Fresh Finds: Winter Edition

This is my final Fresh Finds instalment of 2016, and what a year it has been! Since my summer edition I have made tonnes of great new discoveries, so I’ve narrowed my list down to the most significant finds. All the artists listed below are bound to be massive in 2017, so be sure to check them out! You will not regret it.

Creeper 

I am struggling to actually express my feelings towards Creeper in writing as no words will suffice to convey my sheer adoration. They are certainly doing well to fill the Fearless Vampire Killers shaped void that has scarred my life for the past few months. Everything about them appeals to every aspect of my being; the music, the image, the lyrical density. I was drawn in by the story  and stayed for everything else.

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Out of all the artists on my list, I have known of them the shortest, yet they have without a doubt had the biggest impact on me. The fans are incredible – I haven’t felt this at home within a fan base since FVK – and reading the mind-blowing theories is all part of the Creeper Cult experience. The depth of the band and their work is definitely reminiscent of My Chemical Romance – as many have pointed out – yet they are a band completely in their own right. I am immensely excited to see them for the first time in Cardiff next year.

Pretty Vicious 

Pretty Vicious rightfully stand alongside Creeper at the very top of my list as I already regard them as one of my absolute favourite bands (which is quite an achievement). It’s no surprise then that they hail from Wales, as the majority of my favourite bands do.

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I can’t remember the exact moment I discovered them – I’m pretty sure I had read something about them a while before I listened – but I definitely know the first track I heard was Cave Song. It’s impossible to listen to Cave Song and not instantly fall head over heels. There was no acquiring of taste; the infatuation was instantaneous, as was the case with every song.

The Sherlocks 

Like Pretty Vicious, I actually discovered The Sherlocks back in the summer, so I’ve been a fan for quite some time. Bran Cook (the drummer) followed me on twitter which prompted me to look into them and I wasn’t disappointed.

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I was lucky enough to catch them at Leeds festival; the atmosphere was amazing. You definitely got the impression that you were experiencing the start of something massive. I can’t believe how much they have blown up during the short space of time I have been a fan, but they certainly deserve it.

Chistine and the Queens 

I believe it was within the pages of Q Magazine that I first became actively aware of Christine and the Queens. Drawn in by image and backstory, I immediately turned to YouTube and listened to Tilted for what I thought was going to be the first time – turns out I already knew it. It’s one of those songs that, despite being relatively new, feels as though it has been around forever.

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Back when the single was receiving tonnes of airplay, I remember not being too enthralled. Context can be extremely important when it comes to music, at least that’s the case with me. I often find myself enjoying music that might have gone completely over my head had I have not done my research before hand.

 

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2016 Literature Review

2016 was my first year out of education, yet I honestly feel as though I’ve learned so much more this year than any other, mainly thanks to the large doses of literature I have consumed throughout the last twelve months.

In total, I’ve completed 50 books this year and have many more on the go, so it’s just not possible for me to review them all individually. Instead, I have split them into the most important categories and offered a few comments on each, as well as listing my other equally ranking favourites at the bottom.

Overall, I have named twenty-three of what I believe to be the most important/best books I have read. It is imperative that you add them to your reading list for 2017.

 

Music: Everything (A Book About Manic Street Preachers) – Simon Price 

Having read five books on the Manic Street Preachers, five on Punk/Post-Punk, two on Britpop and one on Grunge (all of which were brilliant) I unsurprisingly found it difficult choosing a favourite from the pile. However, the Manics have been my biggest obsession for almost two years now. Through them, I have been introduced to a lot of the literature that I cherish now (some of the books I found through them have even made this list – see ‘Philosophy’, ‘Book of the Year’ and ‘Honourable Mentions’).

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Simon Price is, without a doubt, one of my favourite personalities in music journalism – he is one of the main inspirations behind my career aspirations – so having him tell me the story of my favourite band from his own perspective with personal experiences and encounters is pretty special. It is definitely a book I will be returning to in 2017.

Horror: ‘Salem’s Lot – Stephen King 

Horror has been the genre I have loved the longest and I’ve been a HUGE King fan for forever, so I’m ashamed to say that I only read ‘Salem’s Lot for the first time this year.

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Vampires are my favourite mythical creatures, yet the imagery is so vivid that it still managed to give me nightmares! It left me itching to pen my own vampire novel.

Philosophy: The Myth of Sisyphus – Albert Camus

Albert Camus and Søren Kierkegaard have been my two focus philosophers over the last year and, while Kierkegaard is extremely fascinating, I feel like my own philosophy is better reflected by Camus’ writings.

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I really enjoyed Camus’ novels too, but I feel that The Myth of Sisyphus is the perfect summary-of-my-own-philosophy essay.

History: The War Behind The Wire: The Life, Death and Glory of British Prisoners of War 1914-1918 – John Lewis Stempel 

To those who know me well, it will come as no surprise that the bulk of my historical readings was made up by world war one literature, with some Welsh history and Suffragette books chucked in.

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The War Behind The War is highly factual piece of writing which offers insight into a section of the war that is often overlooked. Sometimes, books that are so packed with facts can feel like a bit of a chore to read, but that wasn’t the case with this book. It was highly readable, informative and empathetic.

Politics: The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It – Owen Jones

Without a doubt, the most captivating piece of political writing I have read this year is Owen Jones’ The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It.

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I had the pleasure of listening to Jones speak with Andy Parsons at Leeds Festival this year whilst most people were nursing hangovers or drowning in mud. He constantly motivates me to do more politically and The Establishment stoked the flames that had already been ignited within me. It is a passionately critical and angrily sophisticated piece of work. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class is up next on my reading list.

Book of the Year: Novel With Cocaine – M. Ageyev 

I read Novel With Cocaine right back at the start of the year, but it has been at the top of my mind ever since. Not only is it a deliciously obscure read, the context in which the novel was penned and the mystery surrounding the identity of the author makes it an even more tantalising story.

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It is a controversial novel, not without its criticisms. Vladimir Nabokov – rumoured author of Novel With Cocaine and writer of his own fair share of controversial novels (Lolita is on my list for 2017) – even described it as ‘decadent’ and ‘disgusting’ – though in my view, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it makes it all the more thrilling.

Honourable Mentions

  • The Temple of the Golden Pavilion – Yukio Mishima
  • Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell
  • The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  • The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  • The Stranger – Albert Camus
  • The Fall – Albert Camus
  • Fear and Trembling – Søren Kierkegaard
  • Junky – William S. Burroughs
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  • Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century – Greil Marcus
  • Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  • Britpop!: Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock – John Harris
  • Rip It Up and Start Again – Simon Reynolds
  • Anger is an Energy – John Lydon
  • Stephen Fry – The Liar
  • So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson