Friday, 29 March 2019

Q#124 - February to March 2019

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Q's Compilations
Vol #124 – February to March 2019

Happy Spring, everyone! This mix is mostly a mish-mash of things I’ve liked in passing in recent weeks/months but haven’t spent enough time listening to, so it’s a way to keep them in my mind as much as anything else. I’d like to say it was a well-thought out ode to the change of season but it was thrown together pretty quickly and often times those are the mixes that are more immediately satisfying to me.

01) Petal – Better Than You: Kiley Lotz’s second full-length album as Petal, Magic Gone, was released in June last year and is equally at home rocking out or with solo guitar/vocal tunes. I’m going with the former to open this mix, and with two full length albums and a debut EP, I’ve enjoyed everything in the discography to date.

02) Soccer Cousins – Holy Smokes: Quite often when writing my “Top 5 Shows of the Weekend” column I end up listening to a dozen or so acts I’ve never hear of before, one of those occasions led me to Soccer Cousins, who have a couple of jangle-infused Eps to date.

03) Eyelids – It’s About to Go Down: This Portland band have some excellent indie credentials, and their last EP, Maybe More, was produced by REM’s Peter Buck. Members of Eyelids have worked with Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Stephen Malkmus and were also Robert Pollard‘s backing band as Boston Spaceships.

04) King Tuff – Thru the Cracks: 2018 saw the release of The Other, King Tuff‘s fourth record, featuring some excellent guest performances from the likes of Ty Segall, Jenny Lewis, Greta Morgan, Mikal Cronin and more. Gone are the 70s classic rock influences and guitar hooks of the last couple of releases, they’ve been replaced with a kaleidoscope of psychedelic pop. Certainly one of those underappreciated records that got forgotten on end-of-year lists (ours included).

05) Flasher – Pressure: Washington D.C.’s Flasher released Constant Image via Domino Records, in June and it does an incredible job of taking a host of influences but packaging up into something distinct. There’s some Magazine, a little Pixies, some Flying Nun sounds, all nicely packaged up in a coherent record. The band features former Priests bassist Taylor Mulitz on guitar.

06) Better Oblivion Community Center – Dylan Thomas: Put two folk-indie-darlings in Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers together and you have Better Oblivion Community Center, their self-titled album was released in January and it’s a very nice record. One critique might be that the album sounds exactly like you’d think it would sound without hearing it based on the collaborators alone.

07) Lala Lala – Destroyer: The Lamb, Lala Lala‘s second album, was released in September via Hardly Art and is absolutely bursting with melody. It’s the kind of record you discover something new each and every time you listen to it, even the melancholic moments (which is possibly the default state of the album) somehow possess a beauty that the best pop songs struggle to capture.

08) Anya Marina – Over You: New York singer-songwriter Anya Marina just released a new EP called Over You, and this is obviously the title-track. I recently saw her at Rockwood Music Hall and while I probably preferred the guitar/bass/drums live version we got, this more pop-oriented tune is still excellent.

09) Molly Nilsson – Gun Control: Swedish synth-pop maestro Molly Nilsson released her eighth album, Twenty Twenty last November and she just writes great songs…

10) Current Joys – Fear: Lo-fi tales of heartache, what could be better? Different Age by Current Joys is a delectably downbeat joy. I’d write more, but I think I nailed it just there.

11) Matt Kivel – L.A. Coliseum: One of my favourite songwriters of the last few years is Matt Kivel, so I was delighted to see his announcement of an upcoming album in May called Last Night in America. This is the only song released from it at the time of this mix, but I’m sure it’s going to be another gorgeous album.

12) Garcia Peoples – Wold’s Illusion: Portland (Oregon) act Garcia Peoples are in a creative streak, having released Cosmic Cash last August, the band are releasing another record, Natural Facts this month (which features this track).

13) The Zells – Brunch: Pittsburgh’s The Zells sound like they should have come from Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium scene. Alas, Shea is no longer around but I’ll take any band that reminds me of it. Failure to Slide was released in October on Crafted Sounds. “Go fry some eggs an’ shit.”

14) Weakened Friends – Blue Again: We had a Portland, Oregon band earlier (Garcia Peoples) so here’s a Portland, Maine band for balance. It’s hard for me to dislike any act on Don Giovanni records and Weakened Friends keep that record going. Big 90s vibe on this and that is not a bad thing.

15) Drahla – Twelve Divisions of the Day: Leeds has had good post-punk cred over the years and Drahla keep that tradition going swimmingly. Recently signed to Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks which seems like a great fit.

16) Vundabar – $$$: Boston trio Vundabar released their third album, Smell Smoke, last year, which married melodic hooks and anthemic choruses with without somehow sounding like an indie-pop band (though this track is maybe a bit more like Ty Segall / Thee Oh Sees).

17) Dark Blue – Waterfront Crystals: I saw Dark Blue at Death By Audio in 2014, just as their debut album was coming out (and the venue was sadly about to close), I thoroughly enjoyed their set but then they went off my radar a bit. The Philly rockers have just released their third album, Victory is Rated, and this is the first song from it. They haven’t changed a whole lot, but in this case, it’s not a bad thing.  

