Monday, 27 March 2017

Q#112 February - March 2017

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Q’s Compilations
Volume #112 February to March 2017

The clocks have changed, we’re officially in Spring (though a recent snowstorm didn’t make it seem that way a couple of weeks ago), and most importantly, Oxford United are playing a Wembley final on the 2nd of April. Usually the Feb/March mix of each year is a “crap, I forgot to put this song on the previous mix” but this one has a fair amount of brand new songs.

01) Magaly Fields – These Lights: It probably hasn’t been a while since I used a Chilean band, but it feels like it. Magaly Fields are Tomas Stewart (guitar/vocals) and Diego Cifuentes (drums/vocals). They recently played at SXSW and I was hoping that would mean a show in New York but alas, none so far. This track is considered a “leftover” from their 2014 debut album, Chromatic Days, and was released on a 7” single last summer.

02) Cherubs – Unhappyable: Texas-trio Cherubs released a couple of excellent downtuned noise rock in the early 90s but broke up in 1994 in fairly typical rock-band fashion with an actual fight after a show. They reunited in 2014 and released the excellent 2 YNFYNYTY in 2015. I’ll be seeing them at Saint Vitus in April.

03) Heaters – Kamikaze: I’ve been a fan of Michigan psych-band Heaters for a few years without actually owning anything by them, but finally bought Holy Water Pool in a sale and this track opens the record. They have since released another album, Baptistina, which is also another excellent psych album.

04) Overlake – Winter is Why: On the hunt for something new to listen to, I actually sifted through the myriad of press releases in my inbox and this one caught my ears immediately. While their influences are obvious (you could be forgiven for thinking this was by Slowdive), I’m a sucker for the sound. Overlake’s second album, Fall, will be out in May.

05) Mint Field – El Otro Lugar: I was sad to miss Mexican band Mint Field in New York recently (it was the first time they had played here), especially given the current climate where bands and artists are having a harder time getting visas to play in the US. However, they have been an excellent recent discovery and this track opens their 2015 EP Primeras Salidas. They’ve since released a couple of very shoegaze-y singles which bode well for a future album.

06) No Joy – Califone: No Joy’s most recent release, Creep is their first EP on new label Grey Market. Sonically the band have taken a left-turn and have dialled the treble up from their heavier sound of previous efforts. I saw them recently at Sunnyvale and the new direction suits them (having a Korn concert playing via a projector behind them was a bit confusing, however).

07) Pill – My Rights: I’d been trying to see Brooklyn-band Pill live for at least a couple of years now and had never managed it, but whilst on a weekend break in Nashville I noticed they were playing at Third Man Records, so I finally got to see them! They were excellent and I gleefully picked up their album, Convenience, at the merch table.

08) Robyn Hitchcock – Brenda’s Iron Sledge: Few people are deserving of the term national treasure, but Robyn Hitchcock truly is. I hadn’t seen him perform with a band since 2010 but his recent show at Rough Trade saw him not only play Black Snake Diamond Role in full, but also featured the also-great Yo La Tengo as his backing band. “Please don’t call me Reg, it’s not my name”

09) Kane Strang – Things Are Never Simple: New Zealand often produces quirky songwriters with a keen sense of melody and Kane Strang is another one of that very productive conveyor belt. His first album, Blue Cheese, came out last year and I was bummed I had to miss his recent show at Baby’s All Right (part of his first US tour). “Held her soft and slow, I'll never let you go. I've seen it in my soul, of a boy I don't know and it, Won't work out. Won't work out. Things are never simple”

10) Horse Jumper of Love – Spaceman: Boston trio Horse Jumper of Love have clearly spent a lot of time listening to all the great slowcore bands, a genre I would fully support coming “back”. This track is on their self-titled album, which is coming out in April on a limited pressing

11) Holly Throsby – What Do You Say: Whilst realising I have yet to order the latest Sun Kil Moon album (I can’t remember the last time I didn’t pre-order one), I fell upon this song by Austrlian Holly Throsby, which includes a lovely contribution from Mark Kozelek (quite refreshing to hear him singing rather than the stream of consciousness, almost spoken word delivery he has been doing more recently). “What do you make? I make amends, What do you have? I have my friends, What do you own? I own up to it”

12) Jeff Cowell – And When: Obscure 70s folk album Lucky Strikes and Liquid Gold got the Numero treatment recently. It’s a pretty lonely album and you can feel the weariness oozing out of Cowell frequently over the course of the ten tracks.

13) Molly Burch – Please Forgive Me: I might have found my favourite album of the year so far in the shape of Molly Burch’s debut album, Please Be Mine, which just came out on Captured Tracks in March. Burch’s vocals seem effortless and timeless which fits perfectly with the retro feel of the music. “I met you in the snow, and I thought I could never let you go”

14) William Bell – I’ll Show You: There aren’t too many soul legends left these days, and while William Bell is perhaps one of the lesser celebrated names on Stax, that’s unfair on someone who is one of the true originals. Like most, the quality of his output dipped over the years but 2016’s This is Where I Live was released back on Stax (itself making somewhat of a comeback) and won a grammy. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at the Appel Room in New York which is a lovely setting, and Bell’s voice is still in great shape. This track is, however, was released all the way back in 1963. “If you let me, I know I’ll show you.”

