Better Oblivion Community Centre – Didn’t Know What I Was in For
Apart from the music he has put out under his own name – and contrary to the label of singer-songwriter he is frequently ascribed – Conor Oberst is primarily a collaborator. All his bands – Commander Venus, Bright Eyes, Desaparecidos, Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk – have been bands. And Oberst’s latest one is the Better Oblivion Community Centre, a collaboration with Phoebe Bridgers. I haven’t heard all of their debut record, but I’ve heard some of it and I like what I’ve heard so far.
Neutral Milk Hotel – Two Headed Boy Pt 2
One of those things; no reason I can point to. I’ve just been listening to Neutral Milk Hotel’s album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea a lot over the past couple of weeks.
Jason Molina – Long Desert Train
The album Pyramid Electric Co. was released in the transitional period between Jason Molina retiring Songs: Ohia and establishing Magnolia Electric Co. as the main band for his songs. Played entirely by Jason on guitar and piano and recorded by Mike Mogis, Pyramid Electric Co. is a dark album, but never oppressively so as it finds space to reflect on that very darkness.
Sufjan Stevens – John Wayne Gacy Jr.
Another someone who fell off my radar. Perhaps this was due to Stevens not releasing a follow-up proper to his 2005 album Illinois until 5 years after; in the interim releasing a record of outtakes (The Avalanche) and a mixed medium artistic exploration of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (The BQE). You never think you’re one of those fans who the musician / band intends to shed after a critically lauded album, but perhaps in this instance I was. Anyway, I’ve been revisiting the albums Seven Swans and Illinois. This is the devastating ‘John Wayne Gacy Jr.’ from the latter.
Spiritualized – Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
It’s twenty years this year since Spiritualized released their album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. An anniversary I was reminded of by Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, and a recent Quietus feature, but confusingly marked by the band last year, a decision which Jason Pierce explains in The Quietus interview.
I loved this album when it was first released, listening to it constantly. From Kate Radley introducing the album on this the opening song (a suggestion of a state in which to maybe consider listening to what comes next) to the twenty-minute ‘Cop Shoot Cop’ that finishes it, this is an album that is ambitious, experimental, simple (the last two not incompatible with each other), and one which has become, in the twenty years since its release, one of my favourite albums of all time.
Iron & Wine – Call it Dreaming
After an album (2013’s Ghost on Ghost) and a couple of collaboration albums (Sing Into My Mouth and Love Letter For Fire) which left me nonplussed, I’m looking forward to the release of the new Iron & Wine album Beast Epic, after hearing ‘Call it Dreaming’, the first song taken from it.
The song, for me, encapsulates what Iron & Wine do, which is to create this intersection between a world we recognise and a world summoned up by the words of Sam Beam and the music of the band.