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2018: not a total write-off

January 3rd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Music/Politics · No Comments · Life, Music, Politics

In many respects 2018 was a year to forget. The news was almost entirely bad, and sometime so bad it was funny, with a number of headlines that would have been dismissed by Chris Morris for being too ridiculous. Brexit was tearing apart the country, the government and the opposition, and fillingup the news every single bloody day with a string of people all saying the same few things for a whole year. The only respite was Trump, and that is no respite at all.

In an attempt to avoid reality for brief periods I did read a few good books, the best of which was probably The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry. Ambrose Parry is the pen name for a collaboration between Chris Brookmyre and his wife, and the book is a thriller set in Victorian Edinburgh that also tells the story of the discovery of anaesthetics. I continued to nap up Kindle 99p books of the day, most of which are still waiting to be read.

2018 was also the year I discovered the pleasures of two wheels, buying a 50cc scooter, taking my CBT and then getting a Yamaha 125. We took full advantage of the good weather in the summer to take a few runs out in the country, and made lots of friends in local motorbike groups. Next year we are taking our practical tests and getting big bikes so we can go further afield in more comfort.

Cinema and live music didn’t really get a look-in this year. Bad Manners at the Hawth was the only concert we got to all year, apart from some, admittedly good, bands at the Plough in Lower Beeding. I did partake in  some television. Mostly Sky News as background noise, more so now that Vintage TV has disappeared from the airwaves, but also a steady stream of DC shows on Sky (Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow). Otherwise the highlights were Killing Eve, Doctor Who and the welcome return of Vic & Bob’s Big Night Out.

What really rescued 2018 from being a completely miserable year was music. It turned out to be a bit of a classic year. There were decent new albums from some old favourites like Arctic Monkeys, Beak>, Janelle Monae, Joachim Witt, Manic Street Preachers, Paul McCartney and the Prodigy. There was also the White Star Liner EP from Public Service Broadcasting, and Angelique Kidjo’s cover of Remain in Light.

2018 also saw a surprise new release from Parliament (who knew they were still a thing?) , an album of B sides and other bits and pieves from the Police, A new Juno Reactor LP, and new material from Paul Weller, Jack White, Paul Simon, Joe Bonamassa, Muse, and  Baxter Dury, David Bowie’s 2000 Glastonbury set, and a few blasts from the past: Blancmange, the Damned and Kim Wilde.

Best of all, there was plenty of muic that was either from new artists or artists new to me, and it is always a pleasure discovering new things like Anna Calvi, Hookworms, Idles, The Orielles, She Drew the Gun, Lets Kill Grandma, Goat Girl, White Denim and Ty Segall.

On top of all that, there were at least four new albums from Sly & Robbie and a couple of new albums from Van Morrison, showing that you don’t have to slow down as you get older.

All of that is just scraping the surface. It really was a great year for music and new music, making it hard to pick out a favourite or even a few favourites, but for what its worth…

There were a few stand-out tracks. Iggy Pop and Underworld collaborating on Get Your Shirt, Beirut’s haunting Gallipoli, and Anna Calvi’s As A Man. As far as favourite albums, it would have been Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer but for the amazing Your Queen Is a Reptile by Sons of Kemet. How was I to know that the thing my life was really missing was an album of tuba-heavy jazz?

2019 will have to be brilliant to come anywhere close to 2018 musically, but if the news is as shitty as it was in 2018 we can only hope that the musicians continue to provide reasons to be cheerful.


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