My Top 20 Tracks of 2016

best-songs-of-2016

Ok, heading from the bottom to the top, here are my top 20 songs of 2016. Objective? No. Subjective? Yes. A great listen? Of course. I will be playing these on my radio show on http://www.seahavenfm.com on Thursday 29th December at 7-9pm. It will be great if you can come along for the ride.

  1. Catfish & The Bottlemen – Soundcheck (The Ride 2016)

They won their first Brit Award for British Breakthrough act on 24 February 2016. On 27 May 2016, they released their second album, The Ride. This was the single. You can’t help liking it.

  1. In Camera – Realise (Realise Single 2016)

   18.  Jo Ash – Embers (Embers single 2016)

EP releases Lucid Dreams (2014) and Locked In (2015) gave us a taste of the talent that lurks here. Jo is in the process of recording her first solo album; the first single from the album – Embers – was released on 16th July 2016. Memorable.

  1. Viola Beach – Boys that Sing (Viola Beach 2016)

The great lost and tragic story of 2016. The band’s final line-up consisted of Kris Leonard (guitar and vocals), River Reeves (guitar), Tomas Lowe (bass guitar), and Jack Dakin (drums). All four, along with their manager Craig Tarry, died in a car crash in Södertälje, Sweden, on 13 February 2016.

Posthumously, their album went to Number 1 and Coldplay played one of their tracks in tribute at Glastonbury. What might have been doesn’t even come close.

  1. Rationale – Fuel to the Fire (Single 2016)

His debut EP Fuel To The Fire,  won over the likes of Pharrell and Justin Timberlake and he’s on countless ‘Ones to Watch’ lists. This explains the case.

  1. Ray Blk (ft Stormzy) – My Hood (Durt Mini Album 2016)

This is the real south-east London. RAY BLK’s soaring bittersweet ode to it cuts both ways. Exhilarating – all chicken shops and sportswear and nights you’ll never forget – and then it turns, to babies having babies and police raiding you for your dinner. Then Stormzy pops up, telling us how “the woman in the Caribbean shop is always rude”.

  14.  Spring King – The Summer (Tell Me if You’d Like to 2016)

Spring King began as a solo project in 2012 of songwriter and producer Tarek Musa who sings and plays drums. He may also start collecting awards.

  1. Matt Corby – Wrong Man (Telluric 2016)

His debut album Telluric has been ten years in the making with six EPs keeping his fans at bay in the meantime. The album is out now and there is no longer any excuse not to nominate this man for a Mercury Award.

  1. The Lapelles – Seventeen (Seventeen Single)

Gary Watson, the frontman of rising Scottish band the Lapelles died after falling into the river Clyde in Glasgow. The singer was due to celebrate his 22nd birthday the day after the accident occurred. The second tragic entry on the list. Sometimes the best eulogy is simply to listen.

  1. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – I Need Never Get Old (Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats 2015 in US, 2016 in UK)

Perfect soul and RnB from Missouri. Released in the US in 2015, but so keen was I to include this that I have used the fact it was released in this coutry in 2016 as an excuse to include this track played in tribute to the ‘died too young’ members of the list.

Bonus tracks not on the list, but loved and will be played on the 29th.

Christine & The Queens – Tilted (Chaleur Humaine 2016)

Camp Claude – All This Space (Swimming Lessons 2016) 

Hour Two:

  1. Frances – Don’t Worry About Me (Don’t Worry About Me Single 2016)

In August 2014 she sang lead on “Fire May Save You” for the French music label Kitsuné. In July 2015 she released the EP “Grow” for Communion Records. Then in October 2015 she released the EP “Let it Out”.

In November 2015 she was shortlisted for the 2016 BRIT Awards: Critics’ Choice Award. In December 2015 she was nominated for the BBC Sound of 2016. Listen and learn why.

  1. Primal Scream – Where the Light Get In (ft Sky Ferreira) (Chaosmosis 2016)

Part of the Indie scene’s rock royalty.

Chaosmosis is the eleventh studio album by Scottish band Primal Scream. It was released on 18 March 2016 on the band’s First International label, through Ignition Records. The album’s lead single, “Where the Light Gets In”, was released on 1 February 2016 and features American singer Sky Ferreira. She and Bobby Gillespie have created a superb modern male/female duet with feeling.

Bonus track – not on the list

Kings of Leon – Waste a Moment (Walls 2016)

  1. Damien Jurado – Exit 353 (Visions of us on the land 2016

This guy is a virtual veteran with 11 albums prior to this behind him. This was its first single. I now have 11 albums to go out and buy.

