Track of the Day 21/09/16- Cass McCombs: Low Flyin’ Bird.

Perhaps this isn’t the track of the album, in the context of Cass McCombs‘s splendid eighth record Mangy Love, his 1st release on the Anti Records label. However, in isolation it’s track of the day for its understated, ephemeral quality. It may soar past you and you’ll only glimpse it in your peripheral vision, but there’ll be something caught in your eye nevertheless.

McCartney’s influence leaves a indelible mark on the track, recalling the more pastoral side of his work, and it feels like the blood relative of XTC’s Ladybird, a track that no doubt has drunk from the same Beatles fountain. There’s a slight spike of Space Oddity too in the guitar noodlings and otherworldly chord scrapes that accompany McCombs’s affected vocals. 

It’d be interesting to see where McCombs draws his influences for this track,  as it brings to mind an interesting revelation in the Sodajerker podcast with Field Music. When asked if XTC shaped their sound, Peter Brewis doesn’t think so, but admits that he is  “probably influenced by some of the same things” that the cult Swindon band were influenced by. When he played drums for Sunderland post-punkers The Futureheads, their vocalist/guitarist Barry Hyde was a massive XTC fan. “I would say I was probably more influenced by being [in] The Futureheads, really.” says Brewis. 

It’s probably safe to bet you’ll get a more cryptic response from McCombs. In an interview with SF Weekly in 2013, he is asked if there’s “a kind of folly in being asked to account for [his] music or to explain it.” He responded with a quote he wrote down on his notebook: “To explain is to reason, which is an excuse, which is to bargain, which is an apology. And one should never apologise.” (He does cite John Lennon as an influence in the interview, but only to follow it up with a phrase like “We’re all built from the same stardust.”)

Whether McCombs will agree or not, this track could also fit neatly in the latter half of Skylarking, where the sun sets down, night falls, and you drift off into nothingness. It’s apt then that Low Flyin’ Bird is the less grounded of the tracks to feature on Mangy Love. Turn on, tune in, drop out…

 

 

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Track of the Day 20/09/16: Megadrive Lamborghini by Soccer96

For some odd reason, Soccer96’s name conjures memories of International Superstar Soccer 98, the stellar Nintendo 64 game. On its cover, former Dundee player Fabrizio Ravenelli looks sternly at Paul Ince, like a souped-up version of the Smith and Jones head-to-head sketch.  The track title for today’s track Megadrive Lamborghini fittingly references video games (of course there had to be some convoluted and tenuous link to the start of this blog post).

Soccer96 is the brainchild of Dan Leavers aka Danalogue and Max ‘Betamax’ Hallett, who are also two thirds of The Comet Is Coming (Melt Yourself Down‘s Shabaka Hutchings forms the final third). The latter band were nominated for this year’s Mercury Music prize with Channel The Spirits.

Megadrive Lamborghini distances itself from related acts The Comet is Coming and Melt Yourself Down. In fact, you’d be forgiven that Soccer96 has any association at all with Comet and MYD (well, based on this track certainly – the opening track for upcoming album As Above So Below sees us in similar territory) Megadrive..’s opening salvo of synths and claps is a frenzy of friendliness that would fit any mid-afternoon radio show. In the middle, it flirts with crazy video game blips that wouldn’t sound of place on a MYD record, but it’s just a brief flurry into that universe.

On their Bandcamp page, this London-based duo are described as transmitting  “epic synth-scapes over poly-rhythmic drums and infectious dance grooves in a brutal cocktail of tight electronica and the spontaneous energy of improvisation.” Well, this track certainly has a groove. Now excuse me, I’m going to dig out the N64 and play ISS98.

