GJB’s annual music roundup – 2015 – FEATURE

Well it’s that time of year again, time to analyse the noise. Here’s my picks of 2015. Which was also the year I set myself a goal of seeing 200 bands in concert. Did I hit that target? More on that in a future post 😉

It wasn’t easy getting this list down to 10. That just goes to show what a great scene we have here at the moment. Nationally and of course in Newcastle. So many amazing artists playing here and in the northeast. It’s been pretty ace to be a part of it.

Eagles of Death Metal - November 2015 Newcastle O2 Academy

Eagles of Death Metal – November 2015 Newcastle O2 Academy

Top 10 gigs of 2015

1. The Twilight Sad – Cluny, Newcastle – April 2015.

A special show for me. I’ve seen them a further 2 times this year but this was intimate (despite being sold out) and utterly spectacular. It’s rare for me to get that buzz from a show, happily the buzz from this one lasted for weeks.

Oh and I got to watch them soundcheck and interview James. Top bloke. Top gig. Easy choice! Tours with the Editors, Chvrches and The Cure could well mean the days of intimate shows are numbered. They are also one of the best live bands in the UK at the moment. Catch them if you can.

The Twilight Sad - April 2015 - The Cluny Newcastle

The Twilight Sad – April 2015 – The Cluny Newcastle

2. Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – Cluny, Newcastle – Oct 2015

Crazy show. What can I say? Frank said it was his favourite show he ever played. I can honestly believe that too.

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes - Newcastle Cluny Oct 2015

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – Newcastle Cluny Oct 2015

3. Reef – Newcastle Riverside – April 2015

Bloody hell! I went to this for a bit of a retro throwback. Just when you’re not expecting it! BAM! I came away having seen one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.  If anything age has given them more of an edge. Such a great show and at a class venue.

Reef - Riverside Newcastle - April 2015

Reef – Riverside Newcastle – April 2015

4. Nick Cave – The Sage – April 2015

Well this has to go on here doesn’t it? The master of the stage and lyricism. Pleased that 2015 finally became the year I could chalk him off the bucketlist. Truly spectacular performance and some expert self promotion by worr Kobadelta.

5. Russian Circles – Leeds Brudenell, April 2015

April was a good month for great gigs. One of the best bands in the world in one of the best venues? Hell yes. Fantastic to get to see them in such as small venue.

Russian Circles - Leeds - April 2015

Russian Circles – Leeds – April 2015

6. Shitwife –  Head of Steam, Newcastle – Sept 2015

This two piece made me curious before I’d even heard them. Attention grabbing name and signed to Sapien Records, so in theory they should be good. And yes they were, bloody hell they were!

Shitwife - Newcastle Sept 2015

Shitwife – Newcastle Sept 2015

7. Thurston Moore Band – Cluny, Newcastle – May 2015

Another bucketlist artist. With his latest project, still kicking myself for never making any roadtrips to see Sonic Youth. This is probably as close as I’ll get 🙁 What a show, the new songs were fantastic.

Thurston Moore - Newcastle UK May 2015

Thurston Moore – Newcastle UK May 2015

8. Mogwai – Barrowland, Glasgow – June 2015

I’ve always wanted to see Mogwai on their home turf. Their 20th anniversary seemed the ideal opportunity. My word this is the best I’ve ever seen them. Amazing performance and I was welling up when My Father My King was played. Happy fan.

Mogwai - Glasgow Barrowland 2015

Mogwai – Glasgow Barrowland 2015

9. Primus – Manchester Apollo, June 2015

WOW! Balcony seat. Lots of wine. Lots of riffs. I’ll remember this one for many years. They did two sets. A set of classics and then a full run through of their Willy Wonka record.

Primus - Manchester 2015

Primus – Manchester 2015

10. Sepultura – Glasgow, Central Grand – November 2015

HUGE sound! That’s the first thing that hit me, then the mosh pit hit me. What a wild night, am I too old for this chaos? Nah! Derek is an outstanding frontman. Such a buzz to finally see these, having been a fan since the age of 13. It’s been a good year for chalking off bucketlist bands 🙂

Albums of the year

To be honest I struggled to get to 10 this year. Most of these are older bands that are releasing great albums. I’m sure I’ve missed out on a ton of new stuff. Indie fodder seems to be the only stuff coming my way and that is rather poor. Nothing thrills me about the current scene. (For my pigeonholers – note a distinct lack of metal on here ;-))

1. Built To Spill – Untethered Moon

They’re back with another slab of guitar greatness and lovely melodies. This is a record that I have played a lot, such a perfect BTS album. Seeing them perform these songs live cemented my love for this album. This band is often overlooked (but not by me). A welcome return. Here’s one of my favourite tracks from it.

2. Kylver – The Mountain Ghost

A band that seemed to appear from nowhere and won me over instantly. Written and recorded locally in Newcastle, the record is sublime. Highly crafted and an absolute indulgent treat for the ears.

