Saturday, 1 October 2016

3WTM September 2016 Playlist

For some reason, I've had more tracks than usual present themselves to me this September. Maybe the revised offering from Apple Music which came with iOS10 was something to do with it. I certainly find the weekly 'new music for Chris' automatic playlist to be well worth a listen. Some of these tracks were also left over from August. Anyway ... to the music.

Here's the link to the Apple Music playlist.

1. Life Itself - Glass Animals - How To Be A Human Being

Apple Music informs us that Glass Animals are an intriguing mix of synth pop, indie and hip-hop influences from Oxford. I'm glad they said that because I wouldn't know how to peg them. They perhaps remind me a little of  I Monster. I really like this anyway. There's something about the synth sound at the start of the track which reminds me of Yeasayer's I Am Chemistry as previously recommended by Neil.

2. Limousine - Beach Baby - No Mind No Money

Wow - this is a great debut album and this track is very representative of the kind of quality on there. I don't now much else about them, but they recently played at Reading and Leeds.

3. Your Word - Eleanor Friedberger - New View

Lovely laid back/stripped back song. I particularly like the change to a minor key for the chorus. I seem to think that this too is a good album, but haven't listened for a while. Described as 60's / 70's folk rock.

4. Loup Garou - Ed Harcourt - Furnaces

A new album from Ed Harcourt and it is very good. It lives up to the promise of the Time of Dust EP I listened to a lot. This song is about a werewolf (one more for the wolf playlist?) 'Loup Garou' being French for werewolf. It's quite catchy and quite varied.

5. If I Ever Was A Child - Wilco - Schmilco

This song reminds me very much of J.J. Cale. Very relaxed and stripped back with a steady driving/shuffling beat. Apparently they've been around for a while (since 1994). I like the album title.

6. I'm In Love - Teenage Fanclub - Here

I'm not sure what's going on here, I'm certainly aware of Teenage Fanclub's name, but I don't think I could tell you any of their songs even though they've been going ages. Well this song is just very catchy and quite straightforward. It has a 60s feel to it - great harmonies in the chorus.

7. Wake Up To This - King Creosote - Astronaut Meets Appleman

This reminds me a lot of Calexico, recent favourites. Again a great steady driving rhythm. It's also similar to the Modest Mouse - The Ground Walks With Time In A Box (as previously featured by John) although not quite as strong.

8. Dirty World - The Ramona Flowers - Part Time Spies

Bristol-based - John, you must have heard of these? Synthy guitar music. Fairly reminiscent of the 80s. I think this is their second album and it is well worth a listen. And what's that I hear in the lyrics? Another wolf reference?

9.Flow With It (You Got Me Feeling Like) - St. Paul & The Broken Bones - Sea of Noise

Retro-soul music at its best. This reminds me a little too of Neil's Field Music track 'The Noisy Days Are Over'.

10. Fugue States - Cold Pumas - The Hanging Valley

I think I thought this might appeal to both Neil and John. It's the kind of track that I'd probably like reluctantly. Fairly raw sounding.

11. Can You Hear Me - NGOD - Single

Well this is a Bradford based band with very little output to their name at the moment. This song is very lively, upbeat and catchy. Just my kind of thing, and anything with the line 'There's always summat going on' has to be worth a listen!

12. These Words - The Lemon Twigs - Single

This is a great song. ELO? Beegees? What's that, you want a piano solo followed by a xylophone solo followed by a guitar solo? You've got it! Apparently they're from Long Island.

13. Coming of Age - Julia Jacklin - Don't Let The kids Win

This album isn't out, but I bet it will be good. Julia's singing reminds me of Hayley Bonar who I've mentioned previously. Musically, this reminds me a little of She's Electric, and that's no bad thing.

14. Told You I'd Be With The Guys - Cherry Glazerr - Single

'I was a lone wolf'! I didn't know that line was in there until writing this just now. Weird. Guitar, drums, bass, vocals. Great track.

15. Reliance - The Barmines - Single

Another band with not much out yet. Really good guitar based song driven along by a strong bass-line. It puts me a little in mind of Andreas Johnson's Glorious but with much less instruments.

16. Nobody's Human - Jessarae - EP

Young American singer-songwriter. Guitar, kick drum, hand clapping, borderline angry vocals.

OK - so now on to four tracks from Neil, I won't add any words:

17. 4 Degrees - ANOHNI - Hopelessness

18. Tenement Song - Pixies - Head Carrier

19. Connan Mockasin - The Fat White Family - Breaking Into Aldi (Single)

20. When You Were Gone - Cool Ghouls - Animal Races

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

3WTM August 2016 Playlist

Here we go again, another month and another 15 tracks for you to sample. 5 from each of us as we share what is new to us over the past month or so. Not necessarily new releases but songs that we've discovered one way or another. All available as a playlist on Spotify and Apple Music.

John's Selections:

I Wanna Stay Away - The Black Tambourines
From Falmouth in Cornwall they are a garage band with plenty of noise going on. I like it.

Told You So - Cub Sport
I hate to say I told you so but I just happened to write a song saying that, many times. As this is coming from an Australian band who had to change their name from Cub Scouts following a legal dispute with Scouts Australia you get the feeling it was karma - they wrote the song in 2012 and changed their name in 2013. Funnily enough they'd never been in the scouts.

White Heels - Modern Pleasure
Modern Pleasure hail from Leeds and I've had them on my New Music playlist for a while, waiting for the chance to share. Their other track Messina has had a lot more plays.

Love Of An Orchestra - Noah And The Whale
Early material from Noah and the Whale and certainly not Neil's kind of music (sorry) but having heard it in my local chain pub I though Chris might like it.

Boys That Sing - Viola Beach
Viola Beach are a band that sadly came to fame in February as they died in a car crash along with their manager. They had a hit following their deaths with Swings and Waterslides. This is maybe the lesser know single that reach number 27.

Chris's Selections:

Karma Seeker – VANT – Karma Seeker (Single)

I don’t know much about VANT – they are London based and started out in 2013. I don’t think they have any albums out yet, just a few singles to their name. I’m not sure how I came across this – I was probably listening to ‘Rock’ new releases. It’s a good track, but not game changing or anything.

