PC Music are something of a “Marmite” record label, you either love or hate the high-fructose pop they put out. I’m firmly in the former camp and think their latest release “Hey QT” — a collaboration between producer AG Cook and Sophie (actually a bloke) — is one of the best pop records I’ve heard all year. It’s certainly the most insanely catchy.
Somehow Gemma Ray has put out six albums without me ever hearing of her before, but I’m so glad I have now because I think she’s terrific and always love it when I have a load of new music to get into.
The closest equivalent to Gemma I can think of is Richard Hawley and Nick Cave: atmospheric, moody songs with a twangy-guitar retro vibe. Her new album Milk For Your Motors is well worth spending your pocket money on.
Searching around music sites for new sounds can be a bit daunting because there’s so much out there and it’s often pot luck that I find anything I like. I only clicked on this video because the song was called “Archie, Marry Me” which sounded fun and I’m really glad I did as this is terrific.
Alvvays are a Canadian band who play sunny, jingle-jangle indiepop that might not sound very original but they do it very well. Their debut album is out now and has nine tracks of similarly wonderful C-86 goodness.
I don’t think I’ve ever featured Jenny Lewis here before and I’m not sure why because she’s one of my absolute favourites and I think one of the best songwriters around.
The former Rilo Kiley lead singer has put out two brilliant solo albums of Bobbie Gentry/Laurel Canyon-ish Country-Soul which I highly recommend and has a new one coming out in a few weeks called The Voyager. She shared the title track last week and it’s just gorgeous, can’t wait for the album (which has already won my Cover of The Year award).
I’m a little late catching up to Courtney Barnett but considering how old I am it’s a minor miracle I even know her name.
Courtney is a young Australian lass who came to the world’s attention last year with two EPs of Lou Reed/Bob Dylan-esque guitar pop full of lazy melodies and off-kilter, quirky lyrics (“Avant Gardener” is about having an asthma attack.) A few months ago the two EPS were collected together and released as The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas and it’s all rather wonderful so you should get it.
Poptastic new single by Charli XCX from the soundtrack of young-adult weepie The Fault In Our Stars. But as much as I like this it still won’t make me go and see a film about kids dying of cancer.
All pop songs should have titles like BOOM CLAP.
Terrific new single by synth songstress La Roux from her upcoming (and long overdue) second album.
Friday night I’m walking down the street toward the venue where I’m going to see Angel Olsen in concert when who should walk quickly by me in the opposite direction all on her own: none other than Ms. Olsen herself. For a second I thought she was doing a runner and wanted to shout after her “COME BACK, YOU HAVE A SHOW TO DO!” Thankfully she must have just popped out to get some smokes or something because an hour or so later there she was on stage with her band.
Olsen’s voice is so extraordinary she can silence a room by just standing there and singing, so not surprisingly the best part of the concert was when the band left her alone on stage with just that voice, a guitar, and her intense “don’t fuck with me” stare that has probably stopped several men in their tracks in the past.
Not that Angel is some deathly serious no-fun zone, she was funny and chatty which usually I enjoy but there were times when I thought she was maybe a tad too nonchalant and breezy which often undercut the emotional impact of her material. I also wish that the whole band had come back for the encore instead of just her doing a quiet solo number again. Would have been better to finish in big style with the rocking, anthemic “High Five” instead of tossing it off three songs into the set.
These are minor quibbles though, it’s quite something to hear that voice in person and wonder how something so heart-stopping and elemental could come out that sweet-looking girl in the baseball cap.
This was the first concert I’ve been too since I got my iPhone but I only took a few photos and didn’t shoot any video because I didn’t want to be one of those people. Thankfully there were very few distracting phone screens being held up (except for some twat in the front who I swear spent half the gig texting someone) but this guy to the left of me shot the video above.
In case you’re wondering about the banter at the start, someone in the audience asked her where she got her shoes so she made a joke about how smelly they were after being on a long tour.