At the start of the week, I had the idea that I would try and focus on more beautiful, hopeful music this week. Yet, as you’ll see, by Tuesday that idea was long gone – and by Thursday, and the way the American government seemed to be treating survivors of sexual assault, nothing felt appropriate save absolute rage. Fuck the patriarchy. Burn it all down.
Inspiration is a funny thing. Sometimes, you really have to work to find it; to tease out that motivation to write one more line, to add the next brush-stroke, to find the next series of notes. And yet at other times, the stream of creativity will not so much flow as it will flood, crashing over you in an uncontrollable wave, where the hours race by as chapters, riffs, and colours all come together in ways as natural and effortless as breathing.
Yet there are things that can help tap in to that feeling and unleash it, and here, I present five records that – for me – help me feel inspired, creative, and most of all, enthusiastic about creating something new. My main focus will be on writing, because that is where my creativity most often lies, but I think the ideas and feelings I talk about can be applied to any form of art. And, of course, this list is in no way intended to be definitive – instead, I hope it encourages you to think about what inspires you, what makes you want to write, or draw, or dance; and to hopefully find something that makes you want to create, and then to act on those impulses. Enjoy!
And so, to my five favourite albums of 2016. There’s been a lot of good stuff released this year, some of which I haven’t been able to spend as much time with as I’d ordinarily like, or which I suspect may need more time for me to fully appreciate them – I intend on writing one further end of year post, taking in at least some of those releases, plus a few other bits from 2016.
As with last year, my top five is in order; ranking them has been difficult, but I feel quite confident in the order I’m placing them in, even if there wasn’t much between most of them. On to the list!
Label: Profound Lore Records
It’s not often I feel intimidated when writing about an album – in fact, it’s happened only a handful of times out of all the reviews I’ve had published. But putting down my thoughts on the new album from SubRosa, For This We Fought The Battle Of Ages, genuinely feels like a mammoth undertaking. There’s several reasons for this. To start with, it’s the follow-up to not just one of my favourite albums of the past few years, but one of my favourite albums completely. More Constant Than The Gods still astounds me to this day, so the expectations for For This We Fought… are high to begin with. Then, there’s the context of the album itself, being based as it is upon the novel We, a seminal work of dystopian fiction. But what truly makes writing about For This We Fought… such a daunting task is a problem I imagine most writers have grappled with at some point in their lives: how to adequately convey the emotions it arises, the impact it has, how god-damn good the album is. As this might imply, For This We Fought… doesn’t just meet expectations; it surpasses them, to the extent that it makes an album as near-perfect as More Constant Than The Gods seem like a warm-up for the main act.
Label: Profound Lore Records
The biggest danger when listening to music can be that your hopes and expectations run away with you. How many times has an incredible opening track or introduction given way to an album that couldn’t quite match the start, and has suffered as a result? How often does a hyped album turn out to be crushingly ordinary? The answer should be obvious: too many.