18) Have a Nice Life – Defenestration Song: Connecticut duo Have A Nice Life have released two full length records that mash up industrial, shoegaze, goth, post-rock,drone and doom (basically all the upbeat genres). This is taken from 2014’s Unnatural World.

19) Daughters – Ocean Song: I have my friend Pete to thank for turning me on to Daughters’ excellent 2018 album, You Won't Get What You Want, which was a well deserved entry in our top 25 albums of the year post. I saw them live a few weeks ago and whilst the first couple of songs made me wonder why they had such a great reputation as a live band, they went on to play an incredible set.

20) Hilary Woods – Inhaler: Dublin artist Hilary Woods released her debut solo album, Colt, on Sacred Bones, and it’s a beautifully soothing record. Awash with layers of piano and synth, it really is quite lovely. I hadn’t realised that Woods was the bassist in JJ72, an indie-rock trio who had a couple of decent records in 2000 and 2005 (I saw them opening a show in Oxford in the early 00s and it’s bugging me that I can’t quite place it, The Bluetones, perhaps)

And that’s it! Hope there were things to like on here, I’m pretty happy with it. Looking forward to a trip to Greece, summer concerts and more in the coming months.

As always, Peace and Love - Q

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Thursday, 31 January 2019

Q#123 - December 2018 to January 2019

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Q's Compilations
Vol #123 – December 2018 to January 2019

Happy 2019! As usual, the first mix of the year is a “best of” what happened in the last 12 months. Music took a bit of a step back in 2018, I only went to 52 shows, but that probably says more about my general happiness taking a big positive swing. As always though, there were some fantastic records released this year, and here are some of my favourites.

01) Bat Fangs – Turn It Up: Winner of best Thin Lizzy impression of 2018 goes to Bat Fangs’, the duo of Betsy Wright and Laura King. Their self-titled debut on Don Giovanni records is a joy to behold, not trying to be anything other than an anthemic ode to 70s classics, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Wolfbite appeared on Q#122.

02) The Dirty Nil – Bathed in Light: Another unadulterated, no-frills rock and roll album (possibly the best of its kind for the year). Ontario trio The Dirty Nil released Master Volume in September via Dine Alone Records and really should be a massive hit. Huge choruses, driving drums, slick lead guitar licks, what more do you want?

03) Superchunk – Lost My Brain: What a Time to Be Alive is another superb record to the band’s discography (and continues their high energy comeback since 2010’s Majesty Shredding). This is their first record with a political slant, and this 90-second fist-pumper is a highlight. The title track for the record appeared on Q#118.

04) Bad Moves – One Thing: Tell No One, Bad Moves’ debut album (another on Don Giovanni Records), should appeal to any self-respecting power pop fan. You may remember Spirit FM from Q#121 and this is another expertly catchy tune.

05) The Beths – Future Me Hates Me: My absolute favourite album of the year was Future Hates Me by The Beths, every once in a while a band comes along that lands straight in the middle of my venn diagram, and their upbeat music/downbeat lyrics are a perfect combo. Album opener The Great No One was on Q#121 and I could quite conceivably put the rest of the record with a few extra tracks as this entire compilation.

06) Screaming Females – Soft Domination: All at Once was Screaming Females’ seventh studio record and managed to contain both their poppiest and least commercial work to date over the course of a 15-track double LP. They remain one of the best live bands you can see! I’ll Make You Sorry featured on Q#118.

07) Denzel Curry – 13Lack 13Alloons: One of the pleasures of putting together the top 25 albums of the year on Free Williamsburg is hearing some excellent records you didn’t hear up to that point. TA13OO tries, pretty successfully for the most part, to run the gauntlet when it comes to hip hop and I’ve certainly picked one of the most commercial picks, but I couldn’t help but plump for this tune that could have been plucked from the mid 90s.

08) Fat Tony – 10,000 Hours: Another Don Giovanni artist, Fat Tony released 10,000 hours, his fifth overall. As the song suggests, and the track delivers, Fat Tony has become an expert in his field.

09) The Holydrug Couple – Ikebana Telephone: I shouldn’t have to remind anyone about my liking of Chilean bands, and one of the Blow Your Mind heavyweights released their fifth album, Hyper Super Mega in September (in the US it was released on Sacred Bones). The keyboard influence of Moonlust go a step further on this album and has more of a pop flavour than their earlier psych work, and they’re equally adept in both worlds. Forever End appeared on Q#122.

10) Olden Yoke – Gamblers on a Dime: Fans of the band Quilt will recognise Shane Butler, who is the driving force in Olden Yoke. The project essentially started off as a solo project but they are now a quartet and their self-titled debut was one of the low-key triumphs of the year.

11) Thou – The Unspeakable Oath: Speaking of low-key triumphs, Thou had an exceptional year, and deserved all the praise they got for their album Magus (In the Kingdom of Meaning featured on Q#121), but they also managed to release a trio of Eps, one of which was the acoustic/slowcore Inconsolable. If you hadn’t guessed, that’s where this track appears. I’d love to know who they were channelling on this but it does make me pine for Red House Painters.

