This is just gorgeous, isn’t it? I think the WOD are thought of as a bit dull because they don’t appear to have any personality…but it’s in the music, man, it’s in the music! All Springsteeny, as they always are (‘post-Springsteen’ is the precise name of the genre) plus that sublime motorik beat, doused in feedback. Mmm. The album’s growing on me, but this one song - well, I’d wager that its final few minutes make it possibly the best thing that’s been released this year…
Dangerous ballad of the week. I Wish I could twist my mouth like Billy Idol. And those digital hand claps/ass slaps. Timeless. Apparently it was so hot during the video shoot that Billy Idol got his contact lenses fused to his eyeballs and had to spend several days blind in hospital. Well worth it.
Nils Frahm - Says
And if you have 15 minutes, please watch this beautiful live performance he did in Hackney Church. (I couldn’t decide which track to put in here really).
Nils Frahm - For - Peter - Toilet Brushes - More
Todd Terje - Strandbar (disko)
Pure Disco like only Todd can do it.
Daft Punk - Touch
2012 wasn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t seem like 2013 will be neither. But if so, that meteor strikes down, this is the track we shall all be dancing to before we are engulfed by a tidal wave of lava.
Kvelertak - Åpenbaring
Hey, it’s almost 2014. Put on your french underwear and have some aquavit, then Kvelertak will take care of the rest.
It’s a man being moody on a guitar (um, just as it usually is…) But this is especially beautiful – from Alabaman Jason Isbell, who I stumbled on via my fave musician Anais Mitchell. It’s got echoes of the wondrous Damien Jurado yet it’s something else entirely. enjoy. Here’s a good interview with him about Alabama, alcohol and Muscle Shoals.
Here’s my top 5 songs of the year. W&C comrade Arild’s are coming in part II.
1. ‘Song for Zula’, Phosphorescent
'Song for Zula' is such an epic six minutes that as soon as I heard it, it was game over. No other song's come anywhere close. It starts off dreamy, borrowing those famous lines from Johnny Cash: ‘Love is a burning thing/And it makes a fiery ring….’ and then it grows & grows from despair into some kind of gorgeous redemption. The whole song’s like a dream, in fact, one in which you’re clawing yourself out from a cage towards freedom, and when you’re there – as the lyrics tell it – your feet are gold, your heart is white, and you’re racing out on the desert plains all night. Pure exaltation. Amazing. A sidenote: all year I’ve thought that it reminds me of the long-lost 'Circle of Life' from The Lion King, in its shiny joyousness - which is a good (indeed, great) thing - why you laugh back there? It’s true! So turn the lights down, turn the volume up (forget the video, which doesn’t do it justice), and get carried away…
update: i’ve just finally re-listened to ‘circle of life’ and it’s shit. oops. But ‘song for zula’ really isn’t.
In the past few years, Justin Vernon’s discovered autotune and big, sweeping sound, and ditched the sweet warmth that made Bon Iver’s early music so intoxicating – but hurrah, he brings both to his new band Volcano Choir. That’s why I almost picked their sparse and gorgeous 'Alaskans' here – but I’ve been dreaming about long, distant voyages all year, so it had to be ‘Byegone’. In its chorus, they bellow a hearty “Set sail,” and we’re at the seashore, looking out over the freezing water, getting ready to do just that, dangers be damned. Then there’s the song’s irresistible ‘Game of Thrones’-y promise, with lyrics about ‘knights of the northern lodges’ and people being legends and such loveliness. And yet there’s something else going on here, something painful and sad to do with real life relationships and “the north end of monogamy” - whatever that is – that’s quite apart from the nautical wonder. The incongruous mix is brilliant.
Oh, really, any of ‘The Impossible Truth’, the album he released this year - because it’s not as though things change much between songs. I’ve talked about William Tyler before; how he’s the inheritor of the legacy of John Fahey, Robbie Basho et al - the complex, textured, ‘dirtbowl psychedelia’ (as the Quietus called it); and how, in channelling and creating such complexity, he’s astonishingly gifted, and I reckon the best guitarist around these days. Takes some patience, but if you like american primitive guitar - and especially have an ear for it when it’s cleaned up a little and the melodies shine and shine through the wild places it takes you to - check out William.
So incredibly sexy. Like some horny, needy, adorable bastard lovechild of 70s disco and 80s synthpop. Mmm yeah.
Ooh, many candidates for the all-important fifth place! Rhye’s ‘Open’, Jagwar Ma’s incredible glowstick banger 'Four', Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’,The National’s 'Pink Rabbits', Dan Friel’s bonkers ’Ulysses’ and Waxahatchee’s ‘'Swandive' – but ‘Time Will Tell’ gets it. Like Solange’s 'Losing You', my favourite song from last year, which he produced, ‘Time Will Tell’ is Dev Hynes showing that no-one does that gorgeously breezy vibe better than him. It works so well because on the one hand, you’ve got him imploring you to just chill out, cos no-one’s waiting for you anyway, ‘don’t be stressed out’…and man, it’s like a massage, it is - and such wise words, too! But then, you’ve got him insistently crooning “come into my bedroom, come into my bedroooom”…and the overall effect, making you feel both smart and seduced, is just ace. ‘Cupid Deluxe’ comes and goes, but ‘Time Will Tell’ is properly mellow and sexy, and therefore great.
'Eric's a blues guitar player…'
It’s Sunday night! It’s time for old, old Bob Dylan. This is one of the best, from ‘62. The earliest incarnations of the song were around in the ’30s, but the golden-warm, sunshiney guitar tones just shine out in Dylan’s adaptation, and I reckon (controversially) it’s the best song on his debut album.
Today’s music comes from our Norwich brethren - some infectious, sweet and disarming folk pop from The Sound of Sight, a band on a new label, Meat Fer Manners. I don’t know if it’s right to call it folk pop, who knows! But it’s like a sunburst of good music, exactly what we need right now - so if you’ve got a few minutes, have a listen…
God this is gorgeous. In a warm, wintery way. Just listen. You’ll see.
Here’s some new American primitive guitar from Sean Proper, a 12 and 6-string guitarist aka ‘stringshredder’ from Florida. It’s excellent. http://dyingforbadmusic.bandcamp.com/album/design-engine