Monday, 30 November 2015

Q#104 - October - November 2015

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Q’s Compilations
Volume #104 October - November 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time

Peace and love - Q 

Please note that the zip file has a password: Q104
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