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Favourite music of 2015

This year was another good one for music — actually, it was exceedingly great, as it marked the return of my favourite band (that’s not The Cure) after a 9-year hiatus.

Here then are my five favourite (new) albums of 2015.

Sleater-Kinney
No Cities to Love

SleaterKinney_NoCitiesToLove_cover

When Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus in August 2006, I was pretty cut-up. I’d seen them three times back in New Zealand (2002 on the back of One Beat, then twice in 2006 on the tour for The Woods), and that wasn’t enough. Excellent albums from Carrie Brownstein’s Wild Flag and The Corin Tucker Band helped fill the nearly decade-long gap, but… that wasn’t enough either.

And then Sleater-Kinney roared back to life, having amazingly kept their reunion a secret for nearly two years. Then I saw them live in Manchester in the first half of 2015, and they blew the roof off the venue.

It’s good to have them back!

Speedy Ortiz
Foil Deer

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I have to thank SomaFM, Alex Segura and NPR Music for this one. Speedy Ortiz’s third album Foil Deer has been on heavy repeat for me this year. Best bit about discovering a band a bit late? There were two previous albums I could enjoy immediately.

Raising the Skate is quite possibly my favourite song of the year.

Courtney Barnett
Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit81FuZVqc8OL._SL1500_

Another NPR Music discovery. I’m sensing a theme here.

Veruca Salt
Ghost Notes

veruca-salt-ghost-notes

Okay, so this is a slightly weird one. Although Veruca Salt have existed in one form or another since 1993, Ghost Notes is the first album by the original line-up since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You. And Ghost Notes doesn’t disappoint – it sounds just like Veruca Salt circa 1997. This is old-school American indie rock.

On the other hand… it sounds just like Veruca Salt circa 1997. Which, as I’ve just said, it great. But also a little weird. At times it does feel like a nostalgic trip eighteen years back in time, and my hope is that the next album shows a little progression. Sleater-Kinney came back after nine years with an album that felt like a modern continuation, after all.

Wolf Alice
My Love is Cool

myloveiscool

This is a super-late entry, given I only discovered the band on Christmas Eve thanks to Soma FM and someone else’s best-of list. But less than a week of high-rotation listening has put this into my top five albums of the year. I might just have to go see them live in 2016. Their back catalogue is also well worth seeking out, especially the Moaning Lisa Smile EP.

 

Those rare occasions when a Thursday turns out pretty good, plus some new HANG WIRE reviews

Oops, missed a blog post yesterday! To be honest, I was flat out busy, so it would have been a picture post of something random in my office anyway. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Anyway, today was a good day. Lots of work done. Got two bits of amazing news which I can’t tell you about. Then unexpectedly got tickets to see my favourite band, The Cure, at the Royal Albert Hall next month (general sale is tomorrow, but I heard word of a pre-sale this morning and was online at just the right time), and then, to top it off, Lego announced they are doing a Ghostbusters set as part of their CUUSOO series (fan-created sets that are then voted on for appraisal and possible production by Lego).

So, all in all, it’s been a pretty amazing day.

Meanwhile, some more Hang Wire links in action:

Over at Mary Robinette Kowal’s My Favorite Bit, I give the lowdown on the book’s main villain, Joel Duvall.

The Book Plank review the book and says:

Hang Wire is a awesome read (and that’s understating it by far). From the first pages I was hooked.

There’s also a new interview with me up on that site.

At My Shelf Confessions, Tabitha says that Hang Wire is:

Fricka fracking blowing my mind good!

…which is my favourite review quote ever!

Megan at All Things Urban Fantasy says:

If Tim Powers wrote The Night Circus, the resulting novel would probably look a lot like Adam Christopher’s Hang Wire.

My Bookish Ways says:

Hang Wire is just pure fun. Yes, there are some dark doings here (something huge is awakening underground and gods are running around wearing human facades, and of course, murder), however, Adam Christopher manages to pull off the right amount of creepy (and some great action scenes) without ever getting toodark. Fans of quirky urban fantasy will devour this one.

