Playlist Reviews: Week 2

FreshAir.org.uk Playlist: 13/10/14 from freshairmusic on 8tracks Radio.

You can listen to all the Freshair.org.uk playlists over at our 8tracks page, tune into the Music Team show 5pm-7pm on Mondays and come to Music Team meetings, Thursdays 5:30-7:30 at the Moo Bar and help decide on these excellent playlists!

1 Ex Hex - Don’t Wanna Lose Mary Timony is truly one of American indie rock’s unsung heroines. The influence of her extremely wavy 90s band Helium is currently writ large on bands like Speedy Ortiz and Ovlov, while her very consistent solo career and short-lived supergroup Wild Flag (also featuring Carrie Brownstein) made for some of this millennium’s most captivating releases. New project Ex Hex set out to load as many unforgettable hooks, witty lines and ass-kicking guitar figures into their brief tracks, and this opener to August’s excellent Rips is one of her catchiest power-pop endeavours yet, simultaneously evoking Blondie, Big Star and The Replacements. Emmett Cruddas

2 SBTRKT - New Dorp New York The first single from SBTRKT’s sophomore LP, Wonder Where We Land, throbs with groovy weirdness and gives centre stage to NYC-royalty Ezra Koenig and his scat-like delivery of absurd incantations. It’s an addictive listen because of the stomping sparse baseline and of course that insatiably kinetic percussion section that is interspersed throughout, rearing its head and towering above the otherwise sparse groove. Sean Greaves

3 Dads - Chewing Ghosts Fans of Japandroids’ predisposition for loud guitars, drums as much emotion as possible and pretty much nothing else, as well as the quotables of Craig Finn and Conor Oberst will fall in love with New Jersey’s Dads. I’ll Be The Tornado, their second full-length, is one of the essential records of 2014 and its appeal is no better distilled than in single ‘Chewing Ghosts’, a danceable, honest and inspiring track about memory and aging that’s sure to lovingly compliment the onset of any winter blues. EC

4 J Mascis - Wide Awake While more renowned for his dextrous and thrilling guitar solos and comically deadpan delivery than his ear for folk pop melodies, Dinosaur Jr’s singer and guitarist has spent the last few years balancing his absurdly accomplished band work with a couple of curiously gentle and deft solo records. Tied To A Star, released in the Summer, is as lovely as Bug is punishing, and lead single Wide Awake revolves around some excellent Nick Drake-style fingerpicking and excellent guest vocals from none other than Chan Marshall (Cat Power). Catch J Mascis in Glasgow on January 19th for choice cuts from this and acoustic reworkings of some of Dino’s most majestic and exhilarating hits. EC

5 Hookworms - On Leaving Echoes of psychedelia and garage with Britpop vibes. The melodies seem to respond to themselves throughout, just as the track itself responds to so much before it. Instrumental chaos with balance keeps this track controlled and minimal - yet also relevant - and stops it veering off that little too far towards its sixties predecessors. Fiona Colley

6 Caribou - Can’t Do Without You ‘Cant Do Without You’, taken from Daniel Snaith’s magnificent new Caribou album Our Love, delves deeper in the stripped down dance floor textures of ‘Swim’, as oppose to the more clustered contemporary psychedelic arrangements from his Manitoba years. Much of the song’s stunning momentum comes from the house-orientated repetition of the song’s title through vocals that sift between altered low-pitch and fragile airy falsetto. The song’s melodic simplicity and intensely personal underpinnings attain a warm soulfulness and sense of lightness that masterfully builds towards the eruption of bright droning synths across the song’s finale. SG

7 Martha - Present, Tense ‘Yes I’m here, and yes as per I feel weird’. The first line to the most recent single from the Durham indie-pop angels sums up the band and the music they make. Present, Tense, from debut album Courting Strong, is Martha singing about ‘growing up weird’, a recurring theme throughout the album, and how nostalgia isn’t always a good thing ‘wishing your life away, longing for bygone days, won’t you give me a fucking break I just want a moment that lasts’. The harmonies between JC, Daniel and Naomi work so effortlessly well and the strong North East accents teamed with jovial indie pop guitars are what makes Martha one of the best bands ever in the whole world. It’s impossible not to sing along in an accent that is probably insulting but is fun all the while. Rachel Earnshaw

8 BADBADNOTGOOD - Velvet Ambling through gentle jazzy interludes of twinkling instrumentation, ‘Velvet’ eventually allows improvisation to take hold of the mellowness. The Toronto jazz-trio BADBADNOTGOOD occupy the divine space between modern jazz and hip-hop instrumentation. They’ve released some fantastic covers of well-chosen hip-hop/electronic works from the likes of Kanye and James Blake and collaborated extensively with Odd Future. It’s undoubtedly through the conception of their two brilliant cover albums (BBNG and BBNG2), that they could write something as multi-facetted as ‘Velvet’; an entirely accomplished jazz piece in its own right that equally remains ripe for Hip-Hop collaboration. SG

9 Tony Molina - Nowhere To Go This song is 48 seconds long. The album it’s taken from, Dissed and Dismissed, is 12 minutes long and also one of the best records of the year. California’s Tony Molina is one of indie rock’s most natural and talented songwriters. If, like me, you’re still mourning Guided By Voices’ recent breakup and saw Weezer’s Everything Will Be All Right In The End as the last straw in a long line of albums that seemed to be made by the kind of usurpers that did to Rivers Cuomo after ‘Pinkerton’ what happened when Paul MacCartney lost his shoes, ‘Nowhere To Go’ might possibly change your year, as remarkable for its genius simplicity as it is for its masterful punctuation with Thin Lizzy-esque licks. EC

