2009 Round-Up Part 5 – Best Festival Performances

Just a very quick one before I post my top 10 gigs of the year (the post was getting too long) – here is a quick summary of my favourite 10 festival performances of the year. Had I been more organised and got all of this done before the end of 2009, I’d have liked to written more about these. Anyway, here you go!

  • The Twilight Sad – The Great Escape (14th May) – First time discovering the band and blown away by great performance in a tiny venue.
  • The Low Anthem – The Great Escape (16th May) – First time seeing them and as with the Twilight Sad, just an amazing performance in a tiny venue.
  • Easy Star All-Stars (performing Pink Floyd’s  ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’) – Glastonbury (26th June) – So much fun, and an album that deserves to be heard all in one go.
  • Neil Young – Glastonbury (26th June) – An absolute legend, with a rocking headline performance.
  • Bruce Springsteen – Glastonbury (27th June) – Wasn’t sure how much I’d enjoy but this man knows how to please a crowd and has so much stamina!
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Glastonbruy (28th June) – This performance really got me into the band, an energetic and fascinating performer.
  • Broken Records – Truck (25th July) – Lots of fun dancing away in a small tent!
  • Ed Harcourt – Standon Calling (2nd August) – Curfew-breaking show by Ed and guests, whilst dressed as an astronaut, lots of fun!
  • Okkervil River – End Of The Road (12th September) – So much better than Fleet Foxes’ headline performance, a reminder of what a great band they are.
  • Sparrow & The Workshop – End Of The Road (13th September) – Second time seeing them and a massive realisation that they’re superb. Great crowd too, in the tipi tent.

You can find the rest of my 2009 end of year round-up here.

2009 Round-Up Part 4 – Best Albums (Top 10)

A few days later than planned, here is my Top 10 Albums of 2009 in full. If you missed the first part (numbers 25-11) you can find it here. Expect top 10 gigs to follow soon, and in the next week or so expect normal gig diary service to resume. Keen to hear other people’s top albums of the year so do leave a comment if you’ve gone to the trouble of compiling a list too.

10. Manic Street Preachers – Journal For Plague Lovers

When the Manics announced that they were to record a new album using lyrics left behind by (missing, presumed dead, original guitarist & lyricist) Richey Edwards there was a mixed response. Would they still be capable of writing songs worthy of Richey’s lyrics? Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the answer turned out to be a big yes! Combining their renewed energy and catchy tunes of previous album ‘Send Away The Tigers’ with the darkness of Richey’s lyrics, and early masterpiece ‘The Holy Bible’ it was a winning formula. An album that manages to sound modern, but still part of the early Manics (and Richey’s) legacy. No ‘hit singles’ to be found, but a great solid album that has managed to surprise a lot of people this year.

[Listen on Spotify]

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2009 Round-Up Part 3 – Various Stats & Lists

Being a music geek I have to admit I’m a bit of a fan of stats & lists. This very reason is why sites like Last.fm and Songkick. They allow music geeks like me to track who they have seen & listened to, and then present them back in some nice lists, as well as gathering some great data about people’s listening habits and gig attendance as a whole, not just on an individual basis.

So before I reveal (i.e. finish writing) my top albums and gigs of the year, here are some of the ‘highlights’ of what I’ve been up to taken from those very sites. If you get bored easily by lists, look away now!

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2009 Round-Up Part 2 – Best Albums (25-11)

After much deliberating, I’ve put my shortlist of my top 25 albums of the year into some kind of order, and here is a rundown from 25-11. Look out for the top 10 soon. Several albums missed out on this list as I have only streamed them on Spotify and not yet bought them (sorry Flaming Lips!).

Righly or wrongly there are also a number of this year’s albums that I have enjoyed but just not listened to enough (including many that have done well in end of year polls), resulting in them missing out, but could have been included with more listens. Included in that list right now would be The Longcut, Animal Collective, Fever Ray, Grizzly Bear, and many more.

