Time to finish off our reflections on the past twelve months. Here are my own choices for ten favourite tunes that soundtracked lockdown and those life saving dog walks with the gold medal winning picnic thief.
10 Man of Moon – Strangers
The long awaited (by me anyway) return of Scottish duo Man of Moon was amply rewarded by their brilliant single Strangers using heavy motorik beats, off-kilter rhythms and delivering a tight, jagged stomper inspired by LCD Soundsystem in the way it merges post-punk with four to the floor-leaning electronics.
9 TRAAMS – Intercontinental Radio Waves
TRAAMS returned from a four year absence with the propulsive ten minute sprawl of Greyhound and then followed it with the shorter, tenser, spartan groove of Intercontinental Radio Waves. It was a track that just served to remind us what we had been missing and in said absence our love for TRAAMS had indeed grown exponentially.
8 The Cool Greenhouse – The Sticks
The marvellous skewed indie-pop of The Cool Greenhouse’s self-titled debut album was like a breath of fresh air in the early days of the first lockdown. A pulsating, throbbing slab of acerbic, surreal sarcasm. Made us realise just how much we miss The Fall, and we can’t give much higher praise than that.
7 SPQR – Just Sumfin
Sometimes it is the simple things that do the most. This is one such example. Bouncy, layered quirky pop with an bassline so infectious it could challenge Covid.
6 Momma – Double Dare
Two lovers go to a country fair and run into trouble with some teens. The boy fights and gets sent to the Bug House – an underground purgatory. So tells the story of Double Dare, but all set to chiming guitars and swirling harmonies that sweeten the lyrical menace in a glorious, gorgeous brew of perfect, pastoral psych-pop.
5 Tiña – Rosalina
London five-piece Tiña announced their debut album Positive Mental Health Music with Rosalina, a heady brew of haunting, macabre tenderness with Joshua Loftin’s cooing vocals sitting atop a blend of playful psych-pop keys, drums and guitars.
4 Porridge Radio – Sweet
Sweet is a schizophrenic sounding track – on the one hand the verses are initially, like the song’s title, sweet, almost delicate, but as the song progresses, increasingly angry and cachophonous guitars squall and battle over vocals that are only a couple of decibels shy of unhinged. It all works brilliantly and we’ve had this one on repeat since January!
3 Thurston Moore – Hashish
If I were to compile a music dictionary I would simply put Thurston Moore as the entry for “mesmerising chug“. No one can take a jangly squall of guitar and somehow turn it into the most perfect combination of blissful wigout that is a sublime match for it’s subject matter.
2 Okay Kaya – Psych Ward
An irresistible slice of slacker-indie notable for its resigned, literal lyrics, and was inspired by Kaya Wilkins’ own experience in a mental health institution. Built entirely on one repeated guitar riff it is impish, subversive and potent in the best possible way.
1 Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
They were our favourite discovery of 2019, and followed that up with an outstanding second album last summer of which this, the title track, was (as we described back in May) already one of our favourite songs of the year. That impression simply grew the more we played it, and played it, and played it. A brooding, hypnotic intensity that hinted at darker things with its verbalising of A Clockwork Orange style corporate cynicism set to an undeniable glam-rock backbeat
“Sit beneath a light that suits ya
And look forward to a better future.”
Yeah right! Like 2019, Fontaines D.C. nailed a total clusterfuck of a year.