OK, here’s the Top 3:
3 Giant Claw – Soft Channel
Orange Milk head honcho and the man responsible for their unique design aesthetic, Keith Rankin, goes under the name Giant Claw and makes the kind of music that is so far ahead of his contemporaries that they haven’t invented a genre label for it yet. Chopped samples, screwed synths and stuttering MIDI orchestration makes this an album of lowbrow pop and R&B reconceptualised as high art. I’ve seen this album referred to as “the sound of the internet” and even “post-internet”, but that seems a bit reductive. To me, what Rankin does represents something old, but new; derivative yet original and innovative; simple and clever at the same time. It’s such a ceaseless barrage of sound clips and collages that it occasionally gets a bit overwhelming – but for me, that’s just the point. It represents (in sonic form) daily life in this 21st century world – it’s supposed to be an assault on the senses! The only problem for Giant Claw is where to go next – if you are already have one foot over the precipice of the future, how do you go forward without falling over the edge?
2 Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
A near-perfect debut of political post-punk posturing and stream-of-consciousness shouty indie rock. With added sax! I first saw/heard Priests when I was sitting in the bar area of my favourite record shop (yes! the entire Gost Zvuk catalogue and overpriced craft beer all in one place – it’s almost too good to be true!) supping a particularly coiney IPA and watching the latest collection of videos that the staff put together every couple of weeks or so on a small TV in the corner. The track was “And Breeding” (which isn’t on the album) and it just totally blew me away – tightly wound and unhinged all at the same time. The album itself is chock full of killer tunes and is the perfect soundtrack to a Trump-encrusted America.
1 Hey Colossus – The Guillotine
My number one record is also my biggest surprise of the year. I’ve been buying and listening to Hey Colossus since their debut way back in 2004. Along the way they developed into a staple of awkward underground noise rock that was never less than crushingly heavy and chaotically dissonant, with vocals mumbled, screamed and pushed to the back of the mix. It was a big shock then, when I got The Guillotine home (I picked up a copy in Brighton on a super short stayover in the summer) and found….well, not exactly a straight ahead rock record, but as damn close to one as HC are ever going to get. The crushing riffs are still there, but the vocals are right to the fore and there are even verses and choruses and everything. The chaos of old is still there, but it is reigned in and kept bubbling just below the surface to let the songwriting and lyrics come through. A great British rock record for modern times.
That’s all folks! Until next year…..!