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.


John Lamb said...

Chris feedback on your tracks:

Swimming Horses - I really didn't like this song to start with but now I really enjoy the start and towards the end, to the extent I have to check what track it is. Still drags in the middle.

2013 - I like the way they make 2013 seem this weird time in the future. However this song isn't for me.

Sauna - This has really grown on me, thumbs up.

Future You - A good track but I don't know when I'd listen to it in the future apart from on this playlist, a bit too low key for me.

You and I - Ticks over nicely but never really hits the heights it promises. I kind of expect a White Stripes explosion in there.


Lousy Connection - Wow this is catchy, to the extent that I woke up in the middle of the night with it in my head. However listening to his album the doowaps and shoobeydoos get old fast.

Planet Sizes - I like this and is a good background track while working.

Perth - I agree with Chris, nothing really to it.

Floridada - Nice enough pop track and if I went there on holiday I could see it becoming the sound track to the trip.

At Most A Kiss - Very New Order / Electronica feel to it. Nice.

Schönberg said...

First, Chris' tracks.

Mute Gods is wonderfully proggy, I really like the modern take on it, and the increase in tempo near the end coincided with me joining the parkway on my way to work. Ace!

Sunflower bean track was also ace, starting as a jangly indie song a la Smiths and finishing with full on MBV guitar noise. Ace!

I was expecting the next track (sauna) to be rubbish, considering your comment yesterday, and started to listen with a mind that said 'ID probably get bored with this after a listen or two' but I think I'd be wrong. Also ace!

That's as far as I got, the fourth track has started slowly (bit like the first, room for two in a playlist?) but I'm looking forward to continuing with it on my way home!

LNZNDRF originally didn't do much for me. Good musicians but the instrumental lacked enough punch for me, maybe not enough lead guitar? Having said that, the more I listen, the more I hear nuances, so its getting to me now. I've now heard more from the album and I like.

Margaret Glaspy is just the right side of quirky to be a really good track to listen to, quite enjoying it.

So, all in all, five very good tracks.

John's turn.

Stay in my corner is great. Very reminiscent of Alabama Shakes, makes you wonder why they were picked up and the Arcs weren't. Label? Chance meeting with Steve Lamacq? Who knows, but good song to listen to (even though he says 'babe')

I cycle, well who would have thought that the sound of a freewheeling chain would work so well as a background metronome? I likened it to Frank Turner if someone had taken all his angst away. I once bought an album by a band called 'boat to row' - similar minimalistic acoustics. Nice.

Ripped Jeans. I was adamant that there would be one track I didn't like, and on the first and maybe second listen then this was the candidate. However, after the third listen I realised that it wasn't so bad, initially I thought the lyrics were a bit throwaway and the arrangement was formulaic, but I'm wrong, its a great track.

Infidelity sounds like a band from the mid noughties called Delphic, electronic-based indie with turmoil-riden lyrics. These sound very similar, but blow me down if you can't hear a bit of mid 80s New Order in there. Very much enjoyed.

I thought that was it when I got out of my car, but I'd forgotten about the last song, so I've only listened to this one a few times, but blow me down, Icarus may well be the best of the lot. Great baseline, great vocals and great arrangement.

So, that's another 5 corkers. This could be the best playlist yet.

Chris Phillips said...

Chris’s thoughts on the tracks
Lousy Connection – Ezra Furman
What an excellent track – and what an earworm. There are a couple of places where he drags words out to make the number of syllables fit the rhythm, but they aren’t too intrusive. It’s going to have to be a 4.5/5
Planet Sizes – Steve Manson
This may be my favourite of Neil’s tracks and is just my thing. I think my favourite thing about it is the driving background during the verse – the strong piano part on the off-beats. I will definitely be checking out more of his stuff. 4.7/5
Perth – Beirut
Nothing wrong with this, but nothing too out of the ordinary with it so 3.8/5
Floridada – Animal Collective
Wow – there’s a huge amount going on with this. Very catchy too. I love it. I just want to say that some of the sounds in it call to my mind images of bubbles forming and bursting in pools of hot mud. 4.6/5
At Most A Kiss – Blossoms
Another very strong track. I almost put a Blossoms track on before Christmas (Charlemagne) but I went off it after many plays, it seemed a little insipid, but I don’t think this track would suffer the same fate. I love the bass line. I love the instrumentation as a whole. Very upbeat. Another 4.5/5
Stay In My Corner – The Arcs
I would probably say the same as I said about ‘Perth’ – nothing wrong, but nothing that grabs you. The bass playing is very good. It’s going to get the same 3.8/5 as Perth.
I Cycle – Richard Lomax
The first thing that struck me about this track is the name – I know a Richard Lomas, that’s all. Right – next – the clicking wheel which accompanies the track – the first time I heard the track, I wasn’t aware what it was and it was an irritating noise which got in the way of the song. Then the song finished and it became clear what the noise was – and what a lovely sound it is, so I then wondered why I felt it didn’t work with the track. And then next time I heard the track, magically, the irritating noise made sense and was no longer irritating, but a well thought out complement. What a great voice he has, and what great lyrics. Very enjoyable song – thanks. 4.4/5
Ripped Jeans – Bellevue Days
Right up my street, but I don’t know what more to say about it. 4.2/5
Infidelity – Mutineers
Again right up my street. Vocally he reminds me a bit of the singer from Suede. Very upbeat again. Great all-round sound with lots going on. 4.3/5
Icarus – Vagabond Poets
This has the same feel as ‘Spirit In The Sky’ to it. I like anything called ‘Icarus’ automatically as it was an alter-ego of mine in the card school after many a spectacular collapse in fortunes after a strong beginning. Anyway – back to the track, very strong. 4.4/5
Great stuff, the both of you. I’m really enjoying these monthly playlists.