I heard a lot of great music in 2016 and so it was hard to settle on just 15 tracks for the annual markontour ‘Festive Fifteen’. I have, therefore, also compiled a B-sides compilation, featuring the songs I either heard too late in the year to include, or which narrowly missed the cut. If you want the whole list, it is mostly on a YouTube playlist. A Spotify list will be created during the next airport lounge wait. Enjoy!
1. Loyle Carner – No CDs
I heard this just too late, or it would be have been on the A-sides. Great rhymes: “Oh please, we ain’t got no peas / ‘Cos we spent all our money on some old CDs / Got some old Jay Zs / Couple of Old DBs / Place ’em up in perfect order ‘cos my OCD.
2. The Proper Ornaments – Cremated (Blown Away)
It was instant love on first hearing, courtesy of Mark Riley’s 6-Music show (probably my favourite DJ in 2016), and actually I can’t think of a single good reason why it didn’t make the F15 cut.
3. Catholic Action – Rita Ora
A band that has only been together for a year or so, but might turn out to be really great if everything they produce is as good as this. Brilliant at the Roundhouse ‘Rising’ new bands night.
4. Martha – Goldman’s Detective Agency
Clever tales of teenage angst accompanied by spiky guitars and great riffs. Looking forwad to seeing them live.
5. Lucius – Almighty Gosh
Upbeat, catchy pop from this Brooklyn band.
6. Wilco – Normal American Kids
Brilliant as ever on tour lastyear, on this opening track from their 2016 album curmudgeonly singer-songwriter, Jeff Tweedy, looks back to his teenage days and surprises no-one by revealing he was always an outsider.
7. Christine and the Queens – Tilted
Winner of multiple accolades, it’s taken me a while to understand what all the fuss is about, but the debut album is a grower and this is a real ear-worm.
8. Elbow – Lost Worker Bee
This only missed the cut because I assumed it would be on Elbow’s new album and I could use it in 2017. “Come be the queen to my lost worker bee” – what a way to woo.
9. Beyonce – Hold Up
Sampling ‘Can’t Get Used to Losing You’ is a great way to start three minutes of betrayal accusations.
10. James – Nothing But Love
Sounded just as good as they did in markontour’s student days. An instant sing-a-long.
11. The Stone Roses – All For One
I really wanted to include the new song from my all-time favourite band, but devoid of rose-tinted opticals it just didn’t quite make the cut.
12. The Wonderstuff – For The Broken Hearted
Completing a trio of late-80s indie favourites, this makes me nostalgic for some of the best gigs I’ve been to, courtesy of Miles Hunt and the Eight Legged Groove Machine (now minus a few limbs).
13. Meilyr Jones – How to Recognise a Work of Art
Markontour’s introduction to the mecurial talents of Mr Jones came via a bonkers-brilliant set in the Crows Nest at Glastonbury. His debut album is somewhat in the vein of fellow Welshies, Gorkys Zygotic Mynci, but is really too eclectic to pin down.
14. Super Furry Animals – Bing Bong
SFA said their cosmic Euro 2016 tune for the over-achieving Welsh football team “isn’t a song of victory or defeat, but a beacon of faith to return to when your best centre-forward gets sent off, or it rains at your festival.” Very Welsh.
15. Rose Elinor Dougall – Colour of Water
Once a Pipette, Rose Elinor Dougall is now making shimmering, dreamy solo material which is, rightly, garnering a fair amount of critical acclaim.
16. The Magnetic North – Northway-Southway
A markontour favourite from the 2016 festival circuit, it is hard to pick out a stand-out track from The Magnetic North’s (see photo at top) concept album about a Liverpudlian housing estate because the whole thing hangs together so well. But this is probably my favourite if I am forced to choose.
17. Darren Hayman – St Michael South Elmham
Almost every British cemetery records the chilling roll-call of local lads killed in World War One. Entire streets, villages, and factories of men often signed-up together and so whole swathes of many neighbourhood’s male population were wiped out together in deadly trench warfare. Yet, as Darren Hayman’s ambitious concept album recounts, there were also some extraordinarily lucky ‘Thankful Villages’, where every man that went off to war returned home alive. On this track Dorothy Bloomfield tells the tale of her father and a Suffolk regiment.
18. Leonard Cohen – Treaty
From his typically dark and fantastic final album, this is an incredible song that only didn’t make it onto the Festive Fifteen proper because I wanted to include ‘Marianne’. “Only one of us was real / And that was me”
19. Margot Price – Hands of Time
Proper country tales of bad decision, wrong-uns, and the demon bottle.