The hottest month on record since the oppression that was July 1999, the heat finally broke today. This mix was made under high heat and higher humidity, though, and it's definitely a bit crazy. After trying to make all the mixes thus far work thematically as a whole, here's a bunch of songs — mostly new — that I really like. My only criteria being that the segueways not be too jarring.
Cover art this week is by D. Crane of Seattle's amazing BOAT who have appeared on multiple Summer Fridays mixes in the past. Truly an honor. Dave's a vegetarian, I wonder if the dog knows it's just asparagus and eggplant under the grill cover. BOAT are working on a new album and graduate degrees as we speak. Without further salivation.
- Versus – Invincible Hero
- Al Green – I'm Glad You're Mine
- Alex Kemp – I'm on Your Side
- Papas Fritas – The Way You Walk
- Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep
- The High Llamas – Rollin'
- Summer Camp – Jake Ryan
- The Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
- The Clientele – Jerry
- The Rolling Stones – Monkey Man
- Flamin' Groovies – You Tore Me Down
- The Electric Bunnies – I Swear I'll Never Let You Go
- Charlotte Hatherley – Bastardo
- Wet Illustrated – Born Stoked
- The Car is on Fire – Cherry Cordial
- Disappears – Magics
- Surf City – Crazy Rulers of the World
- Dukes of Stratosphear – My Love Explodes
It doesn't bear repeating but…No shuffling. If you do this mix will make even less sense than it already does. Liner notes after the jump.
Versus – Invincible Hero
Love it when bands come back after a very prolonged break and are just as good their initial run, or even better. Last time that happened was with The Go-Betweens' Friends of Rachel Worth. And here's Versus, a band whose reformation you couldn't really say the world was clamoring for, back after 15 years and damn if their new album, On the Ones and Threes, isn't maybe the best thing they've ever done. Violin, which in the wrong hands can make you sound like Slade or The Wonder Stuff, is a wonderful addition to their still-fierce sound. Listen to the whole album over at Merge's website.
Al Green – I'm Glad You're Mine
Even his sad songs make you feel better, though this isn't one of them. From I'm Still in Love With You which has my favorite cover art of any of his albums. In a white suit, in a white wicker chair, in a white room, looking totally The Man. Beyond his heart-melting delivery and great songs, I think the drums sounds and string arrangements were the secret to Al's success.
Alex Kemp – I'm on Your Side
In the early '90s, Alex Kemp fronted twee folk pop band Small Factory that released a string of great singles and an equally-terrific debut album, I Do Not Love You. They made a disappointing second album then broke up. Kemp and drummer Phoebe Summersquash (who I still see around Williamsburg every now and again) then formed the Godrays who tried to rock and it sounded forced. Not many cared. After many years, Kemp is back with his first solo record that borders on dance music. Definitely groovy. But, like those early Small Factory singles, he's found a style suited perfectly to his voice which is a little hoarse, a little sad. Highly recommended.
Papas Fritas – The Way You Walk
Contemporaries of Small Factory, and just as cute, Papas Fritas made the transition from cutesy mid-fi indiepop to a slicker, more commercial sound without losing their charm. They never quite made it happen though, despite great album after great album, and 20-something idealism gave way to 30-something reality. Right after (or right before, it's fuzzy) the band broke up, this song got used in a gum commercial which kind of ruined it for me for a while, but you can't keep a good song down.
Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep
I think Edwyn Collins' Losing Sleep is my most-anticipated album of 2010 that I haven't already got my mitts on. It's the first he's made since almost dying (twice!) of a brain hemorrhage in 2005 and features a Who's Who of guest musicians, from Johnny Marr and Roddy Frame to the Cribs and the Drums and more. (Yes, I know Marr is currently a Crib but he deserves separate recognition.) And judging by the title track we've got here, it's gonna be a corker. His last album, Home Again, was nice in a quiet reflective way but Edwyn's at his best when he's belting it out.
