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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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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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

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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Q#118 - February to March 2018

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Q's Compilations
Vol #118 – February to March 2018

Greetings and welcome to the first real mix of the year, I’ve got mostly brand-new releases for you in what is hopefully a year of being able to celebrate new things.

01) Superchunk – What a Time to be Alive: This is the title track to Superchunk’s first record in four years, and it might even be their first politically-tinged release. Wonder what could have led to that! It’s another triumphant and anthemic record in the vein of their last few records since Majesty Shredding. I can’t wait to see them twice in April. “To see the rot in no disguise, Oh what a time to be alive, The scum, the shame, the fucking lies, Oh what a time to be alive”

02) Jawbreaker – Jinx Removing: Having appreciated their influence but not really paid too much attention to the band over the years, their reformation still seemed like something I shouldn’t miss when they announced a show at Brooklyn Steel in February. The band didn’t disappoint and this tune in particular struck a chord. “I love you more than I ever loved anyone before, or anyone to come, Someone said your name, I thought of you alone, I was just the same twenty blocks away”

03) Hot Snakes – Death Campy Fantasy: Speaking of bands getting back together, I saw Hot Snakes back in November and they just released their first record since 2004’s Audit in Progress with Jericho Sirens via Sub Pop. This was one of the singles off the album (which I have yet to hear at the time of writing) which continues to prove that if you put Rick Froberg and John Reis together then little can go wrong.  

04) Screaming Females – I’ll Make You Sorry: The New Brunswick trio just released their 7th studio album, All At Once, and it’s a double record (I picked up the 3LP set with bonus demos), once again released via Don Giovanni. It’s their poppiest record yet, interspersed with perhaps some of their least commercial work to date, but All at Once is definitely about pop hooks and melody.

05) Jessica Lea Mayfield – Offa My Hands: Whilst scouring show-listings recently for inspiration I enjoyed a bunch of tunes by Jessica Lea Mayfield, her songs seem to have a perfect mix of melody and melancholy. She released her fourth record, Sorry Is Gone, last year. I ended up missing her shows at the Mercury Lounge and Bowery Electric recently but can hopefully catch a future show. “Every single DNA strand, Gotta wash you offa my hands”

06) Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It: Ruby Boots is an Aussie currently based in Nashville and this is another new release from February (this is the title track). While Rolling Stone called her one of the ten new country artists you should listen to, there’s plenty of rock and pop on a nicely varied record.

07) Rilo Kiley – Wires & Waves: The first song on the mix that isn’t from this year, and I can’t really tell you why I thought to put it on the mix, it just seemed to flow. Originally released in 2001, Take Offs and Landings captures the band at their most charming. While the band has officially broken up, one still hopes for a reunion.

08) The Men – Rose on Top of the World: Back to new releases, back on Sacred Bones following 2016’s self-released Devil Music, Drift is the group’s seventh album. This song could scarcely sound more like Meat Puppets if they tried, which is a good thing given how much I love them.

09) Anna Burch – Tea-Soaked Letter: Quit the Curse is Anna Burch’s debut record (via Polyvinyl) and I caught a lovely show at Rough Trade back in February in support of its release. There’s no re-inventing the wheel here, just nice jangle-pop.

10) Nada Surf – Stalemate: Celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of Let Go (or the sixteenth if, like me, you are far more used to the European release), New York’s finest band played the record in full at Brooklyn Steel recently. The performance was fantastic, but the second set was even better as they delivered a bunch of songs I had not heard them play in a decade (or more), including Stalemate from the band’s debut album, Let Go. Performed live, they even threw in their short cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart just like they used to do in the old days as well. It was perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had at a concert (they played a 31-song set in total) and try as I might, I feel like I always fail to convey how much the band mean to me.

11) B Boys – Discipline: This song was supposed to go on the last mix (my best-of-2017), I haven’t seen B-Boys play live since Death By Audio closed in 2014 and that seems like a gross oversight. Their debut album (Dada) was released last year on Captured Tracks.

12) Fletcher C Johnson – Summer: Whilst flipping through the discounted vinyl at Rough Trade I picked up Lesson in Tenderness for $5, which is fitting since I also bought his debut record for $5 at Rough Trade too. There’s a little more variety on this record but I seem to have chosen the song that sounds like it could have been on the debut!

