THE REST OF THE BEST OF 2018 MY 100TH ARTICLE FOR NHC PT.3 - C. T. Herron

In the first part of this trilogy of articles I listed my albums of the year 2012-2018, but I totally fucked it up, the dates etc. (that’s what happens when you always write drunk/stoned and recklessly fire over your first or second edit! Plus, numbers confuse me, I’m as shite at maths as I am good at English) so here is the amended list:

Previous albums of the year:

2012 – Culann: ‘S/T’

2013 – MOG: ‘Colours’

2014 – Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5: ‘Party to Make Music To Party to Make Music…’

2015 – Girobabies: ‘Who Took Utopia?’

2016 – Jackal Trades: ‘Need The Characters’

2017 – Steg G & The Freestyle Master: ‘Freedom Frequency’

2018 – Gasp: ‘CUNT’

Sorely, the Mickey 9s have missed out by a bawhair twice, 2015 they came an extremely close second to the Giros, and 2017 they came an extremely close second to ‘Freedom Frequency’, The Twistettes also suffered the same fate in 2016, ‘Jilt The Jive’ narrowly missing out to Jackal Trades (more on Twistettes below in gigs of the year). The almighty Gasp takes this year’s Gonzo Award For Best Local Album, for this reason https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k2NcC9BHPA and 25 other reasons on that double-album! Check that review out here: https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2019/1/10/my-100th-article-for-nhc-and-my-album-of-2018-part-1-c-t-herron I’m looking forward now to discovering my fave album of 2019, but I’ve still got ‘CUNT’ on loop for the time being. Other great albums of 2018 that were close contenders I will give brief mentions to here:

JACKAL TRADES – ‘TRIP HAZARD ADVISOR’

‘Checking In Where We Left Off’ with its soulful lamentations and schizophrenic beats provided by the incredible Mistah Bohze (see below for a full review of Bohze), is the perfect lead-in to a song that was one of my favourite songs of the year. ‘Setting The Scene On Fire’, https://jackaltrades.bandcamp.com/track/setting-the-scene-on-fire-feat-jo-darc-produced-by-physiks featuring the serene vocals of my current fave female artist Jo D’Arc (Twistettes/Girobabies) and Mark’s signature sandpaper-and-glue voice which we all know and love. The tune is a wistful waltz down Memory Lane, albeit a Memory Lane dotted with abandoned Presto shopping trolleys, used condoms and burnt-out cars. Anyone that grew up in a scheme would dig this song, or anyone that grew up in Scotland, or anyone that grew up in the millennial years, or the nineties, or the eighties, or anyone that ever grew up really… And even by some that didn’t. Produced by the illustrious and prolific Physiks, a song of the year for me.

This record is a prequel to ‘Need The Characters’, which is now one of my alltime fave hip hop albums, ever. ‘Trip Hazard…’ didn’t blow me away immediately the way its predecessor did, but it did grow on me exponentially every time I listened to it and is definitely one of the runner-ups to CUNT for my album of the year (just as well really, cos if McG had won my album of the year a third time it could be perceived as biased, haha, but I’m not biased, Mark is a bona fide genius, and if you don’t believe me check out a small part of his legacy here: https://jackaltrades.bandcamp.com/album/trip-hazard-advisor and my full-fat review of THA here: https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/10/8/jackal-trades-trip-hazard-advisor-a-review-in-four-books-ct-herron

KAMIHAMIHA - ‘COOL STORY BRO’

Not an album, but arguably an EP as it is a twelve minute long song! Not just a song, a story, a very cool story, as promised, but so much more. I met Kami Minkrap a few years back at the first Mugstock and we’ve been friends ever since, but his levels of genius never cease to knock me out, dead. At the last NHC Musician’s Retreat Kami showed up and treated us to a testdrive rendition of this song and listeners were literally bowled over (actually lying on the floor) in amazement. With good reason, if you want to hear one of Scotland’s best lyricists look no further, check out Kami’s battle raps on Youtube too, he takes verbosity, sesquipedalianism, articulation, and ‘intelligent man’s rapping’ to levels hitherto unknown, deeper than the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, higher than Olympus Mons and wider than the Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall!

