It’s that time of the month where I’ve got to think about music which isn’t the new Frank Turner album, currently streaming before next week’s release over at the NMEh, or the masterful display that was the Mountain Goats’ performance at King Tut’s at the weekend. Ever had that moment when you nearly bit through your own finger because the band were playing your song?
To say nothing of John yelling the Craig Finn bit, off mic to the ever-dapper Peter Hughes, during an all-guns-blazing “This Year” to power off the set. I practically had to be carried from the venue, so it was a good thing it was one of those nights I seemed to know half the room. Support the Submarines performed this beautiful boy-girl dreampop, befitting their history as the band – and couple – who got back together when they discovered they’d each been writing mournful lyrics about each other since their split. I want to unwrap them like a birthday present.
But here’s what else I’ve been listening to in the meantime.
I Will Still Be This Cynical When I Get Paid: last month’s mix, May 2011
1. Franz Nicolay: “The Ballad of Hollis Wadsworth Mason, Jr”
So starting with the saddest thing I know, which is Franz Nicolay’s accordion-laden tribute to Watchmen’s original Nite Owl. From the Saint Sebastian of the Short Stage EP. Read my interview with Franz here.
2. The Kills: “DNA”
If you thought the Submarines were a bit too sugary-sweet, there’s one boy-girl duo you can’t help but get down and dirty with. All the lyric sites say that it’s not “fate with a single blow has custard pied me now”, but since it’s the best line ever I’ve decided it’s going to stand. From new album Blood Pressures.
3. Thao and Mirah: “How Dare You”
This could be the greatest collaboration of the year between two indie sirens from across the pond – Thao is earth and Mirah is air; while beatsmistress tUnE-yArDs provides the fire. Also: perfect soundtrack for browsing Get Out Of There Cat. From the duo’s self-titled album, which you won’t find in any UK record shops – I should know, I’ve tried.
4. The Sandwitches: “Over the Moon”
The Sandwitches have this almost primal howl to them. It’s like they’re they’re singing, such as it is, through a crack in the wall into a decade where everything is still in cotton and sepia. I don’t know how else to describe it. From new album Mrs Jones’ Cookies.
5. J Mascis: “Not Enough”
I don’t know much about J Mascis or his previous band Dinosaur Jr, but this is the sort of perfect, tambourine-shaking indie rock that sells an album on its own (you see, record labels? MP3s good!) and totally befits a legend. It’s off Several Shades of Why.
6. Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: “Codeine”
Jason Isbell’s were always my favourite Drive-By Truckers songs, but with this second album he has effectively shit all over everything his previous band has ever produced. This is brooding, soulful, an ode to the girl who’s no longer there. “If there’s one thing I can’t take it’s the sound that a woman makes… about five seconds after her heart begins to break.”
Plus, he sang karaoke with my friend (or at least she was before I started on the Truckers…) Katrina last week. You gotta admit that’s pretty cool. From new album – probably my favourite so far this year – Here We Rest.
7. The Damnwells: “Soundtrack”
I picked this up on a sampler and there’s this strange echo to it. I can’t tell if it’s intentional or not. I can’t let it annoy me though because Alex Dezen, when he gets it right, is one of my favourite songwriters. And boy, does he get it right here. It’s from One Last Century.
8. The Trouble with Templeton: “Bleeders”
This was a submission; the debut release from young Australian singer-songwriter Thomas Calder. Start it up and it sounds like your typical alternative folk, albeit with a voice that makes you sit up and take notice, but stick with it and it’ll explode like thunder. I don’t know if it’s worth mentioning that he’s playing the Zoo in his native Brisbane tomorrow night? Find out more here.
9. Sleepingdog: “He Loved to See the World Through His Camera”
I wrote about Sleepingdog earlier this month. Their ethereal songwriting and ghostly, barely-there vocals aren’t my usual fayre; but close your eyes, put on a really good pair of headphones and see where this takes you. From new album With Our Heads in the Clouds and Our Hearts in the Fields.
10. Low: “Especially Me”
I didn’t mean for the track to lead onto their tour partners – I guess it just goes to show what a great blend they were. Masters of the genre, this is gaspingly beautiful. From latest release C’mon.
11. Milk Maid: “Not Me”
Milk Maid, the new project from Nine Black Alps’ bassist, make this beautiully melodic racket that might just be the best new thing I’ve heard all year. Look out for an interview with the band before their UK tour starts in a couple of weeks. Taken from forthcoming debut Yucca.
12. The Rural Alberta Advantage: “Barnes’ Yard”
A landslide, a stampede; a pure folk-pop riot. One of the many excellent bands I missed at this year’s Stag and Dagger; but as this selection goes to show – you, Lynn, are only 21 once (and did you like the Lissie album?) From new album Departing.
13. The Low Anthem: “Boeing 737”
In somebody else’s hands the Low Anthem could have been just another bunch of Fleet Foxes style Americana also-rans – in fact, I think their first album pretty much was that. I couldn’t call them my new favourite band with anything like a straight face, but dammit if this battlecry doesn’t getthe blood pumping in my veins. You’ll find it on this year’s Smart Flesh.
14. Jenny Owen Youngs: “Woodcut”
So remember when Liz Phair was this gutsy, angry chick who so absolutely got what it meant to be broken and filthy and really just not to give a fuck? And then she started self-referencing and making pop music and leering over college boys, and you knew she was still doing what she wanted but it was really kinda creepy? This, this is the album for those of us she left behind and even though it’s a few years old now I challenge you to find better. Oh Jenny, Jenny, Jenny. You see it, don’t you? Just listen to the sensual, collected way she croons “no you don’t love me, don’t say that you do” and tell yourself you didn’t wish you could have put the phone down that last time too. But we can’t all protect ourselves so well. You all need a copy of Batten The Hatches in your life, by the way.
15. Ben Marwood: “Oh My Days”
Bookending the mix his touring partner opens – to say nothing of titling it – Ben Marwood’s prose leaps to life with mischief and sparkle. New? Maybe not. Necessary? Fuck, yes. You’ll find it on his debut Outside There’s A Curse.
DOWNLOAD: I Will Still Be This Cynical When I Get Paid [zip]
Monthly most played is, as ever, after the jump. I have a new most played song! Well, joint. Still though.
Monthly Most Played as of May 2011:
1= The Gaslight Anthem, “We Came To Dance”  1= Marah, “Walt Whitman Bridge” [=] 3. The Gaslight Anthem, “High Lonesome” [=] 4. The Hold Steady: “Banging Camp” [=] 5= Frank Turner, “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous”  5= The Gaslight Anthem: “Old White Lincoln” [=] 7= The Gaslight Anthem, “The Spirit of Jazz”  7= The Gaslight Anthem, “The ’59 Sound” [=] 9= The Hold Steady, “The Weekenders”  9= The Hold Steady, “Your Little Hoodrat Friend”