Wednesday, 24 December 2014

thegeneral's 2014 Round Up Award Ceremony With Optional Sausage On A Stick

It's that time of year again, the time of year literally no-one has been eagerly waiting for. Perhaps even less of you than that. It's time to once again put the champagne on ice (Yorkshire Tea in the pot), to roll out the red carpet (this year, a rather fetching off cut of carpet from "Beige Monstrosities R-US") and artfully arrange the snackettes in a bowl on the coffee table.

It's "thegeneral's 2014 Annual Round Up Award Ceremony With Optional Sausage On A Stick" and although last year's will take some beating (several of the bands have yet to get over me doing that impression of Judy Finnegan - and I'm still waiting for Matt Berninger to come and whisk me off my feet), we're going to carry on manfully and see what treats are in store for some of the bands and acts I've really loved this year.

Let us get cracking with some festive cheer...

The Best of The Best In Genres:

Best Bit of Prog-Rock Goodness For 2014

Rob Reed - Sanctuary

Released in July this year, this was a superb paean to Reed's fascination with Mike Oldfield, A wonderful, original composition, which took in elements of Tubular Bells, Hergest Ridge, Ommadawn and Incantations, this quickly became my most listened to album of the summer and garnered much critical acclaim for Robert. A thoroughly engaging and beautifully composed listen.

You can read my original post HERE

You can buy "Sanctuary" from HERE

Best Bit of Trippy Electronica for 2014

Ninetails -  Radiant Hex

Ninetails - Radiant Hex

Liverpool's Ninetails have undergone something of a brilliant transformation since they released their initial EPs back in 2012, they've gone from a frankly marvellous and original complex guitar sound to a band that are now not afraid to experiment with soundscapes, trippiness and ambient delights. This was far and away my favourite bit of electronic tinged goodness this year and hopefully there'll be more to come from them in the not too distant future.

You can read my original post HERE

You can listen to "Radiant Hex" HERE

Best Punky Punks of 2014

Cross Wires - Assembly/Your History Defaced

ASSEMBLY EP cover art

Punk is such a contentious genre and many bands claim to fit into it, while being about as subversive as a Marks and Spencer's Mushroom Quiche. Cross Wires are a proper bona-fide punk outfit that really capture the essence of the music, yet still retain their own identity. "Assembly" was one of the best EPs I heard this year, without a doubt and it should be high up on any self respecting punk's playlist.

You can read my original posts HERE

You can listen to Cross Wires HERE

Best Shoegazers Since My Bloody Valentine Award 

Mutes - MPDG

M.P.D.G cover art

Mutes. Lovely lovely Mutes. When I heard their EP "MPDG" earlier this year it took me back to a time when my hair was long, my clothes were black and I walked around with a permanent air of ennui about me (though that might be last week if you listen to most of my friends). Mutes have brought the gentle art of shoegazing back with a 21st century twist, "MPDG" was an EP of lovely contrasts, great songs and beautifully thought out music. One to watch in 2015.

You can read my original post HERE

You can listen to Mutes HERE

The Folk Me (!) Alt-Country Award

Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks

I'm a big folk music fan, weaned on it from my youngest years - bands like Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention were some of my fondest and earliest musical memories and Blair Dunlop carries on than fine tradition, and puts his own spin on a genre that is often misunderstood. "House of Jacks" is a superb album, one for well initiated folkies, but also one for people who don't know much about the genre and want a good initiation - it's alt-country tinged brilliance shows Blair to be a very talented singer/songwriter/musician. More please, Blair, in 2015.

You can read my original post HERE

You can listen to Blair HERE

The Best of The Best Best Best Best

Most Missed Forevs, Like


We Found Gold cover art

Tusk. Gone but nevs forgotten. There isn't much more to say. I thought I was bereft when Blank Maps split up, but I'll miss these guys heaps. There's still lots of time to catch up on their witty brilliance and musical aceness, so I heartily suggest that although they've gone, you click on my linkies and get acquainted. They were a brilliant band, much missed but hoping they'll return in some way, shape or form in the coming year or two.

You can read my posts about Tusk HERE

You can listen to Tusk HERE

Best Single of 2014

The Everglows - Sugary Sun

Sugary Sun cover art

The Everglows have become an oft-featured fixture on these pages the last few months, but "Sugary Sun" was definitely my single of the year. I loved it for it's psychedelic tinged awesomeness, it imbued the 60s without turning into a pastiche. This is one of those tracks that makes you glad to be alive. I'm expecting great things from them next year.

You can read my posts on The Everglows HERE

You can listen to The Everglows HERE

Best EP of 2014

Static Future - Assembly

This EP was a very very welcome late musical addition to the year, I'd so loved the band's last single "Marseille" and this release "Assembly", coming earlier in December is just as wonderful. Static Future are a band of great talent, I love their slightly ska-y, punky, syncopated rhythms and strong vocals. They should be getting much more attention than they are - so make it your mission to add them to your playlists in 2015.