15) The Magnetic Fields – Be True to Your Bar: Stephin Merritt turned 50 in 2015 and just released 50 Song Memoir, which as the title suggests, is 50 songs, with one song per year of his life. This song features his typical sardonic observations! “Be true to your bar, And don’t let it down, Or else it may not always be around, Be true to your friends, And let your friends know, Without your bar you’d have no place to go”

16) Alex Napping – Living Room: Austin quartet Alex Napping are not doing anything remotely original, and that’s ok when you release tunes like this. I was recently walking to meet some friends in the Upper West Side when this song came out, it was a cold day but the sun was shining and I just felt a moment of contentment, even if this song just makes me think about things I can’t have. This is the lead single from the band’s second album, Mise En Place, out on the 5th of May via Father/Daughter records. “I can dream all day about what it’d be like…”

17) Buffalo Tom – Staples: Boston trio Buffalo Tom formed 30 years ago… and are probably the best example of a “solid” band, they never do anything that’s outside of a 6.5 or 7 out of 10, and there’s something to be said for being that damn reliable. The band’s third album, Let Me Come Over is going to be 25 years old and they are playing a show at Bowery Ballroom in May to celebrate. Having never seen them play, I’m definitely looking forward to it.

18) Suuns – Translate: Hold/Still was one of the un-appreciated albums of 2016 and the band’s third. It sounds all the more impressive to know that it’s almost completely live, with very few overdubs. I’ve just tried to write about this a couple of times while listening to it and all I do is end up listening to the song, and that’s praise enough. One of the most mesmerising tracks I’ve heard in a long time. “When you go, It’s broke you can’t figure, Wonder how i can’t make it, Don’t tell”

19) The Sound – Total Recall: I don’t know why exactly I suddenly had a hankering to listen to The Sound but it did make me realise I was missing a couple of records including 1985’s Heads and Hearts, where this song lives. Adrian Borland is an amazing writer and The Sound had it all really. Unfortunately, Borland committed suicide in 1999 by throwing himself in front of a train, he had suffered from depression for years. “You trace back the seconds, Recall the details, From someone will, to someone does, To someone did, you know I did. Oh there must be a hole in your memory, But I can see, I can see a distant victory, A time when you will be with me”

20) The Courtneys – Country Song 1: The Courtney’s are the first band on Flying Nun that aren’t from New Zealand, and I have to confess that I just assumed they were given how the band’s album, The Courtneys II, sounds (released February 2017). The trio are actually from Vancouver, but the music could hardly scream New Zealand any louder. “I pick my head up off the ground again. I know I’m going but I don’t know when.”

21) Ride – Charm Assault: Oxford legends Ride got back together to play some shows in 2015 but are set to release their first album in over 20 years. Weather Diaries is being produced by Erol Alkan and this song definitely has some hints of Going Blank Again to these ears and that can only be a good thing. “Your charm assault, Has scarred the world, It looks so ugly, As your lies begin to unfurl.”

I guess I was in too much of a hurry when I actually mixed this because some of the transitions are pretty bad… sorry about that, maybe you won’t notice anyway. I hope there was plenty to like on here and I will see you again in a couple of months.

Peace and love

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Q#111 December 2016 – January 2017

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Q’s Compilations
Volume #111 December 2016 to January 2017

Here we are, 2017. A common theme throughout last year was the feeling that this year had to be better than 2016, but with an unstable 5-year old in the White House we’ll just have to see how this plays out. As usual, the first mix of the year is a collection of my favourite releases of the previous 12 months, so let’s get to it.

01) The Men – Dreamer: The Men’s sixth album, Devil Music, was self-released via their own “We Are The Men” label, rather than their typical home of Sacred Bones. The record is raw and unrelenting, which is a nice change of pace from the band’s last couple of albums which focused more on sounding like Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.

02) Big Ups - Contain Myself: A staple on the local Brooklyn scene of the last few years, Big Ups were always a high energy shot in the arm when they played live and 2014’s Eighteen Hours of Static was a post-hardcore triumph. However, Before a Million Verses sees the band go up a couple of gears in terms of songwriting and craft, the Slint comparisons are unavoidable but they do it brilliantly.  

03) Jesu & Sun Kil Moon – Carondelet: Kozelek’s output rate doesn’t seem like dropping anytime soon, and there is even a second collaborative album set for release this year called 30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth. Let’s stay on track though, with 2016’s self-titled release, which was a sprawling, diverse record, although Kozelek’s stream-of-consciousness vocals shows no sign of slowing down. It was nice to hear him backed by some chugging guitars.

