So my actual AOTY this year went to Spanish Love songs, a record I’ve connected with in a way that meant it was a done deal from the moment I heard it. Those records don’t come around often. But there was one record that pushed it really, really close with sheer charm and a barrage of the best straight-up rock songs written in a long time.
Where some ‘favourite records’ become a comfort blanket in times of need, others look you square in the eye and say, ‘Fuck your problems, here’s something to yell along to’. No band has articulated those moments of glorious, empowering nihilism as well as The Nil on ‘That’s What Heaven Feels Like’ and ‘Bathed In Light’, where Luke Bentham (the greatest rockstar the world doesn’t know it has) charms and snarls his way through some of the catchiest songs ever written about death, complete with an “I’ll show ya, baby” before he rips into a solo.
Elsewhere, ‘Pain Of Infinity’ turns a couple’s most tedious refrain – “Let’s Do Whatever You Want” – into a chorus that could make a stadium bounce, were it ever to make it there – and if there’s any justice in the world, it someday will. There probably isn’t any justice, given that guitar bands just don’t seem to get the pushes these days, but songs like these have to get heard. I saw them play the New Cross Inn earlier in the year and outside the venue’s stage-facing massive windows people passing by were stopping and taking notice. I saw a kid lose their patience with their dad because he was gawping at them for so long. This band have had ‘it’ from the moment they wrote ‘No Weaknesses’, but this record takes ‘it’ to a different level.
When Brian Fallon sang about all those “outlaw cowboy bands” on ‘High Lonesome’, I think The Dirty Nil are what he meant. There’s a freedom to The Nil’s approach, writing huge rock songs in a world that doesn’t seem to care all that much about huge rock songs anymore, doing it simply because they can, that has a wild west bar fight feel to it. It’s music to escape the law to.
Okay, I’ve been playing a lot of Red Dead Redemption this year while listening to it and might have got carried away projecting there. Point is: this record is fucking great. Please listen to it if you haven’t. Forget the dumpster fires of reality for half an hour and go for a ride.
1. Spanish Love Songs – Schmaltz
2. The Dirty Nil – Master Volume
3. Drug Church – Cheer
4. Joyce Manor – Million Dollars To Kill Me
5. Barely March – Marely Barch
6. Turnstile – Time & Space
7. Nervus – Everything Dies
8. Culture Abuse – Bay Dream
9. Press Club – Late Teens
10. Fiddlehead – Springtime & Blind