Music Diary 2012 – Thursday

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No music at all until 6.30pm. Then I listened to the Moonface album ‘Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped’. It’s terrific, idiotic, smartass keyboard tweaking. I think i’m a little bit in love with Spencer Krug. He’s worryingly prolific and a reasonable proportion of his output is ridiculous in some way or other, but it’s all great. Whenever I listen to him I think he’s my favourite musician of the last 5 years. Oh, and the track ‘Shit-Hawk In the Snow’ is probably exactly what i’d make if I knew how to use music-making equipment. One chord played enthusiastically and percussively. Plus, this album has the best title ever.

And that’s it. No more music for me today.

One of the changes in my listening habits over the last few months has been the incursion of audiobooks. I have somewhere around 2-3 hours to myself each day, either in the car or walking the dog, and during this time I can listen to whatever I want. Last year, largely due to Devon Record Club, I partly replaced listening to Radio 4 in the car with catching up on albums, and my dog walks were never without headphones.

But music, unless I give it my full attention, leaves too much room for wandering contemplation, both internal and external. For reasons both labyrinthine and tedious, this is something I’ve been keen to avoid for the last few months. I’ve found that audiobooks help to to achieve this. Specifically, i’ve been listening to Stephen King books loaded up on my old iPod. They’re perfect. Enough going on to keep your attention (whatever the aural equivalent of a page-turner is) whilst not being stylistically so complex that it’s impossible to concentrate on them without driving off the road or walking into a hedge.

[I loved King as a teenager and now, coming back to some of his most recent books, it’s weirdly gratifying to see that he’s finally getting his due as the pre-eminent storyteller of his generation. So far removed from the schlockmeisters he used to be lumped in with. Plus, I’m a sucker for homey US of A yarns.]

So, in the car to and from work and a little around the house this evening, I listened to the last 2.5 hours of ‘Under The Dome’. It’s great.

Maybe music will come back into these spaces at some stage. I sort of hope so. But for now, someone else’s words are doing just the job I need.

#musicdiary2012

Music Diary 2012 – Wednesday

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Not a huge amount of music today. Nothing at all passed my ears until around 6.30pm. If I have time at the weekend i’ll write a little something about how audiobooks have, perhaps temporarily, displaced music in the car and on my daily dog walks. I’m sure you’ll all look forward to that.

Got home from work and started cooking. Whilst doing so I played the first half of the Horseback compilation ‘The Gorgon Tongue: Impale Golden Horn/Forbidden Planet’, four big slices of what would, in olden times, have been called shoegaze. Although Horseback are bracketed with avant Black Metal outfits, and their earlier work fits this bill a little more comfortably, if you were to release these four gauzy, ambient guitar pieces as a long lost Slowdive EP then the only people who would call you out on that claim would be, well, Slowdive and Horseback. Possibly even Slowdive might believe it was them.

Next up, also on the Sonos, via Spotify, the new Death Grips album, ‘The Money Store’. Last year’s ‘Ex-Military’ mixtape was jolting but a little too blunt for my liking. On first listen this album proper is genuinely thrilling in parts. They may not know what they’re up to, but to me it sounds like they’re just banging musical rocks together to see what sparks fly, and fly they do. I’ll definitely go back.

Then whilst eating my tea, I watched ‘Fleetwood Mac: Don’t Stop’ the BBC Four documentary, on iPlayer. I have no affection for the band but the film was entertaining and, against all the odds, and the evidence here which points out explicitly how spiky they could all be, they seemed like nice people.

Finally I played ‘Spooky Action At A Distance’ by Lotus Plaza, again Spotify on Sonos. I phone my mum during the first song and finished talking to her during the last. What I heard in between wasn’t much, but it sounded okay. I guess I’d have to confess that the phrase ‘Pitchfork bait’ went through my head as the album kicked in, by which I meant woozy guitar shamble pop of possibly limited longevity but which sounds intriguingly opaque for now. Impossible to tell which of these records hide the hidden depths.

And that’s that. No head music of any insistence.

