So Spotify, using its infinite algorithmic wisdom, decided to name my top songs of the year. It got it so wrong that I had to make my own list.
Like most people the places where I listened to music – the in-between, the journeys, the times alone – disappeared this year. I became a bad neoliberal subject, refusing to feed Spotify the correct data. Some people can listen to music while they work but it slides out of focus when the flow state arrives.
So here, in something like an order, is this year’s list. Most of them aren’t from this year – music as a comfort blanket, music as a transport away from something.
Baxter Dury I’m not your dog
An early one from the first lockdown. Who doesn’t love a chattering synthesizer chopped up with shards of guitar?
This is from later in the year, once the novelty of staying indoors wore off, and the world shrunk down to the size of a screen and a seat. We would go for as long a walk as we could manage, trying to enlarge the size of the world a bit. And there would always be a reservoir somewhere...
British Sea Power The Great Skua
A day at the beach! Playing mini-golf! Excellent.
Aldous Harding Weight of the Planets
This was playing on the day I drove into Manchester for the first time to teach this September. I’m not the most confident driver.
Michael Kiwanuka You ain’t the problem
A trip abroad? Yes, in February. There were poster for his show – probably cancelled – everywhere in Lisbon.
The Church Hotel Womb
When the Church mesh all their guitars together there’s not much that’s better.
The Small Knives Flashlight and the Welcome Mat Landspeed
I only found out this year that Leo Mullins of the Small Knives and the Welcome Mat had died in 2019. Such great music. Apparently there’s a 90s revival going on, so here’s one from my cousin’s CD collection.
The Triffids Seabirds
This song has stuck in my head. Even though Born Sandy Devotional is 34 years old I’m still finding new things in it and it’s sense of overwhelming separation has seemed somehow right for this year. (a full documentary on the album).