Welcome to September’s The Monthly, the product of another interesting month of music for me. Looking at the final running order, it seems like this selection is as good a representation of what The Monthly’s all about as any, because we’ve got music from loads of different sources, including critically acclaimed music, movie soundtracks, bands I’ve seen live, great new releases and of course some stuff that came my way randomly. After going to the fantastic End Of The Road festival, a couple of discoveries from there have cropped up below, and we’ve got some chart belters, a couple of the best of the current crop of British (and American) indie popsters and one or two music legends thrown in too. Something for everyone I hope. Happy listening…
1. David Bowie – Cat People (Putting Out Fire) New To Me
We’ll kick off with one of those movie tracks I mentioned above. If you haven’t seen Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds yet I’d highly recommend it for its qualities as a film, but as ever with QT, the soundtrack was spot on too. Rather than using authentic WWII music, he chose a typically eclectic mix of contemporary songs, including this one from the Thin White Duke. It’s from his 1983 album Let’s Dance, which I own so by rights I should have known this track already, but what can I say – some things slip through the net. It featured in one of the climatic Basterds scenes to brilliant effect.
2. Mariachi El Bronx – I Would Die 4 U Hot Off The Press
I have friends whose musical opinions I trust who swear that LA punk band The Bronx are the best band in the world right now. While The Bronx are on my To Do list, I have caught up with Mariachi El Bronx, the at-first-glance-bizarre side project of The Bronx. Punk it ain’t. What it is, is an authentic sounding (to these English ears anyway) mariachi band, with some brilliantly fiesta-esque tracks on their debut album, El Bronx. As you’ll no doubt rush out and buy the album after hearing them, I’ve chosen to include here a non-album B-side, a gloriously fun cover of the Prince classic. Now that’s genre-bending.
3. Friendly Fires – Kiss Of Life Hot Off The Press
And so to St. Albans’ brilliant Friendly Fires, fresh from their Mercury Prize-snubbing (they were never likely to win it, really). This is a new track released on the cashing-in repackaging of their self-titled debut album, and is not only as good as anything from that album, but was released with a fantastic video set on an African beach with a load of Burundi drummers. Come back summer!
4. The Dodos – Two Medicines New To Me
Speaking of African rhythms, they’re all the rage at the moment, with Vampire Weekend heading the pack along with Friendly Fires. And the third in that top 3 entitled ‘Indie Bands Who Grew Up Listening To Graceland’ is San Francisco’s The Dodos. Watching this trio live is the key to really ‘getting’ them, but the records come a close second. The drums are high in the mix and offer a truly spectacular sight onstage (as at End Of The Road), so catch them if you can. This comes from their recent second album, Time To Die.
5. The Big Pink – Tonight Hot Off The Press
I fucking love this. I really do. London duo The Big Pink have been getting NME’s knickers in a twist for some time now, and while I don’t always agree with where NME’s finger of hype points, this one’s spot on. The pair have a great knack for a chorus (such as on current single Dominos) and seem to combine Muse, Kasabian, Kings Of Leon and a dash of Arctic Monkeys. And although that might sound like a terrible idea, I like their debut album A Brief History Of Love a lot.
6. Jamie T – 368 Hot Off The Press
Forget Mike Skinner, Jamie T is the truly exciting sound of England’s working classes, like a modern Billy Bragg (who he’s covered) but with better beats and lots of swearing. His recent second album Kings & Queens is worth a few quid of any music fan’s money, and this track is my pick to tempt you.
7. Basement Jaxx – Scars Feat Kelis, Melka & Chipmunk Hot Off The Press
I never thought I’d be putting a Basement Jaxx track on The Monthly because I’ve never really liked them before (Romeo especially just does my head in). But this track, the title cut from their new album, is unexpectedly hip hop, and oozes dark drama in a way that goes against their normally nauseating dance shit. Great too to see UK grimestar Chipmunk alongside US R&B superstar Kelis.
8. Wale – Chillin’ Feat Lady Gaga New To Me
Apologies if you listen to Radio 1 or KissFM a lot, because I can only assume you’ll have already heard this track a million times. Me, I found it on iTunes and haven’t been force-fed it, leaving me to still appreciate Washington rapper Wale’s fun hip-poppiness. And I fricking love Gaga’s chorus too.
9. Jay-Z – Reminder Hot Off The Press
Everybody say H-O-V-A. Unable to get tickets to Jiggaman’s recent Roundhouse gig, I had to settle for listening to his new album, Blueprint 3, a pot-pourri of current hip hop production styles. As ever though, a Jay-Z album should revolve around his raps, and on this track he delivers – the verse that begins about the 1m25s mark is a typically brazen ‘fuck you’ to all-comers, including Elvis and the Stones(!). He does however graciously admit that The Beatles are better than him, which is nice.
10. Gang Of Four – Cheeseburger New To Me
Gang Of Four have finally come off my Bands To Investigate list and with the purchase of their definitive compilation, A Brief History Of The 20th Century, I found them to be a lot more eclectic and accessible than I’d assumed. Hailing from Leeds, their early-80s post punk music sits alongside the likes of Talking Heads and Television but doesn’t really sound like either. This track, from 1981, grabbed me immediately, principally for its awesome drum break at the 2m33s mark, which is surely ripe for sampling by someone? You heard it here first…
11. Richmond Fontaine – The Boyfriends Hot Off The Press
Like track 4, I caught Richmond Fontaine briefly at End Of The Road and after buying his album at the Rough Trade stall on-site, he’s shown himself to be a heart-on-sleeve type lyricist, chronicling mostly melancholic American lives. His A Letter To The Patron Saint Of Nurses is particularly poignant but this strained tale of boyfriends made it on to here in the end. Check him out if you ever find your misery needs some company.
12. Dan Arborise – Days Even Years Hot Off The Press
This guy’s Myspace page describes him as John Martyn meets Nick Drake, and I don’t think I could put it better myself, with hefty influences of both running clearly through this track’s gentle acousticness. It was an iTunes single of the week (i.e. a free download), and I’m glad I noticed it because I’m keen to look a little further into the man from Devon. His debut album, Of Tide & Trail, is out now.
13. John Lennon – Watching The Wheels New To Me
And so we come full circle and end as we started, with a track from a movie I saw this month. Judd Apatow’s new comedy drama Funny People might not have impressed everyone but like Inglourious Basterds the music made a favourable impression on me. Beatles Paul and Ringo also had solo songs on the soundtrack, but this acoustic demo from Lennon was vaguely familiar, but not enough to discount it as a new discovery for me. Eerily, the cover of the single version of this (released posthumously in 1981) features a photo by Paul Goresh, the fan who also took the infamous snap of Lennon signing an LP for his assassin Mark Chapman, hours before his death. And on that happy note…
Thanks to anyone who passed on tips this month – you know who you are
S P E C I A L R E Q U E S T
ihrtmusique is pulling together the top 100 songs of the last decade, so if you have any suggestions for your favourites since the 2000s kicked in, send them my way…