Don’t worry, there’s no Lil Pump/Big Shaq/Katy Perry/Chris & Kem/Ed Sheeran here.
2017 has been quite a year. To celebrate three things – its musical goodness, me finally getting things in order on these pages, and a year of better playlisting that’s allowed me to bring all the best bits together without it taking approximately a million years – here’s a collection of 101 of the best songs it’s spawned. There’ll be many more words, playlists, and things appearing here over the coming months, especially if I can figure out how to make Spotify embeds look as nice on WordPress as they can elsewhere, so do say hello if there’s anything you think I’ve missed.
Continue reading “101 songs that prove 2017 wasn’t entirely awful after all”
Triangles most certainly are my favourite shape after an evening of impressive renditions and mesmerising lights, even if alt-J did miss a trick or two in playing up to the arena’s scale.
Originally published in The Edge
To mark the 10th anniversary of London’s foremost tent opening its doors to become the world’s busiest music arena, the week-long party they planned featured a suitably dazzling set of names. Having spent the last six years on the way to her 1,000th show in Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace, Céline Dion popped in for two nights in her first dates at the arena (and country) since 2008. To cap an astonishing six months in which he’s single-handedly made a mockery of charts in the streaming age on an almost weekly basis, Ed Sheeran used his third show of the year at the arena to warm up for his closing set at Glastonbury. Though their brace were ultimately postponed until December following Jay Kay undergoing an operation on his back, the final nights were sure to have featured the most extravagant headgear in Jamiroquai’s 15 years of electric funk.
Tasked with opening it all was alt-J, performing for the second time at the arena after opening 2015’s European leg of the This Is All Yours tour with Wolf Alice and Gengahr for company. The show also doubled up as an opportunity to dust off any cobwebs that might have gathered since they last headlined on home soil – not unlike Sheeran, their major Glastonbury slot must have been in mind – but if such a thing were the case then they did a very splendid job of hiding it. A brace from the two-week old RELAXER – opening number ‘3WW’ came drenched fittingly in a smoky, monochromatic haze, meanwhile ‘Deadcrush’ was an opportunity for the centre-stage Joe Newman to demonstrate an exquisite take on rockstar vocal swagger in front of a wall of lightning – sandwiched a trio from An Awesome Wave, which – upon the addition of ‘Intro’ to 2015’s setlist – was just one track and two interludes away from being played in full perhaps better than ever, with the capacity crowd in rich voice even for its more obscure moments. Continue reading “Live review: alt-J at The O2 Arena, London”
Fancy a concoction of grandiose orchestral beauty, boisterous horns with a fair dose of bite, and assertive commentary on the Radiohead-shaped comings and goings at a sex hotel? alt-J’s third record may be their least coherent but it’s certainly their sharpest.
Originally published in The Edge
On the eve of first seeing alt-J live in a sold-out O2 Arena, the song I played most frequently was ‘Taro,’ the bhangra-flavoured account of the death of war photographer Robert Capa in 1950s Vietnam that closed An Awesome Wave. Of course, it took me a while to realise this was the case – as a band named by Fine Art students after a keyboard shortcut, it’s only natural for things to be a little bit cryptic in the lyrical structure and delivery alike. With RELAXER, a record named after a “cool”-sounding hair product before you fall into the trap of expecting a soothing experience, this formula is very much accentuated: no ‘Intro,’ no fleuron-titled interludes; over its eight tracks, they’re far too busy telling tales of seaside Yorkshire threesomes, stabby pool parties, and ogle-prone Tasmanian devils. Continue reading “Album review: alt-J – RELAXER”