Whilst the world sits down at the end of another year to look back as well as look ahead into the world of new music Keith Goldhanger has been keeping us up to date on a monthly basis. Here is his personal review of 2019.
So it’s happened again then? The end of another year and another hard drive full of music we’ve recorded off the radio that we need to now separate into a ‘keep forever’ pile and ‘ones that are bound to come out in conversation years after we’d forgotten about’ pile. Not an easy task but I think one of us has just about managed to gather together enough of the good stuff to keep this years review at a sensible length. Of course, if anyone doesn’t think the following is conclusive enough then your own facebook pages will probably be able to guide you into another direction. Everyone makes lists, not everyone reads them but each one has it’s own merits. We all like different bands and we all like bands that our best friends may never have heard of however these monthly articles that come your way are often thrown together simply after a night out in a pub. These are the pubs (mostly in London) where we stand having paid little or no entry fee to watch individuals lift their own amps up onto the stage and fill our ears with music at least one of us will get excited enough about to want to tell as many people about on these pages. The idea is to point you all into the direction of where these places are and who these bands are. New bands don’t just turn up around the start of January, they turn up all year around, on any day of the week and on many occasions all you need is a travel card and a willingness to accept there may be a couple of bands you’ll never understand. These are the ones that might even give you a shout out whilst on stage in Oxford on a Saturday night whilst you’re 120 miles away choosing what other bands to go to see whilst avoiding the same venue that the same band will be performing in the next day.
January 2019 – The beginning of a third year of monthly articles under the banner of ‘Things we didn’t know….’ for Louder Than war and the pressure is on already. ‘Things …. January 2017‘ featured IDLES. ‘Things ….January 2018‘ featured SPORTS TEAM. ‘Things January 2019‘ featured DRY CLEANING. Not a band It’s expected we’ll see headline Alexandra Palace one day or maybe even The Forum but they’ve given us a couple of EP’s this year that if glued together would be a contender for album of the year. WILD CAT STRIKE‘s debut album Rhubarb Nostalgia would also be a contender for the top spot but that came out towards the end of 2018 so instead I’ll say this now that I regret not reviewing the debut HUSKY LOOPS debut album (which came out in October for any continuation freaks out there). You should hear it, it’s a fabulous messed up piece of music with little bits of hundreds of things we’ve heard before by a million different other bands but can’t work out where. Every idea is squeezed very tightly onto one album. Loads of Ideas that probably took years to compile and an album that’s still got a few more years left in it yet before one can even start to imagine how those songs got to end up like they have. Their show at Bermondsey Social Club in South London is one on a long list of favourite gigs of the year too. They need to do a show in a field after bedtime next summer if anyone’s paying attention to these things please. Album of the year for me was HUSKY LOOPS I don’t even speak English (WILLIAM DOYLE‘s Your Wilderness a close second). Make a note of this and give it a spin next time you get forty minutes to spare.
YOLA released the first big contender for tune of the year with Far Away Look, just to get beaten and not overtaken by anything else for the rest of the year when SCALPING (who wouldn’t raise any eyebrows if they were to play those big venues mentioned earlier) turned up for the first time with Chamber and then managed to play shows for the rest of the year at all times of the day (13.00hrs Liverpool Sound City, 01.00hrs – Brighton Great Escape and whatever time The Cure ended their set at Glastonbury). Each time they were loud, fresh, exciting and managed to get the feet of everyone in the room stamping hard. Whatever dizzy heights these Bristol boys manage to reach eventually it’s been an honour to have been in the same room as these in 2019. This happened so many times I’m refusing to count them. Listen to Chamber – then go and see them when you get the chance.
Of course this band came our way around the same time that The Prodigy’s Keith Flint left us as well as Steve from World Domination Enterprises which was also a month or so before we lost Her’s. One of us still listens to this duo’s music. Please don’t die out there people. I struggled a bit with the latter and don’t want that feeling to ever return, dying is not cool, don’t fucking do it OK.
January was the month SQUID, BLACK COUNTRY NEW ROAD and BLACK MIDI introduced themselves onto the stages we stand near, FAT WHITE FAMILY gave us a new tune from another new brilliant album, PLASTIC MERMAIDS started releasing more stuff in anticipation of their forthcoming (brilliant) debut album. So did WILLIAM DOYLE, LIFE, GRACE LIGHTMAN and HOT CHIP. We were anticipating a few more shows from AUDIOBOOKS after seeing them for the first time in the first month of the year but we only got one other chance – The Moth Club in Hackney in August (another fabulous venue in London’s East End that some of us are already labelling legendary) and along with PORRIDGE RADIO gave us a fabulous night out that can be placed on any lists of of favourite gigs we should be making.
