What music are we listening to at Polari HQ this week?
Eric Anderson – Coexist by XX
Since The XX won the Mercury Music Prize they’ve been endlessly covered and sampled. Every time I turn on the TV it’s like Romy Madley Croft’s hauntingly beautiful soft voice is being played over slowed down footage of some new reality-show star experiencing triumph or defeat. Now listening to their new album titled Coexist I’m once again swept away by the minimal beauty of a few electronic beats and sonorous guitar string plucks overlapping with mournful voices. The sounds are similar to the first album but there is a growing maturity in the words and rhythm focusing mainly on the pleasures and pangs of love. The sincere heartfelt sweetness of ‘Angels’ is so gorgeously expressed I’m hoping this song will completely overshadow that soporific Robbie Williams tune. In ‘Missing’ there is a pregnant pause so powerful that when Oliver Sim’s voice finally breaks it the song makes me literally shiver. It’s an impressively beautiful collection perfect for a contemplative mood. I’m savouring and enjoying it now before these new tunes are spun through our popular culture and flattened out simplifying the emotion that is so achingly present.
Little Bastard – Thee Physical by Pictureplanes
Imagine if you took Destroy Rock & Roll by Mylo, the debut album by Crystal Castles, a load of CDs you had in the ’90s and smashed them on the floor, (then) gluing all the pieces into one big CD, and listened to the result. Add in some tie-dye and some brothel creepers, and you’re some way to what Pictureplanes album Thee Physical sounds like. Released last year, it’s taken me a while to discover – I started boycotting anything East London in protest of East London “Hipster” fashion and music becoming “High Street”. But with the onset of Hipster popstars like Charli XCX and Grimes, my love of Crystal Castles and random electronic drug music soundscapes, it was going to catch up with me eventually. From its Paul Verhoven inspired artwork, through to the fuzzy trance like sounds and samples, and with track names like ‘Black Nails’ and ‘Trancegender’, this album is my summer chill out. When it’s late, and so hot I need to crack open the windows, with the lights off, and a cold cider in one hand, THIS is what I’m listening to!
Scott De Buitléir – Myrra Rós Þrastardóttir
Myrra Rós Þrastardóttir is an Icelandic singer/songwriter from Reykjavík who I came across by accident on YouTube, like most great musical discoveries these days. When singing with just guitar, there is a quality to her music that almost resembles American folk, but she has also experimented with more ambient/experimental styles (check out ‘Morse Codes’ for example). She sings in both English and Icelandic with a gentle but husky voice that could easily soothe you to sleep. Introduce yourself to her by listening to ‘The House The Home,’ but don’t be intimidated by her Icelandic songs – the melody alone is worth the listen: Myrra Rós Þrastardóttir on Soundcloud.
Walter Beck – Long Way From Home by Mississippi Fred McDowell
Mississippi Fred McDowell once declared famously “I do not play no rock n roll” and this 1966 LP is about as stripped down as it gets, a collection of nine acoustic blues numbers of just McDowell and his guitar. McDowell was a master at hypnotic, driving chords and this album showcases some of his best, cuts like ‘The Train I Ride’, ‘Millionaire’s Daughter Blues’ and my personal favorite on this record ‘Poor Boy Long Way from Home’.
After a long day of working at the gas station, dealing with griping customers and various technological apparatuses that don’t work (i.e. the credit card reader), it’s nice to come home and crank up some old delta-style blues. Sure, I could come home and let some heavy metal rip, release a bit of tension that way (Lord knows I’ve done it before), but there’s something about McDowell’s voice and hypnotic guitar that lets me relax without the side effect of being pissed off. And as a bonus, there’s nothing like writing some new poetry with the sounds of good, swinging delta blues in the background.