Singles and Downloads – August 2015
Featuring Noel Gallagher, Chelsea Wolfe and Morly
Fresh from his previous incarnation as ‘the posh Billy Bragg’, Hampshire singer-songwriter Frank Turner returns here with a preview track from his new album Positive Songs for Negative People which clings hard to the heart of the mainstream with nonetheless infectious exuberance. ‘I wanna step out and face the sunshine,’ he hollers on ‘The Next Storm’ (●●●, Xtra Mile, out now), like Marcus Mumford auditioning for The Levellers. As jolly and anthemic as might be expected from middle of the road alternapop.
Speaking of pillaging the olden days, Noel Gallagher’s High-Flying Birds return with ‘Lock All the Doors’ (●●●, Sour Mash, out 28 Aug) , a sturdy entry in the blokerock canon with its noisy guitars and impressive lyricism – impressive in the sense that something so cliché-ridden should sound so focused and enjoyable when added to Noel’s still-winning aesthetic. It’s hard to grudge him success since he stopped flogging the lifeless Oasis and started making music for middle-aged nostalgics like himself. Although not as hard, certainly, as it is to get into Public Service Broadcasting’s lukewarm dilution of the historically resonant Krautrock sound on their songs-as-National Trust-interpretation-boards. ‘The Other Side’ (●●, Test Card, out 28 Aug) is something to do with space.
What odds, I wonder, on the fans calling for ‘Chelsea Dagger’ while The Fratellis pound through their new single ‘Baby, Don’t You Lie to Me’ (●●, Cooking Vinyl, out now)? A standard-issue if frantic glam rocker, it’s sadly unlikely to help us forget they once had a really big hit. Longer-serving and more essential than any of these older hands this month is Sinead O’Connor, whose ‘The Foggy Dew’ (●●●, Blue Soap Music, out now) is a free download recording of an Irish rebel song released to coincide with the centenary of the funeral of Irish Independence campaigner Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, its serious, martial spirit suiting the subject matter.
Invoking the artist’s own sleep paralysis for the first time we can recall, Chelsea Wolfe’s ‘Grey Days’ (●●●●, Sargent House, out now) is a gloomy winner, a fog of pummelling drums and black hymnal lyrics delivered in a yearning, agonised pitch. In Sinead’s day they would have called this ‘goth’, just like they would have referred to Young States’ ‘Down to You’ (●●●, Young States / Ditto Music, out now) as ‘hair metal’ for its careening guitar riff and the lengthy hirsuteness of the band. Except then it would have been men in their 30s and not young women playing it.
Let’s make an independent assessment here; the best music of the month is made by women. We suspect Hannah and the Heartbreak’s ‘Hope Hotel’ (●●●, All the Cats, out now) may be a grower, its simple, wistful dynamic set off by a beautiful vocal which recalls country greats like Dolly or Tammy, but Morly’s ‘In Defence of My Muse’ (●●●●, Cascine, out 14 Aug) had us at ‘hello’. Specifically the title track ‘And Sooner Than We Know It’, a dazzlingly understated blend of minimalist piano, echoing-through-a-cave Sigur Ros vocals and bubbling tender electronics.