It’s been a hell of a month, but as ever there’s been a ton of great music to keep me company, and the new bits are what you have below. In addition to still blasting out Vampire Weekend’s Contra regularly, new albums from Hot Chip and Yeasayer have especially been bothering my headphones, and both have tracks on February’s The Monthly. I’ve also discovered a brilliant record shop, Flashback on the Essex Road in Islington, and have had my busiest ever DJ month (with all setlists on the blog), so it really has been a musical month. Listen on to see what the results of that are…
1. Hot Chip - Thieves In The Night Hot Off The Press
The Hot Chip album has dominated my headphones this month, and this, the opening track from their new album One Life Stand, is my favourite. It's typical of how good this band are - massive ravey beats reined in by soft vocals and killer melodies. The whole album's a treasure, and to trot out that tired music-critic phrase, it's surely an early contender for album of the year. Go buy it.
2. Yeasayer - O.N.E. Hot Off The Press
I had the Yeasayer album for a few weeks before bothering to put it on - something about the name made me put them in the non-urgent pile. What a mistake-a to make-a! When I put it on I was very pleasantly surprised to find a record that was not only diverse and interestingly different, but crucially, very listenable. The Brooklyn trio are often labeled 'experimental', and while that's true for a fair bit of their recent album Odd Blood, it's not true for tracks such as this, which combines afro-rhythms, squelchy noises and hook-y choruses, but plays like it’s a straight up quality pop track. Go buy this too.
3. Goldfrapp - Rocket Hot Off The Press
Alison Goldfrapp's released some great singles over the years, and the same tracks released by Kylie or Girls Aloud would have shot straight to the higher reaches of the charts. This is her latest pop gem, released about a month ago - it's superbly disco with its "whoa whoa whoa" chorus and synth stabs and comes from her forthcoming album Head First, out in March.
4. Kid Cudi Feat. Kanye West, Common and Lady Gaga - I Poke Her Face New To Me
The misheard lyric of Gaga's Poker Face forms the basis for this X-rated remix. There are some cool rhymes on here, but it's really Gaga's vocals that are the star, with the stripped down beat really putting the spotlight on her awesome lyrical hooks.
5. Gorillaz Feat. Mos Def & Bobby Womack - Stylo (Chiddy Bang remix) Hot Off The Press
Chiddy Bang were featured on last June’s The Monthly, and here they are remixing the fab new Gorillaz single. In truth they don't add a lot to the track, just a couple of rapped verses, but the song's another worthy addition to the Albarn canon. Mos Def sounds like he's calling in from another planet, and Damon's typically lackadaisical singing gives Stylo bags of atmosphere. Weirdly though, Bobby Womack’s vocals seemed to have vanished from this remix, so make sure you catch the original too.
6. William S. Burroughs - Words Of Advice New To Me
Like the evil B-side of Baz Luhrmann's …Sunscreen, this gem of a track offers Burroughs' advice for young people, set to music provided by American duo The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy (remember them?!?). The track comes from the 1992 album Spare Ass Annie And Other Tales, and came five years before Burroughs died.
7. John Kongos - He's Gonna Step On You Again New To Me
I've wanted this track for the longest time, and now I have it, after the planets aligned and remembered I wanted it while sitting in front of iTunes. I also found it on vinyl too, which is a result. One listen and I'm sure you'll be able to tell that this is the original of the Happy Mondays' baggy classic Step On, and I guess it can be considered a good bit of pop trivia that that Madchester high point was a cover. South African Kongos actually scored a #4 hit in the UK with this song, and it's definitely going to be a record bag staple for me now.
8. Pekeniques - Polucion New To me
I randomly came across this soul compilation recently, called Sensacional Vol. 2 and this little nugget was on there, along with a dozen or so other crackers. No idea about the band but they know how to turn a tune out, that's for sure.
9. The Music Machine - Talk Talk New To Me
I do like a good bit of 60s garage rock, and this is certainly that. A top 20 single in '66 in the US, this is pop-y enough to not be a headache to listen to (like some old garage rock can be) but it's dirty enough to know you're listening to men who probably never washed, which is reassuring. This cropped up when I saw the band's best of on vinyl in HMV for under a tenner - never heard of them before, but they looked the part and as luck would have it, they sound the part too.
10. Charlotte Gainsbourg - Heaven Can Wait Hot Off The Press
Beck's chipped in with Gainsbourg Jr for her new album IRM and it sounds all the better for it. This could well be a Beck original, and the whole album's a little like that, but I don't think it would be too imaginary to say that it's also got a healthy dose of feminie gallic charm about it too. The album's just come out and the video for this song is amazing, and well worth checking out on the blog.
11. Junip - Azaleadalen Hot Off The Press
The most notable member of Junip is one Jose Gonzalez, and the Swedish trio are looking to release their debut album this year. Another track is on the web, called Chickens and it's arguably better than this, so seek it out on rcrdlbl.com.
12. Tom Waits - (Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night New To Me
I don't know much about Tom Waits, but he's another one of those on my list of people to discover that I'm always referring to. I stumbled upon his Asylum Years compilation and this track struck me on first listen - it's from his 1974 record The Heart Of Saturday Night and sounds like it had quite an influence on Springsteen amongst others. It’s much more tender than I always took him for.
13. Dire Straits - Romeo & Juliet New To Me
Sure, they're not the most credible of bands but I sure fell in love with this song when I heard it on Dermot O'Leary's radio show (he actually played the Killers' recent cover, but I upgraded to the original). It's from their 1980 album, Making Movies, which explains why I didn't know it. Like a lot of people my age (I suspect), their 1985 Brothers In Arms album was massive for me as a kid, so this track was a little before my time. So much back catalogue, so little time! It's a sweet ballad with some lovely lines in it, but manages to stay on the hopeful side of lost love, rather than descending into melancholy.
14. Rod Stewart - Baby Jane Rediscovery Of The Month
1983's Body Wishes was another back catalogue album that I found this month, and I didn't expect much from it. But when this track cropped up, I was instantly transported back to the early 80s. I knew right away that this must have been a big single at the time (as I assumed that that was why it was so familiar to me) and sure enough it was a #1. Okay, so it may have a little of the guilty pleasure about it, but I'm still loving it. Apparently Belle & Sebastian covered it, but I can't find that. Anyone?
Thanks to anyone who passed on tips this month – you know who you are