Following the pilot Drowned in January playlist, Spotify are pleased to announce a new regular feature.
Once a month, Drowned in Sound’s founder Sean Adams, will curate a 20-track playlist featuring some of the month’s finest releases. Songs, mostly from the ‘alternative’/indie-rock/electronic sphere’s albums of the month, plus a few classics from the Spotify archive will feature alongside a hand-picked splattering of brand new bands.
1) Phoenix ‘Love Like A Sunset Part I’
Drums drip into a sea of synths on this instrumental track from sophisto-pop Parisians Phoenix, taken their Grammy award-winning album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – which was also our album of 2009!
2) Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Skeletons’
It’s Blitz! the third album from Karen O and co, raised the bar in many ways. Primarily it shifted the reputation of the New York trio from mere fashionista favourites to the status of one of the greatest bands in the world right now. New single ‘Skeletons’ was released on February 1st and has a brilliant video!
3) Massive Attack ‘Babel’
Moving on from the best of 2009’s record releases to one of the most anticipated albums to come out so far this year: Heligoland (Review). This incarnation of the Bristol innovators – who dominated magazines pages, media polls and bedroom stereos throughout much of the 90s – has produced one of their finest works to date. Their brooding beats lead an enviable guestlist of friends, ranging from, amongst others, Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Blur’s Damon Albarn, to this track featuring Martina Topley-Bird.
4) Gorillaz ‘Stylo’ (Feat. Mos Def and Bobby Womack)
In February, the music world was all aflutter regarding the return of the biggest cartoon band, ever! They will be joined on Plastic Beach by an amazing array of guests. DiS managed to get an early listen to the forthcoming album, click to read our track-by-track report.
5) Pantha Du Prince ‘Stick To My Side’
Whilst there’s a beat in the air from that last track, here’s German minimal techno artist Pantha Du Prince (although his mum calls him Hendrick Weber) with a track from his recommended album Black Noise (Review), which was released by Rough Trade earlier this month. This track features Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear from Animal Collective.
6) Gil Scott-Heron ‘The Crutch’
When legendary beat-poet Gil ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ Scott-Heron hooked up with Richard Russell (founder of XL Recordings, home to the likes of M.I.A., Friendly Fires, Basement Jacks, White Stripes…), to produce this album, a lot of curious ears pricked up. For once, the curiosity was rewarded as the resulting album I’m New Here (Review) is an absolute triumph on every level.
7) Liars ‘Scissor’
For art-rock aficionados, these New Yorkers will require no introduction but if you haven’t ever bathed your senses in their bubbling cauldron of guitars that jolt out like stalagmites, drums that hum/lightning flash and vocals which stalk you like a beast in a misty forest, then welcome to the world of Liars. This is the first single from Sisterworld, their new album due March 8th via Mute (more details)
8) Shearwater ‘Landscape At Speed’
Shearwater are one of those very special cult bands who manage to explore wispy textures whilst a menacing breeze hints at something sinister and foreboding stalking from afar. I recommend any fans of Talk Talk, Nick Drake, The National and things of that ilk to explore their back catalogue, starting with this new album The Golden Archipelago (Review)
9) Midlake ‘Rulers, Ruling All Things’
Midlake, from Denton, Texas, are one of those rarities in American “rock”. Rare, not because of any flashy gimmicks but because of the heart bleeding down their sleeve, with the red spreading from thread to thread. Alongside the likes of Wilco and My Morning Jacket, Midlake are responsible for a renaissance in American “rock” taking the best bits of country, alt.country, indie-rock, folk, psychedelia, rock’n’roll etc and creating something that sheds the ‘trad’ from traditional songs and – this might sound overblown – starting a whole new American songbook, or at the very least justifying extra chapters in an updated edition. New album The Courage of Others (Review) is out now on Bella Union.
10) David Bazan ‘Please, Baby, Please’
Mr. Bazan has released (brilliant) music under the guises of Pedro the Lion and Headphones but with Curse Your Branches (Review) he’s stepped out from behind the monikers and produced an album that’s more direct but still riddled with humorous twists and turns.
11) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles ‘The Tears Of A Clown’
When Spotify first asked me to put together this playlist I was really excited about turning people onto not just new music but great music (which may also be new to some people). When it comes to benchmark songs, artists, labels, movements, chunks of history, you can’t touch this.
12) Field Music ‘Them That Do Nothing’
I’d feel sorry for any song that has to follow ‘The Tears Of A Clown’ but Field Music, who hail from Sunderland in North East of England, are a self-assured band who mix affable marching band rhythms with guitars that go angular at just the right moments. Their 20-song new album has been met with high-praise and they provided DiS with this track-by-track guide to the album.
13) The High Wire ‘Odds & Evens’
Swooping, soaring and that’s just the start of it. Fans of Arcade Fire, Blonde Redhead, Mercury Rev, I hope you’re listening…
14) The Strange Boys ‘Be Brave’
Brass, bashed drums and a brash singer yelps for your attention – this is the sound of The Strange Boys. It’s also the sorta sound that wins our single of the week prize.
15) Blur ‘Star Shaped’
Damon Albarn has been really busy of late, when it’s not “2D”, the creative force behind Gorillaz, he’s been busy promoting a new Blur documentary. No Distance Left to Run (Review is an adventure through the career of the one of the most important British bands of the past twenty years, featuring a mixture of funny anecdotes and tearful moments, although don’t get me wrong, it’s mostly tears of joy side of the stage at Glastonbury.
16) Los Campesinos! ‘The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future’
Carrying a torch for the new wave of important British bands are Los Campesinos!, a six-piece indie-pop band from Cardiff. This is one of the more reserved moments from the band’s jangling third album Romance is Boring (Review). The band, who’ve been regulars on our forums since before they began, took over DiS for a week to celebrate the release of the album, producing a feast of content for us which mixed recipes with football and a guide to Cardiff.
17) Efterklang ‘Full Moon’
Danish, epic and earthy is probably the most succinct way to explain what you’re about to hear. This track is taken from their high-recommended new album Magic Chairs (Review), out now on 4AD
18) Rufus Wainwright ‘Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk’
An ode to addiction from his second album. Progeny of Loudon Wainwright and the late Kate McGarrigle, and sister of Martha Wainwright (full disclosure: whose records I release on my label), Rufus has never needed to rest on his family name and has quietly become one of the finest songwriters of the past fifty years. In the past he has drawn equally on opera, tin pan alley, camp musicality and harmony-laden pop, but Rufus’ sixth album, due out in April, is a somewhat stripped down affair, featuring mostly just him and a piano.
19) Laura Nyro ‘Tom Cat Goodbye’
Somewhat unjustifiably overshadowed by her contemporary Joni Mitchell, Nyro’s New York Tendaberry (released in 1969) is a stunningly unhinged work that showcases a youthful confessionalism that has inspired generations of songwriters since her premature death in 1997.
20) Scott Walker ‘If You Go Away’
Who wouldn’t want to top every ‘saddest song of all time’ poll? This goes out to anyone who had a tearful Valentine’s Day from one of the greatest songwriters, ever.
Listen: Drowned in February 2010.