music upbringing and influence on A Life At The Piano (Classic FM, 9pm); Pick Of The Pops (Radio 2, 1pm) features the Christmas or pre-Christmas charts from 1979 and 1986.


Sunday 22nd December

6pm Celebrity Catchphrase (ITV)
With Davina McCall, Jo Brand and... Jarvis Cocker! Can't wait to find out what his reason for accepting this one is.

RADIO: Graham Norton talks to Richard Carpenter in Carpenters, A Song for You (Radio 2, 5pm) - the comma is correct, apparently.


Monday 23rd December

7pm Top Of The Pops: The Story Of 1979 (BBC4)
It's 2014, the TOTP repeats are entering the year of its highest rating shows (albeit because of the ITV strike) and here's Gary Numan, Nile Rodgers, Jah Wobble, Chas & Dave, Linda Nolan and others to recall it.

7.45pm Bee Gees: In Our Own Time (Sky Arts)
2010 retrospective, so Robin's still around.

10pm Queen: Rock The World (BBC4)
11pm Queen: The Legendary 1975 Concert (BBC4)

Firstly the 2017 documentary about News Of The World with a plethora of previously unseen archive, then the much touted Hammersmith Odeon Christmas Eve gig.

2.15am Rock City (Talking Pictures TV)
Now this is quite something, and definitely one to put on your recording box of choice - a 1973 film of footage from over the previous nine years incorporating the Stones, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Otis, Ike & Tina, Cream and Cat Stevens interspersed with interviews and 'scene' footage.

RADIO: Marc Riley (6 Music, 7pm) returns to his best of the year list with part three. Glyn Johns guests, alongside JK Rowling, on The Museum Of Curiosity (Radio 4, 6.15pm)


Christmas Eve

7.15pm The Seven Ages Of Elvis (Sky Arts)
9pm Elvis: The Final Hours (Sky Arts)

Firstly a 2017 documentary in no way inspired by the Bowie Five Years work, dividing his career into seven specific points, then the Memphis Mafia tell their tale.

9pm The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV)
Rita Ora, Jamie Cullum and Sharon Osbourne pretend to look impressed.

9pm Top Of The Pops Christmas Hits (BBC4)
An hour which oddly includes a different East 17 song to the obvious, but does feature Saint Etienne and T'Pau's drummer fighting an inflatable snowman.

10pm Roy Orbison: Austin City Limits (Sky Arts)
The ACL series made its name and put it on a national stage with the Big O's 1982 appearance, just as it rescued Orbison from having to appear on Wheeltappers again.

11.15pm I Am Johnny Cash (Sky Arts)
Made in 2015, so that's clearly a lie. Plenty of heavy hitters among the talking heads, though.

11.25pm Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Film4)
What was supposed to be the Lonely Island's big statement for the age, but ended up being forgotten about within a couple of months.

RADIO: The Green Room (Radio 2, 9pm) is an intriguing concept - saxophonist and swing/rhythm & blues bandleader Leo Green and his troupe are covering the songs of one year over the course of four shows, and tonight he's doing 1983. If that seems unlikely, wait until tomorrow. Following that Soul Symphony (Radio 2, 10pm) sees soul and R&B classics reimagined for the festive season, singers including Laura Mvula and Ray BLK with the BBC Concert Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. Little Simz is the first of this year's Wise Women (6 Music, 4pm), her choices of programming including Iggy Pop, Damon Albarn, Michael Kiwanuka and Jimi Hendrix. Headliners (Radio 5 Live, 6pm) features the best music from Nihal Arthanayake's show, including Aurora, Editors, Lewis Capaldi and Richard Hawley; The Gallaghers (Radio 5 Live, 10pm) cuts and shuts Liam talking to Nihal with Noel chatting to Eddie Hearn.


Christmas Day

8.10am Britain's Favourite Christmas Songs (Channel 5)
Repeated at 6.40pm, we can't tell if this is an old countdown or newly packaged but the blurb does say it features Christmas Wrapping, which because it doesn't have an official video or any known live footage isn't usually acknowledged on TV shows such as this.

