The 40 Best Tracks of 2018 (So Far)

“We’re halfway through the year….. and it’s been brilliant.” Half-Term Report: Forty Assorted Classics You May Have Missed!

“What I look for is something new or something beautiful or something that replicates that first manic pop music thrill time and time again. And if you are prepared to look and listen, that pop thrill is out there.

In droves.”

People ask me: “What’s your favourite year for pop music?”

David Hepworth reckons it’s 1971, whereas Jon Savage would argue that it’s 1965. I’m inclined to think that it was actually 1979, but that was then….. and this is now.

KLF ‘provocateur’ Bill Drummond once said that you should ditch/destroy/sell your music every few years or so, and have a Year Zero policy where you never play your old favourites.

But he’s a millionaire many times over who allegedly burned a million pounds on a remote Scottish island as an artistic statement. If I burned my ‘music’, it would be one less thing to sell in old age when my feeble pension will see me blowing into a kazoo outside of Cooper’s Extra ‘Y’ Chromosome Bar, Liverpool (holding a plastic chip tray and dancing like the arl fella in the gas stop in Deliverance), just to earn a few pennies and to stop me going on the game.

But he has a point. During my ferocious punk rock days, some of my chums literally put their feet through their Tull, Curved Air and Gong albums and started again. It’s a great philosophy. Most bands have their time and should just eff off for the new generation to emerge. The equivalent of holding on to your prog seventies ideals would be to hang on to those New Wave/Post Punk bands in a Twilight Janice Long/Jeremy Vine world (“Did I tell you I bought that first Joy Division album?” “Yes, you did, Jeremy. Many fucking times. Move on, man!”). This is a world where Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths still hold some vestigial cultural sway despite forty years of the world moving on, and in Janice’s case, you do really badly on Celebrity Mastermind answering questions on (“They’re still relevant, you know!”) – you-guessed-it – Echo and the Bunnymen and you wait for new bands to emerge from Liverpool because it would be just like the old days and you don’t really listen to music any more and you want to replicate the one original thought you had back in 1982.

No matter. Let’s leave Janice to pretend that she was John Peel’s ‘alternative partner’ and Jeremy to dance, dance, dance to the radio (Radio Two, that is – the worst station in the world). And if you’re a nineties kid, just don’t be a Gary King.

Time moves on.

Anyway. I go to far too many gigs. Or not enough.

What I look for is something new or something beautiful or something that replicates that first manic pop music thrill time and time again.

And if you are prepared to look and listen, that pop thrill is out there.

In droves.

I don’t know how many albums I’ve listened to this year, but there are so many that I’ve only had the chance to give a cursory listen to, and some genres (boy bands, commercial R and B, and Death Metal) are outside of my radar. The access to basically everything via the internet is a dual-edged sword; on one hand it gives me everything I need to make informed decisions, but on the other hand it means that the I often end up like Gene Hackman’s Harry Caul in The Conversation – metaphorically ripping up the floorboards to find the one I’ve missed.

So – the last six months. I’ve always been inclined towards a feminine perspective in pop and rock, but now there seems to be a quiet, empowering revolution in the number of female-fronted or all female groups. When I choose a gig, I always feel there’s something just that little bit old fashioned and just plain…. wrong if I’m seeing a line-up of blokes, and however wan or fey or enlightened they may be, I just imagine them drinking cans of John Smith’s in the back of a Ford Transit and being sexist and awarding themselves marks out of ten for the loudest fart.

And having access to the world’s jukebox, the number of British acts I’ve listened to in the past year has declined alarmingly (particularly Scottish acts), whereas the number of Spanish and American acts (particularly L.A., for some reason) has grown exponentially.

And there’s always a mob of Canadians, God bless ‘em.



40 Shame – One Rizla (album – Songs of Praise)

A superb track – urgent, angry and with a riff to die for. This was my staple go-to track of January 2018, but its ubiquity has dulled its effect somewhat – it being used on Match of the Day 2, as BBC continuity music, and as filler on Dan Walker’s lunchtime football programme. (I always hear Charles Laughton’s Captain Bligh voice when I think of BBC Dan’s refusal to work the Sabbath because of his ‘faith’:
“What’s that you say? You won’t work on a Sunday, Mr Christian?”)

When we saw them live, Shame were immense, with a powerful sound that blew away our delicate indie cobwebs. But in the long run, am I that interested? They may or may not become a massive stadium band (in which case, I’m definitely NOT interested) in the vein of The Manics and well, good for them. I’ve moved on already.

