Best albums of 2015: 30 to 21

AOTY 2015 30-21 college: Courtney Barnett, Wolf Alice, Flavia Coelho, Leon Bridges (1448x815)In part three of this year’s albums round-up, we have old-new soul man Leon Bridges, the ethereal excellent of Wolf Alice, the everyday empress of garage rock Courtney Barnett, a whole lotta funk, and a Brazilian funkstress that is more than a match for Shakira’s hip-shaking.

30. Mark Ronson – Uptown Special
29. Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
28. Wolf Alice – My Love is Cool
27. Flavia Coelho – Mundo Meu
26. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
25. D’Angelo – Black Messiah
24. Leon Bridges – Coming Home
23. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
22. Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show
21. Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Happiness in Every Style
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Singer-songwriter: the label of authenticity that’s lost all meaning

Jake Bugg, Brussels, Apr 30, 2012, by Kmeron / Vincent Philbert, 01 (2048x2394)What goes through your head when you hear the term: singer-songwriter? Is your mind filled with images of ginger-haired Ed Sheeran, innocent Nina Nesbitt and boyish-looking George Ezra? Or perhaps passionate Laura Marling, the watchful Bob Dylan or a smiling Carole King?

All of these musicians are frequently described as singer-songwriters. But the degree to which they are responsible for the creation of their songs – in other words, songwriting – is where the real distinction lies. Continue reading

Record Store Day 2015: a vinyl collector who’s pleased to be getting out of the rat race

Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters, Apr 3, 2012, by Facundo Gaisler (1000x563)This year’s spate of Record Store Day releases were announced yesterday to the delight of ever-eager vinyl-buyers. Some 592 exclusives will be available in independent record stores on Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Vinyl is the most beautiful physical music format there has ever been, in my opinion. But it can very quickly become an expensive vice for the music aficionado who craves every limited release from the dozens of bands in his/her ever-expanding library. That was me for a time. But as well as space issues forcing me to reflect more seriously on all the possessions in my keeping, after realising that certain so-called ‘limited editions’ I’d forked out for at full-price on previous RSDs were still available for half that months later, I’ve wised up. (Lord knows I love Disclosure, but first their label, PMR Records, offers us a mispress, then a single-sided 12” that is in no way ‘limited’.) Continue reading