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Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The Monthly - September 08

1. Okkervil River - Lost Coastlines Hot Off The Press
Kicking off this month with another Okkervil River track, this will be the last for a while, I promise! But this is included as it’s from their new album, called The Stand Ins, which is the follow up to The Stage Names album, from which last month’s track came from. They’re clearly a quality band who get better the more time you give them.

2. The Week That Was - Scratch the Surface Hot Off The Press
An odd band this – they’ve had a lot of press attention and are built around two Sunderland brothers, David and Peter Brewis, who were also behind Field Music. The work of the brothers is new to me but this album is fresh out, and is excellent listening, combining unusual rhythms with introspective lyrics.

3. Rodriguez - This Is Not A Song, It's An Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues Reissue
Fascinating story behind Sixto Rodriguez – his album, Cold Fact (from which this is taken), made a real star of him in Australia and South Africa after its release is 1970, but was never released in the UK. It’s now been released here this month, a couple of years after David Holmes sampled him and gave him some attention here. It’s great, politically charged acoustic rock from the Detroit native of Mexican heritage who has spent most of the past thirty years as a teacher unaware of his fame in the southern hemisphere.

4. John Phillips - Zulu Warrior Reissue
Another track from a ‘lost’ album. Phillips was the ‘leader’ of the Mamas & The Papas and has had several reissues of his solo work over the years but this came out a week ago and is his from the lost album he did as the first solo artists signed to the Rolling Stones’ own label in 1976. Produced by Jagger & Richards, it’s packed with 70s drug-addled cool and is a pleasure to have back in the public domain.

5. Radiohead - Gagging Order New To Me
A non-album Radiohead track that came out on an EP around the Hail To The Thief album. It’s a grower and as ever, when they relax back into their more-tuneful/less-challenging mode they usually hit the mark, at least for me.

6. My Morning Jacket - Rocket Man New To Me
This is a cover of Elton John from a session in Holland (hence the DJ at the end of the track) by Kentucky’s My Morning Jacket. Try to listen past the slightly echoy quality of the record (sorry about that) and appreciate the beautiful lyrics that really illustrate the pains of touring and the accompanying excesses – an element that wasn’t apparent to me despite many listens of the original over the years.

7. Friendly Fires - In The Hospital Hot Off The Press
A track taken from the first album of this band from St Albans who are signed to XL Recordings. They’ve got a lot of tricks up their sleeves but I really like this one and it’s a welcome addition to the indie/dance cannon.

8. Kid Sister Feat David Banner - Family Reunion Hot Off The Press
Chicago’s Kid Sister is a favourite of fellow Chi-city resident Kanye West, and she featured on the first Best Of back in May. This one features rapper David Banner and again is a great party track.

9. Little Boots – Meddle Hot Off The Press
In all honesty I’m 50/50 about this track. On the one hand it’s a good pop track, but on the other it’s very Britney-derivative (the negative there being that it’s probably a bit too close to Toxic for my liking). But it’s on here because she was pulled out for special attention in NME so I thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt. Plus she’s from Blackpool, which is pretty cool.

10. Lloyd Feat Lil Wayne - Girls Around The World Hot Off The Press
Loving this despite it being as smoove as a freshly shaved Usher arse cheek. A combination of the Soul II Soul beat sample and Lil’ Wayne’s rap (with its numerous rhyme checks of Eric B & Rakim’s classic Paid In Full) make it overall a pretty damn good track that I wanted to include here.

11. TV On The Radio - Family Tree Hot Off The Press
Definitely the best reviewed of this month’s new albums, this has had 5/5s all over the shop. The increased column inches for this New York band (it’s from their fourth album, Dear Science) is thanks in part to their member David Sitek producing Scarlett Johansson’s recent solo debut, and partly because it’s bloody good. It’s eclectic so no single track I could put on here would really sum up the whole album, so please please please go and check it out for yourself.

12. Dr. Dog - Army Of Ancients Hot Off The Press
Having previously toured with My Morning Jacket, this band, from Philadelphia, actually just released their fifth record (Fate, from where this comes from), but up to now they’ve passed me by. This is worth a listen though and the track here has an almost jazz swing to its vocals.

13. The Gaslight Anthem - Old White Lincoln Hot Off The Press
Wow – do you think these boys are Springsteen fans at all?!? No matter - if an influence is used in the right way, as it is here, then it’s no bad thing. The chorus is fantastic, and they might soon be challenging The Hold Steady for their ‘best bar band in America’ crown.

14. Metallica – Cyanide Hot Off The Press
Hold on to your leather wristbands, the biggest monsters in rock are back. The new album, produced by Rick Rubin, is superb. It’s heavy, it’s ferocious, it’s fast, it’s furious and the average track time is 7(!!!) minutes. Pop, it ain’t. This is the single to accompany the release of Death Magnetic (the album) and frankly it’s a miracle they found any track that suggested itself as a single. Stirring, indeed, but not for the faint-hearted, so skip if you must (but hang your head in shame if you do).

15. EPMD - Strictly Business New To Me
Criminally, I didn’t really discover EPMD first time round, but as news of a new album emerges I thought it high time to check out these hip hop legends. This, the first track from their 1988 debut album of the same name, is a suitably innovative example of what they’re all about.

16. Hot Chip - Sexual Healing New To Me
No idea when (or if) Hot Chip released this, but it’s a very witty cover of the Marvin Gaye classic. A great one to impress your friends at parties.

17. Dion - Runaround Sue Rediscovery Of The Month
A journalist picked this as his track of the week in a broadsheet arts section recently and he quite rightly (in my view) claimed that we should forget about relying on Crazy In Love for getting people on the dancefloor and use this instead, coming as it does with a solid guarantee of booty-shaking. It still sounds so good, and the combination of handclaps and “woahs” make it pretty irresistible – stunning for a track 47 years old. For me, it also provokes some pretty wistful memories of listening to Radio 2’s rock ‘n’ roll hour over Sunday lunch at home during my early teens. Hated it then, love it now.

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