February arrived and POM POKO from Norway gave us an incredible live show at The (Legendary) Shacklewell Arms, THE MURDER CAPITAL at the same venue was rammed to the rafters, ANNA CALVI left us breathless at The Camden Roundhouse, SURFBORT, AMYL & THE SNIFFERS and BAD BREEDING all crossed our paths this month and cleared our sinuses as we shivered walking down the street looking forward to the summer ahead. PARK HOTEL turned up again to break in our dancing shoes and HOTEL LUX (above pic) gave us the gloriously geezer heavy’ English Disease, a tune that needs hearing by everyone, especially really loud inside The (legendary) Old Blue Last if you every get the chance. FONTAINES DC managed to go from The Good Mixer in Camden Town on a Saturday night to The Forum in just twelve months helped enormously by the fabulous Dogrel album and GIRL BAND began making their presence felt again after a bit of a break (Interview here).
In March we saw FUR again, DRY CLEANING played a couple more times and VAMPIRE WEEKEND played a full show at Islington Town Hall at ten o’clock on a Saturday morning just before we all went on a massive march and to dance along to THE DIG IT SOUND SYSTEM through the streets of London. (There is also a going to a gig with Paul Weller story, but you’ll need to buy me a pint first but be warned that if it was really any good then i’d have told it here).
In April, THE BIG AND THE FAT played one of the shows of the year in a room with hardly any people in it (on a Saturday night too) and then split up.
Going in the opposite direction have been WHEN YOUNG who graced Readings Are You Listening? event and released a fabulous debut album. Highlight of the month has to be hearing the wonderfully talented JESSICA WINTER‘s Sleep Forever on the radio at last.
Once May arrived the world of music went mad again. Liverpool Sound city began with the previously unknown and still not seen again, FARADAY. OCTOBER DRIFT were declared the best band in the world for a few hours after seeing their breathless performance, WOOZE turned up again, THE CHEAP THRILLS played in a car park, SCALPING (of course), MOTHERHOOD from Canada, LOS WILDS (Spain), 50 HERTZ WHALE (Bratislavia), HOPE (Germany) LIFE (UK), SHAME (UK), HUSKY LOOPS (Italy), BENIN CITY (UK), POM POKO (Norway) and CONFIDENCE MAN (Australia) along with so many others we can’t remember anymore.
After a cup of tea and a slice of cake it was time for The Great Escape Festival in Brighton which turned out to be one of the best ever. FRIENDLY FIRES were brilliant on the beach in a tent celebrating our favourite radio show’s twentieth anniversary. Radio X (XFM as it began) has been home to John Kennedy’s Xposure show and one of us has now been tuning in for more years than John Peel was listened to. The same presenter was also responsible for dragging one of us into the Shacklewell Arms to see POM POKO who were so fabulous they had to be seen again in Brighton that weekend. SCALPING were ace of course, MARSICANS in a tiny pub were ace, THE RHYTHM METHOD (who’s debut album came out this month) singing Robbie Williams Angels were great and SNAPPED ANKLES who we learn during the year are OK if you only listen to them one song at a time with long gaps in between (and made pretend that underneath all the camouflage lives the band formerly known as THE B52’s ). There were more, loads more but being in two places at the same time is still a skill we haven’t yet managed to conquer this century.
Londons’ Victoria Park hosted ALL POINTS EAST Festival and it rained a bit, summer had arrived and we dried ourselves dancing once again to THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS, KATE TEMPEST and a very brilliant HOT CHIP on the first day we went. The following day (and this still reads well even when written down six months later) PREGOBLIN, DREAM WIFE, FAT WHITE FAMILY, ANNA CALVI, INTERPOL and THE STROKES had us well ready for the forthcoming festivals when we would take our tents. JARVIS COCKER in singing Running the World was quite a highlight that day too.
PLASTIC MERMAIDS released their debut album in May and YOLA played a fabulous show in Central London’s 100 Club. ZOONI , another new name to remember released a wonderful tune call Pany, yet another tune of the year.
There’s a Glastonbury review here but IDLES (Friday evening) along with HOT CHIP (Saturday night) on the Park stage need highlighting along with YOLA‘s cover version of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Michael Kiwanuka, Jungle, Kylie, Georgia, Slowthai, I could go on……)
Summer kicked in fully during June when SPECTOR played in the hottest room anyone has ever been in and STANDON CALLING FESTIVAL became yet another memorable event. WARMDUSCHER swept us off our feet, we fell in love with Your Light by THE BIG MOON, NILE ROGERS was incredible, IDLES of course played their second show in one day in two different festivals and FRIENDLY FIRES for the second time this year had us dancing again.
