Monday, May 12, 2014

Stop Holding Back: Jan-Apr '14 Playlist

A couple of weeks ago (i.e. around the end of April), I created a playlist containing my favourite songs of the year so far. I've decided to share it here - not only are the songs really good, I'm also really pleased with how it flows as a playlist.

See, this isn't a bumper-sized free-for-all like my summer playlist. That was one to shuffle and enjoy for an entire afternoon; this is a tight, ten-track affair that was carefully sequenced for the best possible listening experience.

So sit back and feast your ears on the 10 best songs of (the first four months of) 2014. I'll put the songs here without comment for now, and add some more details tomorrow.

(N.B. I would have embedded this as a Spotify playlist but My Name is Ian hasn't put his bloomin' album on Spotify. Thanks for that, Ian - now I have to embed ten things instead of one. Yeesh.)

1) Cult of Love by Dum Dum Girls (from Too True)
Too True isn't a particularly spectacular album, but it does boast the best opening track of the year so far. Cult of Love is a charging krautrock bull of a song, recalling the best parts of goth music among other things.

2) Mecca by Wild Beasts (from Present Tense)
I've seen Present Tense compared to OK Computer (heck, I think it was on a sticker on the CD case), and while I wouldn't have noticed the similarities myself, Mecca is a pretty Radiohead-ish moment when you listen to it with Thom Yorke and Co. in mind. It's a gorgeous little ode to the simple pleasures of addiction, and it revolves around the bittersweet plea: "all we want is to feel that feeling again".

3) Landlocked by Fanfarlo (from Let's Go Extinct)
I must confess that I haven't bought this album yet - I heard this track on an Uncut compilation - but if it's all as good as Landlocked, I shall be picking it up very soon. This bouncy pop-rock cut is a summer anthem just waiting to happen.

4) Mess on a Mission by Liars (from Mess)
Mess is probably the closest that Liars will ever come to making a dance record. This is the album's standout moment, and while you can certainly bop around to it, the recurring refrain ("facts are facts and fiction's fiction") recall the band's paranoid best work (i.e. Broken Witch from They Were Wrong, So We Drowned and Scarecrows on a Killer Slant from Sisterworld).

5) Jim Wise by Sun Kil Moon (from Benji)
A very, very sad song about a man who mercy-killed his wife but failed to kill himself afterwards. The plaintive keyboard and simply-stated lyrics only enhance the tragedy of the whole situation. Oddly, this is probably the closest thing to a pop song on Benji.

6) Algiers by The Afghan Whigs (from Do to the Beast)
The Afghan Whigs announced their comeback with this castanet-toting slice of spaghetti Western brilliance, and we're all very happy to have them back. The line just before the guitar solo gave this playlist its name, and the second verse - where everything kicks in properly - is just sublime.

7) Blues Hour by Mogwai (from Rave Tapes)
Ironically, the best song from Mogwai's latest CD is the one that actually involves singing. Still, Blues Hour is still every inch a Mogwai song, evoking gloomy bars and long, interminable journeys through the night.

8) I Like You So Much by Speedy (from News from Nowhere)
Yes, I know, but I discussed this with the 1p Album Club on Twitter and we agreed that Speedy's lost Britpop classic does, in fact, count as a 2014 release. This swooning song is my favourite part of News from Nowhere; I particularly love the way in which it starts out as a standard love song and gradually grows more and more sinister, eventually culminating in assault, cannibalism, and murder-suicide.

9) You Make Me Crazy, You Make Me Crazy, You Make Me Crazy by My Name is Ian (from You)
I failed to notice this when I reviewed You a few weeks ago, but additional listens to Ian's exploration of the second person revealed that the album actually contained some really great songs. I like how this one sounds a little bit similar to I Like You So Much; the Speedy song isn't as long as I'd like it to be, and this one sort of carries that spark on a little bit longer.

10) You & Me by Benjamin Shaw (from Goodbye, Cagoule World)
It starts with a lovely keyboard riff and ends with Benjamin Shaw giving up on proper songwriting entirely ("Here's a line about The System, and here's a line that's quite funny..."). This track is the weariness incarnate, and I think it makes an excellent closing track (even though it wasn't actually the last song on the album).

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