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Volume #110 October – November 2016
What a strange couple of months. I managed to go home for a couple of weeks which was nice, squeezed in a few nights in Rome as I’d never been to Italy before, oh and Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the USA… I shouldn’t be surprised by people’s collective stupidity after the Brexit vote in the summer, but still, it does make scratch your head (I’m trying to be polite). Anyway, this was rather hurriedly put together so the notes may seem a bit light, but there should be plenty to enjoy musically.
01) La Sera – Queens: Not content with releasing a full length album and a collaborative covers album, Katy Goodman’s La Sera just released a digital-only EP, also called Queens. This track is a shift from the sound on Music for Listening to Music to, although the EP itself reworks a couple of tracks found on that album (as well as a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, which they had covered on tour).
02) Hurry - Casual Feelings: I used Nothing to Say on the last mix and the trio from Philadelphia just put out a 3-track EP (of which this is the title track) which you can get on bandcamp.
“Maybe this is just one big mistake”
03) The Scientists - Frantic Romantic: Re-issue specialists Numero recently released A Place Called Bad, a collection of the Australian band’s whole discography. I used High Noon on the Oct/Nov 2015 mix so the timing seemed fitting to use them again.
04) Ultimate Painting – Bills: Another band that last appeared a year ago, Ultimate Painting have just released new album, Dusk, at the end of September. They’re probably one of those bands who will never change, and that’s not a bad thing in this case. If you want twee, Velvet-Underground-influenced jangle-pop, then they do it as well as anyone.
05) Nada Surf - Beautiful Beat (live): After releasing You Know Who You Are earlier in the year, New York’s finest released their second live album in recent times, though Peaceful Ghosts isn’t a typical live record as they’re accompanied by an orchestra. This song might articulate better than any other the importance of music as a pick-me-up. “Sometimes all I want is another, Drink or another pill, If I could get anything done, Maybe I'd hold still, I'm trying to levitate I'm, Trying to leave the ground, Tryin' to remember when I could, Fix anything with sound”
06) Aldous Harding - Stop Your Tears: I had a digital copy of Aldous Harding’s eponymous record through a press promo a few months ago but didn’t find the time to give it much thought, but while finding songs for this mix, this tune in particular really stood out. Hailing from New Zealand, her album was put out by Flying Nun, which is always a good sign, although the label is not particularly known for goth-folk releases like this one!
07) Springtime Carnivore - Double Infinity: Second album, Midnight Room, is sure to be one of my favourite albums of the year. Greta Morgan’s voice is much more to the fore (which is very much a good thing) and the record has a good mix of upbeat and sombre tunes, she also plays most of the instruments herself and I think has one of the best ears for a melody I’ve heard in a long time. “After the afterglow, your two faces start to show, I’ve been waiting for the one I know”
08) PJ Harvey - The Wheel: I hadn’t seen PJ Harvey play live since 2009 so despite her playing at Terminal 5, I couldn’t bear to miss it. Despite the venue, it was another great show and she still might be the best live singer I’ve seen. Latest album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, is similar to previous album Let England Shake, but her 10-piece band brought everything to life perfectly.
09) Cut Worms - Don't Want to Say Goodbye: There are some obvious Everly Brothers vibes on this track, indeed there are on many of them on Max Clarke’s songs. I saw Cut Worms open for Luna recently (who played their best album, Penthouse, in full) and it didn’t seem to take long for him to win over the crowd, how could you not with songs like this?
10) Volta Jazz - Air Volta: Another Numero-release, Bobo Yeye concentrates on Burkina Faso between 1970-1979, during which the country was known as the Republic of Upper Volta. I’m still waiting for the box-set to come through the post so I can’t say I know a whole lot about them!
11) Coulibaly Tidiane & Dafra Star - Si Tu Maime: This is another track from the Bobo Yeye box set, so again, I don’t really know anything about this other than the track itself being great. Enjoy!
12) Julian Velard - I Don't Know How to Drive: Whilst hankering for a show after a slow couple of weeks, I went to see Julian Velard on the recommendation of a friend. Going in slightly blind, I certainly came out as a fan of his equal-parts self-depreciative/self-loving style and his New York-centric piano tunes. “My feet on the street I’m alive, I’m at looking you, Stuck sitting in traffic for, an hour or two, The back of a cabbie’s head blocking the view, That’s not what New Yorkers do “
13) Elephant Stone - See the Light: Elephant Stone’s recent album Ship of Fools, has gone a little more, I don’t know how to say it, standard-indie, or at least there is a lot less of their sitar signature-sound. The songs are good, but I can’t help but feel there is something less distinct about the experience.
14) Mark Eitzel - The Last 10 Years: Eitzel’s tenth solo album, Hey Mr Ferryman, will be out on Merge Records in January, and was recorded by Bernard Butler (he also played all the electric guitar/bass/keyboard parts of the album). Eitzel’s delivery is as good as ever and the vividness of his lyrics are always remarkable (maybe I just drink too much…). “I spent the last ten years trying to waste half an hour”
15) Wymond Miles - Stand Before Me: Not that there’s anything wrong with the Fresh & Onlys (indeed, they’re rather splendid), but Wymond Miles is one of those rare examples where the solo work is better than the band they’re in. On his latest album, Call By Night, maybe doesn’t have the immediate appeal of his previous work, but once you get used to the songs they’re just as satisfying.
16) The Appleseed Cast - Cathedral Rings: Of all the “emo” bands I’ve seen in the last few years, The Appleseed Cast are probably my favourite. Having seen them last year and just recently opening for Caspian, they’re one of those bands I’ll try to catch each time. I’m still pretty ignorant about their actual discography, however, they did play this song so I knew what to look for! There’s some really great drumming on this track in particular.
17) Kim Gordon - Murdered Out: I was surprised to read that this is the first thing that Kim has released in her own name and features Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint on drums. The repetitive bass line forms the framework of the song and lets the guitars to veer off in any direction they feel like. Hopefully there are more like this!
18) The Body - Shelter is Illusory: The Body’s latest album, No One Deserves Happiness, is a typically intense experience from the duo, who apparently said they wanted to make “the grossest pop album of all time”, which is a tall order! I’m not sure you could ever say anything they do is pop (though this song is probably the closest to that), but they can be delightfully gross on occasion.
19) Swans - Finally, Peace: I saw Swans when I went to San Francisco recently, and seeing them live is akin to being bludgeoned for two hours straight, in a good way, of course! On record, the intensity is dialled down a little bit and they often produce moments of beauty, like this one, which closes out their most recent album, The Glowing Man, which was released this year. The whole record clocks in at an almost typical 2 hours.
And that’s it for me for 2016, the next mix will be in January and feature my favourite releases of the year. Until then, I wish you all a happy rest of the year.
Peace and love - Q