As Above So Below is out this Friday via Slowfoot Records 

 

Track of the Day (2 Oct 15) #4 Miles from Kinshasa – ‘IVRY’

When you Google ‘Miles from Kinshasa’, you’re reliably informed of the distance from your location to the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (it’s 4,335 miles from Dundee – I don’t live in Dundee. Darn location settings…)

No, I wasn’t sorting out my next holiday. It’s the moniker of a new artist from South London (not Dundee) who doesn’t like to be pigeonholed. On his Facebook page, Miles writes ‘Ha nice try.’ when describing the genre of his music. We’ll give it a try though when describing today’s Track of the Day ‘IVRY’. It’s zoned-out electro pop/R&B – there’s a bit of Boards of Canada with its punchy synth hook at the start, ticks of William Onyeabor with its playful guitar lick, and the auto-tuned vocals sound like Kayne West circa 808s & Heartbreak.

At the moment, the song is not available for download, but I’ll keep you posted as soon as it ‘drops’ on the ‘interweb’. Meanwhile, here’s his self-directed video…

Track of the Day (1 Oct 15) #3 Jamie Woon – ‘Sharpness’

From what I’ve heard so far from Jamie Woon, his upcoming album Making Time, looks like it’s gonna be a latecomer for album of the year. Other tracks like ‘Message’ and ‘Thunder’ wouldn’t sound out of place on Radio 2 – with meticulous production, tight hooks and velvety hooks from Woon, it would be an injustice if he doesn’t at least make a dent in the charts.

However, there’s enough experimentation and excitement which has caught the attention of hip tastemakers Annie Mac and Giles Peterson, so before you worry about Steve Wright singing over the end of Woon’s tracks on a weekday afternoon while farting about last night’s Bake Off, there’s enough street cred there to fill your boots.

‘Sharpness’ is a prime example of Woon’s slick but off-kilter R&B. The song has a seductive swagger which sounds like the backdrop to Prince and Omar heading to a trendy wine bar in London, on the pull and making the place a tad sleazier but cooler all the same.

Making Time is out on November 6th 2015 on Polydor

Track of the Day (30 Sept 15) #2 Shamir – ‘Call It Off’

Hailing from the heated desert of Las Vegas, Shamir Bailey (a.k.a. Shamir, for those who can’t bother saying surnames) released his hot debut album back in May. OK, it was a few months ago, granted, but this blog doesn’t boast about having its finger on the pulse (most music blogs and sites cite some effervescent, fat-free techno track as their catch of the day simply for its newness, when it’s really unforgettable noise that some producer from Croydon made from an empty Coke can and an iPhone app.

What makes it Track of the Day is its catchy hooks and synths that hop around a thumping house beat. The song’s also fully aware of its pop sensibilities in very much the same guise as Hot Chip‘s hook-laden singles.

His album ‘Ratchet’ is rather good too, which is out now on Godmode Music / XL Recordings

Track of the Day (29 Sept 15) #1 Love Ssega – ‘Minds’

Welcome to the first in a new blog series ‘Track of the Day’. Today’s track comes from Love Ssega.

I played this track on my radio show last week, and like the social media wizard that I am,  I tweeted Love Ssega that ‘Minds’ was dominating the airwaves all the way from the top of the Fife Free Press building in Kirkcaldy, Fife.

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Natually, this tweet made me warm more to the track, which is a blissful mix of funk, dance and indie which latches onto the tailcoat of summer’s final days and breezily drifts into autumn.

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His EP is out on 16th October on Hometown Records

Wallpaper Tune #6 – Errors: Slow Rotor

Apparently soul singer Alexander O’Neal turned to crack cocaine after appearing on Celebrity Big Brother. The best rehab would be to put him on a flight to Turkey, hit a cocktail bar somewhere in Oludeniz, drink a few Long Slows and bask in the brilliance of this Errors track, just to console him that everything will be fine.

‘Slow Rotor’ definitely evokes that summery 80s vibe O’Neal captured back in the day. However, it has enough edge and Scots-tinged spunk to deter it from blatant nostalgia. Vocals are beginning to creep more into the Glasgow band’s mainly instrumental repertoire, and sounds like a natural progression from their 3rd LP, Have Some Faith In Magic. Their 4th album, Lease Of Life (due March 23rd) should be a good ‘un.