Watching the Waiting – Wye Oak – Tween

Wye Oak are an Indie-folk group from Baltimore. This song is taken from their recent album Tween. I really like it. I’m a sucker for songs with a simple drum beat on each beat of the bar, reinforced with a bass note. This just has a lovely floaty feel to it too – great airy vocals and simple atmospheric backing. Mumford and Sons with a less angst-ridden and female vocal?

Dancehall Domine – The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

I suspect that this was played on the ‘Alternative’ radio station on Apple Music, which I’ve started to listening to more now that I’ve upped my data plan and can listen to streaming music on the go. Maybe it reminds me of Primal Scream, but they have so many guises that that doesn’t really say much about it. Oh – they’re Canadian. This single is from their latest album which was released two years ago.

Avalanche – Bad Sounds – Avalanche Single

Bath-based apparently, and fairly new on the scene with little else released (one other single as far as I can tell). How to describe this? Apparently it’s 70s influenced but heading in a Brit Pop direction. I think it’s a great sound with all sorts going on. I wish them success.

Called you Queen – Hayley Bonar

I fell instantly in love with one of Hayley Bonar’s previous tracks having heard it on 6 music and putting on a travel themed CD for our CD consortium. She has recently had a new album out, and this track is fairly representative of the kind of stuff she produces. I have previously compared her sound with that of The Bangles, and I think that stands.

Neil's Selections:

Prophets of Rage by Prophets of Rage
I'm generally disappointed by supergroups as they never seem to better the sum of their parts, but when you put Tom Morello's guitar and Brad Wilks' drums (both from Rage Against the Machine) together with Chuck D's and B-Real's voice (Public Enemy and Cypress Hill respectively) then you know you're onto something good. I know any resulting album will probably be rubbish, but this song is perfect for me.

Big Cat by Wild Beasts
I've been a fan of Wild Beasts for a while, and I implore anyone who ever gets chance to see them live to do just that - they are great entertainers. I can't quite believe that the band are onto their fifth album, Big Cat is the second single.

Fill in the Blank by Car Seat Headrest
Another band on their umpteenth album but one I have only just been introduced to, courtesy of Steve Lamacq. Fans of American slacker rock will enjoy this, I think it's very reminiscent of Beck, or the Strokes.

No Matter Where We Go by Whitney
Don't know much about this band/person (suppose I should do a Google search) but I love the retro cool feel of the song. Think Unknown Mortal Orchestra or Tame Impala, but with a 70s arrangement. Nice summer cruising song.

Pit Pony by She Drew the Gun
I can't complete a months' selection without including some female-fronted indie rock outfit. It was either these, or The Kills, or Honeyblood's new single, but this won out primarily because I could include the others in a future selection.

Monday, 11 July 2016

3WTM July Playlist 2016 - New (ish) Music

After a rest in June we're back with some more tracks for you to sample. Just me and Chris this month and as you didn't get last month's you can have it early this month!

Chris’s Contributions

Friends – Eliza and the Bear – Eliza and the Bear

This song seems to turn up quite a bit, but I can’t remember any of the places I’ve heard it. Great song, even if the appeal is a little obvious.

Automatic – Wolf Parade – Wold Parade EP 4

Another song for the ‘wolf’ playlist. Another upbeat driving rhythm which I tend to be a sucker for.

Back of Beyond – Band of Skulls – By Default

What a great album ‘By Default’ is with a reasonably varied collection of songs. It’s an album I’ve listened to quite a few times, and am actually getting to know. This is one of the catchy best though, but it was tricky to know which track to go for to represent the album.

So We Can Stay Alive – Garbage – Strange Little Birds

Garbage are back. I can’t say that I know much of their earlier stuff, only the well-known tracks. Well this is an interesting album – a bit dark/heavy in places, but tempered with the odd major chord and interesting melody. Interesting and well-structured songs, any of a number of tracks could have featured in the playlist.

Tahabort – Imarahan – Imarahan

Who doesn’t like a bit of music from Southern Algeria? OK, so I have no idea what the lyrics are about, but that’s true of a lot of stuff I listen to – not because it’s foreign, but because I don’t put a huge amount of effort into listening to the lyrics. Instrumentally, I love these songs, and have quite easily listened to the whole album a couple of times without understanding a word of what’s being sung about. Their bandcamp page for this track describes their style as ‘hypnotic, sublime jazz, funk desert riffs’.

John's Contributions

Cut Out Club - Out Of My World
A band from Tel Aviv that I think I found through Spotify's Discover playlist. It's a playlist tailored for each subscriber and changes each week. What a great idea. 

Sometimes - Oscar
Taken from his debut album 'Cut and Paste' this a great little pop number from the London based artist.

Guns - Broken Wit Rebels
For me they sound like Kings of Leon but what do I know? They will be playing at Tramlines as well as many other dates this month so you can check them out yourselves...

Fountains Of Youth - Local Natives
After enjoying their debut album so much they went off my radar when their second album didn't quite hit the same highs. This is their second recent track and I'm enjoying it very much.

Take It Out On Me - White Lies
What a great band White Lies are live. The guys voice is just amazing and I like this new track from them. If you haven't been in to them before check out the track Death, I think it's still my most played track on iTunes ...ever!

Big Quiet - The Dead Ships
A band from LA that have a great vibe about them. Indie pop guitar just the way I like it.

The Walls Are Coming Down - Fanfarlo
This is a track I've had kicking about on Spotify playlists for a couple of months. It's from 2009 so you may be familiar with it already.

Neon Experience - Junius Meyvant
As I get to contribute more this month without Neil's additions I get to add another one from Junius. A great soulful voice.

Poem - She Drew The Gun
A relatively new outfit, having started as a solo artist in 2013, Louisa Roach has since turned her project in to a band.

Solitude - M83 
A French electronic band. How did they get on this playlist. Heard off a work colleague's streaming service is about as random as I get when it comes to discoveries. 

So Natural - North American
Relaxing, dreamy track. I can imagine listening to this in the sun and it being heaven.

The Song They Play Everynight - Little Green Cars:

What's on next?
"The Song They Play Everynight."
What is it? 
"The Song They Play Everynight."

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

3WTM May 2016 Playlist

Hey another month and another 15 tracks for you to stream. Check them out on Spotify and Apple Music.