10 …And You Will Know Us By Trail of Dead - The Ghost Within This cut from the upcoming album IX by post-hardcore act And You Will Know Us By The Trial Of Dead is a much calmer affair than what would be usually associated with the band. Over acoustic guitars and pianos, lead singer Conrad Keely barely raises his voice in comparison to his usual anguished screams. The song still features a fantastic crescendo and marvellous polished production and hopefully marks a continuation in the recent artistic resurgence of the band. Patrick Cartlidge

11 Institute - Giddy Boys Giddy Boys is Texan post-punk band Institute’s first single, and they bring something pretty good to bear on new listeners. The influences of bands such as P.I.L., Dead Kennedys, and even Pixies are evident in this grungy, riff filled mess that can make anyone nod their head, and any crowd mosh. The first riff you hear echoes itself until the song thoroughly kicks into gear. The low-fi howl of lead singer Moses brown carries this song until it completes, making this the right song to blare out your speakers when you don’t care if someone else might hate the music you play. Ronan Barnard

12 Dark Jokes - Divide Celestial bleeps and vocal passion from the Edinburgh 4-piece. Highly accomplished technically and musically for a band of their style. Unashamed passion in vocals, harsh enough to be striking but soft enough to haunt. Ebb and flow with a beat you can follow, and emotion that licks its own wounds. FC

13 GAPS - She Bears A Flower This Brighton-based electronic duo’s new single is the latest in a great run of soft and folksy tracks equally indebted to Four Tet and The Beta Band. Rachel Butt’s excellent vocals head up this wonderfully-textured track that UK fans of the new A Sunny Day In Glasgow LP will gladly recognise as grounding similar talents of expression a lot closer to home. EC

14 Kate Tempest - Circles This is truly a remarkable piece of work from poet, spoken word artist and playwright Kate Tempest – beautiful, but not in the traditional sense. This piece has more in common with hip hop and rap than any other genre, and is essentially a poem put to music. However it remains remarkably catchy and easy to listen to, hardly the off the wall experimental music produced by some artists. The melody is simple – yet this contributes to the real strength of the song: the lyrics. Tempest describes that all-to-familiar feeling of living life in circles, endlessly doing the same stuff over and over again Groundhog Day style. And it’s beautiful. Relatable and powerful, this piece is one of those songs that you don’t expect to like, but by the time it’s finished you feel moved and changed by the experience. Unsurprisingly, Tempest has earned recognition from critics and media groups alike, winning the Ted Hughes award in 2013 for her work. Definitely one to look out for in the future. John Warburton

15 Generationals - Gold Silver Diamond ‘Gold Silver Diamond’ is the feel good, end of summer song from the Generationals’ new LP, Alix Although this song diverges from their more indie-rock style to a more electronic-indie vibe, their trademark high-ranged and ethereal vocals are unchanged. For an upbeat, nostalgically sunny track to brighten up your day in the cold Edinburgh weather, give this a listen. Kaitlyn Gulock

16 Vince Staples - Blue Suede Finding truly original turn of phrase and poetic insight on major label hip hop in 2014 can sometimes be a taxing and ultimately unfulfilling pursuit. Long Beach’s Vince Staples has been a key figure in West Coast, internet-bound hip-hop since the early days of Odd Future. Following from stellar mixtapes with No I.D. (Shyne Coldchain 2) and Mac Miller (Stolen Youth), as well as stealing the show not once but twice last year on Earl Sweatshirt’s AOTY, Doris, Vince has signed to Def Jam and is about to release Hell Can Wait, his debut EP. ‘Blue Suede’ features a disorientating hook, some really noisy vintage-Dre synths and a hard-hitting beat, all underwriting the Snoop soundalike’s disassociative explorations of hood trauma and early death, coining some truly unforgettable raphorisms and earning a vital role in the West Coast’s resurgence among peers in crafting original focus like YG, 100s and Lil B. And definitely not Kendrick Lamar. EC

17 Mouse on Mars/Machinedrum - Juice Clr 9 Mouse on Mars and Machinedrum tend not to have much in common musically, but their collaboration has combined the best of both worlds to put together a song that is driving and rhythmic, while still maintaining the surreal ambience that Travis Barker instils in his music. Eric Edmund

18 Sun Kil Moon - War on Drugs... ‘War on Drugs…’, is clearly a direct come-on from Mark Kozelek to the esteemed (and to be fair very attractive) shoe-gaze troupe – War on Drugs. Not really, what happened was, the Sun Kil Moon singer got pissed off that he could hear War on Drugs’s from a neighbouring stage during his own show at a US music festival, subsequently proclaiming ‘War on drugs can s— my c—’. The resulting song is actually great, cut with incisive, offensive wit and humour. It’s a mere exercise in writing a song about a mildly offensive off the cuff remark at an event that happened. You get the sense that he doesn’t take the song seriously and no one else should really either. Makes for amusing listening and lots of internet blog hype about bands with BEEF. Sun Kil Moon’s new record Benji is superb by the by, melancholic and beautifully crafted story telling. Josiah Whitworth

19 A$AP Rocky - Multiply The last time we heard new A$AP Rocky was on single “Hella Hoes” from the now shelved A$AP Mob EP L.O.R.D.. The Juicy J-featuring “Multiply” proves to be a great reason to get anticipated for the follow-up to his 2013 album Long. Live. A$AP. Over an excellently moody and atmospheric beat, A$AP Rocky addresses authenticity. It’s another typically fun song from one of the hottest and most consistent artists in hip-hop. PC

20 Mogwai - Teenage Exorcists A surprising listen at first as we hear the first Mogwai vocal in years just thirty seconds in, and oh how things have changed. This track keeps traditional Mogwai ethereality and sentiment, but brings it bang into the current with a distortion of what would traditionally be. Absinthian yet heart-warming. FC

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