After a bit of a summer break, The Moon presents Top Moon Tunes 2018 Volume 7. For the first time all the tracks come from albums that have already been released, and all the artists are new to Top Moon Tunes 2018, although many are previous Moon offenders. It is also the longest Top Moon Tunes so far, as the last track is 77 minutes long.
It is fully avaiable via Spotify and there is a bit of guff on each artist beneath the playlist embedded below via Playmoss.
1. The Blood Tub Orchestra – Things are Worse in Russia
This is the brilliant opening track from my second favourite album released in the last couple of months. It was brought to my attention by a 9/10 album review in GIITTV. They describe themselves as “a motley London based musical rabble (as in Websters definition of ‘a large group of loud people who could become violent.’). A group of individuals now busy dragging up evil smelling offerings from demolished music halls, deconsecrated chapels and boarded up public houses.” They have previous form in various bands including Transglobal Underground and Echobelly. It is an album of covers in a punk style of songs from the Victorian era up to the period just following the First World War and is quite brilliant and diverse throughout.
2. We Are Muffy – Frosted Candy
This track was brought to my attention a while ago by Folk Radio UK (FRUK) and I had thought about featuring it in previous volumes but as their were no other pre-releases I decided to wait for the album which has been released recently. This track is a highlight and also the most upbeat, with the rest of the album being more restrained but very fine acoustic folk-pop. We Are Muffy are “Angeline Morrison (The Mighty Sceptres, The Ambassadors of Sorrow) and Nick Duffy (The Lilac Time, Bait)” and both hail from Birmingham in the Disunited Kingdom of Brexshit Blighty.
3. Anna Birch – 2 Cool 2 Care
Brought to my attention by the less active but as ever excellent The Finest Kiss blog, this debut solo LP from this Detroit singer songwriter really should have been highlighted by the likes of GIITTV the VPME and especially The AV Club. She had previously released 5 albums of folk rock with the Michigan based Frontier Ruckus along with “the Sarah Records influenced Failed Flowers with Fred Thomas of Saturday Looks Good to Me.” This is the opening track and it is not a particular highlight. The rest of the album has a similar rock ‘n’ roll slacker sound with the exception of the lovely country sounding Belle Isle.
4. Luluc – Kids
I think I must have first heard the Spring, the pre-release track from this album. via a FRUK mixcloud mix, but despite previous posts on the band on the blog, the album did not get a review as far as I can tell. This is odd as it is a great LP which the Guardian describes as “suburban sadness recast as beauty” and, though this track is one of the least folky, it is still very much an album of acoustic folkiness. They are from Australia, but their Bandcamp page has them now located in New York and this LP includes contributions from, amongst others, J. Mascis and Aaron Dessner of The National. it is their third LP and they have apparently broadened their palette sonically further after collaborating with The National’s Aaron Dessner on their second LP.
5. My Name Is Ian – Fight Drink and Watch People Die
I discovered this track by discovering my new release feed of artists I follow in the Spotify app, which for some really annoying reason is buried deep beneath lots of rubbish algorithm generated playlists and recommendations. It was their rather odd new single that featured, but it led me to discover that I had missed their 2017 LP release Cincinnati Cola. They were first brought to my attention when the brilliant In the Best Case Scenario, we’d Die at the Same Time was a track of the day in GIITTV back in 2015 and it went on to become a highlight of a Best of 2015 Part 1. They have self-described themselves as “the worst band in Cardiff” and as “a bipolar, odd rock, anti-folk loser super group”. Cincinnati Cola is a mixed bag of top rock ‘n’ roll like this track along with some interesting electronic noodling. It is a great listen despite a lack of actual songs and Merlot Ego (If I Was a Gentoo Penguin, I Would Find You the Smoothest Pebble) has the chorus of 2017. A new album is due in September, which will feature the new single along with, confusingly, In the Best Case Scenario, we’d Die at the Same Time.
6. James – Heads
James re-emerged back in 2008 with Hey Ma which I think is one of the high points of their long and varied career. Since then, up until this year, they had released two pretty good mini LPs in 2010 and a pretty good LP in 2014 followed by another LP in 2016 which completely failed to float my boat. So I was not overly excited when a new LP was announced for 2018. But then, this is the band that produced the sublime Laid soon after the overblown Seven and the very poor Millionaires after the brilliance of Whiplash, and they have gone and done it again by releasing the The Moon album of last month.
Better Than That the lead track from an EP they released earlier in the year should have already appeared on a Moon Top Tunes as it is one of their finest slices of Top Pop. However, I failed to realise it had been released, as on Spotify each EP track was released as a single track. Therefore I thought the quite promising Hank was the first single and the lovely Broken by the Hurt was another single, but it turned out to be a mere b-side.
The James album it is most like is the Brian Eno produced Whiplash, but with some of the more interesting b-sides replacing some of the more straight up album tracks and this track pushes the dial further by combining a melody and lyric similar to their more out-there earlier material but with equally out-there Whiplash/Eno electro instrumentation. It is one of many highlights in an LP, which at its worst, can sound a bit like a more interesting Coldplay, or more accurately, like Coldplay trying to be like James. It can be made even better by ensuring you are listening to the version with the lovely “Bonus Track” Backward Glances and adding the Overdose demo from the extended version, along with the two tracks not included from the Better Than That EP.
Lead singer Tim Booth is now 58 and lives in Trumpyland. He has obviously been inspired by the times we are living in and I am not sure if any other 58 year old has managed to produce such relevant, innovative and poptastic music before.
