Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Discoggs 10 - The one where I geek out on my gigs of 2014

The year in numbers...

Let me properly geek out. Just this once.

In 2014 I saw 197 sets by 150 bands. I saw 16 bands twice, three bands three times each.I obviously enjoyed East India Youth, Future Islands and Ages and Ages A LOT because I saw them each five times. I saw The National play seven times in six cities across three countries. (They were all incredible, obviously). I've been privileged to see Dry the River play eight times in support of their fantastic second album.

I can't put my top ten in order of preference. Every experience is more than a sum of its parts, but here are ten of the best, in chronological order:

Ages and Ages - Cheer Up Charlies, Austin.
The room was so packed I had to seek refuge on a table by the door. I'm pretty sure the band could've led a pied-piper style parade through the city and we'd all have followed, such was the love for their incredible harmonies.

Future Islands - Stubbs Backyard, Austin.
I'd seen them at Hoxton in February and fallen in love, so the chance to see them several times in a week at SXSW was fantastic. They clearly enjoyed the attention (people were clamouring to get into every show that week) but they did it in such a humble, giving way.

Sharon Van Etten - Koko, Camden.
Are We There is my record of the year, no doubt. On stage Sharon is charming and funny and vulnerable and strong all at the same time. This piece from Pitchfork will make you fall in love with her.

Fat White Family - Dalston Victoria.
I'm still trying to wash the sweat off. Gloriously unhinged.

Jungle - Oval Space, Hackney.
I still didn't know what they looked like when I first went to see them. Then they appeared out of a fog of dry ice and the glow of three foot tall neon letters. As amazing as I'd hoped.

The National - Lucca, Italy.
We'd seen them the night before, in a tiny nook in the town of Vasto. Then we'd taken a series of trains for 8 hours to catch them again on the other side of the country. A downpour started as they hit the stage but it only heightened the mood. Bryce played like it was the last time he'd ever pick up a guitar and Matt laughed as we had a sing-off during Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks. We went home and didn't sleep for hours.

Beck - Camden Roundhouse.
I've never seen so many people grinning in one place. Beck Hansen is a true performer; A sexx-god of petite proportions and an Oscar-worthy actor.

Jenny Lewis - Islington Assembly Hall.
The poster girl for us indie-types of a certain age perhaps. Dressed in a painted pastel suit and singing breezy guitar pop from on top of a speaker – but with lyrics that divulge the grittier bits that lie beneath.

Hives – Reading Festival.
Swoon, giggle, repeat. Consummate showmen.

Bahamas – Borderline, Charing Cross.
Afie Jurvanen has stolen my heart. ‘Bahamas is Afie’ hasn’t been off my stereo since October so I stood absolutely transfixed as he played the Borderline last month. He makes me want to run away and live in a cabin somewhere in Ontario.

Mclusky – Buffalo Bar, Islington.
It was a charged atmosphere from the off. I knew it would be my last visit to the Buffalo Bar before it shuts its doors for the last time so I was ready to soak up those final memories of nights on the stage, behind the decks, in the crowd watching more bands than I could ever remember. It was one of my homes from home when I first moved to London and this was my last hurrah. The fact it was (pretty much) Mclusky playing, who I’d seen here and across the road at the Garage during a period of artrocker excess in 2002-ish just added to the feeling that I should throw myself into it. So I did. We all did. I owe a thank you to both the venue and the band.

N.B - You might have spotted that there are in fact 11. But c'mon. From 197 shows, that's not bad, right?!?

Monday, 22 December 2014

Discoggs 9 - The Alternative Christmas Mixtape

Well, here it is, Merry Christmas. Without a slice of Slade, morsel of Mud or whisper of Wizzard. It's a truly alternative Christmas playlist for you.

Or sit back and watch it unfold here

Monday, 15 December 2014

Discoggs 8 - The one where I escaped the Christmas chaos

No tinsel, baubles or Mariah here.

And for the non-Spotify users...

This is The Day - The The

In Conflict - Owen Pallett

On the regular - Shamir

Physiques - People Get Ready

Leaving No Trace - Highasakite

To Hell With Good Intentions - Mclusky

Houdini Crush - Buke and Gase

Angeles - Elliott Smith

Eyes to the Wind - The War on Drugs

Like You - Cariad Harmon

All The Rays - Grumbling Fur

Her Ghost - Woman's Hour

Friday, 28 November 2014

Discoggs 7 - The one where I got ready for Winter

Brrrrr. The weather's closing in. And it's nearly December. Let's shut the doors and draw the curtains. Here's a Winter mixtape for you.

Angel in the Snow - Elliott Smith
Howling Light - J. Tillman (you'll have heard him on my previous mixtapes as Father John Misty)
Snowy Atlas Mountains - Fionn Regan
Snow Plow - Bahamas (as seen at the Borderline earlier this month. Just wonderful)
White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
Winter is Blue - Vashti Bunyan
A Hazy Shade of Winter - Simon & Garfunkle
Doughnut for a Snowman - Guided by Voices
Fox in the Snow - Belle & Sebastian
Valley Winter Song - Fountains of Wayne
Snow Days - Real Estate
Winter Birds - Ray LaMontagne
Winter Song - The Head and the Heart
Winter Prayers - Iron & Wine
Sleet and Snow - My First Tooth
Lazy Snow - Down Like Silver
Gospel - The National (as seen on Wednesday, for the final time on this tour. It would need a separate post to deal with that one, but I'll restrain myself).

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Discoggs 6 - The one where I watched loads of music documentaries

Mixtape number 6 for your enjoyment:

For those with eyes as well as ears:

Groove It Out - Lonelady
Minimalist and synthy with a funk edge that reminds me of Voodoo Ray? Yes please. NB - there is no video on YouTube yet, so there's an older track, Marble, on the YouTube playlist. It's equally great (but do seek out Groove It Out)

Tongues - Joywave ft KOPPS
The first band I saw at SXSW 2014. 12noon on a Tuesday, margarita in hand. Life doesn't get better, right? It took them until this week to hit London but they were worth the wait.

Borderline - Tove Stryke
I'll make a lazy comparison to Robyn and Annie, simply because she's Swedish. And I think she's similarly brilliant.

Somebody - Salt Ashes
Dark disco, as seen at Notting Hill Arts Club last week.

Mixtape - Tift Merrit
As gifted to me by the lovely Amy to mark my adventures in mixtape making.

Waiting Room - Fugazi
If you haven't seen the Sonic Highways documentaries that Foo Fighters have been releasing, you're missing a treat. I watched the first 4 back to back, reminiscing on times spent in each of the featured cities. Ian MacKaye from Fugazi/Minor Threat features heavily in episode 2 (Washington DC) and it reminded me to listen to this, which I did, 9 times in a row.

I Want You to Want Me (live) - Cheap Trick
As featured in Sonic Highways episode 1 (Chicago). Rick Nielsen is a guitar God, no doubt.

Pancho and Lefty - Townes Van Zandt
There's a bit of my heart that belongs to Townes. See the Austin episode (4) of Sonic Highways for more on him.

Polk Salad Annie - Tony Joe White
A Muscle Shoals classic. See the Nashville episode (3) for more.

Pepper - Butthole Surfers
Buttthole Surfers have been doing a fine job of keeping Austin (and anywhere else they happen to be) weird since 1981. See how Gibby is fairing now (actually pretty well) in episode 4.

Race For The Prize - Flaming Lips
Needs no introduction. Possibly in my top 10 songs of all time.

This One's For You - Ed Harcourt
Ed's in the news following his soundtracking of the Burberry Christmas ad, but I think this is him at his finest.

Autumn Sweater - Yo La Tengo
A slice of season-appropriate loveliness.

Until next time...

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Discoggs 5 - The one where I went to Spain

It’s been a busy 10 days or so. Lots of shows, lots of miles travelled, lots to listen to…

Or watch them here...

