Thursday, June 02, 2016

Feel good hits of the 2nd June

It's been far, far too long since the last of these, so here's a bumper edition to make up for it.

20. 'Dumb Baby' - The Coathangers
Primitive strutting garage-punk with an early Strokes vibe. I'm not entirely sure why Consequence Of Sound are quite so enthusiastic about them, but there you go.

19. 'Candy' - Weaves
Thanks to Simon for pointing me in the direction of these Torontonian oddballs, the latest signings to Memphis Industries and therefore labelmates of Field Music (among others). 'Candy' is punk-spirited and quite abrasive, and it would be interesting to discover whether it's representative or actually a deviation from their norm.

18. 'Trauma' - Fear Of Men
On the evidence of 'Trauma' - a darkly dramatic song punctuated by rat-a-tat-tat machine-gun snare - Fear Of Men have come a long way from their indie pop days (as witnessed at Southsea Fest in 2011 and Sounds From The Other City the following year), becoming significantly more interesting in the process.

17. 'Fishes Bones' - Wire
On which bassist Graham Lewis does a decent impression of Jim Morrison over the top of a decent impression of Sonic Youth in freeform mood. As I tried (and perhaps failed) to argue cogently on Episode 4 of Sounding Bored, Nocturnal Koreans is a very impressive album if you consider it was made by a bunch of sixty-somethings - but if you judge them on their preferred terms, against other modern post-punk bands, then it perhaps comes up a little bit short.

16. 'Dust' - Parquet Courts
Having listened to Light Up Gold again the other day, I've stopped kidding myself that Human Performance is at all comparable in terms of quality. It does have its moments, though - this being one of them. The insistent rhythm and organ bring to mind Merseyside mavericks Clinic.

15. 'Remember' - Nadine Shah
Back in February last year, I expressed hope that Nadine Shah would get the recognition she deserved with the release of her then-untitled second album. Fast Food may have been praised by both Pitchfork and the Guardian, and made Album Of The Week by The Line Of Best Fit - but sadly her profile doesn't seem to be any higher than it was after the release of Love Your Dum And Mad, on which 'Remember' is just one of the highlights.

14. 'Monk' - Honey
Manc trio Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali blew me away when they supported PINS in Oxford earlier this year, and Honey - featuring members of both Psychic Ills and Amen Dunes - are definitely in the same ballpark: noisy, minimalist garage rock of the highest order.

13. 'Dumb And Drummer' - The Nightingales
Post-punk Peel favourites active since the late 1970s but who have only had one constant member, their frontman - no, not The Fall, but The Nightingales. 'Dumb And Drummer' is superb, a warped duet of sorts between said frontman Robert Lloyd and drummer Fliss Kitson. If only I'd been tipped off about them before I'd already made plans to be out of town when they came to Oxford last month...

12. 'Caught Up' - Metz & Swami John Reis
One of two tracks recorded for a special release for Record Store Day - so maybe RSD isn't such a bad thing after all. The press release claims "The sound is reminiscent of an army of sea gulls inside a burning Benihana of Tokyo" - one for Why I Deleted Your Promo Email, perhaps? Sounds a lot like Hot Snakes to me - and that'll do me just fine.

11. 'Shill' - Anna Meredith
The fact that Meredith describes herself (or, at least, is most often described) as a composer rather than as a musician made me somewhat wary, but I needn't have worried. Varmints - as reviewed in Episode 3 of Sounding Bored - is playful rather than po-faced, a riot of ideas and textures. 'Shill' is, even more unexpectedly, not unlike Battles with its cacophony of interweaving drum lines and synth patterns.

10. 'A Hundred Ropes' - Minor Victories
For the first 45 seconds, the synth-heavy 'A Hundred Ropes' could almost be Chrvches, but then the drums and bass kick in. It's actually Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai and Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, plus Justin Lockey of Editors, and their eponymous debut album is out tomorrow.

9. 'U-235' - Mogwai
Don't get me wrong - I'm predominantly a guitar enthusiast. But some of us have been waiting years for Stuart Braithwaite and company to fully embrace electronica, ever since those tantalising hints on Happy Music For Happy People of how the results might turn out. And finally it seems they've done it - to great effect. 'U-235' appears on Atomic, a collection of reworked songs from their soundtrack to a documentary about Hiroshima, and has a suitably distopian sci-fi feel to it.

8. 'Non-Violence' - Battles
After repeated listens, I've concluded that this is La Di Da Di's choicest cut. At times they could be accused of self-indulgent showiness, but 'Non-Violence' is as tightly focused and succinct a summary of what they're all about as you could possibly hope for.

7. 'Take Care' - Deerhunter
Try as I might, I simply can't stomach 'Leather And Wood', which ruins Fading Frontier for me - a terrible shame, as if it had carried on in the vein of songs like 'Take Care', it would have been a genuine contender for Deerhunter's best album to date.

6. 'The Ministry Of Defence' - PJ Harvey
The Hope Six Demolition Project is very good indeed - but then you could've guessed that. 'The Ministry Of Defence' has a crushing intensity, both musically and lyrically.

5. 'Squealer' - Ty Segall & The Muggers
Ty Segall is very close to the top, if not even at the top, of my list of current artists I'd love to see live. Here's why. You've got to love the reaction of the news anchor as he wanders about screaming "CHICAGO!" (To be honest, the performance of 'Candy Sam' on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert was pretty damn good too.)

4. 'Love Comes In Waves' - Malcolm Middleton
At the Bullingdon in Oxford last night, the new material from Summer Of '13 was all well and good (and it certainly was good), but it couldn't match up to this, a gem from mini-LP Sleight Of Heart that I'd somehow managed to forget about.

3. 'Landslide' - Low
An absolute behemoth of a track - both beautiful and doomy in perfect balance - that's right up there with their very best. In its volume levels, Ones And Sixes harks back to my favourite Low album, The Great Destroyer, though with the incorporation of some of the minimalist electronics of Drums And Guns.

2. 'Burn The Witch' - Radiohead
From a muted initial reaction I've rapidly accelerated to loving 'Burn The Witch', a single that, in its own subtle way, ranks on a par with some of their very finest. That video, too... (Incidentally, A Moon Shaped Pool was the featured album for Episode 5 of Sounding Bored.)

1. 'Aneurysm' - Nirvana & Kim Gordon
It occurred to me recently that I'd never actually seen this - the surviving members of Nirvana marking their entry into the Rock Hall Of Fame by playing one of Kurt Cobain's best songs, with Kim Gordon putting the sort of performance that would be phenomenal even if she wasn't in her sixties. 'Lithium' (with Annie Clark aka St Vincent) and 'All Apologies' (with Lorde) are also well worth watching.

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