13) Squeeze – Pulling Muscles (From the Shell): I’ve had a real Squeeze itch for about six months and I’m not sure where it came from (other than always liking Squeeze), so I picked up one of the numerous greatest hits packages. I’m a little bummed in hindsight that I didn’t catch a recent show at the Beacon theatre, but hopefully there will be future chances. 2017’s The Knowledge was a pretty good record, though this opens the classic ArgyBargy from 1980.

14) Anya Marina – Ordinary Dude: I was introduced to Anya Marina’s music on a trip to New Jersey last year and am catching a show in a few weeks, this tune is from her last record, 2016’s Paper Plane and appeals to the pop-sensibility of this mix. “You’re not some formula that I set out to prove”

15) David Byrne – Everybody’s Coming to My House: Having managed to get tickets to see David Byrne at the magnificent Kings Theatre in September, it probably seemed like a good idea to check out the single for his new record. Thankfully it’s a good one! “We're only tourists in this life, Only tourists but the view is nice”

16) Gaz Coombes – Deep Pockets: Supergrass main-man Gaz Coombes is set to release his third solo record, World’s Strongest Man, in May and he played a couple of shows in March in support of it. While the set was mostly devoid of Supergrass songs, the quality of his solo material meant it didn’t seem missed (though the biggest cheer of the night when I saw him was Moving by some distance!).

17) Ought – Desire: The Montreal quartet just released their third fantastic record, Room Inside the World, and their first on Merge Records. Desire is the second single from the record and shows how the band are growing as songwriters, it has a triumphant feel to it

18) Destroyer – Hey, Snow White: I bought a mystery vinyl bundle from Merge Records around Christmas time which ended up including Destroyer’s 2002 record This Night. He didn’t play this song when I saw him at Brooklyn Steel in January, but I just felt like throwing it on this mix. After the show I felt like I’d had my fill of rock-based saxophone, however (it was a good show)!

19) Cayetana – Easy to Love: Another song that I meant to put on last month’s mix (there are usually more than two, to be fair), New Kind of Normal was released last year via Plum Records and I saw the band twice, once opening for Waxahatchee and once opening for The Hold Steady. Keen listeners will remember Mesa from Q#113.

20) Aimee Mann – Paper Boats: To celebrate Let Go’s 15th anniversary (again… 16th if you’re European…), Nada Surf put out a charity album of bands covering its songs. The biggest name involved is Aimee Mann, who puts her own spin on the albums’ closer. It’s one of those covers that 100% captures the spirit of the original. “Sit on a train, reading a book, Same damn planet every time I look, Try to relax and slow my heartbeat, Only works when I'm dead asleep, Been thinking and drinking all over the town, Must be gearing up for some kind of meltdown”

I’m pretty pleased with this mix, it’s usually the ones with completely new songs that I’m most excited about and I hope you heard something that pricked your ear. Speaking of new, I’ll be living in a new apartment by the time the next mix gets released.

As always, Peace and Love

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Friday, 19 January 2018

Q#117 - December 2017 to January 2018

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Q's Compilations
Vol #117 – December 2017 to January 2018

Greetings! If you’re reading this, then congratulations on surviving 2017, it certainly wasn’t without its troubles, but there were some truly wonderful moments too. As is the norm, the first mix of the year is a “best of”, which is more of a “best acts of 2017” since I may already have used songs I preferred already and don’t want to double up, but you get the idea!

01) Metz - Mess of Wires: The Toronto trio will most likely never change, and sometimes that isn’t a bad thing. While their third album, Strange Peace, is probably different enough to stop things getting completely stale, their trademark pummelling approach is unyielding. This track opens the record.

02) Feral Ohms - Living Junkyard: One of the best shows I saw this year was a free Feral Ohms set in Union Pool’s back garden. Another band who are just simply relentless both live and on record, it was a hard task picking a track from their self-titled album from this year, but needless to say, if you enjoy this song, there’s more!

03) Waxahatchee – Silver: I’m just going to be lazy here and re-use what I wrote for FreeWilliamsburg’s top 25 albums of 2017 post! I saw Waxahatchee early in the year as a duo opening for The New Pornographers, and I’ve always preferred Katie Crutchfield’s songs when they’re delivered at their slowest and most bare, so while I enjoyed the first single from the record (Silver), I was hoping the bigger sound wasn’t going to be the norm. However, the sign of a great writer is to take you along with them and turn you around, and Out in the Storm is her best effort yet, with more layers and more guitars than before, turns out their all the better for it!

