Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Three life-affirming tracks for summer

If you follow this blog, you might have noticed it's been dead for a while now. Perhaps I should have said "brb, finishing my degree" before I left, so you knew where I was. Well, I'm done! And that means I've got plenty of time for music again, so watch this space. For now, I'll leave you with five life-affirming tracks for summer - three newish ones and two old classics to heat up your July.

1. Braids, 'Warm Like Summer'

Braids are a Canadian-based post-rock/shoegaze band whose latest album Deep in the Iris was released in April this year, and it's pretty great. On 'Warm Like Summer', soft, restrained vocals soar over a house beat and electronic samples, developing into a gorgeous soundscape which resolves about half way through the song into a melodious, piano-led lament. If you like this one, also try 'Blondie' off the same album.

2. Grimes, 'REALiTi' (demo)

I started listening to this when Grimes put it out a few months ago. Like Braids, it offers a chilled-out, warm vibe and a dance beat. As always, Grimes delivers her lyrics interestingly, placing the stresses in unusual places, spilling each line across the rhythms and creating something beautiful in the process. The video is a bit of a humble brag - as she sings "when I get up, this is what I see, welcome to reality", it's hard not to be jealous of her crazy lifestyle - and her moves.

3. Desaparecidos, 'Radicalized'

Released literally last week, this album track from Desaparecidos' much-awaited second album sees an awesome return to form. The track does exactly what I like punk to do - it has driving guitars, relentless drums, lyrics sung with abandon, and a short, snarling and noisy solo near the end. It's not my fave Desa song, since in their attempt to be more political than ever on this release, they've come up with a few cringeworthy lyrics - on this one, the chorus of repeated chants of "radicalized" feels forced (though nowhere near as awkward as the unironic chants of "you can't stop us, we are anonymous" later in the album). However, it's great to hear people making a genuinely left-wing gesture in the US.

4. Nick Drake, 'Three Hours'

Now for a golden oldie. I found Nick Drake embarrassingly recently through a podcast called 99percentinvisible, a pretty good (if slightly pretentious) way to get into new things. Nick Drake was an English songwriter creating music in the late 60s and early 70s, until his presumed suicide in 1974. Despite that information (and it's really hard to stop that from colouring how you think about his music), 'Three Hours' from his first album Five Leaves Left is not a depressing song: it's pensive and subtle and warm with a slightly psychedelic edge. The beauty of the song is mostly in its delicate balance between Drake's voice, his finger-picked guitar and the skilfully-played double bass. It reminds me of Roy Harper at his most thoughtful.

5. Paul Weller, 'You Do Something To Me'

One night recently, late, I was watching Vintage TV, an odd little music channel you can get on Freeview. As their name would suggest, Vintage sometimes play dad-rock and Beatles-era pop, but they also have more varied content than other music channels. After midnight, they play a selection of loosely-connected tracks (different each night), amongst which I heard Paul Weller's 'You Do Something To Me', and it... well, it did something to me. I'd forgotten it existed, and the last time I heard it I'd probably never been in love, and so didn't get it. Now I get it. It's one of those near-universal love songs that somehow manages to speak in platitudes and still touch my own experience of love, and of loss.

Also, have you noticed, its opening chords sound kind of like Rachmaninov's 'Prelude'? Weird.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Fat White Family

A housemate pointed out this video to me yesterday and I enjoyed the song and the vid so much, I thought I'd post it here. Fat White Family are a group of guys from London who make music that sounds like Cold War Kids making a porno.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Glastonbury festival, 2014

So, folks, I've been to Glastonbury! It's often presented in the media as the festival-to-end-all-festivals, and it always gets loads of coverage on TV. You have to buy tickets before the line-up is announced, so investing in Glasto is always a leap of faith - yet, every year, thousands of musicians from across a whole load of genres perform, so it's unlikely that you'll be disappointed. Nevertheless, I had some reservations - not least its nine-mile-square dimensions and the sheer number of people, many of whom (according to the press coverage) like to do this kind of thing:

Glastonbury was as huge as I imagined - but its hugeness didn't matter all that much. In fact, its hugeness was one of the attractions. I stayed from Wednesday 25th June to the following Monday, and every day, I discovered a new area on the site. Writing up the whole experience would be impossible and a little too self-indulgent even for me, so here are my highlights from Glastonbury 2014.