And lead singer: don’t spit beer on to the kids at the front of the stage. Oh, and don’t wear a boiler suit on Later.

39  Melody’s Echo ChamberCross My Heart (album – Bon Voyage)

Melody’s Echo Chamber’s first album is a thing of great beauty, and there are lots of good sounds to be found on the follow-up Bon Voyage. Unfortunately, the cabaret and chanson tradition often prevent a thematic and sonic unity on even the most clued-up French artists’ long-players, and the curate’s egg/dog’s breakfast effect can take over across a whole album. Such is the case here. Bon Voyage is OK, but too much jazz noodling belies its true greatness. Cross My Heart, though, is a lovely, classic MEC track.

38 Peach Kelli PopHoney  (album – Gentle Leader)

I remember ex-T Rex/Wham/Japan manager Simon Napier Bell’s great account of the music industry Black Vinyl, White Powder, and his account of how pop ‘Svengalis’ would go for the lowest common denominator and order their desperate-for-stardom protégés to record a cover version so that Joe Public could become instantly familiar with a ‘new song’. Japan (a Napier-Bell manged band) recorded a version of Barbra Streisand’s Don’t Rain on My Parade to this effect.

Peach Kelli Pop is the brainchild of Canadian Alli Hanlon, and her/their version of an old, obscure Marine Girls song is just fabulous. A mighty good summer record if ‘the kids’ weren’t being shepherded by big business to listen to same tired old collection of forty big-business songs by the various TV music channels. (£120 to see Ed f***ing Sheeran at the Etihad? No wonder the Tories keep getting in when Joe Public will pay for the privilege of having their sonic souls excised.)

Anyway – Honey. Just gorgeous and highly recommended.

37 So StressedGrape Skins (album – Pale Lemon)

A musical volte-face for the previous pop punks as Morgan Fox (what a great American name; the British equivalent would be Billy Dunn or something) and co reject noise and spikiness and embrace melody in a collection of songs from a so-so album. Grape Skins is by far the best of the bunch; a fabulous, beautiful, delirious shoegaze anthem and without doubt one of the songs of the year.

One for your second drink of the weekend….

36 Video AgeLover Surreal (album –  Pop Therapy)

New Orleans electropop duo – the album is a bit overpoppy at times, but Lover Surreal is a lovely track.

35 Alela Diane – Albatross (album – Cusp)

Not usually my cup of – it being a wistful singer-songwriter type of song – but very beautiful in a Fleetwood Mac (“It’s a bird, innit? It’s a bloody sea bird . .. it’s not any bloody flavour. ALBATROSS!”) Songbird-esque way. I remember a lovely NME review of Roxy Music’s On the Radio from 1980 which suggested that Bryan Ferry wrote such languid, wistful and turgid fare (as found on that album) whilst sitting at his white piano, smoking a St Moritz, looking plaintively out of the window and scratching his arse. This reminds me of being all wistful and plaintive (but not smoking or scratching my arse) during a winter trip to a rain-lashed Portugal and wondering if I could make it to the nearest bar without being apocalyptically drenched.

Californians are running riot in this list, but a great song (IF YOU LIKE THIS SORT OF THING).

34 Night FlowersSand Castles (album – Wild Notion)

Currently Hull’s finest and another great example of that quiet feminine revolution that’s slowly clearing away the ever-presence of the tedious all-male ‘combo’ (with a few exceptions) that’s been the norm in indie circles for years.

33  The Liminanas (Featuring Emmanuelle Seigner) Shadow People (album – Shadow People)

Perpignan’s Lionel and Marie Liminana evoke the spirit of classic French pop (stop sniggering at the back, you two) in a slinky and vaguely menacing three minutes of borderline psychedelia. Possibly the best intro to any song this year and French actress Emmanuel Seigner adds a touch of refinement to an already classy number. And I’ll always love The Lims for writing a (nice) song about my hometown.

A fabulous live band and what a brilliant video!  Every time I watch it, it’s like God punishing me for not booking my annual week in Paris for 2018.

32 Sunflower BeanTwentytwo (album – Twentytwo in Blue)

The first of two songs celebrating that crucial and epoch-reaching age of 22. (“What are you doing for your 22nd?!?” “I don’t know: get a cheeseburger or something.”) Absolutely glorious pop from a brilliant live band. Will be playing much bigger venues than the one I saw them in anytime soon.

