Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Q#107 April – May 2016

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q107
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/k3d0o3abkx30tx7/Q107.zip

Q’s Compilations
Volume #107 April - May 2016

It seemed like summer was never going to arrive, but as I sit here suffering the worst sunburn I’ve ever had trying to get this out before the end of the month, I’m thinking it could have stayed away! Other things got the better of me for a while but I’m starting and finishing this off in about a week, so forgive me if it seems a little rushed, there are some great things on here though!

01) Ought - Men for Miles: If I could revise the “best of 2015” mix I made, Ought would be on it. I’d go so far as to say that Sun Coming Down may now be my single favourite album of 2015. I saw the band last year and thought they were great, but for some reason never listened to the album as much as I should have, but with some time and catching another show, I was just blown away. The band don’t do a whole lot on stage and most of the songs are mid-paced but it’s somehow incredibly intense and engaging. If you have a chance to see them, don’t pass it up, and in the meantime be sure to get Sun Coming Down.

02) Pants Exploder – Nerve: Sometimes you just want no-frills riffs and sludgy, down-tuned guitars. In a particularly susceptible mood, I saw Pants Exploder at The Acheron and they ticked every box and the band’s self-titled debut is a true delight for fans of the genre.

03) Music Band - Green Lights: I saw Music Band supporting Diarrhea Planet last year and they threatened to steal the show, which is no mean feat given that Diarrhea Planet are one of the best live bands on earth right now. I’m not sure the band’s record collection contains anything after 1976, and that’s no bad thing when you’re in the mood for some classic rock. Their debut album, Wake Up Laughing, will appeal to anyone looking for more of the same here.

04) Arrogance - Peace of Mind: Part of the Numero 12 series, Arrogance’s Knights of Dreams is a lost classic rock gem if ever there was one. Formed in North Carolina, the band cut this record before turning in a more acoustic direction. “Life’s a joke I’ve come to find”

05) Ryley Walker - Primrose Green: I saw Ryley Walker at Austin Psych Fest last year and was impressed without being wowed (my overriding feeling was that if I wanted to listen to Tim Buckley I would listen to Tim Buckley), but after multiple recommendations from a work colleague and other friends I decided to buy Primrose Green and it really is a lovely folk record. While his influences are worn firmly on his sleeve, there is more than enough spirit pushing through and the playing is exemplary.

06) Radiohead - Decks Dark: Usually when a hugely important band in your life releases a new record there is an uncontrollable excitement when you can’t wait to listen to it, but after 2011’s rather limp King of Limbs, I was fairly nervous about what they would come up with. I was prepared for a 6/10 album and probably would have been happy with that, but A Moon Shaped Pool gets an 8/10 in my book and while perhaps a bit one-paced, is a fine addition to the discography of Oxford’s greatest export.

07) Gaz Coombes – Detroit: Speaking of Oxford, Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes released his second solo album, Matador, in January 2015, and it’s an understated delight. I caught one of his shows at Rockwood Music Hall recently and maintain that Supergrass were always loved yet always underappreciated.

08) Holy Fuck - Xed Eyes: Toronto’s Holy Fuck just released Congrats, their first album in 5 years (Q#75 was their last inclusion!), and their fourth in total. The album is a fine addition to their real-drums-and-bass blend of dance-elecronica, and I’m hoping to catch one of their shows in July.

09) Wimps – Dump: This Seattle trio make incredibly catchy, endearing tunes, and their album, Suitcase, is a no-brainer if you want some lo-fo-ish indie. I write this as my apartment is looking particularly like a dump right now…

10) Field Music – Disappointed: There probably hasn’t been a whole lot of good music (or anything) from Sunderland, but Field Music are an exception. While the XTC and Talking Heads influences seem pretty obvious, if anything it just makes you miss those bands and thankful that a band this can pull it off so well. I saw the band at Rough Trade recently and it was one of the more enjoyable shows of the year, with brothers David and Peter Brewis swapping between guitars/vocals and drums. “This has been going on, So long I can't believe it, I made mistakes at the start, And it seems you can't forgive them”

11) Wall - Cuban Cigars: This Brooklyn quartet veer more to the wire-y guitar sound that seems to have been underused in the last few years, I was impressed with their set opening for Fear of Men recently and the band’s debut EP is well worth a listen for anyone else that misses this kind of guitar tone.

12) Summer Twins – Demons: There is no shortage of sunny sounding garage rock bands from the west coast and sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown aren’t rocking the boat in that sense, and it won’t be surprising to hear that they’re signed to Burger Records either. With that information alone you can probably tell if you’ll like it or not before listening. Obviously I’m all in favour.

13) Dick Diver - Hammock Days: Australia’s Dick Diver just had their first two albums re-issued in the US, and this is taken from their debut, 2011’s New Start Again. Australia has a good reputation for producing jangly indie-pop bands and Dick Diver may just be the best.

14) The Posies - We R Power!: The Posies are one of my favourite bands of all time, and it seemed surprising to realise that it had been six years since Blood/Candy was released. Unfortunately the band have suffered some hardships recently, including the sudden death of drummer Darius Minwalla (who once called me out at a Posies show for wearing a Rush shirt, his favourite band) and former bassist Joe Skyward. Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer ventured forth, however, and have just released Solid States, and if you know the Posies at all then you know they are one of the best songwriting duos of all time. I managed to catch the band play a show in someone’s apartment recently, which was a surreal, yet great experience.