11.35am Top Of The Pops Christmas Special (BBC1)
Earliest slot it's ever had, maybe suggesting the direction away from big old family light entertainment that most young people's chart music has taken these days. That said Lewis Capaldi, Tom Walker, The Script, James Blunt, Dermot Kennedy and Jack Savoretti are hardly frenzied fireworks of all-out POP. Mabel, Freya Ridings, Labrinth, Sigala, AJ Tracey & Jorja Smith and Jax Jones & Ella Henderson fill the rest.

6pm Freddie Mercury: The Tribute Concert (Sky Arts)
7.45pm Queen: the Phenomenon (Sky Arts)

Bowie's Lord's Prayer and a Spinal Tap cameo enliven the former, and we're basically just counting out the many ways the latter information can be displayed by now.

8.30pm Dolly Parton: Here I Am (BBC2)
10pm Dolly Parton At Glastonbury 2014 (BBC2)

Francis Whately, who did the BBC Bowie documentaries, promises to reveal "the real" Dolly. Well, let's see, but there's good access and an examination of the songs and influence over the image. After that, the performance that at least in this country took her away from the cliches.

8.35pm David Bowie: Stardust (PBS America)
You do have it, it's Sky 174, Virgin Media 273 or Freesat 155. This is the story of Ziggy.

9pm The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years (More4)
Ron Howard finds one of the few bits of Four lore that hadn't been fully mined and excavated. Christmas Day TV is always a disappointment compared even to the days around it but the documentaries are doing well.

10.30pm Kylie's Secret Night (Channel 4)
12am Kylie's Golden Tour (Channel 4)

For no apparent reason TV's having a Kylie night of it. The first is a one-off where the audience think it's going to be a fan convention but are instead treated to a performance and conversation with Alan Carr, plus hidden camera stuff and that. Afterwards, the TV premiere of part of her 2018 tour. Meanwhile...

11.10pm Kylie At Glastonbury 2019 (BBC2)
So it's live Kylie whichever way you look on the secondary terrestrial channels tonight - and in addition to all this there's an advert in Radio Times with ITV brading reading 'Kylie And Mates – Right Before The Queen's Speech'. No idea what that's for. Maybe it's actually about Kylie Pentelow.

RADIO: Radio 1 are giving over the bulk of the day to its Superstar Playlists (from 10am), to be precise Little Mix, the Top Gear team, Yungblud, some random actors, Louis Tomlinson and Selena Gomez. Radio 2 kicks off with Junior Choice (9am) with Anneka Rice as only seems right, followed by Paul O'Grady (12am), Matt Lucas (2pm), Gary Davies (4pm) presenting the Christmas number ones of the 80s and 90s, Family Rhythms (6pm) with Liza Tarbuck talking to famous families including the Kemps, Bryan Adams Rocks! (8pm) and The Green Room (9pm) in which Leo Green and his band tackle the hits of 1994. Looking forward to that swing version of Let Me Be Your Fantasy. Over on 6 Music Shaun Keaveney (1pm) corrals Brians Cox and Eno as annually, following which the second of the year's Wise Women (4pm) is Jessica Hynes, her show choices involving Dr John, Young Fathers and a Candi Staton fronted documentary on Disco Demolition Night. 1Xtra gets everyone together for a Big Christmas Dinner (1pm), then spends the early evening in 1Xtra In Jamaica (4pm) before repeating Stormzy At Glastonbury (7pm). Headliners (Radio 5 Live, 2pm and 3.30pm) repeats Nihal's chats with Liam Gallagher, Chrissie Hynde, Westlife and Dido. Up at BBC Radio Scotland there's Travis: The Man Who At 20 (2pm) and Natasha Raskin Sharp (8pm) on board Belle & Sebastian's Boaty Weekender.


Boxing Day

1pm The Rolling Stones At The BBC (Yesterday)
2pm Tom Jones At The BBC (Yesterday)

A couple of old BBC4 compilations to fill a dreary day.

