Thursday, 30 November 2017

Q#116 - October to November 2017

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Q's Compilations
Vol #116 – October to November 2017

Greetings to the final mix of the year… seems weird to type but here we are. It has been a topsy turvy year but I would not change the highs for anything.

01) Pinkwash - No Real Witness: I went to Princeton recently for hopefully the final time (work-related) and finally managed to time it for a visit to Princeton Record Exchange. Managed a reasonably-restrained $100 supermarket-sweep style run which included Pinkwash’s Collective Sigh album for a bargain $10 on vinyl. This tune opens the record and the pace doesn’t really let up from there.

02) Against Me! - Dead Rats: Took a friend to see Against Me! for their birthday recently at Brooklyn Steel. The only other time I had seen the band was at a surprise show at Saint Vitus and it was a bit of a hardcore-fans-only shitshow (from my perspective of never having heard a note of the band by that point). Anyway, fast forward a few years and I enjoyed this show a lot. This is from the Shape Shift With Me record from September 2016.

03) Bleached – Flipside: One of the opening bands for the Against Me! show was Bleached, who I hadn’t seen since my birthday in 2013, the band have gone a little more in a pop-rock, cleaner direction since then and, if anything, all the better for it. “I’m a basket case with a warm embrace”

04) Worriers - Future Me: Worriers just released their third record, Survival Pop, and it’s another dose of melodic pop-punk to follow-up the Laura Jane Grace-produced second album Imaginary Life (hey, that’s three Against Me things in a row). “When I leave you’ll never notice it. But I relive those years like phantom limbs”

05) Hazel English - Never Going Home: A bit of a change of pace here, Hazel English is an Oakland-based Aussie who makes the kind of treble-heavy, gorgeous synth and guitar music that was all the rage a few years ago but you don’t hear so much anymore. That might not be quite true, it’s just that Glasslands hasn’t existed for four years and that’s where I’d hear this kind of music the most. “Falling in, Inch by inch, I'm not resisting, And I'm addicted tonight”

06) Tim Darcy - Still Waking Up: Tim Darcy is the frontman of the magnificent Montreal band, Ought (who just signed to Merge Records), his debut album, Saturday Night, was released in February via Jagjaguwar. This is one of the more immediate tracks and has somewhat of a lullaby quality to it, I picked it up at Princeton Record Exchange and it’s different enough from Ought to justify the solo release. “Waking up alone, Was always a hard day's night, Oh-Ohh, Cause my head is full of popular songs, Old ones I never sang along to, Along to, Isn't it funny how that happens?”

07) Lee Ranaldo – Circular: Lee Ranaldo is my favourite member of Sonic Youth, and he continues to release interesting and challenging music that simply isn’t harking back to former glories (having said that, I do like Thurston Moore’s solo stuff too!). Electric Trim is Lee’s latest solo record and was released via Mute in September.

08) Josh Ritter - Thunderbolt's Goodnight: I bought a Josh Ritter album (Historical Conquests) when it came out probably ten years ago and liked it but never kept it in rotation and probably didn’t give him another thought until this year. I saw him live last month and he put on a good show, his lyrics really came to the fore. This tune in particular resonated pretty strongly and comes from his latest record, Gathering, which was released in September this year. “I see your face, In the window, I see your face in the reflections of the moon, I feel my own, Ancients shadows disappear when I am near to you, So take this heart, Take this feeling, take my dark and reeling mind, From these poor words, Find a meaning far deeper than these clumsy lines, And all my life, Before I met you, when I was trying hard in love, I thought the sun, Was going down, but the sun was comin' up”

09) Bill MacKay & Ryley Walker - Stretching My Dollar In Piano: I decided to get out of town for a few days so headed to Asheville. As always when I decide to go somewhere I scour for shows to attend and noticed that Bill MacKay and Ryley Walker were doing a show, I’d never heard of the former but admire Ryley’s work. Turns out the two of them have released two records together of instrumental acoustic music and thankfully it was exactly what I was in the mood for (earnest singer-songwriter lyrics would not have been welcome on yet another solo holiday).

10) A. Savage - Indian Style: Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage just released his debut solo record, Thawing Dawn, and it’s a more melodic, often sombre offering than anything they’ve released. In one of those lost-in-translation moments between US and UK vernacular, I didn’t know that “indian style” meant sitting cross-legged until I heard this song.

