October’s The Monthly has been a toughie to whittle down, as you’d expect from the time of year when a lot of new releases are put out. As you’ll know by now though, it’s not always the big new releases you’ll find here, because you’ll probably come across them elsewhere (though of course if they’re genuinely better than anything else I’ve heard in the past month, they’ll go on). So in the hour of music detailed below, there are a few ‘big’ names with new releases (the sort that have got the Twitter knickers in a twist) but all the other stuff that only qualifies for The Monthly for one reason – it’s the best music that’s new to me from the past few weeks. Take a listen and see what you like…
1. Vampire Weekend – Horchata Hot Off The Press
Vampire Weekend’s eponymous debut album is one of the best albums of the past couple of years, so I admit to getting more than a little excited about them putting out a free track from their new record, Contra, a full three months before its release in January. The music press has been talking of this song as evidence of the group’s musical growth, but I can’t honestly see that. However, that’s not a criticism, because what they were (are) doing is brilliant. And in case you’re wondering, horchata is a Mexican milk-based drink.
2. The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing Hot Off The Press
Amazing amazing amazing. In the true tradition of surfing-based music, Brooklyn band The Drums aren’t surfers, but the truth should never obscure enjoyment of such superbly conceived pop music as this. Their Summertime EP! is on iTunes now and is under a fiver, and these guys are creating such a cool-indie buzz that if you want to appear, if not actually ahead, then alongside, the curve, you should buy it. Just noticed I’ve played this 17 times so far this month.
3. Music Go Music – Thousand Crazy Nights Hot Off The Press
If you’ve read any of the many recent articles on California’s Music Go Music you won’t have failed to notice the mention of a small time Scandinavian outfit by the name of ABBA, and when you listen to MGM the similarities are definitely there. They don’t have an album out but there’s music (legally) online that’s worth tracking down. Or pay through the nose for their 12”s from the US like I did.
4. Royksopp feat. Karin Dreijer – This Must Be It Hot Off The Press
The quality of this track is right up there with the very finest of recent Scando-electro-pop (Annie, The Knife, Robyn), and that quality is enhanced further with the addition of Karin “Fever Ray/The Knife” Dreijer’s vocals, as well as a beautifully conceived and executed video, which is on the blog.
5. Florence + The Machine – You’ve Got The Love (The XX Remix) Hot Off The Press
The two names on this song are about as ‘now’ as you can get. Florence has won an army of fans over the summer with her festival performances and in my mind was robbed of the Mercury prize for the sake of some column inches. The XX were on the last issue of The Monthly and here they’re remixing (and performing on) Florence’s cover of the classic The Source Feat. Candi Staton tune. Florence’s version originally came out earlier in the year but is being re-released this month, complete with the well-timed picking of The XX as remixers. It’s almost like it was planned.
6. Big Boi Feat. George Clinton & Too $hort – Fo’ Yo’ Sorrows Hot Off The Press
Big Boi’s of course one half of Outkast, one of the best hip hop groups ever and he’s been getting a lot of people interested in his forthcoming solo album, from which this is from. Snoop Dogg-inspiring and all-round spacefunk lunatic George Clinton provides the alien-y chorus as the bass squelchs and beeps in the background. I’m no expert, but it appears to be about drugs.
7. Zager & Evans – The Year 2525 New To Me
This terrific track came to my attention due to Ian Brown covering it on his new album, My Way, and I nearly put his excellent version on (his barely-singing style suits the limited range of the vocal), but went for the original with its excellent Prisoner-meets-Planet Of The Apes dramatic overtones.
8. Cate Le Bon – Hollow Tree House Hounds Hot Off The Press
One of the best albums of 2008 was by Neon Neon, an 80s dance affair about the life of car maker (and Back To The Future inspiration) John De Lorean. On that album was a track called I Lust U which featured this lady right here, Cate (no relation to Simon) Le Bon. She’s now gearing up to release her solo album and this theatrical affair is the first track from it. Another press favourite of late.
9. Big Star – O My Soul (single mix) New To Me / Reissue
I should be put into some sort of music fans’ jail for overlooking Big Star for so long. Active in the early 70s and influenced by the British Invasion (i.e. The Beatles), they’ve inspired everyone from REM to Primal Scream and have just had their work reissued, with this track coming from their 1974 set, Radio City. Definitely one that could have been recorded this year as much as 35 years ago.
10. The Feelies – Original Love New To Me / Reissue
Another band who’ve benefited from recent reissues (and the associated press interest), The Feelies have, like Big Star, been talked about in the same breath as REM. Rather than directly influencing REM though, a lot of writers have said that this New Jersey quartet could have had the level of success that REM enjoyed if they’d wanted it. They didn’t, and instead have had to rely on dedicated muso fans rather than the mainstream. This 1980 darkly new wave number doesn’t really indicate that mass appeal was there for the taking, but their debut album, Crazy Rhythms is a real hidden joy.
11. Muddy Waters – I Just Want To Make Love To You New To Me
In the late 60s, Marshall Chess, founder of the legendary blues label, Chess Records, attempted to capitalise on the fashion for psychedelic rock (a la Hendrix) and so put his two star-players, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf in front of a bunch of psych session musicians to get their own albums done with this not-very-blues backing band. To my ears, the results are awesome, but famously, Howlin’ Wolf hated his album, and as such it’s very hard to come by, but Muddy Waters’ Electric Mud album is easy to get, and this is its opening track. Best enjoyed loud on headphones to really hear the ‘groove’.
12. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You Hot Off The Press
I’ve heard of The Avett Brothers before but hadn’t paid this North Carolina band (of real bros) much notice, until reading that Rick Rubin (Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Beastie Boys, Chilli Peppers) had produced their new record, of which this is the title track. It’s wonderfully bittersweet country and has a great log-cabin through a Super 8 style video (which is also on the blog). The album’s out in the UK in 2010 but I bagged this on import.
13. Gary Higgins – Thicker Than A Smokey New To Me
Higgins is so unknown he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, unless he was the 1980 US National Badminton Champion, which he wasn’t. I love finding these obscure singer-songwriters and have included the likes of John Prine, Jackson C. Frank and Andy Pratt on previous monthlies, and Higgins seems to fit seamlessly in with them. This comes from his only album, 1973’s Red Hash, which is available on iTunes despite his obscurity.
14. Jonathan Jeremiah – Happiness (Quiet Village Remix) Hot Off The Press
This Londoner spent years working to save money to hire Questlove (the drummer from The Roots), the JBs (James Brown’s backing band) and Bernard Butler to play on his album, and if this track’s anything to go by, it was worth the saving. It’s not out yet, so I don’t know specifically who is on this track, or how departed from the original Quiet Village have taken it, but it’s a wonderfully relaxing six minutes.
15. Zoot Sims – So Blue New To Me / Reissue
I know not everyone out there is a jazz fan, but I am, and so when I read about the recent reissue of four albums by the non-more-jazz named Zoot Sims, I was happy (and amazed) to see that the four albums on double CD (38 tracks) were only £7, which seems criminally cheap. Sims was a Saxophonist from California who died in 1985 and I’m glad to have him on my shelf next to Brubeck, Peterson and Davis.
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…