The Minit. Fred Abong
Fred Abong has a long history in Throwing Muses and other bands that started in the 80s. He's no spring chicken anymore and you can here it in his voice. I even dare to ask the question: Can Fred Abong sing? That answer is yes. He holds his melody well. But is he a good singer? That answer is no. Abong sing-tells his way through The Minit with a hoarse voice. The accompaniment is minimal. I hear a few guitars, perhaps a bass, but my guess is the E snare on his electric guitar. Despite not a lot happens on The Minit, I find myself liking the song. The melody is elementary but instantly likeable, the guitar work is intriguing. That voice like a thirsty cowboy walking out of a desert tops the song of nicely.
To Perth, Before The Border Closes. Julia Jacklin
Another lockdown/Covid era song. Julia Jacklin was on tour along Australia's east coast when the lockdown was announced. So she had to decide where to go in the country. Her town of choice is in the title of the song. A good choice, I read recently, as Western Australia seems to have dealt well with the crisis so far. Being extremely isolated from the rest of the country and the world helps I'm sure. Julia Jacklin made the best of it by writing this alternative rocker with some country in it. As singer-songwriter she obviously can be placed in the Courtney Barnett part of the musical spectrum. Her voice is much higher and more fragile. A girl in a rock setting. The guitar work listened to Lou Reed's style of playing a little. From what I'm hearing here, I wouldn't mind to hear more in the future.
B-side 'Cry' is a lighter pop affair, despite the title and the opening lyric "Hiding my depression from the housemaid". Hard times do make for beautiful music in the hands of some artists.
Hesitating Nation / Thousand Oakes. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's new single is a nervous affair. The music in Hesitation Nation seems to build slowly towards some sort of climax. The promise is there constantly, like in a neo-folk song waiting for the orgiastic "hey-ho!". And slowly but surely the noise goes up, the tempo gives the impression it goes up. It is not a big bang, but comes at the right moment. At the same time it is not 100% satisfying. The promise seemed larger than was possible to deliver.
Thousand Oakes has the same nervousness around it. The music seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere. Despite that I like Thousand Oakes immediately. Also because the, positive, likeness to Arcade Fire. When was it I was first introduced to the band? I honestly can't remember. I do remember not getting through the album. It was too erratic for me in combination with that voice. Listening to the two new songs, makes me curious to hear more in the winter of 2021. An interesting re-acquaintance.
Explain It To Me / Chicago. Squirrel Flower
And here's Squirrel Flower again. Like several other artists she's making the best of the Covid thing. In this single she's all alone with her voice(s) and guitar. And the resonance of the room she's in. It all sounds so spacious as if the whole room is singing and playing with her. Almost like a presence. Of course this is a feature of her debut album as well, but in Explain It To Me she's all alone (I think).
On Chicago there are more instruments. A prominent drum and traces of keyboards. Both songs are slow with Chicago almost bereft of a pace. It only underscores how fine a singer Ella O'Connor Williams is. She manages to bring the whole atmosphere created around her towards her and sits on it like the queen of the realm. Just like she should be when it is her song. Ask me to chose between the two songs and I think you already know which way my vote would go.
Baby Sleep. Maxïmo Park
In my opinion Maxïmo Park approximated a club like Leeds United. Once a cup winner but through the years slowly but surely disappearing from consciousness. The music simply wasn't as good anymore or better urgent enough. With the first single from the upcoming album, 'Child From The Flatlands', I noticed a change, so it made me curious for more. With Baby Sleep that more is there. The single flies out of the intro like 100 meter sprinters. The urgency is there alright. In part the hooray flag is hoisted too early, as Baby Sleep does not keep up that urgency. Still, I'm inclined to give the new single more than just the benefit of the doubt. This is how I want Maxïmo Park to sound. The single is loud, all over the place and holds back in the right places. There's one song the band by now most likely does not want to be remembered of. Simply because they will never make another with the same impact. I can't pretend not to know it. That said Baby Sleep is a fine song by a fine band that truly seems on the way back to the higher leagues. I'm still curious to hear more.
I Wanna Destroy You / Near The Soft Boys. The Soft Boys
Yes, this is an ages old single, re-released for Record Store Day. The Soft Boys was a band around 1980, so (post)punk. At the time The Soft Boys totally passed me by. I wasn't into punk, really. Nowadays I like it so much more. So, I decided to listen and hear a song that leans heavily on circa 1966/67 The Rolling Stones like 'We Love You', without the obligatory psychedelia. It is fantastically melodic in the way only U.K. punkbands dared to be, and Blondie of course. I Wanna Destroy You the title may be, the joy the song has within it suggest the total opposite.
