So, as we pass through the first trimester of the year, 2016 apparently being hellbent on destroying all prominent musical icons of any credibility, let’s examine some of the music which has kept spirits buoyed and hope intact…
10. Yr Face, Yuck (Stranger Things)
This may well have made a higher appearance were it not for the text jargon in the title which I loathe. Stranger Things as an album doesn’t really hit the high notes of previous records and you wonder after their third studio album if they are a group, like many, which will never eclipse their debut offering. However, the last track on the album is a beacon of hope and reminds us that Yuck are still relevant.
9. Tangle Formations, Explosions in the Sky (The Wilderness)
Ok, so it’s nothing we haven’t heard already from EITS but the Texas four piece still bring their own brand of post rock nihilism to the party and I for one am dancing. This is the definitive stand out track on an album that, given its lack of direction and momentum, seems to have lost itself in the wilderness. D’you see what I did there?
8. Dust, Parquet Courts (Human Performance)
This is an infectious little blighter which is an instant ear-perker, it’s jagged opening riff offset with a sturdy, bouncing rhythm immediately evokes Gang of Four and, while teetering on the edge of being somewhat novelty, walks the line on just the right side of the fence.
7. Embody, Frankie Cosmos (Next Thing)
Greta Simone Kline aka Frankie Cosmos has an effortless song writing ability, almost as if she wandered into a studio and reeled off the songs from the top of her head. However, there’s real depth to an album which at first listen could be accused of being somewhat twee. Although difficult to pick out a track of distinction in a supremely consistent album, Embody has a childlike naivety to it which encapsulates the albums mission statement. I could only find live versions of this particular track, apologies.
6. Unknown, KVB (Of Desire)
Although the bands recent Of Desire pails in insignificance in comparison to 2013’s Minus One, there are some gems tucked away in the latter part of the album. Unknown doesn’t, like many of the tracks on the album, try too hard and washes over with a sublime guitar sound and a sense of restless agitation.
5. Something Helpful, Anna Meredith (Varmints)
Anna Meredith has this strange ability to show us something very complex and very simplistic in unison and allows us to take whatever we wish from it. This song really encapsulates the paradoxical style she embraces; take a step back from the ridiculously catchy vocal line to hear a sequenced bass hook playing the most bizarre of arpeggios. Best not analyse it too much, it just works.
4. Ether, Mogwai (Atomic)
Now leviathans of post rock, Mogwai have an uncanny ability to keep their style fresh and invigorating which would explain their lengthy career in a genre that keeps dropping in and out of focus. This record is bitty, indicative of an album which is a soundtrack as opposed to an all out studio album but it has some beautiful moments and Ether is definitely one of those. Like so much Mogwai, you could over dub this to a video feed of the conservative party conference and somehow the actions of those politicians would seem noble and quietly heroic.
3. The Woman That Loves You, Japanese Breakfast (Psychopomp)
The thing that is so appealing about this gorgeous little track is that it contains a stupidly whistleable hook based melody which could easily be exploited to create a real “pop” song. However the arrangement means it refuses to give us the instant gratification and the melody sits just out of arms length, refusing to give in to the generic narrative that is your customary dainty pop song.
2. Diamonds Aren’t Forever II, Clark (The Last Panthers)
Clark is for me one of the standout IDM producers for many years and his self titled back in 2014 was a spectacular piece of work. This record is a very different beast, more insular and less brash, but again an album of extremely high quality. Clark hasn’t lost his ability to create dystopian, post apocalyptic soundscapes and this track is an example of the strange and dissident beauty which makes his compositions so compelling. You’ll have to dig this one out yourself, no stream to be found!
1. Together Those Leaves, Yndi Halda (Under Summer)
Walk through any town centre on a bustling Saturday morning listening to this. It’s so wonderfully cinematic and sumptuous that you will find a desire to smile unashamedly, hug passersby and throw fistfuls of change at beggars. I hate the overuse of the expression “life affirming” but this track truly is a thing of beauty.
Thoughts, etc?! Tweet @RichardBrabin