Star-struck

As the sun sinks below the horizon there’s a sudden drop in temperature and we huddle together for warmth, blankets wrapped around our knees, hoodies raised defiantly against the elements like teenage gangsters.  Our faces are only divisible in the deadly glow of cigarettes, and we are shocked by our laughter and loudness, as if it were magnified by the darkness. For all the lazy action of the day it is now that the secrets and stories, the building blocks of our future fraternity, are born.

The music turns with us, contorting from the blithe glory of the day to the slow burn of late evening and sadhappy beauty of the witching hour. Rapper Rexx Life Raj has been about for a few years now lending his skills to a number of artists before focusing on his own project. Hand-held GPS is a paean to the existential isolation of modern life. We have more ways of talking than ever before but instead we never really talk, preferring emoji’s and barely considered comments. Did I mention the second half of this blog was going to be darker than the first?

There is a soulful, lilting quality to Rexx’s delivery (like Chance or Action Bronson) which I just dig. You can check out his debut record here.

Steve Lacy knows what he’s doing. The next insanely talented producer on a conveyor belt literally teeming with teenagers with too much talent and too much time on their hands (see Mura Masa or Weird Inside) Steve already has a grammy nominated album with his band, The Internet (Special Affair was one of my tunes of last year) and is barely out of high school. C U Girl is an early indication that his solo music will hold the same half-beautiful, half-sinister charm:

Maggie Rodgers is a sensation caused by a sensation. Her rapid rise a post-modern piece of artwork entitled ‘Beyond Satire’.  I’ll will spare you the details because it changes nothing about the sheer wonder of this song. It is a relationship broken and cast to sea, a fully submerged shipwreck, wood rotting and steel rusting in the briny water, yet there is joy in the exploration of this profoundly new world:

Maggie produces her own music and is already a couple of albums deep so you should check out her bandcamp page.

Dan Mangan has been around for a small forever. Typically, he’s Canadian, exorbitantly talented, and wilfully adventurous in his music. It’s no wonder he’s not popular. Whistleblower is a shadowy mist reaching inside your chest, punching through the ribcage and pulling aside the blood and viscera to caress your wounded heart. It is a shared loneliness and it breaks me and builds me back up.

You can buy Dan’s latest release, The Unmake EP, from here.

David Thomas Broughton closes the night. Gulf is a beautiful example of the British folk writer’s wayward, ephemeral brilliance. It flickers at the edge of your perceptions like a the final embers of a fire, rising and dying on the late night breeze:

Gulf is on David’s new record Crippling Lack, which has been released in 3 volumes and can be purchased digitally on bandcamp, or on glorious triple vinyl here.

All of these tunes have featured on the last couple of Skewed Quiff monthly mixes ,which are always worth a listen:

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Sun-stroked

Yes, I’ve been away – though in the interim there have a been a couple of Quiff mixtapes to sate the appetite. A sort of summer holiday that seems to have mainly involved sweltering heat and the heavy rumble of traffic overwriting the tinny sound of my increasingly unhappy car stereo. Anyway, last week I finally got around to unpacking my shit and thinking that I should send out these tunes while the sun is still, just about, shining.

This first epistle is all about the songs that have relentlessly re-appeared in my daytime rotation. They lay down in the tall grass and let the insects cover them. They are hot and unbothered as they drink achingly cold Long Island Ice Teas. They have taken all the drugs and lost their friends at the festival.

The Accidentals are the sort of band that blind you with so many hooks that it’s only belatedly that you release that they’re not just clever but ambitious, both musically and commercially. I came across them when they put their latest EP, Parking Lot, up on Noisetrade as a freebie and fell in love with this little summery gem:

While the EP is now going for $10 (very reasonable, frankly) you can also pick up this track for free from their bandcamp page.

I dare you listen to this Peaness track more than once without singing along to the chorus. I double dare you. The 3 piece from Chester have created so perfect an indie pop single that it defies logic that it isn’t making your eardrums bleed with radio overplay. Also, I believe it may be about the evilness of George Osborne, which always get you a bonus point in my book:

https://soundcloud.com/peaness-band/oh-george

You can pick the single up for the pricely sum of £1 from Peaness’ bandcamp page.

I’ve raved about Star Parks a bit already, I’m sure. I must have done. Don’t Dwell is one of the best records of recent months. It’s classically 60’s chamber-pop done with charm, a modern sensitivity and some great, great song writing. Right now, I’m stuck between a couple of songs for a summer favourite (goodness, Loose Ends is a tune) but I’m leaning towards the tongue-in-cheek bravado of Egotist:

You can buy Don’t Dwell through Papertrail Records. The blue vinyl is rather lovely if you can stretch to it.

And so to London for the next tune. I caught Forty Elephant Gang supporting Patch & The Giant a few weeks ago and, as with a lot of stuff on Folkroom Records, they blew me away. They remind me a little of various bluegrass bands that have brothers in them including The Avett Brothers (before Rick Rubin ruined them) and The Punch Brothers. It’s the perfectly poised harmonies and razor-sharp mandolin work, I guess. Who couldn’t love Joan of Arc?

The band seem almost proud of their lack of online presence but you can grab their EP from Itunes, if nothing else.

Lastly, and because I’m cool and happening and down with the kids I got into this song randomly about 3 months after it was the number one tune in the states. I can’t exactly remember where or how but it’s sounds like it should be used ironically in a Todd Phillips movie (imagine Jonah Hill slo-mo dancing to it) and that is good thing:

I really don’t need to tell you where to find his stuff, right?

All these tracks have featured on the last couple of Skewed Quiffs, which deserve your attention. Especially since they cost no more than a little of your time:

 

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