I'm pretty excited about this November mix, it is overflowing! I just keep finding more and more great music. It seems like it has started to just fall into my lap, or at least the discovery process is feeling more organic these days. I'm surrounded by music and I love it. A great song can almost always comfort me, especially on some of these darkened winter days when memories of past sad winters start to creep in.
I also love The Donkeys, I write about them a lot here. They are a great bunch of guys with a great bunch of songs. They are releasing another bunch next February on Easy Sound Recordings, an EP called Midnight Palms. The first song is a hit! "Down the Line" is an instant classic. It comforts me greatly and the video is lovable too. They'll be playing San Francisco at The Chapel on February 12th to celebrate the release. I will be there.
Another new EP I've been enjoying is by Connan Mockasin and Dev Hynes (Blood Orange). The two went into the studio together for the first time in Marfa, TX for a quick collaboration as part of the 2015 Marfa Myths Festival and the result is Myths 001. Out on Mexican Summer, it is three groovin' tunes that pretty much sound like what I thought the two of them could make together.
Grimes released one of her catchiest songs yet on her new album, Art Angels. The new single, California, sounds to me like a new winter anthem for the Golden state. I'm a bit late to the game on this one, but I can also hear the "anthemness" in San Francisco's NRVS LVRS lead track from their 2015 album, The Golden West, entitled City Lights. It is a slow building jam, and it was produced by Patrick Brown at one of SF's best and longest running studios, Different Fur. Excellent.
There are two songs from Julia Holter's new album, Have You In My Wilderness, I just couldn't pick one this time. Her voice is bold, yet sensitive, and the organic arrangements leave so much space that it somehow ends up sounding electronic to me. I'm new to her and look forward to digging back into her earlier albums. Her atmospheric yet intimate dream pop reminds me of Enya or 80's Peter Gabriel -- and that is awesome.
Have you heard of Tessera Skies? They are a new band from Newcastle making moody dream pop. Out Of Sight reminds me of the stuff Cass McCombs was doing in the early 2000s, or maybe even some Slumberland bands from the 90s. It segues very nicely into another new song from DIIV, who I mentioned last month.
Another cool collaboration I've been following is j.viewz' DNA Project. What he refers to as an album-making experience, it appears to be Kickstarter funded project where he documents the entire process of creating an album. The website with timelines that track the completion of each song with video and audio clips is really impressive. I especially enjoyed the track with Mike Milosh, the singer/producer of Rhye and Milosh. In this clip, Matt from Lo-Fang hears the track and suggests Milosh for the vocal, check it out. And before that, you can watch j.viewz make the backing track with Gotye too.
My favorite song as of late is not on Spotify, but it would definitely be the lead track otherwise. I know this because every time the song, and the following dub remix, ends, I instinctively play it again.
I've written about Warpaint several times, their last album was one of my favorites of 2014. Singer/guitarist Theresa Wayman has one of my favorite voices and a wonderfully unique guitar style. Her new collaboration with Guro Gikling (All We Are) and Sarah Jones (Hot Chip) is called BOSS. Their first 45, "I'm Down With That" was produced and released by Dan Carey on his Speedy Wunderground label.
Dan has a unique vision for the label he started in February 2013, releasing only 7" singles recorded at his studio in one day. You can read all the guidelines here, including no lunch breaks on the recording day, and the required use of the Swarmatron... Pretty awesome, in an interview in 2013, he explained his motivations for wanting to work quickly.
“When you're recording something, there's a moment that comes just after everyone having learnt the song enough to be able to play it, where it just sounds amazing, because it's slightly on edge, because no one's 100% sure - I want to record that bit,” says Dan Carey. “Not the bit once it's been rehearsed and played and played. It could be better once it's been gigged for a while and turned into a real thing, but it's that moment where everyone's like ‘oh, shit!’”
I could not agree more. The song has a great groove driven by a bassy synth arpeggio, fuzz bassline, and a super melodic guitar lead. Her voice floats over the top -- sounding knowing, lackadaisical and compassionate at the same time. "If you're gonna walk through hell and sing angelic, I'm down with that." It is so good, similarly trippy and groovy like Warpaint, but surprisingly more upbeat and in a major key even. The remix "I'm dub with that" is equally as good. I'm sure I'll be playing both regularly.
Speaking of Warpaint, singer/bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg is releasing a solo album on December 11th as jennylee entitled "Right on." The first single is called "never" and it appears to be an homage to the music she grew up on -- New Order/Joy Division high hats and basslines with droning chorused guitars perhaps inspired by The Cure or Cocteau Twins. She spoke recently in an interview about how she hadn't been super comfortable with her voice until she made the album and decided to embrace it for what it is. That can be a hard thing to do, but clearly it was worth it.
There are bunch more great songs this month, but I'm not going to through them all. I will say that platinum selling Greek singer/songwriter, Monika, made a pretty solid record with The Dap-Kings drummer, Homer Steinweiss. Following a visit to Brooklyn's iconic soul label Daptone records, she and Homer began collaborating across continents to create Secret in the Dark, an album of disco, funk, soul and electronics that combines the best of production styles old and new.
I don't have much more to say so I'm just going to let the music speak for itself.
I must admit the world feels pretty cruel right now and I am doing my best to keep my head up. Hopefully this mix will help.
I wish love and safety for all of you out there. I've said before, and I will continue to say, be good to each other and yourselves. Please.