The Essential Six - February 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 February:
Cate Le Bon and Group Listening - Here It Comes Again (Mexican Summer)
Group Listening is the ambient project of Sweet Baboo and Paul Jones and here they are re-imagining Cate le Bon's 2019 modern masterpiece Reward. Now, anyone who's heard reward will know that it's already a pretty tranquil record (certainly compared to some of le Bon's more recent output), but here, any sharpened edges have been smoothed out, replaced by woody sounds (clarinet, glockenspiels, piano etc) giving the songs a whole new lease of life. Album highlight "Miami" is probably the most abstract of the songs here, with the melody just about passing as recognisable. Others are more faithful to the originals, such as "Here It Comes Again" which keeps to vocals (Ed Dowie's version anyway) and adds lots of woodwind giving at an eerie Wickerman sort of feel. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.
MOLLY - All That Was EP (Sonic Cathedral)
February must be the month for re-imagining things, because here we find Molly re-visiting their their debut album (last year's All That Ever Could Have Been) in the form of three remixes. Maps' take on "Weep, Gently Weep" is the popiest of the three, turning the Austrian Duo into a late 80's New Order of sorts. William Doyle (East India Youth) morphs the album's title track into a nine minute behemoth of droning feedback and subtle melody and Mark Peters adds his now trademark brand of pulsing ambience to "Coming of Age". Each remix seems to lift those album tracks to greater heights. This is rounded off with a re-recording of an old single from 2017 ("Glimpse" has morphed into "Another Glimpse") which goes to prove that MOLLY can tweak things just as nicely on their own.
Kesha - Potato Song (Cuz I Want To) (RCA / Kemosabe)
I'm not quite sure what can be said about this song. It seems completely out of place on Kesha's recent album "High Road" (although it may have slotted nicely into The White Album). What I can say is that it's Kesha at her most creative, joyful and just plain odd and it's a big FU to the powers that be. I can't imagine a better pop song coming out in 2020.
Dan Deacon - Become a Mountain (Domino)
Epic stuff from Dan Deacon's first album in five years, Mystic Familiar. This track is full on Flaming Lips / Grandaddy level in terms of sparkling, uplifting synths and at four minutes in length is just short enough to leave you wanting more (luckily the album is out now so you can do just that).
Wesley Gonzalez - Change (Moshi Moshi)
Who'd have thought that the singer from perennially underrated indie kids Let's Wrestle would morph into the new Marc Almond. This track mixes disco with the drama and passion that the aforementioned Almond would put into his vocal performances, resulting in a track which is both catchy and aloof at the same time.
Nadine Shah - Ladies for Babies (Goats for Love) (Infectious Music)
Nadine Shah has said that her new track (a preview of her forthcoming record Kitchen Sink) is "direct response to 'All That She Wants' by Ace of Base". In it Shah take's aim at family gender roles with a mix of righteous anger and cutting dark wit (her "little baby" line is perfectly creepy). Musically it's minimal with the rhythm section doing most of the heavy lifting, all making for an unsettling and intriguing single.