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The Amazing Life of Ant D

  • Best Albums 2016

    After the Libertines release last year, 2016 had a lot to match up to musically for me and on the whole.. it didn't but hey there were still plenty of good albums out there. So lets just get straight into it;

    trib.jpg10. The Tribe - Tribal Wave

    A Reggae-Rap fusion group from Swindon, who I saw at a SoFar sessions concert earlier in the year. If you haven't heard of SoFar sounds, look it up, the chances are they do something near you, wherever you are living right now. The Tribe were the headliners and they impressed me with their good humour, sometimes (but not always) deep lyrics and smooth rap skills. A good, fun album to start the list, my favourite tracks include Jump Up and Footprints.

     

     

    09.jpg9. Spring King - Tell Me if you like to

    Spring King are one of those bands who had been on my radar for a year or so and this album was one I was looking forward to greatly and the singles I really enjoy. Their first single 'City' I enjoyed from first listen and it didn't take much longer for follow ups 'Rectifier' and 'The Summer', the only problem is the limited variation on the album. It is quite samey but still enjoyable and thus goes in at number 9.

     

     

    08.jpg8. Jamie T - Trick

    Only 2 years since his last album, Jamie T is back with something which retains the darkness of 2014's carry on the Grudge but contains a lot more of the rap associated with his earlier two releases. In theory that sounds like the perfect mix and possibly it could be but for some reason this album did not fully grab me in the way I have been in the past. Each single came along and passed and I liked them; Tinfoil Boy, Power Over Men and TescoLand but it just wasn't quite enough for me to be any higher on the list.

     

     

    07.jpg7. Grouplove - Big Mess

    Grouplove are a band who I have been listening to for over 5 years now and Big Mess is their third album. Similar to the previous albums on this light though I wasn't sure at first;  Welcome to Your World, the first single was a lovely tale of the couple who lead the band's first child and that resonated but as for the rest of the album, I didn't get into it until later in the year when I listened back. Then the track Good Morning stood out which is lively and exiting and in the end I couldn't stop listening. 

     

     

    06.jpg6. The Divine Comedy - Foreverland

    The Divine Comedy have been around for more than two decades with famous hits such as National Express and the theme tune from Fr. Ted, Songs of Love. Foreverland was the groups first album since 2010s Bang Goes the Knighthood and like that it is full of wonderfully quirky little ditties. The one that I liked immediately was Funny Peculiar which is a very cute love song about the imperfections of the one you love being the very reason you love them but other songs such as Catherine the Great and My Happy Place are well worth a listen on two. 

     

    05.jpg5. Lost Under Heaven - Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing

    Lost Under Heaven (LUH) is the new project of former Wu Lyf front man Ellery Roberts who is unmistakable by his unique, raspy voice. LUH like Wu Lyf are a little preachy in places with its political messages and in others a little emo but its got a good sound. I saw them early in the year in a very empty venue which was a shame for them but fun for me as I had plenty of room to dance. My stand outs were the lead single I&I as well as Lament which was a reworking of Robert's solo release fro ma few years ago.

     

     

    04.jpg4. Peter Doherty - Hamburg Demonstrations

    I couldn't realistically go another year without something by one of The Libertines being on my album list (Heads up it looks like there will be at least one more next year). Monsieur Doherty put out a single The Whole World is our Playground out for Record Store Day and soon after confirmed he would be releasing the full solo album. A number of the singles that followed I Don't Love Anyone and Kolly Kibber were amongst my favourite songs of the year which is unsurprising coming from my favourite songwriter but even with this and a number of other good songs, for me it wasn't a top quality album as it felt a little unfinished with 2 versions of the same song, a couple of reworks of old tracks and one song even professing to contain "Demo Vocals". Still very enjoyable though and worth a listen.

