Our Picks of 2013

(Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire cover art)

There’s a hatful of changes coming at KM for the new year – not least that we’ll be changing our name to Karousel Music in the next fortnight. We’ll still be working with our great friends at Karamel in Wood Green and The Phoenix Artist Club in Soho, and Kev will still be pouring crystal notes out of the PA – but we’re streamlining it all a little so people don’t confuse the original beloved venue in Wood Green’s Chocolate Factory 2 with the wider music company – spiritually linked though we are. We’ll tell you more about that and our new venture in the next week or so, but it’s very exciting times indeed! In the meantime we do, of course, hope you all had a superb Christmas and New Year.

Chris and Doug renewed their northern lifeblood with trips home to the Manchester heartlands – salt and pepper chips with Andy Bruce (God bless the Mancs for coming up with that one); and a rather marvellous curry at East Z East at Blackfriars/Deansgate with Music Norway’s Nina Finnerud (whom we have to thank for intro-ing us to Anna Lena & The Orchids and Farao) and longtime conspirator Rob Fowler – an uber keyboard player and the loveliest man… Chris and Doug met through Rob – Great musician; terrible at Worms Armageddon. There’s rumours on the grapevine of a temporary respite from retirement and a collaborative EP, but that’s for another post.

Roger was lauding it up as the Foursquare Mayor of the Dog and Duck, before taking up residence in his virtual palace in Tunbridge Wells, while Scott was taking in North Wales from Snowdon to Llandudno in a 1950’s Marooon coach with a cream trim. And why not? Stuart was kicking back with his family, no doubt swigging Fosters or Aussie Shiraz while listening to some of his exquisitely curated SGO catalogue (including Misteltoe and Wine – up yours Costa!) and laughing heartily at the English cricket team. Lizzie meanwhile had hopped the globe and was home in Falmouth, Cape Cod. (Stockport is more Cape Carp) And thanks to those grey skinned, three-eyed vampires in the Conservative Party, Vik is currently marooned in Prague (and predictably – kicking ass there) – but she’s as much a part of the Collective as ever and we can’t wait to get her back. Jyri, in the meantime, is back in Helsinki where his new project he’s working on, Music Kickup just got voted number 1 in Finland’s top 100 startups for 2014. Artists – check it out, could be very useful for you.

So before we get cracking in earnest with 2014, we thought we’d give you a roundup of what was for us, the best of 2013 – whether artists and friends from our nights (we’re terming them KM artists for the purposes of this), or someone else’s. There were obviously some life affirming moments we haven’t got on our actual final lists, but that shouldn’t diminish the performances, or our affection for the acts – like seeing Tom Baxter drop the jaws of the whole room in Soho (the same night the sublime Leslie Mendelson had us dreaming of Coney Island), and Matt Woosey getting the place stomping in Wood Green – both were on most of our lists. Ana Silvera continues to be one of the great poets and performers of her generation – no question, and we’re proud of our association with her via the label up at Chocolate Factory 2. Saturday Sun were nothing short of majestic and have massive things coming this year we hope – think Nick Drake meets Muse at Johnny Greenwood’s house. There was a killer set by Snorri Helgason and a beauty by Paper Shades. And Hot Feet were on all our lists after their star turn at the Songs From The Shed showcase night courtesy of Jon Earl… (what a guitarist – what a band in their entirety.) There was the class of Charlie Wood and Chris Simmons; the thunder, lightning, snap, crackle and pop of Joel Sarakula (also high on the list as ever) and Paul Aiden, Norman Vladimir and Stephen J Payne. Ace first appearances from Bity Booker, Roxanne De Bastion (who also gave a superb panel performance at the Reeperbahn Festival) Mary Spender, Romy Deighton, Tom Bem, Thom Byles, the stunning dream pop of Daniel Land, Charlie Turner, Hunter & The Bear, the Neil Finnesque Noel Cowley and Chaz Thorogood. There was one of those ‘I saw her when she was 18’ moments from Freya Ridings; there was the warm, witty, intelligent and honest folk of Roger Davies. Triumphant returns from Sansa, JJ Cinnerman and Nia. Awesome Milk & Honey sets from Pusher (loudest band on earth award) and the mega Death to Dreaming (watch out for them in 2014) And Then there was the best Christmas presents ever – Michele Stodart from the Magic Numbers, and Goldheart Assembly – who were off this planet. And not to forget legends like Chris Difford, Chris Helme and Mark Nevin who all dropped back into the nest in support of the Collective. There was music based comedy from bass legend Guy Pratt; an interview with the lovely Jenny Boyd. In the same spirit, we want to doff our caps to some of our favourite promoters, like the marvellous folks that run JA JA JA and those at Woodburner and Earmusic for their stellar curation and events… but anyhow, this is a quick summary of the first things that came out our mouths when we asked each other to name our finest moments, and some great tips for you… We hope you find some new favourites.