15) Bambara - An Ill Son: Brooklyn based trio Bambara have been together since 2009 and bludgeoned their way through almost impenetrable Birthday Party-esque tunes all the while. However, the band’s latest album, Swarm, managed to rein things in just enough to let the songs and vocals shine through.

16) Texas is the Reason - A Jack with One Eye: Having never previously heard of the band, I felt a little guilty to end up at one of their shows recently (which is a rarity, the show sold out in no time). They only had one album, Do You Know Who You Are? from 1996, and while it seemed like I was gate-crashing a private fan club, I came out with a new-found appreciation.  

17) The Montgomery Express – Who: This Florida-based funk band only cut one record in 1974 called The Montgomery Movement. The effortlessly cool shuffle of this tune can make you get lost and suddenly 3 minutes have sailed by. Singers Paul Montgomery and Charles Atkins were both blind and self-taught musicians.

18) Britta Phillips - Luck or Magic: Perhaps best known as the bassist in Luna, Britta has just released her debut album of which this is the title track. It’s a lovely album with 5 originals and 5 covers (of which, The Cars’ Drive is the best-known tune), with analog synths ruling the day for the most part, but everything serves as a platform for Britta’s vocals, which just have enough (unjustified) lack of confidence to really draw you in. “There is no other feeling like the one in the beginning

19) Jimmy Carter and Dallas County Green - A Night of Love: A lost 70s country rock classic, Summer Brings the Sunshine is a true delight. We’ve all lost count the number of times one thinks “this should have been huge” and you could probably slot this record alongside a bunch of Neil Young’s efforts.

20) Robbie Fulks - Try Leaving: You can know nothing about Robbie Fulks, or even country and folk music, and have a great time at one of his concerts. He played this tune the last time I saw him which actually comes from a collection of throwaway recordings, but the song hits home a bit too hard not to include it. I picked up a couple of his albums so expect further inclusion at some point. “There’s only one thing that you haven’t done. Try leaving, try not to come back this evening, try to stay gone”.

21) David Kauffman - Kiss Another Day Goodbye: I’m closing out this mix, as I often do, on a bit of a downer. I maintain that the saddest songs are often the most beautiful, and this is definitely one of the saddest songs I have ever heard! Details on Kauffman are a little scarce, but his struggles of life and creativity are pretty vivid in this offering, and thankfully though his collaborative album with Eric Caboor is titled Songs from Suicide Bridge, neither succumbed to taking their own lives. “I went out to grab a cup of coffee and left my dreams behind. The California sun was all I had for breakfast, and it burns.”
Well there you go!

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q107
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/k3d0o3abkx30tx7/Q107.zip

Monday, 28 March 2016

Q#106 February – March 2016

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q106
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/7cpli6i4oys8lfz/Q106.zip

Q’s Compilations
Volume #106 February – March 2016

A slow start to the year is starting to pick up a little bit now, spring is here officially! This mix is a combination of songs I couldn’t fit onto the “best of 2015” mix, new songs and older material that I wanted to use for some reason or another. A bit of a mish mash as usual, hopefully there is something for you to enjoy.

01) Dimnas III - I Won't Love You Again: Kicking things off with a soul number, courtesy of Numero’s Royal Jesters release. I love the grit in the vocals but have to confess to knowing nothing about the group. Just enjoy it!

02) Boogarins - 6000 Dias: Brazilian band Boogarins followed up 2013’s As Plantas Que Curam last year with the rather excellent Manual on Other Music. They seem more focused and confident with their songwriting and is one of my favourite albums of the year so far. Having not seen them since 2014 I’m hoping to catch their show at Baby’s All Right on the 14th of April.

03) Pete Astor - Really Something: Pete Astor formed The Loft in 1983 and was one of the earliest signings on Creation Records, fast forward many years and Astor’s sporadic discography is a treasure. This particular album, Spilt Milk, was record by James Hoare of Veronica Falls, The Proper Ornaments and Ultimate Painting (all 3 of which have featured on these compilations).

04) Nada Surf - Believe You're Mine: I really can’t say anything new about Nada Surf, they might just be the most important band to me. 4 years after the release of The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy, the band have just released their 8th album, You Know Who You Are. Lyrically it certainly seems like Matthew has gone through a bit of a hard time in the last few years, with many lyrics in particular hitting close to home, I think he’s one of the best songwriters of all time and should get more credit. The album is filled with all their signature power pop, they just do what they do better than anyone else.

05) Crow Bait – 83: Long Island Trio Crow Bait produce the kind of unadulterated songwriters indie-rock the likes of Buffalo Tom were knocking out in the 90s. Signed to Don Giovanni records, they have one album to date, 2014’s Sliding Through The Halls Of Fate.