RADIO: Radio 1 Anthems (from 10am) begins a series stretching every day through to the 31st of playing the biggest anthems of every year of the century so far, kicking off by going through to 7pm and still only getting as far as 2003. The 6 Music equivalent is Martin Freeman: Decades (1pm), three hours split by decade again every day up to New Year's Eve. Later on Kate Tempest rounds off this season's Wise Women (4pm), her takeover incorporating Bjork and Grace Jones. Absolute Radio's 80s spinoff turned ten years old earlier in the month and their celebration leaks onto the main station today with the Greatest Songs Of The 80s (5pm) countdown and Paul Gambaccini fronting Tribes Of The 80s (9pm), followed by a glance Inside Abbey Road (11pm).


Friday 27th December

9pm Richard Osman's World Cup Of The Decade (Channel 4)
You can unmute and refollow him now, he's stopped all that, but this is what it was in aid of and there's the results of the poll for the 10s' best single too.

9pm The Decade The Music Died (Sky Arts)
Sky Arts have been putting together these thoughtful end of year memorials for the last few years but now they're shoving an entire ten years' worth of clip and talking head obituaries together.

9.30pm Fleetwood Mac's Songbird: Christine McVie (BBC4)
Having joined after Peter Green left - although she was already friends and had played session piano with them - been one of the splitting couples around Rumours and stepped away for fifteen years to rejoin at their critical height McVie was there throughout the world straddling years so she's best placed to tell her singular story.

10.35pm David Bowie: A Reality Tour (Sky Arts)
Recorded in Dublin in 2003, so a few then-recent songs you've likely forgotten about but a lot of family favourites.

RADIO: Late Junction (Radio 3, 11.45pm) revisits the greatest advances in the wild side of music over the decade. At the other end of the scale, Matt Lucas' TV Themes (Radio 2, 2pm). Where's Matt Berry when you really need him?


Saturday 28th December

2.25pm Sunshine On Leith (Channel 4)
Dexter Fletcher seems to have carved a niche as a music-based film-maker and this Proclaimers jukebox musical, as if more than two Proclaimers songs are on any single jukebox outside Edinburgh, was his first go.

6.45pm Coldplay: Live In Sao Paulo (Sky Arts)
The last date of their 2017 world tour.

7.45pm The Hit List Celebrity Special (BBC1)
8.30pm Pointless Celebrities (BBC1)

The Humes' quiz show which has never quite worked out it should be prioritising questions over chat goes festive with Scott Mills, Chris Kamara, John Barnes, Tomorrow's Star Melvin Odoom, Vick Hope and the unrelated to music on surface level Susan Calman. Then it's a repeat of last year's number ones themed show which put Slade and Mud together on one team and let Jamelia and Roger McGough share a stage.

8pm Mamma Mia! (Channel 5)
Can't wait for a third film. Keep going until they have to perform Bang-A-Boomerang!

9pm Guns n' Roses: Appetite For Democracy (Sky Arts)
As much as everyone knows what it refers to, putting 'democracy' in an Axl Rose context is risky.

9.20pm Mystify: Michael Hutchence (BBC2)
11pm INXS: Live Baby Live (BBC2)

Bros: After The Screaming Stops, which surprisingly isn't on anywhere as far as we can tell, was released in cinemas but people only picked up on it once it had been on telly, so the same is being applied to two recent film documentaries over the next couple of nights. The examination of Hutchence through home movies and a phalanx of friends is followed by a recently remastered and upgraded print of the 1991 Wembley Stadium concert film.

RADIO: Radcliffe & Maconie (6 Music, 7am) devote all three hours to cover versions.


Sunday 29th December

10.15pm Liam Gallagher: As It Was (BBC2)
If anything's going to get the GIF makers working overtime it's this candid appraisal following what the press release optimistically calls "the greatest comeback in rock history".

11.40pm Supersonic (BBC4)
And here's the first part of that story, produced by the main movers behind Amy with the same keen documentation and offscreen talking and wisely cutting off at Knebworth.