12) Shannon Shaw – Love I Can’t Explain: I’ve enjoyed Shannon and the Clams over the years and have seen them live a few times, but Shannon Shaw released a really great solo album this year, Shannon in Nashville. As most solo albums don’t quite manage, the material here steers away from her main act enough to make the whole thing worthwhile, but also ends up being the best thing she’s ever released. Broke My Own appeared on Q#121.

13) Tsunamis – 4AM: I will admit, I was struggling a little bit to fill the last few minutes of this mix, then I remembered that Chilean outfit The Tsunamis, released a 7” single in November (on Blow Your Mind Records, obviously). This is a lovely, laid back and hazy trip to the desert - or at least that’s what it sounds like to me.

14) Dusk – Stained Blue: Oh yeah, another Don Giovanni release! Dusk is the country side-project of Amos Pitsch, who you may know from the excellent band, Tenement. This track opens the record and is perhaps the rockiest things get on the album, almost drifting into REM territory. Eyes in Dark Corners appeared on Q#120.

15) Anna Calvi – Alpha: The years between Anna Calvi records can be lonely but Hunter (her first in five years) was always going to be worth it. Lead single Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy appeared on Q#121 and between the two songs you get a pretty good idea of the record, the guitar work takes a step back but Anna herself steps forward.

16) Ought – Disaffection: Montreal quartet Ought have yet to put a foot wrong over the course of their three albums. Room Inside the World was released on Merge Records and they have really widened their influences and scope, spending more time in the studio to craft one of the finest records of the year. Desire appeared on Q#118.

17) Horrendous – Soothsayer: It’s always hard trying to figure out where to put the black metal song on the mix… they usually go at the beginning or the end, but here we are. My favourite metal album of the year was Horrendous’ Idol, with guitar solos and killer riffs everywhere to be heard. The Idolater closed out Q#122.

18) Daughters – The Lord’s Song: Another delightful discovery from the Free Williamsburg list was Daughters’ You Won’t Get What You Want, which is one of the more intense records of the year and probably a record that should be in the Nine Inch Nails discography somewhere. I have a ticket to see them in March and imagine it’s going to be a great show.

19) Big Bliss – Conscious Being: One of the hardest working local bands in recent years, Big Bliss released their debut album, At Middle Distance this year and it’s an accomplished debut, not losing any intensity from their live act. The reverb is perfect and while the influences are there to hear, it knits everything together excellently.

20) The Spirit of the Beehive – (Without You) In My Pocket: Hypnic Jerks was one of those records that really crept up on me towards the end of  the year, just how good it was. I’m just going to reproduce what I put on Philly quintet Spirit of the Beehive hit the jackpot this year with Hypnic Jerks, a record with something for every alt-indie fan but everything for a few. In lesser hands, the whole mishmash of styles and tempos would fall apart in a blundered mess, but they have managed to craft a masterful blend, mixing layered psych harmonies one minute with laid-back stoner folk to driving rock and roll, peppered with psychedelic and sampled interludes throughout. Hypnic Jerks is an album in the truest sense, greater than the sum of its collected parts, best consumed as its own snaking, all encompassing experience.

21) Snail Mail – Golden Dream: Lush is probably the one album you’ll see on most end of year lists that also crops up on this mix. There’s a reason for that, it’s a good record! This was the last song to end up on the mix but I think it fits in rather snugly, a lot is made of Lindsey Jordan’s age and there’s a reason for that too, it’s an amazing feat for a teenager.

22) Wand – Pure Romance: LA band Wand have been building up a fine discography over five years and managed to combine all their influences and sounds on their latest EP, Perfume, in May (the title track appeared on Q#120).

23) Mint Field -Para Gali: You may remember Ciudad Satellite from Q#121, and to be lazy, I’m going to copy another of my FreeDubya write-ups: Whenever I play this record, I can’t help but get caught up in it and I’ve not heard a more beautiful sounding album all year. Mint Field are duo Estrella Sanchez (vocals & guitar) and Amor Amezcua (drums & synths), hailing from Tijuana in Mexico. Over the course of 13 tracks, Pasar De Las Luces ranges from shoegaze, soundscapes and krautrock, with soaring vocals painting an extra layer of texture rather than a lyrical one; think My Bloody Valentine meets Cocteau Twins feel in that regard. While the album at times wears its influences on its sleeves a bit too unabashedly, the jump between their albeit promising 2015 EP and this, their debut full-length, shows a band massively growing in confidence. I’d say the sky is the limit for Mint Field, but their music already sound like it’s in the clouds as it is.

Hope this is an enjoyable mix, I’m relatively happy with it, though the next mix will inevitably include a bunch of stuff I should have used instead! 2018 was for the most part a really wonderful year, I hope it was for you as well.  
As always, Peace and Love - Q

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Saturday, 1 December 2018

Q#122 - October to November 2018

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Vol #122 – October to November 2018

Greetings, happy thanksgiving, happy winter, merry christmas, all that jazz. Things are good here and while this is another hastily prepared mix, I think it’s pretty good. Hope you do too.

01) Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock: This is the title track for Bob’s upcoming album, which will be out in February via Merge Records. It sounds like it should be another rocker just like the last few, and there’s even an 18-piece orchestra on some of the new songs.

02) Cloud Nothings – Leave Him Now: Talking about rockers, Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings just released their fifth album, Last Building Burning, and it’s their most intense and raw to date (and probably their best).

03) RVIVR – Cut the Cord: A few months ago I paid into a kickstarter for one of my favourite labels, Don Giovanni Records, to help them raise funds. Because I have so many of their albums already, they let me pick which ones I wanted, which included RVIVR’s self titled debut. I didn’t know anything about them but figured a rock band from Olympia, Washington, would be in good company since I love Unwound. Turns out my instincts were right and this record is a lot of fun. “Everybody’s talking shit you get used to it”

04) The Scientists – Last Night: Australian punks The Scientists recently played their first ever shows in America, I was lucky enough to grab a ticket for one of their shows at Union Pool. Their live set didn’t include many of the power-pop tracks for which their better known, but they played great, even if a few more BPM wouldn’t have gone amiss.

05) Bat Fangs – Wolfbite: Another request from Don Giovanni Records. Bat Fangs is Betsy Wright of Ex Hex and Laura King of Flesh Wounds, and together they have crafted a fist pumping 70s classic rock-tinged delight of an album.

06) Kurt Vile – Loading Zones: This track leads off Kurt’s eight studio album, Bottle It In, which came out in October. It’s not exactly breaking any new ground for Kurt, who sounds as relaxed and melodic as ever, makes for great records, but I have to confess he has been dreadfully dull whenever I’ve seen him live.

07) Why Bonnie – Practice: Whilst searching for shows to write about on my Free Williamsburg column I began scouring the openers as well. Why Bonnie are on tour with the (also very good) Snail Mail and have released two lovely dreampop Eps this year that you should check out.

08) Israel Nash – Rain Plains: A colleague at work sent this to me, figuring I’d dig the Neil Young vibes, and of course, he was right. This might be a little too derivative for some, but I think it’s great and his other tunes sound good too, with a fair amount of variation.
09) Duster – Heading for the Door: There has been some nerdy excitement from slowcore fans about Duster getting back together, and as a lover of the genre I was fairly embarrassed that I had never heard of them before. I have a ticket to see a headline show at Baby’s All Right but have not had the time to listen to more than a couple of tracks. This is right up my alley, however.

10) Big Ups – Fear: If I had to make a list of my favourite Brooklyn bands in the last 5 years, Big Ups would be right up there. Unfortunately, the band have decided to take a hiatus and will be playing their final show in January.  This is from their third LP, Two Parts Together, released earlier this year.

11) Ryley Walker – Spoil with the Rest: Ryley Walker’s record from May this year, Deafman Glance, is one of the low key success albums of the year, the tunes sound meticulously crafted but loose at the same time, a lovey combo.

12) The Damned – Spirits of Evil: This is the title track of the band’s eleventh album, released in April this year after a successful kickstarter and was produced by Tony Visconti of David Bowie fame. It had been nine years since I’d seen the band live and I managed to catch a fantastic show at Irving Plaza in October.

13) Sharon Van Etten – Comeback Kid: Remind Me Tomorrow will be released in January 2019, which will be her fifth full length album. If this track is anything to go by, it’s quite the left turn for her.

14) Nine Inch Nails – Shit Mirror: I picked up a last minute, half price stubhub ticket to see Nine Inch Nails and the Jesus and Mary Chain at Radio City, not a bad combo (though I’ve seen JAMC enough times now…). Having never seen NIN before I figured it was better late than never and they played an immense show, Bad Witch is the ninth record in the discography and while I haven’t listened to it that much, and at 30 minutes long, it’s just about long enough to be called a record in the first place!

15) The Holydrug Couple – Forever End: Hyper Super Mega was released earlier this year on Blow Your Mind Records (and Sacred Bones in the US), and the Chilean heavyweights have crafted another blissful record. Unfortunately, their NYC had to be cancelled so hopefully they’ll be able to reschedule.

16) Thom Yorke – Unmade: While on a tourbus in San Miguel I was also frantically trying to purchase tickets to see Thom Yorke at Kings Theatre, thankfully after an hour of trying (I was also trying to pay attention…), I managed to score a seat in the first row of the mezzanine, a spectacular seat in New York’s most beautiful venue. The show was at the end of November and was excellent (he also ended the show playing this solo). This is on the soundtrack Thom did for the new version of Suspiria (which I have yet to see).

17) Marissa Nadler – For My Crimes: This is the title track to Marissa Nadler’s eight studio album, released on Sacred Bones in September. Featuring Angel Olsen on backing vocals, the record also features Sharon Van Etten and Kristin Kontrol and is another fine record in Nadler’s discography.

18) Public Practice – Foundations: I caught a short set of Public Practice down at Coney Island in the summer and loved their New Order/LCD Soundsystem dancey pop. The band consists of members of local acts Beverly and Wall, so far they have one EP, Distance is a Mirror, which is pretty good.