Chris's Contributions

1. RCVR (feat. Debbie Gibson) – Big Black Delta – Trágame Tierra
I don’t know much about Big Black Delta, but Trágame Tierra is a great album many great tracks, and quite varied in style. OK – so a quick read on Wikipedia reveals that Big Black Delta is a solo project of Jonathan Bates (vocalist/bassist from Mellowdrone) and that this is his second album. RCVR was released in October – if you vaguely like it, it might well worth be checking out the whole album.
2. Baby Move On – The Hosts – Moon
Well right from the off, this reminds me of Roy Orbison/Travelling Wilburys. Oh – and they’re from Sheffield. This is their second album, which is full of tracks which sound very much like the kind of stuff Richard Hawley writes.
3. Victoria – Beverly – The Blue Swell
What? Another second album! You better believe it. This is another good album and I could have chosen any of a number of tracks – in the end, I went for Victoria which seems fairly representative and is a nice simple, catchy song.
4. Burn The Witch – Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
I’ll state my position on Radiohead – along with many other people, I loved the first three albums. Kid A was then one hell of a curve ball and I put in quite a lot of effort to get to like it, and eventually did. I didn’t then follow up that amount of effort with subsequent albums – they’d gone too far adrift for my liking. So, when news of an imminent new track reached me, I was a little indifferent, but curious. Curious enough to buy it on the day it came out, and this was it. I love it. I love the quality of the sound. As for the album, I get on much better with than with anything else since Kid A and have listened to it a few times now. It asks a bit from the listener, but that’s good.
5. 1985 – Haken – Affinity
I’ve had to put a track from the new Haken album. There are pretty much my new favourite band, but that is based mainly on their superb last album (The Mountain) and the Restoration EP they put out over a year ago (I have discussed the superb 19-minute song – Crystallised - from that on this blog previously). I have chosen this track as perhaps the most accessible to people – unfortunately, it’s 9 minutes long and perhaps doesn’t belong on the playlist, but the shorter songs aren’t quite as listenable to as this one. This track does vary enough to maintain your interest. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of prog anyway, honest.
Neil's Contributions

Stone Roses - All for One
Ok, so it's not 'I am the Resurrection', but every time it comes on the radio I get a little excited. Doesn't deserve all the criticism it has received, it's still a good rock song.

Michael Kiwanuka - Black Man in a White World
Proof that if you hear something enough times then it will stick. Not my cup of tea at all but catchy and melodic.

Fujiya & Miyagi - Serotonin Rushes
I've no idea who these guys are, but I'm led to believe they've been around for a long time. This is very cool, and sort of ideal for the build up to Summer. Great bass.

Lindstrøm - Closing Shot
Again, another pre-Summer barbeque sound. Sounds like Todd Terje and Daft Punk wrestling in a duvet.

The Coral - Holy Revelation
It's just a very good indie pop song.

John's Contributions

Come As You Are - Prep School (Nirvana Cover)
Used on an advert for a video game it can seem a bit of a slow starter but bursts in to life at the end. Stick with it.

Gold Laces - Junius Meyvant
"Icelandic Best Newcomer" and what a great voice. He's playing three dates in the UK in September, Manchester, Glasgow and BRISTOL! The little Louisiana. I think I might go along.

Race of Life - Vangoffey
Neil introduced us to Vangoffey the other month and I followed the trail to this excellent track. Enjoy.

There's A Storm Coming - Richard Hawley
Not sure how I came across this track but it's just beautiful.

Rock N Roll Friend - Patsy's Rats
Like Gold Laces, this fell in to my inbox and I thought Neil would like it. Let's hope I'm right.

Friday, 29 April 2016

3WTM April 2016 Playlist

The three of us (Chris, Neil and John) chose five songs that we've been enjoying and share them for each other and readers to enjoy. Comments always welcome as to which ones you've enjoyed and which ones you haven't, reasons why not compulsory. This month's playlist as always is available to stream. Check it out at Apple or Spotify.

Bend with the Wind – Exmagician – Scan the Blue

I think Belfast duo Exmagician are fairly new to the scene, and I’ve really enjoyed listening to the album ‘Scan the Blue’. This particular track features an unusual time signature which is either 11/4 or alternating bars of 6/4 and 5/4 – see if you can keep track of the ‘11’ beats. Aside from that, it’s a great track too.

Far Away – Junip – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Soundtrack)

You’ve guessed it – I heard this track whilst watching the aforementioned film. I really liked it and had to Shazam it. When it turned out to be a Swedish Folk-Rock outfit, it ticked several boxes on my list of things I seem to like. Looking into it now – I see that the singer is none other than José González. I did then download their latest album and it may have featured in one of my ‘Reviews with a View’ on Strava, but I didn’t like the songs as much as this one.

I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore – Lucy Dacus – No Burden

Another new artist from Richmond (the lack of further qualification probably signifies that it’s in London). A great track – I think which will be up both Neil and John’s streets. I’ve been wrong on that score before though. I can’t remember much more about the album though, but I imagine it’s much in the same vein.

Düsseldorf – Teleman – Brilliant Sanity

Another track from an album which featured on ‘Review with a View’. I have decided that I should have a rating system for how much a band sounds like either Franz Ferdinand, Semisonic, or The Velvet Underground as I have found myself often using these as reference points. Well this song would have a Franz score of 4/5 for the music and a Semi score of 4/5 for the vocal. Vocals and music get 1/5 as a Velvet score. This is my favourite track from their (second) album.

The Last Thing On My Mind – The Joy Formidable – Hitch

The online review I’ve just read of this album laments on how their third album fails to deliver on the promise built by the previous two, but having not heard the previous two, I’m in no position to be disappointed, and instead am very pleased with it. I’m a bit nervous about listening to their earlier stuff now.

John's choices:

Happy - Misty Miller

I'm never sure when I post songs whether everyone is aware of them and it's just me who has finally become aware of them. This song falls in to that category as it's so good surely other people know about it? Misty ticks so many boxes, she's from Wimbledon (my mate supports AFC Wimbledon), she came to prominence playing the ukulele (just like Neil) and she cites Velvet Underground as an influence (and we already know how much Chris likes them).

