Monday, 27 March 2017

Q#112 February - March 2017


Please note that the zip file has a password: QCOMPS.BLOGSPOT
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/file/pt4ymezgamjhht9/Q112.zip

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


Please note that the zip file has a password: QCOMPS.BLOGSPOT
Download mix from: http://www.mediafire.com/file/4n55vn2n5kyn246/Q%23111.zip

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