10. Head-ing to the Healing Field

Whilst music is still the main entertainment at Glastonbury, there really isn't any shortage of things to do for those who want to take a break from watching bands. In fact, you could spend your whole festival just chilling in the Healing Fields, where you can book in for massages at 20 or 30 different tents. You could go on a massage crawl - but only if you have a small fortune in your pocket. I was told that these tents ran on donations, but as soon as I got into one, the masseuse made it pretty clear how welcome I'd be if I couldn't pay. I managed to fork out a fiver, a quarter of what she'd asked - but she sighed and went a-head with it anyway.

9. The dramatic Mr Scruff thunderstorm

Image courtesy of AudioCore

On Friday, a few of my troupe wandered up to Arcadia, which was on the other side of the festival to our tent, so it was quite a commitment, all in honour of Mr Scruff. If you think you don't know Mr Scruff, try this video and you might realise you do.

The feature piece of the Arcadia section at Glastonbury is the massive metal spider (pictured above) which spews fire at night, a spectacle which everyone on high ground can see - and it is wildly impressive, even from afar. But at a festival renowned for its thunderstorms, a giant metal structure on a hill isn't the best choice for a main attraction. As the dark clouds gathered, crowds umm'ed and aah'ed at the distant lightning, but the show was put off for around an hour while the storm passed over. In the meantime, the warm-up DJ stayed on a smaller stage and played music, while it began to rain. Torrentially.

I managed to dart into a backstage area in all the confusion, sheltering in a booth with a load of stray PR teams, but joined my friends reluctantly in the half-shelter of the bar tent when I realised we'd been separated. The rain went on and on, so we decided to brave the open air again, dancing ecstatically in the sodden field like pagans worshipping Mother Nature. Eventually, Mr Scruff started on the small stage, and the sun returned, giving rise to an impressive rainbow. We regretted our carefree attitudes later when we couldn't get our clothes dry.

8. The Radiohead/Rodrigo y Gabriela moment

I'm the first to admit that my iPod can look a little strange from a beginner's point of view. On the alphabetised artist list, Rodrigo y Gabriela, the talented percussive guitarists, are followed by Radiohead, the world-conquering experimental prog-rockers. Despite having normalised this juxtaposition in my listening life, it was still surreal when Rodrigo stopped playing his wordless Latin tracks and asked the crowd, "Don't you know anything?!", before launching into a cover of Radiohead's 'Creep'. The crowd joined him enthusiastically, but he didn't really need their help - Rodrigo was a pretty great singer. A sound recording should be available from the BBC's website, and I've posted below a video of the crowd-pleaser 'Tamacun' above.

If you love Rodrigo y Gabriela's virtuoso style, I went to see another great percussive guitarist on the Sunday up at the Toal Hall tent, a small stage which showcased a lot of alternative folk and acoustic music. Chris Woods Groove played a relaxed, entertaining set there, beginning with very few people to play to, but attracting people as he played. He's definitely worth a listen.

7. Mark Steel asking us why we weren't at Dolly Parton

On the Saturday of the Glasto weekend, Mark Steel was scheduled to perform a comedy stand-up set at the same time Dolly Parton was making headlines on the Pyramid stage. He tweeted:

Such torture. I'll have to leave Dolly Parton, to do my own show, which will be to the sort of people who didn't want to see Dolly Parton.
Being offensive about your audience seems to go down well on the left (see: Stewart Lee) but I in fact watched both Mark Steel and a bit of Dolly Parton - I spent a few minutes at the back of a 70,000 strong crowd by the main stage before thinking "Sod it, it'll start raining soon and then everyone will wish they were in a tent too". While I was there, I caught 'Jolene', though most of the sound was blocked out by people at the back chanting "TURN IT UP! TURN IT UP!". The iconic songs were so far in the distance that you could barely hear them. Amazingly, the sound desk did turn it up, but I'd had enough of feeling like I was at an American Butlin's, so I made my way to the Left Field tent and watched Mark Steel. He proceeded to chastise us all for not being at Dolly Parton - I genuinely think he would have tolerated an empty tent in homage to the great lady he was truly traumatised to miss.

Mark Steel is, it turns out, quite a funny comedian. However, the real success story of this year's Left Field was Francesca Martinez, a disabled comedian who managed to get us all reflecting on our privileges in life without feeling too shit, while being (arguably) funnier than any of the other comedians I saw there. The audience were friendly too - no ableist heckling, and a generally supportive atmosphere.

