Category Archives: Alternative

Whitney – Golden Days (2016)

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Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich started their country-rock project Whitney as their former band Smith Westerns disintegrated in 2014. Like ‘No Woman’ posted here a year or so ago, the sound is a nostalgic one. The twangy guitar of a Pavement track; Ehrlich’s strikingly high-pitched vocals; the aching lyrics; and of course, those horns. Released as a single in 2016, the song features on their debut album Light Upon The Lake.

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Björk – Venus As A Boy (1993)

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‘Venus As A Boy’ was one of the last songs Björk recorded for her Debut album. It was 1993, and the song offered a touch of Kate Bush, when the latter wouldn’t. It wasn’t just the vocals, the experimental use of synthesisers, strings and sitahs were not out of place. Björk was her own woman, but I am sure she would forgive me the musical reference.

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The National – Day I Die (2017)

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Twenty years in, seven albums through and I think I might be really starting to like The National. It’s taken it’s time and I’ve not been expecting. The downbeat outlook remains everpresent, particularly in Matt Berninger’s vocals, but this year’s Sleep Well Beast sounds different. Berninger sings “Let’s just get high enough to see our problems” on ‘Day I Die’, but it’s in the wake of an U2-like guitar riff and Bryan Devendorf’s thumping guitars. I like. Have a great week.

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St. Vincent – New York (2017)

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Good morning! The treat for today is singer-songwriter Annie Clark’s latest single. Over the last decade, Clark has acquired many admirers for her quirky and creative art-rock. The ballad ‘New York’ is from her forthcoming fifth album as St. Vincent. With the death of David Bowie, Clark has lost a hero and a friend, but found a rich vein of form. Have a great week.

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MGMT – Electric Feel (2008)

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I’m back with a sound from my summer. It’s a reprise brought about by a remix of a cover. In 2007, MGMT’s Benjamin Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden released their debut album Oracular Spectacular. A year later, after much warranted hype, the duo released ‘Electric Feel’ as a single that included a B-side remix by Justice. This year, the beaches of the Med enjoyed Berlin DJ Nick Talos’ tropical house remix of CRW’s acoustic version, amongst other things. I plump for the original. Have a great weekend, before some more sounds next week.

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9 of the best – sounds of noughties

It would seem that 2004 was peak noughties (to these ears…):

The Avalanches – Since I Left You (2000)

 The Strokes – Modern Age (2001)

The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize? (2002)

Broken Social Scene – Stars And Sons (2003)

The Walkmen – The Rat (2004)

Sébastien Tellier – La Ritournelle (2004)

Sigur Rós – Hoppípolla (2005)

 Midlake – Bandits (2006)

Beirut – Nantes (2007)

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Honourable mentions also go to: Lambchop for ‘Up With The People’ (2000); Outkast for ‘Ms. Jackson’ (2000); Ian Brown for ‘F. E. A. R.’ (2001); The Shins for ‘New Slang‘ (2002); Kings Of Leon for ‘Red Morning Light‘ (2003); Radiohead for ‘A Wolf At The Door’ (2003); Mew for ‘Comforting Sounds’ (2003); Kasabian for ‘Club Foot’ (2004); Danger Mouse for his remix of ‘Public Service Announcement’ (2004); The Good, the Bad and the Queen for ‘Herculean’ (2006); The Hold Steady for ‘The Chillout Tent‘ (2006); The Strokes for ‘You Only Live Once’ (2006); and Jay Electronica for ‘Exhibit C’ (2009).

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Princess Chelsea – The Cigarette Duet (2011)

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Continuing the unusually fey electropop this week, it’s Auckland’s Chelsea Nikkel. On ‘The Cigarette Duet’, the Princess sings alongside fellow singer-songwriter  Jonathan Bree for her debut studio album Lil’ Golden Book.

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Kelly Lee Owens – Anxi (2017)

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Good morning. The Welsh singer-producer Kelly Lee Owens draws on dream pop and ambient house for ‘Anxi’, the title song off her 2017 debut album. The track is a collaboration with a Norwegian musician, singer-songwriter Jenny Hval, who provides the moody vocals, Have a great week.

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Gorillaz – Sleeping Powder (2017)

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Gorillaz are back in 2017, cutting their edge between music and technology. ‘Sleeping Powder’ is the first new song to be released since their ‘Humanz’ album dropped in April. Damon Albarn is gone with the self of the day, gone. Have a great week.

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Mazzy Star – Look On Down From The Bridge (1996)

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Making up for the lost morning this week, we have a double-header. It’s always a good time for Mazzy Star. The band formed in Santa Monica in 1989 from the group Opal, a collaboration between guitarist David Roback and his then-girlfriend, ex-Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. Relationships being what they are, Smith left early in the band’s life and Hope Sandoval swiftly became the lead vocalist. In 1996 the band released its third album Among My Swan, for which David Roback wrote all the music apart from the mysterious ‘Look on Down from the Bridge’. That sound was pure Sandoval; it is the closing track on the album.

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Evan Dando – Whoops (2003)

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Evan Dando returned to music in 2003 after a long, long lost weekend. The former Lemonheads frontman released the lo-fi Baby I’m Bored, which featured the track ‘It Looks Like You’. Released as a single, its B-side was the jaunty ‘Whoops’. “We all fall short, but it’s a long way down.” The man had seen the dark side; perhaps that’s why the song was incomprehensibly consigned to a flip-side.

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Ryan Adams – AMY (2000)

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Inspired by Ryan Adams’ break-up with industry publicist Amy Lombardi, ‘AMY’ is the self-evidently one of the emotional outpourings that underpin his debut solo album ‘Heartbreaker. Released in September 5, the entire album was was told over fourteen days in a studio in Nashville. Pitchfork have called it “a drinker’s album” and “an ode to sadness”. No regrets Ryan, no regrets.

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Arcade Fire – Creature Comfort (2017)

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With ‘Everything Now’ at the beginning of the month, and last week’s release of ‘Creature Comfort’, early signs are very good for Arcade Fire’s new project. The influence of collaborators Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter and Portishead’s Geoff Barrow are strong. The result is a synthesised intro that M83 or Chromatics would be proud of; and then the fatalistic chants… arenas get ready. Have a great week.

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Tame Impala – The Less I Know The Better (2015)

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‘The Less I Know the Better’ was released by Tame Impala towards the end of 2015. Selected as the third single off the album Currents, the song flows from Kevin Parker’s love of “dorky disco”.

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Kevin Morby – Come To Me Now (2017)

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Kevin Morby is releasing a new album City Music this week. The majesticCome to Me Now’ opens the album with the Texan’s haunting vocals and the sound of a pedal pump organ. Have a great week.

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