This week’s Timely Tunes feature the latest from Slow Dive, Sampha, Laura Marling and Blanck Mass. And as always, a new Spotify playlist!
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Slowdive “Star Roving”
Slowdive’s “Souvlaki” remains one of the towering monuments of the Shoegaze movement, standing beside My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” as one of the most definitive and well-aging records of the early 90’s. It’s been twenty-two long years since the follow-up and final album, “Pygmalion”. “Pygmalion” was an under-appreciated shift away from their early sound towards something more abstract, patient, and otherworldly; a sound more akin to A.R. Kane or Talk Talk. I always wondered how much further the band could have pushed into that direction, but they broke up and Neil Halstead formed the more pastoral, but often just as wonderful, Mojave 3. Slowdive reformed in 2014, and now we have this, their first single in years: a welcome starburst that is more sunnily propulsive than their early work, but it still sounds like a dream.
Sampha “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” (from “Process”)
Lending his inimitable, soulful voice and/or tasteful production to tracks by Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Solange, and others, as well as releasing two very solid solo EP’s over the past several years, Sampha’s upcoming debut full-length comes with a lot of anticipatory expectations. This is the third track released so far, and it’s a stunner; a minimalist hymn to the life-saving companionship of his mother’s piano.
Laura Marling “Wild Fire” (from “Semper Femina”)
British singer-songwriter Laura Marling is only 26, but writes like she has lived at least twice as long. The 2013 album “Once I Was an Eagle”, her fourth, was my introduction to Marling and it blew me away. “Semper Femina” will be her sixth album in an already hyper-prolific career, and “Wild Fire” is a loose and breezily self-assured first taste.
Blanck Mass “Please”
Blanck Mass is the solo project of Benjamin Power from drone/noise act Fuck Buttons (a bluntly apt descriptor, if ever there was one: I once had my eardrums bludgeoned by them during a music festival downpour). The Blanck Mass track “Sundowner” was bizarrely and awesomely selected to be used during the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. With “Please” we may have the soundtrack to our impending dystopian future.
TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 31
1. Talk Talk “Ascension Day”
2. Slowdive “Star Roving”
3. John Cale “Gideon’s Bible”
4. Stanley Turrentine “My Girl Is Just Enough Woman For Me”
5. Sampha “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”
6. Allen Toussaint “Out of the City (Into Country Life)”
7. Glen Campbell “Guess I’m Dumb”
8. The Flying Burrito Brothers “Dark End of the Street”
9. Laura Marling “Wild Fire”
10. Joni Mitchell “Talk To Me”
11. William Onyeabor “Atomic Bomb”
12. Bjork “History of Touches”
13. Blanck Mass “Please”
14. Ben Frost “Death, No Less”