RADIO: David Hepworth joins Johnnie Walker on Sounds of the 70s (Radio 2, 3pm); in Wild Music (Radio 4, 4.30pm) Erland Cooper and poet John Burnside explore the neolithic sites of Orkney.


Monday 30th December

3.45pm Six-Five Special (Talking Pictures TV)
Yes, there was a spinoff film from the groundbreaking BBC rock'n'roll series. Lonnie Donegan, Petula Clark, Dickie Valentine and Jim Dale perform, as in their own way do Mike and Bernie Winters.

4.45pm Top Of The Pops New Year (BBC1)
Lewis Capaldi, Mabel, Sigma, Tom Walker, Freya Ridings Jack Savoretti and Dermot Kennedy all return for another go, joined by Joel Corry & Hayley May (whoever the hell they are), Lily Moore & Dan Caplen (ditto), Regard & Jay Sean (half), Blossoms (OK, we know them) and Celeste (just won all the Best 2020 Artist awards). OK, so none of the Americans were around, but was Stormzy pretending to be out? Hell, does Ed think he's too big for this?

RADIO: 1Xtra's Decade Of Music spends the day (from 10am) racing through the best of the ten years, an hour per year. Michelle Visage's Fabulous Divas (Radio 2, 7pm) was an inevitability. Marc Riley (6 Music, 7pm) closes off his best of the year shows. Absolute Radio sneak in a couple of late documentaries, (Not) Just A Girl (10pm) with Claire Sturgess examining the role of women in the industry this decade, then The Gig That Changed The World (11pm) a grand title for a look at the legacy of the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall.


New Year's Eve

9.05pm Dame Edna Rules The Waves (BBC1)
10.20pm The Graham Norton Show (BBC1)
11.25pm Craig David Rocks Big Ben Live (BBC1)

Chic do the music on Barry Humphries' latest go-round on the old routine, Melanie C joins the end of year chat, then a somewhat surprising choice to wrap around the bells. Hardly qualifies as the usual big party act for all the family, surely?

11.15pm Jools' Annual Hootenanny (BBC2)
HOOTEno. Stormzy does turn up here along with Rick Astley, Tom Walker, Brittany Howard, Stereophonics, Yolanda Brown, La Roux, Eddi Reader, Melanie, Pauline Black and invariably Ruby Turner.

1.15am Best Of Glastonbury 2019 (BBC2)
As much of a tradition as the Rhythm & Blues Orches-Tra! these days.

RADIO: Radio 1 starts its Party Anthems at 1pm, Radio 2 at 7pm with Tony Blackburn, Ana Matronic, Gary Davies and Scott Mills taking a decade and ninety minutes apiece before Dave Pearce's Dance Anthems drives us all home from 1am. Hot Chip's New Year's Eve Party is 6 Music's warm-up from 7pm with Craig Charles first footing from 10pm. In a more refined state, Loose Ends Lounge (Radio 4, 10pm) features the best of the show's musical output of the year.


New Year's Day

11pm U2: Experience – Live In Berlin (Sky One)
But they said all is quiet? This, from November 2018, is being broadcast worldwide for the first time on this day.

RADIO: Andrew Ridgeley plays two hours of what he and George grew up with on Wham! The Music That Made Us (Radio 2, 12am). Cillian Murphy (10am) and DJ Shadow (1pm) are 6 Music's idea of a New Year balm. Absolute take a look at why bands split in The Music Differences (10pm) and then commemorate Parklife 25 (11pm), though that's still on Absolute's listen again feature if you want to seek that out.


Thursday 2nd January

Sorry, you'll just have to go back to work without our guidance.

RADIO: And so everything gradually returns to normal, Rick Astley Rocks (Radio 2, 7pm) notwithstanding. Although Gideon Coe (6 Music, 9pm) has an ambient and drone special.


Friday 3rd January

7pm A Hard Day's Night (BBC4)
Shown over the Christmas period four times in the 1970s and on lunchtime BBC2 last Boxing Day, Richard Lester attempts to synthesise the moptops' famed cheek with the aid of Wilfrid Brambell, Victor Spinetti, a sadly washboardless Deryck Guyler, Lionel Blair, Are You Being Served?/Allo Allo creator Jeremy Lloyd and an uncredited (Lloyd's then fiancee) Charlotte Rampling.

