Staff Picks: Jon Stickler


Power Trip – Nightmare Logic
​Mastodon – Emperor of Sand
The Menzingers – After The Party
Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms
Grave Pleasures – Motherblood​
Ghost – Ceremony and Devotion
The Bronx – V
Stray From The Path – Only Death Is Real
Code Orange – Forever
Havok – Conformicide
Kreator – Gods of Violence
Employed To Serve – The Warmth of a Dying Sun
Hyborian – Vol. 1
Royal Thunder – Wick
Beastmaker – Inside The Skull
Body Count – Bloodlust
Prophets of Rage – Prophets of Rage
The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
​Chris Stapleton – From a Room (Vol. 1)
Greta Van Fleet – ​From The Fires


​Power Trip – Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)


​Metallica at the Genting Arena, Birmingham​
Ghost at ​the Great Hall, Cardiff University
Guns N’ Roses at London Stadium
​Skindred at Bloodstock Festival
Gojira, Code Orange, Car Bomb at the O2 Academy Bristol
Grave Pleasures at the Exchange, Bristol
Venom Prison at Thekla, Bristol
Stray From The Path at the Globe, Cardiff
​Creeper at the Tramshed, Cardiff
Avenged Sevenfold at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff​


New Ghost
New Papa
New Black Moth
Menzingers live
​Trivium, Code Orange, Power Trip and Venom Prison live
New Clutch
New Monster Magnet
New Machine Head
Machine Head live
New Judas Priest
Judas Priest at Bloodstock
GNR at Download
Ozzy at Download
​Blazing sunshine at Steelhouse
Roger Waters live
New Orange Goblin
New Mammoth Grinder
New Black Moth
New Turnstile​
League Of Gentlemen
Walking With Dinosaurs
Infinity War
Bluebirds in the Premiership

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Staff Picks: Huw Baines

Hello. My favourite thing about end of year lists is finding stuff that I missed out on the first time around. In that spirit, here’s a massive stack of records I enjoyed this year (and some wibble that I wrote about some of them) in no particular order.

I hope that this time next year my list will consist of a single album by Dillinger Four.