11) The Beatles - Here, There and Everywhere: I saw Paul McCartney recently at Barclays Centre and he put on another excellent show, I was a little hesitant to see him again after the spectacular show I saw in 2010, but it was more than worthwhile. It got me thinking about underrated Beatles tunes and this might even be my second favourite song by them (after Here Comes the Sun). “Here, making each day of the year, Changing my life with the wave of her hand, Nobody can deny that there's something there, There, running my hands through her hair, Both of us thinking how good it can be”

12) Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cheated Hearts: I’ve almost certainly used this song at some point, probably a decade ago so I’m not going to be feel too precious about repeats… anyway, the band played at Kings Theatre a few weeks ago and being the only venue I’ve ever been able to walk to, it was rude not to go. They played a blinder (graciously ignoring their only dud of a record, 2013’s Mosquito, almost entirely) and this has possibly my favourite YYYs song.

13) The Rubinoos - I Want to Be Your Boyfriend: One of the great powerpop songs, I’ve had this in my head a lot for the last couple of months so figured the best way to deal with it was to throw it on the mix. The Berkeley, California quartet played a couple of shows in New York in the summer and I’m pretty bummed I had to miss them. “Late at night when I, when I can't sleep, Picture in my mind, I see you and me, I, I'm telling you what I wanna be, You, you're saying you're in love with me, And oh, it feels so good in a dream, That I know in life it's just got to be, I wanna tell you...”

14) The Final Solution – Brotherman: Brotherman was to be a blaxploitation pic in the mid 70s and Final Solution were all set to do the soundtrack, but unfortunately the film was cancelled even before a single roll of film was shot. Thirty years later, the Numero Group did their thing and pulled the record together and it stands up wonderfully on its own.

15) Jackie Shane - Any Other Way: Another obscure treasure unearthed by Numero, Jackie Shane briefly made some waves in Toronto in the 60s. Born in Nashville in 1940 when being black and transgender alone would have been difficult, Shane identified as a woman in a man’s body by the time she was 13 and emigrated to Canada in 1959. This cover of the William Bell classic was her biggest success, reaching number 2 on the charts in Toronto, but since the early 70s she has been very much a mysterious recluse.

16) Betty Harris - Hook, Line & Sinker: Another Princeton purchase was Soul Jazz records 2-LP set The Lost Queen of New Orleans Soul, I already had one greatest hits package of hers on CD but couldn’t help myself. Both Mean Man and There’s a Break in the Road are two of my favourite songs of all time and this song just jumped out at me when it hadn’t distinguished itself before.

17) The Mountain Goats – Shelved: Despite not being hugely into the band’s latest effort, Goths, in comparison to other records, The Mountain Goats might be my second-most listened to act of the year and I caught them for the first time in a couple of years recently at Brooklyn Steel. This track is probably my favourite from the new record. The Peter Hook-esque bassline in the second half of the song is a pure delight.

18) The Afghan Whigs - Arabian Nights: Afghan Whigs are one of my favourite bands but their latest release, In Spades, was released in May and mostly passed me by. The record is pretty good but sometimes missing a band on tour when they’re supporting their latest efforts means I barely get round to listening to the album itself.

19) Super Static Fever - Areness For Fun: Here’s yet another Numero re-issue of a band that could scarcely have been more obscure. Existing for a couple of years and only playing a handful of shows, unfinished tapes from two recording sessions were mixed by Steve Albini.

20) L.A. Witch - Baby in Blue Jeans: Five years after the band released their demos and after a handful of single releases, the Los Angeles trio finally released a debut full length (self-titled) via Suicide Squeeze. If you like your rock from the reverb-drenched desert, then this should tickle your fancy.

21) Grizzly Bear - Sky Took Hold: Yet another band I like who released a record I’ve been a little underwhelmed by, Grizzly Bear released Painted Ruins, their first effort in five years. This tune is an absolute delight, however, and I probably owe the record a few more passes.

