October saw the release of a few records that will probably make my end of year list. It also saw the release of records by some of my favourite artists.
I’d been looking forward to the new John Grant record for a while, and it ended up being Rough Trade’s album of the month (as well as coming with a CD version, so I have 2 copies). Grey Tickles, Black Pressures sounds like the best bits of his first two records re-imaged, which is just fine by me, and even the pink and orange vinyl didn’t put me off too much. I suspect this is a record that needs repeated listens, and I also think that the variety of musical styles makes it the sort of record that would work on a random playlist.
At the same time I picked up a record by Protomartyr (about who I know very little). The reviews mentioned Joy Division, and it came on green marbled vinyl with a small pamphlet of lyrics and other artwork. The Agent Intellect is a classic 45 minute 12 song album that doesn’t stick around too long but is a perfect example of what it is trying to be.
I’m not going to write too much about The Twilight Sad, Joanna Newsom or British Sea Power. I own every album that each of these artists has made (and a fair few other things as well), so I’m certainly writing from the perspective of a fan. The Twilight Sad record is well worth a listen; the songs are familiar but the arrangements are more stripped down and intimate, and it acts as a nice companion to their last album (from which most of the songs are taken). Likewise, the BSP album is re-workings of old songs, with the addition of a brass band, which adds additional texture and a whole new twist on songs I’ve listened to many times before. Joanna Newsom’s record is all new, took 5 years to make, and is one to listen to on repeat and try and work out what it all means.
The full list is:
Eliza Rickman – Footnotes for the Spring
John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressures
Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect
Youth Lagoon – Savage Hills Ballroom
The Twilight Sad – Oran Mor
Yacht – I Thought the Future Would be Cooler
The Decemberists – Florasongs
Joanna Newsom – Divers (not on Spotify playlist)
British Sea Power – Sea of Brass (2nd disk not on Spotify playlist)
Probably the best single month of music so far in 2015 I think.
September was a month where I spent a lot of time at work and not a lot of time listening to music. Many evenings I found myself listening to Max Richter’s From Sleep as a way of winding down from a long and busy day, but I also watched a lot of TV (Lie to Me and a fair bit of sport), and well as being pleasantly surprised by New Order’s new record which arrived right at the end of the month. I think this review sums up my thoughts fairly well. The rest of these I’ve listened to a few times whilst commuting, but have not spent the time with them that I would have liked.
Widowspeak – All Yours
Max Richter – From Sleep
Royal Headache – High
Yo La Tengo – Stuff Like That There
Beirut – No No No
Ben Folds – So There
Chvrches – Every Open Eye
New Order – Music Complete
Ought – Sun Coming Down
The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die – Harmlessness
This month I largely listened to my vinyl collection, including about a week where I had Jim O’Rourke’s Simple Songs on loop. I also (re)discovered Jethro Tull’s Passion Play (both on vinyl and the Steven Wilson remastered version), and have had a bit of a New Pornographers/Sea and Cake binge. As a result, I listened to very little music that was actually released this month until the last few days of the month, after which time things went back to normal.
Mac Demarco – Another One
Georgia – Georgia
Paul Smith and the Intimations – Contradictions
The Phoenix Foundation – Give up Your Dreams
Pere Ubu – The Pere Ubu Moon Unit (not on Spotify playlist)
Drinks – Hermits on Holiday
Frog Eyes – Pickpocket’s Locket
Tempel – The Moon Lit Our Path
Destroyer – Poison Season
The Bohicas – The Making Of
C. Duncan – Architect
Eleventh Dream Day – Works for Tomorrow
Toro Y Moi – Samantha (not on Spotify playlist, but available for free)
Georgia’s debut album was a bit of a bolt out of the blue. I’d not heard of her until I received the album through the post from Rough Trade, but it is pleasantly different to most of what I listen to, and very much a record for 2015.
Destroyer, Mac Demarco, Paul Smith, Eleventh Dream Day and Frog Eyes are safe bets for me. I own record by all five artists already, and between them they nicely cater for my need for interesting and intelligent song-based music. All of these records may very well be career highlights, and I’m particularly pleased that Poison Season doesn’t disappoint after the very high benchmark of Kaputt.
C. Duncan, Drinks, Tempel and The Phoenix Foundation I’d not heard of until this month, but are well worth a listen. Tempel remind me a bit of Pelican, who feature heavily in my Post Rock Classics playlist.
And then there is Pere Ubu. They are another band I own a lot of music by, and (very much like The Fall) I always try and listen to everything they put out. This one is a very short live (I think) record, but it’s interesting for fans (and probably not that interesting to anyone else). As an aside, I also picked up their Cloudland on vinyl for for a lot of money, and have been remembering listening to Waiting for Mary when it first came out (1989?) and thinking it was one of the best songs ever written. It’s not, but it still brings back fond memories of summer and childhood and the period of time where I was starting to discover more alternative music.
July has been an odd month. It’s the first month for a while I’ve spent an extended period of time in one place, and I suppose the music I’ve listened to has reflected this. I’ve had more time to read blogs and websites and hunt out new and unusual things to listen to, and I’ve also spent a fair bit of time reading this month, which tends to require a more ambient and instrumental soundtrack.
It also strikes me I’ve listened to a lot of new music thing month; certainly more than any other month this year.
