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Showing posts from December, 2016

Best of 2016 Mix Part 3 - Instrumental/Electronic/Spoken Word/Psych Pop

One last post before New Year's. This one rounds up some tunes mostly from the second half of the year. It turns out there was a lot of great instrumental music in there. Plus some other material that I think fits with that.

Enjoy and see you on the other side.

Fixity – Hungry clouds
Tortoise – The catastrophist
Elias Krantz – Patchwork Pt 1
Syrinx – Aurora spinray
Marielle V Jakobsons – Rising light
Cavern of Anti-Matter feat. Bradford Cox – liquid gate
Melt Yourself Down – Dot to dot
The Comet Is Coming – Space carnival
Dieterich & Barnes – Parasol gigante
Alien Ensemble – Skeleton dance
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Arthropoda
Matthew Bourne – Keighley
Qluster – Glasperlenspiel
Nathan Bowles – Chiaroscuro
Lambchop – Flotus
Iggy Pop, Tarwater & Alva Noto – As Adam early in the morning/I am he that aches with love
Rothko – A young fist curled around a cinder for a wager
Wymond Miles – Protection
C Duncan – Nothing more
Weyes Blood – Generation Why
Cool Ghouls – When you…

Best of 2016 - Part 2: Pop/Soul/Indie

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Part 2 of this list, out of four in total, the others to follow in January. There will be another Best of Mix also over the next week, stay tuned to Mixcloud.

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1. Trashcan Sinatras – Let me inside (Or let me out)
A monumental year for fans of this treasured Scottish band. A new crowdfunded album, the wonderful Wild pendulum, possibly their best ever work, and tours in America and Europe.

And having seen them play live in November, the big insight (other than the obvious genius on show) was the sheer soulfulness of the songs. So yeah, top notch tunes and buckets of soul. I’ll take that any year.

http://theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.ie/2016/11/trashcan-sinatras-workmans-club-dublin.html

Track 14 in this playlist


2. Britta Phillips – One fine summer morning (from the album Luck or magic, Double Feature)
Another artist I saw play live in 2016. In these thoughts from last June, I was zoning in on the fact th…

Best of 2016 - Part 1: Folk/Baroque/Orchestral/Chamber Pop

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Musical moments and memories from the year gone by. In no particular order. Enjoy.

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1. North Sea Radio Orchestra – Dronne (The Household Mark)
Another sublime set of tunes from Craig Fortnam and company which combines folk, kosmische and avant garde classical strands, taking the legacy of former band Cardiacs into fascinating new territory.

Woodwind and strings are strong and strident against a hushed motorik rhythm on centrepiece song ‘The British road’, a wonderfully sharp state of the nation analysis of Brexit era Britain – when will they learn to fight like our men, how can I rise if you don’t fall.

These poised swooping strings, along with the cooing woodwind, the signature guitar style of Craig Fortnam – courtly, playful, lithe – buzzing synths and the great pure singing of Craig’s wife Sharon against Craig’s reedier tones provide the core elements throughout.

Essential food for the ears, the heart …

Ex Reyes – Bad Timing (Memphis Industries)

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A sublime psych soul cut with deep roots coming from Prince and Curtis Mayfield and others.

Horns. Bending melodies. Ascending strings. Wonderful bass driven backbeats.

It’s 3 and a half minutes long but feels like a full blown symphony.

If you need any other reasons to be endeared, it seems to be a song about love and dancing.

One of the year’s essential sounds for me.

C Duncan – Nothing more (from the album The midnight sun, Fat Cat Records)

A late entry into my end of year thinking but not to worry as this is an album that needs time to smoulder.

The opening song has a gorgeous sweep if you take a minute – banks of devotional voices, a surrounding sense of mystery and a graceful but insistent melody.

And in the end a kind of soulfulness, a reaching out, perhaps an effort to alleviate the weight, underneath the sublime minimalist stylings.

There's something deeply existential about this sound but in the end it is simply transcendant.

The Midnight Sun by C Duncan

Cory Hanson – The unborn capitalist from limbo (Drag City)

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A sweet left turn from the Wand frontman into gorgeous string soaked psych folk territory.

With a voice knowing like early Marc Bolan but vocal delivery straight and earnest like Nick Drake.