31 Mint FieldEl Parque Parecia No Tener Fin (album – Pasar de la Luces)

Mexican shoegaze next. Two friends from Tijuana, Estrella Sanchez and Amor Amezcua, have produced one of the albums of the year, and there’s no other way to describe opening track El Parque Parecia No Tener Fin but to say that it’s just sublime and really, really beautiful.

They’re both 21, as well. And I don’t want to sound discourteous to anyone (my Salford friend is proper nails – and she’ll batter me) or anywhere (it’s a brilliant little venue), but I really don’t expect the celestial sounds of heaven to be emanating from The Eagle Inn, Salford on an absolutely freezing night in February.

Fair play to two highly motivated and massively talented people:

30 Men I TrustShow Me How (no album as yet)

Another beautiful, yearning, soulful single from the classy, but rarely-seen Montreal electropoppers. On tour in the UK in the autumn. Be there!

The List was a bit short of Canadians (who punch above their weight compared to any nation on Earth for great bands of the past ten years) – and then Men I Trust reappear.

It just makes me think: so many bands, so little time – to almost-reference a terrible, sexist seventies t-shirt. Show Me How floats along on a gossamer cloud.

A song that makes me cry. Big, macho, manly tears, as well.


29 Teenage WristChrome Neon Jesus (album – Chrome Neon Jesus)

Ace band; ace name; ace song title. The title track from the L.A. Trio’s decent enough first album. Listen to this song twice and you won’t be able to go to mass or listen to the Today programme’s dreary Thought for the Day without adding the micro-phrase ‘Chrome Neon’ to the Good Lord’s, er, Christian name:

28  WinterZoe (album – Ethereality)

Winter Samir wants to be a star so badly. She may well become the first star of dreampop; she has the looks, the hooks and seems to be appealing to a teenage girl audience rather than the indie saddo brigade. Good luck to her. Winter’s album Ethereality is terrific, and this is such a lovely song; and that’s about it. Apart from the very obvious nod to Lush throughout.


27 Kali UchisIn My Dreams (album – Isolation)

A tremendous album from the American/Colombian singer and featuring collaborations with Bootsy Collins, Tame Impala and – on this splendid little pop song – Damon Albarn.

This was my favourite album of the year for a week or so, but then I got bored with it.

So fickle – at my age, an’ all.

26 Cracker Drool – Goat Girl (album – Goat Girl)

A great track from a splendid album. Goat Girl are a superb if somewhat dour live act.  A pity that the bass intro reminds me so much of The Coral’s Dreaming of You (which is great), but….

25 GwennoTir Ha Mor (album – Le Kov)

The only song written and sung in Cornish (the genuine article archaic language and not someone ‘doing Cornish’ and saying “Ello M’dearios!” and “‘tis real rice pud-din” (and if you get that reference you really are as sad as me) in this half-yearly list. It’s a song that makes more sense as a part of the trance-like album Le Kov (French for ‘The Coventry’), but the fact that Gwenno could sing in this almost-forgotten language and keep a Friday night Manchester pub audience entranced (and quiet) is testament to her amazing talents.

24 La Luz – Loose Teeth (album – Floating Features)

Los Angeles looms long and large in this half year list. Another all-female band (there’s a revolution going on, I tells ya!) and big twangy Duane Eddy/Tarantino-esque guitars are all over this marvellous, sixties-influenced classic pop song.

23 Illuminati HottiesShape of My Hands (album – Kiss Yr Frenemies)

Even more Los Angeles. Brilliant song. Best album cover of the year.

Sarah Tudzin is a pop genius!

22 TV Girl7 Days Till Sunday (album – Death of a Party Girl)

Effing tremendous literary pop from clever Californian Brad Petering and his chums; Petering looks and sounds like he will be this year’s Dent May. (You STILL don’t know who Dent May is? Shame on you.) Second best album art of the year and a lovely collection of quirky songs that could be vaguely described as ‘electronica’ on occasions, but then go off on their own unique (ish) tangent. 7 Days tells the story of an ingenue’s ultimate disappointment as he tries to compete with a bohemian woman who’s out of his league:

She said come over there’s nobody home

She said I know that’s what I told you before

But here in New York you don’t need excuses to dress like a girl

Sex drugs and deceit I guess she’s not as frail as she seems

I pushed as hard as I could

But she said that’s ok because that’s the way that I like it

A brilliant song and suffused with strange electronic sounds that seep into your (my) consciousness at the most unlikely of times.

