Monday, May 22, 2017

STN recommends: a massive May catchup

Right then. Buckle up.

We ended up taking blog downtime at the same time as EVERY BAND IN THE WORLD announced a return. First cab off that rank is the mighty Grizzly Bear, up til now perhaps America's most consistently fascinating band. Painted Ruins, out August 18th, brings us two tracks: Three Rings and Mourning Sound both start like a well oiled machine with drum loop and buzzing deep bassline before the multitude of layers come in. In the former wordless chorales and delicately interlocked pieces floating across uneven paths and firing off in all directions before coalescing and resolving around a mini-guitar solo striking and cresting at the heart of Ed Droste's emotional angst; Mourning Sound, boasting a good variety of retro synth sounds, is maybe more direct and radio friendly single-worthy standout than they've ever produced.

Next down the aisle come The National, whose Sleep Well Beast, out September 8th, brings us The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness, a slightly adjusted take on their slow burn dark poise, electrified bursts of guitar rudely interrupting the paranoid elegance that in what passes for a chorus sees Matt Berninger attempt to reach the highest parts of his vocal range reaching for a peak everything else doesn't feel like playing along with. While we're talking bands who've gone two decades finding new paths through inbuilt build-and-release tension, Mogwai release Every Country's Sun on 1st September, their ninth album proper, from which comes Coolverine, tingling and graceful with an undercurrent of anxiety that slowly builds as the drums enter into a spectacular panorama. This year's Brilliant Mogwai Track Title: Don't Believe The Fife. And then there's the multi-faced, multi-faceted Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder out 7th July as their first album in seven years, with an understated. skittering Feist-led title track locked into a steady if tense coast until the machines finally attempt to take over at the end.

Onto albums we already knew and have written about, starting with one practically made for us as Public Service Broadcasting, who release south Wales coal mining-themed Every Valley on 7th July, consider the social and political strides of women involved in and around the industry and the miner's strike on They Gave Me A Lamp, and our old showbiz pals Haiku Salut help out (and co-billed) on a track where interview samples are brought into a Haiku-esque series of exquisite interwoven loops eventually joined by a triumphant brass section. Napoleon IIIrd's The Great Lake came out on Friday - there's a full presentation of the album as part of Holmfirth Film Festival on Wednesday - and we'll talk about its late Talk Talk/slowcore with a sax-recalling treatises on dealing with loss in time, save to guide you towards So It Goes, its hymnal closing song of hope and recovery. Fleet Foxes' Crack-Up, out 16th June, has on whole attracted a little more attention, the purposefully striding Fool's Errand expanding the solitude chamber folk approach to take in the Technicolor influence of 1960s sunshine pop. And then there's Sparks. There's always Sparks, and there's always a Sparks song in the form of a conversation involving a laissez-faire God. What The Hell Is It This Time?, from 8th September-due Hippopotamus, is of their latter day goofy-orchestral bent in which the Almighty finally cracks under the pressure of constant prayers and entreaties for good.

And now a brief diversion into Bands You And We Both Like Who Have Released New Stuff Without An Album Seemingly On The Horizon. (Got to think of a catchier title than that.) LCD Soundsystem's fourth album will according to James Murphy be ready when the physical versions are ready, which seems almost self-parodic. In the meantime come two tracks, Call The Police a first cousin of All My Friends' propulsion with a greater ambition that leaves it sounding almost too much like a Brian Eno stadium-aiming production, while American Dream is for the morning after, a woozy fried ultra-introspective to the point of self-loathing self-examination to the backing of cheap waltz time drum machine and crystal synths. Courtney Barnett's How To Boil An Egg is for Split Singles Club, a 7" series the joint work of her own Milk! Records and Melbourne-based Bedroom Sucks, and a track she refers to as "a songwriting experiment", a brain-emptying treatise on loneliness and lack of achievement that stems from her open mic days and on which she plays every instrument in an appeallingly rockabilly fashion. Danger Mouse's track for Edgar Wright heist comedy Baby Driver is built around the intro riff from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion's Bellbottoms, which would be more than enough grimy funk for us without the flow weight of Run The Jewels and Big Boi added. The blues remains number one. Beach House meanwhile are releasing B-sides And Rarities, a self-defined stopgap, on June 30th, featuring the hitherto unreleased Chariot from the Depression Cherry/Thank Your Lucky Stars double session. There's no good apparent reason why its cinematic sway was left off, unless they thought it chiming airiness was too atypical of their sound.

Let's return to the transcendently dreamy melancholia of Amber Arcades' Cannonball EP for Wouldn't Even Know, featuring a Lee Hazlewood pitch-level cameo from Bill Ryder-Jones which gives it extra self-querying brooding. Electro-folkie Mary Epworth feels like she's been around for some time but is only just getting around to her second album five years after the debut, Elytral out 1st September; from it, Me Swimming glides and throbs entrancingly for more than six minutes, as aqueous and submergent as its title suggests. Michael Nau has been making detailed folk-rock as Cotton Jones, and under his own name on I Root he traces a path from there to classic soul, especially in its laidback shimmering production - album Some Twist is out June 16th.

Emma Winston as Deerful has drawn our attention before, and from debut album Peach out 2nd June comes the minimal synth introspection of Cloudwatching. Another we've written about a good few times in the past, Seazoo are finally approaching their debut as yet unconfirmed album with the aid of Roy's World, a sprightly piece of typically Welsh scene-scented warped insta-pop with an ineffable hook and wobbly psychedelic synths. Not quite as many of the latter as inside Flamingods' percussive psychotropia, which achieves a kind of divergent form with the tripped out shamanistic sound (and video) of Mixed Blessings, from EP Kewali out on Friday. Hey, Zola Blood, there's another name we've blogged before, and their album Infinite Games is out on Friday. The Only Thing has definite soaring ambitions of not being held down into another electropop act but not in that obvious radio-demanding way, instead attaching its ineffable melody to an appeallingly insistent misshapen beat.

Next, to Glasgow. Atlas Cedar is Chris Syme, whose In Hollywood quotes inspiration from Supertramp in the song information but comes across like a more Americana-friendly take on that Quiet Is The New Loud thing from around the start of the century, a hazy, well layered electro-acoustic shuffle with sonic nods to a late 60s aesthetic, unshowy but keen to imprint itself. Meanwhile the city's DIY/punk scene is as fertile as ever, Breakfast Muff's R U A Feminist, half of a double A-side ahead of an album due in July, full of piss and vinegar, Eilidh McMillan spitting out the words against an increasingly ragged and increasingly angry backing. From ragged punx to ragged lo-fi, What's In Your Bag? from Dublin's Silverbacks' Sink The Fat Moon EP, which came out on Friday, is built on the rickety foundations of laconic lo-fi.

Newly signed to Big Scary Monsters over here, Canadians Single Mothers are an incendiary proposition on Long Distance, essentially Japandroids to the power of Dischord. Second album Our Pleasure is out 16th June. Compass by Leeds' Esper Scout surges like the pop-accessible end of Sonic Youth, which isn't a bad thing when it's shaped into a subtly insistent charge of their own and around smart lyrical consideration of homeliness and displacement; the sometime Cribs support are going to be worth watching as they promise an album next year.

Here's a name you likely never expected to see again - Montreal's The Dears were almost a big deal around the mid-00s for their Smiths-inspired expansiveness. Now down to a duo, Times Infinity Volume Two is either their seventh or six-and-a-halfth depending on how you read it and returns them to the might and internal heft of their peak, 1998 a misleadingly upbeat gallop that eventually finds its sense of place and release in its closing quarter. And, perhaps very much finally, Cardiff's My Name Is Ian - go on, guess how many of them are called Ian - are about to go sixteen albums in seven years to the good with Cincinnati Cola via the ever reliable Bubblewrap Collective, the spectacularly titled Fight, Drink And Watch People Die On TV a pure garage indie-rock thrill.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

STN recommends... April 2017

Finally, very belatedly, the best new songs of the fourth month of the year.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

STN recommends: 3/5/17

First things first, we realised we didn't get time to write a Recommends at the end of last week and then spent just as long putting the songs we wanted to write about on Twitter instead, so who's the real winner here?

Drahla - Faux Text

From Leeds, a Too Pure Singles Club release, recorded by MJ at Suburban Home Studios - some people have worked out the express route to getting onto STN. And luckily it's a great single too, a menacing meeting of almost-spoken intrigue with surging art-noise guitars and skronking sax in the Sonic Youth lineage but none the worse in ideas and ominousness for that.

Soeur - Just Yet

There's been a few bands recently reaching back to the great gritty grunge sound of 1992, and not a lot of them are very good. Bristol via Worcester's Soeur, who we first came across just this weekend at Handmade festival, have the charm and nous to pull it off on their What Separates Us EP, knowing all about the key to it all being the capture and release, allied to the raw, sleazy dual female vocals. And check that riff bringing down buildings in its wake.

Orchards - Darling

Another Handmade discovery, Brightonians and recent PWR BTTM support Orchards are tricky to grab hold of, switching seamlessly from Foals-style slightly straightened angular hi-life influenced shapes to big showy synth-driven choruses to exuberant shiny poppiness, bursting with hooks throughout. Fans of Fickle Friends will find plenty to like here.

Monday, May 01, 2017

40 From 40: 1997

Cool Britannia! Backing Britain! Noel at No.10 with Tony! (There's a reason why we're posting this on 1st May 2017, obviously) Yeah, 1997 was the year that all kind of evaporated and Be Here Now was key in making it that way, alongside the old canard of just being too much of the workaday being hailed as next big things - note in this playlist even the bands thrown into the Britpop malaise are audibly making great distance from that form. The year's big winners as far as hindsight goes ended up being Radiohead, making the most of the first great uber-muddy Glastonbury and of the technologies made available to them to progress - which is telling given at the time almost as much critical hosannah-ing was being given to the Prodigy's hooligan breakbeat culmination Fat Of The Land, which from this distance has been thoroughly subsumed by the albums before it even before you factor in the very much timelocked context of a Crispian Mills cameo. Of course what actually sold in 1997 was the reworked Candle In The Wind, brought into a world that was all for the lachrymose having just made Puff Daddy's I'll Be Missing You an enormous starmaking vehicle, and, in long form, the Spice Girls, so great a cultural force that their Saturday Night Live appearance got on the actual news back over here. Chumbawumba of all bands had a massive international hit. Dimly remembered roots rockers Texas reinvented themselves to world-carrying effect. Someone tried to get New Grave going as a genre, while urban London took up speed garage, the opening strains of a very fascinating, very much evolving form (even if the recorded version largely existed in white label 12"s and remixes) that pretty much has a through-line via the following year's UK Garage boom to this day. Jeff Buckley and Michael Hutchence both left us, the latter a polarising force to rock stardom of the 1990s, the former an unwitting key text in the softening of the form in the early 00s. 1997 - a transitional year, but not in the usual way.

Spearmint - Sweeping The Nation
Comet Gain - These Are The Dreams Of The Working Girl
Velocette - Get Yourself Together
Kenickie - People We Want
Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
Prolapse - Killing The Bland
AC Acoustics - Stunt Girl
Dawn Of The Replicants - Lisa Box
Cornelius - Freefall
Yo La Tengo - Sugarcube
Supergrass - Richard III
Clinic - IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - The Impression That I Get
Belle & Sebastian - Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie
Grandaddy - A.M. 180
Radiohead - Airbag
Primal Scream - Burning Wheel
Cable - Freeze The Atlantic
Super Furry Animals - Demons
The Beta Band - Dry The Rain
Massive Attack - Risingson
Portishead - All Mine
Eels - Your Lucky Day In Hell
Flowchart - Flutter By Butterfly
Björk - Bachelorette
Spiritualized - Come Together
Blur - Death Of A Party
David Holmes - Don't Die Just Yet (The Holiday Girl) (Arab Strap Remix)
Six By Seven - 88-92-96
Mogwai - Mogwai Fear Satan
The Chemical Brothers - The Private Psychedelic Reel
Missy Elliott - Beep Me 911
Scott Garcia feat. MC Styles - A London Thing
Cornershop - Sleep On The Left Side
Tindersticks - Bathtime
Elliott Smith - Between The Bars
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Into My Arms
Teenage Fanclub - Ain't That Enough
Sodastream - Turnstyle
Pavement - Shady Lane

Previously among the 40: 1970, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

40 From 40: 1975

*The* 1975, because pop SEO has to work in STN's favour at some time. The year of Rollermania, Whispering Grass, Sailing and the UK's best selling album being The Best of the Stylistics. Disco took off with plentiful American number ones and the Bee Gees' patronage. Bob Marley at the Lyceum was the public face of an underrated year in the progression of the golden age of reggae, as you'll see reflected in the closing suite of this playlist. Blood On The Tracks. Wish You Were Here. Horses. A rugged American songwriting hero in waiting simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines. Slade In Flame and Tommy proving two sides of the same music-filmic coin. I'm Not In Love. Bohemian Rhapsody. Peter Gabriel leaving Genesis. The Rolling Thunder Revue. Saturday Night Live beginning. Sean Lennon's birth. And in a once quiet corner, Punk magazine and the first Sex Pistols gigs. Meanwhile, back in the worlds of where glam meets pop or proto-punk, soul looks bleary-eyed at the dancefloor and funk and Krautrock do their particular, peculiar arrythmic things...

Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
Patti Smith - Land
Dr Feelgood - All Through The City
The Tubes - White Punks On Dope
The Dictators - Teengenerate
Television - Little Johnny Jewel
Pere Ubu - 30 Seconds Over Tokyo
Brian Eno - I'll Come Running
Sparks - Get In The Swing
Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman
Sailor - A Glass Of Champagne
Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)
Joni Mitchell - In France They Kiss On Main Street
Bob Dylan - Idiot Wind
The Isley Brothers - The Heat Is On Pts. 1 & 2
David Bowie - Fame
Ohio Players - Fopp
Earth, Wind & Fire - Shining Star
Donna Summer - Love To Love You Baby
Parliament - Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)
War - Low Rider
The Meters - Fire On The Bayou
CAN - Vernal Equinox
NEU! - Hero
Harmonia - Walky Talky
Robert Wyatt - Solar Flares
Kraftwerk - Radioactivity
John Cale - Guts
The Walker Brothers - No Regrets
Yabby You - Conquering Lion
Burning Spear - Slavery Days
I-Roy - Welding
Sylford Walker - Burn Babylon
Johnny Clarke - Don't Want To Be A Rude Boy
Susan Cadogan - Congratulations
Cornell Campbell - Dance In A Greenwich Farm
Observer All-Stars & King Tubby - Dubbing With The Observer
U-Roy - The Great Psalms
Lee "Scratch" Perry - Hold Them Kung Fu
Trinity - Three Piece Suit

Previously among the 40: 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

Friday, April 21, 2017

40 From 40: 1989

You know we always fill this part up by talking about how the year in question is transitional or misleading? It's not quite reflected here because of time, place, the best work coming in the previous two or three years and the ageing process as much as anything, but 1989 isn't one of those years. It was the Second Summer Of Love, the acid house and rave scene boom leading to one of the great youth culture moments, the year of smiley faces and baggy clothes, the TB-303 and breakbeats, countryside rendez-vous and overreaching hedonism comparisons. Even guitar bands started learning from it as Madchester caught on, just as Tony Wilson said it would. In time, for all the police attention and tabloid scare stories, they'd come to make documentaries about that summer. Also, Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers have three number ones, though one of the pair behind them will go on to found hard house label Tidy Trax so they still tangentially count. Like A Prayer and its religion-baiting video is the big worldwide hit of the year, cementing Madonna as the icon of the age, while in Britain it's the peak year of Stock Aitken Waterman, giving Sonia a number one, Jason Donovan the year's biggest selling album and the Reynolds Girls a shortlived career. Our biggest selling single is Ride On Time, reflecting house's commercial imperative and its habit of getting away with things, eh, Martha Wash? Then again this was the year of Milli Vanilli's secret slipping, so maybe that was just attuned to the times too. New Kids On The Block emerged as Ken left Bros, Band Aid II happened and this glorious minute's worth of TV fiasco happened. Are we going have a look at the possibilities?

Public Enemy - Fight The Power
Beastie Boys - Shake Your Rump
The D.O.C. - Portrait Of A Masterpiece
Double Trouble & Rebel MC - Street Tuff
Redhead Kingpin & The FBI - Do The Right Thing
Young MC - Know How
Neneh Cherry - Kisses On The Wind
De La Soul - Me, Myself & I
Momus - Hairstyle Of The Devil
808 State - Pacific 707
Orbital - Chime
Starlight - Numero Uno
Kon Kan - I Beg Your Pardon
Soul II Soul - Get A Life
New Order - All The Way
Popguns - Waiting For The Winter
The Wedding Present - Brassneck
Nirvana - About A Girl
Pavement - Box Elder
Another Sunny Day - You Should All Be Murdered
fIREHOSE - Riddle Of The Eighties
Kirsty MacColl - Free World
Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians - Madonna Of The Wasps
Yo La Tengo - Barnaby, Hardly Working
Pixies - Gouge Away
Fugazi - Margin Walker
Spacemen 3 - Revolution
Silver Bullet - 20 Seconds To Comply
Barry Adamson - Under Wraps
Happy Mondays - Hallelujah (Maccoll Mix)
Wire - Eardrum Buzz
The Sugarcubes - Regina
The Blue Nile - Headlights On The Parade
Kate Bush - The Sensual World
The Sundays - Can't Be Sure
Bob Mould - See A Little Light
The The - The Beat(en) Generation
The Cure - Lullaby
Galaxie 500 - Blue Thunder
The Stone Roses - I Am The Resurrection

Previously among the 40: 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

STN recommends: 19/4/17

Because remember: NEW MUSIC DOES NOT STOP.

christian fitness - slap bass hunks

Please refer to yesterday's post.

Waxahatchee - Silver

Katie Crutchfield returns with a meaningful guitar crunch that harkens back to the days when we called this kind of thing 'college rock' and Tanya Donelly roamed the land. Big old hooks, self-questioning approach, streamlined for maximum emotional effect. Out In The Storm is out 14th July.

Slow Skies - Shut Your Eyes

It's been a while since we've heard anything new from Dublin's Karen Sheridan, whose 2014 EP intrigued us with its glacial shimmer and yaw. There's very little information about what this is for or from but, if slightly more approachable, it remains a delicate floating confection of Sheridan's honeyed vocal and a number of interesting textures gliding below the surface.

Two White Cranes - Miso

We last saw Roxy Brennan exploring her electronic urges as Furore; back to the guitar for a while she's almost lilting as she tackles the mental delocation of moving away. No definite news of a full release but there's some dates coming up

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

STN recommends: 18/4/17

Christian Fitness - Bees Mode

Reminder of STN policy: you don't write about Christian Fitness songs, you let them happen. Seems the next album's going to be called Slap Bass Hunks.

Girlpool - It Gets More Blue

When we first met Cleo and Harmony they were skeletal and direct; with maturity comes personal consideration and a filling out of a lot if not all of the gaps - listen! Drums! - which gives the music a tinge of Pavement lo-fi broken melody against the softly downcast harmonies without sacrificing that off the top of the head emotional intimacy.

Saint Etienne - Magpie Eyes

It's back to the club-ready machines, whirring dreamy synths and sequencers for the second taste of Home Counties, out 2nd June, inspired partially by the Creation Records tome but mostly by a sense of loss and missing out on the world.

Kamikaze Girls - Berlin

The Leeds duo - yeah, one of those again, we're afraid, but bear in mind what it takes for us to endorse a guitar/drums duo these days - are newly signed to Big Scary Monsters and roar out of the blocks with rough-hewn juggernaut riffs and powerhouse drums driven by focused fury. Album Seafoam is out June 9th.

Sweet Baboo - Wild Imagination

The title track from Stephen's latest album, released 2nd June, is a dreamy, one man Beach Boys on a budget concoction that like much of his best work is sweetly uplifting very much in his own world that's just a slightly more sepia printed version of ours.

Post War Glamour Girls - Pollyanna Cowgirl

For a moment there they sounded like they'd gone *cough* anthemic. From third album Swan Songs, out April 21st, serpentine guitars and James' familiar doomy vocal fighting back against the wall of indifference.

Deerful - Subjects Of Our Love

Emma Winston has done time in Darren Hayman's band and Owl & Mouse amongst others; in her solo guise - album Peach out June 9th - she takes up Gameboy and assorted slightly worn synths to create racing 8-bit electropop of a personal affirmation hue.

BEAK> - Sex Music

Geoff Barrow's other band, as you might recall, go for the motorik, vintage organ sound and turn out surprisingly slinky, if unsurprisingly dark in doing so.

The St Pierre Snake Invasion - Dick E Mozart

76 seconds of death-or-glory-but-the-former-if-at-all-possible crashing hardcore, part of the Too Pure Singles Club, from a Bristol band whose singer did the auxiliary vocals when Mclusky played their semi-reformation shows, which follows with his band's angry crash dynamics.

Her's - I'll Try

Swooningly, nimbly romantic playing itself off against Norwegian vocalist Audun Laading's distracted slacker slur, the Liverpool-based duo have turned a few heads for their somnambulent bedroom pop, all of which is collected on story-so-far compilation Songs Of Her's, out 12th May.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

40 From 40: 2009

As promised when we did 1970 on Good Friday, the other end of our forty-year spectrum and a list notably more biased than most, even if its span is only the last five years, towards what STN was writing about at the time anyway. The Big Pink were the hot new thing of the day and Duffy emerged as the big winner at the Brits, we took our entertainment where we could find it. Michael Jackson's death was announced late on the Thursday of Glastonbury, and starved of anyone else to talk to BBC News interviewed White Lies' touring keyboard player about it. Oasis split, properly this time. "Kanye'd" briefly becomes a thing with the unwitting aid of Taylor Swift, though nobody now remembers him doing the same to Justice's video directors at MTV Europe's beanfeast three years earlier. Lady Gaga in her original "mixing up outerwear and underwear" phase broke enormous. Susan Boyle had the world's biggest selling album. Confusing days.

Ebony Bones! - The Muzik
Dirty Projectors - Stillness Is The Move
Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks
Everything Everything - Photoshop Handsome
Napoleon IIIrd - The Strong Nuclear Force
Animal Collective - My Girls
The Phantom Band - The Howling
Grammatics - D.I.L.E.M.M.A.
Joe Gideon & The Shark - Civilisation
The Horrors - Sea Within A Sea
Rose Elinor Dougall - Start/Stop/Synchro
Broadcast And The Focus Group - the be colony
Mat Riviere - FYH
Wild Beasts - Hooting & Howling
Los Campesinos! - The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future
The Leisure Society - The Last Of The Melting Snow
The Low Anthem - Charlie Darwin
Laura Marling - Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)
Bat For Lashes - Moon And Moon
The Wave Pictures - If You Leave It Alone
The xx - VCR
Slow Club - Come On Youth
Emmy The Great - First Love
Jesca Hoop - Four Dreams
Camera Obscura - My Maudlin Career
Super Furry Animals - Inaugural Trams
Stairs To Korea - Boy Bear It In Mind
Copy Haho - Wrong Direction
Standard Fare - Dancing
The Drums - Let's Go Surfing
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Come Saturday
Johnny Foreigner - Ghost The Festivals
Future Of The Left - Arming Eritrea
Colourmusic - Yes!
Nosferatu D2 - 2 People, 0 Superpowers
Sky Larkin - Summit
Bombay Bicycle Club - Always Like This
Broken Records - If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song, It Would Sound Like This
Luke Haines - 21st Century Man
Madness - The Liberty Of Norton Folgate