The second re-release, is the maxi single Near The Soft Boys. The four songs come as two 7"singles in one package. Listening to the, once, maxi single's songs I'm moving deeper and deeper into the 60s. From The Kinks to the psychedelic outings of The Who, even The Outsiders come by, as if punk hadn't happened at all in 1980. Each song more psychedelic. Interesting and good.
Mighty Soul. Langhorne Slim
Langhorne Slim returns to WoNoBlog with his new single. Pay attention because it has a 1950s rock and roll length. Musically it has nothing to do with rock and roll. I can't even really think of a niche to put Mighty Soul into. It is a song. The fairly rough sounding guitar in the intro seems a bit like an odd one out, but fits better when the rest of the song progresses. Mighty Soul is an elementary recording but listen more closely and there's more going on then I first suspected. All instruments are more or less mixed together. The surprise comes in a short "aahh aahh" interlude, where the 60s invade Mighty Soul for a few seconds. Mixed a little into that same middle, so it does not stand out fully. Nonetheless it is a beautifully found interlude. The same goes for the keyboards that move in and out again. Langhorne Slim has found a new voice it seems. No matter how short, the message is clear. This is a song.
Dominique. Ela Minus
Dominique is an electronic affair. Ela Minus is a singer with Columbian roots. Come to think of it, the last time I serious listened to a song like Dominique may be when I bought The Human League's 'The Lebanon' on single, well, come to think of it, I may have something by Yazoo. When was that again? Dominique is darker though. The lyrics reflect a tough night, despite the isolation that is mentioned as well. "I need to eat something that is not liquid"? It sounds like a party like it is 2020. 1999 is pure nostalgia these days. No, this is not my music, really, but somehow I like this song. This isn't exciting music but everything falls together. The talk-singing of Ela Minus dropped against the dark synths just work. In April another single 'they told us it was hard, but they were wrong' was reviewed positively too, so it's 2-0 for Eli Minus on this blog.
Kinlaw is a U.S. artist, composer and choreographer who in January will release her first album, 'The Tipping Point'. With Blindspot she presents herself on single. Musically Blindspot falls nicely after listening to 'Dominque' as Blindspot is an electronic song as well. The song is somewhat lighter that the 7AM hung over outing by Ela Minus. Kinlaw sings more over electronic rhythms and hints at melodies. Modern music for the 20s without going for the obvious. This is serious music not aimed at the number 1 spot but could get there nonetheless with a little luck and the right sponsors. I do not know a lot about what is extremely popular these days, except that in my slowly ageing ears it all sounds sort of the same. Blindspot is more Lorde and Billie Eilish than Ariana Grande. That allows for being listened to me (a little). As she sings: "He's gotta go" at the end of the single, I have to move on to the next one.
Green Eyes. Arlo Parks
Oh, yes, a funky rhythm presents itself. Arlo Parks is from London and young. Like many young artists or better almost all adolescents, she encountered some troubles while growing up, having to find out who she is. This led to making some choses but also to a nice track like Green Eyes. Just listen how smooth the song flows. It digs deep into music of old while using modern rhythms. It instantly reminds me of a song like 'Why Can't We Live Together', in both famous versions. Arlo Parks uses the influence to create a beautiful mood around the rhythm. One dark note on a guitar is enough to set the song on fire, while one after another melody is found to expand it a little more, from the fairly bare start. Her jazzy voice meanders over the music like a slow moving river, slowly but surely moving towards the sea. Green Eyes has made me very curious to learn more in January when 'Collapsed In Sunbeams' is to be released. Three months does seem like a long time right now. Nice ambulance noise at the very end, as if it entered through the window when the recording was ready, the recording device still on.
Loophole. The Covenant
Can a band exist for 33 years and that I've never heard of it before? Yes, it can. The Covenant is a Dutch rock band that formed in the late 80s and releases a new single in 2020. The video starts with a 45 from the Vertigo label being played on a record player. My 'Paranoid' single e.g. has this design of the label that when played plays tricks on my mind constantly and could induce a vertigo or worse for some people. By then a tight piece of rock is unleashed on me and I'm all ears. This music has nothing to do with 2020. Loophole contains the kind of rock music that went out of style decades ago but sounds just the nicer because of it. Loud guitars, a singer who, in this case attempts to, scream(s), stark drumming and bouncing strokes on the strings of the guitar. This music may have gone out of style a while back, it doesn't make Loophole a less nice song. Just like I like to listen to Deep Purple every once in while, I don't mind putting Loophole on in the future. Rock on, brothers!
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