06) Robyn Hitchcock - I'm Only You: Deserving of “National Treasure” status, I hadn’t seen Robyn Hitchcock since 2010 in Oxford, and due to the genrousity of a friend, managed to put that right last November when he played at City Winery. He played this song (from 1985’s Fegmania! Album) and while I could have chosen from a few dozen tracks, I was reminded just how much I liked it. “Said I'm a pattern on a china bowl, I'm a memory engraved upon your soul, I'm a prison cell without a door, I'm a finger drawing, On a frosty window pane”

07) Advaeta - Church Cult: I saw Brooklyn-trio Advaeta just over a year ago supporting Moon Duo and while I was deeply impressed with their set, I just didn’t get round to seeing them again and they flew off my radar for a little bit. Thankfully that changed when I saw their record for sale at Other Music, and it’s as varied and intricate as I remember.

08) Big Ups - National Parks: Second albums are notoriously difficult, but Big Ups have gone up at least a couple of levels with the release of Before a Million Universes, which sees them slow things down a little from their hardcore origins and adopt a more Slint-like approach.

09) PINKWASH - Longer Now: Philadelphia duo PINKWASH released the incredible Your Cure Your Soul EP in 2014 and are set to unleash their debut full length in May called Collective Sigh. This is the first song to be released from it and doesn’t stray from the sound of their debut EP, all the better for it.

10) Jesu & Sun Kil Moon - Good Morning My Love: Just when you think Kozelek simply can’t possibly write any more lyrics, he takes his stream-of-consciousness style to yet another level on a collaborative album with Jesu. Musically the record is pretty diverse, with crunching slowcore electric guitars on some songs and electronic drums and keyboards on others.

11) Vaadat Charigim - Imperia Achrona: Israeli band Vaadat Charigim, whose name roughly translates as committee of the abnormal, released their second album, Sinking As A Stone, on Burger Records last year. They sing in Hebrew but to see these it gives the songs an otherworldly quality that befits the genre. I caught the band on their first tour of the US in 2014 but missed their last New York show (though I did see them in Austin last year), I’ll be putting that right when they play at Palisades on the 30th of March.

12) Hilly Eye - Jersey City: Brooklyn two-piece Hilly Eye consist of guitarist/vocalist Amy Klein and drummer/vocalist Catherine Tung, they formed in 2009 and have one album to date, 2013’s Reasons to Live. I hadn’t heard of the band before but received it in a random assortment of vinyl I purchased from Don Giovanni’s moving sale and was won over instantly with their slowcore quiet/loud anthems.

13) Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins - Melt Your Heart: Rabbit Fur Coat is 10 years old this year and Jenny Lewis played a few special shows in celebration of the landmark. I caught one of the shows at the Beacon Theatre and despite being almost the farthest from the stage that you can get there, she made the setting still seem intimate. “Are we killing time? Are we killing each other?”

14) La Sera - Take My Heart: Katy Goodman’s once side-project La Sera is now very much a full time gig, and a duo at that, with now husband Todd Wisenbaker an official member. Music for Listening to Music to just came out via Polyvinyl Records and was produced by Ryan Adams. The album is a perfect continuation of the discography, with some country influences coming to the fore, but it’s the confidence in Goodman’s voice that is the star of the show. “Pick up the pieces, they've flown away, Lift them up gently in your arms and say, Do you believe in me? Do you believe in me?“

15) Sheer Agony – Debonaires: I featured I Have a Dream on the last mix but mostly due to time constraints as it is a short but sweet song. If I had more time I’d have used this track, which is probably my favourite on Masterpiece, there is a real Television-esque guitar wigout that more people deserve to hear!

16) Dead Tenants - Dead Tenants: The rare trinity of band/album/song name come to the fore with this offering as Queens-based trio. There’s more than a little hint of Fugazi on this track, and I caught the end of the band’s set a couple of months ago after going bowling, and those are two things I’d like to repeat!

17) Protomartyr - Why Does It Shake?: Protomartyr might just be everyone’s favourite post-punk band these days, and The Agent Intellect deservedly made many end-of-year-lists and having seen them a few times live now, they might just be hitting the top of their game in all aspects. Some aren’t taken with Joe Casey’s sometimes mumbling delivery but it works for me.

18) Slint - Good Morning, Captain: After using a Big Ups song earlier, I couldn’t help but put something from Slint’s influential 1991 release, Spiderland. That might not have been a great idea though because it just made me sad that I didn’t get to see their last set of reunion shows in 2014.

I’m feeling a little burned out already but have a few days holiday in DC to look forward to, no particular reason, I just wanted to see somewhere new. Hopefully you’ve all heard something new on this mix.

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q106
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/7cpli6i4oys8lfz/Q106.zip

Monday, 18 January 2016

Q#105 - December 2015 to January 2016

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q105
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/2c86yq12xhqx7oq/Q105.zip

Q’s Compilations
Volume #105 December 2015 – January 2016

Newsflash – survived 2015. I hope everyone had a nice time over the “holidays”, speaking of which I actually managed to have one and went back to the UK for three weeks (with a short jaunt to Amsterdam for a change of scenery). 2015 might have been fairly barren of joy but it was relatively fertile when it came to music I enjoyed, so I’ll get right to it and give you some of my favourites.