19) Crash Test Dummies – I Think I’ll Disappear Now: People think of Crash Test Dummies as a bit of a joke band, or a one hit wonder at best, but that’s grossly unfair and I’ve always really liked them. Turns out that their breakthrough album, God Shuffled His Feet is 25 years old now, and the band are playing a very rare tour to celebrate. I’ve got a ticket to see them on the 8th of December and am greatly looking forward to it. Credibility be damned, like what you like!

20) Courtney Barnett – City Looks Pretty: I went home for just a few days recently, but managed to cram in quite a lot in a short space of time, including seeing Courtney Barnett at the 02 Academy in Oxford. It had been three and a half years since I saw a breath-taking performance at Bowery Ballroom, and she has since gone on to play much larger spaces, so it was great to see her in another modest-size venue (even if the 02 is not the best of spaces… if only it were upstairs in the old Zodiac space). Anyway, Tell Me How You Feel is her second record and was released back in May and is another lovely record.

21) Horrendous – The Idolater: I seem to be getting into the habit of closing out compilations with a metal track rather than my usual lullaby. Philly’s Horrendous released Idol in September and it’s probably my favourite metal album of the year. I caught their show at Saint Vitus recently and they were excellent.

Next mix will be a “best of” the year, hopefully in January. As always, Peace and Love - Q

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Saturday, 13 October 2018

Q#121 - August to September 2018

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Vol #121 – August to September 2018

Greetings. Apologies for the latest I have ever been in releasing a mix (and I think, late for only the second time in 15 years)… Summer is over but it has been a pretty good one! There’s no theme or a whole lot of thought put into this, just mostly brand new tracks that I’ve stitched together. Hope you enjoy.

01) Ron Gallo – It’s All Gonna Be Ok: Ron Gallo’s third album, Stardust Birthday Party, is going to be released on the 5th of October and this is the lead single. If it’s half as good as Heavy Meta then we’re in for a treat.

02) The Beths – Great No One: New Zealand quartet The Beths may have released the catchiest record this year (Future Me Hates Me), which also blends two of my favourite opposites, sad lyrics but bright, upbeat music!

03) Bad Moves – Spirit FM: Washington DC’s Bad Moves just released their debut album, Tell No One, via Don Giovanni Records (which you may have been able to guess by listening to this track). If you want no-frills power-pop (as I often do!) then look no further.

04) Billy & Dolly – Everything is Off: I’m such a sucker for jangle guitars and arpeggios like this; I’m sure there are hundreds of songs that are note for note the same, but there’s something to be said for winning formulas. I don’t know a whole lot about this San Francisco duo other than they used to be in another band together called The Monolith.

05) Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Talking Straight: It’s hard for Australian jangle-pop bands to steer clear of comparisons to the Go-Betweens but let’s not act like it isn’t a good thing anyway (and this song is about as Go-Betweens as it gets). The band released their debut album, Hope Downs, on Sub Pop in June and is filled with catchy tunes like this one.

06) Deeper – Trust is Yours: My buddy Felix sent me a song by this Chicago four-piece, which in turn led me to Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever (previous track) as they were playing together at the Bowery (I decided not to go, however).

07) Weeping Icon – Jail Billz: Rough Trade had a 75% off end of summer sale on some records, one of which was Weeping Icon, who I had seen last year opening for Yvette. I’m trying to cut down on impulse purchases these days but my recollection of their unrelenting psych-noise from that show made me feel confident.

08) Nothing – Blue Line Baby: Dance on the Blacktop is Nothing’s third album, it sounds like a continuation of their previous album, 2016’s Tired of Tomorrow, with it’s heavy-shoegaze sound and loud-quiet-loud pattern. As I said earlier, there’s something to be said for winning formulas.

09) The Spirit of the Beehive – Hypnic Jerks: I can’t quite remember how I came about this Philly band originally, but I’d seen the name a bunch of times without actually listening to them. Thankfully I rectified that recently by giving their latest record a try (this is the title track), which is their third album and a wonderful mix of influences.

10) Big Bliss – Constants: I was impressed with Big Bliss when I first saw them years ago at Cake Shop (RIP) and after a few singles and an EP, they’re about to release their debut full-length, At Middle Distance.

11) Anna Calvi – Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy: The years between Anna Calvi albums can be hard at times, but Hunter was released at the end of August (five years after the release of One Breath), and it really is a triumph. Managing to become more pop-oriented and arty at the same time (perhaps at the expense of some jaw-dropping guitar playing), I suspect it will be my favourite record of the year.

12) Mint Field – Ciudad Satellite: Keen listeners may remember this Mexican psych-pop band from Q#112 (“of course!” I hear you cry), and they have since released their excellent debut album, Pasar de las Luces. Having missed their live shows last year I was determined not to make the same mistake again and saw them at Baby’s All Right, which I’m sure will end up being one of my favourites of the year. I promptly ordered the record from Innovative Leisure and if you can find a more gorgeous sounding album this year then please let me know.