Trouble on Oxford Street - Skinny Lister

If the last track was one I thought Neil would like then this is the opposite but how could I not include it with lyrics like "It went off like Krakatoa, Like Rocky Balboa". A bit ska/folk like it reminds me of Parka who featured on this blog in the past. Released as a single last year it's taken from the six piece's second album. They're based in London.

No Flavour - Phobophobes

Another band from London and I've been enjoying this track over the past month or so.
I've been listening to this one for a while and I'm excited to share this psychedelic rock track from this band showing real promise. 

Rebel - Louis Berry

Found via Spotify's Discover feature, this soulful number is not by the first African American to practice law in a segregated city in Central Louisiana (you recognised the name too?). This is Louis from Liverpool and he's got quite a bit to say and quite a swagger. I've got a feeling we might here more from him.

Trust Me I'm A Genius - The Family Rain

I'm way too late to this party as this is a 2012 release from a band hailing from Bath. However I'm not proud or a music snob, if a songs got to be played, it's got to be played. This is one of those rock, stomping tracks.

Neil's Choices (words by John):

Woke up Hurting by Frightened Rabbit

This Scottish band originally from Selkirk still feel pretty fresh to me despite having been around since 2003. This track is taken from their 2016 album Painting of a Panic Attack

Under the Sun by DIIV

Formed in Brooklyn in 2011 DIIV are now on to their second album and this is one of four singles taken from the album.

Walk among the Cobras by Dan Sartain

Dan featued on the blog back in 2009 with Replacement Man and recently supported World Record Store Day with this released on 7".

Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic by Slug

Slug were formed in Sunderland in 2014 by Ian Black, former member of Field Music. Their EP is available to download now.

Jessica by NZCA Lines

NZCA Lines is the one man band Michael Lovett created as his alter ego. Formerly of a rock pop outfit he's taken a new direction with this manifestation. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Mid Month Bonus

A bonus playlist, what's going on? I've had some tracks going around and around in my "assessment" playlist for some time and as they weren't quite making the main playlist (because of familiarity not quality) I thought I'd throw them out there for other people to enjoy. Stream it on Spotify here. Update: and Apple Music.

Long Hair - Drowners

This is taken from the band's 2014 album and is a track I came across searching out new music on Spotify. With a Welsh lead and Americans making up the rest of the band it's got a good mix of musical influences - or so it feels anyway.

She Chose You - Marrow

This is the album opener from the Chicago band's 2015 album, The Gold Standard. They are essentially Kids These Days reincarnated - a band who released a couple of albums between 2009 and 2013.

Don't Fall - Chameleons

I've only discovered this band because of a friend asking me to go to their gig. They're the forerunners of sounds created by the likes of Editors and Interpol.

Buckle - We Are Scientists

The first of a few tracks that are from bands I've mentioned before. Not quite different enough to be on the monthly playlist but certainly worth sharing with you as they've had plenty of plays from me.

My Type - Saint Motel

Chris helped me hunt this track down after I'd heard it on an advert for a TV programme. Since then I've not been able to get away from it with it used on various commercials and constantly on my stereo.

Nothing But Love - James

The best song off the new album and a single to match the quality off the last album which was James at their best.

She Changes The Weather - Swim Deep

The second song to feature from this band and this album on the blog. A beautiful steady piano opening that grows in to itself.

The Great Defector - Bell X1

I've never really looked in to Bell X1 before despite seeing their name crop up all over the place. However this track came on my Spotify Discover playlist and I enjoyed it. Reminds me of Tom Petty. The band's name comes from the first plane to go supersonic and they are the band to have the most airplay in Ireland after U2,

Up & Up - Coldplay

They are known to their fans for having a really strong song as the last track on their album - Everything's Not Lost, Amsterdam and Til Kingdom Come certainly are. This is no exception and worth checking out if you've not heard it yet. Middle of the road they may be but they do it well.

Middle Of Nowhere - Hot Hot Heat

A great pop ditty from the band who brought you Bandages. I recently found out they are still going and have a track out called Kid Who Stays In The Picture. However it is this is a track from 2005 that I hadn't really taken note of that I've been enjoying. It didn't enjoy any success over here but having been used in a US programme, One Tree Hill it seems other people have taken note and it's had over 3 million plays on Spotify.

Upside Down & Inside Out - OK Go

I've happily put OK Go in the same pigeon hole as Hot Hot Heat which neither band appreciating that as OK Go are from Chicago originally and HHH are from Canada. I've been enjoying a few of OK Go's recent releases but this one is a bit more experimental and there's something about how he says 'freight train' that's got stuck in my head.

Free Stuff - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes

Another band that have featured on this blog more than once and won't need an introduction to some. As they were a band that came to prominence at about the same time this blog got going I've always had a soft spot for them. It was one of the few free CDs I got in the early days and that debut album was a corker. According to wikipedia Alex behind the band benefited from some seed money from Heath Ledger which I thought was interesting. This song was released this year. The other new track, No Love Like Yours is also worth checking out.

Last Night - The Sherlocks

If you like The Courteeners then there's a good chance you'll like this Sheffield band who've again featured on this blog before.

You Are Killing Me - The Dandy Warhols

A new track from a band I've been following since 1997, they always sit well next to OK Go and Hot Hot Heat. This track was released earlier this year.

Magnificent Time - Travis

I didn't know Travis had been back for a while, they released an album in 2013 it turns out. 3 Miles High the previous single to this got quite a bit of play on Radio 2 I'm told. I found it a bit drab but this is a bit more upbeat.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

3WTM March 2016 Playlist

As usual, three of us choose five tracks we've been listening to recently. Usually new tracks to us but not necessarily recent releases, just songs we'd like to share. Find them on Apple, Google and Spotify.

Neil's up first:

Dark Dark Dark - In your Dreams

This is the title music for BBC Three's first online-only drama, Thirteen (even though they've now started showing it on BBC2). Sarah and I are quite gripped with it, and the music is very well matched to the programme. Sort of like PJ Harvey, in a haunting kind of way.

White Denim - Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)

What can I say about this track, except that it's flipping ace. Proggy-blues at it's very best, the track wouldn't sound out of place in between Led Zeppelin and Jackson Browne. The first single off their new album 'stiff', I'm certainly looking forward to getting acquainted with it in the near future.

