Fontaines D.C. – Big
I nearly overthought this. I heard ‘Big’ and my initial reaction was with gut, heart and limbs. Then my mistake – searching for information, seeing photos; the initial reaction became, as I listened to the album Dogrel, an inability to appreciate it for what it is. And what is it? A debut album by a group of young men: a mish-mash of styles, of bravado and openness, intelligent lyrics to songs that belong on a debut.
But I’d been here before. Bands have come and gone, unable to fulfil what I hope for them – it is wisdom, and it’s not wisdom, it’s something negative, whatever that might be. But, with persistence, listening, not fretting about what I think I know, I came to a halfway state: gut, heart and limbs in play, tempered slightly, but not too much as I claim Dogrel as the perfect debut album.
Iron & Wine – Passing Afternoon (Demo)
In the Quietus, Luke Turner wrote that seeing Suede recently wasn’t an exercise in nostalgia but ‘everything they did for me a quarter of a century ago’. I mention this because I recently bought the 15 anniversary vinyl edition of Iron & Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days and, to paraphrase Turner, listening to it hasn’t been an exercise in nostalgia; the record is everything it was to me when I first heard it fourteen, maybe fifteen years ago.
Mammoth Penguins – Closure
It’s thanks to the Norman Records’ weekly playlist I heard Mammoth Penguins this week. ‘Closure’ is the first song on their new album, There’s No Fight We Can’t Both Win. I listened to it (the album – sub 45 minutes, the perfect length for an album of alt indie pop rock – their classification, not mine) a little worried, concerned the rest of the album wouldn’t match up to that opening. But it does. The album is melodic, noisy, recorded fantastically, with intelligent lyrics (and if you’re wondering what I mean by “intelligent”, I mean ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, fuck it all, fuck it all, fuck it all’). They’re playing London in June. I’m there.
Jason Isbell – Elephant
Jason Isbell is someone who I’d heard of through his association with the Drive-By Truckers, but had never heard any music by him. Then last year I heard his song ‘Live Oak’, which led me to the album Southeastern (2013). ‘Elephant’, like ‘Live Oak’, is a good indication of Southeastern as a whole: affective, never sentimental, crafted songs, which use country music as a touchstone.