Albums of the Year

The intriguing thing about the process for arriving at my Album of the Year 2012 is that all but one of my long-list to be whittled down to that final selection was a debut effort, and the other came from an artist that I was previously completely unaware of.  So could this be an indication of yet another changing of the guard?

the short list for album of the year 2012

I hope so, because if we did anything with our ‘Revolution’ of fifty years ago, it was to lay down a marker that the music scene should never be allowed to become predictable.  Neither should it be the domain of what purports these days to be the NME, where anything is simply uncool if produced more than five minutes earlier, or if not made by an artist considered as a legend simply because they have never submitted to a decipherable interview. Continue Reading

I have probably purchased more albums during 2011 than for some years and, what’s more, it’s been more difficult than I can remember for many years to select a short list of just the ten.  So quite a bounce-back for this, my 49th, album of the year round-up.  Hopefully my fiftieth will be just as interesting next year; if not, I guess I can always do a retrospective!

AOTY11 This year there have been several albums from established artists that one might expect to be a shoe-in to any top ten, but somehow they proved disappointments, not even making it onto the buy list, thereby excluding them from possible selection.  Continue Reading

2010 seemed to be a somewhat slow year on the music scene, reflected in the fact that my album purchases were probably the lowest they have been this century; in fact quite a lot of the output seemed to have somewhat of a retrospective air about it, including the influences that inspired possibly half of this year’s selections.

Of course, recession years often mean that quality album output is somewhat sparse, because the music industry tends to put what investment it can into singles releases to ensure a quick return.  The promotional effort goes into creating singles-artist trends that are aimed to keep particularly popular songs at the top of the charts for many weeks.  However, even that failed in 2010, with just two tracks managing the maximum-stay for the year of just three weeks, and only two artists managing to have more than one individual number-one during the year. Continue Reading

2009 was not a vintage year for new music; in fact for the most part it was a somewhat uninspiring end to what has been a most interesting decade of diversion and innovation.   Which is primarily the reason for the unusual lateness in reaching a final decision; a delay, I am pleased to say, brought about by a sudden rush of better-quality material at the end of the year, the result of which is a somewhat more pleasing top three albums than appeared likely in October.


Most purchases are, nowadays, invoked after seeing or hearing a live performance.  Radio’s 1, 2 and 6 are featuring ever-more studio sets, and on TV there is expanding festival coverage, plus regular series like ‘Live at Abbey Road’ and good old Jools.   We managed to get to more gigs as well this year, although these were predominantly catching-up with old favourites that we hadn’t yet seen ‘in the flesh’, or simply wanted to see again. Continue Reading

Well, it’s that time of year again for a review of the music scene and, for the 45th time, to select my personal Album of the Year.  As far as purchases are concerned, this year has been a real mix of new talent, follow-up albums to good debuts, and the return of classic artists after a long break.

With the accessibility of so-much live music, whether actually attending venues, listening to the likes of Jo Wiley’s Radio One Sessions, catching festival highlights throughout the summer, or simply surfing the web, bands have to be able to really perform, because it is now so very easy to judge their relative abilities through these various channels. Continue Reading