This year’s Festive Fifteen, my annual round-up of the best new songs I have had the pleasure of hearing this year, is the product of a multitude of influences. I discovered three of the artists at the wonderful Green Man Festival in Wales. Five tracks reached my ears courtesy of the ever-wonderful BBC Radio 6 (6 Music if you must). Only three were record shop recommendations, probably the smallest total in my decade of Festive Fifteens, and a sure sign that I am not spending enough time in those educational establishments. But that is balanced by the fact that I have enjoyed live shows by more than half of the featured artists – a very healthy state of affairs.
Markontour is taking a week away from the office to read, think and plan, stimulated by early morning hikes in the Brecon Beacons, and book-ended by late evening blogging. Today’s inspiration comes from a cracking walk up Hay Bluff to see the red dragon cairn (above) that proudly marks the summit. To the east lies England, to the west is Wales. The dragon watches in all directions.
Half Man Half Biscuit’s ‘Urge for Offal’ is my Album of the Week #5. I have been addicted to the music of these lads from the Wirral peninsular since first hearing ‘Trumpton Riots’ on John Peel in about 1986. 2014’s offering, ‘Urge for Offal’, get’s all literary with ‘Baguette dilemma for the Booker Prize Guy’, but it would win my Album of the Week award on the strength of a single line in ‘This One’s For Now’: “Why does Mr Universe always come from Earth?”. Now there’s a question that has always bothered me. Aural joy.