Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Q#101 - April - May 2015

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Q’s Compilations
Volume #101 April – May 2015

I guess this is the first “normal” mix since September, as I’ve had my Death By Audio mix, best of 2014 and then #100’s favourite songs of all time. That means there has been a bit of a backlog, songs I have wanted to use for months, and others that have fallen by the wayside. I went to Austin in May for Levitation (fka Austin Psych Fest) and had a great time, obviously I had to visit the Daniel Johnston mural that is on the front cover of this mix. I also won all my fantasy football (aka soccer to the great unwashed) which makes me ridiculously happy. Maybe, just maybe, I can enjoy this summer.

01) Pop Zeus & Wyatt Blair - I've Never Been More Alive: My Death By Audio mix of #Q98 opened with Pop Zeus’ Dead in the Water, Mikey Hodges tragically died shortly after I uploaded that mix after being hit by a car. Mikey was one of the first musicians in NYC I plucked up the courage to talk to and he was an incredibly nice guy, it’s such a shame I can barely articulate. Another nice guy is Wyatt Blair and the pair were beginning to record songs together, this is sadly the only finished song we’ll hear.

02) Mercury Girls - Golden (demo): Sometimes bands wear their influences on their sleeves and it just does not matter one iota. That’s certainly the case for the C86-infused Mercury Girls, who feature two members of the band Literature (guitarist Kevin Attics & drummer Chris Schackerman). Mercury Girls only have two demos uploaded at the time of writing, but I caught their second ever show recently and they played a great set, I am eagerly waiting more.

03) Mikal Cronin - Turn Around: Although he has been mostly known as a touring guitarist in Ty Segall’s band, Mikal Cronin has now released three utterly delectable garage-rock records, that might just be better than Ty anyway. His third record, helpfully titled MCIII, just came out on Merge Records. I caught his recent show at Bowery Ballroom which I reviewed here:

04) Twerps - Back to You: Australia’s Twerps released their second album, Range Anxiety, recently and it is a rather lovely collection of jangle-pop tunes that the Aussies (and neighbouring Kiwis) seem to excel at. I caught the band live and reviewed here: “Somebody out there is doin’ better than me”

05) Courtney Barnett - Nobody Really Cares if you Don't Go to the Party: Speaking of Aussies, here is another one! Courtney Barnett has had a somewhat meteoric rise this year which saw her sell out three nights at the Bowery. Her album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, is filled with rockers and singer-songwriter ballads, filing somewhere between The Lemonheads and The Breeders. Yet another artist I had the pleasure of seeing and reviewing:

06) The Proper Ornaments - Now I Understand: Slumberland records had a bit of a fire sale recently, with some releases so cheap I just bought many on a whim, one of which was The Proper Ornaments’ record, Wooden Head, which is a lovely jangly and catchy release.

07) Gateway Drugs - Fridays are for Suckers: Gateway Drugs rolled in from the west coast supporting my hometown boys, Swervedriver, recently and I enjoyed their neo-psych, which sometimes hit hard, and other times had some bubblegum pop going on. This song is one of the latter examples.

08) Swervedriver – Autodidact: As mentioned above, I saw Oxford legends Swervedriver recently, who just released their first album since 1997! I Wasn’t Born to Lose You proves that not all reunions are just cash cows, sometimes bands get together and still release great music! Here’s my show review from their Music Hall of Williamsburg performance: “you make me lose my head, dream of what might be”

09) Screaming Females – Triumph: Screaming Females released their latest album, Rose Mountain, in February on the ever reliable Don Giovanni records. The record is a bit more streamlined, I’m hesitant to say radio friendly because it’s still full of chunky riffs like this song and Marissa Paternoster’s fantastic guitar solos.

10) Multicult – Jaws: I saw this Baltimore band at the unfortunately soon to be closed Brooklyn Night Bazaar, and their unabashed 90s grunge sound went down so well I picked up both of their records at the merch table.  

11) Unwound - New Energy: Everyone finds out about bands they love long after they’ve disbanded and it seems like Unwound is another one of those bands for me. Reissue specialists The Numero Group have been doing a great job repackaging their discography in lavish vinyl box sets and I’ve been devouring them. “desperate kicks, faster still, what about the future of what it is?”

12) The Marbles - Fire and Smoke: I heard this tune at a Highland Park tasting event, The Marbles were a “lost” band from the early CBGBs scene. That guitar solo is absolutely from that time and you wonder why they didn’t blow up like Television. “I’ve been watching bombs exploding, between you and me”

13) Föllakzoid - Electric: Regular readers/listeners will know I’m a huge fan of the Chilean psych rock scene down in Santiago, and Follakzoid are one of the big hitters. They just released their third album (imaginatively titled III), which is a little more trance-influenced than the more krautrock-led previous album, and it’s great to see the band leaning in different directions. Just let yourself fall into the groove with this one. The band just played my favourite show of the year so far by some distance and I’ll be amazed if anyone beats it!

14) Lower Dens – Brains: I’m probably a bit late to the party on this band but I picked up Nootropics on vinyl in a sale and like it a lot. I actually played half the album at the wrong speed and it still sounded good. I think they have a new one out now which I’ll have to check out.

15) Sufjan Stevens - The Only Thing: I recently went to see Sufjan Stevens at the recently renovated Kings Theatre, which was incredibly exciting for me because it was the first time in my life I could walk to and from a concert! It’s a stunning venue and they have done an amazing job on it, the venue upstaged the event itself. Carrie and Lowell sees Sufjan go back to his folk roots and it’s a nice return to form. “Should I tear my eyes out now, before I see too much? Should I tear my arms out now, I wanna feel your touch”

16) Notations - A New Day: Chicago’s The Notations are just another in a long line of brilliant-but-forgotten smoother soul groups from the 60s and 70s. There’s not really much else I can say about this, I just love it.

17) Syl Johnson - I Can Take Care of Business: Taken from Syl’s debut album, Dresses Too Short, released in 1969, why he wasn’t as huge and long-lasting as someone like Al Green I’m just not sure. Syl has that perfect blend of optimism and heartache in his voice.

18) Jacobites - Only Children Sleeping: This might be one of the saddest songs I’ve heard, and I guess that’s why I plumped for it as I’m always drawn to sad songs, and this one is strangely prescient. Nikki Sudden formed Jacobites alongside his solo career after Swell Maps broke up. He died from a heart attack performing at The Knitting Factory in 2006. 

19) Viet Cong – Death: This was/is first song to really blow me away in 2015, and I was delighted to catch them at the Mercury Lounge earlier in the year (and of course, they played this song, I reviewed the show here: The whole 12 minutes is just an aural workout, those glistening guitars, the sounds-like-but-isn’t-odd-timing, the pained vocals, it’s all rather marvellous. Everything about this song just rips out my heart, chews it up, and puts it back in. Staggering.

And there you have it! It’s officially summer now, which at least here means outdoor shows, outdoor films, outdoor drinking, all while it’s too hot!

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

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