Welcome freaks, geeks and cool kids to the annual 1537 awards. I will start you off slowly, try and build up a bit of momentum with some minor awards and finally finish you off all in a frenzy with the top LP’s of the year award, before turfing you out early because I’ve got work in the morning and, no, I don’t want another cuddle thanks.
In a radical departure from time-honoured tradition I have retired several awards this year and just generally changed some shit around, as I am wont to do. Some jokes just weren’t funny anymore, basically. But without further ado, let’s crack on with, what Time Magazine have branded, ‘quite literally the most inconsequential awards ever devised’. Praise indeed.
First up we have the Marty Balin Memorial Award for the best LP sleeve purchased in 2018. I bought a quite frightening number of records in 2018 here are a selection of the best looking ones.
- Rush Cygnus X-1: My second ever Rush record and cracking front, back and inner sleeve art. I’m particularly fond of the brain in a jar on the back cover.
- Whitesnake 1987: Picture discs just rule anyway, combine that with my love of fake marble LP sleeves and … just wow. Thank you RSD 2018.
- Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers deluxe reissue thingy from a few years ago with awesome extra tracks and a working zipper, so you can see the guy’s tighty whiteys! Yes!
The winner of course is Sticky Fingers for all it’s 3D-osity.
Moving seamlessly along I now give you the ‘Fast Eddie’ Clarke Memorial Award for the best picture disc shaped like Africa bought this year. This one goes out to Juluka Scatterlings of Africa. God bless Johnny Clegg.
The Fats Domino Memorial Award for the most LPs bought by a single artist in 2018 goes to Van Halen, who streak away with this award with a massive 6; leaving Mastodon and Bob Dylan flailing in their wake with just 3 apiece. Seriously guys and gals, why did no-one ever tell me they were any good before now?
Which, ladies and gentlemen brings us to tonight’s main event. They do say winning this next award can make or break an artist’s career and it is a statistical, scientific factoid that no artist who has not won this award has yet gone on to headline the Grand Canyon. True story.
The 1537 Top 8 LPs of 2018
Hookworms Microshift: You have to love progression. The Hookworms have progressed through psychedelic squall and shows consisting of lashing noise workouts, through a more song based second LP and out into … perfection really. This was by far my best album of 2018.
Microshift takes all the above and focuses it into a set of looping, laser-guided emotionally charged songs which hit the mark every time. Microshift has not got a spare second on it and if there was an LP with a better opening three tracks on it in 2018, I haven’t heard it. I saw them play a quite brilliant show in Liverpool in February and the world looked like it was theirs’.
It wasn’t to be though, for the very worst reasons and my imaginary accolade goes out to the other four guys.
Green Druid Ashen Blood: The sticker on the front promised ‘weed-soaked psychedelic doom’ and by Jingo, that’s what I got! My favourite heaviest LP of 2018 by far. The whole LP sounds like some best-forgotten ancient evil stirring far underground and preparing to wreak malevolent shit on us mere mortals. This LP kicked some far higher profile heavy dope-drenched bands into touch for me this year, quite easily. Plus I had a ball writing about it.
Starcrawler: The first LP from 2018 that I bought and still one of the very best from these fresh-faced rockers. I have grooved long, loud and lustily to the sharp-shooting sugared grooves of the likes of ‘Train’ and ‘Loves Gone Again’ and I’m not bored yet. Can’t wait for more.
Manic Street Preachers Resistance Is Futile: I love this band, they play a big part in my life, I go see them often but they haven’t put together a totally coherent, totally convincing LP for a very long time. I didn’t think this was one either, when I first heard it. Ignore me, I’m a dumbass. This is a wonderfully dignified, stately even, intelligent collection of songs that address, amongst other things, the whole validity of being in a rock band in your late 40’s; chaps, when it’s this vital an experience then the answer is yes. Contains my favourite ever song about my favourite shade of my favourite colour too. True story.
Lovely Eggs This Is Eggland: Decidedly giddy off-kilter Day-Glo triumphant splurge from Lancashire. The tone is lodged very adeptly between childish glee and cosmic mind expansion, interlaced with a healthy dollop of earthly profanity. You have to love anyone who wtrites a song called ‘Dickhead’. ‘Would You Fuck’, yes please!
Bob Dylan More Blood, More Tracks: I love how, over the last decade we Dylan fans have been drip fed all manner of wonderful archivealia from way back when he was fucking fab. There are times when Blood On The Tracks is one of my favourite LP’s ever, nothing here can replace those tracks but this collection contextualises it and gives us tantalising glimpses into what may have been different. Worth the price for ‘Call Letter Blues’ and a weary, defeated ‘Simple Twist Of Fate’.
Fu Manchu Clone Of The Universe: Stoner gold. I really liked their last LP but this was a real step up again. Just flip on ‘(I’ve Been) Hexed’, or the none-more-Fu title track and flip out. Oh and there’s a long track on it with some Canadian guy too.
Jon Hopkins Singularity: A wonderfully satisfying creation. Techno dude Hopkins carves lush sonic soundscapes for our delectation, before skittering us through them with driving crystalline beats. This is far too rhythmic and restless an LP to be ambient per se, although there are hard-won moments of serenity that come close. There are whole worlds to discover in here.
Old stuff? I had a ball as usual. Standouts for me were the incredible Wire Pink Flag, Van Halen Diver Down and the defiantly difficult to write about (I’ve tried three times and failed) 75 Dollar Bill Wood /Metal /Plastic /Pattern /Rhythm /Rock which is the most amazing LP I’ve bought in, ooh, absolutely millenniums.
Sadly, last and least I have had a couple of musical disappointments this year too, the stand out being the soundtrack to Blade Runner 2049 which was, quite frankly, shit (apart from that one track I liked). It just doesn’t work outside the context of the (brilliant) film at all, what’s with the lack of dialogue folks? and why the MF fuck have you just dropped those Sinatra and Presley tracks into the middle of the LP, it ruins it! Arggggghhhh!!!
So before I collect all your empty glasses, sweep up and put the hellhounds out, all that remains is to thank anyone who has made it this far for both reading this and just for your patronage in general – you are everything that makes this a fun, remotely worthwhile thing to do.
905 Down (still)
*thanks to MF-blocks I find it hard to number these as I bloody should. Thanks guys.