There are relatively few music artists who, when they are interviewed, or they write an article, can be guaranteed to say something smart, interesting, and entertaining.
I’m thinking of the likes of Michael Stipe, or Kristin Hersh.
And also Jessica Dobson, the singer/songwriter fronting Deep Sea Diver.
I mentioned before that Throwing Muses is my favourite band, but when I reach for Kristin Hersh’s records these days, this EP is usually my first port of call. This is the first in a series of articles covering “side projects”.
This is another great track from the year of many gems, 2016. That year marked the 50th Anniversary of the formation of The Monkees, and a project was put together to make a new record by the three surviving members. This is its highlight track.
Continuing the theme of sample-based tracks, next up is Spitfire, by Public Service Broadcasting. The song would work absolutely fine as an instrumental, but the samples from the 1942 film “The First of the Few” add so much more.
The fourth and final LP from School of Seven Bells was completed without main songwriter Benjamin Curtis, who sadly died young in 2013. But it’s a fine record, and the opening track, Ablaze, is a highlight from 2016 - a year of many highlights.
Following Lime Habit by Poliça, here’s another act that (often? always? not sure...) features two drummers live - The Go! Team. This was the lead single from their third LP Rolling Blackouts, with guest vocals from Bethany Cosentino.
If one uses the release date of the album, rather than the pre-release single, this track counts as being from the golden year of 2016 - for me the finest year of releases since 2004. It’s distinctively Poliça, but without the prominent autotune effects that controversially featured in earlier releases.
Chew Lips looked like they could be on their way to stardom at one point, but sadly it wasn’t to be. One critically acclaimed album and a few singles are all we have, which is a great loss for all of us.
This track comes from 2016, the wonderful year where my annual “best-of” mix tape was one of the greatest I can remember. Paper Thin is by Laura Kidd, who was then using the She Makes War project name, and features Tanya Donelly on BVs.
The third in a trio of songs by a pair of my favourite artists of recent years. Following Salt Spring by Anomie Belle, and Gumball Machine Weekend by Yppah, this track sees them working together on Film Burn, one of several collaborations between the pair on the 2012 Yppah record Eighty One.
This is the first in a trio of songs by a pair of my favourite artists of recent years. First up is singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Anomie Belle, with Salt Spring from her 2016 LP Flux.
The second in a trio of songs by bands who couldn’t resist getting a bit sweary in their names, this is a powerful, uplifting, instrumental that fitted in perfectly when used in the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony.
The first of three songs by bands whose names include the F word. This track from Fucked Up is shouty and furious as the character “David”, but sweet and soft as “Veronica” responds. But it’s always catchy and tuneful.
Prefab Sprout were a pretty popular band in the 80s that, to be honest, I didn’t really like that much. But 20 years later I heard about singer Paddy McAloon’s solo record and it’s a fascinating story, which resulted in an amazing album. In 2019, this album was re-released under the Prefab Sprout banner.
I Trawl The Megahertz is the second in a pair of “spoken word” records.
Scot composer and musician Anna Meredith combines electronica with classical instruments to produce music that has connections to past yet which still sounds fresh and modern.
Gwenno Saunders came to relatively wide public awareness as a member of The Pipettes, but has forged a successful solo career since. In 2018 she released an album in the Cornish language, but here I’m highlighting Amser - the Cornish-language track of her otherwise-mostly-Welsh 2014 LP Y Dydd Olaf.
This is a great song. And Pesky is surely a genius name for a band of kids?
I’m writing this in April 2020, as we approach the 10th anniversary of the release of Pull In Emergency’s eponymous album - and it’s almost certainly my most-played LP since it came out. It’s a very fine piece of work - from a band that were in their mid-teens when it was made.