Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Feel good hits of the 11th July

1. 'Leave Them All Behind' - Ride
Trust me to only truly discover the delights of Oxford's first bona fide indie guitar heroes just after I've left the city. And to think I was sniffy about them on account of Andy Bell's involvement with Hurricane #1, Oasis and Beady Eye - 'Leave Them All Behind' is so good it could excuse a litany of crimes even more heinous than that.

2. 'Summer's Kiss' - Afghan Whigs
Belatedly clicking with In Spades sent me scurrying back to Black Love, the first Whigs album I ever got. Back then (1996), 'Summer's Kiss' was among the songs that soon had me scrambling to pick up the rest of the Cincinatti outfit's back catalogue.

3. 'Switch Opens' - Soundgarden
Another one from 1996. When Chris Cornell died, I - like most Soundgarden fans, I imagine - instinctively reached for Superunknown. But it wasn't long before I had a hankering to revisit its much less celebrated follow-up. Down On The Upside is less consistent but more surprising in its variety, and to these ears 'Switch Opens' remains one of the best things they ever recorded.

4. 'Bodies For Money' - GNOD
For anyone who thinks that psych music is always slow, ponderous and soporific. Rarely have I been to a gig where the material has been delivered with such aggression as it was at the Moon on the night of the General Election.

5. 'Maui Tears' - Sleepy Sun
First hearing 'White Dove' back in (ooh, about) 2009 was little short of a revelation, but sadly it was gradually diminishing returns for Sleepy Sun thereafter. Spine Hits, their third LP, was a bit of a mess recorded after the acrimonious departure of vocalist Rachel Fannan, an attempt to be succinct that didn't suit them at all. It's only very recently that I discovered a follow-up was released in 2014, of which 'Maui Tears' is the title track - a gorgeous slow-burner that channels OK Computer-era Radiohead and Pink Floyd as well as their usual stoner touchstones and that makes a strong case for giving them and new album Private Tales another chance.

6. 'Let Me Sing You Love Songs' - Rachel Fannan
Speaking of Fannan, here's what she got up to next: gorgeous Cat Power-esque balladry (as well as her own band Only You and collaborations with UNKLE and Anywhere, the supergroup that has at various times featured Mike Watt, Krist Novoselic, Dale Crover, Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Comets On Fire's Ethan Miller and her former Sleepy Sun bandmates Bret Constantino and Matt Holliman).

7. 'Rushing Through My Mind' - Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation
Not the first time I've very belatedly heeded an effusive recommendation from Nightshift editor Ronan only to discover he was bang on the money. Labelmates of GNOD on Rocket Recordings (which currently boasts an impressive roster), Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation and their spaced-out psych Stereolab vibe are one of the main draws on the bill for the Future Perfect-curated Ritual Union bash due to take place in Oxford in October.

8. 'Well Done' - IDLES
"Even Mary Berry loves reggae. Why don't you like reggae?" Accusatory questions don't come much better than that. The highlight of their Clwb set at the beginning of April.

9. 'Dowager' - Anna Meredith
Captivating synth-heavy single from Anna Meredith, who's established herself as one of the most inventive artists in the UK and garnered plenty of attention at SXSW this spring. Her LP Varmints was Sounding Bored's album of the year for 2016, dontchaknow.

10. 'Stargazer' - Juanita Stein
2014's Heartstrings was very much the fabled return to form for Howling Bells, but sadly it sank largely without trace. The band still seem to be a going concern, but frontwoman Juanita Stein has launched a solo career so their days might be numbered. A shame if so, as this relatively lacklustre effort suggests she's better off in company.

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