And Popcorn Reads says:

Adam Christopher has brought his unique vision to his novel and I loved it. Hang Wire is pure murder mystery married to a dark, sinister urban fantasy, with both bordering on and possibly crossing over into horror in places. I get chills now just thinking about it.

See you tomorrow!

 

 

Your Friday moment of Ladytron

I swear, I’ll get around to talking about guitars at some point. Maybe even in a way that isn’t deeply boring.

This week has been a little weird, writing-wise. Working away on book 2 of The Spider Wars, then kinda stopped everything to compile three synopses and sent them off, then tried to ignore the nagging feeling of anxiety you get when you are waiting for something to happen. Someone once said that the writer’s default state is “rejection”, which is a good way to look at the writing life, but I prefer to think of my default state as “waiting”.

I am not good at waiting.

Anyway.

Another weekend off. Here’s my favourite Ladytron song – the one that I first heard, actually – from 2002. Which is a terrifyingly long time ago.

Eeep.

Your Friday moment of Quasi

I was actually going to talk about music today – specifically, my guitars (and banjo), and what I’m doing with them. With photos, because I actually love looking at guitars. I’m not that great a player, but there’s something about them as objects that I really dig.

Anyway.

As it happened, I’ve been flat out today answering an email interview, and doing edits on a new novelette that I hope can be announced soon. Then followed a bunch of admin – this has been The Week From Email Hell, let me tell you – and as I result I’m so pooped I’m going to disconnect myself from the internet this weekend and do stuff like read comics and books and generally chill the hell out.

Anyway.

But today can still be musical – Music Friday maybe? – so here’s a neat little something I stumbled on today. Quasi are a band I rather like, and here’s a cool little live in-studio recording they did while they were in the UK late last year.

Please to enjoy. See you Monday, refreshed!

Writerly update, April 2012

Been a while since I’ve done an update post, so here goes:

Alt Fiction was last weekend – I was only there for the Saturday and only on one panel, so I’m not going to bother with a write-up – you can read some good post-event blogs here, here and here. I do have some photos somewhere which I’ll upload once I’ve found the camera! Overall I did have an enjoyable day, and it was great to catch up with friends, even though a] the panel I was on was not exactly a success (as those links above mention) and b] I was pretty exhausted from EasterCon the previous weekend (which remains the best convention I’ve yet attended).

With the Discover Festival cancelled, that’s me done for events until FantasyCon in September, which I’m really looking forward to.

Writing wise, the first set of copyedits on Seven Wonders have been sent back to Angry Robot. Seven Wonders, my superhero adventure novel, is out in September worldwide and can be preordered from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com – I’ll put up a page of more varied order links this week. Twitter followers may have noticed a little chat about the cover the other week. It’s Will Staehle again (yes!), and hopefully we can reveal the final version soon. And… it’s good, put it that way!

I’m making progress on The Age Atomic, the sequel to Empire State, which features quantum ghosts, atomic robots, the Cloud Club, and a mysterious woman from New Amsterdam. This is the first book I’ve actually written to a contract, rather than having had a novel done in at least first draft form beforehand. Which is a new thing, as is writing a sequel. But so far, so good. Onwards towards 120,000 words. I need to get the first draft done by the end of June, so my beta-readers and agent can tear it to shreds while I’m away for a month in Europe and Ireland.

Also kicking around is Secret Project S, but more on that when the stars are right.

There’s been some cool stuff going up on the Empire State Worldbuilder site, including a comic, The Silver Specter, by triple-Hugo-award-winning Cheyenne Wright, and a song, The Empire State, by John Anealio. The Forbidden Planet International blog made a nice mention of The Silver Specter, while SFSignal covered John’s song not once, but twice. And finally, Worldbuilder producer-manager-maestro – not to mention John Campbell Award-nominated writerMur Lafferty was also interviewed about the project over at Shared Story Worlds.

