Friday 18 December 2015

My end of year music party

Something different today. Music has always been a constant passion for me. For no better reason than it's the end of the year, I'm sharing some of my current favourite music. I hope you'll find something you like.

OK. Let's start with a couple of US bands. First, MoeTar. This is a breathtaking song (try to sing along and you'll see what I mean). As well as the vocal, the musicianship is superb and the song nicely describes the modern approach to popular commercial music.

The second of the two is District 97, whose new album is on repeat on my PC most days. Over the course of three studio albums they've developed an ever more sophisticated musical range without ever diluting their rock instincts.

Next, something very, very English: a cover version of one of Pink Floyd's most revered epic works, Echoes, by Crippled Black Phoenix, featuring archive clips of Pink Floyd members talking in the studio. I can't quite explain how happy this makes me.

And while on the subject of Pink Floyd, they released an album this year which was - well - underwhelming. Dave Kerzner, on the other hand, released an album which was pure Pink Floyd in spirit. See if you can detect the influence here.

OK, enough prog for now. I'm a big fan of the Earls of Mars and their new EP contains this little gem.

Like Earls of Mars, A Formal Horse are from England's South coast, released an EP this year and are very exciting indeed.

Staying in England, I have no idea at all why Sweet Billy Pilgrim are not absolutely massive. Their new album is a masterpiece. As evidence I offer this.

For my birthday, my wife bought me two CDs. The first was the new album by Nordic Giants.

And the second CD was by Hasse Froberg & Musical Companion, full of inventive and diverse musicanship and catchy as anything.

We've strayed back to prog, I know, but that's where I spend my time. Prog legend Steve Hackett had a new album out this year, including this cracking song with a truly dreadful video. I apologise in advance, but it's a great song.

Back to the US and Izz released the third of a trilogy of albums which opened with this belter.

I can't put it off any longer. This year's Steven Wilson moment is upon us. Just when you think the man can't possibly produce anything better, along comes something like this to scale new heights. If you click on no other video today, please go with this one. Watch, listen, possibly cry. I did. More than once.

I'm going to end with another Steven Wilson moment, but it's a little different. Gavin Harrison drummed in Steven Wilson's former band, Porcupine Tree, and released an album this year of Porcupine Tree cover versions - jazz band arrangements, in fact. This is my favourite one.

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