The Essential Six - April 2020
I was happily having a break from writing stuff about music, but then I heard a load of good music so I thought I'd pop them in a list and send them into the ether. Here are the 6 best things I listened to in April:
BC Camplight - Shortly After Takeoff (Bella Union)
BC Camplight (Brian Christinzio) fifth album Shortly After Takeoff is rightly being lauded as a bit of a classic in the making. "I Only Drink When I'm Drunk" is one of the most downbeat album openings I've ever heard (so much so that i thought I was playing the record at the wrong speed) but the music gradually shifts towards something more bright and fantastical (always with real life trials at its heart, see the immense "Back to Work" as a prime example), before dipping back to the sedate and contemplative with "Angelo" a dedication to Christinzio's late father and a track that also sounds a lot like another Angelo (I heard hints of composer Angelo Badalamenti's haunting instrumental work). Shortly After Takeoff turns out to be quite a trip.
Blóm - Flower Violence (Box Records)
Relentlessly intense and bags of fun at the same time, Blom's 6 track debut is a short, sharp joy which mixes the lo-fi noise of their early releases with a more eccentric, semi-improvisational, almost thrash-metal sound. Lyrically vocalist Hells adds a layer of righteous anger and vitriol to the electrifying bass and drum bed, but always with a pinch of black humour running through the narrative. It can be weirdly tiring and predictably boring in lock-down, so if you want something that will scream in your face and wake you up from your zombie-like state, then this may be the record for you.
School of Language - I Could Have Loved U Better
Not one to lie down during lock-down, and not content with already releasing a Field Music LP this year and a School of Language LP late last year, David Brewis has knocked out this EP of Prince inspired music. Not Prince covers, but songs that Brewis imagines Prince would have rejected for being "too Prince" (if you can get your head around that concept). The songs certainly have that minimal synth-led early Prince vibe (especially tracks like "Call U Up" which also manages to evoke an American movie lifestyle - which is presumably quite alien to the Sunderland songwriter - and Brewis has done a great job of emulating the production too. Fact file: not long before Prince passed away he tweeted out his appreciation for Filed Music in what has to be one of the more unexpected shout-outs in recent history.
John M0use - Kerplunk Sticks
Another lock-down project here from John M0use who is releasing a track every week to eventually form a full album. I suppose Cardiff musician M0use could be seen as one of the leading lights in "high concept" albums, having previously recorded and released an album (The Fen Sessions) over a weekend and then deleted it on Monday morning, never to be seen again (an interesting idea, if not the best sales technique). This one might be a bit more financially viable as it's available to buy (name your price) for the foreseeable future. The latest track "Kerplunk Sticks" is a synth pop masterclass, with a poetically humorous short story sitting on top, text-book M0use if you will.
Protomartyr - Worm In Heaven (Domino)
Lovely new track from Protomartyr's forthcoming fifth album Ultimate Success Today. I'm not massively familiar with this Detroit band's work but I plan to rectify that immediately. This reminded me of Jarvis Cocker's more sparse early solo work, simple but effective, sad and invigorating.
Benin City - Hold Them Close (Moshi Moshi)
If you'd rather have a whole label's take on a lock-down project then look no further than 0800-Moshi-Moshi - "a series of musical doorstep handclaps delivered from quarantine by Moshi Moshi records". Here we see the label's impressive roster submitting exclusive lock-down tracks. So far contributors have included Jeffrey Lewis, Girl Ray, The Rhythm Method and this, an apt new track from London based electo purveyors Benin City. A perfectly hopeful record to lift the gloom on these strange strange days.