British Albums of the Year 2016

Here are my picks for the best 25 albums from the UK released in 2016. Tune in each Tuesday at 10pm EDT (Wed 3am UK) at for my weekly UK indie radio show.

1. David Bowie – Blackstar

2. Jamie T – Trick

3. Teleman – Brilliant Sanity

4. Mystery Jets – Curve of the Earth

5. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

6. Glass Animals – How To Be A Human Being

7. Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack

8. Pet Shop Boys – Super

9. Teenage Fanclub – Here

10. Honeyblood – Babes Never Die

11. The Coral – Distance Inbetween

12. Let’s Eat Grandma – I, Gemini

13. Sulk – No Illusions

14. Spring King – Tell Me If You Like To

15. Shields – How Can We Fix This?

16. Fear Of Men – Fall Forever

17. Viola Beach – Viola Beach

18. Black Foxxes – I’m Not Well

19. Slow Club – One Day All Of This Won’t Matter Anymore

20. The Wytches – All Your Happy Life

21. PJ Harvey – The Hope Six Demolition Project

22. Yak – Alas Salvation

23. Palace – So Long Forever

24. Mull Historical Society – Dear Satellite

25. Blossoms – Blossoms


Best Unsigned/Small Label 2016

I play a lot of bands on my weekly radio show ‘The British are Coming’. Here are my picks (in no order!) for the best unsigned or ‘small label’ bands in the UK in 2016.

Artist                        Soundcloud Link



King No-One  










Go Swim            

Saint PHNX      



Catholic Action

French Leave   

Rocky Nti          


Lemonade Kid 




They Uncultured

Colour OF Spring

The Jackobins  

The Vryll Society




Glass Peaks      

The Boston Shakers



Gold Spectacles


Osheaga 101

Osheaga is one of Canada’s biggest multi-day music festivals and takes place at Parc Jean Drapeau which is located on Île Sainte Hélène in central Montreal. Overall attendance for the three days is 160,000 and you can choose to attend all three days or any single individual day.

Getting to Osheaga

The great thing about Osheaga is its accessibility. Thanks to Montreal’s extensive Metro, you can get to the festival quickly and without the need of a car. The yellow Metro line stops directly at the gate for the festival so just walk off the subway, head up a couple flights of stairs and you’re there!

Gates open at noon and the first performances start at 1pm. Be prepared for 30-45 minute lineups to make your way through security (sorry Glasto goers, no alcohol is allowed to be brought on site). My experience was a bit inconsistent with regards to security. Saturday for example, I arrived on site at noon and was inside the festival area within 10 minutes. On Sunday, however, it took 45 minutes to get through security as security personnel were extensively checking all bags. One addition I’d like to see is a ‘no bags’ line which would allow quicker movement for a good percentage of festival goers.

The Stages

There are 6 main stages at Osheaga (which includes the twined main stages). The site is fairly compact so the longest distance you will walk between stages will take approximately 15 minutes (at peak capacity)

The twinned main stages see performances alternate all day ending with the day’s headliner at approximately 930pm. Sight lines are very good anywhere in the main stage area. Three large video screens project the performances and the sound quality is excellent. Take note: there is little shade here so if you’re spending most of your day taking in the bigger acts, be prepared to bake in the sun! On the far left of the main stage area, is the elevated terrace which is reserved for Gold and VIP passes. There is dedicated food and drink service, and slightly elevated sight lines, but from my vantage point, this wouldn’t be enough to pay for a Gold wristband. As one act is performing on one stage, another is sound checking on the other so you many get a bit of sound bleeding over for a few minutes. There is a low (3 foot) barrier between the two main stages leading up to the sound/light tower so to move between the main stages you’ll have to move up past the sound/light tower and walk around. Having said that, if you’re down within 50-60 feet of the main stage barrier, you’ll have excellent sight lines to either stage.

Further back of the main stage area is a hill that can accommodate perhaps 2000 people. You will have an excellent view of both stages although you’ll be a bit disconnected from the action.

The 3rd largest stage is the Green Stage or Scène Verte and it is located through a wonderful wooded area and down a small incline. This stage by my guess could hold up to 5000 although none of the acts I saw drew that many here. Scene de le Vallée is also in this area and tucked in the lower left corner complete with two bleacher style sitting areas on either side of the stage. Scène de le Vallée is the second smallest stage at Osheaga

Just up the hill from Scene Verte is Scéne Stingray Music and is surrounded by trees for amazing intimate performances. Maximum capacity here is only 400-500 and is fantastic setting to catch a show.

If you balance your day right, you’ll spend equal parts between the two main stages and the 4 smaller ones. The final stage which I haven’t mentioned is the Scène Piknik Electronik which is a 5 minute walk from Scène Verte. Here you’ll see mostly electronic and dance acts. Food vendors and bars are close by so you if you plan on getting your dance on you won’t have to leave here for hours.

Sprinkled through the Osheaga grounds are several free water stations. Each water station has 6 taps, so lines, although they can get long, move quickly. Take advantage of the free water! You’ll be in the sun for long periods of time and your body will thank you later. Water is also sold at food vendors but it will set you back $2.50 for 600ml.