01) Young Guv - Crawling Back to You: Keen listeners may remember Kelly, I’m Not a Creep from Q#103, one of the most infectious songs of 2015. I almost used the Ripe 4 Luv, the title track of the record, but plumped for this anthemic power-pop gem. The record was released on Slumberland Records back in March and is the project of Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook.

02) Slonk Donkerson - Watching Every Channel at Once: At this stage I’m not sure what else I can say about Slonk Donkerson that I haven’t said already. However, I’ll just copy/paste what I wrote for Free Williamsburg’s Top 25 albums of 2015 post: What’s in a name? Slonk Donkerson go against the grain where most guitar bands around New York in recent years have concentrated on punk/hardcore/garage rock, the now four-piece align to a more classic rock sound, with hints of Moving Pictures-era Rush sprinkled on top of their initial early-REM/Husker Du/Meat Puppets influence. The band’s keen sense of melody and thoughtful compositions really stand out in today’s climate. These songs would sound equally at home played to a crowd of 50 or 50,000 people. We’re clearly fans of the band, having featured them frequently throughout the year.

03) Tenement - I'm Your Super Glue: Another entry from Free Willy’s to 25 albums post: If “punk” means doing whatever you want, then Tenement are the punks of 2015. Releasing an epic 23-song, 74-minute double LP; the band deserves a medal for the sheer number of hooks on this album alone. It’s not all about fist-pumping anthems, however, the Wisconsin trio have crafted a flowing album that also includes piano ballads, a little folk interlude and the downright bizarre 9-minute instrumental “A Frightening Place For Normal People.” Ultimately, Predatory Headlights is an album to just hit play, sit back, and be taken on a ride. If there is a better example of a record showing off pop-songwriting with a fuck-you attitude I have yet to hear it this year. “And the things you never say to me are so sweet”

04) Screaming Females - Criminal Image: And another Free Willy entry! After 2014’s Live at the Hideout, the New Brunswick trio returned with their 6th studio album; their first in three years with Rose Mountain. Upon release, remarks were made about how this was a more “commercial” Screaming Females record, with Wishing Well leading the album’s promotion, and while that one track (and perhaps the second single, “Hopeless”) might possibly have some mainstream appeal, it doesn’t smack of a band trying to sound popular, they are just good songs. Regardless, the album itself is choc-full of the band’s signature riffs and guitar solos. As an aside, they remain the best live band you can see at the moment, in my opinion.

05) Swervedriver - Deep Wound: I Wasn’t Born to Lose You is the band’s first album since 1997, and the Oxford legends have not lost any magic at all. As I wrote for Q#101, not all reunions are just cash cows. Deep Wound was actually released as a single in 2012, but it fits on the album perfectly.

06) Royal Headache - Wouldn't You Know: Another copy/paste from FW - Melbourne’s Royal Headache have not hidden from the fact that following up 2012’s self-titled album was hard. The number of times the band have broken up, or claimed to have broken up, is numerous. Indeed, they have even said this will probably be their last (although they sounded much more positive in a recent interview in The Big Takeover), all that can be done is see every album or show as a gift. What elevates Royal Headache from just being another good garage-punk band is Shogun’s soulful vocal masterclass, which at times croons, and often punches with a hurt that can’t be faked. While the band are known for their high-energy songs and particularly their hurricane-like live shows, it’s the mournful, “Wouldn’t You Know” and downright infectious, anthemic “Carolina,” that captures the heart of the album. “So what would you know, what a little love can do?”

07) Courtney Barnett – Depreston: Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit is the quintessential indie (in the all-encompassing sense of the word) album of the year. The record is a literate success, taking you to places you haven’t been or experiences you haven’t had and yet feeling like you have, made even more personable with a masterful take on various universal themes; a line like “I don’t know quite who I am, oh but man I am trying. I make mistakes until I get it right” could sound all a bit too emo in lesser hands. The music itself is no slouch either, with driving rockers like “Pedestrian at Best” and “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” mixed up with the slow folk-jangle of “Depreston” and the epic blues of “Small Poppies.” I was enthralled the power-trio live show at Bowery, and I’d make an argument that you only come away with a deeper appreciation for the record after seeing her perform.

08) Jim O'Rourke - Friends with Benefits: Rather embarrassingly I didn’t even know Jim O’Rourke had a solo career outside of his production/mixing duties, but all it took was hearing this song (which opens Simple Songs) to get hooked on the record. I’ve read that it’s not as strong as some of his other albums, and if that’s the case then bring it on. “It's been quite a long, long time, But not enough to find a line, To get me going once again. Just one word I could respect, But then what do I expect? You missed that boat a long time ago”

09) Sufjan Stevens - All of Me Wants All of You: One of the highlights of the year was the re-opening of Kings Theatre, possibly the most beautiful concert venue I have been to, and it’s a short walk from my apartment. I mention this because Sufjan was the first person I saw play there. Carrie and Lowell is certainly one of the darlings choice this year, but it’s an album that deserves the heady praise.

10) Earl Sweatshirt - DNA (feat. Nakel): It’s fair to say that an album called I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is not going to get your pulses racing, but I often find the saddest, depressing albums have more beauty. Sparse arrangements are the key to this album, which is also lyrically pretty bleak.

