Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: So much music I can't even

Here's the thing about all these best-albums-of 2014 lists -- I haven't even heard most of them. And I'm pretty sure that best-of-the-year lists never used to be 40 or 50 albums long, as they commonly are now. Perhaps that's as good an indication of where recorded music's at now: an industry that's supposed to be mortally unwell is delivering more worthwhile music than anyone can possibly keep up with.

I mean, here's NPR Music's top 50.

And The Guardian's Top 40, plus it's readers' Top 10 and an entire page of background top page. Most notably, the paper's Top 10 country albums list has just been pubished, and it includes Dynamite by New Zealand's own Tami Nielson, which is quite something.

And Pitchfork's Top 50.

It's kind of intimidating. Still, those lists do make for handy guides for stoking Spotify for the summer. (I'm going to make more of an effort with Spotify, I really am -- but it can't just be me who finds the user interface extremely unappealing.)

And here's another thing: you'll be able to see a remarkable number of the artists whose records appear across all of those lists -- St Vincent, Royal Blood, FKA Twigs, Flying Lotus, Future Islands -- at Laneway in Auckland next month. Furthermore, if you're in Auckland tonight, there are still tickets to see the band that topped many critics's lists, The War on Drugs, play at The Powerstation.

Anyway, I'm thinking the world doesn't really need another numbered list from me, so I'm gonna just move ahead.

Yes, Christmas is next week, but did you know that yesterday was Keith Richards' birthday? Here he is, cranking out 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' with the Stones in 1972:

And did you know that today is the birthday of Samuel Flynn Scott of The Phoenix Foundation? And that they're playing tonight and tomorrow at Moon in Wellington? Well, if you didn't you're too late, because both nights have sold out. But here they are playing 'Black Mould' for last year's New Zealand Herald Sundae Session:

And it gets even better. They've posted a trippy Christmas carol for you to download.

In Auckland, of course, you can still get your tickets for the Flying Nun/Flying Out Christmas Party at the King's Arms tomorrow night. I'm aiming to get there some time in what is turning out to be a busy social evening.


I'm hearing all kinds of good things about the SJD album due in the new year, including people who know what they're talking about saying it's the best thing Sean's ever done. For now there's a video for the first track from it, 'I Wanna Be Foolish':


Of retrospective interest ...

John Dix's great history of The Gluepot for Audioculture (ignore the date -- it went live on the site last weekend), which is rich with photographs.

NZ On Screen has just posted the long-unseen NZBC documentary on the 1970 Redwood festival in Auckland, which is remembered chiefly for the hostile reception accorded to the unfortunate headliner, Robin Gibb.

The New York Times reports that classic hip-hop is taking over the radio dial. I can relate.

And Dangerous Minds has rounded up some clips from the really very good late 80s BBC music show SnubTV, which was co-hosted by my former editor at Rough Trade's The Catalogue magazine. They include this interview with Mark E. Smith of The Fall and a video for 'Bill Is Dead':

Finally, I was sad to hear this morning of the death of former Dance Exponents and Starlings guitarist Chris Sheehan, who had been living with cancer for several years. I used to see quite a lot of Chris back in the day and he was a lovely man -- and, of course, quite a guitar player. Here he is with his old band ...



The Reflex has released his second album of from-the-original-stems edits, which you can buy whole or separately here on Bandcamp and listen to here:

A wicked Funk Hunk edit, at 102bpm:

And considerably-changed up at 122bpm!

And ... actually, that's it. I'm going to ride my bike in the sun. Over to you lot, who I've loved having around every Friday (or occasionally another day) this year. Remember, if you want to embed a YouTube clip in your comment, just paste in the URL and we do the rest. Thanks hugely to this blog's sponsor, The Audience. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Friday Music will be around over summer. And if you're interested, I'll be filling in on the Saturday 9-11am show on 95bFM, January 3 and 7. I'm rather looking forward to that.

And now, a Christmas shopping message from The Saints ...


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