You can read my posts on Static Future HERE

You can listen to Static Future HERE

Best Album of 2014

Co-pilgrim - Plumes

Co-pilgrim were one of the loveliest discoveries I made this year and now I've found them I'm hooked. "Plumes" is a genuinely brilliant album, full of simply stunning harmonies and wistful melancholia. Reminiscent of bands like Teenage Fanclub, yet ploughing their own furrow in an effortlessly stylish way. This is a record I've played over and over and I'm really looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.

You can read my post on Co-pilgrim HERE

You can listen to Co-pilgrim HERE

Best Band of 2014

Flights of Helios

Factory cover art

Easily my favourite act of the year. Flights of Helios have been a real joy to listen to. Their single "Factory", released in March is one of the best songs I've heard in years (the bassline at the start is IMMENSE) and they followed it up in fine style with a third outing called "Succubus" just in time for Halloween, which was equally captivating. They're a band that I'm going to continue to champion heartily and that really do deserve great success. A worthy winner.

You can read my posts on Flights of Helios HERE

You can listen to Flights of Helios HERE

So there you have it, thegeneral's blog of the year awards are complete - and it's now time for me to take a little break into the new year.

Every single band (whether featured in this review or not) have been a joy to feature on these pages through the last twelve months, and I've really enjoyed hearing from, listening to and writing about some genuinely outstanding music during 2014. Here's hoping 2015 is just as brilliant. I'm sure it will be.

It just remains for me to wish you all a safe, happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year - see you in January.

Much love

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The Everglows - Amanita

Good afternoon. It's Sunday. It's the Sunday before Christmas, which doesn't technically have a name but given the number of things that have gone wrong in thegeneral's house today, it might well now be termed "Fuck The Fuck Off Sunday".

Anyway, bad luck and household woes aside, I've got some more brilliant new music to share with you and I'm happy to be doing so.

If you read these pages regularly you'll know that The Everglows have, over the last few months. become something of a fixture on the blog and I'm really pleased that they got in touch with me again to share their latest song - which is literally and actually out literally today. If you'd like to, you can read my previous posts on the band HERE.

However, ye can hear the new song by clicking on the link to their soundcloud page here:

"Amanita" is another soup-herb track, and continues their psychedelic excellence apace. There's also something slightly punky about this too - it's got a fab rough around the edges, discordant feel to it, which the band really do so well. It's also one of those kind of songs that you only really need to listen to once before you can sing along - or in my case, have it stuck in your head all day - always the sign of good tunesmithery in my book.

If you're after new music this festive season which isn't festive the season, then give the new track by The Everglows a whirl. You need it in your life!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Bethany Weimers - Winter Heart

Winter Heart (Single) cover art

Hello once more dear friends. Actually, I haven't got any friends, I live in a world of strangers. Go me. It's quite nice though. I talk to myself and sometimes I even make sense. Anyway, random ramblings aside, I've another new act to introduce to you and also to the blog - Bethany Weimers.

Bethany's new single "Winter Heart" was released on 1st December and it follows on from her critically acclaimed debut album "Harpsichord Row", which came out in 2012. This, however, is thegeneral's first introduction to her music and I'm really pleased to be featuring it on these pages today as it's just lovely.

As always, here is all you need - go to Bethany's bandcamp page to have a listen to the new single and also, if you so desire, her last album:

Here is also a wonderful link to the video which accompanies the song:

This is perfect for those who like really elegant, delicately crafted songs, with a feeling of vulnerability and fragility to them. It's very moving to listen to and the video is just beautiful. To make comparisons always, to me, seems very unfair to artists who are trying to make their way and be unique - but that said, if you're a fan of someone like Kate Bush, it's highly likely you'll love Bethany's music. There is more of a folky feel to Bethany's style, however - and "Winter Heart" is a lovely song to accompany the dark evenings.

The bandcamp page also features a remix of the song, by one of my favourite favourite acts of the year, Flights of Helios, who I've rattled on about quite a lot.

So, for something heartbreakingly beautiful and moving to listen to, give Bethany Weimers' new single a listen, and give her your support this season of goodwill.

FaceOmeter - Why Wait For Failure?

Why Wait for Failure? cover art

Hello and Happy Mad Saturday to you (or whatever they call the last Saturday before Christmas - I'd personally like to call it "lets all amble aimlessly round the supermarket getting in thegeneral's way, when all she wants to buy is some butter and tomatoes"). Anyway, that moan aside here we are and I think for all those of us that need something non-festive to cling's some music which might tickle your undercarriages.

Today I'm very happy to be bringing you a wonderful new album, released on 2nd November, from an act called FaceOmeter, called "Why Wait For Failure?".

As always, here are the necessaries - hoik your folk fiddles off to the bandcamp page to have a little listen:

This is a great album, absolutely great - and comes from a genre I don't feature nearly enough of on these pages (folk/alt-folk). I'm a big folkie anyway - those of you who read my missives regularly will know how much I love 60s and 70s folk rock. This album is of that ilk, but really in a class of it's own and does try to bring something fresh to an area of music that can sometimes be quite misunderstood.

