Category Archives: List

Favourite not ‘best’ of 2012

Photo of CDs, LPs

I think the best records of 2012 have been sufficiently covered elsewhere and whilst I’m certainly down with most of the recurring Top 20 artists such as Sharon Van Etten, Bill Fay, First Aid Kit, Meshuggah, Pallbearer and on and on it seems more appropriate given that this is a personal blog to mention the ones I loved rather than just respected no matter how they are perceived more widely.

This also means I’ll be leaving out some of my most loved bands given their established credentials so no Neurosis, Earth, Deftones, Converge, High on Fire, Isis, Torche, Soundgarden, Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Led Zeppelin most of which have all been reviewed here in the past anyway.

These are the records I bought, streamed and reviewed in 2012, which may not have come out in the last year, that I can really stand behind. So, first…

Prosperina – Faith In Sleep

Dolphins – From Pickerel to Flipper

Unsane – Wreck

Negative Pegasus – Looming


Black Breath – Sentenced to Life

Melvins (Lite) – Freak Puke

Sleep – Dopesmoker (Reissue)

Nuclear Death Terror – Chaos Reigns

In 2013 ‘ll be looking forward to Uncle Acid and the dead beats, High On Fire and Ghost live and new records from QOTSA, Kverlertak and Mastodon and maybe just maybe new music from Jimmy Page as well as hearing a whole batch of new shit.

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Can I Get a Montage?!

With all the sport coverage coming up for the Olympics we can all be assured there will be some excellent slo-mo montages because, as we all know, the montage is the 2nd most important thing to broadcasters after the actual sport (or maybe the jingoism). With the montage comes the montage music. This will no doubt include ‘We Are the Champions’, Vangelis’ ‘Chariots of Fire’ and the like. However, for this Olympics I would love to see some of the following:

‘Shoot To Thrill’ for the archers.

‘Run Like Hell’ for the sprinters.

‘Walk’ for the walkers.

‘Jump’ for the long and triple jumpers (cheers Darren!)

and ‘You Fucking People Make Me Sick’ for the crowd at the beach volleyball.

Any more? Fire them in the comments.

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Favourite Stuff From 2011

Best albums

Altar of Plagues “Mammal”

Black metal continues to morph and grow beyond the strictures imposed by the old guard back in Norway. Ireland’s Altar of Plagues released an album teeming with atmospherics, new accents on established sounds and stuff you’ve never heard on a regular black metal record. The record needs to be heard in its entirety but ‘When the Sun Drowns in the Ocean’ is in particular, stunning.

Mastodon “The Hunter”

Atlanta’s favourite heavy rockers released their fifth studio record two years after the lengthy, prog infused cosmic rumination on life and death that was “Crack the Skye”. This time they trimmed some of the fat (songs running to three minutes in length instead of fifteen) and reminded us of their lighter side on cuts like ‘Stargasm’ and ‘Creature Lives’; kept the heavy shit coming and weren’t afraid to show deeply felt emotions on ‘The Hunter’ and ‘The Sparrow’. It is fair to say that anything they turn their hand to is worth hearing.

Insomnium “One For Sorrow”

Melodic death metal, melodeath or whatever this is being called – it won’t be everyone’s particular cup of tea but Insomnium’s latest is worth overcoming any misgivings you may have. Referencing the rhyme associated with magpies in this country and then coating the record sleeve in crows may seem incongruous but the music itself is at turns dramatic and low-key; melancholic and blisteringly heavy. Highly recommended.


Best of the Rest

Opeth “Heritage”

Whereupon, Akerfelt ditched the death metal vocals and added some more flutes. Still ace.

Kurt Vile “Smoke Ring For My Halo”

Acoustic slacker character puts together ten great detailed songs with creaking smoky production.

Wooden Shjips “West”

“West” is the best fuzz-rock this side of a Nuggets compilation. Motorik rhythms and backwards guitars make for their finest record after countless amazing live shows. ‘Home’ is the standout.

Earth “Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light I”

Dylan Carson continues to mould the re-invigorated Earth moving from the realms of doom laden metal to ominous folk-drone.

PJ Harvey “Let England Shake”

A lot has been written and said about this record and this is by no means the last list it will end up in but PJ Harvey deserves every single accolade for a truly ambitious and quietly important album.

In Solitude “The World, The Flesh; The Devil”

If vintage is the laa dee dah term for second hand clothes then In Solitude should be the by-word for traditional heavy fucking metal. Certainly no mere NWOBHM clones these boys are seriously ambitious.

Machine Head “Unto The Locust”

The most successful resurrection of a damaged name since Joe Perry and Steven Tyler kicked the junk and took Aerosmith supernova in the eighties and they’ve made it look easy. I just hope that doesn’t mean that Robb Flynn will be an American Idol judge in 2030.

Naisian “Mammalian”

Heavy British psychedelic sludge with a penchant for apt song-titles.



Sunn O))) “Double-O Void”

Re-release of doom-drone titans second record and a mighty racket it is too.

Various “Swamp Delta Rock: Sounds from the South Volume 1”

Soul, jazz, blues, rock, black, white. This compilation has it all in its surprisingly succinct double LP format. From the hairy chopped rock of Skynyrd and the Allmans, to sweet Bobbie Gentry and the soaring Boz Scaggs this is a compilation for any music fan.

The Who “Quadrophenia”

Pete Townshend’s last hurrah with the ‘orrible Who as it was all downhill from here. Sure they filled stadiums and earned the dough they were denied in the sixties but this is the apex of the Who as a going artistic concern. “Quadrophenia” has complex characters, social commentary, thrilling music and not a deaf, dumb and blind kid in sight.


Live Shows

Barn Owl, Lagan Legacy Barge, Belfast, 29th April

Avant-garde guitar mangling at massively reduced volume due to the venue restrictions. Strange but brilliant place and BYOB!

My Morning Jacket, Somerset House, London 18th July.

My first MMJ gig since they toured “Z” nearly five years ago and they took on the bigger stage with customary goofy aplomb courtesy of Jim James’ capering and amazing songs.

Black Breath, Borderline, London, 14th July.

Blackened hardcore from the States in a sweatbox venue and an uncompromising lesson in blitzkrieg rock and roll.

Roger Waters, The Wall, O2, London, 17th May.

The polar opposite to Black Breath: grandiose, even a bit silly but nevertheless the way rock shows in arenas should be.

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