3. Blacklisters – Adult

Probably their strongest record to date, I’ve played this album a fair bit in recent months. My kind of racket. A total kick up the !!!

4. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Blossom

Never write Frank off. Powerful return with his new band. back to his raging best. There’s a substantial amount of depth to the lyrics and some great riffs. This song particularly speaks to myself and my demons.

5. Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves

Long time coming, the Chinese Democracy of the indie world! Thankfully the music is better than CD. Some all time classic MM here, even if they totally tanked live (again). I haven’t really listened to the album as much as I would have, amazing what a bad gig can do. I listened to it again recently and was won over.

6. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

More reformation gold! So many bands have reformed in recent years. This album came as a shock, really glad they’ve reformed. Picking up where The Woods left off (my favourite of their albums), hard to believe there was a 10 year gap between these releases.

7. Wilco – Star Wars

Another record that appeared to drop from nowhere, and not many people seemed to have taken notice. It’s Wilco back at their creative best, the songs take a few listens to click; kings of the slow burner! The album is nothing at all to do with Star Wars, so Tweedy claims.

The album tails off a tad towards the end, but it is another stroke of brilliance from Wilco, proving that they are one of the all time greats.

8. Burning Flag – Burning Flag

My ‘shouty’ album of the year. I’m not even sure how I came across this band. This album is bloody ace! Love the power and tone of the vocals. It’s a solid album from start to finish. I hope to see them live at some point in 2016.


9. Torche – Restarter – Damn fine, groovy rock album. The production is something else. So much low end, it sounds fantastic. A nice change from the flat production of modern MP3 era stuff. This is designed to be played loud and it sounds huge.

10. Gallows – Back but not quite the power of their 3rd LP. Still great.

Discovery of the year – Kylver

Well it had to be didn’t it?! They appeared as if from nowhere fully formed and flipping awesome. Who knew I liked prog? Well i do now. Hammond’s, Theremins and complex meandering riffs. They’ve won a loyal and exponentially growing following, despite having only performed a handful of shows. But don’t just take my word for it. They’ll be playing around the UK next year. Make sure to catch their phenomenal shows.

We’ll have a session with them coming soon…

Kylver – Tone Control Dec 2015

Underdog of the year – Raging Speedhorn

Raging Speedhorn - Newcastle O2 Academy May 2015

Raging Speedhorn – Newcastle O2 Academy May 2015

I expected little & was stunned. I’ve overlooked this lot for too many years. Looking back I blame 2000s nu metal production as the songs are bloody awesome. Hands up, I admit I have been wrong about this band for years and years. They were stunning opening for Will Haven at the Academy in May.

Comeback of the year – Snot

Get Some in full. One of the bands that should have made it huge but tragedy stood in the way. They’re back and I couldn’t believe they played here. Solid performance, the Cluny was wild that night, our pals in We Are Knuckle Dragger opened. Good times!

Snot - Newcastle UK Cluny Feb 2015

Snot – Newcastle UK Cluny Feb 2015

Best event – Slam Dunk (North Leeds)

Gallows - Leeds Slam Dunk North - May 2015

Gallows – Leeds Slam Dunk North – May 2015

Easy choice really. I chose to avoid the big fests and just catch as many shows as possible. However Slam Dunk drew me in with a great lineup of bands at Beckett Uni in Leeds. I didn’t bother with the other venues. Gallows and The Bronx… say no more!

The security were tip top for this event, made shooting it much less stressful, thank you 🙂

Review here for that

Top tip for 2016 – Velvoir

Watch out for these. Only going as a band since early 2015 and are still evolving, growing and wrestling with their skills. Very talented with a killer stage show.

Wooden Spoon Awards!
As is tradition, those bands that have tortured me this year and my (some may say petty) retribution! Yeah. True. Oh well…

Slaves/sleaford mods – The only bands I walked out on this year. That’s a very rare occurrence. Nope. Just nope! Both awful. I did enjoy photoing Sleaford though, some good shots. Almost worth tolerating the sea of grumpy middle-aged blokes at their gig. Almost but not quite. I remain baffled by the popularity of these bands. Often when you see a band in person it ‘clicks’ and you get it. For these bands there was no click, just annoyance. Not my cup of tea.

Worst event of the year – BBC 6 Music ‘Festival’

Some great bands on and getting tickets was a nightmare. I only managed to get Academy tickets by luck and perseverance (3 hours refreshing their site). That was pretty ace but it just didn’t have the vibe of a festival, most people seemed disinterested in the bands, standing around talking in huddles. Just no real engaging atmosphere.

Great set from Mogwai and it was amazing to finally see Sleater-Kinney after all these years. I really wanted to see The Fall and BSP but the Sage booking system is a giant pile of poop and can’t cope with more than 10 people at a time (so it seems!). All in all hugely disappointing, no real coverage for local bands or access to local media. All in all a huge let down.

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