Album of the Year: Blonde Redhead – Sit Down for Dinner
Blonde Redhead frontwoman Kazu Makino cited Joan Didion's classic memoir ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ as an influence on their 10th album and first in 9 years. In it she describes how her life changed instantly when her husband died suddenly at the dinner table.
Lyrical themes of aging, death, and mourning, permeate throughout the record, interlaced with kaleidoscopic beautiful melodic dream pop. The layered electronic instrumentation and acoustic guitars provide it with a rich soundscape.
It’s rare for me to hear an album where I think all songs are strong and keep me engaged. Blonde Redhead’s screams sombre exquisiteness throughout.
Tracks of the Year
Bjork ft. Rosalia – Oral
With Bjork, we’re used to unconventional and inventive arrangements complimenting yearning, beautiful melodies. Always pushing boundaries and moving forward, here she works with Spanish singer Rosalia to produce an astonishing song.
It is a striking fusion of cultures, styles, influences, and may challenge audiences in terms of their expectations. But this is what avant-garde pop should sound like. Rich, luxuriant, cinematic, and yet sublimely subtle. It’s oh, so, perfect, and profits from the song will go to stop open net pen fish farming in Iceland.
King Creosote – Blue Marbled Elm Trees
Cut from the brilliant ‘I Des’ album, Kenny Anderson, AKA King Creosote, in Blue Marbled Elm Trees, imagines that he’s at his own funeral. But he’s not bitter and wants you to take comfort in knowing that he won’t complain. He appreciates the life he’s had because, ‘I had the best time, laughing with my girls, I had the best life offered up by this blue marble, or any alien world’. The plaintive tune and those words moistened my eyes.
Nadine Shah – Topless Mother
Brilliantly bonkers and the first taste from Nadine’s new album ‘Filthy Underneath’ scheduled for release in February 2024.
It’s about a counsellor Nadine worked with that she couldn’t get along with. A twangy guitar opening riff that menacingly reappears during this fast-paced intense song. It has a chorus the late Mark E Smith may have approved of with every word ending in ‘a’, ‘Sinatra, Viagra, Iguana, Sharia, Diana, samosa, Varuca, Tеquila, banana, Alaska, Medusa, gorilla’!
King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Theia
King Gizzard - Motor Spirit
Hawkwind - Rama (The Prophecy)
The Chemical Brothers - Skipping Like A Stone
The Beatles – Now and Then
Album of the year - Chase and Status – 2 Ruff. Vol 1
Drum and Bass seems to be current chart flavour, however I feel this album avoids the cosy liquid dnb sound, and takes it to new and intense levels. All the collaborations work and bring just enough difference to the tracks to make each one unique.
Tracks of the year
The Cult – Rain
Peggy Gou – It Goes Like (Nanana)
Elton John - Daniel
Album of the year - Daniel Caesar – Never Enough
This record marks his third full length R&B LP. With lush and smooth sounds delving into topics of romance, fame and growing as an artist through its 15 tracks, this album gives a more intimate outlook from the rest of his discography.
Highlights: Let Me Go, Always, Shot My Baby
Tracks of the year
Fred Again – Ten
Noah Kahan ft Hozier – Northern Attitude
Tom Odell - Black Friday
Album(s) of the year -Blur - 'The Ballad of Darren'
Whilst 'The Ballad of Darren' further cements Alban's reputation as a great songwriter, as well as the brilliance of Coxon's musicianship - it's also testament to the chemistry shared by all four members which shines throughout this latest collection of songs.
It’s a short but nonetheless a perfectly executed album, it's a deeply satisfying opus, a renaissance, and a vision of Blur for 2023, excellent throughout and a more than welcome return.
PJ Harvey – I Inside The Old Year Dying
Her ’s tenth studio album and her first release for seven years - whilst perhaps not as obvious or accessible as her previous two offerings, 'Old Year Dying' is uncompromising, esoteric, elemental and poetic whilst still somehow lacking pretension - it's an album of unquestionable power.
Album of the year: J Hus – Beautiful and Brutal Yard
Whilst there have been many truly excellent albums released in 2023 with the likes of Disclosure, Jessie Ware, Arlo Park and even The Foo Fighters all releasing albums this year. For me though there was one that stood out from the rest.
Released back on the 14th July and shortlisted for the 2023 Mercury Prize the third studio album from J Hus, Beautiful and Brutal Yard was a brilliant release that had some phenomenal tracks that made up the sound of the summer.
The album featured collaborations with the likes of drake, Naira Marley, Jorja Smith and Burna Boy and with massive tracks like ‘Who Told You’, ‘Militerian’ and ‘Nice Body’ this was an album that hit all the right notes. With incredible Afrobeat influences mixed with UK rap and grime this is my album of the year.