13) TV On the Radio – Family Tree: Dear Science turned ten years old this year, and the band just played it in full at Knockdown Centre to celebrate. It was a good show, but it does seem like they can only get their live sound right about 50% of the times I’ve seen them. Anyway, it’s clearly a phenomenal record (and not even their best!), and you can’t fall in love with a record again if you never stopped in the first place, but it has seemed like a treat revisiting it.

14) Shannon Shaw – Broke My Own: Releasing a solo album (Shannon in Nashville) outside of your main band (when you are the front person) often screams “these songs weren’t good enough for the band but I wanted to put them out anyway”, but Shannon Shaw has managed to sound distinct enough from her day job to fully warrant the decision, in fact, I probably enjoy it far more than anything Shannon and the Clams have released to date. I caught her debut solo show at Coney Island on a scorching day last month, which for the most part was under-rehearsed and lost some of the magic in this production, but it was still very good.

15) Molly Burch – Wild: Molly Burch’s second record, First Flower, will be released by Captured Tracks on the 5th of October and is a little brighter than her so-relaxed-it-was-horizontal debut Please Be Mine.

16)The Mountain Goats – Song for Ted Sallis: John Darnielle doesn’t release as many Eps these days as he used to but having confessed that in the press-release for Hex of Infinite Binding, it seems like we might be able to enjoy a resurgence of the format in the Mountain Goats discography.

17) Adrianne Lenker – Symbol: Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker is doing her best to fill the Mark Kozelek void in my life since he hasn’t been able to write a coherent song in years. This beautiful finger-picked song doesn’t really stray from what Big Thief do but Capacity was one of my favourite albums of last year.

18) Ricky Lewis – See You in the Morning: This is the title-track to Ricky Lewis’ debut album that just came out. I loved this song to begin with, then something bothered me about it, which was that I couldn’t place who I was getting it mixed up with, then I realised that it sounds exactly like Withered Hand, then I liked it again having gotten over that mental hurdle.

19) The Babe Rainbow – Supermoon: Another Aussie band graces this mix with this effortlessly groovy psych-pop from their record Double Rainbow (there’s a lot of rainbows going on here).

20) Thou – In the Kingdom of Meaning: Baton Rouge sludge/doom-greats Thou have had a very productive year, putting out three excellent Eps and a full-length record, Magus. This song showcases everything great about the record in just under ten minutes (but really, check out the album, you can’t have too much of a good thing).
As always, Peace and Love - Q

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Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Q#120 - June to July 2018

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Q's Compilations
Vol #120 – June to July 2018

Greetings! I’m writing these notes on a plane returning from the UK back to New York having had a nice two week holiday. Went to two Del Amitri gigs (Edinburgh and London) and in general spent too much time drinking. Most of the songs on this mix are fairly new to me, either from shows or recent press releases. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

01) Valley Queen – Supergiant: I was a little stuck for an opener this time around but having gone through a bunch of press releases this seemed to fit the bill. It’s not the most blistering of tracks in the world but it’s got a lovely sense of melody. This is the title track to the LA quartet’s debut album, out via Roll Call Records.

02) Terra Lightfoot – No Hurry: One of my favourite bands, The Posies, are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year and most recently included a show at the Bowery Ballroom with the Frosting on the Beater line-up. The next two songs feature tunes from the opening bands at that show, Terra Lightfoot played a nice power trio / bluesy set. 

03) Valley Lodge – All of My Loving: WFMU’s Dave Hill heads up Valley Lodge, a tongue in cheek powerpop act who unbeknownst to me at the time, provide the theme tune for John Oliver’s show. This is an unabashed catchy triumph, tongue in cheek or not. Go to see them live if you get the chance and feel like some deadpan humour to go with your 90s rock. 

04) Frigs – Talking Pictures: It seemed like the best acts at this year’s Northside festival were all Canadian, these Torontonians released their debut album, Basic Behaviour in February and I caught them on the Brooklyn Vegan showcase that included Corridor, Protomartyr, Deerhoof and more, the post-punk guitar tones on this track really stood out and the rhythm section are no slouch.

05) Corridor – Demain Deja: Montreal’s Corridor are one of those bands I’m amazed I hadn’t heard of until last month, from the dueling guitars to the busy drums and punchy bass, there’s little more I could want in a band. The outro is just about perfect.

06) Protomartyr – Wheel of Fortune: Protomartyr have a pretty poor record in terms of the amount of times I’ve listened to them and seen them play to the number of mixes they’ve ended up on… you may recognize Kelley Deal’s backing vocals on this track.

07) Mourn – Over the Wall: Barcelona’s Mourn are on Captured Tracks and while I haven’t heard their latest album yet, their Over the Wall EP is very good, which and this is the Echo and the Bunnymen cover/title track to that, a fairly faithful rendition all things considered.

08) Gang Gang Dance – Lotus: Having been away for seven years, GGD returned with all of their classic trademarks on this tune, the lead single from their new record, Kazuashita.

09) Clipping – Shooter: My buddy Felix had sent me a raft of recommendations a while ago that I’m still working my way through, but this one jumped out, I love the way the song builds, simple but inventive. This track is on their Wriggle EP from 2016 which was released on Sub Pop. Rapper Daveed Diggs is also an actor and currently stars in the movie Blindspotting which is getting a lot of praise at the moment.