Previously among the 40: 1970, 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009

Friday, April 14, 2017

40 From 40: 1970

40 From 40 refers, as you've likely forgotten, to forty tracks from each of forty years, and this extended weekend we're going to tick off the alpha and omega of our chosen timeframe. 1970 first, a year when the 1960s hadn't quite finished yet - the Beatles were still officially a going concern until Paul announced his lack of plans in a Q&A to promote his debut solo album in April and then filed court documents for their dissolving on New Year's Eve. Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin died within two and a half weeks of each other at the same age, Simon & Garfunkel released their final album together and Mike Nesmith left the Monkees. The Isle Of Wight festival brought about the age of the outdoor field-based hootenanny, that and other open-air and collective events over the early summer inspiring a tiny affair in Pilton later in the year. Musically, soul was at the end of its first golden age, the singer-songwriters were on the march and loud things we couldn't understand yet were coming into focus.

Edwin Starr - War
The Temptations - Ball Of Confusion (That's What The World Is Today)
The Equals - Black Skinned Blue-Eyed Boys
The Jackson 5 - The Love You Save
Stevie Wonder - Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)
The Supremes - Stoned Love
Chairmen Of The Board - Give Me Just A Little More Time
The (Detroit) Spinners - It's A Shame
Freda Payne - Band Of Gold
Booker T & the MG's - Melting Pot
Bob & Marcia - Young, Gifted And Black
Dandy Livingstone - Rudy, A Message To You
The Upsetters - Clint Eastwood
Toots & The Maytals - 54-46 Was My Number
John Lennon - Instant Karma!
The Last Poets - When The Revolution Comes
James Brown - Super Bad (Parts 1 & 2)
Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up
Segun Bucknor & His Revolution - La La La
George Harrison - Wah-Wah
Syd Barrett - No Good Trying
Badfinger - Come And Get It
David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World
The Beatles - Across The Universe
Nick Drake - At The Chime Of A City Clock
Simon & Garfunkel - The Boxer
James Taylor - Fire And Rain
Neil Young - After The Gold Rush
Joni Mitchell - Ladies Of The Canyon
David Ackles - That's No Reason To Cry
Van Morrison - Moondance
The Kinks - Powerman
The Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane
The Rattles - The Witch
Deep Purple - Black Night
The Stooges - T.V. Eye
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Led Zeppelin - Immigrant Song
Amon Düül II - Archangels Thunderbird
T. Rex - Ride A White Swan

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

40 From 40: 2004

2004 was a year when things were upturned. Britney got married twice, the first cracks in that impregnable facade, though this was also the year of Toxic so nobody pried too deeply yet. That clearly wasn't something going to be afforded to Pete Doherty, whose charge to the front pages took hold as he left the Libertines, checked into and then fled a growing number of rehab clinics for crack addiction, got arrested a lot, formed Babyshambles, made the possibility of his playing gigs somewhere into a spectator sport and was voted top of the NME's Cool List to boot. Up the top end of the industry U2 re-established themselves as the biggest band in the world while their heir apparents Coldplay saw their disciples emerge into their own spotlight, just as the Libertines were with Razorlight pitched as the land's coolest band. That state of affairs was one grime, fresh off Dizzee's Mercury win in 2003, was very willing to ignore and go on its own way (until grindie happened, but we do not speak of grindie), Wiley and Lethal Bizzle emerging and Channel U doing on a Sky platform what SBTV would later do to greater acclaim online. The Streets proved the white trojan horse connecting the underground to the charts, a necessity in a year that despite finding house room for Scissor Sisters was more interested all told in Peter Andre's comeback, Eric Prydz, Natasha Bedingfield and the Eamon vs Frankee 'battle', a kind of Roxanne Wars for people who find swearing hilarious. No wonder Top Of The Pops was shunted off to its BBC2 Sunday night morgue towards the end of the year. Band Aid 20 happened at the end of the year to put the tin lid on a lot of things, not least Dizzee's crossover from urban to showbiz. It was also the year John Peel died, and despite everything that's happened since in the way we consume and learn about music the spiritual gap is still apparent. In solidarity with everything we learnt from him, here's a playlist of forty songs we like to think are eclectic in his honour but are actually all whitebread indie that he'd shake his head at.

Evil Nine feat. Aesop Rock - Crooked
Soulwax - NY Excuse
Saul Williams - List Of Demands (Reparations)
Kelis - Millionaire
Wiley - Wot Do U Call It?
The Go! Team - Bottle Rocket
Rachel Stevens - Some Girls
TV On The Radio - Dreams
Electrelane - The Valleys
Johnny Boy - You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve
Annie - Heartbeat
The Long Blondes - Giddy Stratospheres (original version)
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
Les Savy Fav - The Sweat Descends
Bloc Party - Helicopter
Death From Above 1979 - Romantic Rights
The Walkmen - The Rat
Mission Of Burma - The Setup
The Fall - Theme From Sparta F.C.
Mclusky - Without MSG I Am Nothing
yourcodenameis:milo - All Roads To Fault
Modest Mouse - Ocean Breathes Salty
Blonde Redhead - Equus
Sons And Daughters - Johnny Cash
The Golden Virgins - Renaissance Kid
Morrissey - First Of The Gang To Die
Graham Coxon - Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - There She Goes, My Beautiful World
Hope Of The States - The Red The White The Black The Blue
Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
British Sea Power Allied With The Ecstasy Of Saint Theresa - A Lovely Day Tomorrow
Stars - Your Ex-Lover Is Dead
The Mountain Goats - Slow West Vultures
Clinic - Circle Of Fifths
The Futureheads - He Knows
Interpol - Evil
Art Brut - Formed A Band
65daysofstatic - Retreat! Retreat!
Sufjan Stevens - The Dress Looks Nice On You
Handsome Boy Modeling School feat. Cat Power - I've Been Thinking

Previously among the 40: 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008

Monday, April 10, 2017

STN recommends: 10/4/17

Feist - Century

Leslie Feist has described Pleasure, released on the 28th, as an attempt at a more raw, guileless recording session. You can well believe that on the evidence of this, tightly wound and meaningfully sparse. With martial drums and uncluttered directness PJ Harvey will come instantly to mind, at least up until everything stops and turns into a keyboard-led coda for Jarvis Cocker to do his breathy spoken word Jarvis Cocker things over. And then it suddenly stops.

