Wow, has it really been a year since I started writing this thing? It's been eventful. The original idea was to write about a variety of things that I love: movies, music, books, TV and more. My passion for horror movies seems to have predominated the blog's pages as of late, but the music was always there, playing away in the background. I really should write more about it. I intend to. In the meantime, here's 66 minutes of some of the stuff I've been enjoying this last twelve months.
What's been interesting for me in putting this together is what it doesn't include. If pressed, I would say that my favourite music is 60's garage and psychedelia. None of that appears here, although its influence is certainly evident in some of the artists included. It becomes apparent to me that I have been reacquainting myself with a lot of music I heard on the radio as I was growing up, either on John Peel's Radio 1 show or through the late-night crackly static of Radio Luxembourg. It's been equally interesting to see how seamlessly many of my favourite new tracks from the last twelve months sit alongside those records. That's not to say things are repeating themselves (although some influences are apparent in places), but I have had a genuine rush of excitement about a lot of new releases, echoing that I used to get with the radio on low next to my ear, under the duvet when I should have been asleep for school the next morning. I guess I'm still the eternal indie kid...
So, in what is hoped to be just the first of many Purple Patch playlists, here's some of the music which has been soundtracking the first year of the blog. Some is new, some is older but new to my ears, some are old favourites which have had a new lease of life on the turntable. Hopefully, you'll discover something good you haven't heard before, so hit the play button and read the sleeve notes below.
TRACK BY TRACK:
TEMPLES – Colours To Life
These four lads from Kettering came from seemingly nowhere to become my favourite new band of the last 12 months. They remind me of so many other bands that I love without necessarily sounding like any of them, a rare gift. It's most pleasing to see that psychedelia is alive and well and living in Northamptonshire, although Temples are far from the only purveyors of the new psych coming through, a development which makes me happy no end.
BOB MOULD – I Don't Know You Anymore
It's nice to have some things in life you can always rely on. The sun rising. Branston pickle. Volkswagen Beetles. Bob Mould. Through the years with Hüsker Dü, with Sugar and as a solo artist, he has frequently produced perfect guitar-driven pop which can cut to the heart. His songs become instant earworms. He makes it look so easy. Swine. This latest offering has proven very useful for waking me up in the mornings. The video is also very entertaining.
SCARS – All About You
One that got away from 1981, and not the only track which Cherry Red's seminal Scared To Get Happy collection has brought back to my attention. I previously discussed both the track and the box set in further detail – click the highlighted links to read more.
DARK BELLS – In Head
I was introduced to the music of Dark Bells when they supported Temples on tour, and they have become a real favourite, reminding me of the kind of stuff 4AD were putting out back in the day, but with something very fresh in the blend too. I'm very much looking forward to their album being completed. Read also here, and check out their earlier track Wildflower here.
HOUSE OF LOVE – Christine
I've fallen for The House Of Love all over again, helped by the deluxe reissue of their first album by Cherry Red (them again). I had forgotten how much I loved this when it came out, and proceeded to play it on loop in the car for the following week. This takes me back to a moment when, all too briefly, The House Of Love looked like they were going to be the biggest band in the world. Somewhere in a parallel universe, they probably are.
redblue – Alive Or Dead
One of those pleasant surprises you find just trawling the web, redblue (the lower case lettering is intentional) hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Alive Or Dead was their very promising debut, via bandcamp.com – read more here.
EULOGYS – World Send
Another bandcamp.com discovery was this act from Dublin, with quite a knack for a hypnotic melody. They have since signed with Pickled Onion Records. It was a close call whether to include this or their earlier release, Hellespont (covered here), but World Send just pipped it to the post. Also, check out the video for the track, featuring lovely animation by Ghislain Avrillon.
TOY – Endlessly
Heavenly Recordings label mates of Temples, to compare the two is to demonstrate how wide ranging the influence of psychedelia is on the new crop of bands. TOY's second album, Join The Dots has been a real grower for me, a heavily layered mass of echoing droning guitar, with some jangling guitar pop inflections fighting for space. Endlessly is the ideal entry point.
