Sunday 23 December 2018

Best of 2018 #7

Here's three of my favourite songs of 2018 that don't feature on my fave albums of the year.

Echo And The Bunnymen - The Somnambulist
(The highlight of a rather strange album of remakes of old Bunnymen songs. The fact this was one of two new songs on it shows they don't need to retread the old days, they should just keep moving forward.)

Hatchie - Sure
(I featured this one earlier in the year, so here's an also-rather-excellent live version.)

Boy Azooga - Loner Boogie
(Another one I posted a while back so another live version for you. Apparently, Davey was shitting himself (his words) when they did this, but they didn't do a bad job considering...)

And finally... a couple more best ofs...

TheRobster's top 3 gigs of 2018:
1. The Breeders - Very close, but being in the presence of the genius that is Kim Deal edges it every time!
2. Idles - Absolutely immense.
3. Shame - Two or three others almost made the list, but Shame really were special.

MrsRobster's albums of the year:
I knew I was asking for trouble. For all her wonderful qualities, MrsRobster is not known for her decisiveness. So asking her to choose her top 3 albums of the year was like asking Theresa May to come up with a good Brexit deal. She narrowed it down to 10, but couldn't choose three from them. So in no particular order, she went for:

Idles - 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance'
Estrons - 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough'
The Wombats - Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life'
Shame - 'Songs Of Praise'
Spring King - 'A Better Life'
The Beths - 'Future Me Hates Me'
Teleman - 'Family Of Aliens'
James - 'Living In Extraordinary Times'
Muse - 'Simulation Theory'
Slaves - 'Acts Of Fear And Love'

MrsRobster's top 3 gigs of the year:
She did a bit better with the gigs but still couldn't get it down to three. She has her top 2, and the other three are tied in third:

1. Ride - Certainly in my own top 5 but just missed the top 3
2. Public Service Broadcasting - A bit predictable. She just LOOOOOOOOOOVES the PSB boys.
3=. Idles
3=. Shame
3=. Estrons - The other one from my top 5, a great way to end the year.

And that's it from me for 2018. And, in fact, for the foreseeable. I had planned to do another Bowie Week in January, and put the blog on an indefinite hiatus after its fifth birthday in February. But instead, I'm calling it a day now. I'm bored of the thing and need to stop.

So until I have something to say that I feel you may be everso slightly interested in, I declare Is This The Life? closed for business. Thanks for everything - the support, the contributions, the fun. Have a good holiday everyone. Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Best of 2018 #6

Final lot of my top album releases of the year, but there's still another post to come tomorrow.

Cabbage - 'Nihilistic Glamour Shots'

Half Man Half Biscuit - 'No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin' Hedge Cut'

Slaves - 'Acts Of Fear And Love'

Friday 21 December 2018

Best of 2018 #5

Yet another selection of my fave albums of 2018...

Amber Arcades - 'European Heartbreak'

Blackwater Holylight - 'Blackwater Holylight'

Spear Of Destiny 'Tontine'

Thursday 20 December 2018

Best of 2018 #4

Bored of this yet? Hope not. Three more of my fave albums of the year...

The Coral - 'Move Through The Dawn'

Gwenno - 'Le Kov'

The Wombats - 'Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life'

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Best of 2018 #3

Today's triptych of totally top tunes from 2018. Or something...

Emma Ruth Rundle - 'On Dark Horses'

Shame - 'Songs Of Praise'

Goat Girl - 'Goat Girl'

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Best of 2018 #2

Here's the next triple billing in my Best of 2018 non-articles... Three more I bought on lovely coloured vinyl (see above).

The Beths - 'Future Me Hates Me'

Estrons - 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough'

(and here's a bonus one for MrsRobster, 'cause she really likes this song...)

Belly - 'Dove'

Monday 17 December 2018

Best of 2018 #1

I was going to do my usual round-up of the year, but the malaise that bit me at the end of last year is getting worse and I really cannot be arsed to write anything. So instead, I'm just going to post three videos a day for a week that represent my albums of the year. No particular order (though for reference, Idles tops the list, closely followed by the Breeders) and no write ups. You'll notice the overwhelming prevalence of female and female-fronted acts, continuing the trend of recent years. Ladies, take a bow.

Today and tomorrow, I'm featuring the six new albums I purchased on limited edition coloured vinyl (as per the pic above). I bought a few nice reissues as well (Pixies, Super Furry Animals, etc) but obviously they don't count. Here's today's trio.