H. Hawkline - Engineers

Hot off the presses, a third taste of I Romanticize, out 2nd June, representing another subtle shift into jangling summer pop with an acidic kick all wrapped around that familiar Welsh psych-confusion template.

Chemtrails - Headless Pin Up Girl

There's quite a bit of that sunlit harmonic surf guitar sound gone ragged and exposed around the edges around at the moment. More ragged and cut to the bone than most, and notably slower if not much less spiky than their usual garage rush, London's Chemtrails release their second EP of the same title on May 12th, inspired via singer Mia Lust's pre-transgender transition keeping of secrets by feelings on not being true to one's true role and place in things.

Milo's Planes - Fidget In Paralysis

The Bristol band's Delivering Business Success was one of last year's sleeper hits, which is a weird thing to approach a record whose stock in trade is direct, Fugazi/SST-inspired post-hardcore. The first track from third album Individual Development Plan, out 12th May, compresses things even further into 81 seconds of jagged riffs, molten gang shouts and general thrusting relentlessness reminiscent of Husker Du just as they were moving away from their warp speed hardcore origins.

Marlon Brando Island - True Heroes

Pitched as a post-hardcore Walkmen, if without the organ, the power trio ratchet up the emotional intensity on this half of a debut double A side, like the National of yore coursing and careering into a razor-tipped dynamic shift that takes everyone over the edge. The kind of band you may need to keep an eye on if only for their own security.

DBFC - Sinner

The Paris-based duo float unserenely on the techno-indie dividing line, aiding psychedelia tropes with beats and layers of unstable synths. The press release makes a Primal Scream comparison, which would be apposite of the blissed out attitude of Screamadelica was added to the Kraut-dub ambience of Vanishing Point, though more accurate touchstones would be the ambient end of peak Chemical Brothers, or maybe the club-psych likes of Delakota and Regular Fries right at the end of the 90s. Album Jenks is out 2nd June.

Lush Purr - (I Admit It) I'm A Gardener

Concise, noisy, inscrutable lo-fi psych-fuzz a-go-go, Lush Purr are signed to Song, By Toad, they're playing some dates with Meursault next month and their drummer was in Copy Haho, which is as solid a start as any. Album Cuckoo Waltz is out 5th May.

Fizzy Blood - Pawn

Fizzy Blood are from Leeds, as are Pulled Apart By Horses, with whom they share a yen for heavy rock shapes undercut with their own particular worldview, pummelling HGV-size riffs against walls and careering into fists-aloft choruses.

Friday, April 07, 2017

40 From 40: 1986

Number twelve of forty - see the previous post for those so far - covers an interesting year. Nostalgia kicked in, one week in June featuring six covers or reissues in the top ten. After the previous year's Live Aid increased press coverage meant the arena pop boom was about to turn stars into superstars, Madonna having the year's biggest selling album, while also previewing what level was to come with The Sun making allegations about Elton John that led to a successful libel case a year later and Junkie George having Six Weeks To Live (spoiler: it was more) Sigue Sigue Sputnik arrived, made an enormous noise, sold advertising on their album and promptly vanished again. The Chart Show debuted. The NME's C86 cassette codified the new jangle noise. And, out of the American streets, hip-hop and rap broke into the mainstream, Walk This Way leading the mainstream charge. Things were changing. These 40 songs (two of which aren't on Spotify) can't really hope, what with personal bias and that, to reflect that but we'll give something akin to it a good go.

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
The Bodines - Therese
We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - Rules And Regulations
Big Black - Passing Complexion
Hüsker Dü - Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely
The Pastels - Truck Train Tractor
The Shop Assistants - I Don't Wanna Be Friends With You
Throwing Muses - Vicky's Box
Volcano Suns - Four Letters
Camper Van Beethoven - Take The Skinheads Bowling
The Weather Prophets - Almost Prayed
Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth
The Go-Betweens - Spring Rain
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Tokyo Storm Warning
Stump - Buffalo
Run–DMC - You Be Illin'
Prince & The Revolution - Kiss
Steinski & Mass Media - We'll Be Right Back
Eric B & Rakim - Eric B Is President
Schoolly D - P.S.K. 'What Does It Mean'?
Arthur Russell - Lucky Cloud
Paul Simon - The Boy In The Bubble
Pet Shop Boys - Suburbia
Kraftwerk - The Telephone Call
New Order - Bizarre Love Triangle
Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk - Love Can't Turn Around
Colourbox - The Official Colourbox World Cup Theme
Public Image Ltd - Rise
Talk Talk - Life's What You Make It
Red Box - Chenko (Tenka-Io)
The The - Heartland
Furniture - Brilliant Mind
It's Immaterial - Driving Away From Home (Jim's Tune)
XTC - Dear God
R.E.M. - Cuyahoga
The Housemartins - Think For A Minute (single version)
Peter Gabriel feat. Kate Bush - Don't Give Up
Billy Bragg - Greetings To The New Brunette
Sonic Youth - Star Power
Wire - Drill

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

STN recommends: 5/4/17

Yr Poetry - These Are Not The Days Of Our Lives

For the course of 2017 sometime side project Yr Poetry is what Alexei and Junior of Johnny Foreigner are concentrating on. One Night Alive, is the first of three EPs promised this year, pay what you want but with a subscription service where for £20 a year you'll get a CD compilation of said releases, exclusive song downloads, money off any merch and whatever all concerned do from 2018 onwards. None of this would be worth typing that out without the songs, less full-band like (evidently), more electronic (indubitably, it's Junior), otherwise still explosive, still laser focused, still fixated on bad Birmingham indie/rock club nights and worse mornings after.