  • The Menzingers – After The Party [Listen] [Read]
  • Open City – Open City [Listen]
  • The New Lows – All Our Roads [Listen]
  • Priests – Nothing Feels Natural [Listen]
  • Craig Finn – We All Want The Same Things [Listen] [Read]
  • Lorde – Melodrama [Listen]
  • Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs – Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs [Listen]
  • Vacation – Southern Grass: The Continuation of Rock ‘n’ Roll Vol 1 & 2 [Listen]
  • Propagandhi – Victory Lap [Listen] [Read]
  • Worriers – Survival Pop [Listen] [Read]
  • Upper Wilds – Guitar Module 2017 [Listen]
  • Katie Von Schleicher – Shitty Hits [Listen] [Read]
  • AFI – The Blood Album [Listen]
  • Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory [Listen]
  • Daddy Issues – Deep Dream [Listen]
  • The Hold Steady – Entitlement Crew b​/​w A Snake In The Shower [Listen]
  • The Smith Street Band – More Scared of You Than You Are of Me [Listen] [Read]
  • Cayetana – New Kind of Normal [Listen]
  • SZA – CTRL [Listen]
  • Direct Hit/Pears – Human Movement [Listen]
  • The Dopamines – Tales of Interest [Listen]
  • Mobina Galore – Feeling Disconnected [Listen]
  • Crusades – This is a Sickness and Sickness Will End [Listen]
  • The Lillingtons – Stella Sapiente [Listen]
  • Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure [Listen]
  • The Eradicator – The Eradicator [Listen]
  • Starter Jackets – Preferred Stock 7” [Listen]
  • Pillow Queens – Calm Girls 7” [Listen] [Read]
  • Radiator Hospital – Play The Songs You Like [Listen]
  • Torres – Three Futures [Listen]
  • Japanese Breakfast – Soft Sounds From Another Planet [Listen]
  • Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm [Listen]
  • Sheer Mag – Need To Feel Your Love [Listen]
  • Perfume Genius – No Shape [Listen]
  • Thunder Dreamer – Capture [Listen]
  • Charly Bliss – Guppy [Listen] [Read]
  • Allison Crutchfield – Tourist in This Town [Listen]
  • Wax Bottles – Wax Bottles [Listen]
  • Algiers – The Underside of Power [Listen] [Read]
  • Kendrick Lamar – DAMN [Listen]
  • Big Thief – Capacity [Listen]
  • Princess Nokia – 1992 Deluxe [Listen]
  • White Reaper – The World’s Best American Band [Listen]
  • Onsind – We Wilt, We Bloom [Listen]
  • Alvvays – Antisocialites [Listen]
  • Great Grandpa – Plastic Cough [Listen]
  • The Flatliners – Inviting Light [Listen] [Read]
  • Converge – The Dusk in Us [Listen]
  • Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights [Listen] [Read]
  • The Bronx – V [Listen] [Read]
  • Capitalist Kids – Brand Damage [Listen]
  • Katie Ellen – Cowgirl Blues [Listen]
  • Jessie Ware – Glasshouse [Listen]
  • Caves – Always Why [Listen]
  • The Preatures – Girlhood [Listen] [Read]
  • Girl Ray – Earl Grey [Listen] [Read]
  • Creeper – Eternity, In Your Arms [Listen]
  • The National – Sleep Well, Beast [Listen]
  • Makthaverskan – III [Listen]
  • Wolf Parade – Cry Cry Cry [Listen]
  • A Giant Dog  -Toy [Listen]
  • The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding [Listen]
  • The Yawpers – Boy in a Well [Listen]
  • Feist – Pleasure [Listen]
  • The New Pornographers – Whiteout Conditions [Listen]
  • Aimee Mann – Mental Illness [Listen]
  • Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me [Listen]
  • Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Navigator [Listen]
  • The Shins – Heartworms [Listen]
  • Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone [Listen]
  • Career Suicide – Machine Response [Listen]
  • Tim Darcy – Saturday Night [Listen]
  • Telethon – The Grand Spontanean [Listen]
  • Future Virgins – Dirty Smiles 7″ Anthology [Listen]
  • Needles // Pins – Good Night, Tomorrow [Listen]
  • Lemuria – Recreational Hate [Listen]

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Staff Picks: Helen Payne



As I reminisce on the gigs I’ve been to throughout the year, a sudden realisation washes over me after a painful, head-scratching 10 minutes. Disappointingly, I can only count a meagre seven, in addition to two day-long festivals and one weekend festival. That’s a hugely unsatisfactory effort on my part, and I blame this entirely on being forced to spend my final uni days moping around a library, struggling through essays on existentialism and a dissertation on music and mental health (well, should’ve been – I actually spent most of my final year bingeing on Fargo and pretending Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was “research”). For this reason, alongside the fact that Exeter’s Cavern had been largely destroyed in a fire, I didn’t go to anywhere near as many as I wanted to. The shameful list of shows I actually attended in 2017 goes as follows, in chronological order:

  • Fickle Friends @ Exeter Phoenix (Attended at the suggestion of a friend. Even after several G&Ts, it was distinctly average, with the weirdest support act I have ever laid eyes on.)
  • Bear’s Den @ Exeter Lemon Grove (Amazing.)
  • Redfaces @ Exeter Phoenix (My band were the support act. They’re actually getting pretty big now, and all of them were absolutely lovely. My four friends were the only audience members.)
  • Laura Marling @ Exeter Lemon Grove (Last minute press pass. Beautiful.)
  • Exefest @ Exeter University (Cascada, The Hoosiers, Wheatus… we left promptly after Example started a DJ set.)
  • Poltimore Festival @ Poltimore House (An adorable local grassroots festival that gets bigger and better every year – Matthew and The Atlas headlined.)
  • Isle of Wight Festival (Attended solely for Arcade Fire, who did not disappoint. Also featured the inimitable and fascinating Rod Stewart.)
  • The National @ London Eventim Apollo (Battled with the flu to drive from Cardiff to London and back, almost didn’t make it through. Finished the night with Lemsip and a headache. So rock and roll.)
  • This Is The Kit @ Cardiff Globe (Birthday. Sent from heavenly folky Bristol Gods.)
  • Mutation @ Cardiff Globe (Really fun night with Laura, worst hangover I’ve had for years. I don’t think I fit into the raging metal vibe very well.)