6. tUnE-yArDs giving us the Powa

I used to listen to tUnE-yArDs all the time, and I still pause to appreciate the high note in 'Powa' every time it comes up on shuffle. By the time the tUnE-yArDs were on stage, my boots were hugged by a crust - no, a platform - of mud, so thick that I had to dance stock-still like someone trying to wriggle free of quicksand. Needless to say, I totalled those boots (R.I.P. their blessed soles). Nevertheless, the high note in 'Powa' (4:40 on the album version) was remarkable and I don't regret in the slightest how ridiculous I must have looked. If it's all still online, you should be able to relive my near-religious experience here. I don't enjoy the kindergarten-theme Merrill Garbus stages, but it's certainly very different from most female artists' highly sexualised performances. Maybe that's what she's going for.

5. Fine alfresco dining

Oh my God the food. Glastonbury has a reputation for having better food than most festivals, but that really isn't a hard title to win. At Sonisphere, I felt ill most of the time from the £6 noodles, and at YNot, I ate two lunches because the first just wasn't nice enough to finish (well, that's how I've reconciled it to myself, so we'll stick with that explanation). At Glastonbury, I was in a perpetual battle with my self-control and my wallet, and I spent as much time looking forward to the next meal as looking forward to bands. My personal highlight was Square Pie, but there were food outlets lining every major walkway in the festival, in a scene which could have been sickeningly consumerist, but which actually looked like a funfair for the tastebuds. We had pizzas, pies, thai green curries, burritos, roasted nuts, churros and chocolate, curry, soup, fish and chips... and that was just the Friday! No, I'm kidding, but it was tempting. The worst meal was a bacon bap served by a tetchy Welshman on the morning we were leaving, but he was probably cross because he knew his bacon bap was crap compared to literally everything else you could eat there. I would have killed for that bap at Sonisphere though. The Glasto food was in a league of its own - the one-team Premiership of Festival Food.

4. Showering with a lot of ladies, some Ecover* and no clothes at all

This one has no picture. Sorry guys (which covers boys, men, lesbians, bisexuals, queer people - none of whom were covered in the Greenpeace showers). If you find going a week without washing disturbing, you may well have deep psychological scars after Glastonbury; furious zipped-tent sessions with wetwipes just aren't enough to deal with the sheer volume of mud, sweat, beer spills, rain and puddle water that you encounter at Glasto. Whilst most of my friends thought wetwipes did a good enough job, I trekked out on the Sunday morning to the communal shower. I'd not showered naked with other people, even of the same sex, since pre-puberty; though I know nakedness is the most natural state of humanity, I was... well, shy. But I'd had enough, and it's amazing how normal abnormal things can seem when everyone's doing them. So, I stripped off and spent a lot of time staring at the ground so as not to embarrass anyone, but afterwards I felt surprisingly liberated.

The beauty industry makes us paranoid by providing the only source of information about other people's bodies, showing us slim, hairless, shapely nakedness, even if it means photoshopping their pictures to all Hell. So, being amongst other women's bodies, candidly but without objectification, felt like a really radical yet simple resistance to advertising propaganda. I think the alternative-lifestyle feeling this gave me is representative of the wider atmosphere at Glastonbury - you could buy everything from eco-friendly deodorant and reusable tampon sponges to craft items made from recycled materials. Though the cynics dismiss this stuff as quaint hippy lifestyle politics, I think it's really inspiring that people are choosing to do their best to halt our global climate crisis in the face of seeming impossibility, whilst fostering healthier relationships between human beings. I left Glasto feeling oddly hopeful, where I usually leave festivals feeling a bit misanthropic.

*If you're wondering what Ecover is, it's an eco-friendly body and hair-washing gel which people were reluctantly using, on the orders of the woman who cleaned and managed the shower block. She was a dictator, but a benign one.

3. Nights out at Block 9

At one end of Glastonbury's remarkable site, there is a section dedicated to late-night clubbing sessions - Shangri-La (which is split into areas called 'Heaven' and 'Hell'), the Unfairground and Block 9 make up a ferocious trio of nighttime resorts. Each of them is themed to the hilt - the Unfairground has a slightly disturbing Trainspotting-chic going on, with scary broken dolls and enormous skinless horses hanging from the tops of rides. Parents pushing buggies soon turned back when they saw the Unfairground - this was not a place for small children. Shangri-La Hell is plastered with red paint and plays only the most hardcore club music late into the night. At one venue, you had to have a tattoo to get in - either real or fake - and if it was real, you got in for free. I'll elide Heaven because I'm an atheist and so I'll never get there anyway.