Christian Fitness - Bruce Hated Puppies

Talking of things done while the regular band are on a break, Falco... Falco.

Melody's Echo Chamber - Cross My Heart

Although a single came out under the radar in 2014 we've heard very little of Melody Prochet since 2012's debut album. We still don't have a release date for follow-up Bon Voyage but we do have a seven minute track that can best - no, pretty much only - be described as an odyssey, based in classically lush Gallic pop tropes but diverting itself as and when it fancies into psychedelia, prog hints, floating dreaminess, glitchy interruptions and at one stage a spot of beatboxing. It's a remarkable thing, pastoral and busy almost simultaneously, and worth your extended while.

Amber Arcades - Can't Say That We Tried

Annelotte De Graaf has a new EP under her spectral empathy guise, and this track from it builds the spire of the sonic cathedral by doing away with beats entirely, built on organ drone, guitar twang and pure emotion about either loss or never getting to know in the first place.

Fazerdaze - Take It Slow

We just wrote about Fazerdaze last week and this isn't that broadly dissimilar, but alright... New Zealander Amelia Murray, recording for Flying Nun, album Morningside out 5th May, dealing in heat-haze languidly melancholic surf-pop. She and they are in the UK from spring bank holiday weekend for about three weeks.

H. Grimace - Lipsyncer

A third track from Self Architect, out on Friday, this one less built on energy rush, more streamlined and considered. Good. It's still built on nervous tension and a coiled spring anger at societal demands into an intriguingly tangled coda, generally in no mood to become the anthem it might well easily have slipped into.

Monday, April 03, 2017

40 From 40: 2008

For latecomers, this is the eleventh in our sequence of forty tracks to represent (as through our eyes at least) each of the pop years 1970 to 2009. So far we've covered 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2002 and 2005. And now... 2008 was the year, as we wrote at the time, when the decade realised it had got past its mid-section without a mammoth sea change and decided to coast it instead. Methods of delivery changed dramatically, the way we consumed music evolved as downloading came into its own and the high street (and major distribution company Pinnacle) fell into the credit crunch chasm, the major labels committed their slow collapse into the hands of investment fund managers, but everything else lurched into stasis. What that of course meant was squeezing the customer dry as deluxe editions and priority ticketing held sway, but it turned out that was how people wanted it. Everything old was current again and the safety-first mechanism was kicking in. Basshunter had five weeks at number one. Scooter became a number one album act. Duffy was the big noise of the year, surely seeing off her supposed rival Adele for good. Guns'n'Roses' Chinese Democracy finally came out and failed to justify itself by being forgettably middling. A promising underground talent called Skepta made an electro record, Rolex Sweep, with its own dance and Timmy Mallett to demonstrate it in the video - it peaked at 86, so we'd never hear from him or the compromised integrity of grime again. If 2008 was the year of anything it was Autotune, the long tail, 'wonky pop', the Mighty Boosh having their own festival, Disney pop and Hallelujah. Everything around looked like it was downsizing. Amid all that the UK underground made its last big push with the LC!/JoFo charabanc, the London nu-folk scene coalesced, grizzled tender-sided roughhouses Elbow became beloved national entertainers, and these things happened (again with one we really wanted to keep in despite not being on Spotify)....

The Lovely Eggs - Have You Ever Heard A Digital Accordion?
Los Campesinos! - We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
Titus Andronicus - Titus Andronicus
Johnny Foreigner - Salt, Peppa And Spinderella
Dananananaykroyd - Pink Sabbath
Three Trapped Tigers - 1
Zombie-Zombie - Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free
David Holmes - I Heard Wonders
TV On The Radio - Dancing Choose
Vampire Weekend - Walcott
Micachu & The Shapes - Golden Phone
The Chap - Fun And Interesting
Fujiya & Miyagi - Knickerbocker
Fuck Buttons - Bright Tomorrow
Wiley - Wearing My Rolex
WHY? - Song Of The Sad Assassin
Meursault - The Furnace
Florence & The Machine - Dog Days Are Over
The Walkmen - In The New Year
A Classic Education - Stay, Son
Elbow - Mirrorball
Warpaint - Billie Holiday
Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Possess Your Heart
British Sea Power - Canvey Island
dEUS - Slow
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - We Call Upon The Author
Mystery Jets feat. Laura Marling - Young Love
Parenthetical Girls - A Song For Ellie Greenwich
Lykke Li - Little Bit
Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
Wild Beasts - The Devil's Crayon
Foals - Red Socks Pugie
Hello Saferide - Anna
The Wave Pictures - Instant Coffee Baby
Kat Flint - Go Faster Stripes
Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
Johnny Flynn - Wayne Rooney
Portishead - The Rip
Maybeshewill - He Films The Clouds Pt. 2
Her Name Is Calla - New England

Saturday, April 01, 2017

STN recommends... March 2017

Back once again to round off a calendar month with a compilation of the stuff we've given a push on here and the best of the month's album tracks, as well as a handful that have emerged this week that we haven't had space to write about, including Broken Social Scene, Sparks and Slowdive.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

