The Essential Six - May 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 May:
Little Simz - Drop 6 (AGE 101 Music)
A very welcome brand new EP from Little Simz. Her first new collection since last year's stunning GREY Area. This one I believe was put together during lockdown and it shows - in a good way. The music is - as you might expect - more stripped back, harking back to Simz' earlier work and the lyrics are typically fierce and at times universally relatable. "You should call mum" is one of the few lockdown tracks I've heard that directly addresses the real world situation we find ourselves in, in such a simple effective way. Acoustic YouTube misery-warbling, this is not.
Stream - https://littlesimz.co/Drop6
Benefits - Imperfect
A new tune from Teesside outfit Benefits is always a reason for cheer. "Imperfect" is like a 16-bit Sleaford Mods track. Kingsley Chapman's vitriol (and a little bit of raucous guitar - he can't resist) sits on top of an electro bed which could be the soundtrack to a homemade, subversive ZX Spectrum game (maybe one called "Bubble Boris" or "Ghouls 'n' Ghosts 'n' Grant Shapps"? Something like that...). Anyway, it's as angry and direct as you've come to expect from this lot. Keep 'em coming Benefits!
Nightrax - Trace
Nightrax is the latest project from Dominic Dean (Ten, Deadwall), a bit of a departure from his recent ambient work, this track sees the Yorkshire musician expanding his musical horizons, albeit still straddling the electronic field. There are hints of dark pop (early Human League, The Cure, New Order) and a gorgeous vocal from Jana Sotzko (recorded remotely from Berlin) but any traces of traditional pop hallmarks gradually disintegrate towards the end. It's an absolutely spellbinding debut. The track is also available on the Music Over Distance compilation which features a number of remote collaborations put together to raise money for personal protective equipment for NHS workers. You can download the whole lot here: https://signalrecs.bandcamp.com/album/music-over-distance
I Break Horses - The Prophet (Bella Union)
One of the side effects of lockdown life is that i'm listening to more daytime 6music, and one of the perks of listening to daytime 6music is my attention is drawn to a plethora of pop bangers. I'm guessing this track has found it's way onto the 6music playlist cause I've heard it about a million times! Tellingly though it hasn't got annoying yet, high praise indeed. This is an atmospheric pop masterclass from Sweden's I Break Horses. It's absolutely huge and epic but also icy and dark, like stadium filling Depeche Mode. Yet another band that I've been completely oblivious to until now and yet another discography that I plan to delve into.
TRACK / REMIX
bdrmm - A Reason To Celebrate / A Reason To Celebrate - GLOK Remix (Sonic Cathedral)
"A Reason To Celebrate" in its original guise is a sumptuous summery slice of classic shoegaze and a tasty preview of bdrmm's hotly anticipated debut record (coming July 3rd via Sonic Cathedral). It's anthemic, spine tingly and joyful, and quite honestly, just not long enough! Here it's been given the remix treatment by Ride's Andy Bell, who's stretched out the run time and also given bdrmm's dense melded sound a bit of room to breath. 2 very different takes on a possible future classic.
I Like Trains - The Truth (Atlantic Curve)
It's been a long while since we've heard from Leeds' I Like Trains, but good things come to those who wait. They've just announced a new album Kompromat which comes out on 21st August. To tide you over until then, have a listen to this track "The Truth", a very apt title and theme for the month of May 2020. Whilst the spoken lyric is overtly political, the music is surprisingly funky for a band that have their roots in post-rock and brooding atmospheric rock. Here the band sound more like they're on the DFA Records roster, experimenting with repetitive basslines and distorted synth to create an unlikely dance-floor filler.