Welcome folks, welcome to the 1537 Enormodome for the world’s premier award ceremony*! A venue specifically constructed for this very purpose for me in the heart of a, mostly, extinct volcano in an undisclosed South American republic. My guests here tonight number amongst them the very cream of the affordable end of D-list musical celebrities, together with a bunch of the very finest bloggers ever to be nice to me online who have been flown-in, blindfolded by my henchmen, from such far away locales as Fort Wayne IN, Glasgow, a whole host of different Canadian towns, Melbourne, Stroud and a host of other classified locations. Again, though I would emphasise there is a strict dress code for these proceedings, no loungewear, bootlace ties or trainers permitted.
1. The Pete Seeger Memorial Award for an ‘LP bought solely for gratuitous chewing-gum-on-boob cover’ goes to:
Scorpions – Love Drive
Yup those crazy Germans managed to retain their award from last year, which makes the Scorpions the first treble 1537 award winners in history. As a result they retain the award in perpetuity and this category will now be retired.
2. The Jack Bruce Memorial Award for ‘the best-looking and put-together LP bought this year’. This was a very hotly contested award this year and worthy contenders this year included Transmaniacon The Darkening Plain and Gonga Black Sabbeth. However there was only going to be one winner right from the moment HMO very kindly emailed me to tip me off that an amazing LP was about to be released next week:
Effortlessly bringing together obscure proto-metal, role-playing and the sheer joy of made-up logos and graph paper, I’ve had so much fun from owning this album in 2014. The music is great of course, and the sheer detail, enthusiasm, refinement and love Numero Group bought to this project is tangible throughout. I’m still working on trying to afford the limited edition board game version too.
3. The Lou Reed Memorial Award for ‘most titties on the cover of an LP bought this year’.
Now there has been some controversy surrounding this award in recent days as 2014 has been the worst year on record for nudity, umm, on record. On an entirely serious note all of us need to contact our elected officials on this issue immediately, don’t assume others will do this for you as each of us has a responsibility for future generations to ensure that the noble art of upper torso nudity being used to sell records to teenagers and adults-who-should-definitely-know-better-by-now is preserved. I believe it was Thomas Jefferson who said, ‘Let generations as yet unborn, rank our success not by material wealth and ease, but by the nipple count on our LPs’ **.
I did consider letting Phosphorescent retain the award for a second year however a swift rule change, to allow drawn boobs, has enabled me to name Blues Pills as worthy winners this year. Their self-titled debut LP features no less than 5 distinct knockers, via the excellent artwork of renowned 60’s psychedelic artist Marijke Koger-Dunham*^. But will that be enough to catapult their album into the 1537 Top 10?
But now, we have the event of the evening the 1537 Top
8 9 10+1 Best LPs of 2014, I’ve bought a lot of vinyl this year and it was a hard call but these are the ones that I have spent the most time with and that have given me the most pleasure this year.
1. Pontiak – Innocence
A brilliant LP, helped by the fact that it was released early and so I have spent a lot of time with it in 2014. A very complete album and a real rural sounding one too, coming on at times like the Stooges’ hick cousins whacked on moonshine and at others like the Band heard on a cheap car stereo at make-out point. Just brilliant by whatever measure you take, energy, songs, chops Innocence has them all. Ignore my flippancy too, there’s real emotion in these grooves.
2. Shrine – Bless Off!
I know I’ve bothered you all about this one a lot recently, so all I’ll say is that it is a perfect mix of metal and punk that actually makes me wish I could grow my hair, learn to skate and abuse solvents safely. For sheer 4 to the floor fun, The Shrine rule! I have head-banged more to this LP than any other new one this year.
3. Wildest Dreams
A really great late night album with an unlikely genesis in the form of LA-based English superstar DJ Harvey, who seemingly decided to take the Doors ‘Riders On The Storm’ as a jumping off point to make the kind of sophisticated, sounds-amazing-in-a-car, hazy night tunes people simply haven’t made since 1977. One listen to ‘405’ or ‘Last Ride’ and you’ll be hooked, the ghosts of Steely Dan (circa Aja) look on. The fact that it came on white vinyl together with a DVD movie about LA surfers sound-tracked by the album also counts massively in their favour.
4. MFC Chicken – Solid Gravy!
What can I say that I haven’t said already by now? For sheer rock and rolled-up joy get the Chicken! Whether you want new dance crazes, saucy tales of lust or just a 1950’s rave up, Solid Gravy! is your man. Lead sax man/vocalist and self-confessed Canadian, Spencer Evoy even let me interview him which was by far one of the best things I have done this year. I gave my mum this LP, before I realised quite how rude it was and she loves it too – it’s cross-generational sensational!
