Well, what a strange week that was. Usually, popping down to London is the most stressful for this vaguely-panicked scribe, yet it turned out to be the most relaxed out of four jaunts around the country. They were all well worth it though, it’s nice for me to occasionally realise that I’m not quite as antisocial as I tend to think I am, and running into friends old and new has left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling that will no doubt be completely obliterated tomorrow morning when I go back to work.
Not entirely sure how many new readers I’ve gained this week (hi, fellow Grauniadistas! Hope you find something worth hanging around for), I’ll probably lose them all again as this week I plan to put my feet up a bit, save for trying to think of something to do for this coming Tuesday as 6dft will be a whole two years old. And, as the web-hosting types have already renewed my subscription, I have at least another year left in me. Or at least paid for so I’d better make the most of it…
Unbunny – Are You Cautious?/Design Flaw
Quite possibly the most miserable song in the world, the first half is an ultra-pedantic deconstruction of that most romantic of heavenly movements, the Shooting Star, before getting all pessimistic about the heart itself (“There’s a design flaw in the human heart, it’s not found in other body parts”). Despite all this, it’s all strangely sweet and moving, coming across like a spurned and wounded Neil Young.
Hater – Tot Finder
From one of my favourite Sub Pop albums, this sort of grunge supergroup (part Soundgarden, part Monster Magnet, plus Mother Love Bone’s tragic Andrew Wood’s brother) came up with this absolute pearler that to this day remains under most radars. All of which is a bit odd as, even putting aside the semi-stellar lineup and the fact that it’s a bloody good album, it’s about as archetypal a “grunge” album as you could hope to hear. A great reminder of younger times, and still holds up well today.
Smoke Fairies – We Had Lost Our Minds
I have had a bit of a period of rediscovery with the Smoke Fairies since picking up the First Aid Kit album. Other than the very obvious (a female duo approaching American Folk music from an outside perspective), the two groups are sonically different but share that indefinable something that warrants me spending several hours listening to their back catalogue to date and falling for them all over again. Their new album (entitled “Blood Speaks”) is out on May 21 – itself a busy day for me shopping-wise – and I can’t wait to hear what Jessica and Katherine have for us this time.
Jonathan Meiburg – The Biology Building
From digital album Buteo Buteo (the Common Buzzard, to save you precious Googling time), the frontman for ecologically-leaning folk rock band Shearwater lends us this gentle tale of laboratories in seats of learning worldwide. Sung as a wartime lament (Pink Floyd’s When The Tigers Broke Free is another point of reminiscence), it sings of a belief that the study of behaviour and environment in the wild is far more rewarding than poking around insides of dead animals. ”How can any place so lifeless tell us anything true about life?” Meiburg sings, and his conviction and passion is admirable.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears
I put this in the mix purely as an excuse to listen to it again. Adam and Dustin are making their way around Europe yet again in support of this self-titled album, and if you are anywhere near where they are playing, please do not hesitate to attend as it was a singularly moving experience when I saw them in Manchester earlier this year. For an album that goes out of its way to create so much from so little, this is about as close to a ‘single’ track as any on the album, building slowly and patiently until it fills all the available space. An incredible piece, and something that never fails to stir the spirit.
Stone Roses – Elizabeth My Dear
Nicking its tune from the traditional Scarborough Fair, it seems apt to dig this one out as the celebrations for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee are about to commence. I suspect that Messrs Brown and Squire won’t be called upon to be performing this ditty at any of the myriad flag-waving events of the coming summer, given that the four lines of lyrics are unambiguous in their desire to see “her off the stamps” removed from the throne. Usually a forgotten track amongst the anthemic indie of the rest of their lauded debut, it’s nonetheless a nice snapshot of a time when artists spoke their minds.
Jeff Klein – Heaven Of Your Arms
One of those songs that sound so much older than it actually is, from someone with an unerring knack for heartfelt self-deprecation and a voice to match his emotion. The My Jerusalem mainman’s first album isn’t so much someone finding his feet as someone with the confidence to put his faults to the table for all to see. It also helps that this particular track is belted out in the manner of Joe Cocker at his bluesiest. Possibly my favourite song from his impressive collection.
Little Big League – Tokyo Drift
Something a bit new, which was recommended to me earlier this week and ended up being rather charmed by. Little Big League are a new band, this song is available on their Bandcamp site and it’s all rather lovely. Sounding not a little unlike Red House Painters, LBL adds an ascendant voice (courtesy of Michelle Zauner) to the mix which gives this song a more forthright tone than Kozelek’s more insular ponderings. Hopefully we’ll be hearing a bit more from this lot.
REM – World Leader Pretend
One of my favourite REM songs from definitely my favourite REM album. Taking full advantage of their new label’s promise of complete creative control, this song epitomises the band’s desire to do something a bit different on their first major release, also being the only song to have its lyrics printed with the album, emphasising its importance to the band. I still have no idea why it resonates with me the way it does, I guess sometimes reasons aren’t needed in order to be positively moved.
Elbow – Station Approach
There’s something that Guy Garvey manages to put across in his words which just describes perfectly some incredibly simple acts. Station Approach is about nothing more complicated than coming home, and the familiarity that comes from that final stretch before arriving. This is made further astonishing by virtue of Elbow’s ease of making this most homely and local of actions sound perfectly at, erm, home in any setting – whether it’s listening to it in the car or in an arena. A subject to touch the heart of anyone.