And there you go. I have to admit, this was somewhat hastily put together and I’ve written these notes on a pretty reclusive thanksgiving weekend

As always, Peace and Love. Hope everyone had a good 2017 and here’s to a better 2018 for all - Q

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

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Saturday, 30 September 2017

Q#115 - August to September 2017

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Q's Compilations
Vol #115 – August to September 2017

Hi! No time to waste on these last-minute notes. I seemed to have very little inspiration before setting down to put this mix together late-on, but it turns out I’m pretty happy with the results once I got down to it. You’ve got the usual mix of brand-new stuff mixed with context-based additions, some of which will be explained!

01) Honey - Dream Come Now: Brooklyn trio Honey released their debut album, Love Is Hard, last year and have already followed it up with New Moody Judy. As this track suggests, it’s a rip-roaring set of psych rockers, much in keeping with their debut, though the songs seem a little more focused this time around (that’s certainly not meant in a bad way).

02) METZ - Drain Lake: It’s sometimes hard to remember that METZ actually record music, such is the justified stature the trio have as a live act. Indeed, I’ll be seeing them on the 4th of October at Music Hall of Williamsburg and cannot wait. They just released their third album, Strange Peace, and it has all the classic METZ characteristics, though it’s different enough from the first two records to stop them hitting an artistic rut.

03) Wand - Bee Karma: One band who never seem in danger of staying in the same place is Wand, who are going in a far more psych direction with an expanded line up than before. There’s somewhat of a classic rock vibe to the main riff in the song and that’s certainly not a bad thing either!

04) Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires - Had to Laugh: A lot of bands struggle with their second records, but Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires probably rank as “most improved” that I can think of in recent years. Youth Detention is perhaps the finest dose of radio-friendly rock and roll that I can think of this year, the songs are sharp, melodic and catchy as hell. Possibly best experienced in a car. “When I told you that I'd never fall in love, I know you had to laugh”

05) Male Gaze - Tell Me How It Is: My buddy Felix sent me a raft of recommendations recently (thanks!) and though I enjoyed most of them, I found it hard to find the right ebb and flow for this mix with any of them, that was until I got to Male Gaze and they immediately hit the spot. Thanks Felix! I’m sure those other tunes will worm their way in sometime.

06) Thurston Moore - Smoke of Dreams: It’s probably not terribly surprising that Thurston Moore is releasing material closest to Sonic Youth, and having realised it had been many years since I saw him play, made a fairly impromptu decision to catch a recent show at Bowery Ballroom.

07) The Pharacyde - Oh Shit: In a recent “hmmm, wonder what classic hip-hop records I haven’t listened to in years” mood I was in, this was one! The South Central fourpiece from LA (though now a duo in present day form) released debut album Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde in 1992 and it’s often considered one of the all-time greats.

08) Epmd - You Gots to Chill: In a recent “hmmm, wonder what classic hip-hop records I haven’t listened to in years” mood I was in, this was another one! This is also another debut record, Strictly Business was released in 1988 and is rightly considered a classic.

09) Andrew Hung – Animal: One half of Fuck Buttons, Andrew Hung, is about to release his debut solo record, Realisationship, on the 6th of October. It’s a bit odd hearing him singing, having been pummelled relentlessly (and joyously) with the wall of noise that Fuck Buttons unleash, but after doing a double-take on the vocals initially, I think it works really well.

10) Curtis Harding - On and On: If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I think Curtis Harding is just about the best new artist of the last few years. Soul Power was a complete triumph and having heard three new tracks from his new album, Face Your Fear, which is out at the end of October, he’s done it yet again. Produced by Sam Cohen, the new songs have more emphasis on keyboards and groove than the guitar and horns of his debut and I think the smoother direction compliments his vocals perfectly. I can’t wait to catch him at Rough Trade on the 2nd of November. “No more wasting time, I gotta get into this groove”

11) Screaming Females - Black Moon: Two years on since last album, Rose Mountain, the New Jersey trio put this track out just a few days before I put this mix together. Screaming Females are never going to change and that is a great comfort.

