Koalas “Home Heart”

Admittedly one of the first things that came to mind upon hearing this was T’Pau’s “Heart  and Soul” ( 80’s cheese classic), which is no bad thing. And the crooning at the end of the track brought to mind Simon LeBon ( Duran Duran) saving prayers ’til the morning after. And so to summarize, this is a pretty fine slice of fat 80’s style synth pop, that tips it’s hat to all the right places, and faces.

Blessings from the Beach Boys…

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Here’s a geeky question for you. Ready ?…because I’m telling you it’s really geeky. Okay, so what would your “dream band” sound like ? The one that would encapsulate everything you love in the musical universe in every way ? Vocals, sound, songs, everything. I love hearing people’s answers to this because they are often weird as hell, simultaneously awesome and distressing. I’ve spent (too) many waking hours pondering this question and know without question that my mythical band would involve ’70s era Chaka Khan or Gladys Knight fronting the Beach Boys circa 1966-1973. It shouldn’t surprise that I’m still waiting for this unicorn to arrive. Okay, I had a false alarm a few years back when Laura Mvula first came onto the scene. She had the voice and there were some Brian Wilson-esque flourishes production-wise on her debut LP both of which were enough to raise my childish hopes for a second…but no, as sweet as it was in parts, it just wasn’t it. And so, in the interim, I’ve had to make do with other stuff . Maybe “make do” is a bad way to put it as there have been a whole lotta beautiful, singular songs that have surfaced over recent years by a new generation of artists that have been touched by that Wilson genius ( not just Brian’s but Dennis’s too). Songs that proudly wear their Pacific Ocean saturated hearts on their sleeves.

Here’s a playlist called, “Beach Boy-esque” and I ask that you forgive me on that title. It’s been in my iTunes with that name for ages because basically, that’s what every song in it is. It’s full of tracks that have that influence, that feel, that signature Wilson thing and is suitable for both extended driving excursions or solitary sessions of introspection in your room (where else). There are some truly beautiful things out there so have a listen and hey, if anyone out there has any recommendations, I wanna know a.s.a.p. !

The Beach Boy-esque Playlist:

p.s. The playlist doesn’t include Lewis Taylor’s The Lost Album which is basically the sound of a one man British-Soul-Beach Boys. This is because I insist you listen to the whole thing. It is ridiculously, mindblowing-ly gorgeous.

Wavy ID “Every Day”

This is peculiarly hypnotic, as in, was compelled to play it roughly 5 times in a row after first listen. It’s a mournful, lush thing that absolutely smacks of 1985, with an early Prince-style synth, and Green Gartside-esque vocal ( he of Scritti Politti)…yet despite that, it sounds like a demo, so there you go.

Le Pie “He Gave You a Smile”

Le Pie’s love for the legendary girl groups of the Sixties is brazen, and blatant, and this track, off her new “Sad Girl Theory ” EP, is one shining, handsome homage. With the “Be My Baby” drumbeat as it’s foundation, it somehow manages to be melodic, desperate, and laid back, all at the same time. Good, good,good.

Curve “Coast is Clear” (1991)

Toni Halliday of Curve was not a warm, sweet girl next door. No. She was all mean and scary and beautiful like Fairuza Balk in “The Craft”. This persona was to me best exemplified during a show Curve played at Irving Plaza, in NYC, back in the ’90s. In between songs a guy predictably yelled out “marry me !” to her. Toni, the human embodiment of a raven, stood at the mike, totally deadpan, then said and I quote “In your fuckin’ dreams mate“. It was uttered with such hostility I still have nightmares about it. “Coast is Clear” is a chilly, cold, wondrous piece of alternative shoegazery, is basically the blueprint for most songs by Garbage and is just the tip of the iceberg as far as Curve is concerned. Definitely check out their first 2 studio albums ” Doppelgänger”, and ” Cuckoo”, as well as “Pubic Fruit”, a compilation of their early EP’s. It’s all scary good.

Camp Howard “Juice”

Pretty heavenly harmonizing enveloped in a slightly post-punk-ish groove, yes, this is a handsome thing. It’s also slightly reminiscent of the Split Enz classic “One Step Ahead”,  all understatement, and melodic twists, and turns, and that’s a fine thing to be sure.

Sneaky Boy “Turpentine”

Can’t go wrong with a song named after a flammable liquid ( see: Miranda Lambert “Kerosene”)…but seriously, this is short, sweet, and tuneful, features the most gentle of vocals, and chugs along with a real grace.

War “City Country City” (1973)

Here’s a show of love from Guest Rediscover-er, Andy Moreno, of the Brooklyn Food Monkey blog. Take it away Andy….

Even though War’s “The World is a Ghetto”, was the #1 selling album in 1973, I don’t feel they’ve received their deserved accolades: they were, and are, a treasure. Recently I’ve been revisiting key albums from my brother’s 70’s record collection, ones that moved me enough to ultimately include them in my own pile.   He’s 68 now, and battling liver cancer. This ritual helps me to feel close to him while examining that time from an older perspective.

Musically, the 70’s had so many faces, emotions, and ways of mirroring the world.  Wherever you were in your life, there were bands to perfectly portray that place.  War’s instrumental track “City Country City” is an excellent example of their moody variety of musicianship.  Like a song recalling better days, Lonnie Jordan’s organ gives a gorgeous sundowning feel, before he lights it all on fire. That pairs just right with Lee Oskar’s slightly somber, and hypnotic, genius harmonica chorus.  A sax solo was never so cool, with conga drums guiding you through it.  In this song, you hear all the energy of youth, as reality and struggles pour in. For me, this multi-cultural blend of Latin, funk and jazz especially in both this album, and “All Day Music” (1971), perfectly echo the bleakness, and grace of my Midwest factory hometown.

Nice Place “It’s Pretend”

“It’s Pretend”, jangles, and shines, is a little bit power pop, and a little bit Postcard ( Scottish label that was home to Aztec Camera, and Orange Juice in the 80’s). Also check out “Her Face” from last year above, for some joyful Suede like glitter, and romance. Make no mistake, these guys know their way around a tune.

Colourbox “The Moon is Blue” ( 1985)

Colourbox were an unusual, esoteric pop band that were on the 4ad label, and put out a grand total of 1 full length album, in 1985. It was a absolutely a pop record, with proper songs, and ear candy, but it also had an electronic tinge, and featured some nascent sampling experiments. It was unquestionably different, and sounded nothing like the other stuff that was big at the time ( that being Duran Duran, Culture Club and the like). The band consisted of Martyn, and Steven Young, who later went onto to fame, as part of M/A/A/R/S, creators of the massive “Pump up the Volume”, and a vocalist by the name of Lorita Grahame.

I stumbled upon them after reading a review of this song back in the day, their new single from summer of ’85, and bought it solely based on the positive review, without hearing it. When I did, I just fell in love, and couldn’t stop playing it. It sounds like the Ronettes in outer space, a big lush, melodic, and desperate waltz. And so here’s to it, 32 years later, and still a gorgeous thing.