So, this is it. Either you’re trudging back to the academic coalface, or you’re about to embark on the degree of your choice – but not before getting very drunk and covered in foam, UV paint, vomit, or all three. Let Cherwell Music lighten things up a little with the last of our summer monthly playlists, plucking the best new tracks from the tree of September 2011 and bringing them to you in a hand-woven audiobasket (or something like that). We’ve got something for you whether you’re into Girls or you prefer The Men, as well as new sounds from Damon Albarn and Wild Beasts.
Plug it in, turn it up, enjoy – and when you’re done stick around, because throughout Michaelmas we’ll be bringing you a weekly Mixer, featuring the very best new music as well as mining the last fifty years or so.
Jens Lekman – An Argument with Myself
Effortlessly talented Swedish popsmith Jens Lekman returns after a four-year disappearance with this month’s delightful EP, An Argument with Myself, prelude to a full-length due later in the year. This self-titled opener is a flawlessly crafted Afro-Caribbean tune, littered with Lekman’s witty exchanges (with himself) and sociological observations of his adopted hometown of Melbourne.
The Men – Bataille
Leave Home, a breathtakingly produced album recorded straight to tape, is Brooklyn punk quartet The Men’s noise-drenched ode to the bygone era when abrasive indie rock (the fanzine and basement show kind) still pushed the boundaries. Of all the musical eras to revisit, the heyday of Sonic Youth and Hüsker Dü is surely ripe for borrowing.
Wild Beasts – Thankless Thing
Smother, the third LP from Kendal’s flamboyant quartet Wild Beasts, was rather unfairly overlooked this year. Perhaps they should have included ‘Thankless Thing’, the excellent B-side from to-be single ‘Reach a Bit Further’, featuring their famously pitch-perfect instrumentation and the falsetto croon of co-vocalist Hayden Thorpe.
Jonquil – Mexico
Released just over a month ago, Jonquil’s latest single ‘Mexico’ has made the already agonising wait for the band’s upcoming album nigh on unbearable. Combining the soaring melodic sensibility of Animal Collective’s ‘My Girls’ with the sunny guitar jangle of Vampire Weekend, ‘Mexico’ is a joy to listen to from start to finish and sets a new high-water mark for a band that seems to grow in stature with every release.
Summer Camp – Better Off Without You
Although it came a little late in the season, this is a serious contender for the year’s best summer single. It’s got it all: the sound, the hook, the John Hughes-esque teenage drama. Elizabeth Warmley’s voice is oh-so-satisfyingly derisory as she tells an imaginary jilted ex-lover that ‘if you said you’re never calling back, I’d be so happy’. Don’t miss the London duo at the Jericho on November 15th.
Ford & Lopatin – Too Much MIDI (Please Forgive Me)
Hype bands du jour love to dabble in 80s synth, but remain aloof, for aesthetic and nostalgic (or indeed ironic) effect, from its cheesy potential. Brooklyn duo Ford & Lopatin (formerly known as Games), to their credit, dive right in. ‘No more lo-fi’, sung on standout single ‘Too Much MIDI’, sounds like a battle cry.
Daily Bread – Volume
Michigan-native producer Apollo Brown is in high demand these days, providing the backings to the stars (Black Milk, Danny Brown) of an increasingly dominant underground Detroit scene, but he still finds the time for his own projects. Daily Bread finds him collaboration with New York’s Hassaan Mackey, with throwback party track ‘Volume’ an obvious standout.
Love Inks – Rock On
Love Inks breathe new life into this minimalistic cover of the 1973 glam hit by David Essex (last seen playing Eddie Moon on Eastenders) with some drifting vocals and barely-there guitar, all tied together with lopsided funk bass.
DRC Music feat. Tout Puissant Mukalo and Nelly Liyemge – Hallo
Damon Albarn does pretty much anything he wants to these days. Fresh off the global success of Plastic Beach, Albarn spent a week Kinshasa, Congo, to record an album with the newly established DRC Music collective. Featuring such high-profile collaborators as Dan the Automator, Kwes, and Oxford’s very own Totally Extinct Enormous Dinosaurs, the album’s teasers, including ‘Hallo’, are raising quite a few eyebrows.
St. Vincent – Cruel
One of the more straightforward cuts off her latest album Strange Mercy, ‘Cruel’ proves that Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) can pen as striking a pop melody as the next indie fan-boy’s heart throb.
Little Roy – Lithium
Did you ever think, ‘I love Nirvana, but I wish they were just more reggae’? Us neither, but luckily Kingston roots legend Little Roy, celebrating the twentieth birthday of that record with the baby on it, did – and this is what happened. It’s pretty good, actually.
The Doppelgangaz – Doppel Gospel
Not much is known about emergent New York outer-borough duo Doppelgangaz, except that they’re preternatural producers, and they favour capes. ‘Doppel Gospel’ is at once soul-inflected and brooding, bringing a welcome dark edge to classic boom-bap construction without ever straying into exaggerated horrorcore.
Blouse – Into Black
Oregon duo Blouse, recently signed to Brooklyn’s Captured Tracks, sound a lot like pretty much everyone else out there: borrowed nostalgia, breathy vocals, moody synths, feigned aloofness, and dollops of reverb. The difference is they do it better than almost anyone else.
Veronica Falls – The Fountain
Veronica Falls might be dismissed as mere C86 revalists, were it not for the excellent songwriting and the immediacy of their post-punk-tinged and vocal-layered tracks. ‘The Fountain’ is a case in point, its spooky lyrics offsetting those delightfully jangly guitars.
Girls – Honey Bunny
Written by Christopher Owens of Girls whilst singing into his mobile phone on his birthday, ‘Honey Bunny’ certainly doesn’t sound like a track that has been obsessively composed. Spontaneity is the name of the game here but, as Owens sings “they don’t like my boney body, they don’t like my dirty hair” over twanging 60s guitars, what the song lacks in depth it more than compensates for with Orange Juice-style charm.
Trophy Wife – Wolf
On October 17th, Oxford-based trio Trophy Wife release their debut EP BRUXISM. Produced by Yannis Philippakis of Foals, this brooding track finds the band exploring new territory away from the bright sheen of their indie-disco beginnings and serves as a brilliantly haunting end to the record.
Mixer: September 2011 is also available on Spotify – click here to load the playlist.