Block 9 (pictured above) was my favourite of the three zones. Designed to feel like a urban inner city after the apocalypse, its towering buildings, including the 'London Underground' and the 'Hotel', look like buildings caught in the act of being demolished, coughing up smoke and giving off eerie green and red light. During the evening, stand-up acts and bizarre artists gave cabaret-like performances on the stage placed in the Hotel's gaping second-floor, but at night, the whole place became a queue for the clubs tucked up behind these elaborate façades. In the damp, dark interior of the London Underground building, the DJ played endless house music to thousands of high people. I danced, not high but loving it anyway. The air was nearly solid with heat, damp and glitter. A couple of my friends chose to repeat this every night, but I wanted to focus on the music (and, frankly, get to sleep before the guys in the tents behind us started chatting shit through the early hours).

2. Shedding a Teardrop to Massive Attack

Image courtesy of d3 Technologies

Massive Attack were the one band I swore this Glasto that I wouldn't miss - everything else was negotiable, but Massive Attack were my baseline demand. I turned up just as it was getting dark, and pretty much all of my friends were there, gathered at the back of the crowd. Unlike at Dolly Parton, being at the back for this was more therapeutic than disappointing, since it meant you had space around you, a sense of the overall atmosphere, and couldn't be distracted by the words and images flashing up across Massive Attack's backdrop. The messages were political and charged with meaning, but that's something for me to explore in the BBC recordings of the set. While I was there, I just basked in the gorgeousness of 'Paradise Circus', possibly my favourite track ever, and the perfectly-delivered melodies of 'Teardrop'. I'd say it was my second favourite performance of the weekend.

1. Enjoying The Beat

The award for my favourite performance goes to The Beat. The Beat are a Birmingham-based band, some of whom my parents knew when they were young adults living in Handsworth. Their sunny ska sums up their scene perfectly - the racial politics were tense in the 80s but there was a lot of solidarity and unity between black people and the white community, especially the younger generations and the left-wingers. In opposition to societal racism and fascist groups like the National Front, bands like The Beat and The Specials made fiercely political music in racially-mixed groups of performers, fusing the musical styles of reggae and punk rock. The Beat's music is relentlessly upbeat, angry but also joyous, and their happiness onstage is infectious - every single person in the crowd at Glasto was dancing and the crowd was huge.

I went to see them thinking they'd pass the time, but within three songs they were the highlight of the festival - lead singer Ranking Roger bounced about the stage, performing the staged but seemingly spontaneous act alongside his son, Ranking Junior, who you may remember from the Ordinary Boys track 'Boys Will Be Boys'. Their performance was absolutely flawless, and their messages of unity and love made me realise how little love there is in my own politics. If only we could combine anger at the state of things now with this overwhelming enthusiasm and pleasure, perhaps we could attract more people to an otherwise very intimidating movement. I grinned right through tracks like 'Stand Down Margaret' (which united people in the 80s around the hope that maybe, if a ska band asked nicely, Margaret Thatcher might step down from her role as Prime Minister). They also did a great cover of 'Rock the Casbah' in honour of Joe Strummer, and ended the set with an extended version of 'Mirror in the Bathroom', a truly brilliant track about the hedonistic narcissism of wealthy city-dwellers.

I wish I'd taken a photo of the photographer who was bouncing about in front of the stage - I've never seen a paid professional having such a damn good time at work. If you don't know much about The Beat, I've put a few of my favourites below for your delectation (under the name 'The English Beat', which is what they're known as in the US).

So, that's it. As my friends and I cleared our little campsite, folding away our tents and dumping our rubbish at the nearest bins, it was amazing to think what the festival had been just hours before. Tents had left dirty yellow patches across the fields of Michael Eavis' land; people trudged through the drizzle along muddy walkways in the annual exodus. We didn't get caught in traffic for long, and soon me and two of my much-loved schoolfriends were in Derby getting tattoos, a symbol of our friendship, of the year of our 21st birthdays, and of our first Glastonbury. The same cynics who will dismiss Glasto as hippy rubbish will dismiss my tattoo as sentimental and foolish, but for me it's a little reminder of being young and idealistic and still in love with music.

