One of my desires for the new year was to listen to new (or new-to-me) music. Thanks to friends who answered my plea on various social platforms, I've now got heaps! And what's the point of enjoying all this music without passing it on? Here are 10 tunes you might enjoy.
In the past I've asked for recs for artists or albums, but this time I asked for one song only. This has worked out much better for me, and I've been able to create myself a little playlist/mix tape. I haven't included all the recommendations here - not because I didn't like the songs, but because there were just too many, and some of them didn't quite fit with the vibe of this particular playlist.
Across the Blue Ridge Mountains - Rising Appalachia
This playlist starts slow and simple, with this abridged version of "Across the Blue Ridge Mountains" in two voice a cappella style. You can really hear the Scottish/Irish folk heritage here. You can find a live version with more story verses on YouTube - or buy the Sails of Self album.
The West Coast of Clare - Dervish (feat. Dave Gray)
Leaning into the Irish folkishness! I loved the arrangement in "The West Coast of Clare". It sounds so simple yet each instrument weaves me through and beyond the lyrics into wistful imagination. (The title is a line from Loreena McKennitt's "The Old Ways", which I think makes an interesting conversation partner to this song.) Find out more about Dervish on their website.
The Wild Rover - Lankum
While "The Wild Rover" is a traditional folk song, the arrangement is not - it's very contemporary. The sharpness, the drone, the assonance, the slow build of instrumentation and intensity. The video is also disconcerting and I like it! More about Lankum, including tour dates, on their website.
Maalie - Erland Cooper
The landscape link to the last video is hard to ignore here! "Maalie" is from Erland Cooper's 2018 album Solan Goose, part of what appears to be an ongoing love letter to Orkney, his home. This gorgeous short piece builds from the gentleness of a still morning to the exuberance of birds, clouds, wind, sky. Read an interview with Erland Cooper here, or visit his website to explore his other projects.
Nautilus - Anna Meredith
"Nautilus" was such a surprise and a delight! As with the previous piece, this explores repetition - this time over a chromatic scale, with a simple bassline and driving rhythm. It's such a big sound, and I am so here for the tuba - who knew?! It's worth listening to the whole mini-concert if you're interested ("Nautilus" is the first song). Anna Meredith's website.
Cosmic Ratio - Enrico Sanguiliano
Oh yeah, we've been heading here, and now it's time for some proper techno! "Cosmic Ratio" was recommended as a "wake up", and it definitely is - it makes me so happy I can't stop moving. More from Enrico Sangiuliano here.
Final Form - Sampa the Great
OK, let's get some lyrics back in the mix - and let's start with some particularly good ones. I love the energy of "Final Form", love the film clip and only have one criticism: I wish there was more of it! More about Sampa the Great (and this song) here and on her website.
Oh my god, speaking of film clips . . . As I said to the person who recommended "So Hot You're Hurting My Feelings", I am so distracted by the amazing crappy-90s-fantasy-TV-show aesthetic and weird dancing that I can hardly remember the song itself! Interview with Caroline Polachek here or check her website for tour dates.
The Dying Song - Montaigne
"The Dying Song" by Montaigne has been stuck in my head since I first heard it - such a bouncy, cheerful tune. The person who recommended it said it was a kind of Bollywood nihilism, and I'd say it's like Regina Spektor singing about playing Dungeons and Dragons, and I think these are both equally valid descriptions.
The Barrel - Aldous Harding
After this festival of energy, let's go out gentle and weird with "The Barrel". This one is my own cheeky recommendation, and another clip that's definitely worth watching. Also recommended: everything else Aldous Harding does, much of which you may be able to find through her website.
I hope you've found a song or two to enjoy here! If you fancy it, leave me a comment with a link to one song you're really into at the moment (yes, just one!) and let me know why you like it.
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