LLOYD COLE & THE COMMOTIONS – Rattlesnakes
From their first album in 1984, with a pastoral string arrangement stirring memories of Love's Forever Changes (that album's influence might make for an interesting future playlist). I first heard Rattlesnakes when the video was screened before a movie at the ABC in Southampton (now sadly gone - I think they showed INXS' What You Need as well). None of the record shops in town had a copy at the time, which might partly explain why such a great record stalled at number 65. That's not a typo. NUMBER SIXTY-FIVE, for chrissakes... The album of the same name has been getting played a lot here recently, and I can't think of that many albums from the same year which have aged so well.
SERVANTS – The Sun, A Small Star
Also with a slightly pastoral feel, the summer of 1986 saw this group from Hayes, Middlesex unleash this rather perfect three minutes as the main track of a 12-inch EP. Circumstances would conspire to ensure that they never attained the success they deserved, but the last few years have seen some reissues and new appreciation of their work, as well as the unearthing of an abondoned 1991 album. Treat The Sun, A Small Star as a starting point for further investigation.
WARPAINT – Love Is To Die
Notable as the first new release I heard for 2014, and it's still getting plenty of plays six months later - I first wrote about it here, describing it as having a touch of Cocteau Twins and The Cure about it, amongst other things. I still stand by that, and their self-titled album is worth investigating too.
THE THE – This Is The Day
Another unfathomable chart failure. This suggests one of two things. Either a severe lack of judgement by British record buyers in 1983, or I may just be the kiss of death - for a long while it seemed as though any record I liked and bought suffered a rapid demise (read here for a more detailed explanation). My purchase of This Is The Day coincided with its chart peak of number 71. Coincidence? You decide. That aside, this piece of unbridled optimism is just the thing if the bad stuff starts overwhelming your life. They should hand this out on the NHS as a cure for depression.
SIDDELEYS – My Favourite Wet Wednesday Afternoon
Another item from Scared To Get Happy. I might easily have included many more selections from the set (and will probably do so on future playlists), but I've plumped for this one from The Siddeleys since it's been played a hell of a lot here (besides, if I leave it out my wife won't speak to me for a month). It's introspective, melancholy indie pop of a kind which seems to sum up the late 80's pretty well for me. Never has Southend-On-Sea sounded so forlorn. It was tucked away on a b-side, too.
PIXIES – Magdelena 318
Much comment has been made on the Pixies' reunion. A lot of this has been along the lines of: They're not groundbreaking anymore, it's not the same without Kim Deal, their best days are behind them, blah blah blah. Well, I love this. The Pixies are back, they still sound like The Pixies, and that's fine with me. Now shut up, I'm trying to listen to this.
FIRST AID KIT – My Silver Lining
Scandanavian Folk-Roots-Country? Indeed, the sort of record that makes you want to go on a road trip, just so you can drive through the countryside with this at full volume as the soundtrack. This was a very late addition to the playlist, pleasingly reaffiriming my belief that there is still plenty of good new music out there, even if what is laughingly referred to as the "top ten" would have you believe otherwise. Anyway, rant over - First Aid Kit play earthy stuff, which is radio friendly enough on the surface but has a dark layer and plenty of bite underneath.
THE CHURCH – Under The Milky Way
I'm not entirely sure how this slipped off my radar in 1988. It wasn't a hit in the UK at any rate, which baffles the hell out of me. Still, I didn't buy it then so my "kiss of death" can't be blamed this time. I've recently been investigating the music of The Church further, an intriguing trip which I may well discuss in further detail in the future. I have Dom Joly to thank for this, since the track's inclusion on the Trigger Happy TV soundtrack sent it permanently into my list of favourites. Its appearance in the marvellous Donnie Darko helped too - it's a film which Under The Milky Way could have been custom built for. Best listened to whilst staring at a night sky.
THE KINKS – Living On A Thin Line
The 80's weren't terribly kind to many veteran 60's acts, who often found their later work blighted by unsympathetic production and unfavourable comparisons to their earlier work. The Kinks actually continued producing some fine work, and Dave Davies' composition Living On A Thin Line deserved to be a big success. However, internal band politics may well have prevented this from becoming the single it should have been. Instead, it sat on the band's 1985 album Word Of Mouth. Lyrically, it is perhaps just as pertinent now as it was 29 years ago, a slightly sobering thought on which to end. However, we can't let it end like that, so...
TEMPLES – Fragment's Light
We end where we started. Temples rounded off their debut album with what is almost a Gregorian lullaby, a fine end to both their LP and this playlist. Good night.