11) Follakzoid – Earth: Another FW entry - Chile, and in particular, Santiago’s blossoming psyche scene has spawned numerous bands that are producing some of the best music of the last decade. Along with The Holydrug Couple, the other premier-league band is the krautrock-influenced Föllakzoid, they wowed me at Rough Trade earlier in the year, and the band’s third album (helpfully titled III) is my personal #1 release of 2015. If you just want to get into an involuntary groove, III will do that; most the songs are long and repetitive pieces that have a pulse. While previous material has had more of a straight-up krautrock 4/4 snare-driven rhythm, III concentrates on the bass drum and toms to create a deeper trance, the bass guitar is like a lullaby that plunges you in deeper, while the guitars and keyboards float in and out, delivering the odd jab. You don’t listen to Föllakzoid, you are a slave to them.

12) Viet Cong - Bunker Buster: Too much has been said about the band’s name, which is a pretty boring topic if you ask me (the band are set to change it at some point), as Salman Rushdie said “'Nobody has the right to not be offended”. The unfortunate side issue has taken away discussion about what is one of the strongest albums of the year, which also has one of the best songs I have heard in years, Death, which featured on Q#101. Bunker Buster is one for people to nerd out to a little bit with its 6/4 beat.

13) Deerhunter – Breaker: Fading Frontier seems like a bit more of a low-key album after 2013’s glam-tinged Monomania, but it does get under your skin just like any Deerhunter album can. Breaker is just a downright beautiful song. “I'm alive, I don't credit the source, I just drive, And then the fog rolls in And then they're blind. My enemies, They're just trying, Trying to kill me”

14) Mac McCaughan - Lost Again: Superchunk frontman Mac McCAughan released his first “solo” album (discounting his Portastatic albums…) and Non-Believers veers more towards the melodic side of early 80s post-punk rather than the darker, more angular sounds that the genre seems exclusively wedded to these days. “All these houses are split in two, I'm driving down your street, I'm kind of looking for you, But I'm kind of looking for me”

15) The Holydrug Couple – Concorde: Plagiarising myself again - Chile’s grip as psych-rock leaders strengthened this year with a slew of releases, mostly from Blow Your Mind records and their two flagship bands, The Holydrug Couple and Follakzoid, both put out stellar records. Moonlust is the duo’s third album, and their second via New York label, Sacred Bones. There is more focus on texture and keyboards than Pink-Floyd-esque guitars of earlier material, but it’s a move they take in their stride. If you want to relax and bliss out for 40-minutes I can’t recommend a better option than Moonlust.

16) Sheer Agony - I Have a Dream: These Canadians (they are from Montreal) might win an award for most inappropriate name, because Sheer Agony are anything but to hear. Sticking to a somewhat tongue-in-cheek approach, their record is called Masterpiece. The band identify as Soft Boys Worship, and it’s as good a reference as any. I Have a Dream is one of the singles from the album (whatever that means these days), and while I would have used a different track but for time constraints, it’s a short jab of delightful jangle-pop.

17) Twerps – Stranger: There does seem to be an almost quintessential sound to Aussie (and Kiwi) indie-rock, and Twerps nail it. Range Anxiety seems to have been somewhat unfairly left off many end of year lists, which might be due to it being released so early in the year that people forget, or maybe they just don’t have great taste, who knows.

18) Mikal Cronin - Made My Mind Up: I think Mikal Cronin should be a bit of a superstar, with three fantastic albums in his discography, his live shows are also consistently impressive. Released on Merge, the helpfully titled III, continues to show off his songwriting hooks.

19) John Carpenter – Vortex: Yes, horror director John Carpenter released one of the most compelling records of 2015, via New York’s Sacred Bones label. Very much a cult icon for his soundtrack work as much as his direction, Lost Themes is strictly speaking his debut “album”.

20) Jessica Pratt - On Your Own Love Again: This is the title-track to Jessica’s second album, released on Drag City. If you want a folky/finger-picked record of 2015, most people will steer you towards Sufjan Stevens, but Jessica’s album is a real hidden gem. “I guess I'll try to keep on believing, You're just someone out there in chains, You're just here on your own love again”

And there you have it. My gig-going was down a little bit, I made it to 125 shows (down from 147 and 155 of the two previous years), but still a pretty respectable score! Anyway, here is hoping 2016 is a good year for everyone, it hasn’t started terribly well with the tragic loss of David Bowie!

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q105

Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/2c86yq12xhqx7oq/Q105.zip

Monday, 30 November 2015

Q#104 - October - November 2015

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q104
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/1a8v2m7djf4o74h/Q104.zip

Q’s Compilations
Volume #104 October - November 2015

Greetings! A busy few weeks to say the least; I became a US citizen; thanksgiving has just come and gone, and I’m looking forward to spending some time at home for the first time since last December (it has been far too long). Many things are driving me crazy but this is the last mix of the year, so I hope everyone ends it well, 2016 can only be better, here’s hoping. In the meantime, music helps, and here are some of the things I’ve been listening to lately.