04) Nothing - The Dead Are Dumb: Nothing made our 2014 list with Guilty of Everything, and while the chunky guitars are still common two years later, it’s when the band tackle a more classic shoegaze sound on Tired of Tomorrow where they really excel; tracks like The Dead Are Dumb, Everyone is Happy and Our Plague have all the floating qualities of Slowdive (with whom they had a brief run-in then make-up over twitter). It’s hard not to get caught up in guitarist/singer Domenic Palermo’s life in the music and lyrics, he was attacked and left with a fractured skull, his father died and then found out the label they were on was being bankrolled by Martin Shkreli. This all makes for a rather downbeat record, but Vertigo Flowers, A.C.D and Curse of the Sun pack enough hooks and punch across the album to stop you falling too far down. “Isn’t it quite the same, And isn’t it such a shame, Too heavy for the lightness, But weightless in the rain, All our words are wasted”

05) Radiohead – Identikit: I got a little nostalgic for this one - The closest I can imagine to living through Beatle-mania was being in Oxford just before OK Computer was released, there was a local build-up that I have never experienced at any time or place since (even though in reality they’ve always been left well alone when I’ve seen them walking the streets of Oxford). Who knows what we would have done if it was terrible. Radiohead’s legacy these days would remain untarnished if they released a 45-minute fart over Thom Yorke beat-boxing, though even after the somewhat tepid King of Limbs, the fervour of 1998 seemed as distant as it should, did the world even need another Radiohead album? For a band with nothing to prove to anyone, they certainly did anyway. A Moon Shaped Pool may be their darkest release yet. Jonny Greenwood’s string arrangements add an extra dimension and the band know when to drench songs in layers or let the arrangements breathe, leaving you hanging on every note. For a record that dips into the archives of unreleased tracks multiple times, it has a more natural flow than any album since Kid A and while some bands benefit from honing their skills on staying on track (more on that later), no band benefits more from pushing themselves into new territory, even after all this time.

06) Holy Fuck – Shivering: The Toronto group’s first album in 5 years, Congrats takes their signature sound and makes you feel as if you’re in the room watching them play. Speaking of which, if you get the chance to see them live, don’t pass it up.

07) A Tribe Called Quest - We the People: Their first album in 18 years, We Got It From Here…Thanks You 4 Your Service, was released shortly after Phife Dawg’s death. My only criticism is that it feels a little long, but the material is among their best and as you can imagine, they have plenty to say about current events.

08) David Bowie – Lazarus: There’s pretty much nothing that can be said about the loss of David Bowie, and what a swansong. Hard to think it’s over a year since he died. “This way or no way, You know I'll be free, Just like that bluebird, Now, ain't that just like me?”

09) La Sera - Too Little Too Late: Yet another of my Free Williamsburg reviews - Few musicians step out from the shadows of a band to produce better work on their own, but when Katy Goodman formed La Sera in 2010 while Vivian Girls (2007-2014) were still active, she has managed just that. Music for Listening to Music to is the band’s fourth album, and the first with with guitarist (and husband) Todd Wisenbaker officially on-board (though he was a major player on 2014’s Hour of the Dawn). Produced by Ryan Adams, the record bops between country twang and Johnny Marr/Peter Buck-influenced arpeggios, while Adams has also coaxed a much more confident vocal performance out of Goodman which you always felt was bubbling under the surface on previous records. Wisenbaker produces an understated guitar masterclass throughout which is worthy of celebration alone. “When it's too little too late, That's when it starts to make the most sense, sense to me, When I look back on my life, That's when I start to cry, my failures come to be, It kills me “

10) The Jigsaw Seen - Let There Be Reverb: I’d honestly just assumed that The Jigsaw Seen had broken up years ago, having fallen in love with My Name Is Tom years ago on the Children of Nuggets boxset, but they never went away. Old Man Reverb is a lovely collection of songs and now I’m playing catchup on the band’s discography.

11) The Posies - Squirrel vs Snake: One of my favourite songwriting duos returned this year with Solid States, their first album in six years. Off the back of drummer Darius Minwalla’s tragic death, some of the subject matters are understandably morose, but there is a lot of positivity too.

12) Fly Ashtray – Mulligan: Fly Ashtray may be New York’s most underappreciated band, and new album We Buy Everything You Have is another stellar set of jangle-infused tunes that frequently stray from songwriting templates.

13) Teenage Fanclub - Thin Air: Teenage Fanclub albums aren’t terribly frequent but you can always bet on them to deliver a gorgeous collection of power-pop tunes a couple of times a decade. I might have cooled on Here from the initial euphoria of a new fannies album, but it’s still another great addition to one of the best discographies around. “And I've been meaning to take a chance on something, I'm a greenfield site for sore eyes, and sore eyes,
Are just needing the light, the shapes and the shadows, Of the space we share, Before it slips into thin air”

14) Robbie Fulks - Aunt Peg's New Old Man: A couple of years ago a friend told me “you’re in America now, you’re going to a country show!” and took me to see Robbie Fulks, I now try and see him every time he plays. Last album, Upland Stories is a bit more downbeat than normal but he does still sneak in some humourous tracks like this one. “She liked just fiddeling, No doubt, Liked his help on the railroad route, And the rest I don't want to think about, Aunt Peg's new old man”

15) Preoccupations – Stimulation: The band formerly known as Viet Cong, Pre-Occupations changed their name this year after catching flack for some time. I think it’s a bit silly for bands to change names, and the list of groups who would have to change their name due to possibly “offending” anyone would be quite long. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the band’s sound.

