Ah it's that time of year again. The arrival of the end of the calendar year, and with it a driving desire to categorise the happenings of the past twelve months into convenient list form.
As with the past few Decembers, I begin my annual review convinced that the past year has been a distinctly average one for music. But as the list grows, and albums that struck a chord nine months ago resurface, I discover that 2015 has been another good musical year. In fact, save for some sort of global catastrophe or ignorance on the part of the listener, I can't foresee music having a 'bad year'. Anyway, here are this year's picks.
10. Low - Ones and Sixes
Given the 20 years they've spent making music together, it may be fair to expect husband and wife duo Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker to slip into a sort of musical comfort zone. But, with their voices combining and contrasting amid dissonant instrumentation, Ones and Sixes is one of their most intense and thrilling records to date.
Continue reading: James Hopkin's Top 10 Of 2015
The band release 'B'lieve I'm Goin Down' later this year.
Kurt Vile and the Violators are about to head out on a world tour this Autumn spanning North American and Europe, as they gear up to release a brand new studio album entitled 'B'lieve I'm Goin Down'. They'll be joined by some excellent supporting acts and will also be visiting a handful of festivals.
Kurt Vile and The Violators head out on tour this Autumn
Beginning in October, Kurt Vile and his faithful band will hit the US with appearances at Austin City Limits among others. There, they'll be joined by Cass McCombs and Heron Oblivion, as well as Luke Roberts and Waxahatchee, the latter of whom will join them as they hit Europe in November. They'll be hitting Amsterdam's version of London Calling at the Paradiso on October 31st, following their appearance at Pitchfork Festival in Paris.
Continue reading: Kurt Vile And The Violators Unveil World Tour Dates Ahead Of New Album
It's not long until this year's South by Southwest festival and here's 10 acts you wont want to miss in Austin.
Every year, hundreds of bands descend upon Austin, Texas to make the South by Southwest Festival one of the most anticipated of the year. Featuring musical acts from all over the world, the music section of this mammoth festival takes place from March 11th to 16th 2014. This year sees the festival get even bigger and better as a host of new acts showcase alongside some big name veterans to give an awesome lineup of over 2,000 acts. Anyone lucky enough to be making the trip to Austin next month is going to have a hard time deciding which bands to go see, so to help you make up your mind, here’s ten acts that we consider unmissable from this year’s lineup.
London Grammar are heading to this year's SXSW Festival
Continue reading: SXSW 2014: 10 Acts You Cannot Afford To Miss
This year saw the release of so many incredible albums, that trying to list the top 20 really doesn't do 2013 justice. However, after some strong analysis of what the year had to offer, we unveil the most listenable collections - from the super-hyped major label releases to the lesser-known but just as sensational offerings.
Vampire Weekend 'Modern Vampire in the City' - 'Modern Vampires in the City' makes it three for three for the New Yorkers and their latest release could very well be their best yet. It shows evolution for the band, but they have retained that essential quality that made 'Contra' and their self-titled debut such wonderfully upbeat and genuine pleasures to listen to each time. 'Modern Vampire in the City' is also the release that marks Vampire Weekend as a band that should be taken seriously, but one who you can still have immense fun with. 'Diane Young' is yet another indie floor filler, standing shoulder to shoulder with previous bangers 'A-Punk' and 'Cousins.' Where the album really excels, however, is when VW reach out to new quarters and sound completely inimitable. The yelps of 'Ya Hey' bring fun to a song that essentially deals with the theme of lost conviction, the graceful 'Hanna Hunt' erupts in the most complete song released this year and album opener 'Obvious Bicycle' sets the whole thing in motion with its refreshingly angelic melodies and steady, train-like clunks that lie beneath all the splendour. Vampire Weekend are no longer the Brooklyn minions rattling at the gates of eminence, the gates have been swung open for them and the welcoming committee should have made them feel rightly at home.
Continue reading: Contactmusic.com's Top Albums Of 2013
FYF Fest 2013 presents yet more new acts for its 10th annual weekend this August including comedians Doug Benson, Brett Gelman and Karen Kilgariff.
FYF is an alternative music festival spread over two days - this year, August 25th and 26th - at the LA State Historic Park. This summer we'll see no doubt spectacular headline sets from New Yorkers the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Dublin rockers My Bloody Valentine, as well as performances from MGMT, Devendra Banhart, Les Savy Fav, Holy Ghost!, Deerhunter, New Jersey's Yo La Tengo, chillwave producer Toro Y Moi, the chart hitting Kurt Vile & the Violators and Californian duo Foxygen.
Just announced are some equally brilliant comedy acts (as if you weren't going to have a massive laugh anyway) from the likes of 'Home Movies' writer Brendon Small, 'The League' star Paul Scheer with Rob Huebel, 'Eagleheart' comedian Brett Gelman and former 'Last Comic Standing' contestant Doug Benson.
Continue reading: FYF Fest 2013 Announces More Live Acts For August!
Kurt Vile has building his profile as the king of American indie rock for a few years now, and Wakin' On A Pretty Daze finds him in typically ambivalent voice, shrugging his way through eleven new songs. Where his last album - Smoke Ring for My Halo - focussed more on traditional pop song structures, this time out Kurt has allowed himself some space to sprawl with the guitar taking up position centre stage.
The album begins with the lengthy epic title track. Clocking in at just a sniff less than ten minutes long, the song explores a relaxed alternative rock sound, reminiscent of a much less wacky Pavement. Given its incredible length, you cannot help but feel that maybe it lasts a bit too long as the second impressive yet unnecessary guitar work out gets under way.
Although the focus very much remains on the guitar work rather than Vile's Dylan-esque vocal drawl, Wakin' On A Pretty Daze explores other genres outside of the 90s indie model. On Was All Talk some almost folk elements come into play under laid with processed drum beats, giving it an almost futuristic quality. One of the album's highlights is the progressively noisier outro to that particular track. Elsewhere, Girl Called Alex takes a more minor key, cinematic tone. These tracks show a willingness to explore and experiment and a daring streak which should be encouraged in more artists.
Continue reading: Kurt Vile - Wakin' On A Pretty Daze Album Review