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Even I don’t have the words to convey to you just how amazing this drug-drenched song is; fuck 2018, this might be one of the best rap songs EVER made! Featuring a whole host of celebrity appearances; Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake, Hunter S Thompson, Douglas Adams, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Aldous Huxley, Irvine Welsh and even our very own Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey!  I’m just as astonished the tenth time I listen to it as I was the first time I heard it, because there are more layers to this than the best Damascus steel blade ever made, and I keep picking up on new stuff each time, subtle references and plays on plays on plays on words, like an expert comedian all looping back to earlier moments. Perfection. I’m not one of those folk that sit people down and force them to watch stupid videos on my phone, in fact those types annoy me, yeah, you! However, anytime a friend has come round in the past few months I’ve sat them down, fired this up on the laptop, hooked it through the Bose, and gave them a private screening, and unanimously, over a cross-section of multitudes of folk, they have all agreed it’s amazing and been suitably overwhelmed by it. Like I said though, I can’t put into words how good it is, so do yourself a fucking favour and have a listen to it right now, here’s the link…  And keep an eye on Kami, fuck 2019, he’s gonna take over the world one day… https://www.facebook.com/Kamihamihauk/videos/2327931090768543/  

I cannot fucking wait to see what the amazingly talented Kamihamiha is going to produce in 2019, but I know it’s going to be stunning! Look out for the concept album that this song is a preview of. No doubt a hot contender for my album of 2019 if he pulls it off in time…

MISTAH BOHZE – ‘TOP LEFT SKELETON STAFF’

Not sure if this was released in 2018 or 2017, but if it was 2017 it was like the last few weeks of it, and even if that’s not true, it’s what I’ve mostly been listening to in 2018, so fuck it, it’s going in my albums of 2018, right. Mistah Bohze just effortlessly oozes cool and style, in his music, in his vocs and even in the way he looks and holds himself, but it’s not contrived, very natural, and that street-level urbaneness bleeds through into his incredible music. If you can keep up with the breakneck pace (and if you’re not English!) you’ll notice Bohze’s lyrical genius, casually delivered in smooth sips from a long cool five-dollar milkshake of an album! And who doesn’t wanna know what a five-dollar milkshake tastes like!?

With more scratching than a dog kennel infested with fleas, and a smorgasbord of trip-hop/ragga/drum&bass/jungle and brief forays into other unexpected genres. Bohze has been second only to Gasp in the amount of rotations he’s had on my turntable this year! If my head was a music chart ‘And I Wonder’ would have been the no.3 song, topped only to the epic ‘Sit Doon Yer Maw’s a Binman’ from ‘CUNT’, and Kamihamiha’s ‘Cool Story Bro’! Another brilliant song on this album is this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhRWhB4vMRw also featuring Gasp and Physiks. Top Left Skeleton Staff have got the keys to the gaff and are here to stay. This album provides endless good-vibes and an audio casserole of some of the finest Scottish hip hop on offer today, from its top talents. Check it out here https://southsidedeluxe.com/album/the-top-left-skeleton-staff  

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ANNA SECRET POET – ‘PARTY ON, PAPILLON’

One of my favourite albums of 2017 was ‘Tits of Steel’ by Anna Secret Poet, and not resting on her laurels she brings us ‘Party On, Papillon’ (respect for proper punctuation) in 2018. After being tricked into a hynogogic state by ‘Rum and Cheese’ you get coshed over the head with the full-on frontal assault of ‘Long Titles Aren’t Particularly Clever or Funny’ and then thrown headfirst into a moshpit of bubblegum surf-punk with ‘Insecurity’, which smacks gloriously of Screeching Weasel, The Ramones and the ilk. Anna’s unafraid to genre-hop like nobody has ever genre-hopped before, powering along like a demented child on a space-hopper song after song, breakneck, frantic, bipolar, but melodious and magnificent and laughing all the way. Some funk-punk a’la Mickey 9s for ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ and why aren’t you dancing like a lunatic!? Some really groovy, soulful guitar licks and a flaming volcano of bass and drums drive this rock & roll tune along like a runaway train (one of those wild trains, untamed, which you see roaming free through the Scottish highlands, not bound by any railway tracks!).

Quite a heavy, rocking album for the most part, I should have expected it after ‘Tits of Steel’ but somehow it still surprised me! Anna’s making some of the best punk music in the local music scene right now, and most the punks probably don’t even realise it! She probably doesn’t even realise it! ‘Still Ragin’ After All These Years’ is an irresistible little ditty, a Beatles-esque burlesque of bouncy beats and bassy bumps! The answer phone message from Paul McCartney at the end made me chuckle! ‘Aunty Semetic & Uncle Adolf’, is as great as the title suggests, lyrically hilarious. Whole rock operas exist as single tracks on this album, alongside pop hits and folk songs and multi-instrumentalism. Beyond eclectic, it’s hectic poetic electric cathectic!