16) Fear of Men – Sane: I’m just going to copy what I wrote for Free Williamsburg… After the band’s wonderful 2014 debut, Loom, it would have been easy for the Brighton trio to simply rehash the formula of bright guitars and swaying harmonies backing Jessica Weiss’ longing vocals. Rather than accentuate their poppy tendencies, Fall Forever takes a daring step back, focusing on mood and texture, with barely a conventional guitar chord in sight. Fall Forever doesn’t get out of second gear and all the better for it, with sparse drumming and more emphasis on Weiss’ lyrics, who has skipped the metaphors and isn’t afraid to tell us what a terrible year she has had. Everything is laid bare and would fall completely flat in lesser hands, but Fear of Men have made depression sound beautiful, and that is worth clinging to.

17) Springtime Carnivore - Rough Magic: Another of my Free Williamsburg picks… If there is a more vivid break-up album in 2016 then I didn’t hear it, though despite the sometimes bleak lyrics, there is plenty of optimism to be found in the cracks. I was a big fan of the self-titled debut from 2014 and as with that record, Greta Morgan recorded most of the instruments herself, but Midnight Room benefits greatly from pushing her voice way up in the mix. Providing my favourite vocal performance on record this year, her range is astounding as well as choosing when to deliver a restrained croon or belting it out. The record is mostly front-loaded with the upbeat tracks before sending you off on a lullaby, something we discussed in an interview when the album was released (“I only realized recently that the reason I love closing records with a slow song is because of “Goodnight” by The Beatles, which is the perfect closer to on The White Album. I’ve always been a fan of a lullaby goodbye.”). “I couldn't wait, I took the bait, Of a broken fantasy, For a while I was walking tall, Now I'm falling to my knees”

18) Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan - Pay to Cum: Cover albums are hard to pull off, you really have to make the songs your own and both Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan manage that perfectly on Take It It’s Yours, it’s a collection of punk and new wave classics but the tracks are slowed down and the vocals bring out a hidden quality of the lyrics. This is a Bad Brains tune of course.

19) Nada Surf - Victory's Yours: Probably my favourite album of the year, and one I also picked for Free Williamsburg’s round-up Nada Surf should be considered one of New York’s greatest bands, which is a claim only strengthened with the release of You Know Who You Are, their seventh original studio album. Twenty years after their debut High/Low and subsequent surprise hit, Popular, the band have only improved over time (can you say that about any other band who are ever considered a one-hit-wonder early on?). With the addition of cult-guitar hero Doug Gillard as an official member, the now four-piece effortlessly crafted a power-pop record of love, loss, and trying to get by in bleak times; something pertinent in 2016. Matthew Caws has clearly listened to himself, as the chorus in Believe You’re Mine consist of the lines “one day, I’ll love somebody else, one day, I’ll be good to myself”, and as reported in the New York Times, he recently re-married. To hear these songs and see Caws come through the other side gives hope in what seems like a broken year, it has certainly been one of my most listened-to records in some time and I don’t know where I’d be without it. Musically the band don’t veer too far from a template they have near perfected over the course of their career, but sometimes you need that reassuring embrace of an old friend, or a favourite band… Nada Surf have almost single-handedly saved 2016. “Some days just won't start, I wake up and it falls apart, Spend my time trying to figure you out but, I never get very far, I think I'm walking out of this fight, There's a spark and it's just within my sight”

I hope you enjoyed the mix as usual, and I hope your 2016 wasn’t terrible either. Regardless of how it was, here’s to a better 2017. The picture is of me trying to ignore people making out at a concert for when Other Music sadly closed, and for some reason I felt like it sort of summed the whole sad year up.
Peace and love

Monday, 28 November 2016

Q#110 October – November 2016

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Q’s Compilations
Volume #110 October – November 2016

What a strange couple of months. I managed to go home for a couple of weeks which was nice, squeezed in a few nights in Rome as I’d never been to Italy before, oh and Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the USA… I shouldn’t be surprised by people’s collective stupidity after the Brexit vote in the summer, but still, it does make scratch your head (I’m trying to be polite). Anyway, this was rather hurriedly put together so the notes may seem a bit light, but there should be plenty to enjoy musically.

01) La Sera – Queens: Not content with releasing a full length album and a collaborative covers album, Katy Goodman’s La Sera just released a digital-only EP, also called Queens. This track is a shift from the sound on Music for Listening to Music to, although the EP itself reworks a couple of tracks found on that album (as well as a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, which they had covered on tour).

02) Hurry - Casual Feelings: I used Nothing to Say on the last mix and the trio from Philadelphia just put out a 3-track EP (of which this is the title track) which you can get on bandcamp.
“Maybe this is just one big mistake”

03) The Scientists - Frantic Romantic: Re-issue specialists Numero recently released A Place Called Bad, a collection of the Australian band’s whole discography. I used High Noon on the Oct/Nov 2015 mix so the timing seemed fitting to use them again.

04) Ultimate Painting – Bills: Another band that last appeared a year ago, Ultimate Painting have just released new album, Dusk, at the end of September. They’re probably one of those bands who will never change, and that’s not a bad thing in this case. If you want twee, Velvet-Underground-influenced jangle-pop, then they do it as well as anyone.