12) Ryan Adams - Gimme Something Good: Considering that his album from this year, Prisoner, is my most played record of 2017, I had to go back through the discography somewhat. This opens his self-titled album from 2014 and is very similar to his latest effort (which I’m glad I heard first). This track always gets stuck in my head when I ask a friend what we should have for lunch and I’m met with a simple reply of “something good”. “All my life, Been shaking, Wanting something, Holding everything I have like it was broken. Gimme something good”

13) Alvvays - In Undertow: Doesn’t seem like three years since Alvvways self-titled debut album, but it has been fun seeing the band grow in the last few years and new album Antisocialites is definitely a triumph. “There’s no turning back”

14) Kyle Forester - Won't Go Crazy: I recently saw Ken Stringfellow play a rare solo set in Brooklyn and Kyle Forester opened. I’ve seen him in other bands (including Crystal Stilts) but did not know he had his own music too. “So I won't go crazy tonight, Having you here right by my side”

15) Nick Lowe - So it Goes: I’d only previously seen Nick Lowe perform a few songs as part of a benefit show with about a dozen other acts, so it was a treat to see him perform at a free show recently, with Los Straightjackets as his backing band. He played this song, of course, and you forget just how great a pop songwriter he is sometimes.

16) The Jayhawks - I'm Gonna Make You Love Me: Another free show at Lincoln Center recently, I’d heard the name over the years but did not know their music at all. They opened with this track, which I could say a lot about, but it’s a great song. “Your hair's long and black, as it lays 'cross my pillow, when I stare in your eyes, I get lost in your glory”

17) Creeper Lagoon - Under the Tracks: A few weekends ago I was lamenting how slow August was for shows, when NYC Taper mentioned Creeper Lagoon were playing their first show in NYC in many a year. I didn’t know of them but liked the tracks enough to see them since I was gagging to go to a show. This is very much a typical 90s rock track but I’m a sucker for that sometimes.

18) Ultimate Painting - Central Park Blues: I saw Ultimate Painting open for Yo La Tengo in Central Park recently and unsurprisingly they played this tune. It comes over better live since the Velvet Underground influence is maybe to the point of parody here, but what can you do. “I want to be alone with you, I want to do the things you do, You always do”

19) Daniel Johnston - True Love Will Find You in the End: The mercurial Daniel Johnston just announced his final ever tour, which includes a stop at New York’s Town Hall and I’m quite excited to see him since I never thought I would. I hope this track is true. “True love will find you in the end, you'll find out just who was your friend”

20) Julie Byrne – Sleepwalker: When Mark Kozelek can’t seem to write an actual fucking song anymore your ears start to prick up at the sound of any finger-picked folk song. That’s not to downplay the beauty of Julie Byrne’s music, but it’s definitely filling a requirement I need right now. “Before you, had I ever known love? Or had I only known misuse of the power another had over me?”

21) Vagabon - Fear & Force: Another free Lincoln Centre show recently was Vagabon, who I’d been hoping to see for about 6 months and kept missing. A large outdoor show was perhaps not the best format for such intimate material, but her record is well worth checking out.

22) Kevin Morby - Downtown Lights: I was randomly going through some press releases the other day and realised I hadn’t ever listened to a full Kevin Morby solo record. I tend to favour drifting off with a lullaby on mixes and  this track seemed to fit the bill. “You know I've gone to live one thousand lives, and to die one thousand deaths, But lately baby, got me scared, Ain't got too much left. But the ones that I had spent with you, Were the best that I ever had”

And there we have it, another mix down, another couple of months down, hopefully there were things to like on this mix, and I hope there are many things for you all to like in life right now.

As always, Peace and Love


Please note that the zip file has a password: QCOMPS.BLOGSPOT
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Monday, 31 July 2017

Q#114 - June to July 2017

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Q's Compilations
Vol #114 – June to July 2017

Greetings! I completed another orbit around the sun on the 13th of June and so far 35 is treating me pretty well, let’s hope that continues. This time around you’re getting mostly new releases with a few leftovers from a different mix I made recently.

01) Feral Ohms - Love Damage: Oakland power trio Feral Ohms recently played a couple of shows in New York and it was one of the best no-frills sets I have seen in a long time. I should have just bought the vinyl there and then but ended up buying the bandcamp download. “There’s a love damage in my skull”

02) The Creation - How Does It Feel to Feel: The Numero group did their usual excellent work by putting together a comprehensive 2LP set called Action Painting. If you know any other song by them aside from Making Time then it’s probably this but I just wanted to put it on.

03) Robert Pollard - My Daughter Yes She Knows: The ever prolific Robert Pollard released the 100th album of his career earlier in the year with Guided By Voices’ August By Cake, this track, however, comes from his last “solo” album, Of Course You Are, from 2016.