#musicdiary2012

Music Diary 2012 – Tuesday

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No music this morning apart from ‘Jesse James’ by The Pogues which was playing incessantly on my cranial jukebox.

Then, around 12.30pm, I was scrolling through The Power of Independent Trucking having been led there by a twitter link to the piece on the remastering of the My Bloody Valentine albums and happened upon a post discussing the best of Guided By Voices and immediately ‘Gold Star for Robot Boy’ was in my head, followed, inevitably, by ‘Game of Pricks’. I played them both via Spotify and they stayed there all afternoon.

Nothing else until I made it home and played the new Animal Collective tracks, ‘Honeycomb’ and ‘Gotham’. The Domino newsletter had dropped at around 4.30pm. I hadn’t even realised the new Animal Collective stuff was ready for release. A pre-order of the 7″ came with an immediate download and it was this I played three times in a row when I got back. It’s predictably unpredictable, harking back to somewhere around ‘Feels’. ‘Honeycomb’ is wayward and bonkers, ‘Gotham’, a slow burner which wheedles its way into your head by the end of the first play.

At 7pm the other Devon Record Club members arrived. This evening’s listening comprised:

‘Bodhisattva Vow’ by The Beastie Boys (in our The Vinyl Curtain slot)
‘The John Allyn Smith Sails’ by Okkervil River
‘Boys and Girls in America’ by The Hold Steady
‘The Eight Legged Groove Machine’ by The Wonderstuff
‘Shabini’ by the Bhundu Boys
‘Skills to Pay the Bills’ by The Beastie Boys
‘Plumb’ by Field Music

All of which adds up to a good evening in my books.

As I put the rubbish out, I played ‘Piano Man’ by Billy Joel on the Sonos, having looked at the Best Of… album as I ripped more loft CDs yesterday. Sang along a little, then, when the second track rolled around, had heard enough.

#musicdiary2012

Music Diary 2012 – Monday

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I’ll try to keep it brief this year. Stick to the facts.

We watched the season finale of ‘Homeland’ last night and then I sat about for half an hour afterwards tippy-tapping whilst Jo watched ‘The Voice’ on iPlayer. As midnight ticked by I had my headphones on and was listening to John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ via Spotify. I love the way jazz is woven through ‘Homeland’. It seemed an affectation at first but as Carrie’s character became more skittish and improvisational, it started to make more and more sense. The title sequence is one of the best of recent years and every week it makes me want to listen to more jazz. So I did.

Later on I tried to listen to ‘Provision’ by Scritti Politti an album recently retrieved from a loft box of Jo’s stuff. I’ve never really listened to them and this seemed like a good time to start. Sadly, the detritus of Jo’s university years has left the vinyl in need of a pressure wash, so I only got 30 seconds in before abandoning it. Switched to ‘Matinee’ by Sharkboy which I’d spotted on the shelf a few days ago and pulled out. Then commenced wandering about the house and largely missed it.

I spent most of the day sorting out stuff from our prodigious loft and all the while ripping CDs to our network storage drive. I the major change in my listening habits since last year has been due to the acquisition of a Sonos system. I’ll write more about what that’s done later in the week. As the laptop churned away I tried a touch more Coltrane but it seemed if not sacrilegious then at least a little unfair to play it on tinny laptop speakers. Then played half of the Braids album until their ‘we want to be Animal Collective’ pleading became overwhelming. I’m not sure i’ll go back. Switched to Portico Quartet which lasted until Jo decided she wanted to hear ‘Your Woman’ by White Town. I was ripping a box of her CDs.

Prompted by another box find I played the whole of ‘I Was The King I Really Was The King’ by Animals That Swim and then just let iTunes run, so also got their first album ‘Workshy’ and then into ‘Burst Apart’ by Antlers and half way through its predecessor ‘Hospice’.

Then, whilst making tea I listened to a pseudo-religious epic by the band I intend to play at tomorrow’s Devon Record Club and then the first five songs from ‘Let It Be’ by the Replacements both on the Sonos in the kitchen.

Finally, I wondered about that woozy song that closes ‘The Bridge’ on BBC4 and might check out who it’s by.

