This month we have a collaboration between three of the contributors to the blog over the years. Chris, Neil and John have come up with tracks for you to enjoy and Neil starts us off with tracks tailored to Chris and John's tastes. He'd make a great DJ as two of his tracks were on Chris and John's track listings already. The clear lesson is get your choices in early. I've added Neil's and Chris's private comments to me about the tracks, hopefully they don't mind and as they were never planned to be openly aired it may also explain the shortness or rambling nature to some of them. Plus the deal was I did the blurb for each song but this way I don't need to do that!
As before you can stream the playlist on Spotify, Google Play and Apple Music.
First two for John:
Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloome to Sing, with Crescendo) by El Vy.
El Vy is fronted by the lead singer of The National, Matt Berninger, and this track has his trademark low voice all over it. I know you (John) were a fan of The National, so I'm guessing that you'll like this. It's fairly upbeat for the genre, and the song that follows it on the album is fairly rocky, but then it falls into 'samey' mode. I'll continue to listen though, because like The National albums, it's bound to be a slow burner.
John - "I would never have placed Matt's voice, with the sound of the whole track being a bit lighter than the stuff he's done with The National. Certainly a grower with a nod to the 90s with the sound in my opinion. Time to check out some more."
Heart of Gold by The Sherlocks.
Hailing from Sheffield, The Sherlocks sound like what The Courteeners would have sounded like had they been born in Wincobank. I was first alerted to them about two or three years ago by a friend from Kimberworth Park. He'd been to see some 16 year olds play in my old local pub, The Domino (RIP) and had posted on Facebook "wow, these are the future of rock and roll" or something like that. Well, here they are.
John - "Already down on my list for this month they certainly do sound like The Courteeners and have been supporting them as well as Reverend and the Makers on tour recently - certainly my cup of tea. A nationwide tour is now planned by them for next year. It's a thumbs up from me."
Now, two for Chris:
You and Him by John Grant.
You will be aware of John Grant from his 'GMF' track that featured on one of our previous mix CDs, an American who moved to Iceland to record his second album and never came back. Lots of quirkiness to his song-writing that I think might appeal to you, this one has some great rhyming in it, and a bit of funky electronic production that I've begun to see crop up in some of your listening choices.
Chris - "Well I was avoiding the John Grant album for ages. We all loved GMF, but I found myself wondering if I would like to listen to lots of songs like it - or if he was a one-trick pony kind of thing. Well anyway, I was trying out the 'Alternative' radio channel on Apple Music and it played the track I said I was thinking of putting on - Disappointing. Well I liked it right away so went ahead and downloaded the album. I've probably listened it through a couple of times. First time probably as background music and I liked it... He is witty, and I like his voice."
Times Square by Destroyer.
Our current mix CD has a reprise of this track from the Poison Season album, but this is the full song, great use of piano and saxophone in a full sound, and I love the drums on it.
Chris - "I'm not sure which version I've been listening to now as it's been the playlist I made myself having given my CD to a friend. Quite an astonishing co-incidence that I'd already decided that this was your kind of thing. Listening now, I agree, the drumming is good - it brings home to me how I tend to overlook the drumming when listening to a song. I like it, but maybe wouldn't seek it out to play it if you know what I mean."
Finally, one for me:
Trials of a Modern Man by Vangoffey.
Vangoffey is essentially Danny Goffey from Supergrass, and this song has all the energy and zip of a classic Supergrass track. I particularly like the 'first world problems' angle to the lyrics and the line "I've got a house and a car, kids and a wife, but I'm busting out my brains just to keep them in my life" is very poignant!
John - "I thought this had a real American feel to it and only once I'd read Neil's notes did I then make the connection with Supergrass which is easy to hear now I know. I've actually been disappointed by the music that Gaz Coombes has produced and so it's a good surprise to hear Danny's quality coming through - it's like Gary and Robbie from Take That both going solo all over again, it's always the ones you don't expect to succeed that do well."
Chris - "Trials of A Modern Man. Yep - like the song, but it probably earns the same 3.75 stars as the previous track for similar reasons."
On To Chris's Choices
Rock n Roll is Cold by Matthew E White.
Reminds me very much of J.J. Cale - chords are also very close to 'Country Girl' by Primal Scream.
Neil - "I like the Matthew E White track, very reminiscent of Phosphorescence."
John - "This song can pass you by but then when it stops you suddenly realise you've been nodding your head and tapping your feet."
Snakeskin by Deerhunter
This puts me in mind of Franz Ferdinand, and a specific track which I can't call to mind at the moment.
John - "As I promised to give a bit more blurb on the tracks I'll point out this is taken from their latest album, Fading Frontier, released in last month (October) and is their 6th studio album. The likeness to Franz Ferdinand for me comes from the tempo with both bands having quite distinctive singers."
Priestess by Puma Rosa.
Long, and despite it not developing massively towards the end I don't tire of it at all. Very atmospheric.
John - "Great for Chris to bring this to our attention especially as it became 'the second most blogged about song worldwide' not sure where the bio got its stats from but we certainly missed it. Zane Lowe gave it the world exclusive treatment on Beats 1 - that's where he's got to nowadays. This was the London band's debut single and we hope for more of the same"
Faultlines by Lanterns On The Lake.
