There are no products in your shopping cart.
There are no products in your shopping cart.
End of year mix
We're not big on lists, but we are big on sounds. Good sounds. So, by way of looking back over a splendid year for good sounds from Merseyside, we've put together a mix of our favourite tunes by local artists who've hit our radar in 2014. It's very, very good, so have a listen.
The tracks in this playlist are in no particular order, just what we think flows best from song to song. And we really enjoyed putting it together: it made us look back over everything we've covered and listened to this year, and there have been some real gems. It could have run to eighty songs in all, but we're pretty happy with the final selection. Some - but not all - of the artists featured have appeared in our pink pages in 2014, and some will most definitely appear in future issues. Whether you're hearing these songs for the first or the umpteenth time, we hope you'll join us for another run through them. Here's a little bit more about each one too.
NINETAILS / O For Two
Ninetails danced nimbly in to the new year with their long-awaited first offering since parting company with Ed Black. Quiet Confidence was the slightly surprising result, a jumble of found and organic sounds that skittered over an assortment of beats in a musical collage. It was a startlingly good return to the limelight for a group who have always shown oodles of promise. Visa issues for one member (Jordan Balaber), and difficulties in translating the cinematic record in to a live show have kept them quiet since its release - but, it means they've been busy working on a full album as a follow-up, which we hope will see the light of day some time in 2015. Welcome back lads.
O For Two features on the EP Quiet Confidence (Pond Life)
Ninetails by Mark McNulty
CAPAC / Nested
Another group returning from the semi-wilderness, Capac landed an impressive one-two this year with Nested and its iterative EP The Other Branch. Burbling synths and yearning bloops of electronica swim neatly alongside each other on these tunes, lending the themes of death and loss a faintly sinister edge. Yes, the ravens are coming...
Nested features on the mini-album Nested, with a remixed version featuring on The Other Branch EP (both self-released)
JANE WEAVER / Argent
OK OK, Jane Weaver has been claimed as "a Manchester artist", but she's from Widnes so we're claiming her for this. And this tune is too good to ignore as well. The Silver Globe was a bit of a leftfield release late in the year, flipping on its head any preconceived idea of Weaver as a folkstress as it raced into spacier, psych pop territory. Teaming up with husband and Finders Keepers boss Andy Votel has pushed Weaver into a whole new realm, and it's one that we love. Fans of Hawkwind, Aphex Twin, Can and Jodorowsky, please give this record a listen if you haven't already.
Argent features on the album The Silver Globe (Bird/Finders Keepers)
ALL WE ARE / Feel Safe
Liverpool's worst kept secret was finally let out of the bag on a national scale this year when All We Are signed with Domino imprint Double Six. Tours with Warpaint and London Grammar followed, and it's been great to see the trio improve at every step along the way. Feel Safe is one of three slick singles they released in 2014, but it's all a big tease for their full album release in February 2015 (we've heard it too, and it's fucking ace). We simply couldn't leave AWA off this mix - and they'll probably make it on to next year's too. Fine by us.
Feel Safe was released as a single in 2014, and will feature on the album All We Are in February 2015 (Double Six).
All We Are by David Edwards
ESA SHIELDS / Monde Capricorn
This record only hit us in December but nearly escaped unnoticed. We're glad we did notice it, because it's a gem. Esa Shields is a bit of a pop polymath, and has been a regular live gigger in Liverpool for years, but he had to reach out to German label Gagarin Records to release Ovum Caper. Ensconced very much in the Ariel Pink weirdo pop world, it's a must listen for anyone who's bored of the same old same old.
Monde Capricorn features on the album Ovum Caper (Gagarin Records).
WE ARE CATCHERS / Tap Tap Tap
We've been waiting for Peter Jackson (no, not him) to release this record for ages, ever since we heard some demos he passed to us on some scratchy CDs. Back then they were just bare piano ballads, but you could tell straight off that melody was something that came naturally to Jackson. Being taken under the wing of Bill Ryder-Jones has worked wonders in filling out these sketches of tracks, bringing the Art Garfunkel-esque tones of Jackson's songwriting to the fore. We've been back and listened to this record on dozens of occasions in the office this year and it just doesn't get old.
Tap Tap Tap features on the album We Are Catchers (Domino).
