This is the inaugural entry to a (hopefully) monthly series in which we lay out some of the music that we’ve been playing nonstop each month. For August we’ve selected twenty songs that have been keeping us going, with a bit of a mixed bag in terms of genre and mood. We feel this encapsulates what has been a bit of a turbulent time for us, with some pretty steep ups (launching the blog, which went better than we could’ve ever expected!) and downs (namely, lockdown in Aberdeen once again). We’ve made a Spotify playlist of our favourites for August that you can access here. These tunes will hopefully help put a spring in your step, just as they have for us. Below we’ve selected a few picks each to speak about in more detail, just showing what they’ve meant to us and any trivia we may have picked up about the artists.
Baxter Dury (ft Jason Williamson) – Almond Milk
Following the release of his new album, ‘The Night Chancers’, and a cold reminder that my scheduled gig to see Baxter Dury in Glasgow has been perpetually postponed, I’ve gone through a bittersweet journey through his discography. I’ve got to say there are so many songs that I could’ve picked for this spot as Baxter’s music is the perfect soundtrack for a regretful afternoon spent listening to music and thinking of better days. This song though, featuring Sleaford Mods own Jason Williamson, really is the ultimate Baxter Dury song. It’s got all the hallmarks of his unique combination of dulcet tones, up-tempo and thematic backing instrumentals and beautifully sung choruses from an unnamed female vocalist. The addition of Jason Williamson only sweetens the deal, with a characteristically abstract and witty verse closing off the track perfectly. Baxter’s late father, Ian Dury, would undoubtably be proud of his son’s musical achievements and this song really highlights the prowess of the ‘Prince of Tears’.
Dream Wife – Temporary
The cutting-edge trio are back again with their second album, refining their sound and finding a balance between punk and pop. Not many groups could manage such contrast, yet Dream Wife strike the nail on the head with ‘So When You Gonna…’ and have yet again made singling out one song of theirs a challenge in itself. For me, the track ‘Temporary’ is a beautiful note right in the middle of the album. I’ve got to admit I missed out on the initial buzz of Dream Wife as they flew under my radar with their debut, but I really enjoyed this recent album and this song showed a depth in their music to me that I did not immediately recognise. The political and socially aware lyrics of the album are a major reason why the band experience such popularity, clearly and concisely delivering punchy messages to listeners. In ‘Temporary’ though, there is a much more tender side on show, with beautiful lyrics exposing the raw emotion of the group’s work for all to see.
Crack Cloud – Ouster Stew
At this point it’s clear that I’ve singled out the more recent releases out of my ten total picks to speak about. Whilst artists like Joy Division, Björk and Pulp mean a lot to me and are brilliant, I thought I’d try shine a bit of a light on some of the talented musicians that are one the rise. Crack Cloud fit this description perfectly, as a group of exciting artists releasing music that is pretty original compared to some of the more beige music that tends to fill the charts each month. The group, based in Vancouver, recently released their sophomore record titled ‘Pain Olympics’. The album is a mishmash of styles, proving hard to pin down to any conventional genre which I imagine is intentional from the multimedia collective. Ouster Stew optimises this, standing out as a highlight from this album. Chaotic yet catchy, the tune has been stuck in my head since the album’s release back in July and I hope that you find its chanting, disorientating keys and sudden drum solo just as riveting.
Fontaines D.C. – You Said
There really isn’t anything more I can say about the significance of a second album that hasn’t been said a million times before, but based on the rough criteria that the aim is to both refine and expand your sound whilst avoiding being too formulaic then this album can be considered a resounding victory for Fontaines D.C.. A Hero’s Death is brooding and imposing, and the rowdy defiance of Dogrel has given way to a moody sound that revels in its forlorn emotions. Whether intentional or not it serves as the perfect soundtrack to a disappointing summer laid to waste by Covid-19. There are many standout tracks to choose from, among them the single and opening track I Don’t Belong as well as the furious and pained A Lucid Dream, but the one that takes the biscuit for me is You Said, which in my mind perfectly encapsulates the soul of this album: dejected, fatigued, but still full of determination.
Jayda G – Both of Us (Edit)
Aw man, this song. It’s been an earworm for me all summer. Somebody posted a clip on Facebook’s IOM group some while back of Jayda G’s story where a snippet of this song could be heard playing and the response was crazy – everybody in the comments wanted to know what it was: it had such an infectious energy. The video looked like it was in her studio so it was assumed to be an unreleased project, and the buzz began to hush down again. I largely forgot about it until it was played at a socially distanced garden party and I instantly recognised where it was from, and I’ve been playing it again and again ever since. It’s a huge piano-house track that perfectly delivers the kind of feeling you’d expect from any big house anthem, the type of resurgent joy that just takes over whenever its played and gets you two-stepping your troubles away. We can only dream of how this song would’ve sounded at all the cancelled festivals over the summer, but in place of that it serves as the perfect antidote to the worries of these trying times.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – No Come Down
The Brian Jonestown Massacre have been on my radar for a very long time and regularly pop up as a recommended artist that I should check out – I’m just surprised it has taken me this long to get round to getting my teeth into them. I decided to begin my foray into the band by checking out Their Second Majesties’ Second Request and I wasn’t disappointed. The album channels boot-cut 60s psychedelia as it jangles and swaggers to the mystic sounds of sitars and snaking percussion, and whilst the hypnotic track Anemone gets a lot of love I think the real jewel in the crown of this LP is No Come Down. The tune gets off to a sedated, slurry start before opening up into a resurgent and manic rhythm that makes you want to swing your head about. The lyrics and how they’re paired with the sound depict the sort of wild spiritual oscillations one would expect in the grips of psychedelic-induced paranoia, which is impressive for a song released 27 years after Woodstock.