The Magic Gang
So here it is… merry Christmas, everybody’s having fun (except me, I’m stuck on a delayed train listening to Minor Threat). The only silver lining of this year’s rail misery was that I got to listen to lots of great music. I could have done a much longer list than this, with tracks by Omni, Conor Oberst, Denmark Vessey, Dead Man’s Chest, TVAM, M83, Girl Ray, Julianna Barwick and Flamingods just missing out (I’m sure they’re all gutted). Anyway…
(10) Cate Le Bon: Love Is Not Love
CLB is one of the greatest songwriters of this generation, I reckon; her inscrutable quirkiness certainly seems more compulsion than affectation. This year’s Crab Day was weirder and less coherent than 2014’s magnificent Mug Museum: fewer spaced-out Velvet Underground grooves, more Devo-like fidgeting around. This beautiful track was among its calmer moments.
(9) Terry: Uncle Greg
You don’t get much proper lo-fi indie rock like this these days, with its nods to Swell Maps and a cover that somehow looks like something by The Pretenders.
Another top Aussie export, and on the brilliant Upset the Rhythm label too.
(8) Preoccupations: Stimulation
Calgary’s awesome Viet Cong returned this year, with a new name but the same sound. The album wasn’t quite up there with last year’s debut, but it still held that twisted, wintery atmosphere that’s burrowed its way into my heart. This was possibly my fave track on it. Read about my weird experience of listening to Viet Cong in Transylvania here.
(7) Pinshinyultrablast: The Cherry Pit
These Ukrainian sh**gazers radiate waves of undiluted joy. I loved their impromptu 11am Alt Escape gig at the Black Lion in May, despite the fact that they’d clearly not had a soundcheck and the singer’s mic was fucked (and the sound guy was being a dick to her. I wanted to give her a hug). Come back to Brighton soon, please.
(6) Spinning Coin: The Joker
I don’t know anything about these guys, apart from that they’re from Scotland and they supported Teenage Fanclub recently. This track contains the potential to be some kind of indie classic… but I wager it never will be.
(5) Dieterich and Barnes: Out and About
Here’s one I found tucked away at the graveyard end of the Tom Ravenscroft show. Not sure what it was doing there. He should have opened with it! There’s a lot of neo-krautrock around these days, but these guys have the sound NAILED. Rather than going down Neu’s motorik route, they’ve taken inspiration from Faust and Can.
(4) Parquet Courts: Outside
Ok, now we’re onto the Big Guns. This is an incredible Top Four, in my opinion. Outside has the same effect on me as Wire’s Outdoor Miner… partly because it’s TOO SHORT. You bastards, Parquet Courts. It’s too good. Can’t you make a longer version?! I’ll just have to play it again. And again. And again. And again…
(3) Teleman: Glory Halleluja
Thanks to my man Filthy Pedro for making me watch Teleman at the Great Escape in May. They were probably the best band of the weekend. I could have equally chosen Düsseldorf from their Brilliant Sanity LP. But they closed their set with this. And it was fantastic.
(2) Goat: Goodbye
I’ve been ambivalent about Goat in the past. They can be a bit style over substance. But this… this is one of the coolest tracks I’ve heard in ages. The way it builds, speeds, then drifts so delicately away from you. It’s the perfect set finisher. There’s something plaintive in here that I can’t pin down. But celebratory at the same time. Not sure why, but I reckon it might have been inspired by a death. If so, it makes it even more affecting. I bought the LP on orange vinyl just for this track.
I thought this was going to be number one. But then I re-listened to…
(1) Magic Gang: All That I Want Is You
If it were up to me I wouldn’t have bothered with the superfluous “That” in the title. They must have inserted it for cadence purposes. I think I love this track a bit too much though. It’s funny, because it’s not the sort of light, trans-Atlantic pop I usually go for. But it’s just so FUCKING GOOD. As is the whole EP. This year, if I was ever on my way out on a Friday night and I need a lift, I’d whack this on. And they’re brilliant live. And they’re from Brighton. And I want to be in their gang. The End.