Sunday, August 07, 2016

Hypothetical mixtape: September 2015

Honestly, these playlists are a lot easier when you have a couple of 15-minute epics to help get you over the line. Not this month.

"Kick Out The Chairs", by Munk. We open this month with a very insistent bass line. The involvement of James Murphy in this track is largely self-evident; the interesting thing about Murphy's (anti)career in music is how he has managed to be an entirely distinctive individual without at any point (my opinion) becoming a parody of himself. The other selling point about this song is how winningly Nancy Whang sings the word "motherfucker".

"Shadow", by Chromatics. Come for the "It's raining outside, it's nice here beside the fire but it would be nicer if there was somebody here with me" vibe, stay for the blast of Joy Division / early New Order synths. The "Dear Tommy" album will be with us one day (unless it isn't); until then, this is an excellent, if frustrating, teaser.

"Black Night", by Frank Sinatra Jr. A couple of It's Nots: it's not the Deep Purple song, and its not old Frank (although Frank Jr. certainly sounds like he's been hewn from the same materials). There's a lot of Lee Hazlewood in this song (perhaps not surprising, given that he was Nancy Sinatra's brother), if Lee Hazlewood had an actual singing voice. Arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, don't you know.

"Mister Dobolina", by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien. If I'm being honest, which of course I always am, I am only here for the titular vocal sample. But I have been attracted to songs for less than that. I think.

"Back To Life", by Soul II Soul. I spent a bit of time in London in 1996. In my own mind, this was the soundtrack to that time; I must be wrong, because this would have been more than five years old by then. But as imaginary soundtracks go, it could be plenty worse.

"Turn Into Earth", by Al Stewart. If you think you know this song, you probably do: it's a cover of a Yardbirds tune. But in terms of atmosphere, this version (curiously, featuring one Jimmy Page on guitar) goes places that the Yardbirds only hint at.

"Dallas", by Steely Dan. An early non-LP single by The Dan. Not a bad place for me to start my Steely Dan obsession (which I am going to embark upon just as soon as I have gotten The Grateful Dead out of my system).

"Ballerina", by Vallerenga Blues and Disko Combo. You may know Vallerenga Blues and Disko Combo by another name. Lindstrom and Prins Thomas. Circa 2008. There, that got you interested. The bass on this track has been known to destroy reinforced-concrete flooring. The piano is another story entirely.

"I Want You", by Christine Perfect. It's 1969. Christine Perfect records this blues-rock number, written by Tony Joe White. It appears as the last song on an album on which, for one track, she is joined by Danny Kirwan and a certain Mr John McVie. You can see where this story is going. Christine Perfect becomes Christine McVie, joins Fleetwood Mac, and by 1977 they have released "Rumours" and essentially taken over the world. "I Want You" is a long way from "Rumours". But so is Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac (and Danny Kirwan-era Fleetwood Mac, for that matter).

"I Dig Everything", by David Bowie. This is an early single by the late Mr Bowie, the same guy who brought you "The Laughing Gnome". It's a pretty cool song. (I won't hear a bad word spoken against "The Laughing Gnome", either, so watch it.) You can read more about the song here, on the very fine "Pushing Ahead of the Dame" blog.

"Hungry, So Angry", by Medium Medium. Kick-start the eighties with this blast of righteous noise. It's all there: saxophone; funky-ass bass; spiky guitar; a superabundance of male angst. There is even the hint of a mullet or two. You might have called Medium Medium a one-hit wonder if only "Hungry, So Angry" had been the hit that it ought to have been.

"A Forest", by James Leg. The reader of this blog will know that I hold "A Forest", by The Cure, to be an unassailable classic. Accordingly, I would not normally entertain anyone attempting to tread on its sacred turf. But this? You got me where I am most vulnerable, James Leg: throw a distorted Fender Rhodes into the mix and I'm anybody's. (Bonus: record cover of the month. James Leg would appear to be Barry Morgan's evil twin.)

 "Koi (Jessy and Jeremy Chemistry Mix)", by Le1f. If your opinion of Jessy Lanza and Junior Boys is anywhere near as high as mine, you need this in your life. Simple as that. And I don't even know who Le1f is.

"Release The Beast", by Breakwater. Breakwater are bringing the funk, big time. I'll bet that's a keytar. (Bonus: alternate record cover of the month. Moon boots. Yellow moon boots.)

"If You Think Your God Is Dead, Try Mine", by The Swan Silvertones. The world is a better place for there being a musical genre called "funk gospel".

"Mystic Mood", by Billy Cole Orchestra. Not a million miles away from "Soulful Strut", nor from the thousands of records put out under the label "Phase 4 Stereo", but who's counting?

"Cassava Piece", by Augustus Pablo. I must have a dozen tracks that rely on this riddim (first heard by me, I think, as "Baby I Love You So", by Colourbox, or maybe as "King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown"). But this one gets a prize for its absolute focus on the Melodica King himself.

"Powers", by Jennifer Castle. Canadian folk music to the world, 2011 edition. Warning: contains flute.

"August Rain", by Hirotaka Shirotsubaki. This is a very attractive piece of sonic ambience. It turns out Hirotaka Shirotsubaki has been self-releasing records for a few years. This is the first time I have come across him. I hope it is not the last. It also turns out you can download the entire album from here. For free. That's great and all, you know, but in a way it's also kind of criminal.