Favourite Finds of 2016

Saturday 31st December 2016

This is something that I started doing in 2015 as I really enjoyed looking back over all the music I’d discovered and been introduced to.  Putting a list together of all my favourites is a fun experience, and I want to share some of what I’ve been enjoying this year.  There are so many ways music can be discovered, and this is far from an extensive list as my music collection is absolutely booming this year.  But, if you could only pick one answer for each of the following, who would you choose?  Here’s what I thought…

Favourite Spotify Recommendation:
– Inglorious

I’m a big Spotify user and using it for music discovery really does work.  I was actually checking out another band at the time who I’d been sent a press release for, and Inglorious popped up as a related artist.  Inglorious are a band that I loved right from the moment I first started listening to them, and it was a relief to know that I’d caught them from their first album.  With their classic hard rock sound and Nathan’s powerful vocals it’s clear that the band are destined for bigger things.  Album number 2 is already in the pipeline and I’m excited to hear what’s next, but their self-titled first album is still a staple in my collection.

Favourite YouTube Find:
– Feeder – All Bright Electric

Love it or hate it, we all get sucked in to that trap of going on to YouTube to quickly look for something specific and then 2 hours later you’re knee deep in Carpool Karaoke and life hack videos on how to best chop an onion without crying your eyes out, because you know, we all need that in our lives.  I was thinking back to my radio presenting days and remembered one of the most fun days I had in the studio was during a pre-record for one of my rock shows.  During which, me and my friend who was presenting with me at the time aired ‘Feeder – Just A Day’ and we had a moment of completely rocking out and I vaguely remember things getting broken.  Fun times!

So I did a quick search on YouTube and found that Feeder had actually released a new album recently.  I checked it out and was in awe from the moment I first heard it.  I found the album quite refreshing, with sounds that are true to themselves but another impressive release.  Although it has it’s heavier moments, it’s very easy listening and I enjoy having it on in the background whilst in the office most days.

Favourite Twitter Follow:
– Awake at Last

Belive it or not I do try and check out most of the bands and artists who follow me on Twitter.  Some only stick around for a few hours as they’re clearly only trying to build up their followers, but there are a number who make contact and interact, and enjoy chatting to those of us who write blogs.  Awake at Last started following me at the start of the year, I checked out their music and contacted them to see if they were interested in an interview and they responded straight away.  What really striked me about the band is their passion for making something of themselves.  A really friendly and down-to-earth bunch of guys, who are professional and serious, and put in a lot of time and effort to connect with fans and to play as many shows as possible to get their music heard.  Living over in the States the band haven’t made it over this side of the pond yet, but when they do I’ll be in line for a ticket.  Since our interview the band have kept in touch with updates on their music and I’m looking forward to hearing what’s in store for the new year.

Favourite New Release:
– Greenday – Revolution Radio

This is a difficult one to narrow down as there have been so many great releases this year – Black Stone Cherry, Tremonti, Blink-182, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Bowie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beyonce, Craig David, Yellowcard and Alter Bridge are a small handful of what I’ve been purchasing this year.  However, one of the albums I’ve played the most this year is ‘Greenday – Revolution Radio’.  I honestly believe this is their best release since ‘American Idiot’ and it makes me feel as though it’s 2004 again.  During this time I had a job where we could listening to our own music through headphones, and ‘American Idiot’ was constantly on my Sony Walkman.  There’s something euphoric about ‘Revolution Radio’ – maybe it’s because it has a sound that takes me back to that moment.  I wasn’t lucky enough to get tickets for their upcoming UK tour, so I’m holding out hope that there will be some last minute tickets released as they’re one band I’ve enjoyed for many years but still haven’t had the opportunity to catch live.

Favourite Recommendation by a Friend:
– Shinedown

With 5 albums already under their belt I’m ashamed that I’ve only just aquainted myself with the band.  Being friends with the likes of Alter Bridge should have been my first nudge, and the amount of plays on Planet Rock should have been my second.  However, it was my other half who really opened me up to their music after he had ‘Threat to Survival’ on in the house one evening.  It really felt as though I should have known who they were, because it sounded like something I would already own.  In fact, I actually saw the band perform at Download Festival in 2012, so I really didn’t have any excuse.  All 5 albums have now been welcomed with open arms to my collection!

Favourite Recommendation by Press Release:
– The Treatment

Press releases are a great way to discover new music, and I like to check out most of what comes through to my inbox because there are often a lot of gems to be discovered.  There a few releases that go on to become something really big, and it’s a nice feeling knowing that you heard that right from the start.  I believe ‘The Treatment’ are one of those bands, and the release of their third studio album ‘Generation Me’ this year has really put their mark on the British rock scene.  They did a lot of touring and the festival circuit in 2016, and I’m now holding out hope that another press release lands soon with a further announcement for this year.

Favourite Support Act:
– Don Broco

I managed to catch Don Broco whilst they were supporting ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ on their tour, and what really striked me was the amount of energy they have whilst on stage.  It’s watching a set like this that really opens up your mind to a band and their music, because when you see them having fun you want to be a part of that too.  I’ve listened to Don Broco on a few occasions as they’re a favourite of one of my Twitter followers (reading other peoples tweets about music does make you want to check it out too, or at least it does in my case).  I also have a shared playlist set up with a friend and we often add to it with new discoveries for each other to listen to, and this is probably when I first started listening to the band.  However, after catching them perform live I’ve been listening to them a lot more, and I think this really shows the strength of a quality performance.

Favourite Radio Find:
– Catfish and the Bottlemen

Now, I have to start by saying that I did already know about Catfish and the Bottlemen but it was this year that I really started getting in to the band.  Even though it was an earlier release, hearing ‘Kathleen’ on Radio 1 reminded me that I really liked the track when it first came out.  It was the same day that I then heard ‘7’ from their second album and I instantly decided to purchase both albums from my local HMV store.  For me, they remind me of the likes of Artic Monkeys when they first arrived on the scene, with their rock and roll confidence and a well established sound to their debut album.

Favourite Anticipated Release:
– Craig David

Quite possibly one of the biggest comebacks of the year was Craig David, and for me it was most certainly one of the most anticipated.  Having already released ‘When The Bassline Drops’ and ‘Nothing Like This’ before dropping his latest album, it was clearly shaping up to be a storming release.  It’s always a nervous time when artists decide to return to music, especially after watching the likes of the ‘Big Reunion’ with artists from the same era, for them to quickly go back to where they were before ITV came knocking on their door.  However, Craig David dusted off his decks and was the comeback kid of the year.  I can’t quite believe it’s been 16 years since ‘Born To Do It’ went to Number 1, but I’m pleased ‘Follow My Intuition’ has firmly cemented him back in to the charts.

Favourite Vinyl Release:
– Lonely The Brave – Dust and Bones EP

Quite possibly one of the most beautiful vinyl releases of the year.  Not just because of the lovely blue record it came as, or the extra tracks we’d been treated to after their second album had only just been released.  In fact, it was their fantastic cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Comfortably Numb’ that put me in to a spin.  Seeing it released through the Hassle Records Twitter feed I was so nervous – why do bands choose to cover other artists music and then release it?  Having a bit of fun in the studio yes, but putting it out as a release is always risky business, especially with something so iconic as Pink Floyd.  Yet, it turned out to be the most alluring cover I had ever heard, so haunting and so beautiful.