Bonus track not on the list

Kaiser Chiefs – Hole in my Soul (Stay Together 2016)

Kaiser Chiefs released their newest album: Stay Together on the 7th October and it sounds exponentially, their best yet. This is brand new. Not on the list, but demands to be played.

  1. Radiohead – Burn the Witch (A Moon Shaped Pool 2016)

Originally written in 2000 Radiohead did not promote the album until the week before its release, when they released the singles “Burn the Witch” and “Daydreaming”. They didn’t need to. It was the fifth Radiohead album to be nominated for the Mercury Prize, and was nominated for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rock Song (for “Burn the Witch”) at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. It topped the charts everywhere, becoming Radiohead’s sixth number-one album in the UK and a bestseller on vinyl. It was certified gold in the UK on 24 June.

  1. The Coral – Miss Fortune (Distance Inbetween 2016)

‘Distance Inbetween’ is The Coral’s eighth full-length studio album by English indie rock band The Coral, their first for five years. This was a single. A brilliant return.

  1. St.Paul & the Broken Bones – I’ll Be Your Woman (Sea of Noise 2016)

Paul Janeway’s lyrics sifts through racial violence and political unrest, considering how it affects his intimate relationships and asking tough questions about how to respond as a compassionate person and a man of faith. Listen to this and you’ll understand why the Rolling Stones regularly turn up to their gigs.

  1. Laura Mvula – Overcome (The Dreaming Room 2016)

In January 2016, Mvula released “Overcome”, a collaboration with Nile Rodgers, and the lead single from The Dreaming Room. She also launched the #SheWill campaign, aimed at breaking down the barriers that prevent millions of girls worldwide from attending school. That’s the way to start a year.

  1. Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man in a White World (Love and Hate 2016)

Another Communion Records signing. He has been compared to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Randy Newman, Terry Callier, and Otis Redding, as well as Van Morrison and the Temptations. In the future they may be compared to him.

  1. Gregory Porter – Take Me to the Alley (Take Me to the Alley 2016)

Porter’s fourth album, Take Me to the Alley, was released on 6 May 2016. This is the title track. He imagines God returning to earth and spending his time in alleys and ghettoes. Down to earth and celestial all at once.

  1. The xx – On Hold (I See You 2016)

In 2010, the band won the Mercury Prize for its debut album. Their second album, Coexist, was released on 10 September 2012. The band’s third studio album, I See You, will be released on 13 January 2017. Jamie and the band quite simply never release a record that is anything less than sublime. They make it look easy. It isn’t.

This list formed the basis of a radio show on http://www.seahavenfm.com hosted by me on the 29th December 2016:

The two hours can be listened to here:

Star Formation: Mike Kerr of Royal Blood

Royal-Blood[1]

Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood with Jimmy Page

Stars form when the right amount of dust and gas coalesce due to gravitational pull. Within the star nuclear reactions continue to release energy to keep the star hot. Just before the star bursts into existence all these forces are working together at their optimum strength.

It’s a sultry early Autumn day and the leaves on the trees are beginning to feel a little restless. The greens are transmuting to the first hints of yellow. The sun is high in the sky and the wind is thinking about migrating from north to east. I’m in my car parked in a road near the eastern entrance to Worthing where suburban folk mow lawns and shape hedges to fit whatever sits behind their frontal consciousness. Up the road is an ordinary secondary school that doesn’t quite realise yet that it will become famous soon, mentioned in Wikipedia, visited by pilgrims, worn as a badge by generations of students to come. At the other end of the road is a pub, deadly quiet at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, unaware that it will become the third or fourth point on the tours that will sprout up in this very ordinary part of West Sussex, England.

Mike Kerr in Brighton

Mike Kerr in Brighton

I’m parked outside Mike Kerr’s house, or more accurately, his parent’s house, waiting for Mike to arrive, ready to drive him across Sussex to radio studios where we will conduct the only radio interview in the week when his band’s album has gone to Number One in the official UK charts, with 66,000 sales in six days. Noel Gallagher’s ‘High Flying Birds’ album four years ago was the last rock album to sell as many. Later in the interview we would joke about Mike and Noel leaning against the bar and comparing album sales, we would joke about Mike getting Dave Grohl wrapped in a box for Christmas.

