April 2020

Sturgill Simpson – Sing Along

2 weeks into the various curfews I’m already missing live music and it’s source for newness. If there’s any light it’s that I still have Mojo’s best of 2019 list to work through; number 34 has been my favourite for some time. What lunacy is this americana/rock/funk/punk combination?

Sturgill Simpson – Mercury in Retrograde

Sounding like a traditional line dance vocal wrapped around a Sly Stone bassline whilst simultaneously slagging off corporations and modern life – this is fucking genius. They come backstage and on my bus, pretending to my friends….all the journalists and psychopaths building their brands

Hot Chip – Bath Full of Ecstasy

A slow burner from their last album, Bath Full manages to sound wistul and full of longing whilst being nicely lodged together with a minimal electo beat. Are you loosing more than you soul?

Avelino – Cassius Clay and Higher Power

Embarrasing when you think that the only music actually saying anything at the minute is grime. Young kids speaking the truth and avoiding the pitfalls of saying nothing but acting out as is they’re filled with emotion. The rest of pop should be embarrased when they hear stuff like this. I don’t make pop art.

Underworld – STAR

Taken from the superb music-art-visual project STAR stood out as the one for me. I’d love to know if Dr Dre heard this, and if so what he thought…

Dinah Washington – Mad about the boy

Reset in the context of the National Theatre’s Jane Eyre, Mad About suddenly struck me as a story of Llolita style longingness and underage lust. All because I’m mad about the boy.

Doug and the Slugs – Too bad

Appearing on a Norm Macdonald Instagram post what a cracking little piss-taking-yet-serious take on southern country rock. Part Cramps, park Shakin Stevens, part Kings of Leon; what a cracker. Too bad that you had to get caught

The Racontuers – Sunday Driver,

Number 29 in the Mojo list, last year’s return by The Racontuers made me wary of a more-of-the-same formulae approach, so I avoided it. Having actually listened to it, and thoroughly enjoyed it, I felt fairly stupid.

Yaeji – What we drew

I’ve not really got a clue about the song, though there’s parts of the light minimalism that reminds me of Yoshimi battles.. I thought the video was really interesting.

Bowie – Repeition 97

I’ve always put forward Bowie’s 1997 year as being his vintage year. A new release for this era is always interesting – though the lack of drum n bass and electronica makes this fairly routine. Always nice to see anything with Bowie and his red spiky hair though.

Charli XCX – Forever

I’m petrified by the nonsense that’s going to come from pop stars as they try to emote how they’re feeling about corona. I drew a deep breathe before I pressed play on the first quaratine release by XCX – but what a lovely little peice of wistful electro this turned out to be. As good as this may be, I’m still worried about any future boy band release…

Jesse Malin – Operator

Jesse’s live YouTube streams have reinforced my belief that he’s the best, most consistent, live performer I’ve seen. A slowed down version of Operator in episode 3 is particularly happening…

And give me the number if you can find it, So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine and to show I’ve overcome the blow, I’ve learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself That it just wasn’t rea

Sharon Van Ettern – Comeback KId

Number 24 of Mojo, I’m slowly getting there, Etten’s album turns out to be much electro-pop than I guessed; maintaining her usual dark themes and dark textures but colouring them with upbeat electro sounds. Comeback Kid delivers this vision perfectly – light, yet dark at the same time.

King Tigaro – Problem

I‘m not sure it’s the best release on Legimate but who cares – the Legimate crew and label must be the most interesting collection in the North East and just about any release says at least as much about life as anything else coming out at the minute.

Lizzo – Juice

The fact that I hadn’t heard this, but it has 65m YouTube hits means I’m further behind that I thought. And I thought that was pretty far…

Daft Punk – The Grid (The Crystal Method remix)

I’ve just wrapped up the Tron Uprising animated series which reinforced my belief that Tron is the greatest sci-fi franchise. Digging out the remix album of Daft Punks Tron Legacy soundtrack I found myself with this on repeat. All together….. The GRID

Erasure – Sometimes

As the pandemic continues I’m slowly becoming more obsessed with Erasure…. and white t-shirts and blue jeans with turn-ups…. the truth is harder than the pain inside

Wendy James – Chicken Street

An early release from an outstandingly honest album, Chicken Street takes the typical spite and wit of James and reverts into a gentle, Pet Shop Boys sounding, wistful, pop track. I hope I still fight as hard, care as much, and try as many new things out as she does when I’m the same age.

