We all had them didn’t we? The albums we brought on a whim or off the back of one brilliant single but as soon as we played them questioned why we’d bothered? I used to have hoards of the damn things on vinyl, cassette and CD stored in my garage, actual physical objects taking up valuable space. Then, when MP3’s took over, they began to take up equally valuable space, except this time as digital downloads on my beloved 160GB iPod Classic. Of course, with the arrival of Spotify and other streaming services, for most of the 2010’s they didn’t even do that. Instead they remained lodged in my memory as albums I always planned to listen to but for some reason never did. Now, in the grand tradition of File Under Unpopular, their time has finally come.


GRINDERMAN / GRINDERMAN 2 (September 2010)

FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Kitchenette’  

Nick Cave used to be one of my staple go-tos before I lost touch in the mid-noughties. So the idea of Grinderman, a tongue in cheek side project with song titles like ‘No Pussy Blues’, was of no interest to me whatsoever. However, hearing Grinderman 2 now, it strikes me that as a return to the primal swamp sound of The Birthday Party albeit with a welcome dose of wit and humour, in 2010 it must have sounded as out of time and place as Ol’ Nick ever has. Completely at odds with his latter day tendency to sing intense and meaningful lyrics over quiet, lengthy arrangements, excluding the understated brilliance of ‘Palaces Of Montezuma’, the remaining eight songs are direct and noisy enough to make The White Stripes sound like a Led Zep tribute act.




Hailed as a classic in some quarters, Metronomy’s third album was the antithesis of the new rave, electro cool bollocks main man Joseph Mount pursued on their early releases. Their first album to be recorded in a studio proper, The English Riviera offered Mount the opportunity to try something different and he succeeded in doing just that. A heartfelt homage to Totnes, Torbay and his south Devon youth, when Metronomy stray into the proficient, laidback balm of a Steely Dan or a Boz Scaggs circa the mid-seventies they do have a tendency to sound a little too polite and pristine, but there’s no denying the fine compositional and earworm quality in songs like ‘The Look’, ‘The Bay’ and ‘Trouble’.      



FAVOURITE TRACK ‘Something Good’

In 2012 I had Alt-J and their stupid Δ pegged as one of those privileged, annoyingly clever groups hyped to death by an increasingly desperate and rapidly diminishing music press. OK, so I should have reserved judgement until I heard An Awesome Wave in its entirety. But if anything doing so merely underlined the thought that Alt-J’s cleverness is ultimately their undoing because underneath their complex instrumental flourishes, tricky rhythms and vocal gymnastics are some disappointingly dull, indie prog tracks that aren’t very clever at all.




I can clearly remember Savages from 2013, their take on the post punk of my youth so perfect they were like an immaculately researched art school project. I almost fell for them too but there was something holding me back. And now, ten years on, I know exactly what it was. Setting aside the groups distinctive monochrome artwork, their self-important liner notes, jagged guitars and the cut your balls off feminist rhetoric, there’s no escaping the fact that Silence Yourself sounds less like the innovative early records of Siouxsie & The Banshees they were clearly trying to ape and more like the formulaic, post punk by numbers of Pauline Murray’s Penetration, which wasn’t for me in 2013 or 1978 and certainly isn’t for me now.    


SUN KIL MOON / BENJI (August 2014)


As an exponent of soft focused, indie folk, Mark Kozelek’s sixth album under the Sun Kil Moon moniker should never have been on my radar yet somehow it was. Maybe it’s because almost every one of Benji’s eleven songs are about ageing and death that made me take notice and remember it enough to play it nine years later. Or maybe it’s because what Kozelek is really trying to tell us is less about the demise of an uncle, a second cousin, a grandmother, a serial killer and God knows who else, but about the lives they led and how sadness, failure and fucking up played as big a part as they do in most folks life. A masterpiece of reflection and introspection, I only wish I’d heard it sooner.


RYAN ADAMS / 1989 (September 2015)


Compared to Sun Kil Moon’s Benji, Ryan Adam’s take on Taylor Swift’s 1989 and mega hits ‘Shake It Off’, ‘Blank Space’, ‘Style’ and ‘Bad Blood’ appeared trite and irrelevant. Was he hoping that some of her commercial magic would rub off on him or was he trying to infuse her precision-tooled mega pop productions with his renowned (before 2019 anyway) sense of honesty and authenticity? Whatever it was that inspired him, to my ears it only truly works on ‘Out Of The Woods’, his version so radically different to the original he could almost have claimed it as his own.       



The 1975 are a throwback to the new pop era of the early eighties and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And yet, like Duran Duran and so many more, The 1975 are convinced that they are serious artists with something important to say. It’s a common fault of most pop groups yet the sprawling 17 songs and 74 minutes of I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It really does contain enough ingenuity and bravado for the albums best bits to sound genuinely fantastic. OK, so it may not be revolutionary, and it does contain some truly cringe worthy shit, but in a decade overflowing with homogenous, conveyor belt, pop shite, gems like ‘A Change Of Heart’, ‘If I Believe You’, ‘Somebody Else’ and ‘Loving Someone’ possess an intriguing depth I really wasn’t expecting.


THE XX / I SEE YOU (January 2017)


In 2016 the influence of The XX’s unassuming yet undeniably ground breaking 2009 debut album on modern pop began to seep through in a big way when huge hits by the likes of The Chainsmokers and Shawn Mendes and non-hits by a host of minimalist imitators began to resemble the trio’s hushed, introspective tone. While I See You still revolved around the intimate voices of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim and could still be deeply personal - ‘Brave For You’ drawing strength from the former’s memory of her dead parents - the album was more obviously commercial, possessing a pop confidence and the sample led ‘On Hold’ that promised a very different kind of future.   




FONTAINES D.C. / DOGREL (April 2019)


In 2018, five years after Savages debut came yet another post punk revival, this one featuring Idles and Fontaines D.C. amongst others. Once again, being tagged with that unfortunate genre caused me to ignore those groups en masse. And yet, as I would eventually find out for myself, neither is really post punk at all. In fact, if anything Idles furious, focused rage is more like a new millennium update of the original punk ideal, top man Joe Talbot ripping into everything awry in broken Blighty; from parental expectations to angry young men in ‘fishbowl’ towns to the demonization of the working class, immigration and the death of his own daughter at birth. Painfully honest, head fuck stuff that in this day and age can only be matched by the Seaford Mods at their best.

   As for Fontaines D.C., their different again. For starters they don’t give a fuck about broken Britain because they’re from Ireland, Grian Chatten’s speak sing delivery in his distinctive Dublin tongue immediately setting them apart. Besides, Dogrel is testament to a completely different set of concerns featuring romantic portraits of Dublin and its vast array of characters filtered through the group’s love of poetry and literature. With songs like ‘Big’, ‘Too Real’, ‘Hurricane Laughter’, ‘The Lotts’, and ‘Boys In The Better Land’ oozing self-belief and authenticity galore, Dogrel is as impressive a debut album as you’re ever likely to hear. To think I very nearly didn’t!