Turn it around – Lucius
Islington Assembly Hall, 22nd Oct. Two girls, one voice. Astonishing.

I Don’t Want Love – The Antlers
Hackney Empire, 24th Oct. I was so tired I could barely stand up. They made me feel even woozier.

Goshen ’97 – Strand of Oaks
Hoxton Square, 27th Oct. Lots of hair, lots of heart.

Heaven, How Long – East India Youth
Mercury Awards, 29th Oct. I couldn’t be prouder of William. Not that I have any right to be proud but, you know, we love it when our friends become successful and all that.

Busy Earnin’ – Jungle
Mercury Awards, 29th Oct. These were my second favourites, judged only on how much I’ve enjoyed the album. That’s what it’s all about, right?

Conversation 16 – The National
Madrid, Spain 31st Oct and Bilbao, Spain 1st Nov. The fact that I crossed another country (again) to see them twice in two nights should say it all really. People get a bit weirded out that I travel so far to see them but in all honesty, no other band makes me feel so great. It’s as simple as that. Sufjan Stevens joined them on these dates, presumably to fill in the gaps left by Ben Lanz and Kyle Resnik I think. Both shows were great, but they were REALLY on fire in Bilbao. Maybe it was because the venue was basically a convention centre and they were trying their damndest to make it feel like it was somewhere with more soul. Which they did. And then some.

I Will Come Back – Holy Ghost
I didn’t quiiiite make it to see them in Bilbao. They were on at 3.15am and quite frankly, the free-pouring was making everything a little difficult by that point…

Walking on Wires – Cut Ribbons
Welsh pop sweethearts have a new EP. Whoop.

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone – Sleater-Kinney
The much loved Sleater-Kinney are BACK. Time to dust off the back catalogue.

This Must Be The Place – Talking Heads
Late night listening.

Shake Ya Ass – Mystikal
Iggy managed to play this on 6Music on Saturday afternoon. F**k knows how.

Next of Kin – Alvvays

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence – Ryuichi Sakamoto
Great choice from Mr. Walker. It’s been my earworm all week.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Mercury Music Prize 2014

I'll be at the Mercury's tonight, rooting for our boy East India Youth. Regardless if he wins or loses, I love the record. 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Discoggs 4 - The 'I wish I was at CMJ' Special

I'm at my desk in London. I'd rather be running around NYC at the CMJ Music Marathon.

Here are the bands I'd be checking out this week if I was there. I'm such a loser.

You can even SEE them here...

Which ones do you like?

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Discoggs 3 - Small but perfectly formed

With moving images...

Nowhere to Run – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas
It’s not love that I’m running from, it’s the heartbreak I know will come.

French Navy – Camea Obscura
One of the great indie-pop gems.

Little Record Girl – Bahamas
Taken from ‘Bahamas is Afie’ and gifted to me by one of my favourite people. 70’s country inflection, but made in Toronto in 2014. Makes me smile every time I hear it.

Powder – Gengahr
On top form at The Forum, Kentish Town this week.

Infatuation – Liu Bei
Liu Bei drew a big crowd, even with an early stage time at the Forum. And rightly so. Reminiscent of Money, who I adore, so this sits well with me.

History Book – Dry the River
I love these boys dearly, and adore the new album, but this remains my favourite track of theirs. I can’t watch them without singing every word back to the stage. They played their biggest headline show to date this week. I watched from the very centre of the crowd and was transported far from Kentish Town.

Make Up Your Mind – Here We Go Magic
I. Can’t. Stay. Still.

Affection – Foreign Shores
This was sent to me by a friend when I asked Facebook for songs to fend off heartbreak. Great choice Simon. I know nothing about these guys, but I like it.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings – Father John Misty
Another gift. What a treasure. The whole Fear Fun album is wonderful, but this Laurel Canyon-esque track is particularly gorgeous.

This Is Music – Verve
Play it LOUD.

