BEGIN. The way things have been this year is somewhat twofold-extraordinary and periodically transitional.


Make for yourself a religion of me,

Piece together the information that you need,

It’s ‘o-k’, it’s real, it’s right


Oh, contrasting fragments of the night,

Where light on dark breeds heavy light

Ask yourself, ‘is it signposted?’


Then we would not need anthems,

All that lies between the atoms,

Is holy enough for thee


Bus journeyed full circle page-to-page antipathy; and in and out of corners, music, always music. My own songs have become cave dwellers, and fellow writers must enter the lobes in rescue and triumph. I write from Bergen, Norway, where all is quiet and still.


Unclouded, pure watery thinking,

Lacking contempt for fine wonders,

Elegiac drinking waters


I found myself Jurassic-coasting, staring out of bus windows; often, at first, soaking up Neil Young, Kishi Bashi, ANTA, and in particular the most recent LPs by Of Montreal . . .


Kevin Barnes, leader of the oft-misunderstood Of Montreal, stepped into the sunshine once more – albeit through a dark Plath-esque doorway – to pen the album Bob Dylan would have made had he not crashed his Triumph Tiger 100 in the summer of 1966. Or, maybe ‘Lousy with Sylvianbriar’ is the album Dylan and his kind did make in some quantum moment of rainbow punctured blonde barrier erosion – new full-time vocalist Rebecca Cash adds depth to a stripped back rhythm and blues sound that riffs good.


Devon Sproule, in collaboration with Mike O’Neill, nearly out does herself completely with ‘Colours’; it’s a rare kind of lyrical and melodic perfection that she has crafted for herself. This is a laconic daydream scrapbook of well-observed heartfelt documentation. This super-group came about rather by chance, and is really a case of ‘how to make the utmost of an opportunity’.


Neko Case would almost always out-do herself also, were it not for a contained focus on the project in question, the moment in time, the majesty of that killer take, the task in hand – the accompanying band sounding hard won, yet easily retained, for most would give it their all for her voice alone.


One who indeed reaches a zenith of sorts is Cate Le Bon, whose LP ‘Mug Museum’ melds garage riffs with sun-kissed pop, her voice warbling along most warmly through peaks and troughs of sentiment and well-assessed emotion. It is both style and substance above and beyond.


One of the best songwriters in any land released a miniature portrait of a summer’s day in the forest of Bowland, Lancashire – complete with birdsong and mono-sound realism. Dan Haywood is to lyrics what water is to Bergen – what nature is to man – a best friend, a grand shaper of things, a precious life force. Please regard, and admire accordingly.


Make for me, creation,

Wordless weighty objects of description,

Uniforms worn torn in downtown history


As I sit hungry with a belly full of morning.


Or, out in the street, strafing and striding as a photographer, one cloudrunner with eyes and ears cleared-out by the wind. END.