04) The Courtneys - Silver Velvet: I used Country Song back on Q#112, but this might just be the most me song of 2017. The first non-kiwi band to sign to the legendary Flying Nun label, I’ve conspired to miss them the couple of times they have played in New York and hope to not make it a hat-trick the next time. The Vancouver trio released II in February. “Can't get you out of my head, Even through the miles, I know that it is wrong but you, Just seem to drive me wild. And nothing you say and nothing you do, Can stop me from thinking about you, Doesn't matter if it's right, You're just the one I like”

05) Alex Napping - Temperamental Bed: I used the near-perfect Living Room on Q#112, which is on the band’s second album, Mise En Place which was released in May. The rest of the album doesn’t quite hit the same heights but it’s a delightful record. “How do you talk about a moment?”

06) Ryan Adams – Doomsday: Another of my FreeWilliamsburg contributions (the title track appeard on Q#113) - Sometimes a record comes along that just captures you in the moment. I’d dipped in and out of Ryan Adams’ discography about 15 years ago but I didn’t feel it at the time and never went back. However, I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an album so many times in a single year than I have done Prisoner, since I was a teenager. The title track in particular tackles that well-worn subject of forbidden love perfectly that even great writers can only manage sparingly, if at all. While some may prefer Adams in a more rustic vein, the immaculate production is another triumph here, and though I could understand people saying that it’s perhaps a bit too similar to his self-titled album from 2014, and even though this ends up as #6 on our list, it’s hard for me to see past this being my personal favourite of 2017 by some distance. “Can you stand and face your fears, my love? I will for you. I could stand in just one place, my love, And never move. As the fire burns around us in the dark, One part is the world and one's my heart”

07) Future Islands – Shadows: I used Aladdin on Q#113, and with The Far Field, the band kept the same formula that worked so well for them on Singles. For that reason, it seems to have been forgotten somewhat on most end-of-year lists, which is probably fair. It’s still a good record overall, albeit somewhat safe. A victim of their own success, perhaps.

08) Curtis Harding - Wednesday Morning Atonement: Another Free Williamsburg blurb: Anyone who follows Free Williamsburg won’t be surprised to see Curtis represented in this list, we’ve been huge supporters since the very beginning. His debut album, Soul Power, was so good that the three years it took for Face Your Fear to come out has seemed like an age. It has, however, been worth the wait, and while the debut was laced with horns and guitars, his latest effort is more like a contemporary take on smoother soul, with keyboards coming to the fore. The star of the show, is of course, Harding’s vocal delivery, which is even better than before. Not only is he continuing to be the only modern soul artist I can think of that doesn’t sound derivative of the past, his latest efforts show another great quality, someone who doesn’t want to make the same record twice. “Hello children, Well it's been, Such a very long time, Now I've finally found the mind, To explain, Where I've been living, Now I know I'm here to stay, Waiting on this better day”

09) Big Thief - Shark Smile: Another FW rip! Brooklyn-based quartet Big Thief stepped up their game massively in 2017, and that’s saying something after their 2016 debut, Masterpiece. While the former was a wonderful record, Capacity somehow manages to handle the fragile melodies and delicate finger picked guitar parts with so much more confidence, while also becoming more bare and intimate at the same time; quite the achievement. As long as Adrianne Lenker and co keep putting out records this beautiful, we won’t have to pine for the days when Mark Kozelek could remember what a vocal melody sounded like. “And she said woo, Baby, take me, And I said woo, Baby, take me too”

10) Molly Burch - Please Be Mine: Oops, I thought I was diligent but I just noticed that I did already use this track on Q#114 (and I’d used my favourite track from the record, Please Forgive Me on Q#112!). Probably the most chilled release of 2017.

11) The Magnetic Fields - Have You Seen It In the Snow: Stephin Merrit released 50 Song Memoir this year (he actually turned 50 in 2015 but that’s a minor technicality), with one song for each year of his life. As one can imagine, it’s a bit much to be memorable all the way through, but it still has all the classic vibes of a Magnetic Fields record. “They say this city is dirty and gray, But I think it's pretty on a summer day, And on rainy nights, When the streets smudge the lights, It's beautiful, you know”

12) No Joy – Hellhole: No Joy went shoegaze on their Creep EP from February 2017, and it’s a move they pull off with great aplomb.

