Tracks of 2016: #16 Altar Flowers

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Funny what the Internet can do.

There’s meeting people at gigs because they’ve not got a plus+1 and you have (waves to the person to whom this refers.) There’s meeting people for brief moments of pleasure (shrugs shoulders, I’ve only heard about this on the bus.)

And there’s finding a band who you don’t just really like, but who you end up chatting to about, er, Eurovision, if I recall. Hello Altar Flowers.

I can hardly deny liking Altar Flowers very much. As you may have noticed throughout this rundown, I’m a sucker for good old honest songs with heart and substance; maybe it’s the long lost 1980s goth inside me who never had the chance to develop who loves Altar Flowers’ retro touches. Melodies as strong as eye-liner is fundamental, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Tracks of 2016: #15 Eädyth

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Unknown unknowns bring so unexpected pleasures.

Lazy noodling around Soundcloud and the like takes me into all sorts of places. All Internet surfing is the same, of course. Oh look at me, using “Internet” with a capital letter and “surfing” like I’m a children’s television presenter from about 1994. Coming up next on The O Zone…

Anyway, lazy link following on Soundcloud landed me eventually with this track, and how I soon stopped hopping around and remained with my finger poised over the repeat listen function.  Eädyth has an amazing voice, soulful with youthful vigour floating above the essence of chill-out cool. Countless forwarding and skipping tracks, in a very modern way, took me to a song I couldn’t wait to hear again, and isn’t that the essence of an end-of-year roundup?

I am not one of those dyed in the wool romantics who believes in the wholesale destruction of all commercial radio (although I have been tested, CAPITAL). However, just sometimes, a voice like Eädyth’s comes to my attention and I wonder what would change if she was heard just once over Ellie “sheep being tickled” Goulding being heard for the 564th time that day.

Tracks of 2016: #10 Boxed In ft Formation

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Boxed In, back in.

So it goes that my annual selection touches on similar themes. Boxed In featured last year with “Full Circle”. How could I resist this fantastic groove, another to mix and mingle the blatantly retro with the cutting edge?

For “Running Out”, those retro touches are unbridled tributes to synth pioneers over a twenty-to-thirty year period. It rushes past you quickly and unashamed: this is power pop with something of the swish, the urban, the inner city. The outside world can be pushed aside with the strut of this track’s attitude, just put in the noise-cancellers and get out there.

I compare and re-visit the previous lists quite often. Patterns do emerge, of course they do. Humans like their patterns. Maybe there was, just at the back of my mind, a narrative reason behind choosing certain songs to follow each other. An inner DJ thinking process? Occasionally showing that I can review and research these things, now and then? A little from column a, a little from column b.

Tracks of 2016: #9 BOSS

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An unexpected selection.

Remember when a fringe element of the dance scene took it upon themselves to pretend that sounding like a Commodore 64 loading screen was somehow a “thing”? This track has that “thing” running through it. And it sounds fantastic. The retro bleeps-and-sparks are but one layer to this veritable signature dish of elements; and yes, I am “down with that”. It’s in the title. It all works.

BOSS sound boss, la. There’s a great use of the vocal equivalent of ellipsis about a third of the way through, the croak in the voice playful and a touch menacing, before the all-out indie feel makes way for something a touch more psychedelic. And yes, I’m “down with that”.

Tracks of 2016: #7 De Montevert

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Me! Disorganised?! Heaven forfend!

Okay. Disorganised. C’est moi. I have pencil sketches of this year’s list, possibly ensuring that I can at least prove the “in no particular order” part of this exercise. Best laid plans, however, do not respect the retractable pencil nor the shorthand writer’s notepad. And so, please get acquainted to De Montevert.

Who? No idea. I hear the sound of almost every other song Mary Ann Hobbs plays on 6Music…in a good way…the dreamy and ethereal, the insistence and the reticence playing off each other. It’s indie as heard through very modern filters, the vocal delivery shrug-shouldered, the lyrics playful and unforgiving. What came to me very late in this extensive/improvised process was a song with all the hallmarks of a late 1990s song popping up through means of time travel, and I’m a sucker for both the 1990s and tenuous metaphor.