Bloxx are described in their bio as a “4-piece indie band from London”. True enough but what they really are is a f*cking great “4-piece indie band from London”. The situation “Coke” relates is full of frustration, regret, and resignation, but it’s all enveloped in a swirling, sticky, swampy guitar line ( which reminded me for a second of the ravishing “Slide Away” by Oasis), and blessed with a singalong chorus, and as such, is nearly impossible to evict from your head once you’ve heard it.
Here’s a little “Coke” live, and yeah, it’s really, really good :
I’m a sucker for “Right On’s” in a pop song. The best ones in history ever, live within the intro to Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On” and they are love. Which brings us here to Mulch’s “Baby Blue”, which has a generous helping of them, and exudes earnest warmth, love, and confusion about family and the universe in the most tuneful way possible. In addition, it also possesses the most bitchin’ guitar break.
“Sand Dunes” (the other track above) is a lo-fi amalgamation of Prince, Shuggie Otis, and Brian Wilson. It’s a little demented, a little romantic, and has more hooks than a tackle box ( Okay, I sincerely apologize for that last bit but it’s true). To summarize, like “Baby Blue”, it’s pretty damn good.
Please enjoy this seven minute acoustic ballad by eccentric musical genius Momus from 1987, featuring an endless stream of death references from history, myth, literature, film, and real life (circa 1987 that is, shout out to then potential nihilists Reagan and Gorbachev). How he’s managed to make this laundry list of darkness, and fatalism sound wistful, romantic, and melodic continues to boggle my mind to this day. It’s disconcerting… and utterly beautiful.
Oh yeah. This is some fine and glossy pop, festooned with a bit of boogie guitar, and a heavenly vocal that I swear sounds like Judee Sill, semi-mysterious, revered 70’s singer/songwriter of all people. Anyway, all of this together makes for a pretty heavenly sound, and a welcome new entry into the pop church hymn book.
And here’s the aforementioned Judee Sill to have a listen to if you haven’t before. She remains forever unbelievable, and otherworldly.
Okay so, a bit late to this party, but this is too pretty not to spread the word about. This track appeared on Fire to the Stars Keep You Safe EP back in 2014, and was then included on the band’s 2016 Made of Fire album, so it’s been lurking around for a bit…but we digress. All that needs to be said is that it’s a beauty, somehow managing to be both funereal and pop, starting as a slow dirge dressed in black, with a keening vocal, then suddenly turning the corner onto a sunlit street, courtesy of a beautiful guitar led hook. And while it brings to mind both Patti Smith, and Marianne Faithfull in parts , the glorious spectre of Stevie Nicks hangs over the whole thing, like the dark, dancing around the fire Stevie, the one that consumes all of us earthly beings during the last minute of “Gold Dust Woman”.
Thinking about the construction of “Wholesale Slaughter” led me on a typically geeky tangent. Specifically, I began contemplating the ascent of the 1982 song “Ghosts” by Japan. It was a morose, skeletal dirge that was about as far from a pop song as you could get, yet somehow, beyond all reason or logic, it managed to reach the top 5 in the UK charts that year ( have a listen below, and you’ll see what I mean).
Japan, starring singer/ songwriter, and still legend David Sylvian, were the thinking fangirl’s band of choice back then, but still, would it even be possible for pop this dark, weirdand slippery to rise to those kind of heights again ? Hmmm, I wonder. I’m thinking our collective lack of patience, introspection and empathy makes it pretty unlikely that an oddball like “Ghosts” will ever be a “hit” at that scale again ( though I remain hopeful because hey, you gotta). Still, love the idea that it was so mega and it remains a properly lovely weirdo tune.
This jangles sweetly, swiftly and ever so desperately, and is not a million miles away from 80’s babes Aztec Camera, from the Roddy Frame-esque vocal, right down to the the romantic optimism of the title…which is all to say it’s a bit of a throwback and is eminently lovable.
Here’s a baby fruit bat just because. Also here are a couple of shiny new playlists featuring some handsome September songs, plus a couple of rediscovered oldies that are more than ready to get immersed in. They are unusually hefty because hey, it’s been a good month ! As usual there’s some stuff that is only on Soundcloud, and some that is only on Spotify, so there are playlists for each to catch all the raindrops.
I was working my very first summer job at the “One Hour Photo Lab” wearing a blue lab coat the first time I heard the System. Just doing my ordinary shift, mixing a huge vat of film developing chemicals (not fun), with the radio on when “Promises Can Break”, their new single off the X-Periment album came bursting out of the junky boombox we had there. The song was soul, yeah, but it was fueled by a fat synth, so it sounded kind of different, modern. It also featured a dizzying hook and downright swoon-worthy ascending vocal line. I was instantly in love. I went and bought the album from which it came, X-Periment, the very next day and discovered that track was the tip of the iceberg and that the whole thing was full of tunes with lush electronic heartbeats and everyone sounded like a single.
The band itself consisted of David Frank and Mic Murphy w/assistance from Paul Pesco and their singular, hard-earned moment in the sun came with their 4th album, Don’t Disturb This Groove whose title track was a mega-hit and is still justifiably beloved today (with over 2 million Spotify plays and counting, not bad). Now while that album is pretty fine, the bands charms and gifts shine the brightest on the aforementioned X-Periment, and it’s follow-up The Pleasure Seekers. Both feature plush, melodic, electro-soul pop of the highest order, all melodic, edgy, anxious and emotional, and are absolutely worth seeking out. And with that let’s raise a glass to these guys, the true pioneers of electro-soul, they still deserve a lotta love and all of our ears.
Have a listen/look at these sweet things:
And here are the X-Periment and The Pleasure Seekers albums on Spotify if you wanna go deeper:
I pray for records like this on a regular basis. Specifically, the kind where reggae, pop, and post punk tightly snake around each other, and make you completely forget what year you’re living in. “Lemons” spiritual father is “Ghost Town” by the Specials, while the soul of Slits legend, Ari Up, is living, and breathing inside of Mina’s ace vocal…which is to say, it’s a bit of a classic. Oh, and one more thing ! : there’s a nod of honor to Smiley Culture preceding the song in the video, and so if you haven’t done it yet, please check out our piece on his wondrous creations under “Lost 80’s” in Topics section of this very blog. You won’t regret it.
Remember when when Madonna was making classic, boundary pushing singles at every turn ? Big, fat pop records that you couldn’t get out of your head ? And then we hit the 2000’s and she wasn’t ? It’s still sad and disappointing….well, meet Baum, and allow her to redress the balance, and pull us into the pop future. She is bitchin’ and unapologetic. There’s a real raw depth, and assertiveness to her singing ( and songs for that matter) that kicks the asses of all the pop queens lurking in the top 10 these days. And with that, here are 2 shining stars to share. “Hot Water” is an infectious, sinewy, candy coated groover that gets bigger by the second. Then comes “First”, a ballad, featuring a world weary, sultry, I’m throwing up my hands vocal, within a tune that sounds like some long lost Prince ballad from the late 80’s, married to an early D’Angelo record, and I can’t think of a higher compliment to pay than that.