(Geese are good, right?)
With the new year within pissing distance of us now, I want to take the time to commemorate the positive musical releases and performances I experienced this year. To pump out another “best albums” list would be totally pointless because that hinges purely on my own taste and would likely just repeat the points I previously made about the album or artist, so this list is going to consist of five artists, bands or albums I discovered this year and really made an incredible impact on me.
In no particular order, I begin this list with local Pop-Country darling, Finola. Having attended the launch of her most recent EP, Waterworks, I was fairly impartial to the music itself, largely because of my own personal taste; but I was absolutely blown away by her character, resolve and professionalism.
Having worked in and with bands for the better part of ten years now, I have come to recognise the sheer measure of ego and entitlement behind a startling percentage of musicians, both on a larger scale and in local musicians. Finola seems to be completely deserving of every confidence she displays in her actions, performances and music. She’s a shining example for all local artists to aspire towards and I respect her to this day as a gloriously capable, majestic and powerful character.
Her commitment to her performance and remarkable efforts in organising and micro-managing the event was absolutely remarkable. Watching as she bounced between people and bands as she supported every person and aspect of the event was more than impressive; it was inspirational. She was an absolute marvel to behold and more than enough to make me reconsider my previous thoughts on the mentality of small-scale artists and bands.
A band I initially reviewed for another review page but haven’t addressed in my own personal blog, Pumarosa stood out to me as one of the most stunning exhibitions of humanity, style, fantastic music and pure, primal feel.
Indie Rocks UK caters to a “five star” rating system which it requires its writers to accommodate within their reviews and, though I could be mistaken, Pumarosa may well have been the only performance I gave full marks to. Following their fantastic performance, I was left with a keen interest in following their music and pursued this interest with repeated listens in my own personal time.
Though not necessary to great music, I think the frontwoman, Isabel Munoz-Newsome, might actually be one of the most remarkably beautiful humans I have ever seen. She gave an amazing performance, she sounded fantastic and, more than a few months past, I still think fondly to her majestic and graceful dancing and its accompaniment from a deep, pulsating beat, subtle use of smoke and gloriously atmospheric lighting. It was a beautiful sight and experience and it still conjures delighted flashbacks now.
3. Susanne Sundfør
Yet another artist who evaded the wrath of my relentless published criticisms with a frankly stunning and heartfelt set, Susanne Sundfør would have been a tragically overlooked figure, were it not for the encouragement of my partner at the time! As a fan, and a fellow Norwegian, she jumped at the chance to witness another of her ilk perform in Manchester and it was only natural that she request my accompaniment.
The show was absolutely fantastic. Though the music didn’t resonate in me to the same degree as Pumarosa, the sheer energy and feeling in the room was sublime. Never before had I been to such a respectful and quiet show, with her acoustic performance being met with pure bewilderment from an adoring and incredibly supportive audience. The positivity throughout was almost real to the touch and the heart and humanity behind her every vocal accent filled the audience in a deep and emotional trance.
She composed herself incredibly throughout and retained a constant measure of respectful attention, even in the quieter moments between the songs when she would remark of the quality of her cup of tea and politely ask questions to a totally coherent and encouraging audience. The unbound joy and near crying eyes of my elated partner said it all; it was a truly magical display of humanity and sheer emotion.
2. Diablo Swing Orchestra
Those following my more recent posts will likely recognise this name and active readers will no doubt have expected this to be on some kind of “best of” list this year. Diablo Swing Orchestra overpowered me with a stunning display of overwhelming energy and style with the incredible Pacifisticuffs – the album which I could well consider to be my favourite from this year, though this is in contest with the following release.
It’s rare to find something these days that genuinely feels fun. Though I began with a cringe at the overwhelming positivity of the opening track, there wasn’t a single time throughout where I felt bored at all. In a balls-out and overly elaborate variety of styles and sheer character, the album had me in constant suspense of what would come next and it rewarded my every anticipation with a consistent repetition of surprise and subversion.
The album had me feeling like a kid in a Lego store and I left it with a grin which would make the Cheshire Cat envious. It was the most entertaining album I have heard all year and, as I stated in the review; I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys an elaborate and totally bizarre musical experience.
1. Gregory Porter
Much like the magnificent Norwegian specimen beside me at the Susanne Sundfør performance I attended, there were points during this musical masterpiece that almost had me in tears. I shit thee not; at numerous points throughout Gregory Porter’s tribute to the late Nat King Cole I genuinely felt I was going to shed a single tear from my long dead and cynical eyes.
The album was a sheer masterpiece, pure and simple! Those who wonder why I place this in a higher position than Pacifisticuffs, which I stated could be my favourite album of the year, I shall repeat that this list is in no particular order and it’s a list of the albums, artists and bands which had the largest impact on me through the year.
As my reputation as a cold, cruel and heartless bastard would imply, it’s as hard to move me as it is to pass unobstructed through the city centre of Manchester at Christmas; so when you find something that nearly made me fucking cry, you know you’ve stumbled across something truly powerful. Much as Diablo Swing Orchestra made me feel like a child in a Lego store, Gregory Porter took me through a retreading of some of the most powerful and gut-wrenching feelings I have ever experienced. It left me feeling devastated, pained and, in the end; resolved. It made me feel human again.