01) Slonk Donkerson – Sonata: Anyone who follows my writing on Free Williamsburg (and previously My Social List – RIP), or even these mixes, will know of my love of Slonk Donkerson. The band just released their “first” (but really their third) album, The Lunar Martini Motorbike Club and Their Respective Destinies, and it is a refreshing, ambitious rock album, classic in many ways. In the last few years there has been a tendency for rock bands in New York to take a harder, warts-and-all approach, but the band’s keen ear for melody and composition sets them apart from many groups these days.

02) Cold Beat - Broken Lines: I was fortunate enough to catch San Francisco’s Cold Beat at Union Pool this summer, after the band released Into the Air. There isn’t much to say about this apart from loving that joyful jangle!

03) Girls Names – Recitence: Northern Ireland 4-piece Girls Names followed up 2013’s The New Life (which was probably the most overlooked album of that year, though not by me) this year with Arms Around a Vision, which is a little more new wave than the post-punk of the previous album, and it’s a move that the band handle with aplomb. I’m impatiently waiting for another New York show.

04) Lilys - The Hermit Crab: Of all the bands that recently played the CMJ Music Marathon, it was a rare show from Lilys that was my favourite set, celebrating a 21st anniversary re-release of Eccsame the Photon Band. “You need to be alone, In sand that's warm, Naturally, your death at sea, Is obvious, and fascinating to me”

05) Ultimate Painting - The Chain: I saw Ultimate Painting exactly a year ago and it all screamed “too soon” as the band awkwardly fumbled through a pedestrian, seemingly under-rehearsed set. Fast forward 6 months and I caught the band again, supporting the rather excellent Twerps, and the band seemed almost unrecognisable, playing with a confident swagger that does justice to their recorded material. The comparison to The Velvet Underground is undeniable, but it’s not often a band can pull it off without coming across as mere pretenders. “It's alright to tell the truth, If it hurts then what's the use, In keeping on with this game, It's alright to break the chain”

06) Dick Diver - Waste the Alphabet: Aussie band Dick Diver returned this year with another excellent jangle-pop record, Melbourne, Florida, which continues the excellent work of 2013’s Calendar Days. Unfortunately I missed the band passing through New York as they were excellent when I saw them last year.

07) Simon Doom - Punk Problems: I saw Simon Doom supporting Slonk Donkerson at their recent record release show and was instantly impressed with their melodic tunes. The group don’t have much in the way of recorded songs so far, but you can get this song and a couple of others for a pay-what-you-want price on their bandcamp page: https://simondoom.bandcamp.com/releasesDon’t tell your punk problems to me”

08) Cool Ghouls - The Mile: One of my top recommendations for this year’s CMJ, I will simply re-use what I wrote about them! “If you want west coast, 60s-infused garage-psyche then look no further than San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls. The band’s last album, A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye, was released on Empty Cellar Records, but also check out a brand new tune that is set to be released on Dizzy Bird records later in the month. The group manage to hit all the sunny, poppy notes, without sounding sickly and they know how to turn up the psych dials at just the right moments too.”

09) Ought - Beautiful Blue Sky: Having seen Matt Kivel’s set cut rather criminally short at Elvis Guesthouse at the start of October, I had just enough time to scoot over to Mercury Lounge to see Ought. The influence of The Fall is hard to shake, but considering I’ve never been a fan of Mark E Smith’s rotating band, they obviously manage it! Formed in Montreal, they have just released Sun Coming Down on Constellation Records. “I'm no longer afraid to die, Cause that is all that I have left, Yes! Yes! And I'm no longer afraid to dance tonight, Cause that is all that I have left, Yes! Yes!”

10) Jeffrey Lewis and Los Bolts – Thunderstorm: Jeffrey Lewis is one of those artists you should see live at least once a year, and he has just released a new album called Manhattan. I managed to catch the record release show at Le Poisson Rouge around Halloween and he is always more than entertaining. One song, which I haven’t heard before and isn’t on the record, was about England and how the food is probably his most favourite thing about the country; as if I wasn’t already homesick for curry and real ale…

11) JJUUJJUU - Ancients Future: Sometimes I like to take a blind punt on records when there is a sale, it helps if you know the label is reliable, as is the case with Beyond Beyond is Beyond records, but there is still that nerve-wracking moment of uncertainty until needle hits vinyl. What I can tell you now is that Phil Pirrone creates the kind of slow, swirly, psychedelic soundscapes that would grace any record in the genre.

12) Sannhet – Revisionist: There are numerous labels to which you can attribute this band; post-rock, shoegaze, noise, metal, but all of those seem a little unfair. The best way to experience the band is in a live setting, however, and thankfully I’ve managed to do that twice this year. This is the title track from their album that was released in March.

13) Unwound – December: I think my most-listened to band of 2015 is probably Unwound, having devoured Numero’s re-issue series on the trio, which has now come to a conclusion with the recently released Empire, which covers the band’s last two albums; Challenge for a Civilized Society and Leaves Turn Inside You. “December night, I'm told I had my obligations. December night, I tried and tried and tried, but…”

14) The Scientists - High Noon: Another Numero re-issue… this time in the shape of Australian band The Scientists’ 1981 self-titled debut album. Filled with plenty of pop-hooks, they would probably have been huge if they were from New York.