Best Gig

Looking back, the show that sticks with me the most (in a self-aware attempt to shift my attention away from the National) has to be Bear’s Den, as one of the most intimate, special moments I can remember from the year – and probably at any gig I’ve ever been to. The end of their set saw the bespectacled, bearded fellows huddle in the middle of the crowd, playing an entirely unplugged performance of a track from their debut album, ‘Bad Blood’. It would’ve been rude to whisper during such a breathtaking, intimate and profound moment such as this, and I was absolutely blown away.


Most of my favourite music this year stemmed from getting my first real-life-full-time-actual-adult-job here at Stereoboard, which somehow, miraculously for me, involves spending all day writing about and discovering new bands, while listening to BBC 6 Music in the background all day. In doing so, I’ve stumbled across some amazing things. Here are just some of them.

  • Sampha – ‘Process’
  • Nadine Shah – ‘Holiday Destination’
  • Alex Lahey – ‘Love You Like A Brother’
  • Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – ‘Lotta Sea Lice’
  • The War on Drugs – ‘A Deeper Understanding’
  • Grizzly Bear – ‘Painted Ruins’

Since being here, I’ve also done a handful of reviews of varying opinions – one astounding, one fine, and one I didn’t like at all.

Best Album

The National – ‘Sleep Well Beast’

The National are one of my favourite bands, and their latest record only skyrocketed this opinion further. It is triumphant, having reached number one status in the UK and received a Grammy nomination, and holds nothing back with a one-two punch of daring guitar solos by the Dessner brothers and Matt Berninger screaming his face off to Turtleneck, then hitting home with that graceful lyricism, gorgeous instrumentation and a style of storytelling that never ceases to amaze me on some of the softer songs. Each record sees the band develop further, honing their craft to perfection, and ‘Sleep Well Beast’ is no different.


Campaign I Have Eternally Mixed Feelings About And Need To Voice (But Ultimately Dislike)

Arcade Fire – ‘Everything Now’

‘Everything Now’ is a particularly on the nose, self-aware critical commentary. Everything is monetised, capitalism is bad, massive corporations bring emptiness to everyone’s lives, and the current culture of immediate gratification will be the ruin of us all. Fine. This isn’t groundbreaking territory though – for years people have dissected and critiqued the way we live our lives through screens and massive corporations. So why make the point? And why make it in such an extravagant fashion?

Arcade Fire are not the type of band to create a fictional company to take over their marketing strategy, a fictional social media co-ordinator (who, when it all went to shit, released a fictional statement about taking his fiction too far, and got sacked from his fictional role), ridiculous, diva-esque demands and strict dress codes to their shows. On the flip side, it’s impossible to know whether any of these things hold any truth (#FakeNews), or if everything was calculated to go down as it did. The whole thing is bizarre, and it’s not the same band who wrote ‘Funeral’ or ‘Neon Bible’, which, incidentally, make similar points more eloquently. I’m not convinced the lack of depth on the album can be excused by such an obvious, and frankly embarrassing, conceptual point.

Solo Debut

Mr Jukes – ‘God First’

Having recently re-listened to ‘So Long See you Tomorrow’, the final material from Bombay Bicycle Club before they parted ways on an indefinite hiatus, it’s clear to see the direction Jack Steadman, frontman, was desperate to go in, pulling the band towards sampling, more electronic sounds, and complex rhythms. On his solo (well, not so solo, given the number of collaborations including De La Soul, Horace Andy and Lianne La Havas to name a few) debut ‘God First’, Steadman takes the listener on a journey through modern jazz styles, old school RnB samples and breakbeats to meld genres into one awesome listening quest.