04) Ride – Cali: Oxford legends Ride got back for some shows a couple of years ago, but just released their first album in 21 years with Weather Diaries, and while most bands fail to recapture the magic after that long apart, the record is much better than their final couple from their original run.

05) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Anymore: Brooklyn’s Paints of Being Pure at Heart released their first album in three years in July with The Echo of Pleasure. I saw them for the first time in five years recently and forgot how much I enjoyed them. “I couldn’t take anymore, anymore, anymore.”

06) Waxahatchee - Sparks Fly: Katie Crutchfield just released Out in the Storm, via Merge Records, Waxahatchee’s fourth record. It’s probably the most guitar-driven to date and I caught a full-band show at Warsaw recently, which I was a bit sceptical if it would work given that her best material is stripped down with just an acoustic guitar (like this track, for the most part!), but it was perfect. “Death grip on some feigned humility, Effort executed beautifully, My pride clenched tight in my shaky hand, Til I let go and buried my head in the sand”

07) Big Thief - Mythological Beauty: The band’s second album, Capacity, via Saddle Creek, and it’s one of the most beautifully delicate records I’ve heard in some time. Given Mark Kozelek’s reluctance to actually write songs at the moment, it’s definitely filling some of my Red House Painters desires. I saw them recently at Prospect Park and while it’s quite hard to play this kind of music in a large outdoor setting, it was still a wonderful set. “You’re all caught up inside, but you know the way”

08) Jeffrey Lewis - Roll Bus Roll: I used a different Jeffrey Lewis track on a mix for a friend recently but this was very close to making the cut instead, and so I felt like I had to throw it on. This is from perhaps his best album, Em Are I, and I just love the vivid imagery. “Old bodegas and old streetlights, Harlem looks so warm tonight”

09) The Mountain Goats - This Year: Being let loose on a friend’s vinyl collection, I made the mistake of playing this great album (The Sunset Tree), forgetting this track was on it. Perhaps not the best vibe for a dinner party. Anyway, The Mountain Goats just released their sixteenth record, Goths, which is their first record without any guitars. It’s pretty good. I’ll be seeing them in November. “I am gonna make it through this year if it kills me”

10) John Andrews & the Yawns – Drivers: Going through my press releases recently I was curious to hear this release from Quilt drummer John Andrews, Bad Posture is quite a delightful record, and certainly fitting with the Woodsist label from where it comes. “I don’t know you no more, don’t owe you no more”

11) Jesu & Sun Kil Moon – Bombs: I’ve already made reference to Mark Kozelek’s somewhat failure to write a conventional song these days and this is a good example. From the second collaborative record with Jesu, 30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth, clocking in at 13 minutes, the spoken-word day-in-the-life-of-Mark-Kozelek is getting kinda tiresome but I still can’t help but like it somewhat. One does hope that he is reaching saturation point with this kind of thing, however.

12) Justin Currie - Failing to See: It’s possible you may not remember that Del Amitri are the greatest band of all time, and that’s ok, no-one is perfect. Frontman Justin Currie released his fourth solo record, This is My Kingdom Now, and it’s another obviously great collection of songs. “Do you hurt me just cos you know that I'll live?”

13) Big Star – Thirteen: I was out with a friend trying to keep a few thoughts to myself and this song played in the bar, and not that I needed reminding, but it really is just a fabulous song. I did not deliberately put this as track thirteen. This particular version is a live version from Big Star Story, which was my introduction to the band. “Won't you tell me what you're thinking of? Would you be an outlaw for my love?”

14) Julian Velard - Glad I Wasted All My Time With You: Having successfully completed a kickstarter campaign (of which I contributed), Fancy Words for Failure was just released and it’s a nice mix of ballads and sarcastic pop tunes. This is clearly the former!

15) Molly Burch - Please Be Mine: This is the title track from Molly Burch’s debut album (via Captured Tracks), and it’s an effortlessly smooth record with immaculate vocals (I just remembered I used Please Forgive Me on Q#112 if you’d care to revisit that too).