05) Nada Surf - Beautiful Beat (live): After releasing You Know Who You Are earlier in the year, New York’s finest released their second live album in recent times, though Peaceful Ghosts isn’t a typical live record as they’re accompanied by an orchestra. This song might articulate better than any other the importance of music as a pick-me-up. “Sometimes all I want is another, Drink or another pill, If I could get anything done, Maybe I'd hold still, I'm trying to levitate I'm, Trying to leave the ground, Tryin' to remember when I could, Fix anything with sound”

06) Aldous Harding - Stop Your Tears: I had a digital copy of Aldous Harding’s eponymous record through a press promo a few months ago but didn’t find the time to give it much thought, but while finding songs for this mix, this tune in particular really stood out. Hailing from New Zealand, her album was put out by Flying Nun, which is always a good sign, although the label is not particularly known for goth-folk releases like this one!

07) Springtime Carnivore - Double Infinity: Second album, Midnight Room, is sure to be one of my favourite albums of the year. Greta Morgan’s voice is much more to the fore (which is very much a good thing) and the record has a good mix of upbeat and sombre tunes, she also plays most of the instruments herself and I think has one of the best ears for a melody I’ve heard in a long time. “After the afterglow, your two faces start to show, I’ve been waiting for the one I know”

08) PJ Harvey - The Wheel: I hadn’t seen PJ Harvey play live since 2009 so despite her playing at Terminal 5, I couldn’t bear to miss it. Despite the venue, it was another great show and she still might be the best live singer I’ve seen. Latest album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, is similar to previous album Let England Shake, but her 10-piece band brought everything to life perfectly.

09) Cut Worms - Don't Want to Say Goodbye: There are some obvious Everly Brothers vibes on this track, indeed there are on many of them on Max Clarke’s songs. I saw Cut Worms open for Luna recently (who played their best album, Penthouse, in full) and it didn’t seem to take long for him to win over the crowd, how could you not with songs like this?

10) Volta Jazz - Air Volta: Another Numero-release, Bobo Yeye concentrates on Burkina Faso between 1970-1979, during which the country was known as the Republic of Upper Volta. I’m still waiting for the box-set to come through the post so I can’t say I know a whole lot about them!

11) Coulibaly Tidiane & Dafra Star - Si Tu Maime: This is another track from the Bobo Yeye box set, so again, I don’t really know anything about this other than the track itself being great. Enjoy!

12) Julian Velard - I Don't Know How to Drive: Whilst hankering for a show after a slow couple of weeks, I went to see Julian Velard on the recommendation of a friend. Going in slightly blind, I certainly came out as a fan of his equal-parts self-depreciative/self-loving style and his New York-centric piano tunes. “My feet on the street I’m alive, I’m at looking you, Stuck sitting in traffic for, an hour or two, The back of a cabbie’s head blocking the view, That’s not what New Yorkers do “

13) Elephant Stone - See the Light: Elephant Stone’s recent album Ship of Fools, has gone a little more, I don’t know how to say it, standard-indie, or at least there is a lot less of their sitar signature-sound. The songs are good, but I can’t help but feel there is something less distinct about the experience.

14) Mark Eitzel - The Last 10 Years: Eitzel’s tenth solo album, Hey Mr Ferryman, will be out on Merge Records in January, and was recorded by Bernard Butler (he also played all the electric guitar/bass/keyboard parts of the album). Eitzel’s delivery is as good as ever and the vividness of his lyrics are always remarkable (maybe I just drink too much…). “I spent the last ten years trying to waste half an hour”

15) Wymond Miles - Stand Before Me: Not that there’s anything wrong with the Fresh & Onlys (indeed, they’re rather splendid), but Wymond Miles is one of those rare examples where the solo work is better than the band they’re in. On his latest album, Call By Night, maybe doesn’t have the immediate appeal of his previous work, but once you get used to the songs they’re just as satisfying.

16) The Appleseed Cast - Cathedral Rings: Of all the “emo” bands I’ve seen in the last few years, The Appleseed Cast are probably my favourite. Having seen them last year and just recently opening for Caspian, they’re one of those bands I’ll try to catch each time. I’m still pretty ignorant about their actual discography, however, they did play this song so I knew what to look for! There’s some really great drumming on this track in particular.

17) Kim Gordon - Murdered Out: I was surprised to read that this is the first thing that Kim has released in her own name and features Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint on drums. The repetitive bass line forms the framework of the song and lets the guitars to veer off in any direction they feel like. Hopefully there are more like this!

18) The Body - Shelter is Illusory: The Body’s latest album, No One Deserves Happiness, is a typically intense experience from the duo, who apparently said they wanted to make “the grossest pop album of all time”, which is a tall order! I’m not sure you could ever say anything they do is pop (though this song is probably the closest to that), but they can be delightfully gross on occasion.

19) Swans - Finally, Peace: I saw Swans when I went to San Francisco recently, and seeing them live is akin to being bludgeoned for two hours straight, in a good way, of course! On record, the intensity is dialled down a little bit and they often produce moments of beauty, like this one, which closes out their most recent album, The Glowing Man, which was released this year. The whole record clocks in at an almost typical 2 hours.