Musicians Doing Cute Non Musician Things

Orlando Weeks – ‘The Gritterman’

After announcing the end of bill-topping indie band The Maccabees (RIP) with huge farewell performances this summer, it is refreshing to see frontman Orlando Weeks injecting some adorable goodness into the world. His latest project, The Gritterman, is a children’s book-come-album-come-live-show about an ice cream man whose big dream is to help his community during the winter months by gritting the roads. Wholesome and heartwarming, perfect to get you in that Christmas spirit.

New Songs I Discovered and Can’t Stop Playing

  • Pip Blom – Babies Are A Lie
  • Hatchie – Sure
  • NARCS – Raus!
  • Allusondrugs – I’m Your Man
  • Weaves – #53
  • Alvvays – Not My Baby
  • This Is The Kit – Hotter Colder
  • Django Django – Tic Tac Toe
  • Manchester Orchestra – The Gold
  • Everything Everything – Night of the Long Knives
  • Esper Scout – Compass
  • Drahla – Form of Luxury


All in all, I leave 2017 with a desperate need to see more gigs, a desire to increase my band t shirt collection and with a heavy heart, as this has been an ultimately life changing year for me. What’s next?

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Staff Picks: Laura ‘Riot Goth’ Johnson

I’ve survived another year! In the process I’ve gained a few pounds and new friends, lost my voice after screeching along at numerous gigs and a shedload of money by spending way more than I should on fantastic records and merch.

It may be a sombre subject, but I didn’t feel I could reflect on the year without commenting on how I’ve been inspired by the strength of the victims who have stood up against their abusers within the music industry, and elsewhere, throughout this year, and many more prior. It is heartbreaking that we cannot go a day on Twitter without another instance surfacing, but I am glad that the true extent of the problem is finally beginning to be seen and challenged.

That being said, I refuse to let those awful humans detract from what has been an otherwise great year for new music. Check out what caused my ears to prick and heart to swell, Grinch-like, below.


Alex Lahey – ‘I Love You Like A Brother’

Beth Ditto – ‘Fake Sugar’

Bully – ‘Losing’

Diet Cig – ‘I Swear I’m Good At This’

Downtown Boys – ‘Cost Of Living’

Idles – ‘Brutalism’

Japandroids – ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’

Kamikaze Girls – ‘Seafoam’

Sacred Paws – ‘Strike A Match’

Weaves – ‘Wide Open’

Worriers – ‘Survival Pop’


Beach Slang – The Exchange, Bristol – January 20

Petrol Girls – Le Pub, Newport – March 16

Idles – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff – April 5

Meat Wave – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff – April 24 (pictured at the top of the page)

Japandroids – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London – May 6

Kamikaze Girls (supporting Gnarwolves) – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff – May 17

HCBP (debut headline show) – The Moon, Cardiff – June 1

Sad13 – The Big Top, Cardiff – June 25

Ho99o9 (ArcTanGent Set) – Fernhill Farm, Compton Martin – August 18

HCBP (ArcTanGent Set) – Fernhill Farm, Compton Martin – August 19

Asphalt (Japan) – Le Public Space, Newport – August 28

Dead Arms/Twisted Ankle/ Eva Bartok/ Salt Bath – The Moon, Cardiff – September 15

Sacred Paws – Transport Club, Cardiff – September 22

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Bournemouth International Centre – September 24

Baby In Vain – The Moon, Cardiff – October 13

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – O2 Academy Bristol – December 1

Marilyn Manson – Newport Centre, Newport (Wales) – December 8

DIY Cardiff’s Third Birthday feat Apologies, I Have None/Kamikaze Girls/The Doublecross/Masts/Esuna- Cathays Community Centre, Cardiff – December 16


Yes Lad

Elephant Stone

Evil Triplet

Mr Irish Bastard

Bum Freak In Egypt

Exactly Violent Style

Rat In  A Bucket

Spunk Volcano and the Eruptors

Hello Moth

The Buttery Trio



Cocaine Piss

Mexican Chili Funeral Party

Drug Honky

Prosthetic Cunt

Corpsefucking Art


Henry Metal

Soul Enema

Terror Pigeon

Glory Hole Guillotine

Spiritual Bat

Teen Mortgage

Dildo’s Panda Fight

Bed Wettin Bad Boys


Torso Murder

Septic Flesh

Pile Of Priests

Cyanide Sundae

Infected Syren



Foetal Juice




SONG: First Aid Kit – You Are The Problem Here

TV: Big Mouth

PODCAST: My Brother, My Brother And Me – I don’t listen to nearly enough podcasts so feel free to send me recommendations!

