Friday, 26 August 2011

Songs For the Weekend, Vol.2 & Apologies

Greetings folks,

I would just like to apologise for the absence of a "Songs for the weekend" feature last Friday. Unfortunately I was very busy and didn't have any time to get on and do it. But even so, here's this week's playlist. There's no particularly theme to this list, this is just a bunch of songs that I've recently fallen completely in love with, and hopefully you will too. I hope you find something here that you like.

The Horrors- Still Life

Every album that Southend- On- Sea quintet The Horrors churn out is a complete transformation from their previous album. Their 2006 debut "Strange House" was a dark and ferocious throwback to classic British goth- punk a la The Cramps. Their second album, 2009's epic "Primary Colours" saw the band create Joy Division- esque dark and progressive indie rock songs in layers of feedback and chilling synths. They released their third album "Skying" at the beginning of July of this year, and it's already shaping up to be  a serious contender for album of the year. "Still Life" is the album's lead-off single and perhaps the best and most life-affirming piece of music the band have ever conjured. It's starts off with sketchy synths before adorning that unobtrusive but fantastically rhythmic drum beat, as it builds up into a chorus of epic proportions, before ending on a sky-kissing, gorgeous bout of high-flying synths and trumpets. This will be the perfect soundtrack to your sunsets this weekend.

Foals- Blue Blood

"Blue Blood" is the opening track to Oxford indie-pop band Foals' second album, the brilliant "Total Life Forever" which they released in May of last year. The band's 2008 debut "Antidotes" was a swarm of incredible musicianship and math-y, intellectual brilliance mixed in with the ability to conjour up a brilliant melody and even some sing-a-long anthems. "Total Life Forever" however witnessed a change in the band's ethic, whilst still keeping the old charms ever-present. "Blue Blood" channels all of Foals' new ethic; The lyrics are much deeper, much more meaningful than those of their debut. It's smothered in a light layer of lo-fi fog but it never has the sense of being suffocated. It's got the old awe-inspiring duel- picking by guitarists Yannis Philippakis and Jimmy Smith, as well as Jack Bevan's hugely impressive drumming and Walter Gervers' wonderfully funky bass line. It's still undeniably Foals, but fuller and more mature, and it's one of the best songs they've ever written.

Warpaint- Beetles

Warpaint are an exceptionally brave band. They are four women from LA who exceed all expectations by not only making some of the most heartfelt and stirringly beautiful songs around at the moment, but mostly because they dabble in genres of music that, up until now, have always been dominated by men; Psychedelic, progressive and dark rock music. In 2009 they released their phenomenal debut EP "Exquisite Corpse," which featured six hazy, dark, cavernous and stunningly beautiful jams that were more art forms than mere songs. "Beetles" is just one of these masterful jams. Starting off with swirling and reverberating psychedelic guitar effects and shuffling drums, the song builds into cavernous and reverb- heavy territory, taking it down an unexpected and brilliantly crafted route.

Kate Bush- The Big Sky

As much as Kate Bush was always a master of taking the format and structure of the classic pop song and turning it into something unconventional, weird and still enchanting, she was also a master of producing unashamed big- hitting pop anthems, and "The Big Sky", taken from 1985 classic "Hounds of Love", is one such anthem. As did the rest of "Hounds Of Love", "The Big Sky" shows that Bush was at the height of her fertility lyrically, and that all the passion and life-weary experiences she had and the feelings she felt were being portrayed from her operatic vocals and the hugely memorable melody of the song. And much like the rest of "Hounds Of Love," it's a pop masterpiece.

Lady Gaga- You and I (Wild Beasts Remix)

This is probably the most unexpected thing to come out of the world of music so far in 2011. However it probably shouldn't be- Wild beasts' love of big hitting pop music is no secret. As is typical of Wild Beasts, they've stripped everything back from Gaga's tune, leaving just an expansive and beautifully sparse and minimalistic Junior Boys- esque dance- pop anthem. Also as is typical of Wild Beasts, it's suitably sexy, smooth and sensual. They've turned it into something which is both spectral and ghostly and something that, unless you knew it was Gaga, you may never have guessed that it was. Another touch of genius from the Kendal four- piece.

Keep Shelly In Athens- Our Own Dream

Greek dream- pop duo Keep Shelly In Athens have been on the blogosphere for quite some time now. They released their debut album "In Love With Dusk" in 2010, and it quickly became hugely popular amongst many  music bloggers and fans of that kind of music all over the world. "Our Own Dream", taken from their upcoming EP of the same name is a glitchy, warm, fuzzy and star-gazingly beautiful slice of dense lo-fi pop. It contains starry- eyed synths as well as layers and layers of misty haze, and gorgeously peaceful and enchanting siren- like vocals. It may well be true that the blogosphere is becoming overwhelmed with the swarm of bands producing this kind of music, but Keep Shelly In Athens are more than worthy of your time and attention, for this track alone.

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