And that’s it for me for 2016, the next mix will be in January and feature my favourite releases of the year. Until then, I wish you all a happy rest of the year.

Peace and love - Q 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Q#109 August to September 2016

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Q’s Compilations
Volume #109 August – September 2016

Greetings! Autumn is finally here and since the last mix I had a nice few days in San Francisco, I hadn’t been out to the West Coast before and can see why people like it, the weather is certainly more agreeable there. However, there are fewer feelings better than coming back to New York after being away.

01) Drive Like Jehu - Here Come the Rome Plows: Felt quite lucky to be able to see Drive Like Jehu on this brief run of shows they put together, almost 20 years after their initial break up. Of course they played this song, and pretty much everything else you would want to hear! One could make a good case for them being the best post-hardcore band (I’d probably have to hand it to Fugazi, as would most).

02) Tyvek – Wayne County Roads: As everyone who reads these notes should know, Death By Audio was my favourite music venue and closed almost 2 years ago. Famous Class recently put out a 3LP set of songs from the last month the venue was open called Open Your Own Fucking Showspace. I saw Tyvek at the venue a couple of times (including this recording) and they always put on a good show.

03) Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – Bottled in Cork: Here’s another track from Open Your Own Fucking Showspace, I think it had been some time since Ted Leo & the Pharmacists had played (he often plays solo), and they were one of the surprise guests when Screaming Females played.

04) Hurry – Nothing to Say: I recently saw this trio from Philadelphia trio open for Nada Surf and was pretty quickly won over with their jangle-tinged tunes and the sarcastic between-song banter never hurts. Their album, Guided Meditation, was released in April and is on bandcamp for a mere $5.

05) Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan – Where Eagles Dare: Two of my favourite artists in recent years, Katy Goodman (La Sera) and Greta Morgan (Springtime Carnivore) teamed up and released a covers album called Take It, It’s Yours. Turning 10 punk/new wave songs into slow, sombre but beautiful compositions with gorgeous harmonies. The approach reminds me a little of what Mark Kozelek did with his AC/DC covers record (in spirit moreso than execution). “we walk the streets at night, we go where eagles dare, they pick up every movement, they pick up every loser, with jaded eyes and features, you think they really care?”

06) Amber Arcades – Right Now: Another band I recently saw open for Nada Surf, and after doing some more research, it’s not surprising me to find out that this song was recorded in New York, with a backing band that consists of members from Real Estate, Quilt and Kevin Morby (with Ben Greenberg producing). Amber Arcades is the moniker of Annelotte de Graaf, and her soft but sweet vocal marries perfectly with the production here. “I made my mind up long ago, The road is long and slow, So many things to leave behind, But everyone can live their lie, I’m not even sure that I don’t like mine”

07) The Jigsaw Seen – Your Mind is Like Mine: I have to admit to being slightly embarrassed that I didn’t know Jigsaw Seen have still been a pretty active band in recent years. Considering they have written one of my favourite songs of all time, My Name is Tom, from 1991, you’d think I’d keep on top of things. Regardless, I was thankful to get the chance to see them recently (and of course, they played that song), promoting their most recent album, Old Man Reverb, which has all their signature sounds and I gleefully picked it up after the show, now I just need to fill the gaping holes in my record collection.

08) Robert Forster – Pandanus: This month’s freebie-from-my-friend-Herb entry comes via Go Betweens’ Robert Forster, the album The Evangelist got a lot of plaudits upon its release in 2008, but was one of those albums that passed me by at the time. Most of the album has more of a singer-songwriter vibe, but this certainly evokes his older band. “The candle of the day, Has burnt down to wick, The candle of the night, Has not yet been lit”

09) Dusk – My Own Design: Whilst having somewhat of a meltdown being at yet another show on my own (which is probably a good 60% of the time), I was reminded why I do go to so many shows solo, because every band were fantastic. Headlined by Tenement (more from them soon), Amos Pitsch’s other band, Dusk, also played. They play a soulful take on country and have multiple harmonies while sharing lead vocals on different songs. They don’t have an album yet, but hopefully that won’t be the case for too long. This song was released on bandcamp in March. “I used to love you and I used to know why”

10) Okkervil River – Okkervil River RIP: 3 years ago Okkervil River released The Silver Gymnasium and I met Will Sheff at a record store, trying to give a compliment I said “one day you’ll release a bad album but it hasn’t happened yet!”, to which he laughed and said that sounded ominous. Having just released new album Away, his winning streak is still intact.

11) Teenage Fanclub – Hold On: I haven’t managed to see Teenage Fanclub since they played Oxford Brookes in 2002… so I was overjoyed when they announced a couple of shows here in October in support of new album Here, their first album since 2010’s Shadows. You know what you’re getting with a Fannies album, gorgeous tunes and fragile vocals, which of course they deliver in spades yet again.