    03.jpg3. Xylaroo - Sweet Tooth

    This was one of the big unknowns of the year for me an acoustic duo consisting of two sisters. I first heard of them through a recommendation on either Spotify or Last.fm I can't remember which and I thought they sounded like something my sister would like but after a few listens I got really into them myself. To my joy and surprise they were one of the last bands announced to play the Beautiful Days festival which I was at and I got to see them perform live in a very small tent with a delicious frozen cocktail. In a slightly drunken haze I went up to them after he show and I THINK I told them that they were great but I can't be sure. My favourites from the album include Sunshine and Narwhal but they are all quaint and lovely with an undercurrent of something a little darker in places. Definitely a group I will be on the look out for over the next few years.

    02.jpg2. Kano - Made in the Manor

    The Grime master has been around for over a decade, I remember watching him, although briefly in my University days shortly after his 2nd album had come out. Made in the Manor is Kano's 6th and a marvellous return to form after his previous two had been fairly dire. Grime has come back in a big way this year with Skepta winning the Mercury Music Prize and Made in the Manor also nominated. It also saw the returns to form of people like Wiley and P Money and the introduction of new talent such as Nova Twins who would be on this list no doubt if they had released a full album this year. Kano tells a story throughout Made in the Manor and although not necessarily original in subject matter it is told well and kept me listening throughout the year. It ranges wildly from party tunes such as New Banger and Flow of The Year to sombre numbers such as little sis and my favourite A Roadman's Hymn. 

    01.jpg1. Blossoms - Blossoms

    And finally to my number one album of the year. I first heard of Blossoms when I saw that they were supporting the Libertines on their arena tour at the end of last year and I started to listen to some of their early stuff including Charlemagne. I was immediately seduced by the indie dance music that they produced and when Getaway was released early in 2016 I was really excited for the release of the album. I saw them live the same week as the release of the album and the live show was good if not outstanding but I went back after and the album has not been out of my playlists much since. My favourite tracks have changed several times from the aforementioned singles to my most recent favourites; Blown Rose and Smashed Pianos. This band started the year as unknowns but ends it as one of the biggest rising stars with a number 1 album in the charts along with the more important top spot on my end of year list. 

     

    As I say this wasn't my favourite year in music (or world) history but there were still some good finds, there were also good releases from MIA and The Pixies that didn't quite make this list. And obviously a shout out to David Bowie's Blackstar which although wasn't entirely to my tastes musically has to go down as one of the finest works of art of this year being such a perfect and fitting way for him to leave the world. As for the wooden spoon, well that came early in the year, I was not impressed by the Mystery Jets album as it ditched their usual Indie Pop for something they admitted was more influenced by Pink Floyd. 

    Buy yeah, that's 2016 done with and next year will be a very different one, maybe after March I won't be able to listen to as much music or maybe I will as of yet I don't know but its going to be fun finding out. Until next year..

     

    END

     

  • Top 25 Tracks of 2016

    End of year lists time has come around again, hurrah! 2016 has been one of the weirder and less wonderful years in recent years with celebrity deaths and crazy politics abound. The year was less than stellar for music too but nevertheless I have got 25 tracks which for me have stood out as the top. Same rules apply as always, only songs released as a single or as part of an album in 2016 are allowed and only one song per artist.. and with that I give you 2016;

    25. Public Access TV - End of an Era

    24. Arthur Sharpe - My Only Worry

    23. Akala - Giants

    22. The Strokes - Oblivius

    21. Jamie T - Drone Strike

    20. Zayn - Pillowtalk

    19. The King Blues - Off With Their Head

    18. Protoje - Who Knows

    17. Childcare - Film Club

    16. Shame - The Lick

    15. Tibet - In My Head

    14. Red Hot Chilli Peppers - Dark Necessities

    13. The Tribe - Jump Up

    12. Pixies - Tenement Song

    11. Rat Boy - MOVE

    10. Grouplove - Good Morning

    9. Rationale - Something For Nothing

    8. Xylaroo - Sunshine

    7. Kano - A Roadman's Hymn

    6. Nova Twins - Bassline Bitch

    5. The Divine Comedy - Funny Peculiar

    4. We Are Scientists - Buckle

    3. Peter Doherty - I Don't Love Anyone (But Your're Not Just Anyone)

    2. LUH - I & I

    1. Blossoms - Charlemagne

     

    Maybe I was a bit unfair before, there are some truly cracking tunes in there with Blossoms being the pick of the bunch. A list combining mainly of British Indie which my lists always will be but also a good amount of British rap and grime music which it has been a really good year for but more on that in the album list.