Idles - 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance'

The Breeders - 'All Nerve'

Courtney Barnett - 'Tell Me How You Really Feel'

Monday 10 December 2018

Memories of 2018 gigs #11

The Globe, Cardiff - 6 December 2018
Support: Mellt, Y Sybs

What a difference a year makes. This same week in 2017, we caught Estrons at Clwb Ifor Bach as their steady rise to fame continued, buoyed by the release of more singles to add to their canon. They were excellent and the small but excitable crowd lapped up their energy with relish. Twelve months on and suddenly that steady rise is gathering quite a bit of pace. The release of Estrons' debut album 'You Say I'm Too Much, I Say You're Not Enough' and the more-than-favourable reviews it has garnered has resulted in a growing reputation that now sees them on the precipice of hugeness. This sold-out show at the Welsh' capital's Globe was their last of the year - and what a way to go.

It was an all-Welsh bill, but sadly we missed openers Y Sybs, partly because parking around the venue is difficult at the best of times, but on a cold, wet, stormy December night it's nigh-on impossible. We were, however, in plenty of time to catch Mellt, another band whose reputation is swelling with every passing year. Their debut album 'Mae’n Hawdd Pan ti’n Ifanc' beating Estrons' to the shelves by a good few months. It won the National Eisteddfod's Welsh Language Album of the Year in the summer against some pretty decent opposition. So it's fair to say this Aberystwyth trio are setting tongues a-wagging. And to be fair, they have some good songs, but for me they don't quite have enough about them to wow me. There was just a little bit of something lacking, some energy maybe, some variety in their sound perhaps. They did win over some people though so I'm glad about that. I'll continue to watch out for them with interest and give the album another couple of listens before I decide if they're for me or not.

Estrons are definitely for me though. They're for MrsRobster too. Their album brings together 10 songs bristling with tension and all were aired tonight, along with a couple of non-album singles Cold Wash and Strobe Light. Tali Källström is probably the most striking female band leader out there right now, a formidable redhead with one of the best voices on offer. She bounded onstage in a brand new red dress (which, much to her chagrin, broke mid-gig) and the biggest grin I've seen all year. A solid hour-plus of blistering noise followed, during which Tali spilled her beer and asked if someone in the sudience would get her another (unsurprisingly, someone obliged). We also got a first - a 5-piece Estrons. A week before the show, bassist Steffan was called away to a family emergency, putting not just his appearance, but the whole show in doubt. A friend offered his services and learned the entire set, only for Steffan to return to the fold and play the gig. Said mate was brought out for two songs anyway while Steffan switched to rhythm guitar.

As for highlights, well there were plenty, but Killing Your Love, Cameras (which Tali wrote about her son) and, of course, Make A Man were probably the ones that pummeled me most of all. And Drop, another of my faves, closed the set, concluding with Tali making a running jump off the stage and into the crowd.

So not only have Estrons finally released the album I've craved for the past couple years, but they've improved as a live act no end - and they were pretty darned good before. I see in them what I saw in Wolf Alice just before they cracked the big time, only I think Estrons actually have a little something extra. Yes, this was a homecoming show of sorts (although they formed in Aberystwyth, they are now based in Cardiff and Tali was born here) so it's always going to be a bit more special, but Estrons seem to be more dynamic and uncompromising, with a frontwoman who is almost impossible to ignore. If Estrons aren't absolutely massive in a few years' time, then we might as well all give up and go home.

Please accept my apologies for the quality of the Estrons live tracks. They're both audience recordings and are the best I can find. Here's another audience-sourced clip from the same Manchester show as Drop.

Monday 3 December 2018

Monday's Long Song

Stunning, sensational and sexy as fuck. Two years before Donna Summer made the greatest disco song of all-time, she made this - the second best disco song of all-time. She co-wrote the song with Giorgio Moroder and the pair recorded a version that was sent to Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart. Bogart played the song at one of his extravagant industry parties, where it was so popular with the crowd, they insisted that it be played over and over each time it ended. Bogart requested that Moroder produce a longer version for discothèques. This 17-minute version was the result and became the definitive one.

If this is indeed the party season, what better way is there to get it started?

Saturday 1 December 2018

A song for... December

Ending the year on a high or a last desperate attempt to pique some interest in the blog among my ever-dwindling readership? Maybe a bit of both, though the latter may be a lost cause. I know Teenage Fanclub have always been big favourites in our little corner of the net, and rather conveniently, on their 'Bandwagonesque' album from 1991, they had a song called December. So this was a bit of a no-brainer really. Having said that, you nearly got December by All About Eve which is lovely but you'll all have hated it, or December Will Be Magic Again by Kate Bush - ditto.

This is by far my least favourite time of year so I need the comfort of good music to get me through it. There aren't many better places to start than Teenage Fanclub, really.