If you plan on drinking, prepare to shell out some serious money. The only beer on site I saw all weekend was Molson Canadian (no surprise as they’re a major sponsor) and one tall can (500ml) will set you back $8.50. Beer can be purchased at dedicated beer tents or during live performance directly from vendors. There were also several Smirnoff vodka, and rum and lemonade vendors sprinkled through the venue (and walking through the crowd) prepare to pay $10 for any drink with a shot of alcohol). Fresh pressed lemonade without rum is available for $5 for a 14oz cup

After all that drinking you’re going to eventually need to go to the washroom. Festival ‘facilities’ are what they are. Get in and get out quickly. Good news though, Osheaga is well equipped with hundreds of porta-potties throughout the site so you’ll never be too far away from one.

Now that you’ve got your drink in hand and have gone to the washroom, you’re going to need some food! Not surprising for a festival in Montreal, poutine is readily available at a number of locations. A poutine meal (with available pulled pork) will set you back $10-$13. Jumbo hotdogs will cost you $5.75. Beside all the poutine, hot dogs, and fish and chip vendors, Osheaga is also home to many food trucks. They are located in a circular pavilion compete with 16-20 picnic tables straight down the main walkway as you enter approximately 300m from the front gate. Here you can get vegetarian options as well as tacos, lobster rolls, and yes, even more poutine. You’ll pay $8-14 for a meal here, plus any additional drink you decide to buy.

Having been to Glastonbury, Osheaga certainly has a more commercial feel, thanks in part I guess to Molson’s dominate presence here. There is also a Perrier enclosed ‘club’ with DJ and of course Perrier water for guests. Coca Cola is also on site handing out free 222ml cans. In addition, there is an H&M (a Canadian clothing retailer catering to the 18-24 demongraphic) club playing music and I’m sure offering up free goodies. I saw Best Buy (an electronics retailer) and KLM airlines kiosks as well both providing an interactive experience. So clearly, Osheaga knows its target demographic and is offering products that would appeal to the late teen/early 20’s market.





2015 British albums of the year

1. Everything Everything – Get To Heaven

2. Gaz Coombes – Matador

3. FFS – FFS

4. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye

5. Foals – What Went Down

6. The Libertines – Anthems For Doomed Youth

7. The Maccabees – Marks to Prove It

8. Reverend And The Makers – Mirrors

9. Tellison – Hope Fading Nightly

10. Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

11. Gengahr – A Dream Outside

12. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

13. The Charlatans – Modern Nature

14. The Slow Readers Club – Cavalcade

15. Circa Waves – Young Chasers

16. Best Friends – Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane.

17. Eaves – What Green Feels Like

18. Blur – The Magic Whip

19. Kid Wave – Wonderlust

20. Spectres – Dying

21. Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

22. Idlewild – Everything Ever Written

23. SHOPPING – Why Choose

24. Demob Happy – Dream Soda

25. Summer Camp – Bad Love


Best of Unsigned / Small Label 2015

Here are my picks of the 32 best unsigned or small label artists in the UK right now (and the songs I played on my Best of show)

Happy discovering!

Dec 8: Soundcloud / bandcamp links to follow soon


Washington Irving – We Are All Going to Die

The Hunna – Bonfire

Spring King – Who Are You?

Habitats – Boogie Waltzer

The Sherlocks – Heart Of Gold

Victories at Sea – Future Gold

Voes – Forever

Tibet – Fridge

Black Honey – Corrine

The Phantom Sound – In His Smile

Jagaara – In The Dark

False Advertising – Wasted Away

Animal Music – I’ve Got You

Yak – No

Lock- Click

The Orielles – Joey Says We Got It

Claws – To Be A Goth

Swoons – Sting

Goldbirds – Empire

Inheaven – Bitter Town

New Desert Blues – Summer Skin

Viola Beach – Swings & Waterslides

Officer – The Waters

The Glass Children – Wrapped In Gold

Tree Of Wolves – Sebastian

FloodHounds – Twisting And Turning

Hidden Charms – Long Way Down

Dive In – Eighteen

Only Shadows – The Start

Two Year Break – Tonight

Wonk Unit – Go Easy

Hungry And The Hunted – Demolition Blues


Best of Unsigned / Small Label 2014

I’ve listened to a lot of great unsigned bands this year….here are my favourite unsigned artists of 2014 – Enjoy!

Polkadoge –

High Low –

The Phantoms –

The Red Monroes –

The Vincents –

No Hot Ashes –

Fable –

The Bulletproof Bomb –

Path Unknown –

Doug Alldred –

Why We Love –

Oh Wonder –

The Tapestry –

Dark Horses –

Avec Sans –

Dissolutes –

Echotape –

The Actions –

As December Falls –

February –

Secateurs –


Empathy Test –

Lost In Olympus –



Top 25 British Albums of 2014

25. The Rifles – None the Wiser

24. Maximo Park – Too Much Information

23. Childhood – Lacuna

22. The Crookes  – Soapbox

21. Breton – War Room Stories

20. alt-J – This Is All Yours

19. Embrace Embrace

18. We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling

17. Wild Beasts – Present Tense

16. Metronomy – Love Letters

15. King Creosote – From Scotland With Love

14. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology

13. Teleman – Breakfast

12. Jungle – Jungle

11. Kate Tempest – Everybody Down

10. Temples – Sun Structures

9. Paolo Nutini Caustic Love

8. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots

7. Elbow – The Take Off And Landing Of Everything

6. Spring Offensive – Young Animal Hearts

5. FKA twigs – LP1

4. The Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave

3. Bird – My Fear and Me

2. Royal Blood – Royal Blood

1. Glass Animals – Zaba