Surf Rock is Dead – Diabolik

Taking the poppier, maybe lighter, moments of dreamy guitar bands like DIIV and sending them further into the cosmos, Surf Rock is Dead found me on a day when I needed to escape my transactional thoughts and journey to another dimension. Album standout, Diabolik, takes dreamy post-punk jangled guitars, adds some ‘oh oh’s’ and floats them over a tale about a relationship breakdown. You are now the enemy they sing, yet they are my new best friends.

Underworld – Jumbo

Underworld’s Everything Everything has started to creep back out more and more as the soundtrack to my ‘I need to focus’ moments, especially as the previous option of lighting incense and listening to Massive Attack’s Protection was making me nod off.

Jumbo has always been my favourite of Underworld’s live collections. This KCRW version isn’t quite as good as the Everything Everything version, but it’s still pretty perfect. Click I disconnect from you.

REM – Ignoreland

Perhaps the most secret of all of punk’s easter eggs, Stipe and co were literally decades ahead of the rest of mainstream pop in recognising, then warning about, the threats of the direction of politics (‘Wicked and able, media-ready, Heartless, and labeled, Super US citizen, super achiever’) and the information age (‘TV tells a million lies, The paper’s terrified to report’) in this true piece of spite from a band often remembered for everything apart from their punk/garage hearts. Whereas Strummer and Rotten often told us to fight back, Stipe’s resignment (‘I know that this is vitriol, No solution, spleen-venting, But I feel better having screamed, Don’t you?) and acknowledgment that sometimes we can’t do anything about macro-politics is often just as powerful.

Common – New Wave

The global pop music live response to Covid-19 is what it is; a mixture of good intentions, poor choices in corporate sponsors, ego’s, good songs, poorly composed original tracks, genuine respect, and over-emoting pop stars. Common stands out as the artist of the event, showcasing his intellect with his, and I hate this over-used word, authenticity.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I remember I used to cry in the shower before going to work for a company full of bullies and corporatised venom. I used to play this song on repeat as I worked into the office; there was something in the ‘it’s tough and arduous’ refrain that used to help.

Kano – SYM

More evidence of the UK grime scene being just about the only place to go to hear young kids talking about their reality and to get away from the nonsense coming from the bigger acts too comfortbale to actually say anything truthful. The natural offspring of the Clash and the Pistols

Every entrance to a door
Has a footprint left by the ones that came before
Let’s talk about the day the wind was rushed up on the shore
They promised us so much and then they left us to be poor
Need superhero capes for the stuff our mum’s had to endureJust heading to the store, no blacks, no Irish and no dogs
The system’s taking course and the most powerful are fraud
They trap us in estates, won’t even educate us boys
And wonder why we break the law

1975 – If you’re too shy

Another new single, another new sound, another world beating pop anthem; these are the best of the past decade for interesting pop. Reminding me of an 80’s Stevie Wonder banger, Roxy Music and Billy Piper there’s little it appears they can’t do.

Fivio – Big Drip

Bursting out of a recent David Byrne playlist, Fivio kicks just as hard as some of the grime lads referenced above. Makes you want to join a gang and get fucked up.

Maria Mckee – Little Beast

Part Joni Mitchell, part Disney soundtrack, Mckee’s piano ballad gets right to emotional depths. Sounds a bit like Angela Lansbury if you shut your eyes…

Michael Kiwanuka – You ain’t the problem

Keeping things soulful, the opening track on Kiwanuka kicks as hard as a northern soul badass meeting laid back Staxx groves. What a rythmn section.

Ramones – Outsider

Henry Rollin’s playlist brings out a Ramones track I’ve not heard in years. If I could be any band, and it couldn’t be the Beach Boys or the New Power Generation or the Replacements or the Revolution or the Who or The Clash, it would be the Ramones for sure…

Tenor Saw – Ring the Alarm

Im sure this one came from the same Rollins playlist, but I might be forgetting. If Finlay Quaye never had this on repeat as he was writing his debut album I’s be suprised.