Image courtesy of David Hodges

Monday, 14 April 2014

Alternative Picks from the '90s

A few days ago, I took a trip into Derby, where there is a CD shop which puts HMV to shame. I hadn't heard of That's Entertainment before I moved to Derbyshire, but apparently, there are branches in lots and lots of UK towns. They say on their website you can "choose from over 1/2 million different titles", and almost all of them seem to be stocked in Derby. It's the only place I've ever found where you can get Sonic Youth, Pavement and Elliott Smith CDs on a "3 for £5" deal, or compilations of Cuban music, ska and punk for 99p each. Sure, they're free on the net, but if you buy them in physical form, you get the reassurance of a) legality, b) a decent bitrate, and c) not getting a virus. (My latest virus came in download form from a St. Vincent track, which was a double whammy of punishment, since Annie Clark and I had had a really tense and awkward interview a few days before. If you want to see how I tried to weave one-word answers and impotent silences into a passable article, you can click here.)

Amongst my haul from That's Entertainment this time round were some seriously great albums, so I've decided to do a new-to-me music round-up.

Beck - Midnite Vultures (1999)

Aside from having an album cover that is the most nineties thing I have ever seen, Midnite Vultures is Beck on form (unlike the Beck of this year - in my opinion, Morning Phase is a drab and dreary record). Midnite Vultures sees Beck in his funky-technicolour-sound-alchemist guise. Beck in 1999 was playful, loud and experimental, "transcending genres as he reinvents them", as my partner puts it (ironically, I think). I was way too young in 1999 to enjoy lead single 'Sexx Laws' the first time round, but it has an eerie familiarity... perhaps it's so catchy it infiltrated my 6-year-old subconscious.

Elliott Smith - Either/Or (1997)

Though released in the full swing of the nineties, Elliott Smith's 1997 offering Either/Or doesn't come from the same mental space as Midnite Vultures. It's a dark and stormy record, yet it has moments of melodic brightness and lyrical optimism which seem to contradict the image Elliott Smith has gained in the media. If you don't know Smith, he's widely seen as one of music's most tragic figures - in 2003, when he was 34, he was found dead at his home with two stab wounds to the chest. The death was presumed to be a suicide, but the official autopsy report suggested it could have been a murder. The circumstances surrounding his death are uncertain to this day, and I suppose the mystery keeps people inquisitive, and listeners continue to seek evidence one way or the other in his music, particularly in the album From a Basement on the Hill (2004), a posthumous release of his last few songs. I like From a Basement on a Hill, but I've been listening more to Either/Or, which has a Bright Eyes-esque subtlety to it, though breaks into serious grunge grittiness on 'Cupid's Trick'. 'Cupid's Trick' is the music of primal revelations, especially at 0:24, when the oscillating guitar and newly invigorated bass kick in for the first time, and at 1:39, where there's one of those gorgeous imprecise guitar solos that can only be found in noise rock.

Buena Vista Social Club - 'Chan Chan' (1999)

I also bought an album of Cuban music, partly because I'm learning Latin American Spanish right now (several countries there are the political equivalent of El Dorado for leftists at the moment) and partly because I think the musical tradition of Central and South America is fantastic, right through from traditional Latin dance music, jazz-tango and Tropicália to modern fusions like the music Rodrigo y Gabriela make. The Cuban album I bought is embarrassingly called The Best Cuban Album in the World... Ever!. I cringed, but I took it at its word and bought it, and it definitely has a few brilliant tracks (though I'll have to listen to every Cuban album in the world to make sure it meets the Trade Descriptions Act). 'Amor Verdadado' ('True Love') is a jaunty and uplifting song, and Machito's 'Tango' proves that a cacophony doesn't have to be unlistenable. My favourite track on the album is 'Chan Chan', a Cuban folk song about a man walking from town to town in Cuba, telling an old (and slightly raunchy) story to the people he meets. Despite liking pretty much every version, my favourite is the 'Chan Chan' recorded by the Buena Vista Social Club, so I've Youtubed that for you - it's laid-back and drenched with atmosphere, and the instrumental solos which start at 2:37 show how beautiful Cuban cadences can be.


Having written this, I realise that all of these picks are from the '90s, so I'll throw in a final gem from 1997, Belle and Sebastian's 'Dog on Wheels', a twee lo-fi classic (and it also means you get to watch a video, another distraction from whatever you're meant to be doing right now). Enjoy!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Punk and politics collide - or should that be 'clash'?

One of the best politically-charged bands of today takes on a classic from one of the best politically-charged bands of yesterday. Desaparecidos doing a live cover of The Clash's 'Spanish Bombs'. Great stuff.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

January Musical Digest

I've got some musical delights from the recent past (and near future) for you this week.