The High Llamas – Rollin'
We haven't had a High Llamas album since 2007's Can Cladders, which this jaunty little number is from. All their songs pretty much sound alike, given Sean O'Hagan works with a limited sonic palate. But those pictures are always pretty. His arrangement skills are unparalleled and highly in demand elsewhere, which may explain lack of new material. Meanwhile, say hi to the rivers and mountains.
Summer Camp – Jake Ryan
I got all excited when i saw the title of this song, hoping it was going to be all about the Sixteen Candles. Maybe it is but they lyrics, from what I can tell, are just of the general lovelorn type. About the band. Jeremy Warmsley is part of the new London folk scene that gave up Laura Marling, Emmy the Great, Mumford and Sons, and more. His material is a little more produced, a little less strictly folk. Clearly he has fallen for the American beach scene and this collaboration with Elizabeth Sankey is him dabbling in chillwave. You're not fooling anyone with those Wayfarers, Warsmley! We see that acoustic guitar hidden under those beach blankets! Nah, this is good.
The Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Hey, this new Arcade Fire record is pretty good! At this point they're so popular — playing multiple nights at Madison Square Garden — it's cool to dislike them and, to be honest, I probably won't be listening to this album tons, but The Suburbs is kinda reeled in for these guys where they could've gone even more bombastic. And this, which is almost '80s synthpop, is unlike anything they've ever done before (and unlike anything else on the LP).
The Clientele – Jerry
Like the High Llamas, you pretty much know what you're going to get with a new Clientele record but Alasdair MacLean and the band just keep getting better at it. The song mentions August heat and it's got that feeling, but the Clientele always keep one eye on Autumn. And no, this week's mix is not sponsored by Merge. Pure happenstance.
The Rolling Stones – Monkey Man
A little bait and switch here, as this one starts off all regal with that piano and then just drops effortlessly into the Stones groove. Amidst the filth, Mick offers up this tip for brightening up leftovers: "I'm a cold Italian pizza / could use a lemon squeeza."
Flamin' Groovies – You Tore Me Down
From same album as "Shake Some Action" (the name of the album too) Flamin' Groovies were a band out of time, making killer psych pop garage in an era of flared trousers and horrible earth-tone clothes. This LP and Teenage Head are must-owns.
The Electric Bunnies – I Swear I'll Never Let You Go
Further proof of Florida's indie pop rennaisance. From Miami but they sound Swedish. This is the b-side from their new single on Sacred Bones.
Charlotte Hatherley – Bastardo
Cautionary tale from onetime Ash bassist set to a ridiculously catchy tune. One night stand leads to stolen guitar…this has to be a true story. A silly song but it's a definite bounce-around-the-room number.
Wet Illustrated – Born Stoked
Pals of the Fresh & Onlys (recorded by their Tim Cohen), this is Wet Illustrated's joyous debut single. Kinda Kiwi, kinda Jacuzzi Boys-ish, all good.
The Car is on Fire – Cherry Cordial
Answering the question, "I wonder if indie rock exists in Poland?" Of course it does, and I like it. Now just come to NYC and play Greenpoint. However, can we declare a moratorium on "…on Fire" bands? One per country.
Disappears – Magics
Badass psych-Kraut from Chicago who knocked me on the floor when I saw them at Union Pool earlier this summer. Holy crap! I'm not sure the magic quite translates to wax, but their new album, LUX, is pretty damn good and sound better the louder you crank it. New album, GUIDER, is already in the can and should be out early 2011. Meanwhile, pray they play your town soon.
Surf City – Crazy Rulers of the World
I like imagining this song title is also a coffee table book, showcase curious yardsticks and wacky tape measures from the far-flung corners of our planet. I know that's not what it's about. Surf City are a new New Zealand band that clearly worships their country's indie rock past. After what seems like forever, these cats are finally getting around to releasing their debut album, Kudos, out in September.
Dukes of Stratosphear – My Love Explodes
A collaboration between XTC and producer John Leckie (who claims this is his favorite job), it was a goof to recreate the psychedelic/garage records they loved. Released on April Fools Day 1985, some people actually thought the mini-LP The 25 O'Clock was a lost nugget (sorry) from the era. Picking apart the sonic references is part of the fun, but this being XTC it was genuinely good in it's own right.