15) Dinosaur Jr - The Leper: Dinosaur Jr’s debut album has just reached its 30th anniversary, and the band are celebrating with 7 sold out shows at Bowery Ballroom, in which they will play the album in full; I managed to get a ticket for one of them.

16) Slothrust – Crockpot: Boston trio Slothrust recently supported Nada Surf at Webster Hall, and while it took them a few songs to get going, it wasn’t too hard to be won over by their slacker-indie demeanour. “I like cats, do you like cats? Of course you do you sassy motherfucker”

17) Velcro Lewis Group - No Dream: As with the JJUUJJUU, I took a blind punt on another Beyond Beyond Is Beyond album, and couldn’t help but love the foot-stomping, soul-tinged rock and roll of this Chicago band. Facebook profiles often come up with some wanky or jokey description but this band definitely get the words right: Funk rock occultists, The Velcro Lewis Group, bring the harmonies of Motown, the groove of Stax, the drugs of Hawkwind, and the drive of Bohannon to their own LSD-laced barbecue of sound.

18) Okkervil River - No Key, No Plan: Black Sheep Boy has just had a 10-year anniversary re-issue, and it is definitely an album worthy of celebration. I remember I was given a burnt-cd copy (remember when people used to do that?) and before the second song had finished I’d ordered the album myself. It’s one of my favourite albums of the last 10 years and I was thrilled to see the band play the whole thing (plus the appendix) recently at Bowery Ballroom. “You float up high and it isn't a sin. And there isn't a hell where we'll be sent. There's only now, and there isn't then. So just breathe it in.”

19) Silversun - Too Much Too Little Too Late: Indecision gets too much sometimes and you just have to give in to the ipod shuffle, but at least that throws up songs that you haven’t heard in a while that might hit you in a different way than when you last heard them. I love Silversun for the high-octane power-pop, possibly the most sugar-doused sound ever put on record… this cover of Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams’ duet was a minor hit for the band in 1998. Well, 2016 will be a new year. Cheers.

I didn’t really even have time to think about this mix too much, but after a couple of plays I’m really happy with the ebb and flow of it. There might not be that much variation but I think it is well paced and is a mix of new songs and other relevant milestones. The next mix will be the usual round-up of my favourite releases of the year. Once again I hope everyone has as good a winter as possible, spend time with loved ones, and try to give a little kindness to someone you think might be struggling. See you on the other side.

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q104
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/1a8v2m7djf4o74h/Q104.zip

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Q#103 - August - September 2015

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q103
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/j60gtfuesj51rt3/Q103.zip

Q’s Compilations
Volume #103 August – September 2015

As I write these notes, summer is officially OVER, and yet it’s still over 20 degrees C, but Autumn is possibly the best time to be in New York, and I’m looking forward to another change of season.

01) Alex G - After Ur Gone: I’m not entirely sure why Alex G’s catchy lo-fi indie-pop tunes generally fly under the radar where someone like Mac DeMarco has become a superstar (don’t get me wrong, I like him just fine). This track opens his album, DSU, released last year, but he’s also fairly prolific, with a slew of releases to date. His next album, Beach Music, will be released in October.

02) Young Guv - Kelly, I'm Not a Creep: Young Guv is Ben Cook, guitarist in Fucked Up, but his solo project has a much sunnier disposition, with hints of Big Star and Cheap Trick. Sometimes you can look into deeper meanings or messages in music, but I just love the sound and pop sensibility here. The album, Ripe 4 Luv, is out on Slumberland Records. “wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back”

03) Expert Alterations - A Bell: I recently saw this band supporting Literature at Cake Shop and thought they stole the show. Their live sound was a big fuller than this recording, but I picked up their self-titled EP, and wasn’t too surprised to find out that it too, is also a Slumberland Records release…

04) Royal Headache – Carolina: Australian bands always seem to attract a crowd in New York, it must be the ex-pat thing. On the surface, the band sound like a fairly standard garage rock band but frontman Shogun has a raspy, soulful vocal that sets them apart from a lot of acts at the moment. With uncertainty over whether the band will continue, there may not be much more of where this came from. I saw the band recently at Saint Vitus and they put a lot of energy into their performance. “She’s been waiting for the train down by the bus”

05) Nada Surf - Whose Authority (live): There’s little I can say about Nada Surf that I haven’t said before, they are one of the most important bands in my life, in many ways they feel like my band, like I have a personal investment in them. They are set to release a live album via pledgemusic called Live at the Neptune. This song is originally from 2008’s Lucky. I’m excited to be seeing the band again in November. “How do you stay where You most want to be? Where'd you get the patience, Did it come easily?”

06) Tenement - Feral Cat Tribe: Of all the great bands who played Don Giovanni Records’ annual showcase back in February (Priests, Brick Mower, Screaming Females, etc), I was most impressed with Wisconsin band Tenement. The band recently released a double LP called Predatory Headlights, and it’s certainly one of my favourites of the year. “I don’t care for the way it was before, anymore”

07) Vuelveteloca – Sharks: Regular readers/listeners should know of my love for Chilean bands in the last few years, and I’ve got a bunch for you on this mix, starting with the latest offering from Vuelveteloca. Pantera is the groups fourth album and sees the band going back to a rockier sound, after the more Stone-Roses-ish Dias de Calor.