MERCH: Kamikaze Girls’ ‘Nervous Millennials’ t-shirt and ‘I’m not your fucking sweetheart mate’ tote bag.

FOOD: Red’s Devil Wing BBQ Sauce

DRINK: Almond Butter Crunch Shake from Anna Loka in Cardiff

COMEBACK: Me: “Dad, when you die if we cremate you we can put your ashes into a vinyl record of your favourite song if you want? A band called Idles did it recently!”

Dad: “Are you joking? I don’t want to be going around in circles forever!”

**You can find Laura on Twitter and Instagram

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Staff Picks: Huw Baines

I’ve listened to a lot of records in the last 12 months, but there are two that have refused to wear out. After the year we’ve had, it’s perhaps not much of a surprise that they’re both fuelled by politics; one by the desire to highlight the day-to-day consequences of the racist, misogynistic, heteronormative, uber capitalist soup we swim in, the other by the need to take that anger and scream it in someone’s face. Also, given that it’s me doing the listening, it’s not a surprise that they’re both scrappy punk records heavy on the hooks.

They’re Martha’s ‘Blisters in the Pit of My Heart’ and the Lippies’ self-titled debut.

I caught on to Martha a bit late. I heard ‘Courting Strong’, their first LP, a few months after its release and it swiftly became one of my favourite albums. Ever, of all time etc. So, ‘Blisters…’ had a lot to live up to.  When Christine first came out (as part of Alcopop’s ‘Sensible Record Labels 2’ comp) I wondered aloud to the Twitter void if Martha were capable of writing a bad song. MJ, who produced ‘Blisters…’, replied that it wasn’t even in the top five on the record. He was right.

Once I had a copy of it in my grubby mitts, I listened to it straight through three times, marvelling at how the hits just kept coming. Over time, the specifics of each story – from anarchist detectives to precarious employment and soul-crushing Catholicism – became clearer, along with the intricacy of their harmonies. When I interviewed JC about it, we spent a good chunk of time talking about Paul Heaton’s ability to fuse social commentary with solid gold pop songs. Martha can do that, too. They’re a special band and I’m already looking forward to their next step.

Sadly, the opposite is true of the Lippies. Six weeks after putting out their full length bow they split. I never got to see them live, don’t own a physical copy of the record and due to my all-round tardiness didn’t write anything about them. Here’s to rectifying that bit here. The Lippies were the sort of punk band that played as though a single bolt might come loose with a second’s notice and send them crashing to the kerb. They had something of ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’-era Rancid about them. Every melody, every feminist lyric begged to be yelled along to. Tonia Broucek formed the band to get things off her chest and appropriately her vocal performance here was ridiculous. There are moments where her lungs should give out, but she won’t stop. I am gutted we won’t see what might have happened to the Lippies down the line, but I really love this record. That’s enough.

On top of all that, we should all agree that Mitski’s Your Best American Girl is the song of the year and just move on with our lives. Also, see below for a big old list (in no discernible order) of other stuff I’ve really liked and head here for bits I enjoyed reading/writing. See you in 2017.

