Guest Lists: Pat Barrett’s (Hedge Schools) 10 best albums of 2015 Dec16

Guest Lists: Pat Barrett’s (Hedge Schools) 10 best albums of 2015...

Singer Pat Barrett (Hedge Schools) is a man of consummate music taste, so it seems apt that he brings down the curtain on this year’s Guest List series, having also been involved in making an album that featured in many of our end of year favourites.

Best Albums of 2014 Dec11

Best Albums of 2014

End of year round-up time. There has been some truly outstanding albums released in the past 12 months but for me, nothing came close to the tour de force that is To Be Kind by Swans. A truly stunning record from the veteran art rockers. What are some of your favourite albums of 2014?

Swans – To Be Kind...

Who could have seen this coming? Thirty two years since they first emerged as the enfants terribles of the New York music scene, Swans have just delivered the year’s most uncompromising, thundering and blindingly brilliant album so far. Nothing even comes close to this;To Be Kind is two hours of music of gut-wrenching intensity, a series of never-ending peaks that take the rudiments of rock music and summons up something that is strikingly original. With To Be Kind, Michael Gira and his cohorts have delivered an album that surpasses their critically acclaimed 2012 release The Seer in all respects. The days when listening to a Swans record was something of a masochistic experience, a brutal form of aural punishment are long gone; To Be Kind is arguably their most accessible album while still challenging and demanding more from the listener than any other rock band would dare to. It’s a record that requires patience – two hours of music spread over just ten tracks with every minute resonating with a clarity of purpose and a vibrancy beyond the capabilities of most contemporary rock acts. Michael Gira turned sixty this year; it is incredible to think that he is still making albums as edgy and vital as this while his peers have settled for the merry go-round of endless greatest hits tours and lame rehashes of past glories. Picking out highlights on a record as consistently brilliant as this is almost pointless – the slow, low slung blues of ‘Just a Boy (for Chester Burnett)’ and the manic ‘A Little God in My Hands’ with its long blasts of dissonant horns set the tone – Gira prowls, growls and yelps his way through these tracks, utterly convincing as some kind of deranged shaman. ‘Bring the Sun / Toussaint...