12) Tenement – The Strangest Couple in Love: Tenement’s headlining set at Saint Vitus was what I imagine getting a dose of oxytocin is like. This track is from the self-titled album (which is actually more of an EP) from last year, and few bands can deliver so many great hooks in such a short space of time. “And it’s no mystery how it goes, and how it ends everyone knows”

13) American Football – You Know I Should Be Leaving Soon: Illionois trio American Football released a critically loved self-titled album in 1999, and that was that, until 17 years later when the band they will be releasing another self-titled album (due in October). I have a ticket to see them in January.

14) Preoccupations – Degraded: Preoccupations used to be called Vietcong, and despite a name change I suspect they will always be known as “Preoccupations fka Vietcong”, so changing names seems a little silly anyway. I can understand why they did it, because people look for any conceivable moment to be offended these days, but how many bands would have to change their names? Anyway, they have a new album out and it’s rather good, as you would imagine because Vietcong’s albums were good and this is the same band. “Some good ideas split in two, So solemn and melancholy, Another thing that you can do, Unwillingly for some money”

15) Explosions in the Sky – Tangle Formations: I probably hadn’t listened to Explosions in the Sky in over a decade (like most, I adored The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place), but when they announced a show at the beautiful Kings Theatre, I picked up tickets without even thinking about it. Thankfully, new album The Wilderness (their first in five years), while not exactly breaking their formula, is a breath of fresh air mostly given my distance from the band’s output. Anyway, the show was spectacular.

16) Russian Circles – Vorel: I saw Russian Circles at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco while on holiday, mostly because I wanted to go to the venue as I didn’t exactly know their music intimately. The venue is deserving of its lofty reputation, and thankfully the band were great too!

17) Cloakroom – Deep Sea Station: Opening the previously mentioned Russian Circles show were Northwest Indiana trio Cloakroom, who couldn’t help make me think we’ve finally ran out of band names. However, with elements of slowcore and heavy-shoegaze, I was a happy listener

18) Fur Helmet – Ether: Another mood saving band I’ve seen live solo was Fur Helmet, who have that reverb drenched desert psych sound down to a tee. You can get their EP for just $2 on bandcamp.

19) The Men – Lion’s Den: The Men’s latest album will be self-released (as opposed to on Sacred Bones like most of their records). The band have been playing new material for the last 18 months which has had a distinct classic rock vibe, but this track is a cross between Iggy and the Stooges and Mudhoney, which is certainly a pretty great combo. It’ll be interesting to see what direction the final product hones in on.

See you when winter hits most likely! Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Q#108 June – July 2016

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

Q’s Compilations
Volume #108 June – July 2016

Happy excruciating summer, everyone! Here is another hastily thrown together mix. I managed to survive another orbit around the sun with a birthday in June, managed to fit in a long weekend in Montreal, and am somehow still alive just in general. Onwards and upwards!

01) Royal Headache – My Own Fantasy: Australia’s Royal Headache released one of my favourite records of 2015 with High, and I saw them this month at Music Hall Williamsburg. It took them a few songs to get going but once they hit their stride they reached heights many bands can’t these days, and most of that is down to frontman Shogun, who barely stops moving and his Otis Redding-ish soulful croak really sets them apart from most other garage-rock bands these days. “I used to dream of love but I never dreamed I’d be all alone in my own fantasy”

02) Honey – Monk: NYC psyche trio Honey released their debut album, Love is Hard, via Wharf Cat Records in May. I’ve seen the band numerous times in the last couple of years and the album captures their sound very well, as I write this, the weather is featuring 90% humidity and this song sounds like how I feel.

03) Girl Band – Paul: I was surprised to find out I’ve only used a track by Dublin’s Girl Band once, and that was the June/July mix of 2015. Since then the band have released their rather excellent debut full length, Holding Hands With Jamie, via Rough Trade Records. Some bands end up reigning in the sound of their early Eps by the time they release a full length, but thankfully Girl Band have kept that abrasive quality, it’s a fearless record.

04) Del Amitri – Hammering Heart: Del Amitri’s self-titled debut album from 1985 is the sound of a completely different band, one obsessed with Orange Juice and The Smiths (Morrissey loved this album and the band opened for The Smiths), there is so much melody on this record it’s hard to keep track. Alas, after early promising press, Chrysalis delayed the release and no-one cared by the time it came out. Anyway, I suppose if they had blown up they probably wouldn’t have turned into the band that changed my life, but there’s always that “what if…” feeling when I listen to this wonderful, wonderful album. If a band came out with this today they’d be adored. “I suppose love lives in a dustbin behind the garden wall, You have to grovel on the ground and be pretty disgusting to find it at all”

05) Guided By Voices – Please Be Honest: Calling Robert Pollard prolific is one of the most understated things one can say, and having broken up Guided By Voices (again…) in 2014, it almost seemed inevitable that they’d get back together, though few would have thought it would only take 18 months. After reforming with a completely new lineup and releasing Please Be Honest, Pollard has since recalled former GBV and all round indie-legend Doug Gillard into the lineup. The future of GBV is hopefully bright…

06) The Nils – Daylight: My friend Herb frequently gives me bargain CDs, the most recent of which is 80s Montreal act The Nils. The band only recorded one full length LP, but Green Fields In Daylight includes that and connects the dots in the discography of a few Eps and live tracks. It’s a fine collection of pop-punk tunes and you can see why they’re heralded in cult circles (as well as some of my favourite bands, Superchunk, Meat Puppets, Bob Mould, etc). It seems like the band had a pretty raw deal during their active years to say the least, but actually released their 2nd album (after 28 years) last year.