I love the pace of these songs and their tempo, they're so evenly and freely constructed, and have a real feeling of movement to them. It's a jolly romp and the pace of the guitars, paired with urbane and froclickingly clever lyrics mean that you actually never get bored with any of the tracks or want to skip through them.

What's great about this collection of songs is they also have a really wandering, meandering, winding essence as well (a bit like reading this blog posts, for those of you who visit here regularly) and this comes in part, I think, from the fact that Will Tattersdill (erstwhile singer/songwriter/musician behind the act) describes himself in part - on the bandcamp page - as a travelling storyteller.

Standout tracks for me were "The Singular Adventures of Sally the Tumbleweed" and "Why Wait" (absolutely marvellous).

If you want something non Christmassy to listen to and would like to gently lower yourself into some fab folky inspired music, you won't go far wrong by getting yourself acquainted with FaceOmeter. Heartily and highly recommended.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Thieves - Same Old Story

The Thieves
Howdy. It's Saturday afternoon and it's pouring with rain, thegeneral has just been out for a long walk and is now what can only be described as "piss wet through". So what could be finer that sitting down, drying off (well actually I dried off first before I sat down) getting a big mug of tea and sharing some excellentosity in music with you.

Today, I'd really like to introduce you to a band from Derby called The Thieves. The guys contacted me via The Twitters and asked me to have a listen to their single "Same Old Story". They've got a new single coming out in the new year which I'll give you all a heads up on when it's due for release, but in the meantime, have a listen to this:

The Thieves - Same Old Story

...and then do yourselves a favour and buy it...

...from here...

Reasons to love this song. It's super super cool. It's got brilliant riffage, I like the ebb and flow of the chords and the slightly maths rock feel to it. The vocals are nicely powerful, yet slightly muted and raw and to me it feels like one of those songs I'd want to listen to repeatedly 'cos it's so bloody infectious.

This is pretty much thegeneral's major introduction to the band and I've loved what I've heard so far - if you have to then give the guys your support, they're definitely one to watch in 2015. You  might not have heard them here first, but they're really worthy of your support and I'm definitely looking forward to hearing the new this space...

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Whitemoor - The North Wind

The North Wind - Single, Whitemoor

Well, here I am with a second post to whet your musical whistles on this grey and dreary day. We all need some musical sustenance on days like this.

What can I offer you? I can offer you another band that I've happily featured on these pages before and am equally happy to be featuring again.

Step forward Whitemoor. If you like, you can read my previous post on them HERE and I highly recommend you do.

Now then, they have a new single, due for release on the 13th December, and it's called "The North Wind". It will be available for download from their site:

and you'll also be able to preview it from here:

I've been lucky enough to have a sneak peak of the single and I can say that it's very very well worth a listen and, when the time comes, a download.

"The North Wind" is a stunning track, it's very stripped back and the band are, for want of a better phrase, laid bare for the first time. It's a step in a different direction for the band, after their last album and is more ballad-like. It allows the strength of their lyrics to shine through and also shows that they're a group of great depth. The video, which accompanies the single (and I'll update the page with this when the time comes for it to be released officially) is wonderful in its simplicity and it marries with the song very well indeed.

If you're after something gently lulling and emotional to listen to as we head into December, then look no further than this wonderful record. I hope that the band allow this side of their musical personality to come through more in the future.

The Everglows - Walking In The Air

Walking In Air cover art

Hello, good evening and welcome. Or if you're reading this in the morning, go away. I don't do mornings.

Normally, when it comes to the festive season I'm about as happy as a Misanthrope visiting the University of Happy People (Grinning Idiot Campus), the day they dish out the uppers. This year I'm making more of an effort. I've wrapped tinsel round my...actually, I won't tell you where. I'll leave you guessing.

But today, I'm breaking with my grinchyness to bring you a lovely bit of festive rock and roll joy. One of the best singles I hear all summer was The Everglow's last release "Sugary Sun". For those that missed it - SHAME ON YOU, but here is the link to my post so you can read and buy: HERE.

The guys got in touch with me late last week to ask if I'd be willing to cover their new gramaphone recording, and reader I am more than happy to oblige. First of all, the necessaries, hoik your tinselly gussets over to bandcamp to have a listen:

Yes. Yes, you're hearing right. It's a cover of "Walking In The Air". And isn't it jolly bloody most brilliant? Aled Jones, eat your little undropped plums out (there's an image you never thought you'd have...)

I love this. I love it's moddy-psychedelic tinged hipness. You could almost believe it was a brand new track they'd written themselves. But most of all, it's a perfect antidote to those of us who are sick of the usual festive songs doing the rounds (you KNOW the ones I mean...). It's a belter of a cover and it's well worth adding to your festive playlist.

So go on, do your festive bit and get the track. Every time you download this track, it stops you from buying the Band Aid single. Please, everyone, buy this instead.