Slight Return

Doesn’t everyone at some point dream of going back in time to their youth? Who wouldn’t want to experience life again without the crushing reality of adult human existence weighing us all down?

After the last eighteen months of coronavirus hell, I was craving such a moment. So when I saw the chance to get tickets to see two bands I had loved as a teenager – Britpop legends Sleeper and the Bluetones – it felt like a strange kind of serendipity. Restrictions had just been lifted in Scotland. I was double jagged and desperate to get some kind of normality back to my flatlined existence. Continue reading “Slight Return”

The Other Side of ‘Cancelled’

After the string of abuse allegations against Ryan Adams were published by the New York Times I was one of the first fans to write my cancellation statement. As far as I was concerned we were done. I didn’t want to hear his music again. Life was too short to put any more of my personal energy into supporting his career.

Two and a half years later the reality of what ‘cancelled’ means as a music fan is actually way more complex than I ever imagined. Continue reading “The Other Side of ‘Cancelled’”

Stay On Your Feet and Other Life Lessons From the Mosh Pit

My first near death experience happened in a mosh pit, summer 1996. I had been bouncing around, a fourteen year old wearing DMs and an oversized band T-shirt, lost in the innocent, musical sweat of my youth. The band were britpop also-rans Northern Uproar whose star burnt out before they’d even released their debut album. But I wasn’t to know that at the time, since I was so deep in the joy of being a music fan that every new single heard on the radio felt like it could save your life. Continue reading “Stay On Your Feet and Other Life Lessons From the Mosh Pit”

Music to Look Forward to in 2021

Apart from some initial delays and postponements, 2020 ended up feeling like any other year in the music calendar, albums wise anyway.

What we don’t know is how 2021 will play out. So far we have some releases scheduled but nowhere near as many big names as in previous years. You wonder if delaying until 2022 makes more sense for most especially in alternative, roots and Americana music which relies so much on touring to promote a record. At the same time independent artists may fear losing career momentum if they don’t release a record at all.

All we can do to counter some of these issues is to support the artists who do decide to release new music by buying their albums, merchandise and spreading the word to others.

So here are a selection of new albums I’m really excited to hear in 2021! Continue reading “Music to Look Forward to in 2021”

Blogging Resolutions for 2021

Since I started my blog a few years back I have always begun the year with an overview of what my plans are for the year ahead. 2020’s list is pretty depressing looking back now, with my talk of live shows and improving the speed of my writing, both things which the pandemic managed to curtail.

So even though this year is hugely uncertain I think we can all benefit from a moment of reflection and positive planning. Here are some of my resolutions for the year ahead in music blogging. Continue reading “Blogging Resolutions for 2021”

Albums of the Year 2020

In 2020 I have reviewed sixty albums/EPs and listened to many more. The albums I have chosen to review have all connected with me on some level, so picking a favourites list feels almost cruel to those I have left out. Despite this I still think a ranking list is also a satisfying way to reflect on the year in music, as a writer and a fan.

In the end I have chosen twenty favourite albums and the order was decided on a combination of time spent listening and gut instinct. Some of these artists did not appear on my favourite songs of the year as their albums work as a collective whole rather than having one individual brilliant song (and vice versa). For me that total immersion into an artist’s vision makes albums still my preferred way of listening to music.

Please note that this list only includes albums I have reviewed so there will be some omissions. This list includes links to my original album reviews, rather than risk repeating myself. Please let me know your favourites in the comments. Continue reading “Albums of the Year 2020”

Songs of the Year 2020

In a year as strange and unsettling as 2020 the continuity of the new music release schedule kept me sane at times when normality felt far away.

As the year unfolded certain songs became constant companions and welcome friends. My choices are songs that got me personally through the year rather than any attempt to tell anyone what is ‘best’. All songs appeared on albums released in 2020 which have been reviewed on Highway Queens.

So without further ado, here are the twenty songs that have helped me endure 2020: Continue reading “Songs of the Year 2020”

A career in the arts shouldn’t be a pipe dream

Last week there was an online furore over an advert suggesting a ballet dancer should give up her career in dance and retrain to work in cyber security or some other such dreary, digital job. The world was outraged. Had the pandemic reduced us to such crass, cold hearted philistines? Who would dare crush dreams like this? The government of course, quelle surprise. Continue reading “A career in the arts shouldn’t be a pipe dream”

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