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Another year is almost done and it’s a year in which I reached a monumental achievement for this site. Unbelievably I’ve been bothered to continue it for ten years. In those ten years I have had a peak readership of probably no more than ten and so the years have reached double figures before the audience has.


In these ten years many things have come and gone, lots of things have annoyed me and been written about but the one constant joy has always been music and what a year this has been. I have waffled on long enough about it in reviews and Siarys so rather than go on and on about them again let’s just get straight to the annual CYD awards. This year the top twos in each category were a fair few steps ahead of the third choices so I am going to only discuss the winners and runner’s up this time round and I’ll start with YouTube creators.


YouTube Creators


Runner Up: Storror


These guys release a new video every Monday and it’s the first thing I search for on return from work. You might not associate me with the typical Parkour guy, I’m old, overweight and out of shape but maybe that’s the reason I enjoy the art form so much. It’s people doing things that are way outside of my abilities. The Storror chaps do it better than the rest though, great editing, shots, runs and sticks all put together in very watchable videos. Each member brings their own unique style and as I can’t take my eyes off it each week it had to be in the top two. I am not sure I even knew what Parkour was a year ago and now I am watching it every week.


Winner: Freetobewhoibe


This will be the biggest non-surprise of the awards for the two people that still read this site. A man walks around fields doing rock reviews and he’s fantastic. The videos are both informative and funny and also brilliantly put together. I have watched various reaction channels and this is a huge step above them. The amount of time and effort Ben puts in is incredible and what really sets him apart is he is the only review channel where I watch the videos on bands I couldn’t give a shit about also because the delivery is so good. He also has a second channel Freetobe Positive on mental and physical health that is well worth checking out.


Concerts


Runner Up: Metallica with the San Francisco Symphony


This was special in so many ways. The original show twenty years ago was mythical. Something my younger self couldn’t even fathom going to but just being able to watch the DVD version felt special. This time though I was able to attend and not only that but with the same buddy who I watched the original DVD with numerous times over the years. He now resides in New Zealand and with myself in England from opposite sides of the world we converged to spend a week together in San Fran reliving our early adulthood’s again.


However what turned out to be even more special was that it wasn’t just a nostalgia trip. What Metallica added, in the round, the surprises in the setlist and just how differently they did some of those songs was breath-taking. In any other year this would be a shoe-in for first place but…


Winner: Regina Spektor on Broadway


Much like knowing Freetobewhoibe is my favourite YouTube content creator anyone who knows me on or off this site knows how much I adore Regina Spektor. Two years prior I had jumped on a plane because she was doing a special tour in the US sans band, playing rare and long-time unheard tunes and it was something I just did not want to miss. I attended four shows at not too unreasonable distances from each other and they were all superb, shows that I did not think could be topped.


Fast forward to this year and Regina announced that she was doing five very special shows on Broadway. Maybe those four shows could be topped? I wasn’t going to risk not finding out and so I found myself in New York with tickets for all five shows. It turned out for all sorts of reasons that those four shows could be topped. There were special star guests, there were dancers, there were special effects and there were songs that hadn’t had an airing in many a year. There was also a new song that was truly fabulous but I think the thing that topped it all was simply seeing Regina being constantly in awe of the surroundings she was in. It was a magical experience for her and that transcended to the audience. It’s a magical experience I can still sort of feel every time I think back to the show. The fact it topped the childhood dream coming true of seeing Metallica with the Symphony says it all.


Albums


Runner Up: Rosalie Cunningham – Rosalie Cunningham


The fact this is second says a lot about first. I discovered Purson just as they had split up and was gutted I didn’t get to see them live. The creator and mastermind behind the project Rosalie had decided to go solo and though I thought I’d probably like the material as obviously it was the same lady, I was blown away by just how much. This album is almost perfect and is a step ahead  of Purson and Purson won my album of the year a couple of years ago. It has everything you want from a rock record, big hooks, great choruses but it also has so many more added elements that help it to stand out. A huge amount of Beatles, psychedelic, prog and stoner influences swirl though this album and Rosalie’s voice sits perfectly on top. The biggest surprise however is the last track, a daunting 14 odd minutes long and yet the best track on the album. It has more twists and turns than a difficult race track or a dancer from the 60s and just exudes genius in every one of them. I have played this album none stop since it arrived and was always going to be number one for the year until…


Winner: FKA Twigs – Magdalene


A friend who usually points me in the directions of mildly amusing videos sent me a link to a track from this artist about two weeks ago. It usually takes me a while to click on them and sometimes I forget to do so altogether because mildly amusing videos are just that, mildly amusing. This however turned out to be something quite different.


The track on first listen had something. It was a live cut and you could tell she could sing, she was also doing something a little different with her voice too. Feeling gung ho I thought what the heck and bought the album and boy am I glad I did.


This album is sensational. It’s like a modern day Kate Bush with hints of Agnes Obel and possibly latter day Fiona Apple. It’s emotional, abrasive, beautiful, dark and so much more all rolled into one. I am not a huge r n b fan but even the hints of that don’t put me off because the emotional hooks are so strong. I have mentioned influences but really this CD sits on its own. Each track is fantastic but it’s as a whole where this album really shines. It weaves you in and out of darkness and beauty, strength and vulnerability. Simply put it’s truly stunning.


The only thing that I can say against it is I have currently had it only a couple of weeks. Will it slip on further listening? I can only say I have played the $£”% out of it so far and that has not happened.


This then brings me back to the start of this piece and why music is so special to me. The fact that I am still being blown away by new albums is phenomenal. It’s also the reason why Heart FM being on constantly at work every day is so depressing. To most the emotions of bland pop music seems to be enough to satisfy and yet FKA Twigs’ Magdalene album exists. There is no comparison.


Happy New Year my loyal reader/s and let’s see if I can get back into a better Siary grove next year and give you more content.

End Of Year Awards