Features

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New York City musician Kristeen Young has got quite a CV. She regularly records with Tony Visconti, she's played with David Bowie and Dave Grohl and toured with Morrissey (who rather astutely described her as "Maria Callas, if not for the keyboard that she plays like a set of drums"). Her new single "NICE" is a serious take on modern day male celebrity told through a cavalcade of crunching bass musical shifts that would put Rick Wakeman to shame. Part Kate Bush, part Sparks, Young has a knack for writing odd songs that you can still dance to.

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You may have heard of Irma Vep (aka Edwin Stevens) because of his superb recent album No Handshake Blues. You may have heard of him because he gets played on BBC 6Music quite a lot (the ever-reliable Marc Riley is a big fan). You might have heard of him from one of his many other projects (Sex Hands, Klaus Kinski, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, Yerba Mansa)...or from his regular "Very Bon" club nights in Manchester...or his tape label...or his collaborations with the equally workman-like Kiran Leonard.

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2106 - widely regarded as the worst year of all times, but there were at least 20 albums released by 20 artists who kicked against the pricks (Trump, Farage, The Grim Reaper etc). Here are our top 20 albums of the year. As usual, the top of our pile didn't originally get the highest score of all the albums listed here (although it still got an impressive 8.5), but it's the album that's spent most time on the turntable, and who can argue with that? NOBODY!
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Five years on from their debut album, Civil Civic are back with a bang, and a hyperactive new LP called THE TEST. Aaron Cupples and Benjamin Green are originally from Melbourne but are now based in London and Barcelona, a long distance relationship which might go some way to explaining the five year gap in albums. Anyway, they are back now and that's all that really matters. Here in #47 of our Broken Record series, Ben Green (bass / synth) tells us about lots of the records that he loves/hates.

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2015: the year that the world imploded whilst independent music carried on regardless. 2015 was a year that threw up a whole host of angry or optimistic or absurdest releases, some of which will surely be regarded as bona fide classics in the future, providing that the earth has not been destroyed in some sort of nuclear shit storm. You should probably buy all 25 of these records before that happens. PS - Merry Christmas! You can see what else we liked in our Best Of The Rest 2015

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Much like previous inductee Darren Hayman, the Wave Pictures seem to put everything they release on bandcamp for all to hear. This includes all of their official albums (from 2008's Instant Coffee Baby to 2015's rough and ready Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon), a good selection of recent b-sides, a covers album and a whole load of pre-Moshi Moshi recordings.

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A bit of a vintage year for albums was this here 2014. We gave more 9's than ever (six!). As usual, some of these records have grown on us since we originally reviewed them, bumping them up to Crackle chart glory. This year the list has been compiled by our regular writers Adam Millard, Adam Taylor, Carey Kramer, John Wilson, Alex Redpath and Emma Slack. It was tough to choose between our top two but Allo Darlin' just about pipped it after ample repeated listening. Biggest "grower" of the year has to go to Flamingods who's weirdness has burrowed its way into our hearts.

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The best thing about the festive season is reading some lists of things. Here's our list of the year's best long players put together by some of our contributors: Adam Taylor, John Wilson, Matt Wingate, Adam Millard, Oli Heffernan and Carey Kramer. Top spot goes to Cloud, who's album Comfort Songs was such an unexpected treat which has only got better with repeated listenings. The other 19 aren't bad either.

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Bandcamp can be a treasure trove or an endless maze of dissappointments, depending on which way you look at it. In the first of our bandcamp features we show you one of the very best around. Darren Hayman's page is one of the most comprehensive out there, taking in every remastered Hefner album, most of his own solo output and plenty of rarities in between. Litereally days of fun to be had, but you may as well begin at the very start, with Hefner's essential debut album Breaking God's Heart. 

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Our writers went far and wide for the sake of live music in 2012, some of them were reviewed in glowing terms on this very website. Here's a list of our favorites.