Ash clouds, UK election chaos and the spring finally came to London, meanwhile, heaps of great records were released and here’s a playlist by DrownedinSound.com’s editor compiling the best bits and sound-tracking the month that was.
Drowned in April 2010 – Listen/subscribe to this playlist
Bow Wow Wow ‘I Want Candy’
A few weeks ago, the death of Malcolm McLaren hit me in ways I didn’t fully anticipate. McLaren was the visionary and incorrigible force behind the transatlantic importation and explosion of punk in the UK. He’s perhaps best known as the impresario/manager of The Sex Pistols, however his forays at the precarious axis where music, commerce and low-slung high culture clashed, didn’t start and end there. This track from Adam & the Ants former backing band, was released in 1982 (the year I was born) and still sounds as fresh and forward-leaning as it did back then.
Malcolm McLaren ‘Buffalo Gals’
McLaren also wandered into the limelight, releasing several albums (and writing the theme for British Airways?!), including his exploration of local music from African ‘world music’ to hip-hop from New York. Notably, the video to this track introduced break-dancing to the mainstream. Duck Rock from which this track comes, is perhaps a more important part of the legacy he leaves than Never Mind The…. Read tributes to Malcolm McLaren from the likes of Johnny Rotten and former partner Vivienne Westwood and listen to a special tribute playlist here.
Jónsi ‘Animal Arithmetic’
You will likely recognize him as the vocalist and violin-bowing guitarist of Icelandic heart-tuggers Sigur Ros. Whilst the rest of his band took time out to look after newborn babies, Jónsi put the finishing touches to his surprisingly upbeat debut solo album with composer du jour Nico Muhly. Nico has worked with the likes of Antony & the Johnsons, Grizzly Bear and Björk and brings an almost impossibly epic air to Jónsi’s exuberant brand of uplifting pop. I caught up with Mr Þór Birgisson to discuss Phil Collins, his vocal technique and found out more about the album, watch the video here. And read our review of the highly recommended album Go here.
LCD Soundsystem ‘All I Want’
New York’s finest punk-funk-disco pioneer James Murphy, has returned to resuscitate a dance-floor near you. Whilst ‘Someone Great’ may have been a slightly more apt tribute to Malcolm McLaren, we suspect you would like to hear this new track from the forthcoming final LCD Soundsystem album This Is Happening. We got an early listen to the album, read our track-by-track commentary hear.
Youthmovies ‘The Naughtiest Girl Is A Monitor’
When Youthmovies played their last angular chord in Oxford this month, independent music lost a rare and formidable force. For the sake of full disclosure, any perceived bias with this selection stretches as far as releasing their record via DiS Records, because our staff and readers collectively adored the band, and this track, with its sprawl of nostalgic lyrics and goosebump-inducing textures hopefully acts as an introduction to those who missed out on seeing a band who will be much missed. drownedinsound.com/Youthmovies.
Kate Nash ‘I Just Love You More’
Whilst her new album is not quite as proudly loud as this track suggests, there is certainly a sense of departure throughout My Best Friend is You (7/10 Review). Its a longplayer which finds Miss Nash edging away from the Regina Spektor dressing-up box and taking some brave leaps, rarely returning to the dainty polka-dot glottal-stop pop which saw her march onto the pop map a few years ago.
Nirvana ‘Very Ape’
On the 5th of April 1994 Kurt Cobain committed suicide, and the anniversary of his passing was noted in features, threads and blog posts across the web. Whilst we didn’t do anything in particular to link to, I’d like to suggestion, ff you’ve not seen it, the About a Son documentary for a mixture of powerful-playful-poignant imagery and revealing conversations with Michael Azzerad plus a soundtrack put together by Death for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.
Refused ‘New Noise’
Rumours of the reformation of the incendiary Scandi punks had post-hardcore fans in an overexcited frenzy, until it turned out that they’re merely re-issuing the hugely influential album The Shape of Punk to Come.
Health ‘We Are Water’
If you haven’t already seen it, we urge you to watch this video NOW! (NSFW)
MGMT ‘Brian Eno’
Is the new album from these artsy indie-‘hippies’ really as far out and anti-commercial as the web echo-chamber is making out? We’ve certainly heard stranger records and more fully realized re-inventions of late but perhaps not from a bunch of overhyped major label hipsters. Read our review of Congratulations here.
The Libertines ‘Don’t Look Back Into The Sun’
Keeping things in the indie-pop world, the rock gutter was a flutter this month with news that The Libertines have reformed and will headline Reading & Leeds festival. DiS caught up with the band to find out more.
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Parisian baroque pop got dipped in Timberland tinged beats and doused in bedroom daydreams, then welcome CocoRosie into your world. Their new album Grey Oceans mightn’t be their finest hour but this track is a delightful and has such a perfect spring feeling.
Summer Camp ‘Ghost Train’
Hipster tosh? Animal collective fans run amok? Or the undeniable sound of summer? Ms. Roby is in the latter, er, camp, rewarding them single of the week in her singles column.
There aren’t a great deal of PhD mathematicians making music but then there aren’t a lot of people making music as complex and simultaneously joyous as Dan Snaith, aka Caribou. His new album Swim received rather high praise in our review by Hayden Woolley.
Tanlines ‘Policy Of Trust’
Much talked about in the blogosphere and amongst our music forum, Tanlines make an intriguing collage of breezy rhythms and ramshackle beats, as perfectly showcased by this track released earlier this month.
The world seems to not just spin and ebb but also bend under the weight of the stars in the dystopian digital domain of dubstepper Ikonika. This track comes from the much praised Contact, Love, Want, Have which was reviewed here.
Erykah Badu ‘Umm Hmm’
New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) is easily one of the albums of the year so far, which is really saying something when begin to comprehend just how many great records have come out already this year. Read our 9/10 review here.
Dark Dark Dark ‘Bright Bright Bright’
Technically, this didn’t come out in April but it only just found its way onto Spotify from the dimly-lit land (in reality that is New Orleans, New York and Minneapolis) of Dark Dark Dark. This EP is sort of what “the Arcade Fire’s Régine would sound like if she started a band with Regina Spektor” according to DiS’ Robert Cooke in his 8/10 review, and I thoroughly concur.
Rufus Wainwright ‘Zebulon’
When it comes to great songwriters in modern music, few come close to Rufus Wainwright. His new album is a much more restrained affair than his previous few albums but, as ‘Zebulon’ proves, he has just as much power sat at the piano. To celebrate the release of his sixth album we had a special ‘Rufus Wainwright day’ on DiS, which you can find compiled here, and it includes an introduction to… Spotify playlist.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‘Papa Won’t You Leave Henry’
As equally incredible as Rufus at that whole pulling together melodies and imagery into ‘songs’ that make your heart hum is Antipodean legend Nick Cave. This month, Nick and his Bad Seeds released the remastered versions of Henry’s Dream, The Good Son and Tender Prey, and you can find them all reappraised here.
And that’s your lot for this month. In the meantime, feel free to follow me and find plenty more playlists: http://open.spotify.com/user/seaninsound.