Today’s head music

‘Rich and Strange’ by Cud
‘Julia’ by Silver Sun
‘Still In Love With You’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 

#musicdiary2012

#musicdiaryproject – Friday

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Jo was on Marge duty this morning, so just Head Music for me until lunchtime.

I had ‘Send in the Clowns’ for a few minutes. No idea why, but it brought a brief gust of Friday ennui.

Then came one of those lovely moments of connection between people and eras that music can conjure in a flash. Walking down the corridor I passed our Press Office where I heard a very old favourite song being played, presumably via YouTube. Dan, Press Officer, was clearly struggling to convince his colleagues that this was a song they certainly must be familiar with. They were laughing at him and he was having difficulty defending his position. I took this in as I walked by, but after going past it struck me that I really ought to step in and help out. I took a couple of backwards strides, popped my head around the door and asked “‘Camouflage’? by Stan Ridgway?” I think I made Dan’s day, to the hysterical dismay of the others. We were able to exchange quips about him being an “awfully big marine” before he revealed that the reason this has come up in the first place was that he had snuck some of the lyrics, a brief snatch of the tale of that heroic soldier, into a newly published press release. Excellent work.

Yuck – ‘Holing Out’

I read a tweet from Pete Paphides a couple of weeks ago raving about Yuck, then a less than convincing review from Pitchfork. Spotted a link on that site today which led me to this song via Soundcloud. Thought it sounded okay, and pretty much as all the references to early 90s Pavement etc had given me to expect.

#fridaymix

I try to join the Friday Mix whenever I can, even if I can’t listen in. Every Friday at 12.30pm, the Friday Mix overlord creates a new Spotify playlist based on a theme which has been voted for by the waiting participants, who then get to add two songs of their choosing to the playlist. The tracks are sorted and ordered by whoever wants to drag them around then at 2pm the playlist is locked, everyone presses ‘Play’ at the same time, and several dozen people, dotted who knows where, all listen along to the same songs, alone but together.

It’s an interesting way to collaborate, challenge and mingle with other music listeners, and one which just wouldn’t have been possible even two years ago. Today’s theme was ‘sunshine’ and I added ‘Sunrise’ by Lambchop and ‘I Am The Sun’ by Swans. Most weeks most participants seem to want to add in happy songs, so I do take a certain childish pleasure in choosing something more bruising whenever I can. It’s often Swans, to be honest.

I thought ‘Sunrise’ would be a good opener and tried to boost it to the top, but Eric and Ernie kept being bumped even higher until the last moment when, inexplicably, Finley Quaye appeared in the number 1 spot.

As the playlist ticks through there’s a parallel discussion on twitter, using the #fridaymix hashtag. Unfortunately this is usually pretty perfunctory and polite. It’s rare to see frank opinions exchanged, even though part of the pleasure is both cooing and sniffing and other people’s choices.

You can see today’s playlist above. After the Bob Marley track, my office-mate came back from a meeting, so I muted my PC. According to the Twitter feed, Swans drifted by without a mention once more.

PJ Harvey – ‘Let England Shake’

Whilst writing this, I sat upstairs and listened to the second side of ‘Let England Shake’. Not really concentrating.

Pavement – ‘Perfect Sound Forever’

Haven’t listened to this for 15 years or so. Sounded great. 10″ vinyl is still weirdly cool.

Swell – ‘Swell’

Picked off the shelf after 5 minutes of aimless gawping. I don’t know anything about them. My friend Ben and I used to like them in the days before you could find out everything about a band in 10 seconds. I remember it was their second album we really liked. One of the first I remember having that slightly broken down country sound that would come to inflect so much of the alternative music I liked from the US. It has something intruguing and seductive about the sound of it, rather than the songs of it. This is their first album. I think Ben had the second. I might go and google them now…

Goodnight.

#musicdiaryproject – Monday

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It’s the first day of Nick‘s Music Diary Project. Since he first suggested the idea, i’ve been concerned as to my ability to listen honestly. How could my choices fail to be influenced by the sure knowledge that I would be sharing them. We’re all swayed by the need to gain acceptance and admiration. Even those hipsters apparently so relaxed about their lack of concern for other’s views that they will happily document and publish their time spent boogying to Bieber or apathetically accepting Adele are just finding another way to say ‘look at me! i’m cooler than you cos i’m crap and I don’t fucking care!’

