Friday, December 06, 2013

Feel good hits of the 6th December

A bumper edition, as it's been a while...

1. 'We Sink' - Chvrches
From their larger-than-life, bold-as-brass debut album The Bones Of What You Believe, which makes good on the early promise of singles 'Lies' and 'The Mother We Share'. "I'll be a thorn in your side till you die / I'll be a thorn in your side for always" - menace rarely sounded this good.

2. 'Why Write A Letter That You'll Never Send' - The Drones
Final track from one of this year's most undeservedly under-the-radar records, I See Seaweed. While it doesn't quite pack the devastating punch of its equivalent on Gala Mill, 'Sixteen Straws', it's nevertheless a masterpiece, with Gareth Liddiard's bitter, angry lyrics to the fore: "Who cares about the Holocaust / Man we didn't learn nothing there / And all its memory does is keep the History Channel on air".

3. 'End Of The World' - Deap Vally
As "Why can't we all just get along?" songs go, this is rather better than 'Ebony And Ivory'...

4. 'Green & Gold' - Lanterns On The Lake
The most intimate, stripped-down track on the otherwise epic Until The Colours Run, 'Green & Gold' is a piano ballad in the vein of Cat Power and was a definite highlight of their set at the Bullingdon towards the tail-end of October.

5. 'Earthen Gate' - Fuzz
That man Ty Segall's done it yet again. Fuzz's debut is like being blitzed by everything that's great about rock 'n' roll. A band ideally suited to a label called In The Red.

6. 'Hollow Bedroom' - Waxahatchee
OK, I'll admit it - after initially writing off Waxahatchee on the strength of the Gathering performance, I'm coming round to Cerulean Salt. It won't be in my Top Ten of the year, but it's a solid confessional indie rock record.

7. 'Dream House' - Deafheaven
The extraordinary opening track to a pretty extraordinary album.

8. 'What Else Is New (live)' - Dinosaur Jr
My response in a recent online debate about the best Dinosaur Jr guitar solo. Obviously there are quite a lot to choose from, but the one shoved into the middle of this live version of a track from Where You Been, which appears on the B-side to the 'I Don't Think So' single, is definitely my pick of the bunch.

9. 'Harper Lewis' - Russian Circles
A metal band with aspirations of being Explosions In The Sky: what's not to like? Thanks to Gareth for finally giving me the shove I needed to check them out - long overdue.

10. 'Avocado, Baby' - Los Campesinos!
Back in the early days in Cardiff, I'd have said Los Campesinos! had many things, but longevity probably wasn't one of them (even if they continue to shed original members). And yet No Blues is their fourth album (or fifth, if you count We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed as a fully-fledged release, which you probably should) and a more mature sound seems to sit surprisingly well with them. Lead single 'Avocado, Baby' hints at their juvenalia, though, with a playful chorus and kids supplying backing vocals.

11. 'Burn Me Clean' - Thought Forms
Ghost Mountain, while decent enough, is the sound of a band who don't quite yet know what they want to be. 'Burn Me Clean' finds them at their droney, doomy best.

12. 'Defector/ed' - No Age
One of the percussion-free tracks on An Object that makes more sense on record than it does live.

13. 'Time To Say Goodbye' - Pawws
A highlight from the early afternoon of Gathering. File next to Chvrches under "Giving 1980s synth pop a smart modernist makeover". 

14. 'I Won't Be Long' - Beck
The dreamy recent single from Mr Hansen, released as a stand-alone track because it wouldn't have fitted on his forthcoming acoustic record. He's also made available a 15-minute-long version featuring vocal contributions from Kim Gordon.

15. 'The Ballad Of Roy Batty' - Grumbling Fur
Still not quite sure what to make of this, a collaboration between experimentalist chums Daniel O'Sullivan and Alexander Tucker, but Thrill Jockey have thrown their weight behind it so there must be something to it. Perhaps it would make a bit more sense if I'd caught their recent Oxford appearance, at this year's annual Audioscope bash.

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