There’s even some tribal, chanting, percussive, ayahuasca-ceremony-like sounds on ‘Hooray For Everything You Never Wanted’. ‘Anna vs The Festival’ is a quality wee psychedelic-style lullaby which can be appreciated by anyone that’s ever survived a weekend at a festival. After doing hundreds of festivals in my lifetime I think I’m in the same boat as Anna now for the reasons stated in this song; fuck them (unless I get a camper van). There’s some great rock and roll songs on this record, such as ‘Limited Appeal’, which has a great Elvisy sorta vibe to it and some cracking Chuck Berry-style guitar solos too! And the record has some creepy songs, as in ‘Annaween’, which wouldn’t sound out of place on the soundtrack for Tim Burton’s ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’, love the reference to The Lost Boys as well!

What’s not to love about boobies, and what’s not to love about ‘Boobies’!? Hooray for boobies!

Enjoy Anna’s brilliant new offering here: https://chairmancow.bandcamp.com/album/party-on-papillon

THE BIG NOWHERE – ‘FOREVER’

With a smattering of exceptions most of my favourite music coming out of Glasgow these days is hip-hop, so it’s nice to have a proper band (with instruments and everything!) come along and represent the rock scene, and represent it they do, and very well! Psychedelic rocking pop, or psychedelic popping rock, as The Big Nowhere start us off with ‘When You Call My Name’ and then we dip down into the muddy waters of the blues for ‘At Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul’. I can already imagine this band sounding fucking great live and on stage! Lots of instruments making cameo appearances, keyboards, and I’m pretty sure I heard trumpets earlier as well!

Good quality rock & roll is being doled out in spades on this record, and with some brilliant guitar-playing providing a dreamy, patterned, mind-altering soundscape. Eccentric frontman Simon’s got a great voice that fits the vibe nicely. There’s even a little rockabilly-style meandering on the crooning, cruising, creeping, ‘Fuck The Ritual’, like Hawkwind, but slowed right down, as if you’re listening to it on 260 liberty caps (and I’ve been there, in that exact scenario, so I know). ‘Wonderland’ infringes on some sort of emo-punk, but you know, the good kind, like Alkaline Trio, Get Up Kids and Hot Water Music, except treading a lot lighter than that, with a more bouncy feel-good-vibe, and to the glorious soundtrack of a horn section. A folky element saturates the skilfully-played chords, and even a little synth appears here and there, the whole album has shades of The Boss too.

The Canned Heat-esque ‘Cold Coffee & Broken Fingers’ has a lingering bluesy reggae feel to it, escalating from the nadir of driving guitar riffs into an almost gospel zenith. I love the fact the brass section is never far away from any given song, it really adds depth, along with the keys. You’d be forgiven for thinking this record was produced in the U.S in the Deep South, but you’ll realise it’s not so when you hear ‘Took Your Picture…’ which has a distinctly Scottish/celtic homegrown aura to it, also love the smooth swaying melody of the sax in this one. I can tell The Big Nowhere are gonna be a great band to see live and you can do exactly that at the grand opening of NHC’s very own venue, The Ice Box, on Saturday 2nd February https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/tickets/the-ice-box-grand-opening-show-saturday-night-ticket-feb-2nd check out this exquisite slice of blues-rock provided by ‘Forever’ here https://thebignowhere.bandcamp.com/album/forever released as a co-production of Devil Shake Records and NHC Records.

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THE HOWLING LORDS: ‘TEXAS MEDICINE’

Hirsute, bedraggled, rugged, islander Felix, frontman of The Howling Lords, was round mine a few weeks ago for a drink and to talk music; his band are another band flying the flag in Scotland for rock music. They released ‘Texas Medicine’ on 30th November to much critical acclaim, find my own critical acclaim here https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/11/5/the-howling-lords-texas-medicine-album-review-c-t-herron What’s really impressive is that they even got reviewed in the legendary Classic Rock magazine! How awesome’s that!?