21 Beach HousePay No Mind (album – 7)

I know that I said that some bands should do their two years and then just do one, well I’ve got no problem with bands exploiting their names, their past glories or the gullibility of those who are willing to pay for such bands’ regurgitated nonsense because you gotta pay the bills, but just don’t expect me to pay any attention or fork out my hard-earned.

Beach House aren’t one of those bands. As usual, this is just gorgeous and relayed from Heaven. You get the feeling that BH aren’t trying to drag out a career to avoid becoming a working stiff – and if they didn’t do this they’d become sick.

Superb. As ever.

21 Let’s Eat GrandmaHot Pink (album –  I’m All Ears)

They sing in Nu-Cockney! But they come from East Anglia! A fantastic brooding slice of percussive electro from the splendidly-named Norfolk band. Imagine things got so rough and post-apocalyptic that you actually had to eat grandma?

[EXT. A Nuclear Wasteland. DAY]

A, B and C are tucking into a play of dodgy-looking sandwiches.

A: Oh my God, your nana’s ****ing horrible! I can’t even eat the Warburton’s-substitute you’ve used to make the sandwiches.

B: Stop complaining….[comedy pause] ….it’s gran-ary!

C: Can I have his ‘nan’ bread?

20 Her’sLove on the Line (album – Invitation to Her’s – due August 24th)

Oddball Liverpool spectral wave duo with the deliberately provocative apostrophe (a bit like Arkwright used to paint on his windows in 70s laugh-free riot Open All Hours) produce another quirky singalong gem.

19 MGMTShe Works Out Too Much (album –  Little Dark Age)

I was never a huge fan of MGMT and then this song sort of inveigled itself into my mind and Deezer ‘favourites’. (What, you’re still using Spotify?) A great song with a fabulous hook. End of.


18 Linda Guilala –   Mucho Mejor (album –  Much Mejor)

Not a female solo artist, but a Spanish band named after a monster (Guilala) from a cheap Japanese sci-fi film, and with the name ‘Linda’ added for no apparent reason. Galicia’s best-kept secret produced one of the best albums of 2016 with the superb Psiconautica. Much Mejor is equally outstanding – an urgent and dream-like slice of brilliant guitar pop from one of my favourite bands of the last five years:

17 US Girls – Navy and Cream (album – In a Poem Unlimited)

Meghan Remy is a phenomenal live act and an undoubted star of the future. Navy and Cream is a haunting track from an excellent album. She’s back playing tiny venues (but not for long) in the autumn.

15 Belako –  Lungs (album – Render Me Numb, Trivial Violence)

More Spaniards. An absolutely awesome song which – on a good day – is my favourite song of the year. Lungs reminds me of Stereolab’s French Disko – urgent, insistent and brilliant.

I don’t know what they’re putting in the water in Spain, but it’s helping to produce a slew of outstanding post-punk (for want of a term) bands.

14 Speedy Ortiz – Buck Me Off (album – Twerp Verse)

More great pop from a wonderful, favourite band. Buck Me Off is the opening track of SO’s first album in three years. Good to see them back. The best-ever band from Northampton*. Apart from Bauhaus.

*New Hampshire

13 The Spook School –  I Only Dance When I Want To (album – Could it Be Different?)

The world’s a smaller place now and as I’ve said, the internet gives us all the chance to be our own DJs and musical researchers. I remember a time when I hardly ever saw an American band (especially in the aftermath of punk), and due to the ‘I’m So Bored With the USA’ philosophy of the time the vast majority of music I bought and saw was British – and at certain times it was especially Scottish.

What I want to know is What Has Happened to Scottish Music? I’m probably looking at things from a skewed perspective, admittedly, but Scottish pop music seems to have gone the way of Scottish international footballers. Some days I couldn’t leave the house without falling over Roddy Frame, Sean Dickson or Fay Fyfe, but now…. are Biffy Clyro the Kenny Miller of rock and roll?

This lot generally sound Scottish, but I’m sure there are Welsh and English band members in there as well. The Spook School are much better live than on disc, but having said that I really enjoyed their album Could It Be Different and I Only Dance When I Want To is a fantastic slice of punk power pop for the end of the decade – and brings to mind the long-forgotten (and cruelly forgotten) brilliant late 80s indie band The Heartthrobs (YouTube them).