Half a decade ago I’m in the Thomas a Becket pub in Worthing watching a band comprising four  kids who were at school with my son and who I had known since they were eleven years old deliver an electrifying venom-filled punk set with their leader and songwriter George McCanna delivering invective disguised as rock lyrics about the pointlessness of suburban life. Flavour Country with George, Joe Dennis, Toby Lancaster and a young, bespectacled geeky guy called Mike Kerr on keys and bass were a ferocious blast of teenage aggression, bemusing the pocket of regulars leaning at the bar.

Hunting The Minotaur

Hunting the Minotaur – Mike Kerr (2nd left)

A little later I’m in the Cricketers in Broadwater, Worthing. My marriage has fallen apart and my only solace is the music. I’m nursing a pint of Harveys, the only beer you should drink in Sussex, when the young keyboardist in the band that had morphed from Flavour Country into Hunting the Minotaur gets up and sings with a guitar. I didn’t know he sang, and it was good. The dust and the gas were forming, the atoms splitting.

The taxi pulls up and out rolls Mike and his old friend from school, Nat Clark. They had been in a pub and Mike needs to go in the house and have a leak. Nat sits in the car. “Well, I say”, “what do you make of all this?” “Mad” he replies. Mike studied catering at Northbrook College and has been working when he’s been working as a trainee chef amongst other things. This week the job description changed to actual, real, bona fide rock star.

Mike, Nat, Roy in studio

Mike, Nat Clark & Roy in the studio

Yes, he and Royal Blood duettist, drummer and mate, Ben Thatcher have appeared at Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, and Finsbury Park with the Arctic Monkeys. They have appeared on Later with Jools Holland when Neil Finn put the thumbs up on camera at the end of their explosive performance of ‘Little Monster’. Matt Helders of the Arctic Monkeys wore a T-shirt hurriedly created for him when they headlined at Glastonbury. At that point Royal Blood hardly existed.  The NME and Kerrang and Q started calling them the future of Rock ‘n Roll. But until this week they did not have a Number One album.

I had Mike’s phone number on my mobile. My son Callum, a mate of Mike’s had forwarded it. I texted Mike and asked for an interview. The old respect between young musician and someone who has run radio stations and labels kicked in. Against the advice of his management, label and press office, he agreed to meet up.

Mike Kerr & Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood

Mike Kerr & Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood

Earlier that day at 7am I had driven over to Seaford to load the computer play out system at Seahaven FM with the Royal Blood album in its majestic entirety, some historic and very rare Flavour Country/Hunting the Minotaur tracks and a selection of music that Mike had referenced in interviews and some other stuff I just knew he liked. ‘I know him’ I thought.

We are in the car driving though the South Downs on the way to Seaford. Mike’s phone rings. It’s George McCanna, his  old compadre in Flavour Country/Hunting the Minotaur. He’s heard that Mike is back from touring for a couple of days before flying to Paris for the next leg of the tour. They arrange to meet later.

Mike tells me that he learned to sing in Joe Dennis’s living room, practising and remembering some of the tricks that George used to deploy. I can hear George in one or two of the higher register yowling vocal breaks. The neutrons start to split and re-connect. The forces are forming like a large dark cloud on the horizon. I realise that this will be the last car journey like this. Ordinary and relaxed, three people laughing and joking on the way to another Sussex town.

Mike Kerr of Royal Blood & Roy Stannard

Mike Kerr, Royal Blood and Roy

Mike’s mobile is very private. There are no press interruptions even though everyone wants to talk to him. He has grown charisma, the star quality sets like a interplannetary aura around him. The old spectacles have gone, the hair is wild but fashionable, the leather rocker jacket stylised and perfect for the music, the speech more considered, the gaps between questions and answers long enough to create a sense of importance. With a jolt I realise that he does now look like a young Marlon Brando.

We arrive at the studios. Seahaven FM is a small independently run and financed radio station. A community station where no-one is paid, even the fulltime Director, Nick Mallinson, who does what he does for the love of it. These stations occupy the space that the old pirate stations used to before they went dance obsessed. Enthusiasts gather around the microphone to deliver their eccentric, passionate, obsessive love of music in all its colours and genres for the pleasure of other obsessives.

Royal Blood (IndependentT

Ben Thatcher & Mike Kerr of Royal Blood

There are 250 and rising of these stations in the UK. They attract over 1 million listeners a week. Who? People interested in their community, the travel and the traffic, the micro climates of weather, gossip and what’s on. Seahaven FM on 96.3 in Seaford, Peacehaven and Newhaven and on www.seaheavenfm.com is one of the better ones. David Scott, erstwhile of Southern FM and other commercial stations, now retired, occupies the Breakfast slot. The local MP Norman Baker has a show called ‘Anything Goes’, and anything does, musically. There are world music shows, rock n roll shows, jazz shows and I play whatever I like on my Thursday 7-9pm slot because I’ve been listening and working with music for the best part of 40 years and I’ve paid my dues.

