My feelings about FKA twigs’ music are I think similar to my wife’s feelings about modern art – sure, it demonstrates talent but it is a bit too abstract for me. And when it is ‘plain’ enough for me to get into it sounds a bit like Portishead 2014. I do like the single ‘Two Weeks’ though; it would be a good tune even without (or in spite of) the dirty lyrics. (Sample lyric: ‘Beep beep beep, I’m healing for beep you’re dealing, beeperbeeper, get your beep beep you know you’re beep … ‘)
No. 4 Carnival of Light (album) – Ride
I love ‘90s British indie rock band Ride’s first two albums: the self-consciously epic ‘Nowhere’, and the looser, lighter ‘Going Blank Again’. And then a few weeks ago I thought, ‘Well, Ride did more albums, didn’t they? … I wonder if they are any good?’ Their 1996 release ‘Tarantula’ I am not sold on, but I have enjoyed listening to 1994’s ‘Carnival of Light’. All of the first five tracks – particularly ‘1000 Miles’ and ‘From Time To Time’ – are all pleasant tunes, though looking over the songwriting credits as I type this I’ve realised that those were all written by Mark Gardener, which makes me wonder if Oasis ended up recruiting the wrong Ride member (Andy Bell). Anyway for anyone who wished the Stone Roses’ second album ended up sounding more like their first, this album might be worth a stream or two.
No. 3 Every Other Freckle – Alt-J
What the hell are Alt-J saying - ? ‘Gonna paw paw at you like a cat paws at my woollen jumper … ?’ ‘I want to do all the things your lungs do so well … ?’ ‘Oh oh oh devour me … ?’ The images used in the lyrics of ‘Every Other Freckle’ might be seen as original or weird, depending on how much you like kittens in your bedroom, but the appeal of this song for me compared with other Alt-J songs is that Joe Newman’s usual reedy vocals are counterpointed here by Gus Unger-Hamilton’s altogether stouter undulations. (‘Stouter’ seems a funny word to use if one has actually seen a photo of Gus Unger-Hamilton.) Novelty point: the band have released two versions of the video to this track – (Girl) and (Boy) – which differ in terms of which gender you get to see a butt-shot of.
No. 2 Cosmic Vibrations – Foxygen
When my wife and I were in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco five years ago, my wife tells me she saw a guy with a sign that said ‘need money for drugs’. (Two shout-outs to my wife in the same post! Can you tell that we have been together a long time?) Foxygen at times come close to that Californian stoner, hippie cliché, and a single that is called ‘Cosmic Vibrations’ fits right into that image. But as with other good psychedelic revivalists, it ends up sounding like something that could have sprung from their minds only. On the other hand, part of the reason it appeals to me is that it reminds me of one of the best and most underrated Beatles tracks, George Harrison’s ‘Long, Long, Long’ from ‘(The White Album)’.
No. 1 Better Than It Ever Could Be/It Gets Better – The Preatures
‘Is This How You Feel?’ is probably the Preatures’ best song, but this column is not concerned with 2013 anymore. Oh wait … this song is from 2013 as well? Never mind … I have just got into it though with the release of the Preatures’ first album ‘Blue Planet Eyes’. While Preatures’ frontwoman Isabella Manfredi sang with cool, discoball reserve on ‘Is This … ?’ she belts out ‘Better … ’ with unreserved, morning video show, singing into your hairbrush joy: ‘And in the corners of my mind/ I see reasons I can’t find, sound and vision in my sleep … it gets better than it EVER COULD BE!’