I think I can safely say that at least on Day One of the project, I have resisted the temptation to force through my ears the most geek-pleasing sounds I can squeeze into them. Today I have listened to 1.5 seconds of music.

I’ll get to that shortly.

Firstly, one of the things I did instead of listening to music. At 6.30am I walked Marge, our dog, for half an hour. Instead of listening to music, I took in last week’s ‘Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews’ podcast from BBC Five Live, on my iPhone.

It’s counter-intuitive, perhaps, but often I feel like I can’t handle listening to music, so I drift through a podcast instead. Odd, as sense would dictate that listening to a lively discussion about the week’s new cinema releases, including an unexpectedly amusing interview with Werner Herzog, would require greater concentration than simply allowing a few songs to drift through my lug-holes. I never feel this way. When I got back home, I switched the radio on to Five Live Breakfast, which wafted around the house from 7.00-7.50am.

Then I got into the car, turned the key in the ignition, and before I reached to hit the AM/FM button and cue the Today programme on Radio 4, the CD player kicked in with approximately a second and a half of ‘The Birds’, the opening track from the new Elbow album.

And so my listening was done.

To be fair, it was a good bit. The part just after the squeeky arpeggios kick in, reminiscent of The Knife’s ‘Silent Shout’ played through a herniated pipe organ.

No music at work. No music on the way home. The rest of the Kermode podcast as I made dinner, this time on my laptop. I’ve waited until almost 10.00pm, and still nothing. Oh well, at least i’m not forcing it.

To fill the void, i’ll tell you about two other types of music I did hear today.

1. Head music.

Single phrases from several songs have been echoing around my head all day, as they do every day. If you ever meet me you are most welcome to ask what’s playing on my cranial radio station, and i’ll always have an answer for you. It’s a blessing and a curse. Right now it’s ‘Motor Away’ by Guided By Voices. Earlier on it was ‘Bengali in Platforms’ by Morrissey. I’m more than slightly ashamed to admit that this was brought on, as it has reliably been for about three weeks now, by a news report mentioning the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi. For much of the morning I had ‘Dance Music’ by the Mountain Goats on rotation.

Later on, when considering what I might listen to if I walked the dog again this evening, I alighted upon ’03/07-09/07′ by High Places. For a while around 6.00pm I had “Banana banana banana slugs” squirming around in my head, but this soon morphed into ‘I Know What Boys Want’ by The Waitresses, essentially because the two bands have soundalike vocals. Which brings me to:

2. Incidental music

Glee was on in the next room as I was unpacking my bags from last week’s holiday. At approximately 9.30pm some kid ended up singing ‘I Know What Boys Want’ by The Waitresses, which struck me as a coincidence.

And that’s it. Roll on the rest of the week. Monday has been too quiet.

Why Sickmouthy Loves Devon Record Club

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As a founder member of Devon Record Club, I read with interest the comments by one Nick Southall. I felt they deserved a response so that, and indeed this, is what they’re getting.

I too love Devon Record Club, and I too worry whether its format is liberating or problematic, or both. I think there are problems with it, but not the ones that Nick is stroking his chin over.

Every record has a first listening, and the ones we grow to love reveal something, or prehaps fail to hide something, that brings us back again. Several of the records I love the most have repelled me at first listen, at least one to the extent that I put it away for about 9 months, actually scared of it. Devon Record Club has given me a start with at least 3 or 4 records and artists which I never would have taken the time to otherwise. Why check out Alexander Spence when three quarters of the records on your shelf haven’t really had the time they deserve? As for Patrick Wolf! He’s that theatrical Elton meets St Julian chap, isn’t he? What’s that? He sounds completely different? Balderdash.

As Nick rightly says, records change their contours as the years wash over them. But that’s fine for the Record Club too. At the moment we’re trying to surprise and delight each other with our choices, but it would be rather wonderful to be brought established ‘classics’ to listen to properly and discuss all over again. There are always new lights to be cast and new caves to find.