I have bought a lot of music this year and probably not appreciated it all to its full potential. Will my buying habits change next year? I can try but in all honesty it’s unlikely to happen!

Anyhow, without further ado, here are my best albums of the year, from 25-11.

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2009 Round-Up Part 1 – Gigography

To start my round-up of the year (while I try to decide my favourite albums & gigs), I thought I’d post a list of all the gigs I’ve been to and bands I’ve seen this year. Each gig is listed, including supports (only the ones I saw though, if I missed any), and each day at festivals is broken out, again with the bands I saw. Of course, I didn’t see the full set for each and every one of these listed, but probably the majority, and at festivals bands are only listed if I saw a good 10-15 mins of their set as a minimum.

Anyway, enough about the hows and whys, here’s the list! I will shortly be selecting my favourites and writing a bit about them. In the meantime take a look, and by all means let me know if you were at any and have fond memories of them!

  1. 03/01/09 – Plugs (Astoria 2)
  2. 14/01/09 – Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Trail Of Dead, Mark Greaney (JJ72), Frank Turner, King Blues, Helsinki (Astoria)
  3. 19/01/09 – Duke Special, Paul Pilot, Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards (Proud Gallery)
  4. 01/02/09 – Esser, Speech Debelle (Northampton Square)
  5. 06/02/09 – Whole Lotta Led (Islington Academy)
  6. 13/02/09 – Mystery Jets, Little Boots, Amazing Baby (Shepherd’s Bush Empire)
  7. 15/02/09 – I Am Kloot (Manchester Club Academy)
  8. 16/02/09 – Secret Machines, The Big Pink (Islington Academy)
  9. 17/02/09 – Blindfold, Revere, Magic & Fur, Morrison Steam Fayre (Bush Hall)
  10. 28/02/09 – Elbow, The Acorn (Brighton Dome) Continue reading

Merry Christmas – Free Music!

As Christmas approaches, and I have yet to compile my ‘best of 2009’ lists (but I have until the end of the month for that, right?), I thought I’d point you in the direction of some free Christmas themed downloads. Just got a few to start things off but if you know of any more let me know and I’ll add them up here.

As well as my 2009 round-up I’ve got a few more gigs to review (David Ford & James Yorkston) so keep an eye out for those over the next few days (hopefully!).

So, on to the downloads…

Revere – Silent Night/The Escape Artist


If you know me or have read my reviews of them (here and here) you’ll know how much I love the band Revere. I’m massively excited about the release of their debut album ‘Hey! Selim’ next year, but in the meantime the good people at Maps Magazine have posted a free download of their festive cover ‘Silent Night’, which features the equally brilliant Gabby Young. Even more generously they have offered up previous single and album + live standout track ‘The Escape Artist’.

There’s a whole advent calendar worth of other free downloads too so go check them out!

Get Revere downloads here

Oh! Canada presents: Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada


Just spotted this one and not had a chance to listen yet. The Line Of Best Fit have teamed up with Oh! Canada to bring you a 25(!!) track compilation of Christmas tracks by some fantastic Canadian bands. Many are unknown to me, but with some of my live highlights of the year including The Acorn and Ohbijou on there this looks like it’s well worth a listen.

Get Ho! Ho! Ho! Canada here

Gigs This Week (Dec 21st)

With Christmas a mere few days away, I have time to squeeze in one final gig for 2009, taking my grand total (including festival days) to 120! Just about to brave the snow to get to the gig so this will be a quick update!

James Yorkston & The Athletes – The Luminaire (Mon 21st Dec)

This will be my second of Scottish folk singer James Yorkston’s legendary Christmas gigs at the Luminaire. Last year he played solo, with a little help from a few friends. This time it’ll be the first time I’ll see him play with his main band The Athletes. I’m expecting fun, drinks, fancy dress and Christmas cheer! And that’s just James…