Album of the Year – Brits and Pieces – Various Artists

It’s kinda apt that the best album of the year comes at the end of 2020 – the year we will all want to forget for so many reasons – but a year that will live long in the lives of the few that dared, that tried, that rose up and did something.

Was it Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society that said… “Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

Or what about Kurt Cobain – Punk rock should mean freedom, liking and excepting anything that you like. Playing whatever, you want. As sloppy as you want. As long as it’s good and it has passion.

Or Ian Brown – The past was yours but the futures mine.

It’s at times like these that people do step up and be accounted for – if 2020 is a full stop on before or a reset of what life was like, then I’m all for it. I’ve seen so many examples of this and written about it previously, listening parties, virtual pub crawls, random acts of kindness, it’s like people have decided that enough is enough and if I’m going to lose the things I love, I’m going down fighting. Enter stage left Marc Rossiter

Most known for his excellent Britpop twitter account Brits and Pieces – I heard a few months ago that Marc was looking to put together a compilation album showcasing the best of the new and interesting indie/unsigned acts around. A shout came out from Twitter and artists were encouraged to contact Marc and submit a track for consideration.

The plan was to pull this talent together on one CD and make it eligible for the charts, get it to chart even, get people to sit up and take notice. Rock n Roll was dead they said – well we know that’s not the case, just ask Alex Turner.

It seems Marc wasn’t taking this COVID-19 and lockdown issue lying down and what he has achieved in a short space of time is nothing short of miraculous. His place in the Indie Hall of fame is secured. And I for one won’t forget what he has done and bloody glad he did.

So, what about the music then.

Well it’s a triumph – a collection of some of the best tracks around from some of the best indie artists out there. You’ve got bands, solo singers, Boys n Girls, They/Them, everyone, and everything is here – Anoraks, introspective moods, bangers, anthems, wistful dream pop, new Britpop. New music – new attitudes, new heroes!

Kicking off with a punch to the face and a kick to the balls is Spyres and Otherside.

A song so damn catchy you’d of thought that it was the next pandemic coming out of the speakers and into your ears. Sounding like the kind of song that Shirley Manson would sing in her pomp, it puts a marker down for the rest of the album and as album openers go it’s pretty much perfect.

But the album doesn’t let up – The Capollos are hot on the Spyres heals with a song I know very well as I’ve played it a lot – Electrify is another one of those guitar anthems that the likes of popular radio is missing. Just Electrify me and turn it up a notch – Yes, Yes, Yes. More please.

New Mode pick up the baton and run another 100 metres with Victim to the Culture – a new band to these old ears – it doesn’t disappoint either, more catchy hooks, driving drums, guitars squealing – at this point you may want to check your pulse because by now you’ve been jumping around your Home and cranking it up to the max – be honest you have haven’t you! A great song.

Columbia show us what Liverpool is about with This Life – a band that has made great steps forward this year despite everything and show us that its ok to have Oasis type riffs and snarling vocals, if the song is good – this song is great and is underpinned with the kind of melodic song writing you’d come to expect from a Liverpool band.

Luckily, Theatre Royal allows us to take our breath with their jaunty jangler of Locked together on the lines which is classic indie, part Belle & Sebastian or for older readers C86. And relax.

Then we are back at it with two bangers one from the great Citylightz that need no introduction, with their Abbey Road recorded They don’t know me – I’ve written lots about this band and I’m a big fan, they are fun and cheeky but also excellent musicians with a message. This song is a perfect introduction to the uninitiated.

Monza Express with Crying on the Radio have written one of the catchiest songs of the year – it’s simply great and that’s all you need to know – Top 5 in our alternative universe of pop charts.

The album continues to surprise and delight and with newer bands like The Shed Project and Stanleys making sure the NW of England is fairly represented. Bands you’d love to see live. Yes, this will happen. Just for now enjoy the music.

Ry Byron and Joshua Grant are your solo singers giving it to the max – making you forget Ed Sheeran and George Ezra even exist. Thank you.

The quality is kept high by top tracks from Back Space, The Van T’s and Kid Violet – all showcasing the diversity of indie music – personally I’m astounded by the quality of song writing on all these tracks but also the excellent production. Technology really helping artists to realise their dreams. I assume crackly 4 track badly recorded demos don’t exist anymore. A good thing.

The Lutras make an appearance with Run and Hide – a song I have played so much this year and tried to sing – the vocals are of the highest order – part The Waterboys, maybe even Bryan Adams, it’s such a great song and has the kinda Scottish Soul you’d expect. I can see this being played on a great movie montage somewhere.

The final 3 tracks continue to give us all hope for the future.

Glass Violet from Bristol bring in their dream pop/shoegaze guitars and quite unique sound – like a Ride and Editors match up. If Bdrmm can hit the charts by bringing this sound back to the masses, no reason Glass Violet can’t.

Joe Astley then smashes through the glass roof with his anthem, aptly called Anthem for the North. The song I played 3 times in a row when I first heard it. Its big, its ambitious its Oasis, Embrace, James and all your other big singalong bands songs rolled into one. Joe is the next big pop star we need in our lives right now.

The Mariners then wind up this collection with a song that is an exclusive to the compilation – Don’t ask once is short and incredibly sweet, again doing what the boys do so well – moulding the best of 60’s beat and 90’s Britpop into 1 min 34 secs. No messing about. Brilliant.

So, there you go. That’s my review. I’ve got nothing more to say, I just leave it to you all now to buy this CD and dream the impossible dream.

You wanna stand up and be counted right.

O Captain My Captain

Peace and Love

Michael

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