BARFLY TOP TEN: London via Melbourne songstress Suzie Stapleton
Photo by Steve Gullick
Top Ten things I enjoyed in 2017, in no particular order and randomly numbered:
5. Tenebrous Liar - The Cut (Album)
I have faith Tenebrous Liar can save us from the Indie-pocolypse. I don’t know how to describe this album - the sounds and mood is as wonderfully textural and emotive as frontman Steve Gullick’s photographs (which he is better known for). Highlights “Alienation”, “Lowlands”, “Swing For Me”... all of it. Bandcamp.
4. Chelsea Wolfe - Hiss Spun (Album)
This entry is more for Chelsea Wolfe’s catalogue than just this one album. I was late on the uptake and only discovered her music this year. Albums “Abyss” and “Unknown Rooms” have been on repeat, though Hiss Spun also has plenty of charms too. Website. Listen on Spotify.
1. Blood Meridian - Cormack McCarthy (Book)
Yes, this book was published in 1985, and everyone else has known it’s great forever, but I only got around to reading it this year and seeing as it was such an inspirational highlight I’m putting it on the list.
3. Mark Lanegan - I Am The Wolf: Lyrics and Writings (Book)
I’ve been a big fan of Lanegan’s music for a long time. He’s a brilliant wordsmith and having all his lyrics in one volume is a treat. There’s brief, insightful anecdotes to introduce each set of album lyrics. Coincidentally, when I was mid-Blood Meridian I received I Am The Wolf in the post and opened it at a random page which happened to be Lanegan talking about writing “Whiskey for the Holy Ghost” and citing Blood Meridian as an inspiration. Spooky.
7. Duke Garwood - Garden of Ashes (Album)
Listening to a Garwood album is like hanging out in a bluesy cocoon in the shade of a temperate jungle. He makes magic with his guitar. Lovely. Listen on Spotify.
6. Patti Smith - Devotion: Why I Write (Book)
This reflection on the creative process is a shorter trip than “Just Kids” and “M Train” though it weaves as warm a blanket and is just as immersive. All of her books are a gift and I could easily stay in Patti land forever. The only thing wrong with this book is it’s over too soon.
2. Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind - Super Natural (Album)
Nepotism alert: Even if I didn’t share a bass player with this band this would still be on my list. A rock solid rock album. Jim Jones Revue were a great band but this reincarnation has taken it up a notch. From absolutely blistering guitar solos on “Base Is Loaded”, to anthemic sing alongs such as “Something’s Gonna Get It’s Hand On You”, to tender closer “Everyone But Me” reminiscent of a Tex Perkins/Dark Horses moment (Tex, Don, Charlie also put out a great album this year which I forgot until after I’d written this so here it is sneakily as number 11). Bandcamp.
8. Blue Planet II (TV Series)
I haven’t even seen the whole series yet, but episode two ”The Deep” is the most mind-blowing thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. I watched it alone and was shouting things such as “NO FUCKING WAY”, “OH MY GOD THIS IS INCREDIBLE” at the television. Deep sea creatures are mental and I’ve never seen them filmed like this before. There’s a fish with a see-through head, FFS, amongst other things. It’s heartening to see this series has raised some awareness about the terrible damage we’re doing to our oceans with plastic pollution. They say by 2050 there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish. That’s messed up and a pretty massive price to pay for the convenience of plastic bottles, bags, straws, cups, and cutlery. Keep up the good fight.
10. Lift To Experience - The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads (Album)
This is a remixed re-release of Lift To Experience’s 2001 album. Fronted by Josh T Pearson, this album is one heck of a journey based around the second coming of Christ happening in Texas - or something. Great guitar sounds and production. Good epic rock. Listen on Spotify.
9. Hurray For The Riff Raff - The Navigator
This is more easy listening than the rest of my list. Sometimes it’s just nice to sing along y’know? I really like Alynda Segarra‘s voice and the album explores themes of those marginalised in society, swept aside by gentrification, the debt crisis and the like. “Pa’lante” is a moving song of defiance. Also beautiful, warm production from Paul Butler. Listen on Spotify.