5. Earthling Society – England Have My Bones
A complete impulse buy because I liked the LP title that really paid off for me. The sticker on the record mentions space rock and Krautrock motorik but this album is a damn sight more than that. Earthling Society use a really interesting, very creative palette to paint their music with, we get interesting ambient sound washes, Eastern stylings and a brilliant rocky cover of Alice Coltrane’s (already brilliant) ‘Journey Into Satchidananda’, along with tribal percussion and spacey whooshes. I hear new things every single time I spin this LP and I’ve really been playing it a lot recently.
6. Lonely Kamel – Shit City
I came to mock, but stayed to rock. I bought this late one tipsy night^ you can see my train of thought – Norwegian, stoner rock, swear words, misspelt dromedaries, blue vinyl limited to 100 copies world-wide … pathetic how easily my eye can be turned by a hot floozy of a record like this! You know what though? Shit City was one of the very best rock LPs I heard in 2014. Slightly punky and sweary at times, bluesy at others; most of my favourite bases covered. Some great playing but mostly just some really great feeling rock. Anyway you have to buy an LP with a track on it called ‘Seal The Perimeter’, don’t you?
7. White Hills – Glitter Glamour Atrocity
One of my favourite bands for a goodly while now especially live, but their last two LPs have only sporadically thrilled, this one hits the mark exactly. It’s a re-release of an old CD-R I think (they have an absolutely labyrinthine back catalogue) and it just sounds AMAZING, just perfect production. It also helps that there’s a good amount of variation here between face-melting psych guitar freakouts^^ and more contemplative and more experimental workouts. Nice cover (I love you Ego Sensation!) and great blue vinyl doesn’t hurt their cause either. Just don’t get me started on missing them at the Liverpool Psych fest this year.
8. Blues Pills
I resisted this LP for a long time, until late one night etc. etc. Yup, a double picture disc version swayed me … I’ve always been fond of the cover art. There is not a single jot of anything new here at all in these grooves and yet somehow that doesn’t stop this being a totally irresistible LP. Elin Larsson’s voice is an absolute treat, Janis Joplin comparisons are a bit wide of the mark for me she has a cleaner, technically better voice, but her vocals are not the only trick on show the band play it brilliantly. Again this is no criticism but you really feel like you are rediscovering this album, rather than hearing it for the first time it all sounds so classic and right because the song writing is top-notch.
9. Tinariwen – Emmaar
Not a great year for African releases for my money, very understandably given the various political situations occurring – people have more on their minds than stimulating jaded old bloggers. Tinariwen decamped to Joshua Tree, CA to record Emmaar and 1537-fave Saul Williams adds a little voice to the opening track. This is a more stately, more sombre-sounding album than their last few, sacrificing some of that mighty burning blues power for contemplative effect. Still no-one conjures those wide-open widescreen desert vistas better for me, as the excellent cover photography shows they found somewhere in their US travels that was not so very dissimilar to home, Josh Klinghoffer guests on three tracks too. I love Tinariwen unreservedly and having 3 bonus tracks on the vinyl doesn’t hurt their cause any in this neighbourhood.
10. Off! – Wasted Years
We’ve taken our DeLorean straight back to 1982 and we’ve found ourselves in some Californian hell-trap punk toilet listening to the hottest hardcore mob in town. This is just a great no-frills fist-in-the-face punk experience and any band which features Mario Rubalcaba on drums is going to be amazing. Off! don’t do subtlety and that’s absolutely fine by me, I’ll make do with ferocity instead. Raymond Pettibon cover art and songs called ‘Death Trip On The Party Train’ just seal the deal for me.
11. Holy Mountain – Ancient Astronauts
Frighteningly hairy heavy space rock from Glasgow, played as though the very devil himself was after the mortal souls; ’nuff said. My bad mood LP of the year – always made me rage a bit, before getting cheery again.
So there you have it, nauseatingly self-indulgent I know, but hey welcome to my world (again). Those are the new ones I’ve spent my time with this year. There are a lot of other good ones, from bands I like a lot, but these are the ones that have really stuck with me.
Out of all the old stuff out there that I’ve picked up on this year a couple really stand out for me, Helmet Betty which I can’t believe I only heard for the first time this year, the Manic Street Preachers Holy Bible box set (1LP, huge booklet, 4 CDs, toenails from each band member – with certificate of authenticity) and best of all two brilliant electronic LPs that JHubner73 hipped me to:
Z Visions of Dune – the soundtrack that the novel (not the Goddamned film!) truly deserved and Rudiger Lorenz Invisible Voices, which is what you get by crossing a German pharmacist with a whole bunch of home-made synthesizers in 1983; somewhat left field melodic/mystic genius.
So there you have it folks, it only remains for me to wish you all a Happy New Year from my escape capsule, as I release the flesh-eating slugs into the auditorium purely for my own unholy amusement. Mwah-ha-ha-ha!!
487 Down (still)
*as voted for by the readers of Award Ceremony Monthly magazine two years running. True story.
**I just like the word ‘titties’, it makes me giggle.
*^of ISB and Move LP covers and Apple offices in London fame.
^Will I ever F****** learn?! Apparently not.
^^royalties are in the post JHubner73.