Welcome to a new year of music! I’ll resist the temptation to make any bold claims that 2010 will be the best year ever for X, Y or indeed Z, and instead just promise to keep up what I’ve been doing for sometime now, and keep you supplied with excellent music every month. The inaugural The Monthly of the decade draws from the past eight weeks (as December’s was all about new bands to look out for this year), so by that logic it should be approximately twice as good as any other month. You can be the judge of that, but what with Christmas presents and the festive break giving me lots of time to explore, I’m pretty happy with the 15 tracks before you. And I’ve decided to bring back an old feature of The Monthly – the last track here is my Rediscovery of the Month and it’s a chance for me to put a track your way that presented itself to me after I hadn’t heard it for a while. So to quote from the sleeve of a terrible Moog organ compilation LP that I just bought, “relax, loosen up and get into the moog groove*”.
*No moogs were used in the making of this compilation.
1. Animal Collective – Graze Hot Off The Press
Last year’s AC album Merriweather Post Pavilion was universally hailed as a modern indie masterpiece and bagged the ‘album of the year’ title in both Uncut and Spin magazines. The NYC-via-Baltimore quartet haven’t rested on their laurels though and at the end of 09 released an EP, the brilliant Fall Be Kind, of which this is the first track. It might take a couple of listens to hear through the multi-layered psychedelia, but when the pipes kick in at the three-minute mark, it’s a marvel to behold.
2. Groove Armada Feat Bryan Ferry – Shameless Hot Off The Press
I can’t say I’ve ever paid Groove Armada much attention but when this found its way into my iTunes library I found myself happily having it on repeat. It’s a moody, sultry affair, and perfectly pitched for someone as suave as Ferry to fit straight in. It shamelessly taps into a Studio 54 vibe and if it wasn’t for the modern production values it could be a lost Roxy Music track.
3. Karen O & The Kids – Worried Shoes Hot Off The Press
If you’ve already seen the Where The Wild Things Are movie you’ll know that it’s absolutely not a film for kids, and this achingly beautiful song from the soundtrack, full of longing and sadness, is indicative of that. Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) performed all of the music for WTWTA and expertly found the balance between ‘album’ and ‘soundtrack’. If, like Max in the film, you’ve ever been a kid who runs away because the weight of the world is on your shoulders, you probably had a pair of worried shoes too.
4. The Bonfire Band – My Father’s Son Hot Off The Press
Not much to say about these guys, except that if you go down to Columbia Road for Sunday’s flower market, you’ll probably see them playing this kind of gentle Americana live. Worth the trip.
5. Davy Graham – Angi New To Me
Graham died in 2008 and he was a massive influence on some very cool musicians, including Jimmy Page and Simon & Garfunkel (who actually covered this track on their Sounds Of Silence album). Remarkably, Graham wrote Angi for his then-girlfriend when he was 19 in 1962. But while being a leading figure in the British folk revival of the 60s may not get too many of you excited, Graham’s easy, accessible and mostly vocal-free songs are great fodder for a Sunday morning with the papers.
6. Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love New To Me
Somebody credible recently recommended (in a magazine) Rickie Lee Jones’ 1979 self-titled debut album, but annoyingly I can’t remember who. Anyway, it was on my list to investigate, and I’m glad I did. It’s a bit jazzy, very 70s, easy going, and I happen to like most of those things. She was launched originally with no-little hype, helped no doubt by being Tom Waits’ gal at the time.
7. Matt & Kim – Daylight New To Me
This track has a massively familiar feel to it, and sounds like it was almost certainly used in an advert somewhere. It might not bear dozens of listens, but it’s a happy tune and is keeping the grey sky away for now. The duo, from New York, released this as a single in the US last year, and I picked up on it when it cropped up in a couple of US mags’ picks of the year.
8. Egyptian Hip Hop – Rad Pitt Hot Off The Press
While they won’t be winning any band-name prizes, EHH are a group being touted for big things this year, especially by NME who have dubbed their style ‘art-pop’. They come from Manchester and look about 12 years-old, but there’s enough about this track to keep me looking out for their album. Oh, and sorry if the mix of this is very quiet compared to the rest of the CD. Errr…turn it up!
9. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers – Roadrunner New To Me
One of my many amazing Christmas presents was a selection of 7”s from my brother and sister in law, and this track was one of them. I’ve heard references to the Modern Lovers for a long time, so I’m glad to catch up with them. I bought their best of, and there are several absolute gems on there. The band was all about Richman (who many say invented punk) but he never quite got himself the success that he probably could have had if he’d wanted it. This is damned fun rock and roll from ’76 though.
10. Jacques Dutronc – Le Responsible New To Me
Sticking with presents from bro & sis in law, a best of from this French pop star also came my way. Everything about it is ‘now’ – the artwork, the photo of Jacques in his ‘vintage’ suit, the production and even the songs. Everything except the date – this is from 1969. Either way, Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Brel are glad to have a third compatriot sitting next to them on my shelf.
11. The Troggs – With A Girl Like You New To Me
Sticking with the 60s, this Troggs #1 (from ’66) came to me from a bunch of crappy-looking CDs that my Mum gave to me before she threw them out. They were all free with the Daily Mail and alike and my first reaction was that they were worthless, so it was lucky I glanced at them because they actually included tons of old stuff that I didn’t have, including this gem. And as I’m checking my facts for this track, I’ve just discovered that Dave Sitek (of TV On The Radio, who produced Scarlett Johansson’s album) covered this for the excellent indie charity album Dark Was The Night, last year.
12. Free Energy – Free Energy Hot Off The Press
This Minneapolis quartet are benefiting from the patronage of James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. So taken with Free Energy is Murphy that he’s signed them to his DFA label and is producing their debut record, due soon. This is irony-free, fun-time-starting pop rock and the band are apparently more than happy to let the world know about their mainstream ambitions.
13. Joe Goddard – Apple Bobbing Hot Off The Press
While I wait for the new Hot Chip album to be released in the next few weeks, I’ve been kept happy by this bouncy track from co-vocalist Joe Goddard. There’s more than a touch of the computer game soundtrack about it, but from a Hot Chipper, that shouldn’t really be a surprise. And if you’re a fan, the new Hot Chip single, One Life Stand, is on the blog, and mighty good it is too.
14. Freeway – Know What I Mean Hot Off The Press
This short track comes from Freeway’s forthcoming album of the same name, the first for him at his new label, Cash Money. He’s probably best known for his many guest spots on Jay-Z records while he was signed to Roc-A-Fella. It’s a dark and menacing 138 seconds that shows why Jigga backed him.
15. Panjabi MC Feat Jay-Z – Mundian To Bach Ke Rediscovery Of The Month
Whoo – remember this? Back in 2003 you couldn’t go out without hearing this out of a car window, and after I caught it on a TV music channel recently, I dug it out pronto. It’s awesome, and the Jay-Z remix gives it that extra edge too. According to R&Ber Jay Sean (who was presenting the show that this was on) the proper dance to it is a ‘pat the cat’ / ‘unscrew the lightbulb’ combo. So now you know.
Thanks to anyone who passed on tips this month – you know who you are