13) Dream Wife – Somebody: I have to admit, I was somewhat struggling for inspiration at times with this mix, and while searching for upcoming gigs, realised I hadn’t actually checked out Dream Wife yet amid some hype I’ve heard. The London-based trio (via Icland and Brighton) are releasing their debut record in 2018 but tunes like this (which was released on the Fire EP this year) make for one of the most anticipated for the year.

14) Priests – JJ: My Free Williamsburg blurb again: While DC political-punks Priests have been around since 2012, this year saw the release of their debut full-length album, Nothing Feels Natural, via their own Sister Polygon label. The album has more of a post-punk influence than the earlier Eps and despite the name of the record, it definitely feels like a natural move for the quartet. Priests are perhaps the best current example of a band that are the sum of their parts, with Taylor Mulitz (bass) and Daniele Daniele (drums) forming one of the most interesting rhythm sections around, GL Jaguar’s classic post-punk tone, and Katie Alice Greer’s vocals have found an expanded range and sound from their earlier Eps that go perfectly with the new material.

15) Thundercat - Them Changes: Drunk came out with a lot of acclaim in 2017 but I felt like the praise had died down somewhat by the end of the year, and that might be a fair reflection of the kind of record it is, there’s a lot to love on a couple of listens, but the highlights appear few and far between on closer inspection. It is, however, still an enjoyable record with some fantastic bass work in particular.

16) Destroyer - Cover From the Sun: I didn’t give Ken a whole lot of thought when it was released in October but when it came to cramming in some records for research purposes I found it a very strong record. It seems unfair to say that I find it harder to separate Dan Bejar from New Pornographers than Neko Case or AC Newman, especially given that Destroyer is further removed than their solo work is. Alas, this is one of the more straightforward songs from the album but the sugar rush drew me to it for this mix.

17) Justin Currie - I'll Leave It To You: His fourth solo release, possibly the one person outside and friends and family who has had the most impact on me as a person, This Is My Kingdom Now goes back to more of a What Is Love For vibe (his first solo record after Del Amitri). This is a typically sombre affair as most of his piano-led songs are, but there are some delightful harmonies here too!

18) Pile – Texas: A Hairshirt of Purpose saw Boston’s Pile kick things up a notch, with more intensity and focus, which seemed a hard task considering 2015’s You’re Better Than This seemed hard for them to top.

19) Guided By Voices - Cheap Buttons: What can one say about Guided By Voices, and Robert Pollard in particular, that hasn’t been said before. August By Cake was Pollard’s 100th release of his career. That’s right… one-hundred. And he still managed to get another one out by the end of the year. Augusts By Cake was the band’s first double-record and it flies by with all the hallmarks of a great GBV record.

20) Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires - Save My Life!: My last Free Williamsburg bit: We’ve liked Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires since first stumbling onto a set at CMJ in 2014, and while their record at the time was a blaze of AC/DC-inspired southern rock and roll (released via Sub Pop), I was very excited to hear that they had signed to Don Giovanni Records for what would be their third album, Youth Detention. The rough edges have been sharpened and while the fire is still there in spades, I would say Youth Detention is perhaps the best radio-rock album I have heard in many a year, the songs hit fast and true but are filled with catchy hooks and one can’t help but feel like this is an album that should be in everyone’s car. This is a record that deserves to be paid for, and played loud, with a smile on your face.

21) Steven Wilson – Detonation: Steven Wilson turned 50 this year and released his fifth solo record, To the Bone, though I have to confess I’m rather lukewarm to it. He’s either a victim of his own success for me or more likely, I don’t think his work is challenging or changing enough, which has been the case since Porcupine Tree’s 2002 In Absentia record. Granted, his first couple of solo records seemed an uptick from PT’s end. I threw this on the end because I didn’t know where else to put it, and then since forgot I had omitted songs by B Boys and Cayetana. Alas, it’s not exactly a bad record and I do like this song!

And there we have it, 2017, folks. There’s a lot of hard work ahead for 2018 but I’m hopeful it’s going to be an excellent one despite some turbulence, the future looks bright in many ways.  

As always, Peace and Love

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