Update / Top 20 of 2010

I’m not dead and I haven’t completely abandoned this blog, but I’ve had little time to write anything and it’s just kind of slid for nearly three months.

To be honest, I’ve no idea whether it will be resurrected or abandoned in 2011 or re-emerge in some other form.

Anyway, for now here’s my top twenty of twentyten.

1. SHACKLETON – FABRIC 55 (FABRIC)
2. JOANNA NEWSOM – HAVE ONE ON ME (DRAG CITY)
3. STRAY GHOST – NOTHING BUT DEATH (HIDDEN SHOAL)
4. AUTECHRE – OVERSTEPS (WARP)
5. BJ NILSEN – THE INVISIBLE CITY (TOUCH)
6. FLYING LOTUS – COSMOGRAMMA (WARP)
7. THEE SILVER MT. ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA – KOLLAPS TRADIXIONALES (CONSTELLATION)
8. BLACK DOG – MUSIC FOR REAL AIRPORTS (SOMA)
9. AUTECHRE – MOVE OF TEN (WARP)
10. KINGBASTARD – BEAUTIFUL ISOLATION (HERB)
11. NATIONAL – HIGH VIOLET (4AD)
12. GIL SCOTT-HERON – I’M NEW HERE (XL)
13. SLOW SIX – TOMORROW BECOMES YOU (WESTERN VINYL)
14. PAN SONIC – GRAVITONI (BLAST FIRST PETITE)
15. MAX RICHTER – INFRA (130701)
16. CLOGS – THE CREATURES IN THE GARDEN OF LADY WALTON (BRASSLAND)
17. THESE FEATHERS HAVE PLUMES – CORVIDAE (TARTARUGA)
18. MASSIVE ATTACK – HELIGOLAND (VIRGIN)
19. GORILLAZ – PLASTIC BEACH (PARLOPHONE)
20. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – THE PROMISE (COLUMBIA)

General blether

I’m going to be away from my computer for a week so there’s going to be nothing doing re: the review pile for that period. I have got the backlog down to a dozen or so things.

One or two things I like:

Jamie Woon’s new single “Night Air” is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long while. It’s a kind of mix between an R&B/pop tune and something far darker and ghostly. It’s a good song – definitely daytime radio material, but underneath there is something quite different going on with a haunted guitar strum and all manner of half-buried murmurings. It wasn’t really a surprise to learn that he’s a mate of Burial’s. There’s definitely that hallmark.

It’s been around a while, but James Blake’s CMYK still does the business for me.

Mary Anne Hobbs has her final show on Radio One on Thursday 9th. Let’s hope they fill the slot with something leftfield and forward thinking. She’ll be missed. She has a very special guest on her final show whose identity is shrouded in secrecy. Pure speculation on my part. But maybe it’s this chap (not Four Tet):

I can’t think who else she would be so mysterious about.

July 2010 Music Magazine Circulation Figures

Only some magazines publish a six monthly figure, the rest (who are registered with ABC that is) do it once a year. For the seven I have, the data is as follows:

Circulation for the six months ending June 2010

Classic Rock 70,323 (Dec 2009: 71,242, Jul 2009: 70,310) 12 month change +0.0%

Kerrang! 44,013 (Dec 2009: 41,125, Jul 2009: 43,253) 12 month change +1.8%

Metal Hammer 44,034 (Dec 2009: 41,777, Jul 2009: 46,004) 12 month change -4.3%

Mojo 91,678 (Dec 2009: 98,484, Jul 2009: 97,722) 12 month change -6.2%

NME 33,875 (Dec 2009: 38,846, Jul 2009: 40,984) 12 month change -17.3%

Q 89,450 (Dec 2009: 94,811, Jul 2009: 100,172) 12 month change -10.7%

Uncut 74,067 (Dec 2009: 75,518, Jul 2009: 76,526) 12 month change -3.2%

So, the metal mags are doing OK. Kerrang! has bounced back a bit after a couple of years of steep decline. Mojo and Uncut are drifting while Q continues its inexorable fall (it was selling more than 200,000 copies an issue 9 years ago)

The big story is NME. I thought the relaunch was a move in the right direction – more actual writing and a wider focus away from its indie rock staple. But the circulation figures are horrendous. They’ve halved in three years! It can only be a matter of months before IPC put it out of its misery at this rate.