     

    If you are interested HERE is the spotify playlist, and until next year

    END

  • Leaving The Labour Party

    Today I have made the leap and left the Labour Party. I have been a member of the party since I was about 16 and have been affiliated with the party as long as I can remember. Before I go into the whys and wherefores I will point out that my ideologies have not changed and I am not ruling out rejoining the party at a later date it is just that for now I do not feel comfortable giving money to the organisation.

     

    OK so my history with the Labour Party, I was born into a Labour household, my mum was a long term Labour member, Dad is a Labour Councillor and my Godmother is an MP. Growing up my friends were all mainly from Labour supporting households, I was well and truly immersed. Somewhat naively throughout my youth I did the tony-blair.jpgbiddings of the local Labour party whether it was delivering leaflets or entering data onto a computer database and I do not regret this getting Labour into power in 1997 was a great success and the party did many great things when in power in Northern Ireland, devolution and welfare changes. 

    Things though have changed, I studied politics both at college and then University. I have since learned and seen first hand the dark side of politics in the UK and around the world and with that I have become politically at least much more of a pessimist. I went into University thinking a life in politics was the life for me, I came out not so sure. 

     

    Anyway to the party we see today, my decision to leave is based on the fact that I really see no tenable option as to who I would like to vote for as leader. Normally I am very much the advocate of it doesn't matter who the leader is as we are lucky in the UK to have a party system, not presidential but times are changing with this leader vote comes a choice of which Labour party we will see come out the other side.

    corbyn.jpgNow with Jeremy Corbyn, although I did not vote for him in last year's leadership election (to see why see here) I was sympathetic to his ideals and to a large extent I still am. I am an old fashioned socialist at heart but I am very pro EU and I understand that there is a need to compromise with the right of the party to find a solution for all. I cannot side with Corbyn though as he has shown a lack of ability to compromise and a stubbornness which is not in the interest of the party or the greater population. Unfortunately as well, though not entirely his fault, there is a large portion of his support who are not playing by the rules. 

    Owen-Smith.jpgAs for Owen Smith (and the majority of the PLP) I can see their point of view, Corbyn has become a laughing stock of late and probably has become un-electable and Smith seems to have some good ideas, encompassing some of the better arguments from both left and right of the party. Of Course though there are the negatives, my initial complaint is the way in which this leadership campaign has been brought about, despite a disdain for Corbyn that the majority of the PLP has he does have a mandate to lead based on the votes of the membership. To create a coup and call for a new leader is saying that the party don't care what the membership want and that is not good for democracy. The polls and likely outcome of the election prove that Corbyn is want the membership want. Also like that of the left, the followers of this movement have also been nasty as well if in a more passive aggressive way often portraying themselves as the victims whilst posting stories of how awful the left is.

     

    Now realistically neither side will get the party elected any time soon as despite the Tories being a complete mess, the Labour Party has managed to make them look like a pillar of strength and so we are destined to be ruled over them for a decade as they take us out of Europe and build the UK into USA v2.0. I have seen this debate cause arguments between friends and family with both sides shovelling negative propaganda down the other sides throat and rarely offering any positive solutions to the problem. Neither side are willing to compromise in the slightest and thus I don't see what I can do but remove myself from the situation and wait for the party to implode in on itself from the outside. Until then I will keep myself busy with individual campaigns rather than party politics and maybe somewhere down the line try and help rebuild a party from the inevitable split that is just over the horizon.