Courtney Barnett - Elevator Operator

Observant readers of this blog will realise that Courtney Barnett's album made it into my top 5 for 2015, and as it was released quite early in the year then that makes this track almost a year old. However, it has just been released as a single and is getting lots of airplay on 6music at the moment. It has a great storyline and Courtney tells it in her classic deadpan way. I use this blog to chronicle my music of the moment, and this is certainly bouncing around my head on a very regular basis.

Hinds - Bamboo

Another that is getting lots of airplay and is therefore rattling around my head. I love the surf-charm of the melody, and the apparent shambolicism of the lyrics. I'm also pretty sure I could play this on my ukulele too.

ESTRONS - Make a Man

I went to the Outlines festival in Sheffield last month, an all-day affair with bands and DJs playing at six venues throughout the city centre. My friend Andy and I decided that we'd like to catch at least one band at 'skate central', a stage set up on the roller-hockey pitch at SIlver Blades - you could hire skates and whizz up and down while the bands were on or, if you preferred, buy some beer and stand and watch. The first band on were Estrons, who were very loud and energetic, they struck a chord, even against more 'established' acts throughout the day (Spring King, NZCA Lines) and for that they deserve a place on this playlist. After Outlines, they jetted off to Austen for SXSW as one of BBC Introducing's selections, so we can probably expect more from them in the future.

On to Chris's:

Delete – DMA’s – Hill’s End
I think this is the debut album for this Australian band. This track is one of the more relaxed from the album, but it builds nicely. I wouldn’t go overboard about it, but it’s pleasant enough.

Cold To See Clear – Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are

Apologies again for another track that just OK, and there’s nothing wrong with this, but there’s nothing particularly new about it either. Rhythmically similar to Doves ‘Pounding’ in places, but not quite as driving.

Slip Into Nevermore – Prince Rama – Xtreme Now

There’s a lot of Belle and Sebastian in this – vocals duplicated by male and female singers at the same time. Some of the synth arpeggios are reminiscent of the 80s. Nice energetic acoustic guitar strumming. There’s one chord change in there that I particularly like too.

Freak Out – Wintersleep – The Great Detachment

A Canadian band who debuted in 2001 – as far as I can make out this is their first album and it’s a good one. Lively and melodic with plenty of guitars in - just my kind of stuff. As a curious aside, this album features a track called ‘Amerika’ as does another new album this month ‘II’ by Liima (as reviewed during a recent Strava update)

Cry Baby – Cage The Elephant – Tell Me I’m Pretty

I really thought John would feature a track from this album in December or January, but he seemed to be not too sold on the album. Well I keep returning to it and enjoying it very much. I find this particular track to be very catchy – hard not to tap your steering wheel along with it when driving.

Now John's:

Tastes Like Funk - I Set The Sea On Fire

This track really got in my head while I was painting the flat and, as the name suggests, it's a really funky number. I was amazed when I found out this band were from Sheffield! It's got a real American sound to it. They're touring locally at the moment.

Rollercoaster - Bleachers

A band from New York influenced by the John Hughes films of the 80s - who isn't in one way or another? They've certainly hit the 1980s sound with this.

The Flying Pyramid - Thousand

What a riff, if ever a track was made to go on an advert then this is it. As far as I can work out they're from France.

Cold Cold Man : Saint Motel

I think I'm very late with this band and their jangling pop. I've just been going through their back catalogue and I'm very much enjoying this. The band are from Los Angeles and have been going since 2009.

Anticipation : Holy Bouncer

Wow, how much does this sound like Embrace?! However listening to their other tracks that's more a one off than a way of life. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

3WTM February 2016 Playlist

As always this month's playlist is available to stream on Spotify, Google Play and Apple Music.

Neil's choices:

Ezra Furman - Lousy Connection
After a few aborted attempts over the last year or so, I finally got to see Ezra Furman live this week. Coming less than a week after a colossal performance by John Grant, the gig had a lot to live up to, but Ezra did not disappoint. His band, the boyfriends, were amazing, both with their instruments and with their backing vocals, and Ezra was triumphant with his soulful fury. This track is taken from his latest album (released last year).

Steve Mason - Planet Sizes
A new album from Steve Mason beckons and this is the first single from it. I was never really into the Beta Band, but I've been really pleased with Steve Mason's solo stuff (well, what I've heard anyway).

Beirut – Perth
Sometimes I wonder if my musical tastes are changing as I mellow into middle-age and then I realise that my musical tastes are chosen for me by the music that is fed to me each day by the radio. This has a classic ear worm organ hook...

Animal Collective – FloriDada
... And here's another catchy hook that's lodged itself in my cranium as well as my daughter's and my wife's. Animal Collectives "My Girls" was a real favourite of mine, this is much more poppy and radio-friendly. I shouldn't like it, but I do. And I bet you two do too.

My fifth song would have been the most excellent first single off The Wave Pictures upteenth album, but as they're only releasing it as a very short (1000) run of vinyl LPs then there's no way it's going to turn up on Google Music (would be interested to know if you get any joy from Spotify and Apple though?) So, I then moved onto The Coral (appeared only a few playlists ago, so bad timing), Bob Mould (single and album not out yet, so not currently available online), and Damien Jurado (same). Fifth choice (and I was scraping the bottom of the barrel by now) was

Blossoms - At Most a Kiss
If I had a pound for every time someone prefixes the name of this band with "Stockport's" then I'd have £47.62 by now. A slice of indie pop that's nice to drive to.

John's Choices:

So I could have played it safe this month, James have new material out that I really like, Cloud Cult have a new album out that I've been playing regularly, Hot Hot Heat and OK Go both have songs I've been enjoying. However if you aren't in to those bands yet, I'm never going to get you in to those bands. Try these that I've just been getting to know.

The Arcs - Stay In My Corner
I've put this in for Neil although he's probably all over them, what with their Black Keys link Dan Auerbach (guitarist/vocalists).

Richard Lomax - I Cycle
This is my favourite for the month. Anybody who samples a bike noise to set his tune to and makes it work deserves some kudos. I always like it when the artist themselves contact me too, makes me feel like they really care about their music too. Richard is from Manchester and is a pretty prolific writer,  having written 52 songs last year. Practice makes perfect.