Beautiful things that will stick with you from this record.

The brilliant slow build of the title track, with a string playout that is balm for the soul.

The soft shoe boogie, strident string section and killer up and down vocal melody of ‘Replica’.

The hushed major seventh mood of ‘Violent moon’, with plaintive cello accompaniment.

The line “ordinary people took my mother from me” amid a string section throbbing one minute and soaring the next, irresistible but emotionally fraught.

The swooning melancholy of the highlighted vocal on ‘The garden of delight’.

The all round intrigue and arms length psych feel of the set.

A wonderful wonderful piece of work.

Howe Gelb – A book you’ve read before (From the album Future Standards, Fire Records)

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A captivating tune from Howe Gelb as he goes back (to the future?) to a piano trio format and back to the atmosphere of the standards he grew up with.

He also hooks up here with Lonna Kelley, often time associate of Gelb’s and duetter on ‘Pen to paper’ from the last Giant Sand record, Heartbreak Pass, one of the most glorious vocal performances ever committed to record I still believe.

There’s a narcotic effect to this dual vocal, sleepy and late night. But though steeped in later years nostalgia, there’s a satisfying knottiness to the lyric that keeps pulling you back to wide awake.

Love was just a just reward
just not the thing that your heart could ill afford


A beautiful intimate late night experience, this.

Track 1 in this playlist


Weyes Blood – Front row seat to Earth (Mexican Summer)

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Welcome to the captivating, transfixing world of Weyes Blood.

Two words have cropped up a lot in reviews of this album – stately and compelling – and both are valid.

Stately because there’s an unrushed and a certain and deliberate stance in the delivery of these songs. If stately makes you think cosily endearing, think again, because there’s also a confrontational character to them which makes sense in light of her previous work with Ariel Pink and Jackie O-Motherfucker.

Compelling because those very qualities, when added to the glorious voice of Natalie Mering, make the songs impossible to turn away from.

The melodies soar, taking flight on her voice. In its lower register it has a little of the stoicism of Karen Carpenter, a comparison point which only adds pathos and poignancy to the overall sound. Listen to the way she sings “do you need me like I need you” on ‘Do you need my love’. Or the chorus of ‘Generation Why’, “Y-O-L-O why”, which could easily be hilarious in…

Playlist 427 - Dec 13 2016 - Christmas Special

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A seasonal collection that hopefully steers clear of cliché.

There's still room for nostalgia in the shape of Dylan Thomas who is a master of memoir reshaped into bursting childhood surrealism.

And earnest goodwill in the shape of Sufjan Stevens, albeit in bonkers fairytale fashion.

In between there's a healthy dose of scepticism - Gruff Rhys; cautionary tales - Howe Gelb; and ominous poetry - Patti Smith.

The bulk of the set could probably be summed up as the triumph of form over content. Cocteau Twins, shimmering and shoegazing. Low, being Low, marvellous. Darlene Love's wall of sound. Arthur Lyman, Hawaiian sounds brought to bear.

And the swooning orchestral soundtrack of Mikael Tariverdiev, just released.

Happy Holidays.



The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


www.theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/theundergroundofhappiness
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 427
Tues Dec 13 2016 - Christmas Spec…

Playlist 426 - Dec 6 2016

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A mix and match this week, some Best of 2016, some new music (ahead of the Christmas Special next week).

The former.
Entrance, beautiful sweeping orch pop.
Weyes Blood, a monumental noise with a voice deceptively smooth.
North Sea Radio Orchestra, a wonderful album of shifting avant folk music.

The latter.
Nadia Reid, back with a new album in the new year, a lovely foretaste.
Whyte Horses, reinterpreting their album with a 400 strong children's choir.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen, soundtrack music with great propulsion.

And a classic from Super Furry Animals, currently on tour.

More on these pages.



The Underground of Happiness
uplifting pop music of every creed


www.theundergroundofhappiness.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/theundergroundofhappiness
Twitter: UndergroundOfHappy

Playlist 426
Tues Dec 6 2016
11.00am-12.00pm
(repeated on Tuesdays 8.30pm)
UCC 98.3FM
listen live on the web at www.ucc.ie/983fm
*listen back to this show here
goo.gl/Et6rTO


Playlist
Peaking Ligh…