New Friends Pt2

Aidan Knight has written my favourite song of the year, so far. It’s good to get these things off your chest early, I find. His band’s earnest, post-rocky folk is tinged with electronica and melancholy. His voice, understated and solemn, is as pretty as flowers stolen from a graveside.

Suitably, his lyrics are personal yet enigmatic. He keeps an absent-minded distance. He’s not trying to involve you in his life, his pain and joy but he is surreptitiously opening his journal, hoping that curiousity will draw you in. He wants to share, to be understood, even if he’s not really sure why. This is summed up aptly by the opening lines of The Funeral Singers:

Late at night

In the basement

Singing alone

Hoping for some magic

Who knows what powers left

In the words we sing to each other

Who knows

Despite a clear electronic leaning the album, Each Other (out now on Full Time Hobby) finds its most beautiful moments in the brief acoustic reverie of Black Dream or St. Christina – songs that seem to barely be out of the traps before they’re over. And that’s the way this record makes me feel: touched by beauty and sadness but never quite taken to the heights I expected. This is not to say it’s not great, because it is, just that I’m left with a sense of what might have been, with an appetite wetted but not sated. 

Perhaps that the fault of What Light Never Goes Dim. A song so wonderful, it’s the whole reason I started this little musical rant. A song that just can’t be matched by its less blessed siblings. Just listen and be thankful:

Aidan, and Pinegrove (from pt1 of this week’s missive), both feature on last month’s Skewed Quiff, which you can listen to here:

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New Friends pt1

A couple of bits that are at least lukewarm off the presses for you.

First up, I’ve been finding the Pinegrove record thrusting its way to the front of the queue. Straight out of New Jersey, they stagger and sway like a drunkard before surprising you with a perfectly executed pirouette. They can be incredibly articulate yet aren’t above an emotional roar when words just won’t do. On they’re first LP on Run To Cover, They’re part Husker Du, part Uncle Tupelo with a soupçon of smooth Californian emo. If, that sounds uncomfortable, it’s because it can be occasionally but that doesn’t stop this being one of the best things about 2016 so far. Two great songs bookend Cardinal, friends old and new:

Songs of Fire & Ice

Over the last 3 years Skewed Quiff has offered about 500 tracks of interest through this blog and its mixcloud page. As such, it should come as no surprise that a couple of artists of gone on to bigger and better things. We’re like that guy at the bar, who we all slyly – and slightly enviously – watch, as he works he way from girl to girl (or man to man) offering each and every one of them the proud contents of his CK cotton trunks until, late in the evening, one of them finally submits to his charms. With this many tries we’re bound to achieve something occasionally.

George Ezra comes most immediately to mind. Years and Years have been here too. And there’s been a tour bus full of others who’ve gone on to carve out a meagre existence on the cliff edge of the modern music industry’s sheer granite walls.

So, when we push a new artist it’s hardly as if necks are on the line. No one will be fired – mainly because there is no one to fire – and all transgressions will be forgiven. However, I will be sad, perhaps tearfully sad, if this young lady doesn’t get the adulation she deserves.

Låpsley has featured on almost half a dozen different Quiffs over the last 2 years and her latest effort, while not my favourite (consider the sparse, lullaby intensity of Painter (Valentine) or the staggered knife twist of Falling Short) is restraint and intensity in absolute balance. Love is Blind is like the morning frost. Ice cold on fingertips, then sharp and heated as it fades, so that only the intensity of feeling remains:

You can grab the latest Skewed Quiff here. A bit of a bumper edition as I’ve been away for a while:

1.How To Recognise A Work Of Art by Meilyr Jones
2.Take Us Back by Alela Diane
3.Redeemed by Lou Barlow
4.This To Shall Pass by 10,000 Horses
5.Bottle Talk (prod. Nova Jazz) by Sweeney
6.Summer Blues by Mikael Tariverdiev
7.Km 83 by Francoiz Breut
8.Old Friends by Pinegrove
9.Domino by Lionlimb
10.What Light (Never Goes Dim) by Aidan Knight
11.Tesseract by Tortoise
12.I’ve Got Love For My Baby by The Commands
13.Adventures Close To Home by The Slits
14.Fire & Fortune by Josienne Clark & Ben Walker
15.Singing To Me by David Wax Museum
16.There’s No One Crying Over Me Either by American Wrestlers
17.Stuff (Xanadu Song) by Cave Babies
18.Necessary Evil by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
19.Peanut by The Suffers
20.Tumble by Will Samson
21.Call The Days by Nadia Reid
22.Prototype by Stevie
23.Vincent & Mia by Spotfoxes
24.Plain View (feat. Bilal Salaam) by Finale
25.From Grace by Ryan Hemsworth & Lucas
26.Don’t Close The Door On Love by Luke Reed
27.Love Is Blind by Lapsley
28.To Make It True by Daniel Martin Moore

And some more Låpsley, because you deserve it:

 

 

Fire & Fortune

And we’re back in the room, albeit with little recognition that, somewhere quietly in the background, the calendar has ticked over to 2016. 

Instead of facing forward, embracing the new year, the new sounds and visions, the palette refreshed by winter’s chill breeze, we’re thinking back, eyes half-closed in reverie, the dying embers of a past fire still offering warmth.

We ease back to 2013, to the glorious misery of Josienne Clark and Ben Walker. Fire and Fortune is dark, subtle and gorgeous. And it’s not just it feel that makes me think of Minessota’s finest, Low. Josienne’s vocal is close to Mimi Parker, to her intangible, willo-the-wisp  beauty that’s holds fragility and violence in a single breath. This is beautiful:

For those of you who’d like something more recent, you can get their – also stunning – latest effort here.

We fall further away to a song unadorned yet covered by grace. Sometimes the simplest pleasures are the greatest. This is comfort from the cold, a reminder that we only ever need each other, and maybe this song:

I’ll admit to not knowing much about The Commands. They started out in churches, seem to have taken on the name to appeal to military crowds and were on Dynamic Records (owned by Abie Epstein, who is something of a legend on the San Antonio scene). I’m gonna scout out some more of their stuff and report back..

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