The Essential Eight - July/August 2020
I didn't get the chance to do one of these for July, so I'm just gonna call this a BUMPER SUMMER EDITION!!! Here's what I've been listening to in July and August:
Ivan The Tolerable And His Elastic Band (feat Mike Watt) - Out Of Season (Stolen Body Records)
Ivan The Tolerable's (or Oli Heffernan's) seventh release of the YEAR sees him in a collaborative mood, working with Karen Schoemer (lyrics), Mike Watt (vocals), Mees Siderius (drums) and Elsa Van Der Linden (sax) on an album which stands out from his ridiculously hefty back catalogue. First of all you've got Schoemer's words which are like atmospheric and suspenseful short stories. Secondly you've got Mike Watt delivering them, and as Heffernan states: "I really needed an American voice for the words and Watt has the best American voice". You can't really argue with that. Thirdly you've got the band: the insanely talented Mees Siderius from King Champion Sounds providing an always unpredictable beat and Elsa Van Der Linden's wild sax (see "Kicking Dust" for the ultimate showcase). The fact that all of this is sitting on top of Heffernan's now trademark motorik drone soundtrack is just the icing on the cake really. Wonderful stuff.
Angel Bat Dawid - Transition East (International Anthem)
I recently heard Angel Bat Dawid on a Soho Radio mix put together by Cate le Bon and Tim Presley and I've been delving into her unique and engaging music ever since. The Chicago clarinetist is now a staple on the Chicago jazz scene and she released an album called The Oracle last year. This track is a standalone single released in May and is inspired by Emma Warren's book "Make Some Space" (about London DIY music institution Total Refreshment Centre). Like most of Bat Dawid's work, the track has an experimental and vehemently DIY feel to it, however this one (when compared to some of the tracks on the album) is also surprisingly accessible, mixing an ambient drum loop with organ and a laid back clarinet solo which spans the 3 minute run time. A good entry point for anyone wanting to explore the weird and wonderful sound of Angel Bat Dawid.
Shy-talk - Chauvinism / Didn't They Do Well (Box Records)
A couple of absolute bangers make up this double A-side single from Newcastle odd-rock gang Shy-talk. "Chauvinism" is a real top quality din with lyrics made up of passive-aggressive soundbytes and observations, my favourite being the simple notion of "middle class people explaining things". "Didn't They Do Well" is slower but more intense, a bit like Black Sabbath fronted by Mark E Smith, a tantalising combination if ever there was one. The physical option for this release includes a "a magnificent dog wearing sunglasses ornament" which I predict will take over from 7" vinyl as the single format of choice for indie kids across the land.
Spectres - An Annihilation Of The Self (Dark Habits)
Bristol's premiere extreme noise merchants have returned out of the blue with this blistering track and the announcement of a new album to follow (It's Never Going To Happen And This Is Why comes out in October). Most of Spectres' trademark elements are present and correct on this track (noise, grimey lyrics, thumping drums) but the vocals are surprisingly to the forefront, making those grimey lyrics all the more immediate. It gives the music a punkier, more confrontational feel in the vein of XTRMNTR era Primal Scream. At just 2:18 in length it doesn't waste any time either. I listened to it about 10 times in a row to make up for the brevity.
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - Hell's Teeth (J. Zunz Rework) (Rocket Recordings)
It's always nice to see a mashup of 2 Crackle Feedback favourites, but this is one that I never saw coming. North East metal giants Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs have been remixed by Mexican artist J. Zunz from Lorelle Meets the Obsolete, an musician most associated with drawn out psych and electronic music. The results are probably as deranged and intense as you might expect. More industrial than Pigs' organic doom-laden sound and more disturbing the Lorelle Meets the Obsolete's psych drone or J. Zunz recent ambient solo work. An unexpected treat.
Kelly Lee Owens - Corner Of My Sky (feat. John Cale) (Smalltown Supersound)
London musician Kelly Lee Owens is about to return with a new album called Inner Song, a follow up to her highly praised 2017 debut. The most eye-catching of the four tracks which are available before the album's release is this collaboration with bone-fide legend John Cale. It finds Owens delivering a bed of looping orchestration and slowed down techno, with Cale providing poetic verse in both English and Welsh. A remote, predominantly digital collaboration which sounds surprisingly pure and organic.
bedbug - life like moving pictures
I know pretty much nothing about Bedbug - except that they are based in Boston, Massachusetts - but this LP ticks all of my wonky lo-fi DIY boxes. I stumbled across this in my Bandcamp feed (aka "spying on my Bandcamp friends' recent purchases") which is a handy tool if you're up for discovering something new. I'm pretty certain this one was an unwitting tip off from Jamie from Audio Antihero who has seemingly magnificent taste. Bedbug's lyrics flit between life's mundanity, joy and heartbreak and the fragile vocals are mixed with samples and a beautiful, ambitious (but still grounded casio) musical backing. There's certainly a lot going on in amongst the tape hiss. Do check it out.
Circuit des Yeux - Pictures
This track was recorded for a video series of 20 artists covering 20 Galaxie 500 songs (originally intended as a live Record Store Day concert in Brooklyn, which was ditched for obvious reasons). It sees Haley Fohr build the song up from bare bones demo to glimmering anthem and then back down to nothing again. Fans of Circuit des Yeux will already be familiar with this technique but it's particularly effective here, giving the song a new lease of life, whilst staying broadly faithful to the source material. It comes with a cool video which seems to nod towards This Is Our Music's iconic block artwork. You can hear a load of other artists' (Xiu Xiu, Thurston Moore, Surfer Blood...) interpretations of Galaxie 500 tracks here: https://www.20-20-20.com/twentysongs2020.