A monthly mixtape for you featuring some things that have caught my attention this month.
I’m one of those people who, once they’ve made up their mind to do something, don’t tend to hang about. It is now, I believe, 14 months since we first saw the house that we will hopefully be living in this time next month, and not much less than that since we reserved it. While it’s hard to argue with a major sporting event standing in the way of our occupancy – particularly when said major sporting event is the only reason the house was built in the first place! – it’s the months that have gone by since that have proven the most difficult for my tendency towards anxiety and need to be in control. It’s hard working up the enthusiasm to throw myself into anything while I’m waiting for a big beginning, and since I’m trying not to spend any unnecessary money I haven’t really been distracting myself with shows or friends either.
Well, there was one show…
I also recorded my vocal for the track I’m singing backup on from Dave Hughes’ forthcoming solo album at Gareth’s surprisingly professional home recording studio, which was lots of fun – plus, the people whose opinions matter about these things (Dave, Gareth and my mum) seemed to like it. I even got to sing it live on Friday night at The Blue Chair on High Street, where a group of us gathered to eat, drink and film the video for “Rise, Again”, which will be the first single from the album. I’m looking forward to showing it to you all soon, unless the final cut makes it really obvious how much of a dick I look when I’m listening to music that I love. Rise, Again (the album) is out on 30th March, and you can preorder it now on Bandcamp.
Beyond that, a quick work trip to London (during which I met and interviewed an actual Lord on corporate governance and LGBT inclusion) and a whole lot of cake – which seems a lot more than it felt at the time now that I’m writing it all down – it’s been a pretty quiet month. March, on the other hand, is going to be a cracker.
Alone At The Show: last month’s mix, February 2015
1. Kathryn Joseph: “The Want” If you haven’t yet fallen for Aberdonian singer Kathryn Joseph, then you clearly haven’t heard her music. “The Want” is one of my favourite tracks from Bones You Have Thrown Me And Blood I’ve Spilled and it’s a typical combination of bewitching vocals and music like an open wound. Joseph plays King Tut’s on Thursday night, and you can read her interview with LYG to get more of a feel for her intriguing self and sound. BUY IT.
2. Natalie Prass: “Why Won’t You Believe In Me” So my beloved Ryan Adams played two shows in Scotland last week, and I was at neither due to a whole exhaustion/buying a house/three-day migraine combination; which means not only that I missed two chances to finally hear “When The Stars Go Blue” live but also two chances to catch Natalie Prass in a supporting slot. There’s always one track, while I’m making these mixes, that I end up hearing five times while I reorder everything else to fit, and there were certainly far less pretty options. BUY IT.
3. Dan Mangan + Blacksmith: “Kitsch” The centrepiece of January’s Club Meds, “Kitsch” is about as far removed from pre-band Mangan as it’s possible to get: a hypnotic, chaotic, backwards-looking dystopia. BUY IT.
4. Group of the Altos: “News From Wino” Euan McMeeken of Edinburgh’s mini50 records consistently releases some of the most interesting, under-the-radar music you’re ever likely to hear. The problem with that, of course, is that when he sends it to me it tends to fall on unappreciative, pop-loving and slightly-tinnitus-filled ears – but if you like the more accessible side of this unhinged 12-piece from Milwaukie, featuring Volcano Choir’s Daniel Spack, as demonstrated on this song then I would urge you to check out the whole thing and financially support an incredible label. BUY IT.
5. Esmé Patterson: “The Glow” You’ll know already, of course, that Esmé Patterson’s recently-released album of songs written from the perspective of the women of popular song is one of my very favourite things, so I couldn’t resist including the track that started my intellectual love affair on this month’s mix. “I cut off my long hair, turned the glow inside,” Brian Wilson’s Caroline tells him; “and no-one knows why but me”. BUY IT.
6. Sorren Maclean: “Rows and Rows of Boxes” Fans of Idlewild will experience this beautiful talent from the Isle of Mull later in March when he joins Idlewild for their string of reunion shows, but the rest of us can pick up his first EP through Middle of Nowhere Recordings next week. Keep an eye out on LYG too for an interview soon. BUY IT.
8. Heavens to Betsy: “Terrorist” Because obviously I was going to follow track 7 with a bit of Corin Tucker. BUY IT.
9. Girlpool: “Alone at the Show” I’ve been going to shows on my own for so long now that I was almost starting to prefer it, but the last couple of times I’ve headed out on my own I’ve bumped into friends as soon as I got to the venue (to be fair, it’s hard to miss my mate Chris who is usually the tallest guy in the room) and have had a much better time for it. Also, this is the Girlpool song for you if you are the sort of daftie who finds Girlpool too shrill: it’s playful and pathos in equal measure. BUY IT.
10. Cayetana: “Serious Things Are Stupid” There are days right now I want to do nothing but listen to this boisterous Philadelphia punk trio, possibly because the title of this song completely sums up my approach to buying property. BUY IT.
11. Christa Wells: “Tonight, Tonight” Raleigh-by-way-of-Nashville songwriter reinvents Smashing Pumpkins song with added twinkle – and it works beautifully. BUY IT.
12. Father John Misty: “I Love You, Honeybear” Glorious, grandiose title track from what is apparently J Tilman’s “songs about shagging” record. BUY IT.
13. Black International: “The Sky Is Falling In” Couldn’t resist. BUY IT.
14. Two White Cranes: “On Keeping a Notebook” I can’t remember where I found this one, but I loved it so much that I set aside two songs from the album over the course of the month for potential mix inclusion. I know that she is a she, and she is from Bristol; and that I liked the title of this song better than the other one. BUY IT.
15. Trapped Mice: “When I Sleep” Edinburgh’s Trapped Mice seem to be going for epic on their upcoming album – not in the music journalist cliche sense, but in the Homeric. Sacred to the Shades is inspired by Roman etchings and postmodern historical fiction, and also features the darkly hilarious “Essex Wedding”. PREORDER.
DOWNLOAD: Alone At The Show [zipped mp3s, 63.3MB]