Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ten years of writing - and some thoughts on music

Having finally got something of the festive feeling, and also read the suggestion from one of my fellow bloggers that writing a blog displays a certain vanity, I thought I might indulge myself a little.
First things first and a very simple luxury - make a tartiflette and sit in front of a real fire to eat it, accompanied by some wine and recorded music.

This specific idea for this post actually came about as the result of a Spotify advertising link - “What did your 2014 sound like?”
My thought was "Why did my 2014 sound like it did?"

One thing I must say about 2014 is that without doubt I have listened to more music, both live and recorded, than in any previous year. I can't put numbers to that but, trust me, it is true and by some considerable margin. I'm not sure that eight years of writing a blog has done much, whether positive or negative, for my vanity. What it has certainly done is provide me with huge satisfaction and at times a sanctuary from the everyday and the mundane. Not just the writing that is, although it has; the live and recorded music that I have heard and all the people that I have met along the way and the ones that I anticipate meeting in the future. One thing is certain; it is both absorbing and time-consuming. It is also absolutely fascinating. I have spent a great deal of time mulling (perhaps I should have done that with the wine too) over the music of 2014 this last month or so. I suppose with good reason that my 2014 has been dominated by acoustic-folk-Americana-roots. I can see that trend continuing in 2015 but that's not all that I like by any means.

The first time I wrote about music in the public domain was some reviews in 2005. I was reminded of this the other day while reading reviews and suddenly finding myself confronted by one of my own - that for the LP 'Old World Underground Where Are You Now?' (2003) by Metric.
That I suppose, and then the desire for freedom to write just what I wanted, led to this blog starting in September 2006 if only by accident rather than design. In 2007 this led to my going to festivals although it had been on my mind for a while. This was hastened by the new-found need to have original material to write about. Then came photography to go with it because festivals are as much about watching as listening. This bare-bones timeline says nothing at all about the music that accompanied it .

This got me thinking about how my current tastes in music have evolved to the point at which they are now. That is proving a tricky thing to do and harder to explain, not least because of the self-analysis that it predicates.

This evening I decided to listen to absolutely any LPs that I thought inspired my, or the purchase of which was inspired by my, decision to start (and then continue) going to festivals back in 2007. Whilst my liking for acoustic folk goes way further back it would seem, on reflection, to have had nothing to do with this particular decision. It seems to have been largely indie-driven; my choice of Latitude Festival 2007 as a starting point was specifically because Arcade Fire was headlining the Sunday. One thing yesterday's playlist demonstrated was that I still like much of what attracted me then and not all of this indie in the period 2007-9 was indie-rock; that appellation doesn't apply to New Young Pony Club or Polly Scattergood, both of which I first became aware of by seeing them play live at Latitude Festivals. I then bought the LPs and indeed have continued to do so. Both have disco as a pulsing heart - the twisted nature of 'Bunny Club' (Polly Scattergood) and 'Ice Cream' (NYPC) have both stood the test of time I think. 

To use a geological analogy, the growth of my music collection in the last ten years has been a largely sedimentary (rather than volcanic) epoch. It does, however, include a couple of fault planes within it. The most obvious of these is connected with my decision to go to End Of The Road Festival for the first time in 2009. This decision was certainly responsible for stirring my interest in Americana and roots and (while I don't much care for the descriptor) 'alt-country' too.
This fed-back into a revived interest in UK folk music (both traditional and new) that served to fill the gaps in live music between festivals.  That is when things became really interesting. It gave me the idea to go looking for new music myself, be that local in origin or further afield, rather than just wait for it to come to a venue that I was at.

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