VEYU / In The Forest
2014 was a year that VEYU built on the excellent promise they showed in 2013, and showed that they've got plenty of gears to go through. The release of their self-titled EP towards the end of the year marked the end of their introductory chapter as a band, and sets things up for a (hopefully) fruitful period ahead. VEYU are masters at crafting mood and atmosphere in their music, in a similar fashion to the way MONEY ride the storms of emotion through their tracks. It's an aesthetic that stretches across their whole output, as they showed with their fantastically realised I/O event at the FalloutFactory in March. Bring on 2015.
In The Forest features on the EP VEYU (Baltic Records).
VEYU by John Johnson
COUSIN JAC / Passing Place
Jez Wing may be a Cornishman who tours the world with Echo & The Bunnymen, but he's very much a Liverpool man at heart. Jez was among the group who mucked in and grafted on the site that became MelloMello back in the day, and it was in Mello that we first bumped into him. His album Believe Me To Remain (the first of three in a conceptual progression) was conceived and recorded largely in MelloMello, with musicians who Jez met in the cafe over the years. Whenever we listen to this song it takes us back to those days sat in Mello having a cuppa with Jez and chatting about the narrative behind the album, as various characters dipped in and out. Memories that are gone but not forgotten.
Passing Place features on the album Believe Me To Remain (self-released).
SUNSTACK JONES / Circular Sun
It'd be easy to dismiss Sunstack Jones, as they make very little fanfare about their work and just get on with what they're doing. Roam is their second release on their own label Mammoth Bell, and we're quite happy to do their shouting for them. They specialise is lush, warm and hugging dream pop that's occasionally shoegazey, occasionally no wave guitar ambience. Sometimes bands who just get on and do things get overlooked in favour of those who shout about themselves at every opportunity: don't let Sunstack Jones be one of those bands that pass you by.
Circular Sun features on the album Roam (Mammoth Bell).
BEACH SKULLS / Dreamin' Blue
It wouldn't be a Bido Lito! Playlist without Beach Skulls would it? The Beachies committed this little gem to vinyl in 2014 thanks to yet another single released by Eighties Vinyl Records. They're building quite a collection of local talent through their regular releases and we're glad that Beach Skulls have joined the club. Their ragged-yet-smooth surfy vibes were made to be played via the crackly warmth of a 45, though the Beachies themselves will probably prefer the hiss from their preferred format of cassettes. This single was also accompanied by the best video made by ANYONE in 2014, an Easy Rider on City Bikes romp through the back streets of the Baltic Triangle, with lashings of John Smith's and pies. These boys are a different kind of smooth.
Beach Skulls by Adam Edwards
BIRD / I Wanna Be Adored
Despite releasing their strongest collection of tracks in My Fear And Me, and realising the best fit between their aesthetic and music, 2014 wasn't to be for Bird as they called time on the band (in this incarnation at least) in November. Before they bowed out, they recorded this cover in a live session for Merseyrail Sound Station: what starts out as a fairly straight version of the Stone Roses' classic (with Bird's trademark moody, Gothic touches) soon descends into I Wanna Be Your Dog territory as Adele Emmas yelps the refrain during the tracks's crescendo.
AEROPLANE FLIES HIGH / Growing
Aeroplane Flies High were another band that grabbed us in 2014, having been on the edges of our radar for some time. They're a busy crew who completed a winter tour with a riotous show at Maguire's in December, and released an EP in July full of big riffs and unashamed noise-mongering. Growing is our favourite, a Weezer-esque garage chug with a bit of grunge and a lot of Billy Corgan in its veins (they take their name from a Smashing Pumpkins track after all). Though it doesn't really fit with any of the songs that come before or after it in this mix, it had to land somewhere and make a racket cos it's really quite good. And the video is ace too!
Growing features on the EP Honey (Snaketown Records).
HOOTON TENNIS CLUB / ...And Then Camilla Drew Fourteen Dots On Her Knee
Undoubtedly our find of the year. It's sometimes a worry, as fans of guitar music, to see the mainstream opt for the most obvious, lowest common denominator in 'rock' music (see Catfish & The Bottlemen) even as the alternative fringes seem to shun the coventional guitar-bass-drums setup in favour of noise or electro ambience or other untrodded avenues of musical bastardry. But with Parquet Courts and The War On Drugs receiving high praise in recent years for fairly classic strains of alternative guitar music (or "indie" as my mates still call it), all hope is not lost. Which made it doubly satisfying to see Hooton Tennis Club get picked up and acclaimed for what they are: a fairly simple garage/punk band who write great hooks. Though this track is taken from an EP written and released in 2013, and their first single releases on Heavenly Recordings won't be until 2015, 2014 was definitely the year when HTC made the step up (thanks in no small part to Edge Hill University's The Label Recordings). Nice one lads.