Check out James Acoustic Live on The Moon
7. Mitski – Remember My Name
Mitski first appeared on The Moon back in 2015 with the release of her third LP Bury Me at Make Out Creek and again in 2016 with her follow up. And now rather like Ezra Furman she has followed up her successful successor to her breakthrough album with a brave and interesting LP, Like Mr Furman she also has a vey unique style and like Mr Furman’s Angel on the run in a fascistic USA, she claims to have inhibited “the spirit of a charismatic, swaggering cowboy” for this latest LP, but later on in an interview for NPR, I think she explains what the LP is mostly about: “nostalgic love, maybe old love, maybe love that’s been going on for a long time that is no longer what it used to be but it’s become something else.”
8. Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood – With Animals
Mr Lanegan is a multiple Moon offender and this is his second entry on the Moon with a track from an album with Mr Garwood, after Pentecostal appeared on A Best of 2013. Like its predecessor, it is much more low key than his more recent solo LPs, but it is less guitar based, and like his last solo LP more electro. This title track is not really a stand out, but is a good representative of the album as a whole.
9. The Coral – Love or Solution
The pre-release “singles” for this multiple Moon offending bands new LP did not get my boat to float much as they were rather MOR sounding compared their last LP which was their most energised and interesting sounding since their debut. But as it is The Coral the quality of the songs do shine through after a couple of listens, just as they did with their other mostly MOR LP Roots and Echoes. It is rather Travelling Wilburys and ELO until the last three tracks which do revert back to being more like their earlier recordings and then this track adds a bit of 60s soul sound to the mix which is reminiscent of James Skelly solo LP, but I do hope they also have an album of psychedelic wig-outs up their sleeve as they did back in 2004 with Nightfreak and the Sons of Becker, but if not, another Serpent Power LP would do..
10. Shannon Shaw – Coal on the Fire
Ms Shaw is a multiple Moon offender with her band Shannon and the Clams but she has now released her debut solo LP Shannon in Nashville which is produced by Dan Auerbach in who’s studio the last Clams album was recorded and released back in February. with a track featuring on Top Moon Tunes Volume 2. As the name suggests it was recorded in Nashville and features Mr Auerbach’s house band which includes members who played for Elvis. The result is a more polished and bigger sound than with the Clams and it is consistently excellent with this last track just one of many standouts.
11. Green Seagull – Not Like You and Me
This is band who hail from “London’s burgeoning neo-psych scene”, who were also brought to my attention by The Finest Kiss, initially via their second single (I Used To Dream In) Black and White and then the latest post alerted me to the debut album. This opening track is one of many highlights from a 14 track LP. They are resolutely retro but that does not bother me when the songwriting is this strong.
12. Gulp – I Dream of Your Song
Gulp is Guto Pryce of Super Furry Animals infamy and his partner, Scottish singer and keyboardist Lindsey Leven. They first appeared on The Moon on A Best of 2014 with the excellent Vast Space from their debut LP. This new LP has taken a while but is a stronger set of tunes. There is nothing as rock ‘n’ roll as Vast Space, but this track is one of the more 60s retro sounding and their general sound is the sort of music I always hoped Saint Etienne would be making after their first couple of LPs.
13. My Autumn Empire – Future Song
This is lead track from the new LP from this previous Moon offender. Brought to my attention via the GIITTV, but initially the album was only available via Bandcamp with only three tracks streamable, but thankfully, I was alerted to its recent Spotify release via my new release feed. Over on Bandcamp the album is described as “a culmination of sounds first explored in the acoustic offerings of ‘II’ (2012), and the wood-panelled sounds on ‘The Visitation’ (2014). Only this time there are more electronic elements; a liberal use of drum machine, synths and signal processing.” and that it is “bookended by expressions of hope. In between, I explored workaday life and faded visions of possible futures. There are these moments when the vastness of the universe seeps through and undermines ‘reality’ and I was trying to encapsulate that brief glimpse.”
14. Spider Bags – Rollin’ With The Flow
15. Rober Rotifer – They Don’t Love You Back
Mr Rotifer is an Austrian Anglophile, who first appeared on The Moon with his 6th Rotifer album back in 2014. He has since released a Robert Rotifer LP in 2016 from which a track appeared in A Best of 2016 on The Moon and he has now released this 77 minute track. It is one of 7 77 minute tracks by various artists released by wiaiwya records in aid of Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières. It is also streamable in the usual places, but I would hope that Spotify etc contribute more for one listen to a 77 minute track than they do for a 2 minute track, but also on the free Spotify etc you can also listen for 77 minutes without an advert…You can also contribute directly via Just Giving
As for the music within the 77 minutes, it contains a few parts that would be cracking songs on their own plus a lot of lovely bits in what is his lament of Brexshit England. Mr Rotifer explains it very well via the Bandcamp page:
“A good cause can be a really good cover for musical self-indulgence. For my part, I’ve always wanted to do one of those long-form psychedelic song suites with playful bits, recurring motifs, extended hypnotic bits and found sound segués…. inevitably, it turned out to be a piece about my experience of Brexit from the perspective of a European immigrant….I’d like to think it’s not moany or self-pitying, and to counteract the bitterness in the title I’ve drawn a completely non-Brexit-related picture of our rabbits for the cover/A3 poster. Because you always think they love you back, and then they eat all the most beautiful flowers while you’re not looking.”