The New Year is around the corner, Xmas holidays have begun for some and so it is time to reflect on the best music of the last twelve months – my annual Festive Fifteen. For the uninitiated, worry ye not that there are neither 15 tracks or any of a festive nature on this here tribute to the late lamented DJ, John Peel, erstwhile compiler on Radio 1 of the eclectic Festive Fifty countdown of the year’s best alternative songs, to which I pay annual homage. That was a long sentence..
The full playlist is available on Spotify. Links to all the videos are below.
While tidying up old playlists as I prepared this blog I discovered that this is the 10th anniversary of the compilation. Thus I have a welcome task for the next couple of weeks of leave, to add the back-catalogue to Spotify and markontour.
The Festive Fifteen 2014
1. Jungle – ‘Busy Earnin’
Like 3 million other people, I loved their YouTube video for Platoon, featuring an impossibly cool junior break-dancer. But I prefer this track and they sealed the deal with a full-energy show at Latitude.
2. Gruff Rhys – ‘100 Unread Messages’
The crazy but true story of John Evans’ attempt to find the lost Welsh tribe of the Madogwg and so claim north America for Wales, retold by the Super-Furries frontman.
3. Lucius – ‘Wildewoman’
A last minute F15 entrant thanks to Cerys. I haven’t a clue what it is all about, but apparenty Wildewoman’s smile is “sneaky like fiery fox” & she’s up to no good. But the song is lillting, upbeat and it just makes me smile.
4. Courtney Barnett – ‘Avant Gardener’
Applying the method of buying the song because I like the title proved adroit in this case. A funny, punchy, clever, story-song that tells the tale of Ms Barnett having an asthma attack while gardening.
5. The Young Fathers – ‘Low’
Hailing from Edinburgh via Liberia & Nigeria, this is the most infectious track off TYF’s deservedly Mercury Prize winning debut album.
6. Elbow – ‘New York Morning’
A celebration of all things NYC, with a poignant Guy Garvey twist at the end. The Elbow frontman was living in Greenpoint when he wrote this, & it has become my personal soundtrack for my regular work visits to the same streets.
7. Damon Albarn – ‘Mr Tembo’
This is the party track off a beguiling, but otherwise melancholy & self-reflective solo debut. “Mr Tembo’s on his way up the hill / It’s where is now / But it wasn’t what he planned.” And note the reference to “Colworth Road” – just up the way from my E17 abode.
8. Cherry Ghost – ‘Herd Runners’
Simon Aldred has a voice that is as rich as those puddings where the chocolate oozes out of the centre. His Estuary Stage set at Festival No.6 this year was utterly captivating, just like the album from which this is the title track.
9. Cowbell – ‘Heavy on my Mind’
Discovered courtesy of a What’s Cookin’ at the Leytonstone Warrant Officer. A duo that overcome my prejudice that the only band without a bass player that are worth listening to are the White Stripes.
10. Fat White Family Band – ‘Borderline‘
Onstage the Fat Whites are chaos personified and Borderline just about captures that.
11. Lily Allen – ‘Sheezus’
We are divided in our household on Ms. Allen, but I was convinced by an endearing appearance on Desert Island Discs, and this song keeps getting lodged in my head after listening on a morning cycle.
12. The Felice Brothers – ‘Fire at the Pageant’
Capturing something of the raucous nature of their awesome live performances, I love the group chant: “5, 6, 7, 8, 9 thousand / Everybody calm down / Please stop shouting!”
13. Heart is a Drum – ‘Beck’.
Beck in reflective mood & making beautiful, dreamy music. This track has become my favoured take-off song, helping me relax into enforced conferment in a tin tube as I gaze out of the window and think about where I am heading.
14. Goat – ‘Hide From The Sun‘
I was transfixed by this strange bunch of Scandanavians at Latitude – all masks, pagan symbology, & music to move hypnotically to.
15. The War on Drugs – ‘Under the Pressure’
Layered sounds made for hot days and travel. Kurt Vile’s former band seems to be getting on pretty well without him.
Bonus tribute track
16. Whitney Houston – ‘Dance With Somebody‘
For my wonderful C40 colleagues who were prepared to follow Whitney’s instruction in Hindsgawl. And for Elwyn, who has been asking for Whitney for 20 years.