Sunday, 25 November 2012

Rhubarb Bomb's Best Stuff of 2012

For the last couple of years, Rhubarb Bomb has declared a Festival of The Year which basically indulged my love of spreadsheets and over complicated scoring systems to crown a winner. This year, partly because I have had a dreadful run of planning to go to festivals that ended up being cancelled, I have been thinking how to expand this idea.

So this year, we have a range of topics for this year’s best ‘stuff’, basically bands, records, live stuff and things that have appeared in Rhubarb Bomb

The music is restricted to records we have actually reviewed. Otherwise, the list would be endless. Basically we try to review all we get sent. Sometimes if one of our writers buys something they love, they’ll do a review. But, for example, we never reviewed The Cribs album. And for the best events, we decided to keep it local.

For each category, I have shortlisted five. They are all potential winners that I would be proud to have regarded as Rhubarb Bomb’s best of 2012. But beyond that shortlisting, the choice is down to you.

The online vote is HERE. Below is some more information on the nominees, with links in purple if you want to see / hear more. Voting closes midnight on December 23rd.

Best Album

Kebnekaise – Wot Gorilla? (self release)

“The sound is new and innovative, but even within the realms of melodic mathrock they bring something of their own to the table; a more accessible charm without tuning down their idiosyncrasies one iota; what an accomplishment.” – Roland X

Midnight At The Sycamore Lounge – St Gregory Orange (Philophobia Music)

“Every ache over the construction of a beat, the rhythm of a line or the structure of a song has moved them further and further from their peers. The final product justifies each of their decisions: no one else in the world could have made this record. A work of wonder and endlessly collapsing beauty from one of the country’s most unique and engaging bands.” – Dean Freeman

The Time And The Lonelyness – Mi Mye (Self Released)

“Like a story being told rather than a song being sung, these are more than exercises in songwriting. It’s music, art and expression in its purest form which is, of course, the greatest thing and the record’s greatest success.” – Dean Freeman

Thirteen Lost & Found – RM Hubbert (Chemikal Underground)

“There is no studio trickery, no dense lyric to pour over and no sense of hype or anticipation. Yet the songs pack a greater emotional punch than almost anything else I have heard this year, which on this scale of minimalism is impressive in the extreme.” - Dean Freeman

This Many Boyfriends – This Many Boyfriends (Angular Records)

“It genuinely makes me want to teleport back in time to be 17, buy a leather jacket, sweat and dance in some overcrowded thrown together club night and fall in love.” - Jack Falcon

Best Single / EP

Day Three – jamiesaysmile (Geek Pie Records)

“Complex but accessible pop anthems that start small then build into wider, more expansive soundscapes. The key here for me is the transition between moods and dynamics; when the overdrive kicks in and mutates the guitars from twangy to crashing or the vocals move from reflective to downright sad, jamiesaysmile captures a sound all of his own.” – Matt Rhodie

Honeymoon On Ice – Soulmates Never Die (Cowsnail Records)

“This whole collection of ‘100mph grunge-folk’, as he has described his own style, is well worth a listen. The scratchy vocals and elegant guitar hook you in, but for me it’s the unpredictability of the journey that appeals most.” – Matt Rhodie

Runaround Kids vs We Are Losers – Runaround Kids / We Are Losers (Philophobia Music)

“It’s great that Philophobia is looking outwards to add talent to its roster. We Are Losers clearly share a lot with a range of PHOP bands, in particularly a hardcore passion hung over deceptively poppy songs. The fanbases of RKs and WAL are very likely to be two separate entities yet both will be incredibly pleased with the songs they know, and will also have found a new favourite band on the flipside.” – Dean Freeman

Selfless – Himself (Self Released)

“A band that live and breathe rock music, learnt how to play it, got bored with it, re-invented it, and fell in love with it all over again. If a band that complex, inventive and brave can keep a simpleton like me interested, they must be doing something right.” - Jarv

Spectemur Agendo – Various Artists (Philophobia Music)

“Philophobia's latest EP which features The Do's, Fur Blend and Clandestines is fucking awesome, pure and simple. I don't know the policy on swearing, sorry kids if you're reading, sorry if you're offended, sorry random-er who thought this might be pleasant, but bloody frigging hellers I haven’t stopped bashing my head around for a second.” – Jack Falcon

Wakefield Gig

It’s a bit of a cheat, but H.Hawkline made the trip up from Wales three times in 2012, all of which were outstanding. Recruiting local musicians as backing mere hours before the shows (or mid gig) added to the already charming performances.

