The consolations of music

And so, consoling myself in this soup of political awfulness and despondency, I turn to the music I’ve been listening to. This is a selection from the albums I’ve bought. As always, I’ve also been getting a lot of pleasure from regularly tuning into Something More and feasting on all the loveliness and oddities Tim Shiel digs up.

Let’s start with a British band, Arthur Beatrice, to remind us that good and beautiful things still happen in Britain. Their album Keeping the Peace came out at the end of May and I’ve been playing it a fair amount, and would have played it even more if I weren’t constantly assailed with other brilliant music I want to listen to. (And if I didn’t sometimes turn the music off and try to concentrate on something else, such as riding my bike without dying under the wheels of a bus.) In style they’re similar to London Grammar, but more dramatic and emotional. Listen to this single and get swept up by how the music takes off just after 2:00.

Why We Run are a band from Sydney who’ve just released their debut album. A debut it may be, but it’s an incredibly mature and subtle record, full of the kind of songs that wriggle under your skin and stay there. In an age of deliberate recreations of 70s and 80s styles and self-conscious genre alignments, they don’t have obvious affiliations, just a lovely, integrated sound, writing that’s musically varied without hitting you on the head with it (they have songs in compound and triple time as well as the standard 4/4, and the song in the clip below goes into 7/8 near the end)* and, ahem, a really cute drummer. (I’m banking on Ken not reading this.)

N.B. The cute drummer is Ed Prescott, who also makes music as Edward Deer. I think he must be a good deal older than he looks. He looks about 22, which to be honest is too young for me, but one shouldn’t be narrow.

While we’re on things with ‘Run’ in the title, I’m also enjoying a new electronic album of that name by Olaf Stuut, whom I heard of because he remixed a track by Floex, who is another of my enthusiasms this year. I particularly like the title track with its interesting vocal effect (heavy autotune?) and the way it moves chords around over a constant bass note, and then changes the bass under otherwise constant chords – I enjoy the tension and suspensions that creates.

On Thursday I’m going to The Button Factory with my friend Tara to see Ta-Ku and Wafia. I loved Wafia’s gorgeous EP of late last year and now she has collaborated with Ta-Ku on another EP that will be out in August (I know it says 24th June in the article I’ve linked to, but it’s August on my iTunes pre-order). In preparation I’ve been listening to Ta-Ku’s album from last year, Songs to Make Up To. The style is far more R & B than I’d normally go for and I’m enjoying an excursion beyond my core genres of rock, alt-pop and electronica. On this track I especially like the coda at 4:25 where vocal layerings give way to a delicate piano phrase over a deep, moody drum’n’bass line.


*The 7/8 passage was the suggestion of a certain Wouter De Backer. He has fingers in a lot of pies (how unhygienic of him). If only he would finish another pie of his own…**

**Especially as De Backer means The Baker – but then he hates to do anything half-baked. I’ll stop now, shall I.


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