Best EPs of 2016

EPs are to albums what starters are to main courses. Or, at least, that’s how it has traditionally been. These days, EPs take all kinds of forms, from two-track 12” records to mini-albums.

In the past, I’ve included selected EPs within my main album round-up. Now it’s time I gave these releases a spotlight of their own.

Soultress Lianne La Havas, house artists Disclosure and Snakehips, rapper Lizzo, enigmatic R&B singer Abra, and so many more have released some superb EPs. As always, I wanted to include more – especially the aforementioned artists, as I have had many of their tracks on repeat this year. But here’s my choice selection of 10 which have stayed with me, and all offer something special in their own right.

10. Sinead Harnett – Sinead Harnett EP
9. Flawes – Ctrl EP
8. Shakka – The Island EP
7. Throwing Shade – House of Silk EP
6. Marie Dahlstrom – 0.0 EP
5. Kojey Radical – 23Winters EP
4. Jodie Abacus – For Real Life and Not Pretend EP
3. Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW EP
2. Jorja Smith – Project 11 EP
1. Kesley Lu – Church EP
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Best albums of 2015: 40 to 31

AOTY 2015 40-31 college: Oshun, Years & Years, Sherika Sherard, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis (1448x815)The countdown continues with Disclosure, Songhoy Blues, Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and two rising stars from different sides of the Atlantic.

40. Disclosure – Caracal
39. Marina and the Diamonds – Froot
38. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis – The Third
37. Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
36. Songhoy Blues – Music in Exile
35. Years & Years – Communion
34. Oshun – Asase Yaa
33. Sherika Sherard – Just Saying
32. Gengahr – A Dream Outside
31. Everything Everything – Get to Heaven
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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

Best albums of 2013: top 10

Aaron's best albums of 2013 collage 10-01 (2500x1000)Here we are. The final 10 and my chosen favourites. Over the first and second parts of my album round-up, there have been disappointments (yep, no Bowie, no Kanye), there been surprises and there has even been some grief.

A picture may tell a thousand words, but music can paint a million different images. Which is why no amount of text could ever capture how those moments of musical elation feel. Still, if you’ve faced struggles and doubt this year, then, in their own way, each of these 10 albums offer reasons for you to press on in search of better days to come. Continue reading

Is the Mercury Prize 2013 shortlist ‘too commercial’?

Laura Mvula in WFUV studio, by WFUV (Apr 2013) (585x329)

If it was any other awards ceremony, commercial success would be applauded. But it’s the Mercury Prize, so, naturally, it’s another reason for the pundits to get their soapbox on.

There are no obligatory ‘token’ albums from folk and jazz acts this year. And no indie starlet, sneaking in at the last minute to become the bookies’ favourite – as The xx and Alt-J have done in the past. Continue reading