The full list of what I’ve discovered (and would recommend) is:
Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion Music
Veruca Salt – Ghost Notes
OHMMS – Cold
Nordic Giants – A Seance of Dark Delusions
Carpet – Elysian Pleasure
Ghostface Killah and Adrian Younge – Twelve Reasons to Die II
B Dolan – Kill the Wolf
Wilco – Star Wars
Tame Impala – Currents Anthonie Tonnon – Successor
Abyss – Pastel Ghost
Desaparecidos – Payola
Passion Pit – Kindred
Four Tet – Morning/Evening
Marsheaux – A Broken Frame
Toe – Hear You
Locrian – Infinite Dissolution
God is an Astronaut – Helios | Erebus
I’ve also caught up on a few things I missed earlier in the year, specifically Steven Wilson’s excellent Hand. Cannot. Erase. which is probably the most impressive vinyl release I’ve come across since I started buying records again.
August is another month of travelling (starting on 1st, and ending some time in early September), and I’m looking forward to exploring some of this music through headphones when I’m far away from home.
It seems I’ve not listened to a great deal of new music in June. I suspect that a month spent all over the country might play a part in that. And yet, it’s been another month of established artists making unexpectedly good records. Franz Ferdinand & Sparks is a combination I would never have though of, and yet FFS is a great record. I am also very impressed with the new Faith no More record, which manages to sound a bit like old Faith no More and a bit like everything else Mike Patton has made in the interim. After preparing to be disappointed I’ve actually found myself listening to it a great deal. There is also a new Sun Kil Moon record, which has soundtracked my walks to work, and which pretty much picks up where the last one left off. I love it, but I suspect a lot of that love comes from a combination nostalgia and being at a similar place in life, and it may be something of an acquired taste (I acquired the taste for Red House Painters when I was at University and have lapped up everything Mark Kozelek has made since).
So the list for June 2015 looks something like this:
Sun Kil Moon – Universal Themes
Faith No More – Sol Invictus
FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks) – FFS
John Zorn – The Song Project Live at Le Poisson Rouge (not on Spotify playlist)
John Zorn/Mycale – Gomory : Book of Angels vol. 25 (not on Spotify playlist)
Algiers – Algiers
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Alden Penner – Canada in Space
Brontosaurus – Our Animal Ways
May was largely about some of my musical heroes making good, unexpected, and unexpectedly good records. It was also a month where I travelled a fair bit (June will also be one of those months), and as a result I probably didn’t listen to as much music as I would if I’d been at home all month.
I’ve not written much about the new Jim O’Rourke album, and unfortunately it’s not on Spotify (and won’t be), but it really is exactly as good as I was expecting. I really didn’t think he’d ever make a song based record again, and I’ve been playing it fairly constantly since I got back to the UK on Monday.
So the list for May 2015 looks something like this:
Django Django – Born Under Saturn
Calexico – Edge of the Sun
Peter Broderick – Colours of the Night
Todd Rundgren – Global
Todd Rundgren, Emil Nikolaison and Hans Peter Lindstrom – Runndans
Jacco Gardner – Hypnophobia
The Fall – Sub-Lingual Tablet (not on Spotify playlist)
Death and Vanilla – Where the Wild Things Are
Jim O’Rourke – Simple Songs (not on Spotify playlist)
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Quarters
The Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird is Home
I can’t believe it’s May already. And because it is May, it’s probably time for me to post a list of April’s musical new releases that rocked my world. My Rough Trade album of the month was by Wand, and came on delicious red vinyl. The rest of this lot is pretty delicious too though.
Wand – Golem
Nadine Shah – Fast Food
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Chilly Gonzales – Chambers
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
Follakzoid – III
Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon
East India Youth – Culture of Volume
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress
Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure
Duke Special – Look Out Machines!
Villagers – Darling Arithmetic
Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
Blur – The Magic Whip
Toro Y Moi – What For?
March was a great month for music. Here are a few of my highlights.
Matthew E. White – Fresh Blood
Clarence Clarity – No Now
Drake – If You’re Reading This Then It’s Too Late
Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin
Fyfe – Control
Will Butler – Policy
Emile Haynie – We Fall
Cannibal Ox – Blade of the Ronin
Drew Dave – Synthbased
Laura Marling – Short Movie
Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside
Nils Frahm – Solo
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
A section of new music I’ve stumbled upon this month. I owe a lot of this to Rough Trade’s albums of the month list.
Darren Hayman – Chants for Socialists
The Districts – A Flourish and A Spoil
Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
The Unthanks – Mount the Air
Andrew Combs – All These Dreams
Crushed Beaks – Scatter
Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass
John Carpenter – Lost Themes
Duke Garwood – Heavy Love
Vision Fortune – Country Music
Viet Cong – Viet Cong
Levon Vincent – Self Titled (not on the Spotify playlist)
Jose Gonzales – Vestiges & Claws
Jim White vs The Packway Handle Band – Take it Like a Man
Damon and Naomi – Fortune
Grooms – Comb the Feeling Through your Hair
Jib Kidder – Teaspoon to the Ocean
Bob Dylan – Shadows in the Night (not on the Spotify playlist)
There have been a fair few great things released this month. The list below contains the things I can’t stop listening to right now
Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper
Ghost Culture – Ghost Culture
Liam Hayes – Slurrp
The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
BC Camplight – How to Die in the North
Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
Belle & Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
Elephant Micah – Where in Our Woods