New Monday

So nice to have the great Róisín Murphy back after an eight-year gap since her last album. Even better to have her back in top form too because her new album Hairless Toys is terrific. It’s electronica with it’s feet tentatively on the dancefloor while it’s head and heart are somewhere stranger and more eclectic.

Listen to the whole thing here.

New Monday

I was watching the Academy of Country Music Awards on television last week (there was nothing else on) and in among the usual cowboy-hat-wearing, truck-driving, good ol’ boy nonsense was this gorgeous track by Alabama quartet Little Big Town which just blew me away.

This came out a few months ago and is a sexy slice of retro Country-Soul that sounds like it could have been recorded by Dusty Springfield in Nashville in the 1960s. I’m not the biggest Country fan in the world but this makes me go Yee-haw.

New-ish Monday

For such a tiny country Scotland has produced a lot of great bands, particularly of the indie kind, and Honeyblood are the latest addition to that long line. The Glaswegian duo of Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar play a more crunchy, alt-90s version of the classic jangly-guitar sound associated with Scottish indie bands but with plenty of the same wit and skill with catchy hooks.

I’m a bit behind the curve with them because this track came out last year along with their self-titled debut album, but better late than never because they’re terrific and so is the album. Highly recommended.

New Monday

Today’s new choon comes via Mr. Mondo, a man who puts all us mere bloggers to shame with his podcasting, writing, DJ-ing, bass-playing, gig-promoting, and full-English-breakfast-eating. On top of that he now appears to have added Music Mogul to his business card with the Podrophenia Records label.

From there come The Ends, a punky Canvey Island foursome whose first single sounds like The Buzzcocks having a punch up with Arctic Monkeys. Play loud and get sweaty.

I Love Your Live Action

On Sunday night I braved a snow storm (another bloody one) to go and see Wolf Alice play live on their very first US tour. My motivation being that one day they might be famous, arena-playing rock stars and I can bore people to death by smugly telling the story of how I once saw them in a tiny club in front of about 100 people.

They should become famous if there’s any justice (though we all know there often isn’t): they have the songs, the riffs, and judging by the performance I saw, can do the business live too. For a band that has yet to put out it’s first album (finally arriving this June) they have the chops of a more seasoned outfit, though one still young and keen enough to have a good time onstage and act like they think rocking out in a band is like the greatest thing ever.

A good-size crowd turned up considering the weather and Wolf Alice’s low profile in the States, and right from the opening “Fluffy” to the closing “Moaning Lisa Smile” they made us all very glad that we had trudged through the snow to see them. The songs off the new album sounded great too. My only gripe is that they didn’t play an encore.

I did have a go at filming some video myself this time and captured about two minutes of them doing their rifftastic new single “Giant Peach” before deciding I’d rather just enjoy the concert without that bother.

That one drove the crowd nuts and literally had the floor shaking, but the lovely “Blush” was my favourite song of the evening. Here they are playing it the night before in New York.

If you’re interested there’s a recording of the whole gig here.

New Monday

A collaboration between Giorgio Moroder and Kylie Minogue is one of those which sounds like a dream on paper but in reality could have been a big let down. Glad to say that this is pretty great.

New Monday

I didn’t discover Jane Weaver‘s terrific album The Silver Globe until the very end of 2014 which wasn’t enough listening time for it to make my best-of-year list. If it had done it would have been in a category called something like “Best Outer Space Garden Party” for the way it merges the cosmic with the folky and pastoral, sounding at times like Fairport Convention playing with droney, trippy electronics. For those like me missing the retro-futuristic sound of Broadcast this just might hit the spot.

I’d never heard of Weaver before but supposedly this is her sixth album and marks a departure from her previous work, pushing her usual Psych-Folk into more space-age territory. Let’s hope she stays on that rocket ship.

Buy it here on vinyl or CD in the UK or anywhere digitally here.

That Was The Year That Was

I got a bit bored doing the usual list of albums because it seems like such an old man thing to do and I hate being reminded that I’m an old man. So I’m mixing it up a bit with singles, bands, and other things. The envelopes please…

Ultraviolence – Lana Del Rey
Lana is still singing melancholy songs about bad boys and the sad girls who love them, but on her second album she dumped the pop beats and annoying baby-girl voice that marred her first record and instead wrapped them in a gauzy haze of strings, Spaghetti-Western guitars, and narcotic tempos. The result was a stunning album of ethereal torch songs that surprised even fans like me with how good it all was. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and all the hater shit thrown at her seems to have given Lana the fuck-you creative strength to tear a telephone book in half — or at least make my favorite album of the year.

St. Vincent
It’s appropriate that Annie Clark looked like some futuristic alien deity on the cover of her fourth album because that was the one where I crossed over from merely liking her to devoted worship. Streamlining her sound even more into sleek, diamond-hard art-rock, she sounded like the result of a lab experiment that spliced together the DNA of Laurie Anderson and Prince. Annie is probably the most outrageously talented being in the galaxy right now — of any gender or species.

Seasons (Waiting On You) – Future Islands
The best single of the year was a synthpop tune sung by a gruff-voiced little bloke who looked like the love child of Marlon Brando and Bob Hoskins and danced as if he had faulty springs in his knees. Isn’t pop music great?

Angel Olsen
If St. Vincent is an alien then Angel Olsen is like some old-timey spirit conjured up in a seance instead of a recording studio that haunts your home through a crackly old radio. The intensity of her performances does suggest that she is possessed by something, and on her emotionally stirring Burn Your Fire For No Witness album this would be the ghosts of Roy Orbison, Link Wray, PJ Harvey, and that girl behind the counter in the record shop you’re too scared to talk to.

LP1 — FKA Twigs
This stunning image was my favorite record sleeve of the year and I would love to have bought it in all it’s 12″ vinyl-sized glory but I’m afraid I have failed to be moved by hot-new-talent FKA Twigs. She’s striking for sure, and her records are full of pretty electronic textures, but it sounds to me like she forgot to write any actual tunes to go along with them so they just float by without leaving a mark. Am I right, or just an old fart not hip to the new thing?

PlectrumElectrum – Prince & 3rdEyeGirl
The always over-achieving Prince put out two albums this year and his solo effort got the best reviews because it was the most musically adventurous of the two, but I enjoyed the shit out of his 3rdEyeGirl collaboration way more. Prince playing freaky funk-rock with a group of girls recalled his glory days with The Revolution and the effortless way it jumped between genres — guitar jams, pop, R&B ballads — reminded the world that he still has more talent in a pimple on his bum than most entire groups have in their whole bodies — including their horn sections and roadies.

Wolf Alice
It’s been a long time since I’ve really liked a straight guitar band like Wolf Alice, but the London four-piece have a winning knack for melody and rock-song dynamics that hits a headbanging sweet spot I still have. They’ve honed and refined those skills on the singles and EPs they’ve released over the past two years, getting noticeably louder and more confident on the “Creature Songs” EP this year. They haven’t made an album yet but they’ve set a high bar for themselves. Don’t blow it, kids.

Sucker – Charli XCX
Charli’s ridiculously entertaining second album was originally due out in October but was put back to mid-December (and not until 2015 in the UK) which meant it got left off a lot of best-of-year lists where it deserved to be placed near the top. A very different record from her debut, full of brash and shouty pop-punk anthems that in the old days would have got parents banging a broom on the ceiling to get their teens to turn that rubbish down. In classic pop music tradition there’s even a song about masturbation.

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com




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