It’s that time once again, as the countdown to the end of 2017 rapidly approaches we take a personal look back on familiar names, features and musicians’ best releases of the past 12 months. In what has been a crazy year of highs and lows it’s the releases that have pulled a lot of people through the year. Now in it’s 7th year, Circuit Sweet will be hosting takeovers from the featured artists/musicians/labels and promoters of the site with their personal top 5 releases of the year.
Continuing our annual end of year tradition we let our favourites take over the site to tell us the records that have made their end of year lists, their favourite events/gigs and what we can look forward to from them next year.
Our next take over comes from a man who has once again been instrumental in the Circuit Sweet team this year. The wonderful Gavin Brown has been writing for us for a few years and is such a brilliant member of our team, with a few weeks off to relocate his work was instantly missed. His knowledge and understanding of records continue to blow our minds- and we cannot thank him enough for all his hard work and efforts getting out the best reviews we’ve read. If you’ve had a positive feature on the site chances are the review came from the dedicated Gavin. We hand over to Gavin to find out more about the records that made his 2017… .
Top 5 releases of the year
1- Circuit Des Yeux- Reaching For Indigo
Music that is this enchanting, beautiful and above all, special doesn’t come around all that often and should be savoured as such. With Reaching For Indigo, Circuit Des Yeux, the musical platform for sublime vocalist Haley Fohr took the listener on an emotionally charged journey that could raise spirits at the same time as it broke hearts. Every single song on the album has been wonderfully executed but special mention should go to the exquisite Brainshift and Black Fly as perfect examples of how unique and life affirming music can be.
2- Blanck Mass – World Eater
Following 2015s epic Dumb Flesh could have been seen as an uphill struggle to top its greatness but it seems to have given Blanck Mass aka Benjamin John Power (half of the brilliant Fuck Buttons) a hunger to do so and he succeeds with the wonderful World Eater. An ambitious and glorious set of electronic brilliance, this album is vivid, beautiful and awe inspiring and tracks like Please and The Rat in particular were as good as music got in 2017.
3- Chelsea Wolfe – Hiss Spun
Chelsea Wolfe’s music has always had a heavy element to it through her stunning vocals but now the music that underscores that singing is elevated to a heavier place and sounds all the better for it. This is another emotionally powerful album that will encase you in its web and consume you with its haunting sense of beauty. A majestic album and one that takes you right inside the world of Chelsea Wolfe.
4- Fights & Fires – Live Life Like A Tourist
Capturing the intensity and energy of their frantic and memorable live show was never going to be an easy task for Worcester’s Fights & Fires but they pulled it off with style on this inspired debut album. The bands punk n roll sound was a blast of good time energetic music that will resonate with anyone who hears this album.
5- Brutus – Burst
Infectious, melodic and passionate, Brutus detonated a massive musical bomb in the form of Burst and certainly left their mark on an unsuspecting world. This is an in your face album without being overtly aggressive or obvious and had bucketloads of charm encased in its vigorous nature.
Honourable mentions go to the following as well who all related fantastic albums this year
Ohhms – The Fool
The Bug vs Earth – Concrete Desert
Pet Crow – A Simple Guide To Small And Medium Pond Life
Goldie – The Journeyman
Los Campesinos – Sick Scenes
Mountain Goats – Goths
Iron Monkey – 9-13
Kusanagi – Aeon
Amen-Ra – VI
Boris – Dear
Mr Mitch – Devout
Unsane – Sterilize
Pigs x 7 – Feed The Rats
The Best Gig You’ve Attended
Big Business/Whores @ Mama Rouxs, Birmingham
With fine supporting slots from local Birmingham bands History Of Sex and Longfallboots too (who both need checking out too), this double header from noise rock behemoths Atlanta’s Whores and Seattle’s Big Business shook Mama Roux to its foundations such was the power of their sound. This was a gig that was astounding as much as it was inspiring with both bands playing mesmerisingly loud and extremely passionate sets that blew the Birmingham audience away. Miss these bands when they next come over at your peril and for those that were there, this was a masterclass in live music.
Other Amazing Gigs This Year Were –
Steve Ignorant @ The Booth Hall, Hereford
Ginger Wildheart @ The Marrs Bar, Worcester
The Bug @ Amusement 13, Birmingham
Hide Your Eyes @ The Booth Hall, Hereford
Life Of Agony/Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics/Blood Runs Deep @ O2 Institute, Birmingham
Grand Collapse @ Full Moon, Cardiff
Highlights Of The Year
It’s got to be attending two of the best festivals in the country in Nozstock and Supersonic Festival. These festivals are both completely different in terms of lineup and setting (Nozstock has the fine location of a massive farm in Bromyard while Supersonic has the urban sprawl of Digbeth in Birmimgham) but both share the same eclectic spirit, love of great music and incredible atmosphere and vibes. This years Nozstock saw great headline sets from Happy Mondays, Sugarhill Gang and Seasick Steve along with standout performances from Beans On Toast, General Levy, Levelz, Death By Unga Bunga, Uncle Dugs and Billy Daniel Bunter, Ferocious Dog, Ivy Lab and Hardwicke Circus among many others in what was an incredible three days that even the very wet weather on the Friday couldn’t spoil. The festival is expanding year on year (the addition of the Elephants Graveyard was immense this year, with its fun and reggae showcase among the highlights of the festival) and with the twentieth instalment next year, its a festival you won’t want to miss out on.
Supersonic with its multiple indoor settings each with different vibes and an eclectic approach to who was booked was a massive highlight too. This is such a passionate and forward thinking festival that any lover of not only music but the arts in general should seek out. Performances from Anna Von Hausswolf (who opened the festival with a sublime performance in the stunning setting of Birmingham Town Hall), Melt Banana, Zu, Nicholas Bullen, Richard Dawson, Jenny Hval, Pigs x 7, PCM, Colin Stetson and the phenomenal debut of Kevin Martin and Justin Broadricks Zonal Project were all highlights of a superb weekend that I can’t wait to experience again.
Also listening to and writing about so much great music continues to be a massive highlight as does discovering so many phenomenal new bands.
Artist/Band to watch for 2018
East Of My Youth
Death By Unga Bunga
Hide Your Eyes
Plans for the new year
Looking out for all the talented new bands and artists that continue to be brought forward from the great people at A Badge Of Friendship.
Attending both Nozstocks twentieth anniversary which is sure to be both special and memorable and Supersonic 2018 which will, no doubt,be incredible, roll on the summer!
Hopefully hitting up the Arc tangent festival as I have heard nothing but great things about the festival.
Reviewing the mighty Amen Ra and Boris double header when it reaches Bristol in February.
Continuing to write for Circuit Sweet, discovering the best new music and bands and doing as many reviews and interviews as I can as well as getting to as many gigs as I can.
Once again a huge thank you Gavin for giving us more of your time!