...And Then Camilla Drew Fourteen Dots On Her Knee features on the EP I Was A Punk In Europe (But My Mum Didn't Mind) (Janet Records).
Hooton Tennis Club by Nata Moraru
LÅPSLEY / Station
Talking of finds and progression, Låpsley has probably made the biggest impression during the calendar year in Liverpool music, rocketing to near-stardom from near-nothingness in the space of about nine months. Our story with Låpsley began on 6th January 2014, when one of our writers Mike Townsend emailed us telling us to check her out, having met Holly Lapsley Fletcher at a Waxxx night on New Year's Eve. Station was the track then, a soul-bearing introduction to Låpsley's post-dub, post-everything world of downbeat electronica. Her prodigious talent thus unveiled to the world, the chase was then on to sign her up; it's testament to the all-pervading tentacles of the internet that someone with as much raw talent as this can go from unknown bedroom producer to being signed with major management and about to release an EP on XL fucking Records within the space of a year, purely by uploading some tracks to SoundCloud. Amazing. And she'll win the BBC Sound of 2015 thing in January too. Amazing amazing.
Station was released online in 2014, and we're hoping it features on Låpsley's upcoming EP, Understudy (XL Recordings).
D R O H N E / S W A R M
Formby seems to be churning them out at the moment, and there must be something in the water if both D R O H N E and Låpsley can appear around the same time. There's also not a huge amount of difference between the two artists either (they used to work together, apparently): it's all very ambient, with spectral vocals hovering somewhere just beneath the surface. But what marks D R O H N E out differently is that they obviously have a pull to the dancefloor, as their tracks flirt with beats that get you moving more than a tokenistic shuffle and head nod. Having supported Factory Floor at The Kazimier late in 2013, duo Luke and Richy kept in touch with Void and co, with the result being that D R O H N E went out on a UK tour with FF for a few dates in the early summer. The Parasite EP was then dropped by Tim Burgess' label O Genesis in August, from which we've taken this track. We know D R O H N E have got plenty more in their locker, and we're as excited as them to see how it unfolds from here.
S W A R M features on the EP Parasite (O Genesis).
BLUE SAINT / Braggadocio
Some people have just got the full package, and Daniel Sebuyange is one of those people. A lot of people can write good tunes, or be able to perform like they were born to do it. Quite a few can do both, but what a lot of musicians lack is vision - the ability to see beyond their music and tie every aspect of their output together as a whole entity. As Blue Saint, Sebuyange knits together his poetic verses and lyrical dexterity with a persona that oozes character, and a concept that has a variety of characters (Tommy, Razor Raze, Anima Hatter) interacting with each other in a constantly unspooling story. The Merseyrail Sound Station Prize 2014 winner has not only achieved this with his Enter Mynd, Part I album, but he's also conceived the progression of the story over a further two albums to come, as well as a graphic novel. This is how hip hop (or boom bap, or whatever) should be.
Braggadocio features on the album Enter Mynd, Part I (self-released).
Blue Saint by Keith Ainsworth
AMIQUE / Just Babies
The hardest thing about putting together this mix was choosing which of Amique's four tracks from his Oh! The Ecstasy EP would be included. Ranging from funk to soul to pop to funk-soul-pop, this collection of tracks provides a snapshot of a recording artist and songwriter pushing the boundaries of their own talents. Amique can literally go anywhere he wants with his music, and he'll be brilliant doing it. We could listen to his cosmic wisdom all day, no matter which way it turns out. We've plumped for Just Babies as a way of bringing things down gently: but if you fancy a dance, MLE and Emancipator are ace too. The Prince of Liverpool.
Just Babies features on the EP Oh! The Ecstasy (self-released).
That's it for 2014 for us then. We hope you enjoyed this little mix; even more, we hope you disagreed with it and you think we've missed some tracks/artsists out! Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter. Can't wait to see what 2015 will turn up.
Main photo by Robin Clewley.