1. Summer Camp

In October 2013, the married duo Summer Camp released their second album Summer Camp, which is a lovely set of synth-driven indie-pop songs. Despite sounding light and bright and breezy initially, the album's actually quite melancholy, and in places deeply miserable. 'Fighters', for example, is a story of complicated domestic abuse, and several of the tracks (including the otherwise warm-sounding 'Two Chords') are heart-rending break-up songs. Here's 'Fresh', a single with an impressive video in which the lead singer has to lip-sync backwards, somehow.

2. Sky Larkin

Sky Larkin are definitely not new to this blog, but they've made a pretty good third album since I last enthused about them, so I'll give it a plug. The album is quite varied, a lot richer musically than Sky Larkin's debut The Golden Spike, but also darker. The album's opener, 'Motto', was a great choice for a first single, showcasing both the album's riff-driven pop-rock side and its more texturally diverse, noise-rock side.

3. Peggy Sue

In a surprise turn of events, a PR agent sent me a free download of Peggy Sue's new album this week (another reason for music fans to dip into music journalism whenever they can). I'd never heard of them before then, but I'm glad I have now - Choir of Echoes is a collection of beautifully-written folk songs with a bluesy edge which have got themselves lodged in my head since I first listened to the album about a week ago. The video for 'Idle' is below, and if you enjoy that, I'd recommend listening to 'Esme' and 'Substitute' (when the album comes out on the 27th, that is).

That's all for now, folks. Happy new year.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

It's been a while - Jamie Lenman, of Montreal, Pavement, Young Knives and others

Since I last posted an age ago, I've been atrociously busy at uni, so I've not had time to write a blog. Technically, I don't really have time now, but music's so much better than essay-writing.

Exciting news - last month, I had the chance to interview Jamie Lenman again! My last interview was a rushed emailer in 2009, so it was exciting to actually get a phone call with him, during which he was achingly affable and a really good interviewee. Read the interview here if you want. As usual, I've had an atrocious and near-irrelevant title edited onto the article (I really should make the effort and write them myself), so please don't blame me for that. Jamie's new album is very good, especially the second half. Fans of metal may prefer the first half, but I don't think it really shows off Jamie's melodic and harmonic skills as well as the second - because he's split the album into 'Muscle' and 'Memory', the 'Muscle' half lacks the dynamic and contrasts which make tracks like 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' so beautiful. If you're a die-hard Reuben fan, by the way, and you want the full transcript of the interview which the article above is based on, comment and I'll send it to you - he says a lot more about Reuben and his solo stuff than I have the chance to mention in the article.

As well as interviewing Jamie, I've talked to the Young Knives this month, reviewed their album and been to their Oxford gig. Also since my last post, of Montreal have released an album - a great one. Lousy with Sylvianbriar is a departure for them in that it isn't as expansive and avant-garde as Paralytic Stalks, or as party-drugged and electronic as Skeletal Lamping. It's got quite a 60s vibe going on, actually, and it has some great album artwork too. I'll post a couple of tracks here.

She Ain't Speakin' Now by of Montreal on Grooveshark

'She Ain't Speaking Now' has a lot in common with earlier of Montreal material - 'Coquet Coquette' has a similar guitar-driven style, and the melodies and lyrics are recognisably Kevin Barnes' work. The chorus broaches great new territory though, and the production is a lot cleaner than on earlier records.

Belle Glade Missionaries by of Montreal on Grooveshark

'Belle Glade Missionaries' is Barnes at his wackiest and most incisive lyrically, but the tune has a jaunty Americana feel which hasn't been present on many of of Montreal's more recent releases. It's a long track but it's insanely catchy from beginning to end, and works with its fairly conventional bluesy chord progressions really innovatively. And it's fun.

Sirens of Your Toxic Spirit by of Montreal on Grooveshark

Finally, I'll post 'Sirens of Your Toxic Spirit'. Because of his way with melody, Kevin Barnes writes really great 'slow' songs - 'Touched Something's Hollow' is really addictive, and a lot of Hissing Fauna gets the haunting atmosphere spot-on too. Rebecca Cash's complementary backing vocals add a new layer of richness to the of Montreal sound, which really works on this track.

Besides these three, I've been listening to quite a bit of Pavement recently, so I just thought I'd post 'Embassy Row' without passing comment... other than to say it's fantastic and uplifting and great.

Embassy Row by Pavement on Grooveshark