Bellevue Days - Ripped Jeans
The guys from Croydon are celebrating the announcement of their inclusion on the DIY and Generator Mapped Out Tour. Pop guitar band that ticks the right boxes for me.

Infidelity - Mutineers
For a band who claim to have driven their fan base via social media I can't help but feel driven as they've followed me, unfollowed me and followed me again on Twitter. It's worked though as I've now listened to their material. Another Manchester band, this is off their second album or so I can tell from their other vehicle, Facebook.

Icarus - Vagabond Poets
A footstomping track to end my five. A Scottish unsigned band, or that's what my research tells me. Guess I must have found it on Spotify then.

3WTM February 2016 – Chris’s Choices
Hmm – I think this has been a good month for ‘Prog’. I would share a Steven Wilson track from his new album (4 ½), and it would probably be ‘Don’t Hate Me’ – all 9:35 of it, but he’s not into streaming services, so it won’t be available to you, and so it won’t make its way onto this month’s playlist. However, the prog gods have been generous this month and I think I should make mention of Dream Theater’s ‘The Astonishing’. It is a concept album (which I like) it is a double album (over 2 hours in total) and it has been produced on a big scale (with a full orchestra and choir in places). It tells a story of a future in which there is no music, save for that made by machines, but a hero comes along to bring song to the lives of the repressed masses. It is generally very good, but a bit cheesy in places. It won’t feature on my playlist this month, but ‘The Gift Of Music’ is a fairly representative track which sets the scene for the rest of the album.
So – enough about what I’m not putting on, and on to what I am putting on.
‘Swimming Horses’ by The Mute Gods from ‘Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me’ (2016).
The Mute Gods are a recently formed outfit consisting of various talented musicians who have been doing the rounds for a while including Nick Beggs (the bassist from Kajagoogoo) who wrote most of the material.
‘2013’ by Sunflower Bean from the album ‘Human Ceremony’ (2016)
This is a good album of jangly guitar tunes. Sunflower Bean are a new band from Brooklyn. This probably isn’t the best track on the album, but is good and I’ve chosen it because it links with one of Neil’s tracks from last month which was taken from an album called 2013, despite being released in 2016. In fact, listening now, I think ‘Come On’ would have been a better selection and certainly up Neil’s street, but I’m sticking with ‘2013’.
‘Sauna’ by Gazebos from ‘Die Alone’ (2016)
This is probably in a similar vein. Gazebos are another new act – this time from Seattle. I’ve not yet heard the album all the way through.
‘You and I’ by Margaret Glaspy (single) (2016)
Margaret Glaspy doesn’t have a huge amount of material out on Apple Music – 7 tracks – 5 from an EP in 2013 and then two from her recent single. Apparently she’s got an album coming out in the summer. Anyway, this track is fairly raw, straightforward (drums, bass, single guitar from what I can hear) short and catchy.
So … to redress the balance, another long track …
‘Future You’ by LNZNDRF from ‘LNZNDRF’ (2016)
OK – so this is an instrumental track. I’ve chosen it again because of a link with one of Neil’s track. LNZNDRF (my fingers have trouble typing that) are a side-project comprising members of The National (Devendorfs) and Beirut (Lanz). This album is just out and features 4 instrumental tracks and 4 vocal tracks. Again, I’ve not listened to it all yet, but what I have heard is very good. This track is a builder and is the opener to the album.

Friday, 26 February 2016

3WTM - Albums of the Year 2015

We've tried to put together our favourite albums of the year highlighted by a track so you get it all neatly packaged in to a playlist.

Neil's Top 5 (well 6 but you'll see why)

"Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit" the debut album by Courtney Barnett.

I had quite a bit of anticipation for it's release, having been impressed by the earlier single 'History Eraser' and whilst there was initial disappointment of that song not being on the album, that was quickly dispelled by the quality of what was on there. I really like her deadpan delivery and the lyrical content of her songs. The album reached No.16 in the UK charts. The song I would choose for the playlist is the third single from the album "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party".

I think I listened to this album a couple of times and really enjoyed it. I can picture myself now mowing he lawn with it playing in my ears. Really like it.
I thought the album was so-so on the first few listens I had but having really enjoyed this track and letting the rest of the album play I might need to revisit.

"The race for Space" by Public Service Broadcasting.

The next one on the list was also hotly anticipated, and was my first download of a new album in 2015. I had their first album and wondered how they could possibly follow it, as they'd covered subjects as diverse as Spitfires and overnight mail trains on it, but when I found out that it would be a concept album about the space race between the United States and Russia I was very excited. 'Gagarin' was released and it did not disappoint, and then when I finally got chance to listen to the album in its entirety I thought it was just fabulous - very evocative and so well put together. The song I would choose would be "Go!", the second single from the album and probably the most radio-friendly after Gagarin.

Loved the album, and 'Go' is up there with my favourites on there. It isn't in my top 5, solely because I suspected it would be in yours, but in truth. It would probably be my top album of the year.

The Gargarin track blew me away after you pointed it out, I even made my wife listen to it in the car which is a rare occurrence now everything has to be child friendly when we're together. Go is good and again I need to list to this album more. I also enjoyed tracks off their first album.

Green Lanes - Ultimate Painting

The third album is by a band that I only just discovered this year. Ultimate Painting released "(I've got the) sanctioned blues" in the summer and I quickly went to find out more about the band. I could get my hands on their first album (which was a very good listen) but when the second album followed a few weeks after then it did not disappoint. Very much my kind of slow, lethargic rock with cool lyrics, I've chosen the album opener "Kodiac" as the track for the playlist, which would incidentally have been my "brown mammal" track had that particular theme been chosen for the work CD...

Very relaxed American style music. New to me, I shall check it out.

"Are you Satisfied?" by Slaves.

The fourth one is probably my favourite of the year, full of raw energy and simplicity. Every song by them I heard was greeted with a big grin so when the album was released I knew that it would be right up my street, and it's always nice to find songs that you like even more than the ones you thought you liked the best, if you know what I mean. This album really is all killer, no filler. When I saw them at Tramlines in July, they really lived up to the album too - they could be my new favourite band.

John: Snap. I've really enjoyed this album, they featured on the blog back in March and were great for running to this year. When you're digging in there's nothing like The Hunter to kick in and make you feed off the pain "your tired and aching and the pain won't go away". 