10) Sammus – Comments Disabled: Don Giovanni records have certainly been diversifying more recently, and Sammus’ 2016 record, Pieces in Space, is one of the best rap albums I’ve heard in recent years.

11) Shana Falana – Cool Kids: I saw Shana Falana open for Follakzoid at Rough Trade a couple of months ago (a lot of opening bands on this mix…), the live experience is a little more soundscape/psychedelic than this track (which was played), there’s an impressive amount of layering for a two-piece.

12) Wax Chattels – It: New Zealand trio Wax Chattels label themselves as “guitarless guitar music”, which isn’t a bad way to describe them, there’s an intensity to their self-titled debut record that feels like a rock band. In their native homeland they are signed to the legendary Flying Nun label, while New York’s own Captured Tracks distribute the US.  
13) Wand – Perfume: This is the title-track to the band’s latest EP, which came out in May and seems to combine all the band’s changing styles to date in one release.

14) Men I Trust – Tailwhip: It seems like this kind of chill-wave-ish music had died a death a few years ago, but I saw this band opening for Ought at Market Hotel last month and it seemed like a refreshing throwback (albeit only a throwback of a few years ago…).

15) Phantastic Ferniture – Uncomfortable Teenager: Phantastic Ferniture is a Sydney-based side-project which includes Julia Jacklin, and their self-titled debut album cuts loose from all the members’ regular bands. There’s a spontaneity to the material and it seems like everyone is having fun.

16) Peaer – I.H.S.Y.A: This year’s Northside Festival was definitely on the low-key side of things compared to previous years, but I still managed to hit something each night. Peaer opened up for Weaves at the Knitting Factory and I enjoyed their mix of math rock, slowcore and even some Weezer-esque melodies.

17) Jonathan Coulton – Ikea: I’ve seen Jonathan Coulton twice now, both times opening for Aimee Mann, this time was at Prospect Park for a free show which also featured Superchunk. This track was his set closer and displays his typical wit and humour.

18) Del Amitri – Before the Evening Steals the Afternoon: This was a b-side from the Not Where It’s At single, and also appeared on the b-side compilation Lousy with Love. Needing to fill around 2:30 left on the mix, it seemed apt to use a Del Amitri song given the shows this month. Alas, they did not play this rather delightful tune (the only b-side on offer this tour was The Verb to Do).

19) Lola Kirke – Born to Die: I just love the production on this track, those bright acoustic guitars get me every time. Lola’s album, Heart Head West is out in August. For the classic rock nerds out there, Lola is the daughter of Bad Company / Free drummer Simon Kirke.

20) Dusk – Eyes in Dark Corners: It seems like Dusk’s debut album has been a long time coming, I saw them at Saint Vitus back in 2016, and you should know Amos Pitsch’s work from the band Tenament. Their self-titled debut was released on Don Giovanni records in June and it’s an at times excellent country-tinged record.

21) Hand Habits – Yr Heart: When I heard this track I instantly knew it would be a mix closer, with that wonderful lullaby-esque sway, as close to a sunset in a song as I can think of. Meg Duffy has spent time in bands such as Mega Bog and Kevin Morby’s band, the latter of which is definitely in this wheelhouse (though I think this is better than anything either act has written). 

And that’s it, these notes are a little unresearched for my liking so apologies that these are bad but I had to just get the mix through the line, it’s amazing how bad one’s memory can be without the internet to fill in the gaps these days!

As always, Peace and Love

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Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Q#119 - April to May 2018

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Q's Compilations
Vol #119 – April to May 2018

Greetings! Lots of changes recently, a pending divorce, a new apartment, an upcoming trip to see Del Amitri, and all of that is good news, and more! Anyway, enough with the important stuff, I’m pretty with this very hastily put together mix, there is plenty of new stuff, so please enjoy. Shout out to my buddy Felix, who sent me a bunch of stuff just after I’d already put this mix together, I suspect they will make an appearance soon!

01) Guided By Voices – Space Gun: GBV released their 1,384th record (actually only their XXXth), and there’s little that can be said about them anymore. There’s maybe a hint of this being a slower version of I am a Tree to this, but since that is one of GBV’s (and Doug Gillard’s) finest, that’s not a bad thing. I keep missing them lately and will hopefully get to see them in August.

02) Shame – Tasteless: Every once in a while I go on a download spree from my inbox and Shame’s Songs of Praise peaked my interest. The influences here are pretty much worn on their sleeves and it was also no surprise to read that they have toured with Protomartyr lately either.

03) The Royal They – Sludgefucker: Whilst searching showlistings for some influence I stumbled on The Royal They, whose record Foreign Being is one of my favourite records of the year so far. As far as no-frills 90s influenced rock goes, it’s a damn fine album. Somewhat annoyingly, I have yet to see the band live, despite championing their shows multiple times on Free Williamsburg!

04) The Messthetics – Serpent Tongue: This math-rock trio feature drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally, who you may recognise as members of Fugazi (indeed, this is the first band they have played in together since Fugazi’s hiatus), the band are completed by guitarist Anthony Pirog and the trio weave a nice balance of technical wizardry and pummeling riffs.

