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Showing posts from December, 2019

Incidental Music: The Best of 2019

It's been a great year for music! Some absolute crackers have come along, in terms of gigs, albums, and tunes. I have managed to sift through what have I heard and seen, and these are my highlights.... 2018 wasn't a particular vintage year for music, and I was struggling to come up with my top album - although it was pretty excellent(BC Camplight, btw) - and trying to find volunteers for my top 12 albums! This year, there was no such problem, it was more a case of what to leave out. It was a year of immense variety, a year where you had artists like the incredibly creative Black Midi, disco-funk funsters Warmduscher, Irish post-punk-poet-indie maestros Fontaines DC alongside spiritual jazz from The Comet Is Coming, grime from the likes of Dave, power ballads from Angel Olsen, and plenty more beside. There were constant delights popping up in different genres, and of course, it was totally impossible to listen to everything there was, even via streaming services! That said

Barbary's: New Bar With Echoes of The Past....

A new bar has just opened in the Upper Calder Valley village of Mytholmroyd, its name recalling an infamous inn in a dubious period in the area's history.... Last Saturday, Northern Rail was all over the place again, so my visit to Mytholmroyd was undertaken by bus via Halifax rather than my initial preference of train from Brighouse. I had primarily come to visit Barbary's, a new bar opened up in the spot previously occupied by Libertine, a bar which had opened and shut several times over the years. I decided to check out the village's two other pubs, the Shoulder of Mutton and the Dusty Miller whilst I was in the area. I hadn't visited either since the Boxing Day floods of 2015, since when there has been a series of flood defence works undertaken, the latest of which have led to many months of temporary traffic lights and frustration. Mytholmroyd Floods, 2015 (Image courtesy of  The Telegraph) Ironically, the Calder Valley is at one of its widest points

A River to Skate Away On....

"It's coming on Christmas, they're pulling down trees, they're putting up reindeer, they're singing songs of joy and peace." So sang Joni Mitchell in the opening lines from  The River , from her classic 1971 album, Blue . A song about escape, getting away from an unbearable truth, the reality of day-to-day life. Which in many ways, for so many people, is what Christmas has become these days. "Oh I wish I had a river to skate away on" is the next line in the song. We're in December now, so fair enough, but it seemed this year everything kicked off earlier than ever. I encountered my first Christmas beer as November 16th in the Half Moon in  Darlington , and whilst I haven't seen many since, I am sure there will be plenty lurking around the corner, waiting to be unleashed on a fair proportion of the nation's bars. I wrote about my aversion to  Christmas-themed beers   a few years ago, and my view has not changed one bit. The shops s

A Week of Gigs and Slocken....

I saw two of the best gigs of the year recently, in two different cities, and enjoyed some great beer and pubs along the way. Here's a summary.... I had been waiting for this week for some time. Two gigs from two different artists who have released some of the best music of 2019. So I had Fontaines DC, the indie wunder-bards from Dublin, in Manchester on Tuesday, and genial Geordie genius, Richard Dawson, in Leeds on Friday. On Friday teatime, I am getting off the train at Leeds. Despite delays and cancelled trains, I still had enough time for a couple of pints before the gig. I called in at the Brewery Tap, on the station approach, back in the Good Beer Guide. It was quite busy with the Friday teatime crowd but despite that I managed to get served pretty quickly. The half of Leeds Pale from the brewery in question was pleasant enough and the atmosphere was that TGI the weekend vibe that you only get at this time of the week. Thank God It's Friday at the Brewery Ar