Assigning homework would take much of the spontaneity out of the evenings, and instead of listening to four or five albums and worrying about which one to take along for the others, we’d be listening over and over again the same two and worrying that we weren’t going to have the correct opinion about them. What’s more, if Nick had set me British Sea Power as homework, I wouldn’t have turned up. I’ve tried it Nick, it’s boring.

The other wonderful thing about the Club is that we’ve each found ourselves listening back through our collections with greater intensity. The idea of getting together was to set aside some time just to listen properly to music. In fact i’m listening to much more than I was before we stated meeting. Having to think about why I want to introduce a particular album has been worrisome and delicious and has energised my listening once again. In this respect it’s like Fight Club, but far less punchy and far, far, far less sexy.

There are problems though, for me at least. Both Tom and Nick claim that lyrics are relatively unimportant to them. They are to me, and I realise how many of my favourite records need to be listened to carefully. Strip away the words and you’ve got another bunch of boys with guitars, another snarling M.C. just like all the others. In this sense, of course, we’re back worrying away at whether one can get a record at a single listen. It turned out you couldn’t when it came to McCarthy. I reckon the same will happen if I rock up with most of the records on my current list.

Secondly, i’m not sure it’ll cope well with noise. At some stage i’ll be bringing Big Black along, and I have no idea whether chatting over Steve Albini is possible, let alone acceptable.  Even tougher is how to bring a record that you think might well cause offence? I’ve been listening to Tyler, The Creator and various bits of OFWGKTA and whilst there’s enough in there for a whole symposium of debate, I can’t begin to think how to introduce it to two people who may well order it switched off once dark stuff starts coming. How do you play records which you don’t yet know how to justify?

I love Devon Record Club.

What 2010 sounded like – my records of the year

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This is late, I know. I’m sorry. Most end of year lists were chip paper three weeks ago. I can’t say that i’ve spent the time mulling over my choices, honing every comment. It’s 10pm on 2 Jan, and I still don’t know what i’m going to write, even though I’ve been thinking about writing it for a month or so. That’s also long enough for any final saving claims to spontaneity to have withered away. Perhaps i’ll just get on with it.

I kept a list this year, and the list tells me that I bought just 32 new records. I can’t say that i’ve listened much more widely than those. Looking back, my 2010 collection seems both conservative, with few risky punts on unheard outfits, and strong, with no huge disappointments, just a few records I didn’t go back to as often as I might have hoped. If the list below seems of a type, well, perhaps it is. I’m surprised.

It’s been another year of fractured listening. Time spent listening to music on car journeys, or whilst walking the dog, has again outweighed the hours sat before the turntable, focusing intently, listening closely. Nonetheless, there are records which have stood out, stayed around and moved me during the year, and here are some of them, listed in the order in which I bought them.

The Antlers – ‘Hospice’
The Mountain Goats – ‘The Sunset Tree’

Two of my favourites of the year were released in 2009 and 2005 respectively. ‘Hospice’ suddenly sounded different on long, dark walks, when Peter Silberman’s emotional string-tugging proved irresistible. This quiet, surging soundtrack to heartbreak and decay has stayed in the memory longer than anything else this year.

I finally got around to John Darnielle and The Mountain Goats, and ‘The Sunset Tree’ is pretty much everything I want from an album. Sharp and funny, with tunes both affecting and catchy, delivered in a deliciously nasal west coast voice. The sound of the Summer’s ups and downs.

Joanna Newsom – ‘Have One On Me’

Joanna Newsom’s third album, spread across three records and two hours, is the towering achievement of the last twelve months, a trove of treasure which will take years to explore and catalogue. We can gasp at the audacity of her ambition, marvel at the scale of her achievement, welcome her maturing voice and songwriting, even, when the mood takes us, hear the whole history of the United States in a song like ‘Good Intentions Paving Co.’ but ultimately ‘Have One On Me’ is a triumph of exploratory melody, and a thumb in the eye for those who have proclaimed the death of the album.

