As always, I’ve listened to a lot of music this year. Some old. Some new.
My most anticipated release this year was Ridge and Furrow EP from Dark Forest. DF were my favourite discovery last year and I just love them. The new EP is excellent, Skylark being my favourite track. I hope they put out a full album again soon.
A blast from the past is Jethro Tull’s Heavy Horses. Originally released in 1978, I’ve been listening to the 2003 remaster on Spotify. I listened to Original Masters growing up but never investigate JT’s back catalogue. I heard Acres Wild somewhere (Planet Rock maybe?) which put me onto this cracking album.
Brymir’s Voices in the Sky came out this year and featured in Ba’al’s August recommendations. It reminded me how much I enjoy melodic death metal which led me to revisit a lot of Children of Bodom. Which in turn sent me down a rabbit hole of people covering Alexi Laiho solos which honestly made me quite sad.
I saw Less Than Jake in April and it was maybe the best gig I’ve ever been to. I have had all of their hits on repeat since. The stand out is Silver Linings from 2020 which I’ll listen to while doing the washing up. How very millennial. I think the regular version is better than the deluxe, I have no need for the acoustic covers.
On the ska punk theme, Goldfinger’s Never Look Back (Deluxe Edition) has as been on a lot. Lots of bangers. A few I hadn’t heard before. With this I prefer the Deluxe edition because the extra tracks are great and it gives us Avril Lavigne on Here In Your Bedroom.
Sabaton brought out another World War I album. It’s alright. I wrote about it at length here. There are a few bangers on it so it should get a mention.
Nekrogoblikon’s 2018 album Welcome To Bonkers hit me just right with The Magic Spider. I’d been aware of the band since Gavin mentioned them on an episode of 2 Good Boys years ago but I never investigated them. The Magic Spider appeared in my Discover Weekly and I fell in love with the whimsy. It was my second most played track of the year.
Speaking of most played tracks. In January I binged Epica. They we’re a band that I thought I should like but didn’t. At some point something just clicked and now I love them. Design Your Universe is my favourite album from them and Burn to a Cinder reached the top spot in my most played tracks.
I watched The Matrix a too many times this year because it’s great, safe content. I got really into the soundtrack by Don Davis. It’s just a banger. Off the back of that I made a playlist of film (and TV) scores that I enjoy. It’s quite basic but I have to say the first Michael Bay Transformers film has some great tracks.
A shout out again to Richie Morgan’s playlist Progressive Values. We listen to it a lot when on long drives. A masterpiece. I do wish Firth of Fifth was on it though.
The end of last year saw me listening to a lot of Porcupine Tree & Steve Wilson. PT’s new album CLOSURE/CONTINUATION is very good. Listened to it a lot on holiday in Northumberland. Very sad I didn’t get tickets to see PT live, I doubt I’ll get another chance.
This year saw my mega-playlist grow to more than 2000 tracks. It was rebranded from YAAAAASSSSS to Hey dol! Merry dol! as I have become increasingly Bombadil-pilled.
Looking a head to next year, there aren’t any album releases I’m looking forward to but I have a few gigs lined up already. Animals as Leaders in January, Dream Theater in February, and The Chats in May. In theory Joe Satriani is playing in Birmingham on the 12th of May but that’s been postponed many times since the original date in 2020, so we’ll see if that goes ahead.
Finally, I think it’s worth talking about Spotify. I wrote about my time with Apple music earlier this year (on a post which I have yet to revive from the great crash of 2022). Spotify really does fit my usage, the music library is vast, the app is decent, I have no issues getting the audio to my car, and the way it surfaces new music to me is first class. I don’t care for them doing podcasts or audiobooks and the way they treat artists is bad. However there’s just so much music I wouldn’t have heard without it. So many vinyls and gig tickets I would never have purchased directly from the bands. I think 2023 will be a year where I try to acquire local copies (either physical or DRM free files) of my most beloved music, if Spotify were to go away tomorrow I’d lose a lot of stuff I’d like to have access to. This is a thing I have already been doing with film & TV so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Not a bad year for music.
 - Quite a bold claim. It was the first gig I’ve been to since Feb 2020 Sabaton which might have some effect on my rating. The the band and crowd had so much energy. Everyone was singing along, even to the newer tracks. A high point of this year to be honest. Plus I didn’t catch any viruses while there.