Monday, September 15, 2008

Why is it that... ?

I can't believe that it is only me that seems to find it that, when I can find a load of new or forthcoming albums that I really want, it then suddenly becomes far easier to find a load more much older ones, often seemingly ones quite unrelated to the desired new releases and each other, that I had either not heard of or had simply chosen to disregard before?
I know that it is not a one-off event because it has happened several times in the last few years. Typically in the late summer and early autumn, when the new releases are a mixture of those by acts I already know well and those by altogether new ones, the pattern is familiar but also quite inexplicable.
It is not a problem because it works out well and the albums that I discover as a result of this phenomenon tend to remain amongst my favourites, even if atypical in overall terms. They probably therefore have a disproportionate - but to me indefinable - influence on the music I might consider in the following six months or so. This apparently annoying contradiction is actually the very best thing about the situation - it is because I can't explain, and not for want of trying, what it means and why I suddenly like this or that music that it is actually so important! For much of last September I only really liked one album and that was I Wish I Could Have Loved You More - Candie Payne. Any reasonable conclusion would be that, at the very least, I am now rather bored of it - but I'm not and neither does it have the negative connotation that might be expected! It is not yet understood why, but music and the human brain are somehow inextricably linked and to understand either would certainly be a huge step on the way to understanding the other.
As I'm unable to do that here are a few albums that, given this tendency, I've recently acquired...

Flying Away - Smoke City (1999)

Often classed as trip-hop, and there certainly is that in it, but it has suffered not a bit for the fact that is now almost a decade old, nor does it bear much resemblance to the original, and often rather exquisitly downbeat, Bristol trip-hop vision. If dance music really is going to make a mark in 2010, then this would probably be a very good place to start. Digital bleeps, analogue electronica, Brazilian influences, disco-pop sensibility and fantastic vocals by Nina Miranda (sometimes sung in French) and... for goodness sake, acoustic guitar. It all seems perfectly 2009 to me.
That makes more sense than it seems, the acoustic guitar providing a link with another influence that has become prominent in the last couple of years. The rise and rise of folk, folk-related and folk-influenced music continues unabated and, while it is easy to find a dozen and more acts of this kind that have featured in this blog in the last nine months, this is an older album that I've finally got around to buying.

Blues For A Honey - Barefoot Contessa (1998)

Not cheerful perhaps, but certainly acoustic and modern - nu-folk almost a decade ahead of its time - and this album really should be better known. However an easier place to start is perhaps the 2006 album Routines. The singer is Helene Dineen (vocals, lyrics) who did the same in Barefoot Contessa, which also included Graham Gargiulo (guitars, keyboards) and when it comes to the crunch few songs can hold a candle to 'Superanything'

She limped to the door
She was kicked into touch
She would've run out yesterday
But it all had got too much
There are worse things in the world
Couldn'a happened to a nicer girl
I felt sorry but I had
Other things on my mind - too bad!

There's a light-hearted feel
To things these days
It's superanything

There's a light-hearted feel
To things these days -
Will it carry mine away?
And all those achy-fakey
Steel-hearted bitch-tunes.
All in the spirit
Of everyone having their say.
I called the bad-taste brigade
I had them all arraigned.
I said it so it must be true
I am here to bring
Wisdom and courage to you

There's a light-hearted feel
To things these days
Oh superanything.

Trust to your family to fit you up
Watched the way mine fucked things up
Cut myself on some grit from the pan
Opened me up just enough...
To let in another bad man.

There's a light-hearted feel
To things these days
Oh superany... thing.

To finish this particular trio here is another, from 2001, that perhaps serves as some kind of link between the forgoing, between the Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie and acts such as Stephanie Dosen and Fleet Foxes now signed to Bella Union Records in the UK.

Roulette - Violet Indiana (2001)

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