12 Say Sue MeLet It Begin (album – Where We Were Together)

Where did the South Koreans come from? I have a vague idea about K-pop and Korean boy bands thanks to some of the nice students in one of my classes, but it’s a bizarre and pleasant surprise to realise that a (still) relatively unfamiliar culture can produce any genre it wishes – and particularly a form of fey indie usually associated with skinny, sensitive western kids.

This is great (as is the whole album) and as they say on social media I was ‘gutted’ when I found out that they were performing a rare British gig (in a pub in Chester! For free!), but I knew I’d be making my way back from yet another ComiCon (you’re never too old to be a nerd, believe me) and so it was not to be.

11 Peggy Gou – It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) – (EP – Once)

More talented South Koreans, and yet another of the several gigs that eluded me this year – and one of those that I’ll still be castigating myself for when it’s time for my bus pass. I don’t know how many times I’ve played this hypnotic slab of house/disco/electronica over the past couple of months, but it’s 108.


10 Renata ZeigeurFollow Me Down (album – Old Ghost)

Another dreamy pop classic that seems to have passed the world by. It makes me wonder about all of the other great songs I’ve missed and will miss. And it starts to gnaw at my brain and I end up not just like Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, but also Humphrey ‘Captain Queeg’ Bogart in The Caine Mutiny, completely obsessed, and paranoid about nothing in particular (“…and then there was the case of the strawberries!”)

Anyway, I took a chance with this album, and this is its classic song with lovely, gnomic lyrics from this wonderful Brooklyn singer-songwriter:

“I’ll chase invisible, virtual, disguised;

My dreams are rituals,

I pray for the day

When you’ll follow me down.”

9 Frankie CosmosBeing Alive (album – Vessel)

The wonderful Greta Klein and her fantastic band celebrate all that’s good about life in a sub-three minute sonic explosion. A hyperkinetic pop song that sets out at breakneck speed, and slows down to the almost spoken-phrase “Matters quite a bit; even when you fee-ee-el like shi-i-it…BEING ALIVE!” Just wonderful.

I used to dream that all bands would one day look and sound like Frankie Cosmos (this was in the days when the earnest and rough sixth formers in my school would wander round in khaki army great coats carrying Camel, ‘Zep’ and ‘The Stones’ albums for extra kudos.

My goodness, the seventies were shit!

Anyway, we’re nearly there, and once we are, I’ll no doubt dream of bands where everyone looks like Ted Nugent.

8 Ezra FurmanSuck the Blood From My Wound (album – Transangelic Exodus)

The ‘Gay Boss’/’Gay Springsteen’ (or whatever his epithet is) with another storming anthem from his more-than-decent album Transangelic Exodus. Ezra’s a brilliant and charismatic live act, although he did spend an inordinate amount of time when I saw him (at Manchester’s very pretty, but idiot-magnet-attractive Albert Hall) bemoaning his fate as a gay, different, sensitive, cross-dresser.

We (as one giant hive intelligence) all thought: “Ezra, mate; you’re not in Nebraska or wherever these people live – you’re appearing at your own gig – in a dress – in front of people who’ve paid good (ish) money to see you – and many us are also in dresses.” (We’re an articulate hive mind.) And then we added: “Oh, and by the way, you’re in England – where there is a rich tradition of cross-dressing and nobody really gives a shit about sexuality anymore.” (For now, anyway, before the evil hordes get their way.)

A fantastic anthem that led to ‘limbs’ scenes all over the venue.

7 Amber ArcadesSimple Song (single)

Is Annelotte de Graaf Europe’s coolest minor pop star? Former war crimes investigator, and refugee assister in her native Netherlands, ‘Amber Arcades’ also makes delightful, introspective but upbeat indie pop for the connoisseur. On tour in autumn.

6 Madison Beer Fools (album – As She Pleases)

A bit ‘round your handbag’, but what’s wrong with dancing around your handbag? It’s my modus operandi from Friday afternoon until late Saturday night, believe me. A brilliant song and the best track from a so-so album – and inexplicably not chosen as a single:

5 Caroline RoseMore of the Same (album – Loner)

Just a brilliant song from a first-rate album. The New York-based singer’s best track brings to mind the ennui of much-missed Ze label singer Christina and her tremendous take on Leiber and Stoller’s nihilist classic Is That All There Is?, but More of the Same’s soaring chorus is more likely to set you up for the day, rather than having you reaching for the Aldi bleach and the breadknife. And MotS (as nobody is calling it) contains one of my favourite verses from any song from this year song:

