A Year in Music – 2019 – Karl Whitney (Author)
by Killian Laher
Find out more about Karl here, including information on his recent book the Hit Factory.
Let’s begin with 2019. What music/albums have you enjoyed most this year?
Wilco – Ode To Joy,
William Tyler – Goes West
Gruff Rhys – Pang!
Half Man Half Biscuit – No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut
Do you think this decade has been good for music? What are your highlights?
I think certain artists have ploughed interesting furrows: Ian Svenonius with his Chain and the Gang and Escape-ism projects, Paul Simon’s run of great albums: So Beautiful or So What, Stranger to Stranger and In the Blue Light (mostly re-recordings of his earlier material, but done really interestingly). Robyn, especially the recent album Honey. Jason Isbell’s solo stuff since leaving the Drive-By Truckers has been stellar: Southeastern, Something More Than Free and The Nashville Sound. William Tyler’s Americana soundscapes – I love in particular his Modern Country album from a few years back. The Good The Bad and The Queen’s Merrie Land distilled the mood of contemporary Britain brilliantly. Kendrick Lamar’s career. The last two albums from Bowie, especially Blackstar. I also really loved Neil Young’s sprawling Psychedelic Pill.
Is streaming taking over from owning music completely?
You can either spend a tenner on streaming a month or a tenner on a CD – I’d rather do the latter. I dip into Spotify to hear what’s new based on reviews in the Guardian or the Irish Times, but if I really like something I buy it. More broadly streaming probably is taking over, but not completely – the evidence is the many indie record shops that you can find in most cities.
Anything really big for you musically that ten years ago, you had no interest in?
Paul McCartney’s solo stuff, probably. Also, I guess I’m more open to listening to mainstream pop and hip-hop than I was ten years ago. Country music also, but not really the mainstream stuff. I’m less concerned with stuff that’s ‘cool’. Very sceptical about the revival of the four or five piece rock band as a thing – although I listened to the Fontaines D.C. album and liked it. I liked French pop ten years ago, but I’m starting to explore it a bit more now: Jacques Dutronc, Claude François, Barbara (especially L’Aigle Noir).
Is music as important for you as it was ten years ago?
Yeah, I think so. I still buy a lot of music and go to the occasional gig. I still appreciate it – as an art form, as something to get you through the day, as something to get excited about.
How are things yourself, have you any interesting projects going on?
I’m developing a third book at the moment. I’ve been thinking about life stories, how we measure ourselves against others and so on. So I’m hoping to write something about that. As ever, it’s early days, so we’ll see how it goes.