Often when reviewing the month’s best music themes emerge or certain styles are prominent. So far this has been a summer where great pop-music has prevailed, particularly of the electronic variety, and there is one of the best examples of that to come shortly, but in August music with a bit of bite was in evidence, and more than a touch of melancholy.
Maybe it’s just me, but the following sounds like the perfect soundtrack to the end of summer.
We’re going to kick things off with a something a little different from The Deadline Shakes who have, with just a few releases to their name, quickly become one of my favourite bands of the day. They have already released one of the best singles of the year with April’s ‘Phonecalls In The Bath’ and they’ve only gone and done it again with ‘Frozen Out’. They make multi-layered music which ebbs and flows, sounding at once familiar and yet as fresh as…well, as a summer’s day, and this is a superb example of that. Some bands go through whole careers and don’t sound as effortless as this, with everything working together just as it should. Their debut album Zealots is out in November, but until then enjoy ‘Frozen Out’ which is a double A-side single with the equally strong ‘Sweeten The Deal’. Prepare to be dazzled:
If you like your rock you’ll likely already be familiar with Tijuana Bibles, and if you’re not then you are in for a treat. Their sound is classic, with drums, bass, guitar and vocals working perfectly together to create a sum greater than its parts, and when the music they make is as good as their new single ‘Ghost Dance’ why complicate it unnecessarily. With a dark and dirty sound which echoes The Cult, Primal Scream and the louder tunes of The Stone Roses, Tijuana Bibles do their thing better than most. Take a listen for yourself:
I promised you some classic pop, and I’m not going to disappoint. If you were to ask me “Who won the summer?”, I would probably say WHITE. Their glorious music, whether recorded or live, has brought much-needed colour, sparkle and personality to 2015. ‘Future Pleasures’ set a high bench mark, but the recently released ‘Blush’ matches it and more. Borrowing Giorgio Moroder’s box of tricks and drum kit, using only the Chicest of bass-lines, and with Leo Condie’s distinctive vocals to the fore, this is music made by people who understand exactly what works and why. It’s not a case of if you’ll like ‘Blush’ or not; you don’t have a choice. Great video too:
Shards’ ‘Just To Get Something Started’ was a wonderful introduction to their sparse and affecting music, and they follow that up with ‘Afterwards’, a single which is deceptively simple, giving up further rewards with each listen. It immediately has you thinking of Eno, Lanois, Susuma Yokota but also more recent purveyors of electronic ambient music, such as Colleen and Murcof. Music to make you feel and make you think, and that’s rare enough to treasure. Close your eyes, you’re in safe hands:
Edinburgh band Aperture’s new single ‘Get In Line’ kicks off with a killer bass which grabs you immediately and then introduces you rather insistently to the rest of the band who are waiting just round the corner. What follows is a musical mugging from a cracking slice of new wave rock, with driving drums and some great grungey guitar supporting Lisa McGlynn’s striking vocals. Put together they make a glorious noise, tinged with that hint of menace which makes them stand out from the crowd. But I warn you, it’s very moreish; one listen just won’t be enough:
More electronic magic now, but this time with an insistent rhythm which will stick in your head for days. It’s ‘You Never Knew Me’ by Tongues, and as you listen to it you’ll find a smile creep onto your face without you realising, and by the end you’ll be grinning like a fool. A fool, I tell you – and I wasn’t in a particularly good mood when it started. I’m not sure how they do it, but Tongues make you feel the world is a better place than all other evidence may suggest. *Spoiler Alert: It also has the best false end I have heard in ages, giving you just a bit more of a very good thing. Press play and be lifted:
So that was the summer, almost. The perfect song for marking its passing comes in the beautiful and fragile form of A Mote Of Dust’s ‘Wolves In The Valley’. The latest project from Craig b who has fine form being previously involved with Aerogramme and The Unwinding Hours, ‘Wolves In The Valley’ is a taster for their album, also called A Mote Of Dust, which is released in October. However, you can pre-order it now and here. If you’re like me you’ll do that precisely 1.34 minutes into your first listen to ‘Wolves In The Valley’ which has Craig b’s plaintive vocals over some gorgeous acoustic guitar, and which will break your heart. And don’t miss a frame of Brendan Smith’s video as it’s equally beguiling:
That’s what August offered. September has a lot to live up to. Aren’t the nights fair drawing in…?