I might go so far as to give this one five stars.
Neil - "Saw Lanterns on the Lake at No Direction Home in 2012, you can get lost in their swirling, sometimes ghostly sound."
John - "I can totally get Neil's comments and can see why Chris likes them. It's taken from their current album Beings, I also like Ships In The Rain taken from the Newcastle band's 2011 album."
Potter's Grave by The Drink.
This will probably appeal to you both, but I could be wrong.
John - "I think if this track had a male lead we would be talking about how they are a mix between Vampire Weekend and Fleet Foxes. But they don't and further listening suggests that comparison is quite wide of the mark. For a band that only appeared in 2014 they already have two albums out, Captial, of which Potter's Grave is chosen from is their second album. A really good choice off the album, Roller one of the singles is also worth a spin."
Four of my bands have all had previous successes but get nowhere near the attention they should do. As a friend said to me as we were watching Reverend and the Makers "Why don't I know more about this band?".
The Writing's On The Wall - OK Go
I was pleased to discover that OK Go are still releasing music and despite the different theme to their it's still hitting the mark. With a sound so close to New Order's Temptation I had to check it wasn't some sort of weird cover or sampled. Not sure how New Order fans will feel about it but let's call it a homage to them rather than a rip-off...
Neil - "I really like the OK Go track and I totally dig the Temptation vibe, in fact they sound much like Grouplove would covering New Order. They seem to have lost the edgy sound of their early years (what was the song called with the treadmills in the video? - Here It Goes Again - JL) but they seem to be able to rock the mellower vibe."
Chris - "I can see what Neil means about New Order very much. Great track. 4.25 stars"
To My Surprise - James
After the very pleasant return to form on their last album, I was excited to hear they had a new album out in March and a new single out this month. To My Surprise has a different sound due to the electronic beats but there's no mistaking the distinct voice of Tim Booth. While this song doesn't hit the heights of the previous album I'm still hopeful of another strong long player as their first single of Petit Mort was not by anyway the best on the album.
Neil - "The James song is getting quite a bit of airplay, and rightly so. It's great that a band can be around so long but still be able to find a fresh sound- I know its more electronic than before but you still know its James. Just wish Tim Booth wouldn't take himself so seriously..."
Chris - "again I agree with Neil's comments. I'm keen to hear the rest of the album when it's out. James albums (to me at least) seem to have a couple of great tracks on and a bunch of so-so tracks. 4 stars."
Think Of The Sunshine - Hurricane # 1
So Andy Bell (he of Hurricane #1 and Oasis) decides to get Ride back together again. His old band mates clearly weren't put off by that as they got together and wrote a new album without him. I was a big fan of Hurricane #1 back at the time of their first and second album. Whether it was the weight of "selling out" to The Sun newspaper (Only The Strongest Will Survive was used in their ad) that caused them to split we'll never know. They certainly sound different after all these years and without Andy Bell's influence. This is as upbeat as the title suggests.
Neil - "Oh yeah, Hurricane#1. Well, its OK to listen to, but doesn't really get going for me, but maybe I need to listen to it a few more times to appreciate it. Its certainly got the hallmarks of the post-Oasis rock genre."
Chris - "I can see why Neil mentions Oasis. In our band, we cover 'Staying Out For The Summer' and 'She's Electric' - we could play just this song instead as is has large helpings of each of the others. Nothing wrong with it at all so 4 stars."
Last To Know - Reverend and the Makers
With a sound of Richard Hawley or Arctic Monkeys at their b-side best, this track sung by Ed Cosens is the other side to the band and reflects the new album much better than the "bangers" that McClure describes the bands singles as. If you've been put off by this band in the past or have not enjoyed recent stuff I urge you to listen to this track. With Joe Carnall (of Sheffield band Milburn fame) currently being part of the band it really has a new edge and sound on the album and live.
Neil - "I'm guessing this is a bridging song from the new album? Very much not in the vein of classic Revs stuff, and nice to know that Jon McClure can hold a note! (apart from it's Ed Cosens - JL) Would need to hear more to get a decent opinion."
Chris - "I completely agree that this is like Richard Hawley and The Arctic Monkeys. It's almost as if they're from Sheffield! Another good song - I like the instrumentation. I'm going 3.75 stars for this (just because I got bored of giving 4 stars)"
Infatuation - The Tapestry
This four piece from Manchester are a quite a difficult band to find anything about on the internet, you certainly don't want to confuse them with the band from Guildford. This track is from 2014 and you might also want to check out Right as Rain.
Neil - "The final song, Infatuation, is ace. I really like the unproduced garage feel to it, and firmly believe that it wouldn't be out of place played in between a Flowered Up track and a Happy Mondays track at a late 80s indie disco."
Chris - " wow, what an intro - it would need to be a terrible song indeed to fail after that start. Why does everything remind me of Franz Ferdinand though? Let's go 4.25 stars to redress the balance." - "The Franz Ferdinand track I had in mind was 'Walk Away' by the way - and coincidentally it was playing in the pub I was in this lunchtime."