Tuesday, 23 January 2018
That Was 2017
Over the next couple of days, I bid a belated farewell to 2017. Today it's an overview of what we heard throughout the year.. It's not artist specific that comes tomorrow Having read most of the Best Of Lists, my own thoughts of it being a great year for Pop And Rock, away from the mainstream of course, have been challenged. John Borack's musing hasn't appeared yet and that's what I nod at most, so I may change my thoughts again.
However, this years lists have concurred on quite a few albums and those are certainly the cream of the crop, it's been on the edges that it's been disappointing. Normally you look at these lists to see what you've missed and get quite a few delights, this year there has been less of that. most of the things that I hadn't heard, I'm not sorry I missed.
The year itself has been punctuated by the untimely deaths of artists that we love. Some of that of course comes with age and a realisation that something that is called New Wave was 40 years ago. The most relevant to me was the shocking news of the passing of Tommy Keene. A Beacon Of Power Pop, a lover of music and one of the nicest guys ever. It's still hard to believe. I was shocked by Will Owsley at the time, more so by Tommy's passing.
Genre wise, thankfully there's been an easing of the wave of Tame Impala and Nada Surf wannabes. There was so much bad Psych Pop around, that hopefully it will now be left to the likes of Luck Of Eden Hall who can do it properly. Sadly the waving of goodbye to this irritation as coincided with the revival of shoegazing, it was boring first time round.
Prog has had some revival and it's refreshing for an old man to see. What once was derided, is now celebrated. The reforming of the old with at least some original members included and the Steven Wilson reworking of the past has brought Nostalgia to a peak. But it's the new that perks my interest most. Big Big Train hitting the mainstream and the likes of Dave Kerzner have made Prog melodic again. The Billy Sherwood over produced Modern Prog seems to be in decline which is a good thing. Also Prog is a constant beacon of keeping the art of listening to a full album relevant in this 99p a track world.
Indie wise, C86 seems to be back in the spotlight. Pale Lights in particular, shine through, I can imagine a much younger me in Glasgow, not having to sit down every five minutes. Having derided Psych Pop a bit, mainly because so many jumped on the bandwagon, Medway continues to provide glorious 60's themed Psych that is a joy to listen to.
The spirit of Deaf School is still around with the Theatrical Rock of Felix Hagan And The Family, V Sparks and Ward XVI. Three bands that are incredibly inventive, yet can still cut it Live. The return of Sparks and Nick Heyward with stunning albums is also to be celebrated. Both show that you don't have to rely on Back Catalogue, both have produced albums as good as anything from their past.
The Live scene is infuriating. People will pay silly prices to watch names they know at enormodomes, yet would rather have a four pack of Carlsberg and a Pizza than take a chance on someone playing in their town for a tenner. First it was Pubs that closed, now it's the venues.
The UK scene is really hard at the moment. There are some artists breaking through such as The Ragamuffins, but these are less and less. IDHAS is incredibly popular, probably because so few in the UK cover the stuff it does.
My beloved Power Pop and Pop Rock is so underrated in the UK and the dominant scene at the moment seems to be Scandinavia, although Australia is undergoing a resurgence. The likes of Caper Clowns sound more British than the Brits.
IPO Liverpool was good as ever, although it is a little long these days, meaning it can run out of steam or you out of energy. It was great to see the Big Stir guys there and on the subsequent tour. Plasticsoul have released one of the finest albums this year and with a new album by The Armoires and a Spygenius release on the way, all is exciting in the camp. Seeing those guys over here was special.
There's some cracking Record Labels around, but special mention must go to three. Futureman Records as a digital label comes up with some fantastic pop. Sugarbush is a superb Vinyl label, constantly surprising me with it's individual and somewhat unique choices.
Omnivore is inspired, true it's a bit Big Star fixated, but isn't everyone, but the releases from Cait Brennan and Chris Price this year are exceptional and it's mixture of old and new is exemplary. I should also mention Cherry Red who have discovered New Wave and are bringinging albums to CD that I never thought would make it. Nest Up Yachts!
So that's my shoes and sweet thoughts on 2017. Tomorrow it will become artist specific as I celebrate my Best Of The Year. 2017 was a pretty dim year for me personally, but music wise it was ok and shows that great pop and rock is still there to delight far more than it manages to.