Howling Lords from the fittingly rugged isle of Lewis in Scotland are keeping the [bluesrock] flame burning. ‘Texas Medicine’ finds them with dirt under their fingernails, churning out fat rock riffs infused with a modern heaviness to keep things rumbling on into the 21st century. It reveals a wealth of influences…” ~ Emma Johnston (Classic Rock) https://www.pressreader.com/

Well the rainman gave me two cures, and he said jump right in, one was Texas Medicine, the other was just railroad gin, but like a fool I mixed them, and it strangled up my mind, and now faces just get uglier, and I have no sense of time…” ~ Bob Dylan

I did that Dylan quote from memory, one of my favourite songs by him, out of literally hundreds, ‘Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again’. It also appears on the soundtrack to one of my alltime fave movies, ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’. The Howling Lords have released one of the best blues-rock albums Britain has seen in a long time! Check it out here: https://open.spotify.com/album/2CXpTQ7YDe9DXDkZAMnzVy

Once again, I’ve gone on far too long, three articles to be precise, roughly 9,000 words or something, add that to 190,000 words over the last 102 articles and I’m sitting at a smooth 199,000 words! Anyway, you can’t just round up 2018 laconically can you? Maybe you can, but I can’t. I’ll finish off by quickly rounding up some of the best gigs of the year, then I’m out, and leaving that foul year of our lord two thousand and eighteen behind and am off to investigate 2019 with all its vicissitudes…

GIGS OF THE YEAR (a small selection, for there were many)

Jackal Trades has provided us with many fine performances this year, doing the circuit, memorable ones were supporting the fantastic Epic Beard Men in August, and the rocked-up renditions of old favourites alongside new gems at the huge Musicians Against Homelessness gig at the Barras. Find my equally huge review of that here: https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2018/10/15/musicians-against-homelessness-the-barras-by-ct-herron-with-some-help-from-terence-mckennanbsp A fantastic night of sterling performances from every single artist involved. Mark was also been seen here and there fronting his band The Girobabies at various special occasions, not least their fantastic support at the Twistettes’ album launch night, and that night goes down as one of the best gigs of the year. The Twistettes’ new stuff sounded brilliant live and all the support acts were fantastic and we all had some special moments which will be ingrained in our memories forever. Everybody loves The Twistettes, and with good reason. Check out their new album ‘A Strange Play’ here: https://thetwistettes.bandcamp.com/album/a-strange-play-2 and my review of the night in question here https://ctherrongonzodivision.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/the-twistettes-album-launch-live-review-also-feat-the-girobabies-many-others-foreword-by-j-mcdermid-el-hefe/

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Joe Bone & The Dark Vibes alongside the Mickey 9s and Steg G & The Freestyle Master were among the best three local albums of 2017, with their dark, eclectic, soulful offering; ‘Goo Goo Shoom’. My review of that album was probably one of the best reviews I’ve ever written, check that out here: https://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/news/2017/5/24/joe-bone-and-the-dark-vibes-goo-goo-shoom-album-review-ct-herron Unlike a lot of bands, who will make an album and flog that album to death on the live circuit for many years, JB&TDV are constantly morphing, evolving, musically-shapeshifting, chameleonic like Bowie was. A great example was one of my fave gigs of the year, when the band played Ivory Black’s in October and blew us all away when they came out and played a set that was more like a DJ/electronic set in a dance club in Ibiza than the macabre rock & roll you might usually expect at one of their gigs! It was as though some bodysnatchers had accosted the band and stole their vessels of flesh to play their own brand of music instead. It really was a screw-you-to-the-spot and blow-you-away-at-the-same-time moment. They delivered an absolutely magnificent set of brand new material and flung in some old faves too, they are a band that is so full of so many talented members they just can’t help but ooze productivity; they are slick and unctuous with massive dollops of genius, in fact oleaginous genius is what Joe uses to grease his slickback into place. 

Who knows what kind of direction JB&TDV are going to veer off in next, but they are a very exciting band, musically, and totally unpredictable and unapologetic in their consumption of every genre and influence they can draw upon. I had a sneaky listen to new choon ‘Club Stigmata’ a couple of months back and it’s like Donna Summer meets Gary Numan meets Fear Factory or something! Really crazy, beautiful stuff, the forensic bloodspattered work of demented insane and possibly tortured genius, this band never fail to thrill me, they are serial inspirers!

There were many, many great gigs in 2018, but that was probably my top five, Epic Beard Men, Musicians Against Homelessness, Jackal Trades, The Twistettes and Joe Bone & The Dark Vibes! A brilliant year of music, and with the opening of the new NHC venue The Ice Box now just on the immediate horizon like some mythical whale, it’s only gonna get more exciting and more incredible, and I am Ahab! Although I’m more like Rehab…

Seeya’ in the pit!

C.T HERRON (GONZO DIV)

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