PART 5 - 2010 to 2019
As I started to prepare this list, I thought it looked a bit familiar, and then I realised I'd already done it at the start of this year.
Link to original post or copy and paste?
2010: John Grant - Queen Of Denmark
John Grant's debut is one of those unimpeachable debut albums - see also The Ramones, The Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Joy Division and a fair few others (but maybe not Paul Young?).
A collection of songs mixing confessional, anger, wit and dark humour. Sadly - although later songs have hinted at it - this is a peak he has not yet re-climbed.
Track: "Queen Of Denmark"
Iron Maiden - 'The Final Frontier'
Len Price 3 - 'Pictures'
Manic Street Preachers - 'Postcards From A Young Man'
P J Harvey - 'Let England Shake'
2011: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
When Oasis imploded in 2009, it was another 2 years before the Gallagher name returned. Liam's attempt was (in fairness) sub-Oasis, whilst Noel took his Oasis past, add a little more to it and threw out a confident and assured solo debut. He's continued to push on from here - always sounding much the same, but with enough tweaks to the sound to remain interesting.
Track: "Stop The Clocks"
2012: Paul Weller - Sonik Kicks
Paul Weller has been around for a fair few years and the albums are always rewarding. Always pushing forward and never one to rest on his laurels, 'Sonik Kicks' found him going down the Motorik drumbeats route with even a touch of Chemical Brotheres and Hawkwind for good measure.
'Sonik Kicks' remains (for me) the best of the Weller solo outings (above 'Stanley Road' and 'As Is Now')
2013: Steve Mason - Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time
A concept album (or at least a continuing musical arc) that sustains interest from moment one, despite containing some relatively downbeat and melancholic moments. The musical "journey" is just right lifting to joyousness when required, and mixing a whole raft of musical styles together.
2014: Stiff Little Fingers - No Going Back
11 years since their last album and the return of original bass player Ali McMordie saw Stiff Little Fingers release an album as strong as anything they've done before and as valid to current times as any other band around them.
Funded through (the now defunct) PledgeMusic, this album hits it funding target within 24 hours. They may not be the most well known band in the world, but they've probably got the strongest and most loyal fan base.
The first PSB album took Public Information Films and mixed the narrative with purpose-written tunes to create an insight to a pat world of progress and triumph.
A Similar conceit was employed here against a backdrop of the US/Russia Space Programmes and the eventual triumph (As promised in the opening dialogue from JFK) of the Moon Landings.
2016: Madness - Can't Touch Us Now
Another act from the late 70s showing others how it can, should and will be done. National Treasures In Waiting returned with an album that properly followed 'Norton Folgate'. Prime, accessible songwriting, top notch tunes and performances to match. Live they remain a fantastic event.
2017: Conor Oberst - Salutations
World weary tales delivered in rich melodies matched with emotion and brittleness. It can sometimes be a tough, but ultimately rewarding listen. Warmth shines through the delivery, and the songs soar and never tire. Generally received middling reviews, but this is the standout release of the year for me, and still (in 2019) makes regular re-appearances in the CD player
2018: Wreckless Eric - Construction Time & Demolition
Not getting sucked into the media circus after his big moment (1978's "Whole Wide World") has given Wreckless Eric the freedom to persue his craft, and then come up with a lo-fi classic like this one. Chock full of tunes and delivered by a voice of experience.
2019: Richard Dawson - 2020
Folk troubadour meets Indie meets Captain Beefheart meets Ken Loach, complete with tales of modern life (and often an anguished modern life). Every track tells a story - some make you think (for at least a second), others just make you marvel at turn of phrase, a seemingly humdrum or non-sequitor type lyric. Most songs mange to do both.
Is this an album of songs or a sociology lecture from the future?
Another 10 years gone - and will the next 10 (or even next 50?) be studded with music I want to rave about? Well, even though 2020 has been somewhat unusual so far, there have been more than a couple of very fine things pummeling my ears.
In no particular order, and using only the names to protect the end of year round-up:
- Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott - Manchester Calling
- Block 33 - 6:36 To Liverpool Street
- Duncan Reid & The Big Heads - Don't Blame Yourself
- Paul Weller - On Sunset
- Sparks - A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
- Massive Wagons - House Of Noise
- Sports Team - Deep Down Happy
- Fontaines DC - A Heroes Death
(oh my heaving shelves ... time for another trip to Ikea perhaps)