"The Tarn Machine" by The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican

OK, I don't think you'll find my final album choice on Spotify or Apple Music, so I have a reserve album in place, but would like to record the fact that "The Tarn Machine" by The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican really was one of my albums of the year, in terms of listens but also in terms of sheer determination in the face of adversity. In order to keep busy during a year where the band couldn't continue with their incessant touring because of ill health, they took to the studio and produced some of their best work to date. The album is full of black humour and reflects the place that they were (in particular front man Scott Doonican). My favourite track is "Frisky in the jar", a true story of Scott and Amanda's visit to the IVF clinic, and if possible I can add a link to the bandcamp version of the track should it be acceptable. The album didn't chart, and comedy folk is not to everyone's taste, but the triumph of the record begs some recognition.

"Grey Tickles, Black Pressure" by John Grant

So, the final choice would be my wife's favourite album of the year and therefore well listened to by me. It's funky, dark, amusing and well put together, and I think I'll choose Sarah's favourite track "Voodoo Doll" to put on the playlist - a real interesting concept of a song and very catchy. The album reached No. 5 in the UK chart, and rightly so.

John's Top Four

Mirrors - Reverend and the Makers

This will be no surprise to people who know me or who read the blog. I've liked this Sheffield blog ever since Neil introduced them to me many years ago. However their last album didn't receive the amount of plays of previous albums and I hadn't been too hopeful for this release. Yet there seemed to be something different afoot. The Rev (Jon McClure) was talking about it being something special, something without synths, that people within their camp were describing it as the best work they'd done. I've become sceptical over the years about this kind of hyperbole. I've heard The Killers exclaim the next album will include the best song they've ever written, The Foo Fighters say that everybody who has listened to the album has been in tears. Yes you've guessed it, those albums were absolute stinkers, the worst of both their careers. However the Rev is different, he's not a born salesman like most US celebrities are or come across as being.

So the album itself is a journey or so I'm told. However that's not the beauty to me, it's the mix of catchy "bangers" mixed with more complex, lyric rich tracks that have graced previous albums but never in such quality and quantity. So do they still write guitar pop songs? They sure do but no with more depth and variety. Like the joy of feeling the seasons change you can experience different types of songs through the album yet it still feels as a piece of work when listened together.

I've already featured a lot of their material on this blog but so I'm going to choose a different track to share, Blue - a banger of a pop song that didn't even make their live set when I saw them.

Vaccines - English Graffiti

This is another band I have been a fan of for some years and was (I think) again introduced to them by Neil. I had the joy of experiencing this album like a debut album, drip fed a few tracks before being let loose of the full long player. While not reaching the same heights as their previous album, make no mistake this is a cracking album and will be stripped of tracks to go in to various playlists on my phone. 20/20 is a strong pop single from the album although I would probably say album opener Handsome is my favourite as the song pops in my head all the time. However I've had Handsome on a 3WTM playlist before so try 20/20 on for size.

Muse - Drones

Looking at my choices I think we my friends could probably have written this post for me and I think that shows how much I need to widen the amount of albums I listen to and the type of bands. However this is the strongest Muse album since Black Holes and Revelations and possibly of all time? The track I particularly enjoyed from day one is Revolt which sounds very much like The Killers from their early days.

Slaves - Are You Satisfied (see Neil's listing).

Chris’s five picks from 2015

I thought it would be easy to choose five songs which represented 2015, but it wasn’t – two or three were obvious – I almost included a couple of John and Neil’s songs (honourable mentions go to Modest Mouse – The Ground Walks with Time in a Box, and Public Service Broadcasting) but I didn’t. I also didn’t want my five tracks to be regurgitations of things I’d already written about, but some of that has been unavoidable, but there are also a couple of tracks and groups that I haven’t previously talked about. Anyway, on to the tracks …

Belle and Sebastian – The Everlasting Muse

This is probably not the most instantly likeable song on their album ‘Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’ (which is excellent), but is one that has made an impression on me. There are sometimes songs that have an extra appeal – there must be a good phrase to express what I mean, but I don’t think I’ve quite found it yet. Anyway, I love the bass sound in this track, the melody, but the best bit for me is the change of tempo and feel in the chorus.
John: My favourite track of the five you've selected Chris.

The Unthanks – Madam

This song came on the radio (6Music) on my way home from band one evening and I found it instantly captivating. I had to find out more about it – and haven’t shared it yet. The only thing is, I’m not sure how broadly it will appeal, but there you go. The album (Mount The Air) is beautiful, and very much in the same vein as this song. Apparently they specialise in Northumbrian folk music – my knowledge of the various types of folk isn’t very comprehensive, I must say. I tend to like mellow music, but would normally steer clear of adding such a track to a playlist, but felt it should stay as it is definitely from an album that has impressed me this year. I almost opted instead for another song from the album ‘Magpie’ which is hauntingly beautiful and melancholy.

Eaves – As Old as The Grave

Blimey – well, this kind of falls into the same category as the previous track. I haven’t mentioned the ‘What Green Feels Like’ debut album produced by Eaves (Leeds based Joseph Lyons) on the blog, but it has been one of my firm favourites of the year. Again a very folky feel to the whole album which is well worth a listen. Apologies for another downbeat track, but I feel I need to include it.

Calexico – Falling From The Sky

OK – I’ve already blogged about this track earlier in the year, but I love it, and the album, and the band. For me, one of the high points of 2015 musically was finding these. I suppose I could also have gone for ‘Miles From The Sea’, which was on my short list of tracks for the ‘Hydr8ed’ CD compilation, but I think ‘Falling From The Sky’ is better suited for bringing the mood back up. ‘Edge Of The Sun’ is another great album from 2015.

Running With The Wolves – Aurora

Again – another track that I mentioned earlier in the year, but I’ve decided to include it for several reasons: Aurora is in the spotlight at the moment having provided the music for the John Lewis advert; it is a nod to my seeming obsession with ‘wolf’ songs this year; and finally, it is a track that I have played many times without tiring of, and is from the Scandinavian camp I seem to like so much.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

3WTM January 2016 Playlist

We're back already with another five tracks each that we've been listening to over the last month or so. Some may be new releases or just songs we've only just discovered. As it's January you've even got a bonus track to listen to. Comments as always more than welcome. Stream at Apple, Google Play and Spotify.