Johnny Foreigner. PAWS. Runaround Kids. Playlounge. Wot Gorilla. The Spills. Need we say more?

The last of the ‘big three’ (the other two being Pylon and Dugong) calling it quits resulted in one of the greatest gigs of the year; the camaraderie of the old Players days mixed in with some high octane, full on punk carnage – ace.

After surprising themselves as much as any one else supporting The Cribs for their Wakefield show, Retarded Fish headlined their own gig, which also saw Protectors play their last ever gig in support.

A special evening that saw a young band release their first record. Whilst always special in itself, it felt like an almost coming of age for all the Philophobia bands that performed, especially with St Gregory Orange finally hitting their stride live. Powerful, because it is such a good omen for the future.

Making Wakefield Better

Who else could have dragged two hundred people to a library on a Saturday dinnertime? And not only that, he made Wakefield’s new library seem exciting and – I’m gonna say it – sexy. Another milestone for a continuously improving Wakefield.

The Jarmans played their first gig in Wakefield in five years and despite reservations about the choice of venue, it was simply an amazing, celebratory, once in a lifetime show. Once more, they act as a vital catalyst and an inspiration to people in Wakefield.

Twice this year, The Hepworth has played host to a plague of zombies. Or, more accurately, it invited people down to be made up as zombies and then walked them round town to scare the bejesus out of people. Still think art galleries are stuck up and boring?

2012 saw the dream of Unity Hall come to life. The share issue was launched in February, allowing local people to invest in its future and have a say in the direction of what will surely be one of the best and most unique venues in Yorkshire, if not the country.

Literature Festival? In Wakefield? A sign in itself of how Wakefield has developed in the last few years, the first Lit-Fest was a success of inspired speakers and performers and engaging workshops and film screenings and was organised by Beam, who are based at The Orangery.

Music Festival

Rhubarb Bomb Article

Always subjective, this shortlist is based on the amount of feedback I received and these saw people from far and wide bothering to say how much they enjoyed them; these kind of articles that give me faith that people are out there reading and enjoying what RB does.

Anatomy Of A Gig – Dean Freeman

Question Of Wakefield Future – Stephen Vigors

Best Thing We Did

Fifth Birthday Gig

We celebrated our fifth birthday with an all dayer amongst the regal surroundings of an 18th century orangery. Champagne, birthday cake, gigs under railway arches, secret gardens and lots of Wakefield bands covering each others songs for kicks. A wonderful day for us.

Over three days, with about 100 bands across ten venues, this year’s Long Division was the biggest yet. Aidan Moffat & Bill Wells in the theatre? Art Brut in Mustangs? So many highlights for us, we hope you loved it too, and we can’t wait for next year.

An 18 track album of exclusives from bands we have supported over the last five years, including those lovely Cribs boys. Packaged inside a limited edition 200-odd page book about music, indie ideals, Wakefield, zines, and how it all fits together.

The Issues

With such a busy year, it’s easy to forget we also released four great issues. Maybe tucking up in a corner and reading our wayward thoughts was your best Rhubarb Bomb moment this year?

The Blog

Our online content has increased greatly this year, and is where all our record and live reviews now live, as well as some opinion pieces that have received almost every response imaginable, both positive and negative…


Finally, Rhubarb Bomb has a special award which it will give to a person or persons who we feel have, through their actions in 2012, helped perpetuate the ideals if DIY and being independent. It doesn’t have to be something huge and world changing. Just an extra thing that we think needs celebrating. Who will it be…?

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