Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Feel good hits of the 7th November

1. 'They Gave Me A Lamp' - Public Service Broadcasting
Given its subject matter, Every Valley is naturally a pretty bleak listen for the most part, but 'They Gave Me A Lamp' is one of the few tracks that genuinely lifts the spirits. Commemorating the women who fought tirelessly on behalf of their husbands, sons and fathers during the Miners' Strike and found themselves empowered by the circumstances, the song reduced grown men to tears at the Cardiff show that kicked off Public Service Broadcasting's tour and received the longest and loudest ovation of the night.

2. 'Head On' - The Jesus And Mary Chain
It feels wrong to single out any particular song from The Jesus And Mary Chain's set at the Students' Union at the start of October - the whole gig was spectacularly good - but I'll give 'Head On' the nod over 'Happy When It Rains' and 'Some Candy Talking'. It's the reason why Automatic got a caning for about a week afterwards (and the original is better than the Pixies' version, naturally).

3. 'Special' - Angel Olsen
As if I didn't love Angel Olsen enough already, she's only gone and decided to throw us fans a bone in between "proper" albums in the form of Phases, a collection of rareties, B-sides and unreleased tracks in the mould of Nirvana's Incesticide. 'Special', a wonderful slow-burner in the vein of the second half of My Woman, is the second track of the album, following on from 'Fly On Your Wall', the arguably even better song that kicked off the anti-Trump Our First 100 Days project.

4. 'Holiday Destination' - Nadine Shah
It's not always the case that important records are also very, very good ones - but Nadine Shah's third LP certainly is. An impassioned defence of immigration (and, consequently, also a vehement attack on bigots who seek to dehumanise refugees) that channels the maverick sax-punk spirit of PJ Harvey's most recent album, Holiday Destination is a gripping listen from start to finish - especially the title track, about tourists in Greece turning their noses up disdainfully at those who have risked their lives to escape the horrors of war, persecution and poverty. A highlight of her recent Cardiff gig.

5. 'A Private Understanding' - Protomartyr
Despite falling for 'Come & See', I never really clicked with Protomartyr's breakthrough album Under Color Of Official Right. However, this track - the lead single from their fourth LP, Relatives In Descent, out through Domino - is something special, from the unsettling, almost arrhythmic verse to the powerful chorus. Joe Casey's baritone ensures that they come across as the unlikely offspring of Iceage and The National.

6. 'Blindness' - The Fall
Admittedly I'm not intimately acquainted with all of their enormous back catalogue (I can't imagine many people are), but surely there can't be a Fall song that's much more malevolent than this. That bass! Mark E Smith didn't look a well man at Tramshed back in February and his health is clearly suffering these days - but you have to give him credit for refusing to cancel recent tour dates and instead performing sat in a wheelchair.

7. 'Silk Spirit' - Drahla
I came across Drahla a while back, via this Loud And Quiet interview piece in which Dominic Haley ventures that the Leeds trio have "a sound that recalls Sonic Youth, The Breeders and cult Glaswegian post-punks Life Without Buildings (without really sounding like any of them)". That may have been the case before (on previous single 'Faux Text', perhaps, produced by MJ of Hookworms and released through the Too Pure Singles Club back in April), but - as Ronan of Nightshift has pointed out - 'Silk Spirit' is so Sonic Youth it hurts, even down to Luciel Brown's Kim-esque too-cool-for-school speak-singing. Needless to say, I love it.

8. 'Wolfbite' - Bat Fangs
If, like me, you remain smitten with the glorious, unashamed Cheap Trick thrills of Ex Hex's Rips but are growing impatient for a follow-up, Bat Fangs should help satisfy at least some of the cravings. Ex Hex's Betsy Wright has teamed up with Flesh Wound's Laura King and 'Wolfbite', at least, is very much cut from the same cloth.

9. 'Soak' - Zola Jesus
The news of a new Zola Jesus album, Okovi, had me wondering whether it might contain anything to rival 'Vessel' from Conatus. "Probably not" is the answer, but 'Soak' should be credited for coming close, a near-perfect synthesis of Nine Inch Nails' clanking, clanging electronica and Lykke Li's strident, dark-hearted pop.

10. 'Homage' - Causa Sui
A YouTube recommendation after I'd spent days listening to Sleepy Sun's Fever on repeat. Hailing from Denmark, Causa Sui are a mellowed-out Kyuss and ten-minute stunner 'Homage' comes from their 2013 LP Euporie Tide.

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