05) Watchout! – Slow Burning Brother: Almost at a monthly rate, I have to stop myself spending a stupid amount of money on Chilean acts on the Blow Your Mind record label… this month was even harder having seen Follakzoid and Goli Gaete (more on him later), but so far I’ve held off. What hasn’t helped is this track from the upcoming Watchout! Album, which is filled with all their signature rhythms and bouncey bass lines.

06) Los Roban – Papel en Blanco: Another Chilean band, although I don’t have many details about this record (Portofino) other than another Chilean band I like, Vuelveteloca, posted the whole record on their youtube page, they do sound similar, so it’s possible that the two bands share some members. Regardless, what’s not to love about this?

07) Preoccupations – Disarray: It doesn’t feel like two years since the band’s last record but the Calgarian quartet seem to do little wrong on record, their latest effort, New Material, continues the more synth-influenced second album, but seems more like a progression than treading old ground.

08) Eternal Summers – Forever Mine: In complete opposition to the previous track, it seems a lot longer than two years since Eternal Summers blessed us with some new music, and Forever Mine is a substantial change from their previous efforts. While the band have always had a strong sense of melody, this tune is pure pop.

09) Monogold – Cinnamon: A band that makes me think of Kitchens of Distinction will always be welcome, especially when they pull off the sound so perfectly. Babyfood was released last September and I’m not entirely sure how I didn’t hear this at the time.

10) Mr Ray – You Can Only Be Yourself: Another Blow Your Mind release, though this is just a 7” and has that perfect, hazy psych guitar sound that BYM excel at.

11) Fujiya & Miyagi – Transparent Things: It’s the tenth anniversary of the Brighton band’s second record, Transparent Things, which is getting a vinyl run for the first time. While they have a history of dorky references in their music and titles, they may well have outdone themselves with a new song

released recently, Subliminal Cuts, which is apparently inspired by an episode of Columbo. Anyway, this is from a decade ago and it’s hard not to bounce along to.

12) Forth Wanderers – Had Me Suckin: This New Jersey act recently signed to Sub Pop, and their self-titled effort certainly smooths out some of the edges from their earlier material. The upgrade in production values seems to have given the group an extra layer of confidence rather than stifling any creativity in the hope of selling a few extra records.

13) Modern Time Machines – Failsafe: It seems like we hit peak-shoegaze a couple of years ago and that suited me fine, so while the influx of bands seems to have slowed down, I still get excited when I hear tracks like this. Based in LA, their self-titled record was released in April and features all the Swervdriver, Ride and Slowdive nods your heart could desire.

14) La ciencia simple - Echos: Another Chilean band (and if you’re late to the party on this, you can search for Q#89 for my Chilean-themed mix), I found this post-rock band by searching for Blow Your Mind on bandcamp, I don’t even know if they’re on BYM records, but

15) Mercury Rev – Holes: I bought tickets to see Mercury Rev play Deserter’s Songs in full in October and while it’s one of my least favourite records by them, I’m still pretty excited to hear them play it, not to mention it’ll only be the second time I’ll have seen them play.

16) Bonny Doon – A Lotta Things: There should be no surprise to read that Bonny Doon are signed to Woodsist, despite the slow pace and utterly downbeat lyrics, I can’t help but find the bright guitars thoroughly uplifting.

17) Hovvdy – In the Sun: Despite the silly double-v instead of a w in the name, which was boring and stupid the first time a band did it, it’s hard not to love this song. If anything, this reminds me a lot like Waxahatchee but with male vocals (indeed, it’s the vocal delivery as much as anything that reminds me of Katie Crutchfield).

18) Goli Gaete – Abajo Abajo Abajo Amor: Goli Gaete is a Chilean singer/songwriter best known for fronting the garage rock band Tsunamis. With one solo record to his name as well, I was delighted to find out that he would be playing a show in Brooklyn, which turned out to be in a small Vietnamese restaurant, with no promotion, I felt like this could be the time I was the only person at a show… indeed, that was the case until minutes before showtime, when there were literally half-dozens of us. It was a fun show, and he played this tune, I hope he comes back to play a proper show at a more traditional venue.

19) Catherine Howe – Let’s Keep It Quiet Now: Numero had a pop-up shop in Brooklyn a few weeks ago and so I spent my customary amount of money… I’m running out of things to buy but always had a curiousity about this record that needed to be quenched. This turned out to be my favourite song which was actually a bonus 7”, but the album itself (What a Beautiful Place) is a breezy Sunday afternoon listen.

20) Willie Wright – Nantucket Island: Another purchase from the Numero pop up that I just hadn’t gotten round to picking up. In true Numero fashion, Telling the Truth is very much the tried and tested story of a decade lost in obscurity for over 30 years and just felt like the perfect way to end this mix.

And there you have it, I hope there have been plenty of new acts for you to enjoy, summer is finally here and it’s time to start looking forward.

As always, Peace and Love

Please note that the zip file has a password: QCOMPS.BLOGSPOT 
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