16) Thundercat - Captain Stupido: I sometimes think that flicking through vinyl and CD racks is the only way I can clear my head, or at least forget what’s bothering me temporarily, and while stress-buying far too many records back in April at Rough Trade, I heard this song playing over the PA. I can’t remember the last time my ears truly pricked up and made me buy something but Drunk feels like the first time that has happened in a while. There are some fairly silly songs on the record, of which this is one, but the bass work in particular over is pretty captivating. “I feel weird, Comb your beard, brush your teeth, Still feel weird, Beat your meat, go to sleep”

17) The Lemonheads - Down About It: This was another leftover from a different mix, The Lemonheads are one of my go-to bands when I’m not sure what I want to listen to, they can always make me feel something. “And out like a light when it's not plugged in, Fading around if it starts again, You just don't get it when, I get so down about it”

18) Superchunk - 100,000 Fireflies: I got the re-issued Distant Plastic Trees by the Magnetic Fields recently from Merge which obviously has this wonderful track on it. Then I remembered that Superchunk covered it and I wanted to use a track by them on a different mix, this didn’t make it, but it’s a great cover. “I went out to the forest and caught, 100,000 fireflies, As they ricochet round the room, They remind me of your starry eyes, Someone else's might not have made me so sad, But this is the worst night I ever had. Cause I'm afraid of the dark without you close to me, I'm afraid of the dark without you close to me, Always was”

19) Slowdive - Sugar for the Pill: Similar to Ride, Slowdive just released their first album in 22 years with a self-titled release, and once again it’s a pretty damn good record. I saw them on my last trip back home in June and it’s probably the best show I’ve seen this year. “Our love has never known the way, Sugar for the pill, You know it's just the way things are, Cannot buy the sun, This jealousy will break the whole”

As always, Peace and Love


Monday, 12 June 2017

Q#113 April - May 2017

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Vol #113 - April to May 2017

Greetings once again. This is the first time I have ever missed a deadline which would have been the 31st of May (my own fault as I didn't bring the files with me on holiday so couldn't package it all together until I got back). Having spent just shy of three weeks back home (with a short jaunt in Lisbon), I'd like to say I'm pretty refreshed, but I spent a fair chunk of time wishing I was in New York still. This collection was thrown together pretty quickly just before I did go away but it has mostly new stuff on it and I'm very happy with how it turned out, aside from not paying attention to the levels in any of the songs, there are some fairly unforgivable moments in that regard.

01) Wyatt Blair - Pop Your Heart Out: Wyatt Blair is one of those people you think should be playing to 1000s of people, writer of infectious sugary pop hits, this tune is particularly reminiscent of the best bubble-gum 80s rock.

02) Rips -Break: You could probably be forgiven for thinking this was Parquet Courts if you just heard it without any context. Indeed, the record was actually recorded by Austin Brown of Parquet Courts.

03) Guided By Voices - Overloaded: The ever prolific Robert Pollard just released his 100th album, which is pretty staggering. Another milestone is Guided By Voices first double-album, August By Cake, the current line-up includes "Mark II" GBV legend Doug Gillard. “The situation has me I’ve gotta grab it”

04) Priests - Nothing Feels Natural: Priests' debut full length (this is the title track) departs from their punkier eps and has more of a post-punk sheen to it, it's a great fit and change of direction although on ocassion one does miss Katie Alice Greer's snarl.

05) Matt Kivel - Velveteen: I somehow snoozed on knowing Matt Kivel released two records last year, I'd acted just in time to pick up the vinyl for Fires in the Plain, but missed out on XXXX. This track is from Fires in the Plain, and while double albums are generally hard to digest initially, the record seems an instant winner.

06) Terry Malts - Gentle Eyes:  There's something about this song that reminds me of Modern English, and that's clearly not a bad thing. Terry Malts have gone for a shinier sound on their latest album although when I saw them at the Mercury Lounge in April they still play with the same garage rock fervor of the first album. “I hate to see you cry, it broke my heart to find pain in those gentle eyes. What can I do? All my thoughts and my dreams I see gentle eyes”

07) Ryan Adams - Prisoner: Ryan Adams is one of those people I've known about for many years and just never gotten round to listening to. He was playing a show at the Beacon Theatre and so I got day-of Stubhub tickets to go with a friend, he was fantastic and this has, became somewhat of an anthem for me recently. The title track of his latest record, I've also since purchased Gold and Heartbreaker. “Free my heart, Somebody locked it up, Still waiting on parole, I can taste the freedom just outside that door, Same grey walls, Same grey clothes, I know my friends all know, Can't keep it under control. I know our love is wrong, I am a criminal, Mmm, I am a prisoner, Mmm, I am a prisoner, For your love”