The National – ‘High Violet’

I’m not sure how The National got so big between albums, but the confidence with which they toured ‘Boxer’ a couple of years ago was parlayed into ‘High Violet’, a perfectly realised and recorded album from a band who, whilst living only a short stumble from the mainstream, have managed to build a sound that could only be theirs, and then build and build upon it further. The National are doing things their own way, and have become beautifully self-contained and self-fulfilling in a way that recalls REM at their mid-80s best. ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’ is the best 4-minute single of the year.

Liars – ‘Sisterworld’

In which the mogadon nightmare of ‘Drums Not Dead’ smashes face-first into the scathing rock of their eponymous fourth album. It’s almost impossible to divine this band’s intentions. Like the good Captain Beefheart, lost this last month, you can never be quite sure whether Liars are jokers or geniuses and the tension between the two is just one of the things that make them so compelling.

The Arcade Fire – ‘The Suburbs’

I thought ‘The Suburbs’ was a convincing next move the the Arcade Fire, taking the lost children of ‘Funeral’ and spinning them forward to become lost parents. Some fine songs, but it makes my list mainly for ‘The Wilderness Downtown‘ a short online film by Chris Milk which is a sparse, almost unavoidably moving piece, and the first time in years i’ve seen a song so completely transformed by an accompanying promo.

Emeralds – ‘Does It Look Like I’m Here?’

Looking up and down this list, it does seem more conservative than the year actually felt. A few weeks ago this record, by a kosmische electronic trio from Cleveland, Ohio, looked like at least a partially left-field choice, but it seems to have struck many commentators in the same light and has found its way onto several end-of-year rundowns. For me its music box pointillism has been the sound i’ve reached for this year when I didn’t know quite what I wanted. Sometimes i’ve listened intently, drawn into its dissolving structures, and sometimes it’s served as a warm and bubbling background wash. It works beautifully as both, and has proved as satisfying and well-played as any other record this year.  

Crystal Castles – ‘Doe Deer’

This scathing 98 seconds is the hit and run of the year and the song i’ve scrolled to most. Insistent, belligerent and un-sit-downable, it rushes by in the context of the album, but taken straight it’s an unstoppable shock of distressingly contaminated adrenaline. The way Ethan sets up a lapel-grabbing track which Alice’s caustic vocals mercilessly destroy makes me want to stand an applaud every time. That they manage to both create such a compelling sound and then brutally wreck it within the space of a minute-and-a-half seems almost as fine an achievement as Joanna Newsom’s two hours of virtuosity.

Swans – ‘My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky’

It’s just great to have them back, managing to take their rich, deep noise and bring to it a raw, live band feel. As savage and unflinching as ever, M. Gira will turn 60 this decade, but his gaze remains steely and unwavering.

Predicting Pitchfork 2010

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Last year I guessed 6 of Pitchfork‘s top ten albums of the year, but of these I was only able to place ‘Merriweather Post Pavilion’ in its correct position. As I commented at the time, even my mother would have figured out that detail, despite her being more of a Oneohtrix Point Never fan.

This year, Pitchfork’s top ten rated albums are as follows:

  1. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Rating: 10.0
  2. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest – Rating: 9.2
  3. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening – Rating: 9.2
  4. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty – Rating: 9.2
  5. Joanna Newsom – Have One on Me – Rating: 9.2
  6. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today – Rating: 9.0
  7. Beach House – Teen Dream – Rating: 9.0
  8. No Age – Everything in Between – Rating: 8.8
  9. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma – Rating: 8.8
  10. How to Dress Well – Love Remains – Rating: 8.7
    The National – High Violet – Rating: 8.7
    Sleigh Bells – Treats – Rating: 8.7
    Titus Andronicus – The Monitor – Rating: 8.7
    Robyn – Body Talk – Rating: 8.7

(Thanks to www.albumoftheyear.org for the list)

My thinking goes like this:

I’m guessing Kanye West has come in too late for all the P4K staffers to get behind it sufficiently to make it top of the list, but I figure it has to squeak into the top 3. The other slots will be contested by Deerhunter, which I guess is a reflex choice for most of the electorate, LCD Soundsystem, which should benefit from the sentimental vote, and Joanna Newsom, which is pretty tough to ignore as the towering achievement of the year.

