No doubt this Monthly Mix will be doing battle with the familiar sounds of new pencil cases being filled with freshly sharpened, er, pencils and the cries of ‘where the fuck are my footy boots?’. Apparently, the kids are going back to school too.
We kick things off with a track from the band Evans The Death, who were undoubtedly one of my highlights of this year’s Indietracks festival. They seemingly only played this low key final track from their self-titled debut album as a way of boosting their set and if I had had any sort of heart at all, I would have been in tears. You will be. Next, it’s another tremendous single from Swedish wunderkinds Les Big Byrd. One of them is definitely called Leslie, right? More Stockholm based psych pop after them from Anti Pony, another band on the highly recommended, if difficult to say, PNKSLM Recordings – this is a single that came out right at the end of last year. I imagine it would be difficult to get shoes onto any sort of pony, and so it was with Dagenham darling, Sandie Shaw. I had her Nothing Comes Easy set in the car the other week and it reminded me how great her early singles were – here’s her 1964 debut.
What I want to hear now is a song about a US Figure Skating Silver Medalist. Lucky then, that New York duo, Frog, have a song about Nancy Kerrigan on their self-titled mini album from 2012. Having got that out of my system, it’s back to PNKSLM for some Brummie based garage rock and soul from The Catillians with a track from their Show Your Teeth LP. They’ve got a new album on the way, and I, for one, can’t wait. A change of pace next with a track from a record I picked up from Truck Records in Oxford on a recent trip – Billie Holiday’s Lady Sings The Blues, and indeed she does. A more recent sound to find its way into my ears in the last month is that generated by the band New Jersey Nets, who I presume are named after Bergerac’s favourite sports shop. I came across them on the previosuly recommended Espace B website as part of this year’s Janvier mix. The song’s not on Spotify, but it is on the video below.
The first final Guided By Voices album, Half Smiles Of The Decomposed, tends to get overlooked in favour of the mid 90s heyday, but for me, it is one of their hidden gems. There are loads of great tracks here, but I am contractually obliged to only choose one. McLusky are another band who have a raft of brilliant songs in their back catalogue, but if pushed, and that is not an invitation, I would have to plump for the song chosen here from their McLusky Do Dallas collection as my favourite. Fuck This Band. Words almost certainly said by the mercurial Lee Mavers to his fellow Las more than once. It’s always worth dropping in on their album and, in particular, the song Timeless Melody, which confirms, once and for all, the power of nominative determinism. I was moved to get Lee and the boys back on the turntable after seeing the effervescent punk pop of Liverpool band, The Swapsies at the launch of their current Pooh And Piglet single because as great as the A-side is, and it is great, the B-side is just a monster mix of clever lyrics and memorable tune. You can hear it below and buy it on the link in the tracklisting. Do both.
The next song is about a shit-stirring monkey, a bad tempered lion and a cool as fuck elephant. And there is nothing wrong with that. If you want more of this sort of thing, you could do worse than check out the 60 Songs From The Cramps Crazy Collection. Then we have old favourites, Violent Femmes with a track from their RSD15 release Happy New Year. It is reassuring that they still sound exactly the same as they always did, and that I was able to buy the record without queuing, for its normal, if inflated, price some three weeks after the ‘event’. Fazerdaze, for it is they, are another New Zealand band that have come my way via the Flying Nun Records newsletter and its habit of offering free downloads. You can subscribe here and get more of this sort of stuff. This track actually comes from the band’s self-titled debut. Can’t these bands think of album titles anymore?! The next band certainly have thought about useful monikers and have seemingly opted for the ‘bollocks to pithy’ school of thought. A school of thought that probably doesn’t exist. Nevertheless, say hello to The Prayer & Tears Of Arthur Digby Sellers and their really rather wonderful song Lisa.
From time to time, we wizards bring sounds to each others attention that are likely to be divisive. I am fairly certain that the sound of King Of Cats’ Max Levy will not be to everyone’s tastes, but for me, the vulnerability and heartache in his voice is not only remarkably distinctive but also surprisingly powerful. Give it a go. This track is from last year’s Working Out LP and you can expect to hear more of this sort of thing from this year’s Microwave Oven release in future mixes. So there. OK, so time for a classic XTC number next and what better place to look than the Drums And Wires album, where the chemistry is most definitely right. Then we have one of the stand out tracks from The Decemberists’ heartfelt What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World album, which we reviewed earlier this year on the pod. This is a song that tackles the story of the Newtown school shooting and President Obama’s speech that followed. Powerful stuff that makes you think about the world we live in. As, in haunting style, does the final track this month. This is from the tremendous Releasing Birds album from Fiona and Gorwel Owen. You might recognise Gorwel’s name from his work as producer with the likes of Super Furry Animals and Datblygu, but here he teams up with his partner, and poet, Fiona to produce an intensely beautiful mix of electronic and acoustic sounds that underpin her understated yet moving vocals. Yet another triumph from the Valleys that, truth be told, it took me a while to get to hear as Mrs O’Elves stole my copy after one play, telling me that it was the best music I had brought to the house in years. See you next month.
Jewel Box For His Nose
Those all important tracks in full:
- Evans The Death – You’re Joking
- Les Big Byrd – Stockholm Death Star
- Anti Pony – Cry On The Floor
- Sandie Shaw – As Long As You’re Happy Baby
- Frog – Nancy Kerrigan
- The Castillians – The Wolf Who Cried Boy
- Billie Holiday – Good Morning Heartache
- New Jersey Nets – Heebie
- Guided By Voices – The Closets Of Henry
- Mclusky – Fuck This Band
- The Las – Timeless Melody
- The Swapsies – The Trouble With Lee
- Smokey Joe – Signifying Monkey
- Violent Femmes – Good For/At Nothing
- Fazerdaze – Jennifer
- The Prayers & Tears Of Arthur Digby Sellers – Lisa
- King Of Cats – Ulcers
- XTC – Ten Feet Tall
- The Decemberists – 12/17/12
- Fiona & Gorwel Owen – Lakespan
Previous monthly mixes
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