Creekside Vinyl, Our Records of the Year ; Two Thousand and Nineteen
5- James Walsh: Tiger on the Bridge
The front man of one-time Indie darlings Starsailor produces an understated album of little songs. And it’s beautiful. Nothing new under the sun here and there doesn’t need to be with song writing, production and singing like this. A collection of heartfelt songs about love and loss, exquisitely and simply arranged (I know that’s an oxymoron but it’s true here). James stood in the corner of our shop earlier this year and sung these songs to a select group of people in the shop and those craning to see from the crowd out on the street. Fans were genuinely moved, by his art and his performance. No bombast, no preening just human fragile human emotion. This record appeared with little fanfare and seemingly was barely mentioned again…it might be destined to become a lost Classic. Which is a thing…better though to champion it now!
4- Billie Eilish; When We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?
One of the great memories of the summer was watching the various festivals on the telly (you wouldn’t ever catch me in a field) and seeing Billie blast her way through this fabulous album with wit, verve and a bucketful of talent. The cherry on these particular performances was seeing (and hearing) a crowd of very young kids (mainly girls), early teens I would guess, singing at the top of their voices every line, word and syllable of Billies pop dance infected tunes. With a great swathe of anodyne interchangeable pop stars on the market for the young ‘uns…it brought tears to my eyes to see a pop star who is emotionally and artistically challenging, hugely popular and connected to her fanbase. This album feels like Tricky and Taylor Swift hooked up and had a wild child! Played loud (as all good records should be) this disturbs the lower reaches of your speakers….a Bass which rattles brittle base emotions coupled with rich sweet hooks that lift you to a higher place. Bad Guy is the single of the year (duh!) and an entrée to a platter full of strange melodies, discursive lyrics and unsettling topics. This is pop!
3- Edwyn Collins – Badbae:
Full disclosure; I’ve loved every note that Edwyn has released since I first heard Orange Juice “Falling and Laughing” on John Peel show in the early months of 1980. Badbae is Edwyn’s ninth solo album and is pocketful of all the things that made me fall in love with this artist all those years ago. Edwyn’s early band was called the Nu Sonics and that name has pretty much served as a motto for all of his work. The songs which famously combine Chic (or Northern Soul) with The Velvet Underground are still drivingly insistent or hauntingly beautiful. Edwyn’s sound palette seemingly gets richer and richer, an inexhaustible range of dynamic sounds are mined from a basic Guitar Pop Combo format. His voice is still as deep and mellifluous as it ever was, the lyrics always intelligent and literate have a quality that transcends maturity and offer a gentle non preaching wisdom, which feels like a discussion with an old friend. This is exactly the sort of music that the 16-year-old boy who brought those early Postcard records wanted to be hearing 40 years later. Ta Edwyn and more power to you!
2- Calexico/ Iron & Wine = Years To Burn
Two artists with very similar sensibility combining once again to produce a record of sublime beauty. These songs, (nu – Americana you could call them, if you must) seem effortless, they appear to seep out of the ether and into your conscience, as if they’ve been there all the time. You may find what you didn’t even know you were looking for! Sam Beam (Iron & Wine) and Joe Burns (Calexico) harmonise with the softness of gossamer wings. The Mexican Trumpet of Jacob Valenzuela percolates underneath like a lava lamp for the ears. ‘Years To Burn’ has rightly been nominated for Grammy awards, this is a grown-up album, which speaks of growing old with an awareness of the frailty of the human condition. “Every saviour needs someone to save” sums up the gentle longing and melancholia at the heart of these songs, but it is anything but a downer. The album offers a warmth and comfort to those open to facing the sin and sadness in their world…. “Someone will catch you if you want to fall”.
1 – SHHE
Stunning debut Album from Su Shaw under the name of her alter ego SHHE. The sparse, haunting and atmospheric soundscapes of this album are too big to be called songs. Place this record on your machine and it will feel like a physical presence in your world. A vast physical presence. The beautiful slabs of musique concrete chords, synthetic treated noises and rhythms have a soundtrack like quality to them…In fact at times I felt like I was a character in John Carpenters The Thing, and I loved it! However, that’s only half of the trip here…The Voice! Shhe’s vocals are visceral, in that the feeling is on the surface, raw and wounded. The lyrics are hard to get to, not hidden exactly but opaque, submerged amongst the sounds. So, what’s moving you to emotion is the uncanny quality of that voice. The immersive ambient impact of this record is something that delights and grows with each subsequent listen. What’s brilliant is that Shhe is a new artist, which makes me excited to hear what comes next. And on One Little Indian I have no doubt she will be allowed and encouraged to grow and develop artistically. Exciting times. Without doubt our Record of the Year 2019!