07) Lush – Untogether: I have to confess that Lush were a band that I always heard of but barely listened to when they were active first time around. The band reunited this year and I have tickets to see them in September, having given their best of, Ciao, regular spins in the last 6 months (which feels about how long I’ve had tickets for), the show can’t come around soon enough. “I'm sorry it's come to this but why are we here, bothering?

08) Eagulls – Velvet: Leeds has a decent reputation for goth/post-punk bands with the likes of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Sisters of Mercy, etc, and Eagulls are the latest, formed in 2010 the quintet have two albums under the belt, the latest of which, Ullages, came out in May. The record should appeal to any fan of The Cure!

09) The Cure – Prayers for Rain: Speaking of The Cure… I felt like I couldn’t not follow up Eagulls with anything else. I also just saw The Cure at Madison Square Garden (the third time I’ve seen the band), where they played almost all of Disintegration, so this seemed appropriate.

10) Fear of Men – Trauma: Brighton trio Fear of Men just released their second album, Fall Forever, and it sounds like a band really pushing themselves. Rather than rehashing their rather excellent debut, Loom, the group have crafted a record that demands attention, there are barely any chords on the record for a start, while singer Jess Weiss’ seemingly ultra-personal lyrics can strike a few chords of their own. “Just my words repeat I don't need you to see I'm beyond good and evil today I'm a force to fear, you're a void to be killed Now there's nothing to keep me here”

11) Codeine – Tom: I feel like I’ve talked about Codeine a lot recently but I’ve never actually used any of their tracks before, which may be my biggest oversight in this series. While most fans might gravitate towards Frigid Stars, there’s something that makes me gravitate to the follow-up album, The White Birch. One of the pioneers of the slowcore genre! “I'll throw sand in your eye, You need a reason to cry, I'll throw sand in your eye, I need a reason to smile”

12) Yowler – Bedroom Wall: I saw Maryn Jones fronting her indie band, All Dogs, opening for Superchunk last year, who I liked but her solo project, Yowler, seems to hit more buttons for me. There’s a definite sad/singer songwriter vibe on the album, which seemed a little at odds when I saw her live in the blistering heat outside during the Northside festival, but I enjoyed it all same!

13) Smog – Dress Sexy at my Funeral: Sadly, all good things in New York have an end, and my favourite record store, Other Music, closed recently. They went out with a bang by hosting a show at Bowery Ballroom with 12 acts playing including Bill Callahan, he played this song and I was instantly won over by the cheekiness of it. “And when it comes your turn to speak, Before the crowd, Tell them about the time we did it, On the beach with fireworks above us”

14) Red House Painters – Mistress: Since I’m in the sad part of the compilation, I was listening to Red House Painters recently, and I’ve always preferred the piano version Mistress but something really resonated the last time I listened to Rollercoaster (as it always does) and I just felt like putting this onto a mix. “I've had enough of the, Brutal beatings and name callings, To lose me to this bed, Bruised internally, eternally”

15) Black Hearted Brother – (I Don’t Mean to) Wonder: Neil Halstead will probably always be best known as the singer in Slowdive, but as well as Mojave 3 and a blossoming solo career, he formed Black Hearted Brother in 2013 and released Stars Are Our Home on Slumberland Records. It’s a fairly indulgent album which twists and turns all over the place, but all the better for it.

16) Sleep – Holy Mountain: I saw stoner/doom le`gends Sleep at House of Vans recently and it was inevitably an incredible show. Since I couldn’t exactly put Dopesmoker on a mix (itself clocking in at an hour), I’ve used the title track from the classic Holy Mountain. While the band broke up in 1998, they reformed to play sporadic shows since 2009, and may well release a new album at some point.

17) White Zombie – Pig Heaven: The best re-issue label in the business, Numero Group, gave White Zombie their customary excellent treatment this year, compiling their long out of print early Eps and LPs in a package called It Came From NYC. This track is originally from their 1987 EP of the same name.  

18) Menehan Street Band – The Contender: I mentioned the Other Music farewell show at Bowery Ballroom earlier, and it was the first time I’d seen Menehan Street Band play. The instrumental soul/funk band tap into an old school sound, as anyone on Daptone records does, it was pretty easy to convert me. The bass playing in particular is on point.

19) Future Islands – A Dream of You and Me: To continue the Other Music theme, I went the day before it closed, and inevitably left with a few things, one of which was Future Islands’ Singles album. It’s a record I should probably have owned for years but always just listened to it on Spotify. Anyway, it seemed to be an appropriate record to be my last purchase for some reason, this song resonates pretty strongly these days. “All that glitters is gold, Don't believe what you've been told, People lie, people love, people go, But beauty lies, in every soul”

Yeah, I guess there are some sad and angry songs on this one…

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

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

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Q#107 April – May 2016

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q107
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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 

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