The problem with life – because there’s only one problem with life, obviously – is that you constantly want to embrace new things, to be mesmerised by the wonder of something new and vibrant and beautiful but that you often don’t notice what you’ve lost along the way.
Taking music as an example (and Quiff is as bad as most for this) new music is too available to us now. We can get it when we want it and can organise and arrange it as we want it. Artists no longer need traditional means to get their work to you and this means there is a profundity of music out there. There is a bygone era where you had to go a shop and buy a record if you wanted to listen to it, now it’s a few clicks away and – if you’ll excuse the extended metaphor – the shelves are infinitely long and wide and fully stocked with every type of music you could imagine.
This is a wonderous thing, I truly fucking love it, but along the way the ease of access and sheer volume of choice has meant that we have stopped listening to albums anywhere near as much as we used to. Albums should be the high point of a musicians output. Months, years even, put aside to the creation of a singular object. All that heart poured into a perfectly formed hour. Getting an album right is hard, much harder than writing one great song, but the reward for both performer and listener is so much greater.
At this point some of you’re thinking either a) fuck, this is a long and fairly inane introduction or b) fuck, this is hypocritical for a blog that puts out a compilation of 40 odd tracks a month all by different artists, sourced almost wholly from the Internet. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were thinking both.
So, by way of explanation, this blog came about because earlier this week someone asked me what albums I’d been listening to and I didn’t have much to say. As a result, I decided to list some of my favourite LPs of the year so far so that you can indulge yourself in something special:
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Marling’s six album may be my favourite yet. This is an artist at the height of her powers, musically and lyrically.
Jay Som – Everybody Works
A record of endearingly anxious and frazzled bedroom rock that twists and twirls through different styles. It’s frankly lovely.
Tinariwen – Elhan
Masterful, driving desert blues crossed with American folk. I struggle to see how anyone couldn’t love this.
Patch & The Giant – All that We Had We Stole
London based folk excellence from Patch. Recorded with care and love this is the album that captures their live sound and should catapult them towards stardom. Instead, they’ll probably just end up with a Radio 2 folk award nomination.
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s gone
I’ve banged on enough about Loyle in the past but this is a great record. Refusing to bow to the huge pressure to make a bunch of ‘bangers’ and hit the radio 1 playlist hard, Loyle has done what he does and made an intimate, funny and warm album. More like this please.
Julie Byrne – Not Even Happiness
I’ve saved room for a little bit of bleak in here. There is heartbreak and wisdom writ large across this record.
Priests – Nothing Feels Natural
Priests debut album is so cool and considered it hurts. Sometimes a band just knows what it’s doing.
From Here: English Folk Recordings (Compilation)
A while back a few people decided it would be wise to wander around the UK getting a bunch of folk artists to record a song from their local area. It was wise.
Michael Chapman – Fully Qualified Survivor (reissue)
Imagine that it’s 1970 and Bowie and Jansch decide to make a record together. Imagine that it’s actually great. This has just had a vinyl reissue and is a necessity for your collection.
Many of these tracks either appear on this month’s new Quiff or last the two months. All of those can be checked out here:
Give them a listen and then get down to your local record shop and buy some lovely, lovely albums.