I am getting a bit ahead of myself. It's only November, but lots going on in December so I thought I would get this out of the way now while I have the chance. Like last year I have compiled my favourite tracks onto two 80 minute mini-discs. So here is volume 1.
1. Big Big Train - Folklore. The catchy-as-hell title track from the bands latest. After the mighty English Electric double album, could they top that? They did indeed! More folky, but they are on such a peak of songwriting and arranging, the whole album is top notch.
2. Holon - The Times they are A-Taming. My album of the year. The whole album is so strong, but this features the voice of Rhys Marsh who I admire very much.
3. Grumbling Fur - Strange the Friends. The first track from Furfour. I do love Daniel O'Sullivan's work and this and many others on this great album imbody the spirit of early Eno so much.
4. Pineapple Thief - In Exile. From the fantastic Your Wilderness album. Pineapple Thief have always been a great band, but after Bruce Soords superb solo album of last year, the momentum continues here. Also boasts the best album cover of the year. Carl Glover's found photos are so haunting and fit the mood of the album to a tee!
5. Steven Wilson - Don't Hate Me. All the touring has meant that SW only managed a mini album this year. This re-working of the Porcupine Tree track was a particular highlight with fantastic sax by Theo Travis.
6. Contact - Sensorium. Superb synth rock from Zombi's A E Paterra, very much in the style of Vangelis, circa the Blade Runner end credits.
7. Black Mountain - Space to Bakersfield. The Canadian psychedelic rock band's fourth album ends with this beautifully serene slice of floating, elegiac wistfulness. Driven by languid guitar, which owes as much to Vini Reilly as Dave Gilmour. It feels as if it should go on forever!
8. Grumbling Fur - Milky Light. Doing Eno better than Eno and featuring John Cale like viola, just to add to the Enoness!
9. Opeth - Will O The Wisp. One of the more laid back numbers from their Sorceress album. Very Tull like indeed!
10. Glass Hammer - Eucastrophe. This US band have always produced very fine retro prog, but this years Valkyrie is especially good. The coupling of this track and the following Rapturo, produces the same big, emotional impact which Afterglow achieved on Genesis's Wind and Wuthering.
11. Glass Hammer - Rapturo. See above.
12. Big Big Train - Salisbury Giant. Another prime example of Big Big Train's evocation of pastoral England.
13. Syd Arthur - Coal Mine. So-called Canterbury type band's third album, sees them producing an assured collection of succinct, catchy songs.
Next, volume 2 which includes the epics of the year!