The relaunch was needed. It was desperately poor before. As an outlet for music news it could never compete with the web, so more in depth pieces was the way to go. But I think that just drove away more of its low-attention span indie obsessed readers while failing to re-attract many of those who’d already given up on it. It looks like there’s no way back now and a web-only future beckons.

Record Mirror, Sounds, Melody Maker – all gone. The heyday of the music weeklies is now just a sentimental memory for those of us old enough to remember it.

The Uranus Music Prize

The Mercury Music Prize shortlist was total pants.

Some enterprising chaps have come up with an alternative, the Uranus Music Prize, which they intend to announce the same day. I have to admit to having heard just one record from their shortlist (Autechre), but it looks a damn sight more interesting than its corporate cousin. They should be encouraged to do this as a regular thing.

Weekend review flood

It’s been long promised. Now it’s gonna happen. It’s pissing down anyway, so I’m hardly about to be lured outside.

Because I’ve been distracted by other things, the pile has been building up with some things sitting around in my in box from as far back as June. I have totted up around 20 albums and eps. Some I’ve played, some I’ve yet to. I’ll get through as many as I can over the next 48 hours.

Wish me luck!

Night time Radio One

Tonight is my last night shift for two weeks. It’ll be good to re-engage with the world again, and not least this blog. Night time Radio One has been a big help in keeping my sanity. It’s a world away from the crass dumbness of the station when you lot are awake!

Mondays – Daniel P Carter’s Rock Show isn’t my favourite by a long shot. I like the guy, but too much of the music is characterless sludge. Mind you, there’s the odd goodie – he played Tool this week. The Punk Show does hit the mark, although it’s usually the copious number of oldies that Mike Davis plays that make me grin from ear to ear – Dead Kennedys, Discharge, Descendents, Dils, DOA – and that’s just the Ds! Bliss.

Tuesdays – two good shows. Nihal’s mix of bhangra, hip hop, grime and assorted Asian flavoured stuff is full of little gems made by people I know nothing about. Veteran Gilles Peterson sometimes comes a cropper with supper-club jazz, but always comes up with some interesting things.

Wednesdays – you either love or loathe Vic Galloway. I find him deeply annoying – it’s the earnest praise for indie-pop drivel as if it were Pulitzer Prize winning material that sticks in the craw. At least he does recognise that there is life outside of indie-pop in Scotland and plays some promising stuff from other genres. Mary Anne Hobbs is the show of the week.  Listen.

Thursdays – Kissy Sell Out is very very annoying. Fortunately he’s followed by a legend in Annie Nightingale. She loves the Chemical Brothers does our Annie, and it doesn’t take too long to find that out. But it’s a great, slightly old skool show.

Fridays – Is it me or is Pete Tong getting increasingly experimental in his old age. I reckon if he wasn’t so tied into his role as the don of dance he’d be happier doing a Hobbsian show. Trance these days goes in one ear and out the other for me. But there’s nothing to particularly dislike about Judge Jules. It’s functional. Cutski shouts a lot, but it’s not really surprising when he makes his living playing hard trance and hardcore. Despite the obvious ned connotations, I do like a bit of this stuff. The Essential Mix can be brilliant, can be shite – depends who’s on. Rob da Bank seems to have a free hand to do whatever he wants which means you never know what to expect. One show consisted entirely of a acoustic folkish campfire singalongs. But he’s just as likely to play Flying Lotus.

Saturdays – a bit colourless with the glorious exception of Grooverider’s show.

Sundays – repeats of week day shows, although between 3 and 4 you get the rotating new DJ spot and there’s an American woman who plays a solid hour of techno once a month. She’s good.

If I had to listen to shite like Real Radio, Clyde or Galaxy or any other of those fucking piss-poor commercial stations I think I’d have flipped by now.