I re-arrange the songs on the playlist to suit Mike Kerr’s mood and taste. Unaccountably, I feel nervous. The boy I knew has grown into a man, a star has formed. He has ‘people’ who look after him, but today he has climbed under the fence and escaped. He is off line, off circuit. He can say what he likes and so can I.

The next two hours fly by. I cover all the obvious questions that you can read in all the press interviews, but we also go a little deeper, the prodigiously talented George McCanna is mentioned and honoured. Mike’s Mum, Angie and Dad, Bob, who I have known for years are thanked. His school friends Joe, Toby, Alex and my own son Callum are referenced with love and respect. All musical talents in their own right. We play adrenalin-pumped rock and roll, we nod back to Led Zeppelin, and nod forward to Drenge who have left the ‘F’ word at the end of their track ‘Blood Sport’ and which, having heard it go out live, I have to go back and edit out on the recording. The Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Muse, Queens of the Stone Age, The Raconteurs, Them Crooked Vultures also feature. Musical signposts rather than antecedents, combined with the Royal Blood album it’s a rock ‘n roll show that Peel, Walker, Lamacq and the others would have all revelled in.

At the end, we all feel good about what has happened. In this week of all weeks, it’s good to mark the passage of time, to pay respect to the people who have helped along the way. This may be the last time Mike Kerr gets to be the local boy from Worthing chatting about music with his mates.

I drive him and Nat back to Worthing. It’s been a blast. We say goodbye outside a pub. He walks in and Ye Olde House at Home in Broadwater, Worthing joins the ranks of the immortals.

The particles collide. The light explodes. Mike walks through a doorway and the star forms.

From now on we will all have to watch it from a distance.

© Roy Stannard 6.9.14

The interview and track by track discussion of the Royal Blood album along with all the tracks can be heard on Mixcloud/roystannard:

Hour One:

http://www.mixcloud.com/roystannard/tw9y-4914-hour-1-royal-blood-special-with-mike-kerr-and-roy-stannard-on-wwwseahavenfmcom/

Hour Two:

http://www.mixcloud.com/roystannard/tw9y-4914-hour-2-royal-blood-special-with-mike-kerr-and-roy-stannard-on-wwwseahavenfmcom/

 

 

 

 

Roy Stannard’s Top 150 Albums of all time

Grace  by Jeff Buckley - Arguably, the best album of all time.
Grace by Jeff Buckley – Arguably, the best album of all time.

OK you asked for it.

I don’t expect you to agree with me, but here they are – some of the best music ever produced on the windblown terraces of God’s own earth – Roy Stannard’s Top 150 Albums of all time.