  • The Falcon – Gather Up The Chaps
  • Sheer Mag – III EP
  • Jeff Rosenstock – WORRY
  • Cymbals Eat Guitars – Pretty Years
  • White Lung – Paradise
  • Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition
  • Touché Amoré – Stage Four
  • Solange – A Seat At The Table
  • Mitski – Puberty 2
  • A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
  • The Hotelier – Goodness
  • Chris Farren – Can’t Die
  • Super Unison – Auto
  • Planes Mistaken For Stars – Prey
  • Tegan and Sara – Love You To Death
  • Domo Genesis – Genesis
  • PUP – The Dream Is Over
  • Kevin Devine – Instigator
  • Margaret Glaspy – Emotions and Math
  • Joyce Manor – Cody
  • The Dirty Nil – Higher Power
  • Case/Lang/Veirs – Case/Lang/Veirs
  • Basia Bulat – Good Advice
  • Mikey Erg – Tentative Decisions
  • Mount Moriah – How To Dance
  • Andy Shauf – The Party
  • Big Eyes – Stake My Claim
  • Doe – Some Things Last Longer Than You
  • Tender Defender – Tender Defender
  • Slowcoaches – Nothing Gives
  • Swanning – Swanning EP
  • Cate Le Bon – Crab Day
  • The Thermals – We Disappear
  • Naked Hour – Always on the Weekend
  • Oathbreaker – Rheia
  • Angel Olsen – My Woman
  • Cayetana – Tired Eyes
  • Dead To Me – I Wanna Die in Los Angeles
  • Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate
  • Chance The Rapper – Coloring Book
  • John K. Samson – Winter Wheat
  • Beyoncé – Lemonade
  • AJJ – The Bible 2
  • Direct Hit! – Wasted Mind
  • PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project
  • Camp Cope – Camp Cope
  • Vince Staples – Prima Donna
  • La Bella – Ides
  • Japanese Breakfast – Psychopomp
  • Shura – Nothing’s Real
  • Happy Diving – Electric Soul Unity
  • Crying – Beyond The Fleeting Gales
  • Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan – Take It, It’s Yours
  • Tancred – Out Of The Garden
  • Wussy – Forever Sounds
  • Trust Fund – We Have Always Lived In The Harolds
  • Gouge Away – , Dies
  • Savages – Adore Life
  • Sad13 – Slugger

A look ahead to…

  • That Dillinger Four record has to come out at some point, right? Right?
  • Paint It Black in the UK.
  • New Menzingers. New Captain, We’re Sinking too, maybe.

Read More

Staff Picks: Jon Stickler


  • Airbourne – Breakin’ Outta Hell
  • Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake
  • Avenged Sevenfold – The Stage
  • Gojira – Magma
  • Metallica – Hardwired… To Self Destruct
  • Anthrax – For All Kings
  • Grand Magus – Sword Songs
  • Black Peaks – Statues
  • Crobot – Welcome to Fat City
  • Whiskey Myers – Mud

Best Song

  • Ghost – Square Hammer

Best Gigs

  • Airbourne, Y Plas at Cardiff University
  • Skindred at Download Festival
  • Terrorvision at Steelhouse Festival
  • Clutch, Great Hall at Cardiff University
  • The Sheepdogs, the Globe in Cardiff

Best of 2016

Spotify Release Radar, Metallica return, Avenged Sevenfold surprise release, Guns N’ Roses announce Not in this Lifetime tour, Ghost’s ‘Popestar’ EP, Creeper, Music Venue Trust’s Fightback, Lemmy’s statue at the Rainbow, Download festival, Steelhouse festival, Ed Force One lands at Cardiff Airport, Stranger Things, #TeamNegan, Westworld, Danny Dyer on Who Do You Think You Are, Green Room, Deadpool, The Magnificent Seven, Star Wars, Tim Peake, Wales at the Euros, the Warnock Effect.

Worst of 2016

Trump, Brexit, Bowie, Prince, Gene Wilder, Harambe, death everywhere, Brian Johnson steps down, goodbye Twisted Sister, venues closing, touts, Team Rock goes bust, Metal Hammer shuts down, Lemmy’s statue at the Rainbow, a year without Motörhead, Nick Jonas guitar solo, fuck Vodafone, Pokemon Go, hold the door, Glenn’s eyeball.

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Staff Picks: Ben Gallivan

This year has put me in mind of a sketch from ‘The Day Today’ where a swimming pool supervisor reels through the number of people that died during his employ, year by year. “In 2016, pretty much everyone died.”

I guess it’s mainly because everyone is a celebrity these days. Look on Wikipedia, and the number of notable people dying in each year has increased hugely recently, due to the fact that being notable is quite a common occurrence these days. But come on now…. Bowie and Prince? Two artists who, thanks to my parents having quite the excellent music collection, I grew up with and listened to on pretty much a daily basis (except for the times when my dad was going through another prog rock reminisce). Hell, even the recent loss of Pete Burns came as a shock.