Starting with Doug:

Favourite album from someone that played for us: The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be – Exit Calm / Anna Lena & The Orchids – EP
Favourite album (non-KM): Push the Sky Away – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Best KM show: Boho Dancer in Wood Green
Best non KM show: Blur at Primavera Barcelona
Best lyric: “I’m so proud of who I am/ fat, loud and American/ give me salt and more ketchup/ my heart wants to blow me up/ suck my dick and fuck your mom/ fuck this day and fuck this song/ Britney’s lyrics are the bomb/ moral of our story’s gone…” – Alex KaralekasBroken Tree
Favourite non KM venue: The Lexington
Album cover: Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire
Fave radio show: Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour


Matt Deighton at Northern Embassy on October 21st

Favourite album from someone that played for us (tied):Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire/ Anna Lena & The Orchids EP/ Boho Dancer – Furry Skin EP
Favourite album (non KM): Forever Endeavour – Ron Sexsmith
Best performance at a KM gig: Matt Deighton or Boho Dancer at the Northern Embassy/Matt Woosey in WG. Oh man, and Lay Low was amazing too.
Best non KM show: Kathryn Williams at the Union Chapel, or Antimatter People in Hamburg. They’re my tip for 2014, Phenomenal.
Favourite lyric from someone who played for us: I walk the shadow tightrope between the telephone poles/ let the fear in my pockets slip out through the holes/ like and old soldier scratching the ghost of his knee/ I’m still feeling an ache where my heart used to be…” Charlie Wood, Promised Land
Favourite lyric from someone we haven’t had YET: “I ain’t no spaceman/ain’t no diver/ ain’t no steam train driver either/ the boy me wouldn’t know me at all/ if I kicked my ball over my wall…” Meadow – Bus Stop Strangers
Best chord change: Saturday Sun, the bridge/pre chorus in ‘Something in The Woods’
Favourite non KM venue: Hasenschaukel, Hamburg
Album cover: Roddy Hart & The Lonesome Fire

Saturday Sun – preorder the new record here

Roger’s picks:

Fav album (non KM) – “Big Inner” by Matthew E. White
Fav album from artist that played for us – Little Letters, by Paper Aeroplanes
Best KM performance – Blair Dunlop (other contenders Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Samantha Whates, Boho Dancer)
Best non-KM performance – East Cameron Folkcore @Reeperbahn Festival (other contenders Bonnie Raitt @ RAH, Lissie @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC, Robyn Hitchcock @ The Continental Club, Austin)
Favourite lyric from someone who played for us – “Done” by Josienne Clarke
Fav non-Karamel venue – The Chapel at House of St. Barnabas (other contenders Wilton’s Music Hall, Paper Dress Vintage, Hoxton Hall)
Fav album cover – The National “Trouble Will Find Me”
Fav music-related app – h1tchr (Spotify app)
Fav radio show – Strange Majik’s 212 on Amazing Radio


Favourite EP/album – Neil Young with Crazy Horse ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’
Favourite Album from someone that played for us – Blair Dunlop, Blight & Blossom
Best performance at a KM gig – Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker
Best performance at non KM gig – Eric Bibb at The Cheese & Grain, Frome
Favourite lyric from someone who played for us – ‘La Cohen’ Lail Arad
Favourite venue that’s not one of ours – Bush Hall, London
Favourite album cover – Kodaline ‘In A Perfect World’
Favourite music related app – Songkick
Favourite radio show – Mary Anne Hobbs 6Music

And last but not least, Lizzie:

Favourite album (non KM): Black Sheep – Martin Sexton
Favourite album from someone that played for us: a tie between the Anna Lena & The Orchids EP and Dark Nights make for Brighter Days – Samantha Whates
Best performance at a KM gig: If I HAVE to pick one out of so many good ones, Boho Dancer
Best non KM show: Glen Hansard at Union Chapel
Favourite lyric from someone who played for us: “I’m good at making excuses, maybe playing with words has its uses”- ‘Circus’ – Paper Aeroplanes (Sarah Howells)
Favourite non KM venue: Union Chapel
Album cover: Not sure why, but Closing Time- Tom Waits sticks out
Song I can’t turn off: At the moment: ‘Imanin bas zihoun’ -Tamikrest (apparently the lyrics aren’t that happy, but it’s really fun to listen to)

Meadow – Bus Stop Strangers – the chorus of 2013?