1.          Jeff Buckley: Grace

2.          Van Morrison: Astral Weeks

3.          Carole King: Tapestry

4.          Led Zeppelin: II

5.          The Beatles: Revolver

6.          Jimi Hendrix: Electric Ladyland

7.          The Stone Roses: The Stone Roses

8.          Radiohead: OK Computer

9.          Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers

10.        The Doors: The Doors

11.        Radiohead: The Bends

12.        Massive Attack: Blue Lines

13.        Patti Smith: Horses

14.        U2: The Joshua Tree

15.        The Beatles: The White Album

16.        The Smiths: The Smiths

17.        The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico

18.        John Lennon: Imagine

19.        Bob Marley: Exodus

20.        The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

21.        The Clash: London Calling

22.        Steve Wonder: Songs in the key of life

23.        Simon & Garfunkel: Bridge over troubled waters

24.        Led Zeppelin: IV

25.        The Beatles: Abbey Road

26.        Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde

27.        Beach Boys: Pet Sounds

28.        Neil Young: After the Gold Rush

29.        Nirvana: Nevermind

30.        Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run

31.        Pink Floyd: Dark side of the moon

32.        Joni Mitchell: Blue

33.        Frank Sinatra: Songs for swingin’ lovers

34.        Love: Forever Changes

35.        Television: Marquee Moon

36.        John Coltrane: A love supreme

37.        Marvin Gaye: What’s going on

38.        Lou Reed: Transformer

39.        Bob Dylan: Highway 51 revisited

40.        The Who: Who’s Next

41.        Joy Division: Unknown Pleasures

42.        The Band: Music from Big Pink

43.        The Veils: The Runaway Found

44.        Nitin Sawney: Human

45.        Rod Stewart: Every picture tells a story

46.        The Aloof: Sinking

47.        Roy Buchanan: Roy Buchanan

48.        My Bloody Valentine: Loveless

49.        Oasis: Definitely Maybe

50.        Fleet Foxes: Fleet Foxes

51.        Sex Pistols: Never mind the bollocks

52.        The Rolling Stones: Let it bleed

53.        Muse: Origins of Symmetry

54.        The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street

55.        David Bowie: Hunky Dory

56.        Talk Talk – Spirit of Eden

57.        Jimi Hendrix: Are you experienced?

58.        REM: Automatic for the people

59.        John Martyn: Solid Air

60.        The Jam: Sound Effects

61.        Manic Street Preachers: Everything must go

62.        Mercury Rev: Deserters Songs

63.        Amy Winehouse: Back to Black

64.        Otis Redding: Otis Blue

65.        New Order: Power, Corruption & Lies

66.        Bjork: Debut

67.        The Killers: Hot Fuss

68.        Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet

69.        Elvis Costello: My aim is true

70.        The Arcade Fire: Funeral

71.        The Verve: Urban Hymns

72.        Elbow: The seldom seen kid

73.        The Sound: From the lions mouth

74.        Crosby Stills & Nash: Crosby Stills & Nash

75.        British Sea Power: Do you like rock music?

76.        Echo & the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain

77.        Tim Hardin: Hang onto a dream

78.        Mew: Frenger

79.        Muse: Black Holes and Revelations

80.        Bob Dylan: Blood on the tracks

81.        Sigur Rós – Ágætis byrjun

82.        Teenage Fan Club: Grand Prix

83.        David Sylvian: Secrets of the Beehive

84.        The Dears: No Cities Left

85.        Doves: Lost Souls

86.        Young Disciples: Road to Freedom

87.        Adorable: Against Perfection

88.        A Tribe Called Quest: The low end theory

89.        Chicago: Chicago I

90.        Shack: HMS Fable

91.        Bloc Party: Silent Alarm

92.        Burning Spear: Marcus Garvey

93.        Specials: Specials

94.        James Taylor: Sweet Baby James

95.        Youssou N’dour: The Lion

96.        Elvis Costello: This years model

97.        The Ramones: Ramones

98.        Santana: Santana

99.        The Blue Nile: A walk across the rooftops

100.      PJ Harvey: Stories from the City, Stories for the sea 

101.      Sonic Youth Daydream Nation

102.      Neil Young: American stars ‘n bars

103.      Wilco: Being there

104.      The Bible: Graceland

105.      Glasvegas: Glasvegas

106.      America: America

107.      Cream: Fresh Cream

108.      The The: Soul  Mining

109.      Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis

110.      Beverley Knight: Who I am

111.      Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left

112.      Lamb: Lamb

113.      Ash: 1977

114.      Coldplay: A rush of blood to the head

115.      Suicide: Suicide

116.      Underworld: Dubnobasswithmyheadman

117.      Lindisfarne: Fog on the Tyne

118.      Jellyfish: Bellybutton

119.      Easyworld: Kill the last romantic

120.      Leftfield: Leftism

121.      Deacon Blue: Raintown

122.      Pulp: Different Class

123.      Tracey Thorn: A distant shore

124.      Stereolab: Emperor Tomato Ketchup

125.      The Lemon Trees: Open Book

126.      I am Kloot: Play Moulah Rouge

127.      Wire Train: Ten women

128.      The Silencers: Letter from St Paul

129.      Fleetwood Mac: Rumours

130.      David Bowie: The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

131.      The Band: The Band

132.      Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul

133.      Stevie Wonder: Talking Book

134.      Sly & the Family Stone: There’s a riot goin’ on

135.      Cream: Disraeli Gears

136.      Janis Joplin: Pearl

137.      The Stooges: Raw Power

138.      Joy Division: Closer

139.      Elton John: Yellow Brick Road

140.      Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman

141.      The Smiths: The Queen is Dead

142.      Blood, Sweat & Tears: Child is father to the man

143.      Al Green: I’m still in love with you

144.      The Smiths: Meat is murder

145.      The Police: Ghost in the machine

146.      Dire Straits: Brothers in arms

147.      Mott the Hoople: Mott

148.      Miles Davis: Bitches Brew

149.      The Cure: Boys don’t cry

150.      ABC: The Lexicon of Love