Friday, December 11, 2015


Hurrah! It's time to encourage to you spend your Christmas pressie money on lots of fabulous music by friends and acquaintances for your nearest and dearest. I know music seems like it's mostly for free, but you know what? IT ISN'T. Check my recommendations out and support musicians who have released albums in 2015:

1) Firefly Burning - Skeleton Hill

A beloved live act, made up of five extremely talented musical chums. They mix Kate Bush-esque songwriting, minimalist grooves, dark folk leanings and some bloody wondrous vocal harmonies. 'Everything about Skeleton Hill is fresh, original and often audacious... old and futuristic at the same time' **** MOJO

2) Sam Lee and Friends - A Fade in Time

One of the most awesome folk musicians in the UK and all-round folktastic guru, Sam has swiftly followed up his Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut with this, his second album. 'Blackbird' is sublime sort of gospel-folk.

Groovy, nasty, perplexing, wonky, fabulous rock-inflected jazz from a newish group, whose members include Polar Bear bassist Ruth Goller and Led Bib's ace sax player (and my Metamorphic compadre) Chris Williams. 

4) Micachu and the Shapes - Good Bad Happy Sad

Strange, oddly-shaped pop nuggets from Mica Levi and her crew. Sparse and unexpected stuff.

5) Lyre Ensemble - The Flood

Composer/performer Stef Conner helms this album which features her own voice alongside a reproduction of the WORLD'S OLDEST INSTRUMENT, the Lyre of Ur, some 4,500 years old. Stef has also recreated lyrcis based on Mesopotamian texts from the 4th century, and it's all sung in Sumerican and Babylonian. And sounds beautiful!

One of my favourite gigs of 2015 was seeing Emily and co at Cecil Sharp House for a gorgeous set that was both sweet and spiky, with dark lyricism and wit stitching old folk themes to new songs.

Exquisite singer-songwriting from David, with touches of Nick Drake in his delivery, though his songs are a little more wry than that. Blissful lyric writing and his low notes at the end of the final track slay me stone cold dead.

8) Klavikon - Klavikon

The recent project of out-there, piano-reinventing, improvising star Leon Michener, Klavikon mostly prepares a grand piano so that it sounds like techno. Electronic music but created live. At his most recent gig, the preparing included a hamster in a wheel.

9) Stick in the Wheel - From Here

New bold folk darlings (BBC Radio 2 Folk Award and fRoots award-winners this year) have managed to win over both indie music press and folk press with their unadorned, heart-on-sleeve folk re-imaginings. Gritty and lovely.

Well, it's not a Christmas list if I don't stick my own on the end. DOLLYman released our debut album this year, and there's all sorts of crazy nonsense on there, basically every style apart from the title (taken by a strange heckler of ours once). Plus a Dolly Parton medley.