Chris's 5:

Sara Hartman – Monster Lead Me Home
Debut single from a New York singer/songwriter. A good song with a decent beat, but nothing really sets it apart from others of its ilk.

Bas Jan – Sat Nav
Where to pigeon-hole this? Bas Jan is apparently the latest creation of Serafina Steer – and that doesn’t help me much because I’m completely ignorant of her work. Some really nice wailing guitar in it. It’s reminding me of something but I don’t recall what. I don’t know – have a listen and help me out.

Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You)
I’m not quite sure how this came into my radar – it’s from 2014 and I’ve been trying to go for brand new stuff – maybe it was on the ‘Alternative’ radio channel on Apple Music (which I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to). These are an American synthpop act. Nothing wrong with this track, but I wouldn’t give it 5 stars either.

Daughter – Numbers
Another female vocalist which reminds me of other things - probably Eliza Shaddad as featured on last month’s playlist among them. Atmospheric. Sparse in places. Quite rich in texture in others. I haven’t got around to listening to all of ‘Not to Disappear’ yet.

Panic At The Disco! - Don't Threaten Me With A Good Time

Well I think these are fairly mainstream or popular anyway in America, but I’m not going to let that put me off. I first came across these a couple of years ago via the excellent ‘Vices and Virtues’ album (check out The Ballad Of Mona Lisa if you get chance) which was also much liked amongst friends. I very eagerly awaited their next album as their back catalogue had failed to impress quite as much, and when ‘Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die’ came out in 2013, it too was a disappointment. So it was with some trepidation that I listened to ‘Death Of A Bachelor’, but I was pleasantly surprised this time – more of a return to the album I loved previously (but not as good).

Neil's 5:

Good News - Bloc Party
There was a point in January when I thought my 5 song choices for this playlist would read like a 'look who's made a comeback' list. Save for this track by Bloc Party and Mystery Jets, who you'll read about later, the others have since fallen by the wayside, however I believe that like the Mystery Jets, this Bloc Party 'comeback' has got all the hallmarks of a classic and deserves to be talked about among all the new stuff.

T.I.W.Y.G - Savages
You can't beat a bit of all-girl post punk rock, and this latest offering from Savages has me thinking of Metric and Operator Please.

I am Chemistry - Yeasayer
This blog has championed Yeasayer almost since their inception in 2006 (2080 appeared on one of John's playlists that preceded this blog) and it's great to see them back with their radio-friendly experimental american pop.

How to Recognise a Work of Art - Meilyr Jones
Meilyr Jones is the next talented singer/songwriter to emerge from Wales. Ex-frontman of Race Horses, he has released his debut album this month along with this single. In his own words “I wrote the song about the preposterous world of art collectors, the panic of what is popular, what will succeed, telling people what to like, and what to eat, and the recycling of pop culture."

Queen Bitch - David Bowie
No January playlist can be allowed to be published without a homage to the star, the icon and the change agent that was David Bowie. Almost everything that I listen and have listened to has been influenced by him. I used this song on this blog to celebrate his 65th birthday in 2012, it still is one of my all-time favourite songs, from his 1971 album Hunky Dory.

John's 5:

Ode to Anthony H. Wilson
This track was a number one hit in the UK for physical sales so you may all know about it but in the age of digital downloads you may not. Mike Garry and Joe Duddell combine on this charity single as a tribute to former Factory Records owner and general entrepreneur Tony Wilson. He passed away in 2007 leaving a legacy behind him that spanned nightclubs, record labels, television and radio. The poet Mike Garry approached Joe Duddell (a conductor of some stature having worked with New Order, James and Elbow fame) with his poem about “Mr Manchester” and Duddell added the beautiful backdrop to his words.

You Stole The Sun – Twisted Wheel
This track has been my soundtrack to December and January as I decided whether or not to include it in one of the monthly playlists. Twisted Wheel have appeared on the blog before, back in 2008 and I found this gem when trying to find out what they’ve been up to recently. Sadly they split up in 2014 and this is from their first stock of songs back in 2008.

Get Low – Stornoway
There’s something about checking out a band years on from when you first heard them. It’s like meeting up with an old friend and seeing how they’ve changed – although you don’t tend to celebrate the failures so much with bands, it’s usually more a miracle if they’re still going. Named after the Scottish coastal town they’re actually from Oxford. They just wanted a name that seemed remote. Back in 2009 they released the wonderful Zorbing and while they don’t seemed to have travelled far from their original roots they are still going strong with this track released in 2015.

Midnight at KOKO – Fake Club
Fake Club are a five piece, all female band formed in London. They supplied the soundtrack for 2013 film Powder Room which was a British film which spent most of its time in the toilets of a club. It wasn’t well received. This track however is great and deserved a better film.

Chasing The Tail Of A Dream – The Coral
I had quite a few tracks vying for my final selection, I could have gone for quite a few American bands that I’ve featured on the blog in the past, OK Go, Hot Hot Heat, The Dandy Warhols but in the end I decided to choose a track that might please the pallet of my fellow bloggers more. This latest single from The Coral is a bit of a change in direction in my opinion, certainly a long way away from the jangly tones of Dreaming of You. ‘Chasing’ has been followed up by Miss Fortune and this is of a similar vein. If you like ‘Chasing’ check it out.

Telemere – Mystery Jets

It nearly kicked off in the blog head office as we all tried to claim Telemore as ours for this month’s playlist. As our parents took it off us exclaiming “if you can’t play nice none of you can have it” we decided on a compromise, we would have it as the 16th track. There for everyone to enjoy. Mystery Jets are a band that have been around for a fair while and I was introduced to them by Neil singing as he rode beside me through the rain in the Lake District. Despite this (winking emoji Neil, remember no more fighting at HQ) I still love the Two Doors Down track from 2008 and it made me listen with intrigue to their latest album. What a cracking album. Neil agrees. However I’ll leave you with the words of Chris “This was released as a single last month ahead of the album release this month. Apparently a ‘Telemere’ is a ‘region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of the chromosome, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration of fusion with neighbouring chromosomes’. Atmospheric and a steady grower. Representative of the album itself – worth a listen.”