A selection of songs we’ve come across over the past few weeks. Who they are, where we found them and what we make of them. Some old, some new, some well-known, some not-so-well known. All worth sharing with you. Get your lugs ’round these.
Amen Dunes – Miki Dora
Lovely stuff from American singer-songwriter Damon McMahon’s Amen Dunes. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of this lad or band ’till last week, but my life’s better for it already. Cool, laid-back and a great story to boot. Miki Dora was some kind of big surfing don of the 50s and 60s, who lived a somewhat slippery lifestyle while still managing to keep a foot on his surfboard. Perhaps the first surfing scally? Who knows. Anyway less tenuous links, grab a bevvy, sit back and picture the waves of Malibu, Honolulu or a bit closer to home, Saltburn. Over to Amen Dunes to tell the story.
Amen Dunes’ new album Freedom is out March 30th.
Wooden Shjips – Staring At the Sun
Another taken from an upcoming album out in the Spring, ‘Staring At the Sun’ is Wooden Shjips first tease into their fifth album, ‘V’. It’s a delight of West Coast psychedelia, a bit like something a few North West bands of the 90s could’ve made had they stepped out of their three-chord comfort zones. It goes on for just short of 7 and a half minutes, which usually means one of two things: a U2 style egotistical wankfest or a psychedelic mirage that meanders seamlessly – thankfully in this case it’s the latter.
Wooden Shjips new album V. is out May 25th.
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Guinevere
With Wooden Shjips taking their name from the CSN track of the same name, this was spun straight after ‘Staring At the Sun’ on 6 Music one afternoon last week. I’ve only really delved into this supergroup through Neil Young and hearing one of their tracks covered on a Seekmagic mix a while back. That track was ‘Woodstock’, but ‘Guinevere’ came a year before and prior to Young joining the band. I guess to a 21 year-old from the North East they’ve always been a bit inaccessible, coming across as miserable long-haired hillbillies that the weirdos in school would be into. On the reflection, they seem sound. Anyway, this one’s ‘Guinevere’ and it’s a haunting but serene track that’s made for Sunday mornings.
Parliament – I’m Gon Make U Sick O’Me
Staying Stateside (as is unintentionally the case with most of this feature), legendary funk outfit Parliament are back after a 28 year hiatus. Where Guy Fawkes failed, Parliament are back with a bang with this funky fucker featuring Scarface. It all sounds so tight and effortless, from George Clinton’s raw voice to the horns, bass and female backing vocals. There’s even a a short key change just under half way through, bringing you momentarily back down to earth before spitting you out all over again. There’s no getting sick o’this one.
Peggy Gou – It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)
This is Berlin based Gou’s first attempt at singing on a record, and you wonder why it’s not been done sooner. There’s always something about songs in foreign languages. Maybe like all top songs, they take you somewhere else. A different time, a different culture, a different city or a different club. Somewhere you might never have been but you can still imagine and embrace. In this case it’s her native Korea and the dimly lit underground bars and clubs of Seoul. I’ve never been there like but that’s what I’m picturing. Top artwork too.
Peggy Gou’s new EP, Once, is out March 2nd.
Big Thief – Shark Smile
This one was picked up off the back of Piccadilly Records ever excellent end of year compilation. I’d seen Big Thief’s ‘Capacity’ featured in many of 2017’s top album list, but had stupidly never got round to listening any further. Adrianne Lenker vocals are reminiscent of a female modern day Dylan, while the gradual chord progression and isolated guitar keep everything faultlessly in check. A perfect slice of NYC indie done proper.