Tracks of the year
Jorja Smith – Try Me
The opening track to her 2023 album Falling or Flying. ‘Try Me’ is a phenomenal track that has unmistakable dance hall influences with its strong beat this is a track that oozes with attitude and style.
Noah Kahan - Dial Drunk
A beautiful indi-folk sound and even features a cameo from Post Malone. Whilst there is an alternative version of the track that features on Kahan’s album, Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever) this version of the track is one of my tracks of the year.
Maribou State – Midas
Released way back in 2015, this features the soulful vocals of Holly Walker and was a track that I had on repeat this year. Whilst they have been around for some time, Maribou State were a new find for me and Midas in particular shows just what this British electronic duo are all about.
Album of the year: The Sherlocks – People Like You And Me
For no other reason that I love a bit of indie guitar rock/ power pop.
Tracks of the year
The Sherlocks - Remember All The Girls
Black Water County - The Only Life Worth Living
Silver Sun - Lava
Album of the year: Bex - Scum
Album of the year? It’s not an easy pick, in fact I couldn’t do it, I’ve chosen an EP!
Described as a Nu-punk trailblazer BEX release her debut 6 track EP ‘SCUM’ earlier this year. I’m often hearing there’s no good new music these days and that’s so far from the truth you just need to look in the right places, BEX started making music over lock down in her student bedroom, like many of us limited on what she could do she made music, and while its different is very good!
As a bass player the instrument is prominent in her work, it may have a real groove but it’s often distorted and angry, while her influences are more modern the album has a lot from early 90’s grunge, while she cites bands from the 2000’s as her influences the album feels like its influenced by those artists core sound until you can start to hear what’s influenced them.
She uses her music to put across her message and feelings on the world, at times sounding like an unholy fusion of My Ruin and Lily Allen, the angst is both mixed and offset with the lighter part of the songs, it leaves me eager to play and create new music, there’s no let up throughout the 6 songs, it’s a fresh burst of vehement energy and then it’s gone!
If only there where another 6 songs because it leaves you hungry for more!
Tracks of the year
BEX - SPYD4 K1NG
Felicette - Helen
Bebe Barry - Bebe Barry Don't have the dopamine
Album of the year: Sometimes With Others – Nous
I’ve never thought about it in words until now! I’ll listen and send a few sentences if required? I mean it’s really beautiful, in a single sentence!
Album of the year: Willie J Healey - Bunny
An album that like a feel- good soul-esque soup with some of the catchiest hooks and vocal melodies.
Album of the year: Alex Nicol – Been A Long Year
Sad really doesn't get more beautiful than this. "Simple Fires" and "Colour My World" are the marquee tracks.
Tracks of the year
Goat – Tripping In The Graveyard
Goat - Vakna
Wall of Sound caught with R&B soul singer Faith Richards recently for a chat about what she's been up to and her plans for the future. Check out the links below for more info.
WoS - What are your plans for 2024? (new music and or tour)
FR - I have an EP in the making and a few of its singles lined up. It’s a mix of chill, sad and sexy songs, and definitely some of my favorite things I’ve ever written. No tour but I’ll definitely have a few local shows in Paris over the next few months.
WoS - Tell us a little about your musical influences
FR - Honestly I feel like I’m inspired by so many artists. My main influences are Jhene Aiko, Sade, Sabrina Claudio, Erykah Badu, Brent Faiyaz and H.E.R. But I could name at least 100 more who have inspired a vibe or drum pattern or theme. My favorite type of music to listen to and create is chill R&B. Something about it just calms me down and helps me tune into myself.
WoS - You also trained as an actor – Do you have any plans to do some of this in the future.
FR - I would love to pull a Lady Gaga one day with a big movie role. I can definitely see that happening one day. Also I dream about having big music video budgets and being able to make them like short films and involve more acting in them.
WoS - What tunes are on heavy rotation on your playlist at the moment?
FR - Lately it’s been Maeta’s Through The Night, BPW by Jaszmine Sullivan, Definition of Love by Naomi Sharon, I’ll Call U Back by Badu, and Victoria Monet’s Alright. Also I’m obsessed with both of Cleo Sol’s new albums.
WoS - Desert Island question (If you were stuck on a Desert Island, what album would you take and why)
FR - That’s so hard!!! As of right now, I would choose Gold by Cleo Sol. Some of the tracks on that album are so uplifting and inspire me not only musically but also to just be a better human. I love doing yoga flows to that album. It calms all of my anxiety and just makes me feel really good.