The New Cue #282 May 5: The Hives, Alison Goldfrapp, African Head Charge, Ezra Williams, BC Camplight, Holy Tongue, Body Type, Fred Again...Brian Eno, Four Tet
Includes a free passive-aggressive intro!
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Here's a playlist, I should’ve written this intro before lunch really, I’m feeling a bit groggy and confused, the beans were probably an excessive addition:
Enjoy the edition,
Ted, Niall and Chris
An Album To Blow Your Mind #1
The mercurial Philly singer-songwriter’s epic fifth, as chosen by one half of Champs.
Isle Of Wight duo Champs recently released their fourth record Ride The Morning Glass. It’s the best effort yet from brothers Michael and David Champion, an album that continues the shift in sound they initiated on 2019’s The Hard Interchange, where their melodic folk-pop was imbued with synth-y, psychedelic shades and 80s-pop flourishes. They look very cold on the cover though, get some proper coats lads!:
They’re also more freaky evidence of how much good music is coming out of the Isle Of Wight even though the place is literally the size of a car park. One of them, Michael, played bass on Wet Leg’s debut. I bet everyone on the Isle Of Wight did something on that album though. Terry the shopkeeper played triangle. Bill the bus driver on keys. “Don’t forget to let your Aunt Tracey to play tambourine on Chaise Longue because she’s got an in for ferry discount,” that sort of thing. Anyway, I’m getting distracted. Here’s the excellent new Champs record:
And here’s David on his mind-blower selection, Kurt Vile’s Wakin On A Pretty Daze:
Wakin On A Pretty Daze (2013)
“I’d been a Kurt Vile fan since his early releases, so when Wakin on a Pretty Daze came out I was straight on it. It landed right between our first and second albums and came during a period when I was doing a fair bit of soul searching. I was living on the Isle of Wight at the time and fell into a real routine of sticking this album on and going for long walks around the island’s southerly downs.
It grabbed me on the first listen, and it’s never let go to this day. There was something I found hypnotic and deeply transportive about this album and the opening track hits you with a wave of all-encompassing warmth. It’s a message that everything is well, and that beauty resides in the smallest details of life if only you’d look.
I used to stomp along as this song ebbed and flowed through its different moods and I remember being struck by what a brave opening track it was for an album, coming out at over 10 minutes in length. It somehow manages to never drag – its instrumental sections never for a second feel indulgent or unengaging. For me, It’s the sound of a man using his mouth and his hands like some sort of conductor, channelling and broadcasting some divine musical truth, sent from an unknown dimension.
The album rolls and swells through moments of cock-sure swagger (KV Crimes) and whispering introspection (Too Hard). The record feels like a manifesto to the self – a snapshot of a man in a period of flux – and as a listener it feels like a privilege to have been granted access to it.
I’ve always been a huge fan of Vile’s lyrics. Within the playful wit and fourth wall-breaking stream of consciousness, lives a deeply naked candour. For me, his lyrics are some of the most honest I’ve ever heard, and he strikes me as an admirably uninhibited guy, happy to lay his soul bare to whoever wants to know. Like all my favourite writers, he steers clear of cliché or gratuitously decorative language and manages to say more in a few perfectly selected words than others could in a page.
His words are at points playfully and knowingly naïve and at others earth-shatteringly profound. I rarely have such a strong feeling that I fully comprehend the deeper meaning behind what is being communicated, even if it’s just in a few words.
KV’s guitar playing also really resonates with me. Mike and I both learnt guitar from a local folk master called Alan who taught us finger picking pretty much before anything else, so much of our music is routed in this style. I love KV’s use of picking and hammer-ons and his instinctive ear for a hook. This album is strewn with beautiful guitar melodies which dovetail perfectly with his vocal toplines. There’s such a rich, intricate, and beautiful maze of musicality running beneath his arresting vocals, which means you can revisit the album an almost infinite number of times before you’ve noticed everything.
The album recently celebrated its 10th birthday, and still feels as fresh as the day I first heard it. I tend to have a particularly low threshold for repeat listening, but there’s something about this album that always pulls me back in. Every listen takes me straight back to those same fields and those same spiralling ruminations of 2013.”
Absence making the heart grow fonder shouldn’t really work in music, but it does, because the world is stupid. A case in point is the return of The Hives this week, a band whose stock has been restored purely because they have done nothing for a while, as if a hugely important chapter in the How To Ensure Your Band Stay Relevant Once You’ve Got Wrinkles manual is the bit about how you need to do absolutely zilch for an extended. Like, nada. Don’t pick up your instrument. Don’t talk to your bandmates. Don’t go to the shop, you’ll ruin it, and you can’t go to the shop anyway because you’ve cut off all your income. Sit there, do nothing! And it actually works: the sharply-dressed garage-punk crew came back this week with the first track from their new album The Death Of Randy Fitzsimmons which sounds like everything they released during their early ‘00s heyday and up until their hiatus in 2012 – crooked rock riffs, thumping grooves, incisive yelping from frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist and a repetitive shouty chorus – and it’s absolutely brilliant, even though this is what they’ve always done. It's because the world is stupid. And this song, titled Bogus Operandi, is also a bit of stupid, which is why it’s so good.
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