Anyway, this is meant to be a celebration of all the good stuff that’s come out of 2016. My music buying has been somewhat slowed by forking out as much on my wedding as I would on music in five years, but there have been some excellent albums flying around from a wider selection of genres than I’d usually lend my ear to. I must be growing out of the music snobbery phase which has thus far lasted 20 years or so.

Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ would have made my top 10 regardless, although admittedly now that I know that he was dying while recording the album, it does make it a lot more poignant. The strain in his voice and the content should be expected from a man who gave 50 years of his life to his music, but I base my opinion on the fact that this is a strong set of songs, not because they are his last.

My biggest surprises of the year came from Lambchop and Underworld. The latter’s ‘Barbara, Barbara, We Face a Shining Future’ gained a disappointing, ill-researched two-star review from me when it first came out, but my word is it a grower and it’s ended up being my most played record of 2016. But that is coming under threat from Lambchop’s recent ‘FLOTUS’ LP which I simply can’t get enough of, despite the pretty much omnipresent use of the vocoder. Sprawling, 12-minute opener In Care Of 8675309 is definitely my song of the year.

There have been some excellent offerings from Welsh musicians this year and the two stand-outs entertain different ends of the psychedelic spectrum. HMS Morris’ ‘Interior Design’ and ‘Fforesteering’ by CaStLeS should be well backed for next year’s Welsh Music Prize. Right Hand Left Hand’s eponymous debut along with the 2015/16 winner Meilyr Jones’ ‘2013’ were definitely up there for me this year too.

Live performances of the year? Well, one of them was a criminally under-attended show featuring Emma Pollock and RM Hubbert back in May. They both worked on Emma’s amazing ‘In Search Of Harperfield’, released in January and which has been getting repeated plays and wearing out the needle on the record player ever since. Was also very impressed with The Irascibles (HUB Festival, August)– a psychobilly band containing a certain ex-Young Marble Giant.

Definitely a year of two halves.

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Staff Picks: Jennifer Geddes



  • Tilted – Christine and the Queens
  • Nobody Speak – DJ Shadow
  • When The Light Gets In – Primal Scream
  • Life Itself – Glass Animals
  • Wedding Singer – Modern Baseball
  • Pool Party – Julia Jacklin
  • Emotions and Math – Margaret Glaspy
  • Shut Up Kiss Me – Angel Olsen
  • Fill In The Blank – Car Seat Headrest
  • Black Man In A White World – Michael Kiwanuka
  • Silly Me – Yeasayer
  • Scattered Ashes – Minor Victories

New Acts

  • The Big Moon
  • Pumarosa
  • Girl Ray
  • Catholic Action
  • Bossy Love
  • Breathe In The Silence
  • Strong Asian Mothers
  • Raye


  • Fickle Friends
  • Appleseed Cast
  • Modern Baseball
  • Pinegrove
  • Pins
  • At The Drive In
  • Meilyr Jones
  • My Name Is Ian

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Staff Picks: Liam Turner


The 1975 – ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’

‘I Like It When You Sleep…’ is an overproduced, overwrought and overindulgent mishmash of a thing. So, just how Matt Healey and co. have managed to take such inauspicious ingredients and turn them into the musical equivalent of a moreish Eton mess is all the more mind boggling. Indie-pop has never had it quite so good.

Bon Iver – ‘22, A Million’

Cryptic and convoluted, Bon Iver’s third full-length release may have lacked appeal on paper. However, on ‘22, A Million’ mainman Justin Vernon does what he does best by distilling raw human emotion into a delicate, finely crafted musical experience. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what the bloody hell he’s on about, only that you feel what it is that he’s saying.

Conor Oberst – ‘Ruminations’

Featuring just a guitar, harmonica, piano and, of course, Oberst’s voice, ‘Ruminations’ is easily one of the most sparse records of 2016. Such minimalism completely works in the record’s favour, though, as we are truly able to focus on the carefully-woven tales of heartbreak and tragedy that Oberst so plaintively tells. Sometimes the simplest music really is the best.

