Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Wooden Finger Five – December 2015

5.Blackstar – David Bowie

It took about fifteen years but, with ‘The Next Day’ album and this track, David Bowie has finally got his creepy goth elder statesman act right. It is one of those ten-minute long patchwork tracks, which Bowie of course has done himself before with ‘Station To Station’. Unlike that classic track ‘Blackstar’ doesn’t really go anywhere much, but it seethes, and that keeps the listener going through its longer-than-usual duration. Just before writing this I have heard his next new track ‘Lazarus’, which clocks in at six minutes itself, making me wonder if Bowie is going back to the 1970s style of only having seven or eight tracks on an album.

4.One Million Bullets – Sia

Despite generally appearing on radio stations I don’t care for I’ve always kind of liked Sia, with her early track ‘The Fight’ getting a fair amount of plays on my old iPod. She’s had bigger hits since then, but her new track ‘One Million Bullets’ may be my favourite of hers since then. The chorus – ‘Under your moonlit gaze/I know I’d take one million bullets for you babe’ – could be seen as more cheesy than powerful, but it makes the neck hairs slightly stand up for me. I hope this one becomes an anthem for her, though it also sounds like one of those tracks that clocks in at No. 35 or so on the charts, and then because of nostalgia, is treated more fondly ten years later.

3.To The Top – Twin Shadow

I heard this song when I recently played Telltale Games’ excellent, and quite funny, ‘Tales From The Borderlands’ series. Each of the five episodes had a credit sequence a couple of scenes in with a relatively recent track playing over it, and the choice of music was great. James Blake’s ‘Retrograde’, for example, turns out to work really well for the desolation of space.

Even better though is the fourth episode’s use of Twin Shadow’s ‘To The Top’, which I hadn’t heard before, and could have believed was a lesser-known ‘80s power ballad. It plays over one of the funniest sequences in the series, which is the cast doing a slow walk towards a spaceship. It’s the type of scene that has played for laughs before, such as the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movie, but this is better. But it’s hard to explain its amusement value if you haven’t played the game itself, so I’ll just add that you should play the game, and then it’ll be hard to think of this song without thinking of that slow walk credit sequence.

2.Sentimental Wilderness – Bop English

This year’s album by Bop English, a side project to a band that is not that well-known in the first place, is great. Every track gets me actually listening to it, which is what my favourite albums do. Each track also has a slightly different style, with ‘Sentimental Wilderness’ recalling the late-‘60s folk-rock songs, both with its finger-picking and verboseness. Its beautiful what-sounds-like-the-chorus (but it only occurs once) is the highlight.

1.Fight The Start – The Kilians

In the past couple of weeks I decided to look into which were some recommended European indie bands, starting with French bands, and then German bands, and then Spanish. I heard some really good stuff, but the track I’ve played over and over again is ‘Fight The Start’ by German band The Kilians. It had a British indie rock feel to me, with the lead singer’s voice reminding me of Jamie T and Miles Kane (although the video clip made me think they were going for The Strokes – whatever, it sounds like the kind of track NME would usually go mad for). It’s fun, it’s vital – it’s also nine years old – but oh well, I’m still happy I found this catchy little track.

Other tracks by German indie bands I recommend: ‘You Don’t Have To Shout’ by The Robotic Klaus, ‘Ein Kompliment’ by Sportfreunde Stiller, and ‘Chemicals’ by The Notwist. For French bands I recommend Stuck In The Sound’s ‘Tender’.

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