THIS blog revels in its traditions, even it they are only a few years old.
And possibly top of that list is the New Year’s Day reflective post and its accompanying look back on the best of the previous year’s musical offerings – both of which will almost certainly not be posted until well after January 1.
Bucked that trend a little this year by publishing the new year address on the intended date, but the music one has had to wait a bit – partly down to a hectic few weeks on the road in South America, partly due to no power in the laptop and, to be honest, it is hot here and it all seemed like a lot of work.
Better late than never, here is an abridged version of the Travel Marmot Best of 2019 – let’s split the difference between the two posts and they are round about the right time.
It has all been a bit different this year, partly due to circumstances – been on the road for the last few months, so not had complete access to new releases or the traditional end-of-year trawl through the lists elsewhere.
Working on that, so the list at the end may earn a spot in the higher echelons or vanish without trace. Or get ignored once the new Drive-By Truckers album comes out.
And my music buying (well, downloading) was a bit different with a change of iPod leading to an increased used of Apple Music and the chance to fill in some older gaps in the collection.
It has also been a bit different music wise.
Last year’s list had a fair amount jingly-jangly guitars and female singer-songwriters (one of whom features again), but this year the top spots are taken by what John Peel described as “white boys with guitars”.
Or, to be more accurate, Irish boys with guitars.
Album of the Year: Dogrel – Fontaines DC
Not been this enthused by a new act for a while. Not everybody’s cup of tea – one person exposed to Hurricane Laughter on a playlist moaned about them shouting at her – but this is literate, passionate, powerful and catchy as any guitar music of the last few years.
And it’s just bloody good, Boys In The Better Land probably edging the song of the year title as well.
Don’t believe me? Six Music named it album of the year and come to trust them over the last few years.
And still jealous at someone seeing them twice in a week without me.
The Other Irish Album of the Year: When I Have Fears – The Murder Capital
Not as polished, not as convincing as their Irish counterparts, but there’s plenty of promise.
One friend who saw them at Swn Festival in Cardiff described it as being in at the start of something which feels important. He may be right.
Phoebe Bridgers Album of the Year: Better Oblivion Community Center
Two years ago it was her haunting solo debut Stranger in the Alps, last year it was her all-female supergroup Boygenius, this time Phoebe Bridgers makes the top end of the list with her side project with Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst.
Dylan Thomas was close to being song of the year and is the highlight of an album which has grown on me through some long days on the back of a truck.
Worth A Listen/Still Exploring
Shepherd In A Sheepskin Vest – Bill Callahan
Thrashing Through The Passion – The Hold Steady
Inferno – Robert Forster
i,i – Bon Iver
I Am Easy To Find – The National
Girl – Girl Ray
Ode To Joy – Wilco
The Talkies – Girl Band