In which, even when she is being the world’s (second) most rubbish and lazy music blogger (from Paisley), Lis puts together a selection of songs that have caught her attention through the joys of iTunes shuffle this month.
So many things to write about, but a combination of the personal, work pressures and… some other things mean you’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear my half-composed thoughts on The Hunger Games, or my even-less-composed thoughts on certain controversial female political figures following HBO’s Game Change, The Iron Lady and half a conversation from White Heat on BBC2. I may be able to explain a little more before the end of this week, but as I’m off to Tenerife for a much-needed break on Saturday I’m not making any promises.
As for this mix, well, at least it was put together before the month, right?
Go Get Your Suitcase, You’ve Blown Their Minds: last month’s mix, March 2012
1. The Shins: “The Rifle’s Spiral”
There’s a point about ten seconds into the urgent, frenzied riff that opens this first track from Port Of Morrow, the James Mercer-fronted indie-rockers’ first album in four years and a fire sale of a lineup change, that you smile and realise that the band the manic pixie dreamgirls swore would change your life never really went away. It’s one of not that many points on the album that feels like that to be honest (see my TAD review) but that doesn’t stop this track being a belter.
2. Sharon Van Etten: “Magic Chords”
If you’re a music blog reader at all, there’s pretty much one bandwagon you’ll be jumping on in the first half of this year, regardless of how many albums she’s had before this one. Sharon Van Etten’s third album, Tramp – produced by the National’s Aaron Dessner – is an understated triumph.
3. Micah Schnabel: “I’m Dead, Serious”
I have a funny feeling that this title track is the second I’ve sneaked on from Two Cow Garage frontman Schnabel’s second solo album, but his lyrics crack me up so I don’t care.
4. Seeker Lover Keeper: “Even Though I’m A Woman
Certified platinum I believe in their native Australia, the self-titled debut of this new project by vocalists Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby is a lovely listen (and it’s another one I reviewed for TAD). Altogether it may be a little too insipid for some tastes, but if this gorgeous stand-out track doesn’t get your toes tapping you might actually be dead.
5. Amanda Shires: “Love Be A Bird”
I have the Texan fiddler/current squeeze of bona fide LYG hero Jason Isbell on the brain today, as I’m catching up on a proposed interview before her Glasgow show with Sounds of the Suburbs later this month. On Carrying Lightning, Shires wrenches longing and mystery from her voice in equal measure.
6. Blood Red Shoes: “Night Light”
My good friend Stevie, whose latest Springsteen-themed Slide Into My Hand podcast episode (hi mum) is the sort of lovingly-curated mixtape I’ve been lucky enough to get spoiled with throughout our long-running friendship, has been a big fan of this noisy Brighton boy-girl duo for years, so it was about time I gave them a proper listen. Laura-Mary Carter’s ominous vocal performance in this cut from In Time To Voices is about as subtle as these two get, and it’s no bad thing.
7. Joseph Arthur: “Wasted Days”
Whatever happened to Joseph Arthur, the mild-mannered singer-songwriter type between the beautiful “In The Sun” (as covered by Michael Stipe, of REM fame, for the Hurricane Katrina disaster fund)? He’s only gone and embraced his underground credentials with the gruff, rough, Redemption City, a new double-album made available for free download from his website. It’s certainly a bold change in direction that probably won’t please every fan, but this in particular is the streetlights and grime of the nighttime city’s seedy underbelly.
8. Alex Chilton: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
I’m sure I’m not alone in having had that awkward moment when a colleague walks in on you performing a stress-relieving Rolling Stones riff in the kitchen (right?). Alex Chilton, he of Big Star fame, certainly gets it as this swagger-infused cover of that very same riff (found via the always-excellent Aquarium Drunkard) proves. The 1970s recording sessions this track is taken from have recently been rereleased.
9. Craig Finn: “Not Much Left of Us”
It took hearing it live for Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn’s solo album to finally resonate with me, this song – an iTunes bonus I suspect, as it’s not on my vinyl edition – more than most. It’s simple, poignant and yet more evidence of why Finn is one of my holy trinity of lyricists.
10. Little Doses: “Peace Into War”
I previewed Rock Riot Soul, the debut from Little Doses, via an interview with the band’s driving force Mark McLelland (ex-Snow Patrol) in the summer, and it’s finally here. In fact, I’m going to stop referring to the Snow Patrol connection because it’s Kirsten Ross’ glorious vocals that promise to drag the band front and centre. Sorry, Mark.
11. Kathleen Edwards: “Mint”
Because I got a row last month, which is fair enough because my musical heroine Kathleen Edwards has so far this year delivered not only the best live performance but also the best second side of an album for woozy Sunday-evening gin-drunk listening (if you too remain a vinyl-listening wanker, of course) I have heard. “Mint” is very much a bad-girl song, perhaps making it the most Edwardsesque thing on Voyageur which is very much a grow-up-and-get-busy-livin’ album of moving on – as I might have mentioned.
12. Rainbow Fisher: “Wind In Sail”
It might surprise Tom Davis, who contacted me last month about his new Glasgow-based semi-acoustic jangle-pop act, to see its inclusion on this playlist because I, uh, haven’t actually gotten around to telling him that I liked it yet, but here it is – from the act’s debut EP, By The Sea. You might see a bit more of them around these parts in the near future, unless Davis is too offended to speak to me.
13. Blue Sky Archives: “Bitches”
Confession time: I don’t often like the bands that the rest of the Scottish establishment raves about, although it’s easy to miss unless I am a) drunk (and on Twitter); b) grumpy (and on Twitter); or you are c) Midnight Lion. Since I’m about to reverse it I’m going to come right out and say that the early days of Blue Sky Archives bored me senseless when they played a Radar show but fuck me, February’s Triple-A Side EP is bloody brilliant. If this is humble pie I’ll have mine a la mode.
14. Jenny Owen Youngs: “Why You Fall”
The first three months of this year have been ridiculously strong for releases from the artists I call my favourites, although you’d be hard-pressed to tell because I hate reviewing albums and I now have to make a decent attempt at it once a week because it’s for another site and I can’t just stick a picture of a cake on the end of it and hope nobody notices. Stop the presses, but with lines like “numb’s no good but it sure beats the hurt” the lady with the greatest initials in music has once again penned my life in songs I can sing along to – An Unwavering Band of Light is fierce and true and catchy and confessional and brilliant. Love is just a hole, indeed.
15. The Plimptons: “Last Two On The Piss”
But the greatest lovesongs (or are they “friendsongs”? I can’t always tell) are the ones that don’t make a song and dance about it. As I said in my interview with Martin from the band ahead of the release of … Are Cynical and Bloated what I love about the Plimptons is the lyrics which manage to do that thing where they seem totally prosaic but really couldn’t say it any better.
DOWNLOAD: Go Get Your Suitcase, You’ve Blown Their Minds [mp3, zip]