As I mentioned last year I have far too many CDs to fit on my shelves and so I have started sorting out a seasonal selection at various times through the year to vary my listening and try and make sure that I occasionally pick up something I haven't heard in a while, and also to reflect the musical needs of the season as I see it.
Rather than list everything on the shelf though (as I did last time) I thought I'd give you a top ten of this season's highlights.
January is typically a time when all the festive decorations have come down, the world goes back to work and things seem a bit colourless, the weather's miserable and cold and summer seems a long way off. So I've picked music which either reflects the more beautiful aspects of the winter season or is uplifting enough to chase away the blues as we relax by the log burner. So without further delay, Fimm's pick of the new year season:
1: Bellowhead: Headonism
Not my usual go-to in the extensive Bellowhead discography, Matachin or Broadside being my usual listening-fare, but for exuberant farmer dancing there's definitely a lot going for this funky folk album.
2: Vince Ray: Boneshaker Baby
Music to drive your big ol' hot rod to! the Vince Ray trio pound out some more Psychobilly treats on slap base and twangy Gretsch.
3: Diablo Swing Orchestra: The Butcher's Ballroom
Swinging, dark, joyful, operatic jazz rock masters Diablo Swing Orchestra get you out on the dance floor in style with the Balrog Boogie... it paints a great picture, as does the Tapdancer's Dilemma.
4: Lindsey Striling: Shatter Me
The second album from amazingly talented dancing violist Lindsey Stirling is even crazier than the first. I'm not keen on her collaboration with Pentatonix, but she has that admirable trait of being able to work with pretty much anyone it seems. I was first drawn to her music through Roundtable Revival which circulated in Steampunk circles last year, it's a stonking video, as is the live performance of Master of Tides with an unsuspecting audience.
5: Tim Judson: A World Beyond Your Own
At a time when we're bombarded with televised adverts asking for donations to charity we can get desensitised to the crises we're being shown. Tim Judson brings the problems of poverty and impact of big political decisions down to an individual level where we can better appreciate the real issues. And then there are the 'just nice' songs like Hippo Eyes.
6: Candlemass: Candlemass
At the other end of the spectrum, because it doesn't do to be too cheerful... a bit of cheesy doom from the uber prolific sludge metallers. Anyone who can convincingly call their album "Epicus Doomicus Metallicus" is ok by me!
7: Pythia: Beneath The Veiled Embrace
Did you know this album featured the voice of Brian Blessed? Oh yes it does... probably thankfully not too much though. It does feature plenty of the beautiful, haunting voice of Emily Ovenden though, one of the Medieaval Baebes.
8: Wicked: Musical Soundtrack
The show's going out on tour in the UK this year. And I know this clip isn't the best! Now obviously musical theatre's not everyone's choice, but then nor's folk or metal. I can't tell you why this hits my sentimental spot, but if you can't bear to watch it I would definitely recommend the (much darker and downright sinister) novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire.
9: All About Eve: Winter Words
This album collects together what's meant to be the B-sides and rarities from the gentle goth rockers. In actuality it repeats mainly the same songs as every other AAE compilations, but being wintery in title it's an appropriate album to pick. The mood's appropriate at least.
10: Lodestone: The Wicker Man Soundtrack
Originally collected together for the film, the musicians gelled so well they formed the group Lodestone during filming. As to Summer a comin' in? Well, it is on its way I promise, and we didn't have to burn any policemen this year...