In the classroom, trying to believe in
The words on a page of a book that I’m reading
Spread out by a woman who became a teacher
‘Cause she couldn’t make ends meet from her writing career

4  The OriellesSunflower Seeds (album – Silver Dollar Moment)

I don’t know where to start with The Orielles. The band of the year and Silver Dollar Moment is easily my favourite album of 2018. I was so looking forward to them playing Manchester in April, but I realised that I was double booked with the rather brilliant Nabihah Iqbal, and a coinciding gig double header is no good to anyone. Luckily (?) The Orielles were just not on form – and after too many off-key lines and beats missed (and a fair proportion of nobheads in the audience – “I know let’s pay for a gig ticket, get pissed and then talk at full volume throughout the performance!”) we headed off to the other venue.

Cut to May 26th. A mini-festival in the fabulous surroundings of The Piece Hall, Halifax, in blazing, glorious sunshine. Four acts prepared the way for the god-like Father John Misty. The Orielles were up first, and I was sort of nervous, hoping that they wouldn’t disappoint.

And you know that ‘pop thrill’ that I mentioned at the start? Oh my, goodness – how beautiful! The sound of immensely talented, and incredibly creative young people filled the summer air. Mango, the first track from that brilliant album sounded like everything I wanted from music and life, and little tears formed and swelled and trickled down my face.

And if anything, Sunflower Seeds was even better. What a wonderful pop song – angelic voices, guitars that almost swoon and somewhere in there, the promise of a better world.

A magical moment spent with the woman I’ve loved forever, amongst the most knowledgeable and civilised crowd, and on me birthday as well.


3 NadineUltra Pink (album – Oh My)

I knew nothing about this song or the band until I stumbled across it on some obscure internet-only radio station early one morning back in the freezing wastes of January.

I gave the album a few listens, and it’s lovely, but it’s Ultra Pink which gets under your skin, with its brilliant creation of space, its gentle electronic pulsing rhythm and singer Nadia Hulett’s distant yearning vocals.

Magically, it came on in some fantastic hipster bar during our visit to a storm-lashed Porto earlier this year, and the soaking, freezing rain just disappeared from my clothes and hair as the greatest of all drugs – music – gently kicked in over a bottle of massively-overpriced IPA.


2 (and 1) Father John MistyMr Tillman/Dumb Enough to Try (album – God’s Favorite Customer)

The best pop star in the world and the man with everything. A brilliant musician, devastatingly charismatic, as thin as rake and with one of THE great pop voices of any generation, never mind this. Best of all are the songs – witty, heart-breaking, romantic or overtly political, Josh Tillman’s catalogue grows ever bigger with no sign of a let up. He’s like a combination of Jimmy Webb’s and Glen Campbell’s talents fused in to one being, and if the charts existed in the same way that they used to, he’d be the biggest star in the world right now.

I couldn’t choose between these two songs from the fantastic album God’s Favorite Customer (the title track could be up here as well). If there’s a better song this year that evokes the true yearning pains of love than Dumb Enough to Try, I’ll eat Bono’s leather kecks (and hat), and fans of irony will love Mr Tillman, which pulls off the rare trick of being a rock-star-in-a-hotel song that doesn’t make you vomit and should go some way to erasing any memories of the repulsive Joe Walsh’s Life’s Been Good.

Told from the perspective of the hotel manager/desk clerk, the song slyly catalogues Tillman’s nobhead behaviour and features the best enjambment I’ve heard in a song since Frankly Mr Shankly (but we don’t talk about him any more):

And oh, just a reminder about our policy:
Don’t leave your mattress in the rain if you sleep on the balcony
Okay, did you and your guests have a pleasant stay?
What a beautiful tattoo that young man had on his face

However I try to visualise the narrator – the bitchy Californian male envisaged by the writer – the image is superseded by my own visions of Frank Thornton, the legendary Captain Stephen Peacock from British sitcom/smutfest Are You Being Served?

I’m off to see Mr Tillman again in October. I can’t wait – as they say on Facebook and other social media.

So, lots of female artists (solo, and – even better – in bands), lots of Americans, some Hispanics, some French, some Koreans and even a few English. A terrible dearth of Scots, unfortunately, and if I did this list three years ago, it would have been 95% Canadian. The world is changing.

We’re halfway through the year….. and  it’s been brilliant.

But the best year ever in pop music?



Stephen Porter has written for Esquire, Back Pass and a host of other publications. He is also a “humble but brilliant” Head of English in a large Northern secondary school.

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