8pm Pink Floyd: PULSE – The Dark Side Of The Moon Live (Sky Arts)
10.15pm Pink Floyd Live In Pompeii (Sky Arts)

Firstly a performance of the latter named album while ostensibly promoting the former in 1994, then the famous 1972 ruined amphitheatre set.

8.30pm Top Of The Pops: The Story Of 1989 (BBC4)
9.30pm Top Of The Pops: Big Hits 1989 (BBC4)

Onwards! Into 1989 with the traditional introductory documentaries, the first one featuring contributions from Jason Donovan, Lisa Stansfield, Shaun Ryder, Chris Rea, Marc Almond, Sharleen Spiteri, Jazzie B and Jenny Powell, maybe explaining just how she stumbles over so many of the intros.

10.30pm Soft Cell: Say Hello Wave Goodbye (BBC4)
And to close this marathon, the really good Marc'n'Dave retrospective from earlier in the year. Mind how you go.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

40 From 40 Plus 10: 2018

So, for now, we reach the end of the decade compilations in retrospect, given 2018 hasn't actually ended yet and we'll then be compiling the playlist in the moment. Plenty happened in 2018, but not a lot outside the rise of K-Pop was progressive - Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star Is Born, The Greatest Showman, the already distant shadow of its former shelf print NME closing, Kanye's self-absorption... still haven't had that promised new Abba song and virtual tour either...



IDLES - Colossus
Drahla - Twelve Divisions Of The Day
Chemtrails - Wishbone
Chorusgirl - No Goodbye
The Beths - Happy Unhappy
The Spook School - Keep in Touch
H. Grimace - In The Body
Big Joanie - Fall Asleep
Tigercats - Stay Out Of Limehouse
Gwenno - Tir Ha Mor
Beak> - Brean Down
Beach House - Dark Spring
Tirzah - Gladly
Nilüfer Yanya - Thanks 4 Nothing
Sudan Archives - Nont For Sale
Czarface & MF DOOM feat. Open Mike Eagle & Kendra Morris - Phantoms
Christine & the Queens - Doesn't matter
Robyn - Missing U
Haiku Salut - The More And Moreness
Vive la Void - Death Money
Mothers - BLAME KIT
Ex:Re - Romance
Modern Studies - Get Back Down
David Byrne - Everybody's Coming To My House
Shopping - Wild Child
Baxter Dury, Étienne de Crécy & Delilah Holliday - White Coats
TVAM - Psychic Data
The Lovely Eggs - Wiggy Giggy
Seazoo - Dig
Courtney Barnett - City Looks Pretty
illuminati hotties - Paying Off The Happiness
Soccer Mommy - Your Dog
Caroline Says - Sweet Home Alabama
Mitski - A Pearl
boygenius - Bite The Hand
Neko Case - Curse of the I-5 Corridor
Cat Power - You Get
Adrianne Lenker - cradle
Stella Donnelly - Mechanical Bull
Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert feat. Siobhan Wilson - Cockcrow


PREVIOUSLY: 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

40 From 40 Plus 10: 2017

Eight down, two to go (and for one of those we'll have to wait until the end of the year) 2017 was the year when statistically we were told "rap overtakes rock", something it had actually done a long time previously and would continue to do as Stormzy took all before him, Post Malone became a major star and occasional dabbler/definitely not rock Ed Sheeran's ÷ not only became the fastest selling album by a male solo artist ever but caused a change in the singles chart rules as he absolutely flooded the place. Meanwhile One Love Manchester showed what pop could do when struck at its heart and Fyre Festival was a bonfire of the vanities that just provided more content rather than bring (m)any down. This is the one year of the decade that we had the most trouble slimming down to forty tracks, but we eventually managed it...



