Here’s what I listened to last year

Well, that’s 2008 done with. Bring on 2009, the year I (might) finish my PhD, the year Louisa does her finals and an exciting new chapter in our lives starts. So, as last year becomes a distant memory, here’s some pointless lists. 🙂

Best Gig – (probably) Pentangle, through in Glasgow. Had a  great trip through with Ali, a nice pizza, and I got to watch Danny Thompson play bass again.

Honourable Mentionthe Big Chill 2008

Best Gig that I played – that’s an easy one, the last Jazz Bar gig with Ali. Probably the best that I’ve played, and the best we’ve played together as a duo. Plus playing in the jazz bar is always a pleasure, and we’ve got a really good set just now (well, we *did* have a good set. Unfortunately, in classic AlKandAlC style, we seem to have forgotten how to play our songs!)

Best Album – err, I can’t really pick one. So here’s a short list of some that I liked:

  • James McMurtry – Just Us Kids: a collection of really good songs played really well
  • Portishead – Third: perfect, although not an easy listen.
  • Matthew Herbert Big Band – There’s Me and There’s You: only got this on Christmas, and only had time to listen to it once. But, I saw the band performing the album at the big chill, and I know it will easily make my list 🙂
  • E.S.T. – Leucocyte: I’ve blogged about how much I love this album elsewhere 🙂
  • Lizzy Parks – Raise the Roof: brilliant female jazz vocalist, produced by Nostalgia 77.

Honourable Mention – The Als and the Pussycats – Demo EP: ok, well, not really. But it was a good learning experience. For example, I now know that having a good producer is not enough. You really want somebody who’ll give is some senses of, well, for want of a better word, a sense of “sound.” The EP recording in Banana Row just kind of sounds like a demo EP. I guess it’s our fault for (a) trying to record too many tracks and (b) not making clear/discussing what sort of sound we wanted before hand. But, I have to say, the live tracks from the Ark the other night are way better.

Best Non-musical things of the year

  1. Moving into a lovely new flat with Louisa just in time for Christmas
  2. Getting good feedback from the reviewers for my 2nd journal paper. Hopefully I’ll get the revised version submitted by the end of the month. As this paper represents the core of my PhD, it’s a lot more important than …
  3. … my first publication (Clarke et al. 2008).
  4. Getting a bread machine for Chrismas.

From, here’s my top 20 for last year (this mainly takes into account what i listen to while at work, and it doesn’t count what I listen to on my mp3 player, if it did the list would be pretty different!)

  1. James McMurtry – not a lot of surprises here. If it had been last year, it probably would of been close between Richard Thompson or Porcupine Tree. As it is though, Just Us Kids is one of my favourite albums of last year, and I also got an older album, Where’d You Hide The Body. Every track on those two albums is a gem and, especially with Just Us Kids, they show a good range of happy, angry, sad, political songs, etc. And the Heartless Bastards are a truly awesome backing band: I’m really looking forward to seeing him play on his first tour outside the US in February.
  2. Alice Russell – this one is a little surprising, sure she had a new album out, although only in November, and I’m not quite as keen as I am on her previous one. but I guess I own a few albums by her now, so they all add up!
  3. Pink Floyd – another little suprise. I rediscovered Dark Side of the Moon a few months ago though and listened to it again quite a bit. Plus Echos: the Best of is usually close to hand.
  4. Portishead – 2008 was the year Portishead returned and released the brilliant Third. Which I listened to a lot (along with revisiting their earlier albums, and I noticed that Dummy is a lot weirder than I gave it credit for).
  5. PlantLife – this is what pop music should be like. Fun, daft, but pretty musical at the same time. Jack Splash ain’t afraid to do his own thing as far as producing goes. The new album, Time Traveller picks up where the previous one (from 2004! man, i’m getting old) left off and is filled with short quirky tracks. I guess having close to 20 tracks on an album is going to help you up the playlist charts!
  6. E.S.T. – on a more depressing note, Esbjörn Svensson died last year. 😦 He leaves behind a great body of work though, and with the release of the experimental Leucocyte, they secrue themselves a place in jazz history.
  7. John Martyn – not a lot to say here, I just like listening to his old albums. 🙂
  8. Radiohead – if I had started playing around with earlier then Radiohead would now doubt be a lot higher as I think In Rainbows is their best album since at least OK Computer (and possibly their best full stop). As it was, I was kind of done with it by the time I set my account up! But I’ve been meaning to load it back onto my mp3 player again so I can listen to it at work 🙂 Something to look forward to.
  9. Tunng – no excitement here, still listening to their first three albums, looking forward to the new one…
  10. King Crimson – ah, the mighty Crim. I wish I could find my copy of the last album they put out, The Power To Believe, as I haven’t heard it in ages. Anyway, a great band who’ve done a huge range of music.
  11. Gomez – I used to quite like Gomez years ago. Then kind of forgot about them. Then somebody mentioned them after one of my gigs, so I went and checked out their more recent albums to see what they’ve been up to. A nice surprise, some great little songs in there!
  12. Porcupine Tree – (probably) last year’s number 1! Down to 12! Well,  they didn’t release any new albums, and I didn’t buy any more of old ones. I will soon though! And Deadwing has been cemmented as one of my favourite albums. Fear the Blank Planet is awesome too.
  13. Tord Gustavsen TrioBeing There was a random ECM purchase (I pretty much love anything instrumental on the label so I buy “blind” of amazon now and then). Anyway, the band are a like a milder E.S.T., so they make great working music.
  14. Kylie AuldistJust Say was probably my “summer album” for last year. A really good soul album: a great singer backed by a  really tight band.

Ok, I’m bored of this game now. I think I need to go make some more coffee.

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