Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 >> 2016

Here we go again then - another year in our musical paradise. But before I launch myself into full 2016 mode, here's a quick look back at what tickled my fancy in 2015.

Five albums

A lot of people - including many of my esteemed blogging compadres - have featured the likes of Wolf Alice and Courtney Barnett in their year-end lists, while some of my other big faves of the year (The Charlatans, Foals, Public Service Broadcasting, Laura Marling, Gaz Coombes and Django Django) are well-known enough for you to either already have them or at least be familiar with them. So here's five albums I rate really highly that you may have missed:

CLOWwNS - 'The Artful Execution Of Macho Bimbo'

Think Franz Ferdinand with more bite, more wit and more ideas. A quite frankly brilliant debut. Really need to see them live now.

Evans The Death - 'Expect Delays'
Loads of youthful energy and fun wrapped up in a loud fuzzy swathe of guitars and occasional shouting. The singer has a really good voice, too.

Myrkur - 'M'
Recommended to me by my mate Dave. Norwegian indie-pop star Amalie Bruun's black metal project heavily infused with Nordic folk music. Brutal yet beautiful at the same time.

Du Blonde - 'Welcome Back To Milk'
As recently mentioned in my Beth Jeans Houghton post. A radical reinvention by Ms Houghton but a most enjoyable one it has to be said, despite the awful sleeve art.

Cattle - 'Somehow Hear Songs'
My next It Came From Japan post will be a shoegaze special. It won't feature Cattle as this, their debut EP, has only just come out, but it's one of the strongest records I've heard all year.

If you're wondering why there are no Welsh albums here, it's because January's Welsh Wednesdays will feature some of my fave releases of 2015 from the Land of Song.

Five gigs
As you know, MrsRobster and I have been out and about quite a bit this year, taking in some of the very finest live entertainment acts. Well, a few decent bands, anyway. Raising kids brought our gig-going habits to an almost complete standstill for a good number of years, but now the sprogsters are of a responsible age, we have been venturing out a fair bit more over the last few years. This year my aim was to reach double figures for the first time in, ooh, some 18 years or more. We did 13! Here's my Top 5.

The Charlatans (Cardiff, December)
I said: "The best band I’ve seen this year. Probably. After 25 at times challenging years, they’ve still got it, without a doubt." [full review here]

Slaves / Wonk Unit / Spring King (Cardiff, November)
I said: "If we're talking about the consistency in quality of the whole bill, then this was probably right up there with our best gigs of the decade so far."

Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Bristol, October)
I said: "Two hours of enormous, slow-building epics that not only filled the Colston Hall, but pretty likely the whole of the city." [full reviews of these shows here]

Wolf Alice (Cardiff, April)

I said: "They are good. Like, really bloody good. Good songs, good sound, good singer."

Super Furry Animals (Cardiff, May)
I said: "A mammoth 2¼ hour set which covered all bases - the hits, album tracks, obscurities, pop songs, psychedelic wig-outs, electronic wizardry, English, Welsh - you name it, it was in there."

Laura Marling (Bristol, May)
I said: " Laura's set was masterfully arranged and executed... She seems to have eschewed much of her earlier material as if to make a statement that she has been somehow reborn... The new songs made the set even more compelling." [full reviews of these shows here]

Yes, I'm fully aware that's six gigs, not five. But heck, I couldn't decide which one to drop so I broke my own rule. That's the kind of guy I am - still a rebel after all these years!

Some other things

  • My Kitchens Of  Distinction post racking up a silly number of views after being posted on the band's Facebook page and tweeted by Patrick Fitzgerald himself.
  • TheMadster getting to university, the first in my and MrsRobster's immediate families to do so. And she survived freshers! Just how proud are we?!
  • Wales qualifying for the 2016 Euros, a massive achievement for such a tiny nation. Arguably even better than the injury-ravaged Welsh rugby team beating England in the World Cup back in the autumn.
Looking forward to:
  • The new Bowie album... goes without saying, doesn't it?
  • The new PJ Harvey album... ditto.
  • The new Savages album... expecting a monster.
  • The Lush comeback... yaay! Gigs, new songs, Miki. Yaay!
  • Bob Mould and Snuff in Cardiff within two days of each other. My ears will be bleeding.
I expect to make fewer posts in 2016. It has been hard work preparing four posts a week and I'm not sure I can keep it interesting enough at that rate. Hopefully the quality will compensate for the lesser quantity. We'll see. For now though, here's one more of my favourite songs of 2015 for you. A completely new sound for Emmy The Great, but an extraordinary track and a spooky, rather upsetting video.


  1. A fascinating list Robster, giving me a few things to go away and check out. That Emmy the Great track is, erm, great!
    Happy new year!

  2. A busy year for you Robster. Looking forward to more of the same in 2016

  3. Nice post Robster. Lush looking good for 2016.

  4. If I ever get my album list up, Cattle will probably be on it. Looking forward to Lush too. Also looking forward to the time in our lives when we can go to shows again. I envy you. When you post, I'll be there. Have a good 2016.

  5. Great Stuff Robster. Don't be concerned about quantity in's the quality of the writing and the featured songs that draws everyone in agaain and again. Oh and I'm of course very jealous of the fact you'll have a huge interest in Euro 2016.

  6. Try Hills - Frid from last year if you like your psych.