And I’m off this Friday and Saturday to see/stalk (delete as applicable) one of my favourite bands, The Dandy Warhols, so I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs (and one which appears on the Empire State playlist), Good Morning (which is, absurdly, now 15 years old… where the heck did 1997 go?)

 

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the EMPIRE STATE playlist

At the back of Empire State there’s a playlist of songs I listened to while writing and editing the book (you can listen to playlist on Spotify or iTunes here). The other day, I did a slightly expanded version of the playlist for this blog.

Seems word got around. Yesterday I got an email from someone connected to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, one of my favourite bands, who said the band and their management had seen the playlist and were delighted at the inclusion of the song Salvation.

I thought that was cool, but it was a little tricky to work out whether the email was genuine or not.

Later in the day, this appeared on BRMC’s official Facebook page:

So, on the day that Empire State was reviewed in the Financial Times, just after the stonkingly great London launch, I find one of my favourite bands has seen the playlist and are pleased they’re on it.

Which is about as cool as it gets, I think. Unfortunately there are no good version of Salvation on YouTube, but to mark the occassion here’s another favourite BRMC track, Love Burns.

Now to see if I can get word to Robert Smith

The EMPIRE STATE playlist

Just a quick note: early birds who have received their copies of Empire State already from the cheeky sods at Amazon.co.uk can find the playlist on Spotify or on iTunes. Spotify didn’t have Golden-Frost by The Brian Jonestown Massacre, so I substitued There’s A War Going On by the same band. iTunes includes both tracks. It’s actually a great song and very suitable, I wish I’d included it in the original playlist!

I’ve updated the Empire State page with the links, and I’m actually doing a musical guest blog for someone closer to release, where I’ll be able to talk about my selections in more detail.

Five days to go…

Wild Flag

This week is the week I get Seven Wonders out the door. Oh yes. No question.

Right? Right.

Helping me along the way will be Wild Flag, whose eponymous album is just out. Wild Flag have been described as a “supergroup”, because the four members (Carrie BrownsteinMary Timony, Rebecca Cole and Janet Weiss) have each been in other successful acts (Sleater-KinneyHelium and The Minders, among others). I think that’s missing the point a little, as any band should be judged on their own output, not the history of its members.

Fortunately, Wild Flag’s album is brilliant. It’s hard to describe – it’s like a cross between Sleater-Kinney and, oddly enough, defunct British band Sleeper, vocally anyway (particularly on the tracks Glass Tambourine and Electric Band). To be honest, it feels a bit strange describing them like that, because Sleeper are certainly a band I have long, long, long since outgrown.

Long, long, long.

But they certainly fit the Pacific Northwest kinda thing. In fact, if you take Wild Flag and The Corin Tucker Band, you’ve pretty much got Sleater-Kinney 2011.

Wild Flag took an interesting step a few months ago and released a trailer for the album, which I don’t recall having been done before. And they’ve just released a video for the album opener, Romance.

Please to enjoy, Wild Flag.

Friday night air guitar

Just a quick one as I head into a weekend of… work.

Huh.

With Seven Wonders at draft X.2, I’m putting it to one side for a week or so as it’s at the point where it really needs my full attention, and it’ll get that in the second half of this month.

In the meantime, I’ve written a short story which is very silly but which should go online shortly, and I’ve been working on the outline for Night Pictures. The last book I wrote was Hang Wire, and while that turned out just fine, I decided to run with only a very loose outline and at times some of the draft was tough to get right. So this time I want a pretty strong foundation, especially as I have a “feeling” about Night Pictures – that sounds both silly and pretentious, but hey, I think this is going to be a good book. I’m excited about it.

So while I pull the plot to pieces and try and get it into some kind of order, for this week I leave you with Lou Reed playing a Velvet Underground classic sometime in the early 80s. Check out the front row air guitar.