Protomartyr - A Private Understanding
Wolf Alice - Yuk Foo
Algiers - The Underside Of Power
Weaves - #53
Ghostpoet - Immigrant Boogie
Run The Jewels - Don't Get Captured
Stormzy - Big For Your Boots
Dave - Question Time
Superorganism - Something For Your M.I.N.D.
Gorillaz feat. DRAM - Andromeda
St. Vincent - Pills
HOLY - all these worlds are yours
Jane Weaver - Did You See Butterflies?
Gallops - Darkjewel
W. H. Lung - Inspiration!
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - French Press
H. Grimace - Land/Body
Barry Adamson - I Got Clothes (ACR: MCR Rework)
Field Music - Count It Up
Sparks - Hippopotamus
Torres - Skim
Johnny Marr feat. Maxine Peake - The Priest
ANOHNI - Paradise
Baxter Dury - Miami
Boy Azooga - Face Behind Her Cigarette
H. Hawkline - Last Thing On Your Mind
Lorde - The Louvre
Beach House - Chariot
The National - Empire Line
Grizzly Bear - Four Cypresses
Perfume Genius - Wreath
Lana Del Rey - Love
Hurray For The Riff Raff - Living In The City
Big Thief - Watering
Laura Marling - Wild Fire
The Mountain Goats - Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back to Leeds
Los Campesinos! - 5 Flucloxacillin
Nadine Shah - Holiday Destination
Fleet Foxes - Cassius, -
Public Service Broadcasting feat. Haiku Salut - They Gave Me a Lamp


PREVIOUSLY: 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

40 From 40 Plus 10: 2016

The round-up of the decade about to close reaches that most dread of years, 2016. You know, when Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Leonard Cohen, George Martin etc all died we were told by some in the press that as our heroes aged this would be happening every year. As we type, the enormous world stars to have died in 2019 are Doris Day... um... Albert Finney? Keith Flint, yeah, but is the mark even he left the equal of those above? 2016 was also the year of the crash that claimed Viola Beach, their cobbled together album making number one on the back of a singular wave of emotion. Beyonce redefined everything again with the HBO special and album Lemonade, standing tall long after people have stopped trying to decode "Becky with the good hair". Drake's One Dance was number one for fifteen weeks without making any impact on the wider cultural sphere - in fact you could easily argue it's not even his most famous track. The Stone Roses returned with All For One, a song that was forgotten about within a fortnight. Here's some other stuff that mostly would dream of such exposure.



Field Music - The Noisy Days Are Over
Boxed In - Jist
Oliver Coates - Innocent Love
Solange - Cranes in the Sky
She Drew The Gun - Poem
BADBADNOTGOOD feat. Samuel T. Herring - Time Moves Slow
David Bowie - Lazarus
Let's Eat Grandma - Deep Six Textbook
Bon Iver - 33 “GOD”
Sylvan Esso - Radio
Anna of the North - Us
Cate le Bon - Wonderful
Weaves - Candy
The Julie Ruin - I Decide
Milo's Planes - Routines
This Becomes Us feat. Black Francis - Painter Man Is Coming
Future Of The Left - If AT&T Drank Tea What Would BP Do?
Johnny Foreigner - If You Can't Be Honest, Be Awesome
TRAAMS - A House on Fire
The Lucid Dream - Bad Texan
PJ Harvey - The Wheel
Amber Arcades - Fading Lines
Angel Olsen - Shut Up Kiss Me
Grandaddy - Way We Won't
Los Campesinos! - I Broke Up In Amarante
Dream Wife feat. Fever Dream - FUU
Rose Elinor Dougall - Stellular
Man of Moon - Sign
Radiohead - Ful Stop
Minor Victories - Give Up The Ghost
Julia Jacklin - Pool Party
Case/lang/Veirs - Atomic Number
Mitski - Your Best American Girl
Meilyr Jones - Featured Artist
A Tribe Called Quest - The Space Program
David Thomas Broughton - Words of Art
RM Hubbert feat. Martha Ffion - The Unravelling
Meursault - Simple Is Good
Hilary Woods - Bathing
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Jesus Alone


PREVIOUSLY: 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015