08) Snail Mail - Slug: I hadn't heard of Snail Mail until it was announced that they are supporting Waxahatchee in Brooklyn in July so I went through their bandcamp releases and they are obviously a very appropriate fit. “And oh is it easiest to hide? Under covered rocks, Or would you rather cut it all down? Just to keep it from dragging you around”

09) Aimee Mann - Goose Snow Cone: Aimee's latest record, Mental Illness, seems like a response to everyone thinking all she does is write slow, sad, acoustic songs, as if she has double-downed on what people expect, it's arguably her slowest and saddest record to date. I just saw her play at the Town Hall and hadn't realised it was 12 years since I had last seen her, I certainly hope it isn't another 12. “Gotta keep it together when your friends come by, Always checking the weather but they wanna know why, Even birds of a feather find it hard to fly”

10) Justin Currie - This Is My Kingdom Now: Del Amitri will always be my first love and Justin Currie has just released his fourth solo record (this is the title track), though this is his first self-release. It took me a couple of listens for it to gel but as usual it is filled with unmatched prose and is closer to his first solo release, What Is Love For. I was lucky enough to catch him live on the 3rd of June during my recent trip home. Still the greatest. “I was sure that I could hear applause, And that I should take a bow, But no-one seems to care in here, That this is my kingdom now”

11) Digable Planets - Where I'm From: 90s hip hop greats Digable Planets got back together last year, and I’m excited to hopefully see them at a free show in Red Hook in June. Their two records (1993’s Reachin’ and 1994’s Blowout Comb, this song is from the former) aren’t really talked about with such heady frequency as say, De La Soul or A Tribe Called Quest, but they’re definitely in the same league, perhaps this reunion will call for further evaluation.

12) Main Source - Just a Friendly Game of Baseball: Speaking of great 90s hip hop, Main Source released Breaking Atoms in 1991 which was reissued this year and is also of note for containing Nas’ first recorded delivery (on Live at the BBQ), the group have played a couple of reunion shows this year (including opening for George Clinton, which sadly I missed), “Instead of innings, we have endings, What a fine way to win things, And hot-dog vendors have fun, Sellin you the cat rat and dog on a bun, And when you ask what is all of this called? It's just a friendly game of baseball”

13) Follakzoid feat. J Spaceman - Electric: After spending some time in London, Chilean psych/kraut masters Follakzoid collaborated with J Spacemen for a 2-song remix of tracks from the third album (strangely enough, called III). The trance-like nature of the tracks from that record were ripe for a remix treatment and the results are not disappointing.

14) The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions: I saw The New Pornographers recently at Terminal 5, and this was the first time I'd seen them with Neko Case. They started off on fire, playing my favourites songs within a 5-song opening, but the new material sounded like long-term favourites too.

15) Future Islands - Aladdin:  New album, The Far Field, certainly isn't breaking any ground for the Baltimore band, and that's ok, for a band that's on the cusp of being majorly succesful, they just need to keep doing what they're doing.

16) Laura Stevenson - Life is Long: I saw Laura supporting Juliana Hatfield in April and her solo set really blew me away (I had drank many, many margaritas before the show), her recorded output is a little more punky and she is on the wonderful Don Giovanni label.

17) Cayetana - Mesa: I saw Cayetana at the Northside Festival a year or two ago and despite enjoying their set a lot didn’t give the band a whole lot of thought until hearing their new album, New Kind of Normal, which came out in May via Plum Records. Like Snail Mail, the trio are supporting Waxahatchee on upcoming dates. “we can only hurt ourselves for so long”

18) Anna Calvi - Love Won't Be Leaving (live): A "record store day" release, supposedly (I'm sure all these end up with regular distribution), Anna Calvi played the Meltdown Festival backed by a choir and the results are stunning. She doesn't rush things when it comes to new material so this document is an excellent stop gap. “I hope this letter finds you well, Been in the desert for so long, Sometimes I see faces, Comin' out of the dark”

Apologies once again for the hastily put together notes, but as I said earlier, I’m really happy with the selection and I hope you find something to enjoy too.
As always, Peace and Love


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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