I Ain’t Saying My Goodbyes – Tom Vek
The bespectacled one played Koko on Wednesday and it’s the tracks from 2005’s We Have Sound that resonated best with me.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Teenage Exorcist - Mogwai

I know I'm only supposed to write one post a week, but jeeeeez, just listen to THIS

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Discoggs 2 - And so it goes...

Another week over, another playlist featuring people I've seen/things that have tickled my ears this week.

And for the visually minded...

Two Weeks - FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs is like some warrior-goddess-hybrid. My jaw actually dropped when I saw her at Hackney Empire this week.

Our Love - Caribou
Everyone in London was either at the FKA Twigs show or watching Caribou on Wednesday night it seems (according to my twitter timeline anyway).

Morning - Beck
I'm still reeling from the Roundhouse show.

Travelin' Man - Still Flyin'
This band broke my heart. I saw them at the Lexington a few years ago and they stopped touring the next week. Breaks. My. Heart.

Last January - The Twilight Sad
Sounds like Interpol if they'd grown up in Scotland.

Mistaken For Strangers - The National
Another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults.

Memphis Soul Stew - King Curtis
The bass. Oh, the bass.

I Jus Wanna Love U (Give it 2 me) - Jay Z
I saw Pharrell on Friday night. Forgot how many amazing tracks he's had a hand in. He's like a hit-making machine.

Nevermind the End - Tei Shi
Thanks to Danny Wright for pulling her into my consciousness. Brooklyn via Bogota singer who's about to go stratospheric I imagine. This is from her 2013 album and I can't stop listening to it.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Discoggs 1 - Are you ready? Or more importantly, am I?

Let's share some music shall we? Here's my first mixtape for you, dear reader...

I'll try to post these regularly, but I'm not going to fall foul of the addiction that is the 'new-music-I-found-it-first' hamster wheel. There are swathes of brilliant writers who can provide that between them, and write about them beautifully. I'll just be posting songs that I like by bands I've seen recently, or hope to see recently, or that I otherwise love.

Here it is as a YouTube playlist, for those that are so inclined...

So, this first one then. Here's some background...

All the Rage Back Home - reminds me of a special weekend. Beers, new friends and belting it out.

Animals - Managed to see these (charming) guys twice on consecutive nights and I'm so glad I did. Their new album, 'Conversationalist' has been on heavy rotation ever since. If it were any more up my street it would have to move in with me.

Changes Are No Good - Woke up with this as an earworm on Sunday. It's somehow connected to something on that In Flight Safety album. And they're originally from Montreal, right, so there's a Canadian connection...

Young Love - this is on here by virtue of the fact that I saw Mystery Jets and Laura Marling perform it at the Transgressive 10th Anniversary show at the Barbican last week. Fabulous.

Alive Alone - Ah, Beth.

The State I Am In - B&S have announced a new album, which had me racing for the back catalogue.

I Turn My Camera On - I saw Spoon at Primavera and thought they had been hit with the same 'forever young' stick that Franz Ferdinand have. And then the lovely Matt Taylor from DtR talked me through the albums in detail and I've been obsessed by Gimme Fiction ever since. Thanks Maffoo!

Dead Flowers - You know what it's like - you have a conversation with a cute guy/girl about what your favourite Stones record is and then you defend your choice and then you realise that they were right all along and Sticky Fingers is definitely superior to Exile on Main Street and now I feel like an idiot...

The West Was Won - I was having a rubbish day at work and thought 'I have to go and see a band RIGHT NOW' and the Bat signal was raised above the Old Queens Head and beneath it were Close Talker. They saved me. Thanks guys. See you again in your part of the world one day I hope.

She's Not Me - Jenny is the poster girl for women like me. You go, girl.

Way to be Loved - More Canadians! This playlist is over-run with them. No bad thing.

Go To Me - I caught Jordan playing in the basement at the Ace Hotel last week. In all his chamber-y gorgeousness.

Song To The Siren - Part of the canon. Sublime.

To be continued...