40 From 40: 1991

1991 is remembered these days as Nirvana's year and that of the alternative impinging on the mainstream, maybe brought about by the 1991: The Year Punk Broke documentary. Pop, the narrative went at the time, was in trouble, and Bryan Adams' sixteen weeks at number one proved it, beaten into retreat by not just loud, occasionally pedal-abusing guitar bands but also the commercial march of hip-hop, the last knocking of baggy and the chemtrails of rave culture that brought a dance music overhaul with it. Break free of the shackles of bad metal, you have nothing to lose but your make-up and backcomb etc. Obviously reality is far more slippery than myth. Nevermind was certainly seen as a way forward but it didn't reach Billboard number one until January 1992 or make the UK top ten until a month later (its all-time peak came in 2011!) The chart end didn't know what to do with itself, which would become more evident in 1992 but for now meant Color Me Badd, the Cher revival, a full welter of hits from adverts, Jason Donovan's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat barrage and the march of the megamixes. Even so, some kind of alternative sea change was evident in the biggest names, U2 retreating to a safe distance from what they'd been doing at the end of the 80s with Achtung Baby and Michael Jackson taking club sounds to heart on Dangerous. Simply Red colonised the sales list with Stars and Seal became an unlikely future soul pin-up, while acid jazz awoke in the corner. The KLF thought up 'stadium house' and then watched their obscure notions become actually huge. Rap threatened common decency as Ice Cube and Ice-T reinforced the path that Public Enemy were still building. And all this too, one song (the third here) short on Spotify but for a rounded appraisal of the year as we'd present it we couldn't really leave it out:

Del Tha Funky Homosapien - Mistadobalina
Saint Etienne - Nothing Can Stop Us
Pizzicato Five - Twiggy Twiggy
The Field Mice - Missing The Moon
The Future Sound Of London - Papua New Guinea
Young Disciples - Apparently Nothin'
A Tribe Called Quest - Check The Rhime
Electronic - Get The Message
Chapterhouse - Pearl
Flowered Up - It's On
Kitchens Of Distinction - Drive That Fast
Blur - Slow Down
My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow
Senseless Things - Easy To Smile
World Of Twist - Sons Of The Stage
Mudhoney - Let It Slide
Ned's Atomic Dustbin - Kill Your Television
The Jesus Lizard - Nub
Pixies - Alec Eiffel
Superchunk - Seed Toss
Manic Street Preachers - You Love Us (Heavenly Version)
Hole - Garbadge Man
Nirvana - Drain You
Throwing Muses - Counting Backwards
PJ Harvey - Dress
Public Enemy - Shut 'Em Down
808 State - In Yer Face
Stereolab - Super-Electric
Talk Talk - Ascension Day
Massive Attack - Five Man Army
Kirsty MacColl - Walking Down Madison
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - After The Watershed (Early Learning The Hard Way)
The Sugarcubes - Hit
A House - Endless Art
Billy Bragg - Accident Waiting To Happen
Teenage Fanclub - The Concept
R.E.M. - Country Feedback
Primal Scream - Primal Scream - Higher Than The Sun (A Dub Symphony In Two Parts)
Mercury Rev - Car Wash Hair
Slint - Good Morning, Captain

Monday, March 27, 2017

STN recommends: 27/3/17

W H Lung - Inspiration!/Nothing Is

Here is the sum total of what we can pass on about W H Lung - they're a trio based in Manchester, they release both these songs on a double A side on May 12th via Melodic, and despite no real proof of having played live yet they're already booked to play End Of The Road, Blue Dot Festival at Jodrell Bank, Sea Change and Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia. So there's clearly something going on here - we have our suspicions - and while we await further instruction we have the music to go on, two tracks that together reach just short of sixteen minutes, and luckily it's great in all the right psychedelic/motorik ways, replete with lack-of-air-in-lungs yelp, using that length to shapeshift and evolve through cosmic instrumental breakdown/build-up sections and intense climaxes without falling into shoegaze territory. On Nothing Is some darting, pulsing synths come into play, shifting from Philip Glass repetition into a driving, malleable shape for purpose.

Sam Airey - Lacuna

Finally after what certainly seems like far too long, the darkly intricate craft of Leeds-based Airey has been formed into album shape, In Darkened Rooms out 26th May. Inspired by Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, here his cracked, emotionally spent falsetto is close miked amid a spaciously minimalist setting recalling a less wintry For Emma, Forever Ago.

Sneaks - Hair Slick Back

Slicks is Washington DC's Eva Moolchan, signed to Merge who release It’s a Myth the end of this week. She's/it's an intriguing proposition - taut bass and drum-machine led, delivery based on repetition and how language sounds, like ESG having first heard Le Tigre, with the recording of Mary Timony and her Ex Hex bandmate Jonah Takagi drawing strength from minimalism, which is what you can draw strength from if your album is ten tracks in eighteen minutes.

Alimony Hustle - Miss GB

It's been a little while since we've heard something new from the self-examining to a fault duo, who re-emerge with spacious, smartly vaulting guitar pop without succumbing to the usual bluesy/overdriven faults duos land in. Plus it's about Zara Holland, the titular beauty queen winner who was stripped of her title after going on Love Island. More particularly, "sexism, regret, the death of dreams and, ultimately, doing what you want in the face of all of that".

Gorillaz - Andromeda

The best, we reckon, of the four 80s revival bandwagon-flirting tracks revealed at the end of last week from fourth album Humanz, released 28th April, which seems to be a (quite uneven) club record for a darkened world. Indeed this is virtually old-skool house with its spaciousness, synth flashes and twinkles plus basic insistent beat, Damon in soulful, contemplative mood with rapper D.R.A.M. content to fill in the gaps.

BABY! - Home Sweet Home

BABY! is the nom du jangle of Orlando's Kaley Honeycutt, whose offering from forthcoming EP Pick Me is a sub-two minute joyous coast of surf guitar hooks and energetic warmth, invoking personal catharsis through sunny positivity like a lost Crutchfield sister.

Fazerdaze - Lucky Girl

A track that's been around for a few weeks but we only caught up with this week, and another typically swooning eternal summer kind of offering from the revived Flying Nun Records, New Zealander Amelia Murray similarly deals in bedroom-spawned hazy sunlight-dappled pop of breathy, reverbed for extra nostalgic quality vocal and contrasting emotions, the kind that sees joy and melancholy as part of the same package deal. Her album Morninside is due in May.

Caroline Lazar – Trigger

The young Atlantan was originally parsed as one of the latest country singer-songwriter wave, but this from her new Nevermine EP is a lot more, raw and brooding in minimalism even before it starts to slowly bloom, Lazar's huge voice pushing increasingly forward, before bursting into a emotively cathartic, intense coda involving seemingly all the electric instruments available.