The January Hitlist
Better Days – Dylan and The Movies
Portrait of George Washington – Tom Brusseau
Say Hello – Stars of Track and Field
Black Grease – The Black Angels
Publish Your Love – Rogue Wave
All five of these were first heard on the KEXP Music That Matters show as hosted by Cheryl Waters on Jan 4. Waters readily confesses on that show to a “weakness for slowburning shoegazing psychedelic rock” and anyone who also grooves to that rhythm should head to iTunes, search for Music That Matters via KEXP and download the podcast pronto. The Rogue Wave single is a classic in the mould of Fountains of Wayne and Nada Surf – a song I just can’t stop playing right now – and seems well on its way to chart status in several territories. The Black Angels obviously copped their name from the Velvets and unsurprisingly reveal a distinct similarity to early BRMC. The other acts are softer but no slouches. More single songs rocking my boat:
The Secret of Bethany’s Mouth – Green Pajamas (Hidden Agenda)
Lusting, yearning lead track from new Jeff Kelly band album by far the record’s highlight.
EQing – IDC versus Audio Bullys (IDC Music)
iJamming! pubber DJ renders new Audio Bullys track something danceable. Download it here.
The Day I Gave In – Mission To Mars (Stereotype)
Power-pop of the highest order. Love the line: “put your faith in the hands of your elected Congressman”
Things Fall Apart – Group Sounds (JinglePunks)
I wasn’t thrilled that these quasi-mods turned their Katrina benefit at Southpaw into a strip show, but based on the increasingly popular video for this admittedly catchy 1979-mod revival anthem, such antics are clearly in their nature.
Winter Nights – Cloud (Juno)
Downloaded track reveals Soulstice/Morcheeba like trip-hop soul vibes
Lovely Broken Thing/Pizza For Eggs – Underworld (Underworldlive)
Rick and Karl release ongoing ‘Riverun Project’ as series of 25-minute online EPs for five quid a pop. Each is made up of several segued untitled pieces that ebb and flow from ambient electronica to familiar floor-filling techno. A suitably musical step back into the underground for such a firm statement of artistic and financial independence. That’s the Pizza For Eggs sleeve above; each package comes with hundreds more of Karl’s arty black and white photos.
Sunbomber – Excepter (5RC)
Furiously uncompromising and mostly fascinating 29-minute electronic art noise EP from “synthetic protest band”; recorded, so they claim – and I have no reason to challenge it – in one hour. Until the vocals come in, it’s actually listenable.
Sabi – Thomas Greene (Stereotype)
Bedroom electronica of the kind that so frequently shows up on Mute; download the whole thing for free here.
These Walls Have Ears – The Walkup (The Walkup)
Not to be confused with fellow Brooklynites The Walkmen, debut Walkup EP hints at indie-rock crossover potential on ‘Television’ and ‘Apathy.’
With Love And Squalor – We Are Scientists (Virgin)
Borderline conventional power trio can’t help but impress with borderline unconventional melodic hard pop.
The Sound of Young New York and Toronto – Various Artists (Plant)
Compilation series casts net further and rockier to include pounding vibes from The Fever, Death From Above 1979 and the excellently-named Neurotic Drum Band.
The Glass – The Glass (Deady Buzz)
Long-standing New York scenester and Plant bar/label founder Dominique Keegan finds time to front his own band, and it’s a buzzcocking, electro-sawing monster – especially on the wistful ‘Fourteen Again.’
Little By Little – Harvey Danger (Harvey Danger)
First album in five years from erstwhile major label Seattle darlings is self-released and available for your free download here; though overly fond of the big piano – and it takes a serious overload for me to get fed up with that sound – Little By Little is cerebral power pop just one step left of Coldplay.
Black Acetate – John Cale (Astralwerks)
The latest contender for “Reason to Respect Our Elders”: one-time self-indulged minimalist shows a continued engagement with contemporary electronic music. Presumably, even his death of old age will manage to be fashionable.
Let Us Never Speak of It Again – Outhud (Kranky)
I’m last to join the latest Brooklyn block party, but thenthat’s what end of year lists are for. LCD/!!! Offshoots deliver downtempo dance of constantly imaginative titles (‘The Stoked American,’ ‘The Song So Good They Named It Thrice’) and seriously soulful intent.
Silent Alarm Remixed – Bloc Party (Vice)
The likes of M83, Four Tet and Bloc Party producer Paul Epworth (under his Phones pseudonym) demonstrate how an album can be cut up, re-arranged and remixed and be no less worthy of attention (or dancefloor action) than the original release.
Failures and Sparks – The Chrysler (Flora & Fauna)
Swedish country-folk of wistful whimsy and lyrical imagination that puts Kings Of Convenience to shame. “Figo scored a dream goal” indeed.
Minimum-Maximum – Kraftwerk (EMI)
The live double CD of the same name seemed oddly outdated upon release last year. But get your hands on this box set – which places the concert music alongside a double DVD and an 88-page photographic souvenir hardcover book, designed with all the attention to clinical detail that has made Kraftwerk a lasting legend – and suddenly the entire project makes sense. Attending a Kraftwerk concert can seem like a strange interpretation of the word “live music”; but watching the four middle-aged Germans stand in front of their computers, playing 25 year old hit songs with addictive computer imagery projected behind them and across your screen, is actually a perfect use of multi-media – especially when viewed from the luxury of your portable computer.
ONLINE MIX TAPE
DFA Radio Mixes 1 & 2
When he’s not busy fronting LCD Soundsystem or producing some of the coolest indie-dance music as one half of DFA, James Murphy can be found in clubs and pubs, drunkenly spinning a healthily unregulated mix of music old, new, borrowed and blue – effectively, anything that gets the juices flowing. Check the DFA web site for these two downloadable album-length mixes, which blend together the likes of Alternative TV, Soulwax, Hot Chip, Bee Gees, Radiohead and Martin Rev with DFA productions or mixes of Juan MacLean, Liquid Liquid, Gavin & Delia and others. One of these days, copyright law will catch up with downloadable radio shows and mix tapes; until then, use ones like this as a constant source of education and entertainment. (Thanks to Pubber po1ntman for the heads-up.)