Michael Kiwanuka – ‘Love & Hate’

From the epic grandiosity of opener Cold Little Heart, you know you’re in for a treat with Kiwanuka’s second full-length LP. The album certainly doesn’t hold back in terms of its scope, with pretty much everything but the kitchen sink thrown in. But rather than its scale, its Kiwanuka’s increasing ability to blend sentiment with soul that truly sets ‘Love & Hate’ apart.

David Bowie – ‘Blackstar’

A swansong like no other, ‘Blackstar’ is Bowie’s final gift to the world.The record represents the singer’s unparalleled ability to turn even the most lamentable of circumstances into something worth celebrating, while simultaneously bookending what is an incredibly vast and varied body of work. An artist in the true sense of the word.

Honourable mentions: Radiohead – ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, Teleman – ‘Brilliant Sanity’, Metronomy – ‘Summer 08’, Green Day – ‘Revolution Radio’, C Duncan – ‘The Midnight Sun’.


Francis and the Lights – Friends (feat. Bon Iver)

The 1975 – Somebody Else

Two Door Cinema Club – Bad Decisions

Warpaint – New Song

Christine and the Queens – Tilted

Honourable mentions: The xx – On Hold, VANT – PEACE & LOVE, Blossoms – Charlemagne, Mystery Jets – Bubblegum, Creeper – Suzanne

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Staff Picks: Alec Chillingworth

So 2016’s been a bit weird. The Misfits reformed, a reality star is set to be president of the US and loads of people got robbed playing Pokémon. I cut out dairy and egg and started shitting everywhere, I worked with children for a month and I thought moving all my belongings from Zone 6 to Zone 2 in London, on the tube, was a great idea. It wasn’t. But some brilliant albums came out and I saw some of the best live shows ever. So here you go.


The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation

Dillinger are going out on top, aren’t they? Jesus Christ. Literally not a second wasted here, the final two songs being the most surprising moments of this band’s entire career. See them live before it’s too late.

The Devin Townsend Project – Transcendence

Just Devin being Devin, innit? Grandiose, overblown and yet another slew of songs that’ll fit perfectly in the multi-instrumentalist’s setlist.

Gojira – Magma

A stylistic shift had Gojira turning up the groove and phasing out the speed. There’s still traces of death metal, it’s still the heaviest matter in the universe and now it’s ready for big stages.

Milk Teeth – Vile Child

The best 90s rock album that wasn’t released in the 90s. As if this is their debut.

Perturbator – The Uncanny Valley

Dance music for people who want to just hail Satan.

Venom Prison – Animus

An actual deathcore album – death metal mixed with hardcore, properly. The most pissed-off thing in 2016 apart from post-Trump Twitter.

Panic! At The Disco – Death Of A Bachelor

Frank Sinatra channelling Queen through a synthesiser and doing a premeditated backflip. Probably Panic!’s finest moment and, let’s face it, they’re gonna be dragging this through UK arenas soon.

Ihsahn – Arktis.

Brain-bending post-black metal with pop-ready melodies stapling it to the ears. Not as good as ‘After’ but still rather good.

Weezer – Weezer (The White Album)

Happiness wrapped up in ten songs. Best Weezer record since The Green Album.

Rotting Christ – Rituals

Got that one wrong, didn’t I? Gave it three stars first time round. That was foolish. This is fully ferocious.


letlive. – Underworld, London

Haven’t seen letlive. since Download Festival 2011. This was even better. Jason Butler’s a beast and this generation’s greatest frontman; a ridiculous stage presence with something to actually say.

The Dillinger Escape Plan – Old Blue Last, London

Just Dillinger.

Gojira – O2 Arena, London

Made Volbeat and Alter Bridge look like damp snot-rags. The best live band in metal.

Architects – Brixton Academy, London

Possibly the most powerful show Brixton Academy’s ever witnessed. A special moment for a special band.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Ricoh Arena, Coventry

First time seeing the Boss; he did Save My Love and it was beautiful. Saw him two days later and he was just as perfect but, y’know, first time and everything.


Everyone dying, Kings Of Leon releasing an album and not having enough money to see the reformed Misfits.

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