08) The Ganjas - Twisted River: Possibly the first band of the recent wave of Chilean psych bands of the last decade is The Ganjas. After Dark is the their first album since 2011’s The Resistance, and was released on BYM Records (their first on the label).

09) Wand - Self Hypnosis in 3 Days: Due to association and a similar sound, the mention of Ty Segall is rarely far from Wand’s name. However, their album, Golem, may just be better than anything Ty has released himself! I’m looking forward to seeing the band again in November, having seen them at Death By Audio this time last year (RIP), though I did see singer Cory Hanson play a solo acoustic set in June. 

10) Survival Knife - Tropic of Chaos: I’ve become pretty enchanted with the band Unwound, thanks to Numero’s incredible reissue efforts, and two members of the band, singer/guitarist Justin Trosper and original drummer Brandt Sandeno (who left Unwound in 1992, replaced by Sara Lundt), formed Survival Knife in 2012. This song is taken from the band’s EP, Suvrivalized.

11) Trementina - Fall Into Your Bed: I used Trementina back in July last year, and the Chilean band go from strength to strength, this tune keeps with their My Bloody Valentine influence but just sounds so pretty. I think it might be my favourite song on the mix.

12) Evans the Death – Sledgehammer: Another band that has appeared before on this series, I used Telling Lies in September 2013(Q#91) and the band have since released another album, Expect Delays, which isn’t quite as immediate as the self-titled debut but with a little perseverance the songs are starting to seep in. They’re playing at CMJ this year so I’m looking forward to getting a chance to see them.

13) Adelaida – Holograma: Another Chilean band! This group recently recorded in New York at Rubber Tracks, although I’m not aware of any shows they played. The quartet are from Valparaíso, to the west of Santiago on the coast.

14) Mark Lanegan Band - Harvest Home: I’m a big fan of Mark Lanegan, but despite Phantom Radio being released last year I only just got round to buying it, but it is certainly of his usual high standard. “Happy that I'm made of stone, To grieve that I cause is my cause to a tone”

15) Miss Garrison – Playas: This is a newer tune from the Chilean trio, who album DeAab, was released in 2012. The band did record a couple of tracks at New York’s Rubber Tracks studio in 2013, which is when I managed to catch them live, and have been following keenly since. Hopefully they make a return soon. This song has a bit of a Radiohead vibe to it.

16) Toy - You Won't Be the Same: I managed to see Brighton-band Toy at Glasslands (RIP) last January, their first NYC show, I think I might have reviewed it for My Social List (RIP), but can’t quite remember, maybe I won tickets. I was impressed with the bands driving krautrock rhythms but only just bought the album, Join the Dots, recently in a sale.

17) Surf Rock is Dead – Anymore: This duo, by way of Melbourne and Chicago make very pretty and shiny indie-rock. There is a little C86 in there, of course, and general pop sensibilities, I saw the band play at some kind of free block party where of course, no-one was paying attention, but they played really well.

18) Sharon Van Etten - I Don't Want to Let You Down: Fellow Ditmas Park resident, Sharon Van Etten (I still haven’t bumped into her, though), released I Don’t Want to Let You Down a few months ago, and this is obviously the title track. It doesn’t stray too far from what she’s known for, and I felt the need to play it whilst feeling bad about myself and eating ice cream. It’s that kind of release. “Decompress, Calm your head, Teach you not to rush, Turn them out to see your words”

19) Wilco - Taste the Ceiling: Wilco surprised everyone in August by releasing their ninth album, Star Wars, for free digitally, with a CD release later in the month (vinyl to come in October). It has all the usual Wilco qualities to it, and this song was co-written with Tweedy and Scott McCaughey, who people should recognise from Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows, and of course, an extended member of REM. “I know why you don't really know me, I don't think you can call it home, All alone I couldn't taste another thing”

20) Alfonso Lovo - La Bomba de Neutron: Nicaraguan guitarist Alfonso Lovo got the Numero treatment in 2012 with his record, La Gigantona, to much success. Surviving a plane hijacking, where he was shot in the hand and torso multiple times, Lovo recovered after several surgeries to continue making music.

21) Robbie Fulks - Rock Bottom, Population 1: My friend Brian is a huge fan of Robbie Fulks so I wanted to see what the fuss was about, I’m not usually much of a country guy but Fulks has the knid of inclusive quality that goes beyond a genre. He can mix up sad and funny songs at the drop of a hat which is a rare quality I admire.

22) What Moon Things - Sun, Where's the Fire: New Paltz, upstate New York, is where this trio are from, and I saw them make the trek into the city to open for Viet Cong in January. The groups quiet-loud-quiet template and sound reminded me a little of Cymbals Eat Guitars, and I happily picked up their record after the set.

I’ve rushed the notes a little but that’s par for the course these days, I’m pretty busy at the moment and everything just seems to be hectic beyond control. It’ll be 2016 soon enough I guess! As ever, please do contact me about the mixes, I love to get feedback.

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q103
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/download/j60gtfuesj51rt3/Q103.zip