VISIONS FESTIVAL in East London began and ended with SCALPING, we found TALK SHOW, marvelled yet again at WOOZE and managed to squeeze a sneaky PLEASURE COMPLEX show during our lunch break as they released yet another fabulous tune to sit with everything else they’ve given us to date.
LIFE‘s debut album was by now a regular piece of music during our lives, yet another band that seem to be playing shows every night in whatever town they happen to be in and Reading gave us yet another festival with the debut of the DOWN AT THE ABBEY event. Another day out we’ll try to get to visit again in 2020.
September was another busy month. THE CLAQUE gave us a stunning debut with Hush and one of us got to see THE MURDER CAPITAL again as they entertained the wonderful folk of Ipswich during the town’s debut Sound City event (and again a week later in London).
The Loud Women organisation gave us a day out in North London where one of us fell in love with the wonderfully named GG ALLEN PARTRIDGE and then we went home to listen to PORRIDGE RADIO and SELF ESTEEM tracks instead of hanging around getting drunk on expensive ale.
The 2019 Mercury awards on the telly was the only decent thing on that big screen that hangs on the wall all year. BLACK MIDI were ace, ANNA CALVI, IDLES and FONTAINES DC also kept us off the streets that evening however WILD CAT STRIKE at The (Legendary) Old Blue Last didn’t keep us off the streets and we were rewarded with another one of our favourite shows in the small room above the pub in Shoreditch one Sunday evening.
October is the month taken over Cardiff’s Sŵn Festival and 2019 was no different. HOLY FUCK, WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS, HOTEL LUX, DRY CLEANING, SCALPING, SQUID, THE MURDER CAPITAL, THE CLAQUE, PORRIDGE RADIO, RAFF RUNDELL and SHE DREW THE GUN all reminded us of their brilliance whilst ALIEN TANGO, FEET, POZI and CRUELTY all made their introductions into our lives and have us scouring their social network pages for every release or gig in the hope that our paths will cross more in the future.
HOPE, PORRIDGE RADIO, AMERICAN FOOTBALL, LAURAN HIBBERD and ROSBOUROUGH all left their mark on us after Mirrors Festival in Camden Town whilst GABI GARBUTT, PLASTIC MERMAIDS, WILLIAM DOYLE, GIRL BAND, WARMDUSCHER & HMLTD turned up to entertain the mid week gig goers in East London as the winter nights began to arrive.
DE STAAT at whatever the venue in Highbury Corner is called nowadays (Lets just keep calling it The Garage OK?) became the best band in the world for one night in November. THE CHEAP THRILLS came down to London from Liverpool on a Saturday night to nudge us again and CHINA BEARS at The Old Blue Last added to the long list of yearly highlights with a stunning show and a fabulous new tune (Sunday) that we expect we’ll hear more of next year.
SWEAT went back to being called Sweat this year and their early evening performance supporting FAT WHITE FAMILY during one of five nights in East London’s newest venue (EARTH) wasn’t just another show by these south London pop kids, but one that included the marvellous Be Complete, a couple of years old now but still one of the finest debuts any band have given us (well, apart from The Claque’s Hush tune, Dry Cleaning’s EP or Scalping’s Chamber I suppose).
Lets not fuck about though. Once we stopped dancing to Scalping 2019 was all about The Murder Capital, Sleaford Mods, Fat White Family, Idles, Fontaines DC, Girl Band, Treeboy and Arc, Bad Breeding, Amyl & The Sniffers, Surfbort and countless others who can help some of us who need assurances that the world isn’t being overtaken by the greedy, the selfish, foolish and offensive people we sometimes have the displeasure of sharing a bus seat with.
Stay tuned during 2020 and further more as some of us will do our best to keep you all up to date with whats going on in the big wide world out there and hopefully we’ll bump into some of you on the dance floors, mosh pits or simply at the bar at the back. Don’t wait to learn all about this at the end of each year though, stay in touch on a monthly basis and you’ll eventually find something equally as exciting to do instead of paying over sixty quid to see a reformed band from the 80’s in a massive barn and returning home wondering why you can’t afford to eat any more.
Happy New Year everyone – Keep tapping your feet to the tunes that matter
2019 Top 50 Highlights here :
All words and pictures by Keith Goldhanger. More writing by Keith on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Keith on Facebook and Twitter (@HIDEOUSWHEELINV).You may subscribe to the Goldhanger Shorts Facebook page too if you so wish.