It’s nearly April – how the hell did that happen??? Spring looks like it might be here at last and that seems to be putting a bit of life into everyone’s step, and that’s definitely showing itself in this edition of The Monthly. As ever, there’s new and old, obscure and mainstream, pop and off-the-beaten-track, but they’re all tracks I’ll happily recommend to help you get you through this seasonal transition. Hope you like.
1. SILVERY – You Give A Little Love New To Me
The recent threat of closure to the BBC's 6Music has probably done the station a massive favour on the one hand, with listening figures undoubtedly increasing with all the publicity. And I'd count myself in that. It's a great station, for sure, and this track is just one of the many gems I've heard in their daytime schedule. It could almost have been my Rediscovery of this month but I don't feel like I ever really 'knew' it. As you may know, it comes from the soundtrack to Bugsy Malone (1976) but it's a cut above the usual film music fare, and that's due to being written and performed by Paul Williams, a writer who also penned tracks for The Monkees, The Carpenters and Three Dog Night.
2. THE SUGARCUBES - Hit New To Me
And another track from my recent burst of 6Music listening. This is the sort of track that my older sister was probably listening to when it was released in 1991 while I was permanently damaging my hearing with heavy metal, so this never grabbed me first time round. It comes from The Sugarcubes' album Stick Around For Joy and was a top 20 single for the Icelanders, who of course counted the inimitable Bjork as their lead singer. Shame about the regrettable rap half way through though, but that's a minor gripe.
3. LINDSTROM & CHRISTABELLE – Baby Can’t Stop Hot Off The Press
Norwegian producer Hans-Peter Lindstrom has worked with a million people and has a discography as long as your arm, but I've never heard of any of them before. But having seen this track on vinyl in Rough Trade recently I was glad to find it online. The singer is fellow Norwegian, Christabelle, and the pair's love of Motown and disco is written all over this. A good early summer track.
4. FRIENDLY FIRES – Hold On Hot Off The Press
This track came out this month from a new EP, where St. Albans' Friendly Fires cover Brooklyn band Holy Ghost, and vice versa. It's a chunky, arty affair and is another good stop-gap before the new Friendly Fires album comes along.
5. FOOL’S GOLD – Surprise Hotel New To Me
Fool's Gold received a lot of press last year, but I failed to catch up with them then. Part of the reason I didn't immediately hunt them down was because I assumed they were a run-of-the-mill indie band, a lazy assumption based on their (presumably coincidental) Stone Roses'-referencing name. A friend recently included this track in his DJ set and I spotted instantly that they were a different kettle of fish. From LA, Fool's Gold are probably the most overt in their use of African rhythms of all the bands that have recently done this. The whole (self-titled) album's a breezy affair and well worth checking out.
6. BROKEN BELLS – The Mall & Misery Hot Off The Press
This track oozes the quality and class that's all over the Broken Bells' recently released self-titled debut album. And that's no surprise given that the two men behind the band are DJ Dangermouse (Gnarls Barkley, The Grey Album, The Shortwave Set) and James Mercer, singer with The Shins. I feared that the collaboration might be a little too 'experimental' (after Dangermouse's bizarre David Lynch work), so was relieved to find a bunch of great indie-pop songs that get better with each listen.
7. LAWRENCE ARABIA – Apple Pie Bed Hot Off The Press
Lawrence Arabia were on a radio session recently and seem to have a good way with catchy tracks. The name is actually that taken by New Zealand artist James Milne and this song comes from his recent second album, Chant Darling.
8. THE AVETT BROTHERS – If It’s The Beaches New To Me
The Avett Brothers were on The Monthly in October but after seeing them play an absolutely amazing show in London recently, I've dug into their back catalogue and so they make a return here this month, with a track from 2006’s The Gleam EP. They specialise in country rock, but it's definitely left of centre stuff, but this track is pure gold. It's an almost heartbreaking plea for a second chance and I don't mind admitting it made me shed a tear when I saw it live.
9. THE STRANGE BOYS – Be Brave Hot Off The Press
The Strange Boys come highly recommended to me and this track, from their recent album of the same name is definitely reminiscent of some of the best Nuggets-era garage rock. The band, from Austin, Texas, have already released five EPs but this track comes from their second album, out this year.
10. JIMI HENDRIX – Mr. Bad Luck Hot Off The Press
'New' releases from Jimi Hendrix are obviously something to generally treat with caution, but this track comes from the highly-praised album Valleys Of Neptune that recently came out. It contains tracks that have all come out in one form or another before but the difference with this release is the excellent production on these new versions, handled mostly by members of the Hendrix clan, which makes it sound like a thoroughly modern album.
11. THE BRONX – White Guilt New To Me
Mariachi El Bronx, the Mariachi side project of LA hardcore band The Bronx, featured on September's The Monthly but it took me till now to look into The Bronx themselves. Another track that I heard being DJ'ed this month, White Guilt comes from the band's 2006 second album (The Bronx II) and compared to some of their more furious stuff, this is practically a ballad for them.
12. RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – Rollercoaster Of Love Rediscovery Of The Month
I've been after this song for a long time and got lucky coming across it given that it's not really properly available, and I was pleased to find it still holds up (well, I think it does). You might remember that it was recorded for the Beavis & Butthead movie in 1996, but you might not know that it's a cover of a 1975 Ohio Players track. Admittedly, the Chili Peppers can be a bit Marmite, but I've always quite liked their fun music, which seems to be in complete contrast to their habit of taking themselves too seriously. Still, glad to finally have this in my collection.