Copenhagen’s Why Sun bill themselves as a “sleepy noise trio”. To most people, especially those old enough to be absorbed in alternative sounds circa 1986, this translates as “heavy gothic shoegaze with dream pop guitar”. There isn’t anything new in the noises Why Sun create – most of their influences come over like the proverbial sledgehammer – but what they lack in originality, they make up for with absolute conviction.
Life is capable of dealing out a surprise or two. One of the biggest musical surprises came in 2017 when ex-XTC drummer Terry Chambers returned from Australia and it subsequently announced he’d been writing and recording new material with his old bandmate Colin Moulding. The likelihood of any XTC members recording together had seemed about as likely as Roger Manning, Jr reforming Jellyfish, but it had quickly become a reality. Fans were, understandably, ecstatic. The resultant EP was good rather than great, but the fact that Moulding had seemingly returned to something resembling full time recording was good news enough.
TC&I then unleashed bigger news when they told the world they’d be playing a handful of live shows to support the release at Swindon Arts Centre. There was more at stake here than just a few new songs, of course; XTC had abruptly stopped touring in 1982 and Colin had a legacy of great material that had never been played in front of an audience. It was time to right that wrong.
Having previously released material mastered by Dennis Pleckham of Bongripper and taken musical cues from Sunn O))), Chicago’s Plague of Carcosa are no strangers to a heavy riff. Their 2018 release ‘Rats In The Walls’ required no more than just one track to make its point, but since that number was often delivered at a crawling speed and dragged out to almost fifteen minutes, the effect was like experiencing a full four song EP from most doom/sludge bands.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve been spoilt for Beatles products. Although the 50th anniversary of their peerless ‘Revolver’ came and went in 2016 without a reissue to mark the momentous occasion, the world was treated to lavish box sets of both ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in 2017 and ‘The Beatles’ (aka ‘The White Album’ in 2018.
With a pattern established, fans quickly speculated whether a 50th anniversary box set of ‘Abbey Road’ would emerge.
Billy Sherwood’s 2015 album ‘Citizen’ looked at the world through the eyes of various historical characters, both real and fictional. He drafted in a few friends to make his vision a reality: Yes men Jon Davison and Geoff Downes lent their vocal and keyboard skills; other keyboards were added by sometime Yes members Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz, John Wesley, Steves Hackett and Morse each brought their distinctly different guitar chops to the recording sessions but, perhaps best of all, Colin Moulding (one time of XTC) came out of retirement for a guest vocal appearance. In many ways, ‘Citizen’ felt like an all star epic.