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Now with added Spotify playlist at end of notes.
Vol #130 – February to March 2020
Blimey. It has been quite the eventful start to the year, and almost entirely bad! I don’t have any particular words of wisdom during the corona pandemic other than listen to the science, stay inside and be rational. I finished this mix up before things started going particularly crazy!
01) Rush - The Spirit of Radio: Just one of the other terrible events that started the year off, Rush drummer/lyricist Neil Peart died in January after suffering from brain cancer for three years. A deeply private person, the news came as a shock and remains hard to process. This live version of Spirit of Radio was released on the 40th anniversary of Permanent Waves.
02) Eyelids - The Accidental Falls: Members of Eyelids have worked with Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus and were also Robert Pollard‘s backing band as Boston Spaceships. This is the title-track to their most recent album, and like their previous EP, was produced by Peter Buck of REM-fame, the record itself is excellent and I made sure to buy it during Bandcamp’s recent waving of their fee so that musicians got more money.
03) Nada Surf - So Much Love: I recently saw Nada Surf for the 21st time, promoting their new album Never Not Together. There is a dedication to Ric Ocasek of The Cars, who produced their debut album (1996’s Let Go) and died in 2019, and as well as the written dedication there’s certainly a big influence in many tracks on the album itself (they also covered Just What I Needed at recent shows).
04) Seratones – Power: I had the pleasure of catching Seratones play a show at Rough Trade in January, the groups second album, Power is more of a classic soul record with, as the title suggests, plenty of punch to it. In classic soul style, a tight and highly skilled band drives the songs but are ultimately a platform for front-woman AJ Haynes to steal the show, she should be a star.
05) Caroline Rose - Feel the Way I Want: Superstar is Caroline Rose’s fourth album, and her slickest to date. This tune is the lead single from the record and has the kind of effortless swagger and pop-sensibility that everyone could use right now.
06) The Wants – Container: Guitarist/producer Madison Velding-VanDam has been busy the last few years, playing guitar in Bodega and now fronting The Wants. This is the title track from their debut album and the post-punk-white-boy rhythm on this tune stood out for me. The record is pretty strong in general and jumps through a few styles, recommended if you like any of those classic post-punk sounds of the early 80s.
07) Fat Tony - Get Out of My Way: Two years after the excellent 10,000 Hours, Houston rapper Fat Tony has just released Wake Up. The record is full of collaboration but it’s the tracks he takes the lead on that stand out the most for me.
08) Destroyer - It Just Doesn't Happen: We’re probably at the point where we shouldn’t call Destroyer “Dan Bejar of The New Pornographers’ band”, the discography at this point. Dan’s been on a bit of a roll for a while now and Have We Met is the twelfth Destroyer album and has an overt 80s influence that works wonderfully.
09) Gladie - A Place for Different: Philly punks Cayetana called it a day last year and Gladie is the latest band from frontwoman Augusta Koch. Following up an EP from 2018, the band just released debut full-length Safe Sins. There’s a greater emphasis on melody and a little electronic percussion but Koch’s lyrics are as personable as ever.
10) Deeper - Lake Song: Chicago quartet Deeper first featured on Q#121 back in 2018, and the band are set to release their second album Auto-Pain on the 27th of March (I’ve pre-ordered it). Based on the strength of the songs they’ve released so far, and that I heard them play live, it could end up being one of my favourite releases of the year.
11) Drab Majesty – Elipsis: I was looking through some old bookmarks trying to find some final inspiration to round off this mix and stumbled upon Drab Majesty (I have no idea when I bookmarked the bandcamp page) and the 80s pop sound seemed to fit well. This track is taken from Modern Mirror which was released last July.
12) Video Nasties - Drone Eagle: My good friend Andrew Field has been putting out records with foundation-shaking riffs for a couple of years now (https://apfrecords.bandcamp.com/) and the latest release on APF Records is Video Nasties’ new record Dominion. It’s a cracker, with the odd horror-synth influence to go with the in-your-face guitars and drums.
13) Soul Asylum - Spinnin': I probably hadn’t listened to Soul Asylum in over a decade but saw they were playing a show at Bowery Ballroom in February and thought… why not, I’d never seen them before. I always had a soft-spot for them growing up and while it was a bit of a nostalgia check-box, I’m glad I went and reconnected with a band that I hadn’t given much thought of for a while. This song opens the band’s fifth album, 1990’s And the Horse They Rode In On.
14) Virginia Trace - Hello Lou Reed: This tune is the lead single from Vincent's Playlist, which isn’t due out until May and the obvious influence for the lyrics and the music is in the title. Anyone or anything related to Chile’s Blow Your Mind Records will always prick my ears.
15) Aaron Lee Tasjan - Heart Slows Down: I hadn’t heard of Aaron Lee Tasjan until I saw him opening solo for Nada Surf at the start of the year, his demeanour and songs were an instant hit and diving into his back catalogue was a treat.
16) Anna Calvi (ft Courtney Barnett) - Don't Beat the Girl Out of My Boy: Anyone that lets me talk long enough at any point since July 2009 will have heard me rave about Anna Calvi. She’s not the most prolific artist but everything she releases is solid gold. Following 2018’s Hunter, Calvi went back and revisited some rough versions of those songs and opened them up for some collaboration with the likes of Courtney Barnett on this song.
17) Fog Lake - New York: Aaron Powell just has a knack of concocting lo-fi melancholia that always leaves you wanting more. You may remember I’ll Be Around from Q#126 and this is just as gorgeous. Sadly the corona virus has led to the cancelation of his show at Rough Trade in April (and I’m shocked that’s the first time I’ve written that sentence in these notes as it also applies to at least four other acts on this mix I had plans to see).
18) A Winged Victory for the Sullen – The Slow Descent Has Begun: The Undivided Five is A Winged Victory for the Sullen’s third full studio album and was released last November. It’s hard to say anything new about the ambient/neo-classical duo, they simply excel in the genre.
19) Shell of a Shell - Don't Expect: Nashville act Shell of a Shell just put out their debut album Away Team on Exploding in Sound Records (which happens to the be label’s 100th release) and it is a complete triumph. Led by Chappy Hull, who has been playing guitar in the band Pile since 2018, it’s certainly in the same ballpark as Pile and highly recommended for fans of the band. This track has a little bit of everything that you get on the album rolled into one epic song.
As always, Peace and Love - Q