Beneath these four I think Big Boi, Ariel Pink and Beach House pretty much have to feature, and then i’m struggling. It seems wrong for The National to sit outside the top ten and I also can’t see Vampire Weekend or Four Tet being overlooked, although that might reflect my year’s listening more than the ‘fork folks.

So, here goes. My predictions:

  1. Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest (I bet they can’t resist)
  2. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
  3. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  4. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
  5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today
  6. Beach House – Teen Dream
  7. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty
  8. Four Tet – There Is Love In You
  9. The National – High Violet
  10. Vampire Weekend – Contra

If (when) i’m wrong, I expect it’ll be because of The Walkmen, No Age, Sleigh Bells, Titus Andronicus, Tame Impala and Caribou. As for the Arcade Fire, drifting somewhere in the 10-20 suburbs.

I’m granting myself 2 points for each top ten record guessed, and 5 points for those placed correctly. Post your own predictions, and I might even buy you a creme egg if you beat me.

6 music and the BBC

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I just filled in this form https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/ and registered my thoughts about both the suggestion that the BBC might consider closing the 6 music radio station, and, as it turned out, the recent attacks on the corporation. I was more than slightly distracted as ‘Glee’ was camping it up extremely loudly in the corner of the room as I typed, and in the end I got quite carried away and not a little operatic.

Here’s what I wrote. I haven’t read it back. I may not mean any of this, but I suspect I probably do.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to register my anger and disappointment at the suggestion that the BBC may be considering closing the 6 Music radio station. To do so would be a huge mistake, both in terms of the stations contribution to the culture of the nation, and also politically.

Firstly, 6 Music is the absolute definition of the corporation’s commitments to both music and public service broadcasting. Radio 1 and Radio 2, with rare exceptions, are entertainment stations. 6 Music is the only national music station to take rock and pop music seriously. It’s for music lovers, by music lovers. It draws on the BBC’s unrivaled history and place at the centre of rock and pop music. I grew up like hundreds of thousands of other people listening to John Peel under the bedclothes and have been an obsessive music listener, collector, fan and lover ever since. 6 Music is where that lifelong passion took me. If it goes, it will never come back. The BBC will be throwing away everything that has made it’s music radio great over the last 40 years, and closing off serious music radio to current and future generations. Today we have unparalleled access to music in ways I could never have imagined all those years ago. However, radio is about more than a catalogue of tracks. It creates, nurtures and sustains a shared culture, and without 6 Music, rock and pop culture in the UK would be significantly damaged.

Secondly, to suggest that an equivalent service would or could be provided by commercial broadcasters is laughable. 6 Music is exactly what the licence fee is for, providing a first rate service which simply would not exist if left to the private sector and the requirements of advertisers. If this is an attempt to pre-empt future attacks on the funding of the corporation, then it is utterly illogical. If the trust really believes that the BBC should be cutting those services which can be provided by the private sector, then Radio 1, Radio 2, BBC 3, News 24 and, arguably, areas of the BBC web presence would be much more credible targets. The provision of stations like 6 Music is precisely the reason that the licence fee is still paid happily by the majority of households in the UK. Please add me to the list of your listeners and viewers who would gladly pay twice the licence fee to subscribe to BBC programming. To discard what makes your output unique and valuable and keep the generic and bland is ludicrous and a betrayal of your public service remit.

Those in other sections of the media who shriek about the reach an influence of the BBC have vested interests. This will not come as news to you. Trust me, however, when I tell you that your listeners and viewers understand their motives and objectives perfectly. There is no support in the country for the dismantling of the services the corporation provide, and to make gestures towards those who target the BBC is to surrender to your enemies who are, of course, motivated purely by profit, with no regard or reverence for public service. Visit any other country and explain to them that we are considering dismantling the BBC and they will think you deranged.

I urge you in the strongest terms both to reconsider any proposals to close 6 Music, and to defend yourselves against the odious attacks upon the unrivaled service the BBC provides.

Yours faithfully etc.