Just when you least expect it (and me even less – I'm at my most hectic and stressy for some months – and that's saying something) here's a new Enthusiasm. It's been a while, for which – as always – I apologise, but you can only be in so many places at once, darn it.
1. Cortney Tidwell – Boys [City Slang]
So over the moon to be able to talk about the new Cortney Tidwell album in public, now that promo rounds have begun. I've been privy to most of this in its gestation and it's a beautiful set of songs, sung / played / produced immaculately by Cort and her regular collaborators – her husband Todd Tidwell, Ryan Norris, Scott Martin and Lambchop / Silver Jews' guitar ace William Tyler. From the 1-chord noise-rock of "17 Horses" to tender spaced-out dream-pop/country/electronica (there's no simple generic categorising here I'm afraid peeps) of "Sun and Moon", "Oh China", "Oslo", "Bad News" etc. etc. this is a breathtaking record from a woman with a genuinely life-improving voice. Hyperbole? Erm, no actually. I've lived with this record for going on 18 months and my love shows no sign of faltering – it's just getting deeper and more nuanced. Your turn…
2. Various – Culprit EP 001 [Culprit]
Fresh from LA's Droog party crew, a super-strong contemporary house EP. The stand-out here is Jamie Jones and Lee Foss' 'Heads' (lots of other new stuff they've done together is already cluttering my CD wallet), but Foss' 'Solo' is also a killer. Immaculate fresh-funk grooves with plenty of tweaky sonic interest that do everything required to rock the floor.
3. Cobblestone Jazz – Traffic Jam [Wagon Repair]
A funk break, some occasional chromatic ascending jazz chords, and a heavy italo-ish bassline that just won't quit add up to make a Carl Craig-esque super-musical yet totally dancefloor bomb. Another instant classic up there with "India In Me" and "Peace Offering / Dump Truck".
4. Osborne – Wait A Minute (Arto Mwambe remix) [Ghostly/ Spectral]
Frankfurt's finest coming on in a deep detroit disco style, this reminds me of Lindstrom in his Slow Supreme guise – before any of you knew who he was…! (I'm a old wanker, sorry).
5. St. Vincent – Actor Out Of Work [4AD]
"Marry Me" was easily one of my favourite records of 2007; art-rock that was supremely melodic, technically immaculate (both in the playing and the production) and chock-full of personality whilst being blissfully free of kooky indie-chick irritancy. Annie Clark already seems to have bettered it on the two tracks from the new album "Actor" that I've heard. Can't wait for the rest.
6. It's A Fine Line – various
Happily, the past 18 months or so has seen Ivan Smagghe back making a flurry of records again after his departure from Black Strobe; with Danton Eeprom as La Horse, with Roman Flügel in some as-yet-unnamed combination and above all with Tim Paris, fellow Parisian ex-pat in London (and production ace in his own right). "Hen's Bells" was one of my DJ staples of 2008 alongside their astonishing re-edit "Woman" for Nathan WIlkin's History Clock label and their remix of "Let's Go Outside" for Soma. Their forthcoming stuff is wonkier and more singular; remixes of Burger and Voigt's "Wand Aus Klang" for Kompakt (me and the boy Usher have a long dubby psychedelic Partial Arts remix of this in the bag too), production on the forthcoming Battant LP and originals "Never Go With A Hippie To A Second Place" (already my favourite track title of 2009) and "Grease", fuse analogue industrial funk, no-wave, psych, rockabilly and techno like no-one else at the moment.
7. School of Seven Bells – Alpinisms [Ghostly]
I've fallen in love – and hard – with the School of Seven Bells and their kraut-madrigal-shoegaze wonderment. And there are no lyrics about knights wearing crystal armour etc. the likes of which are putting me right off the new Bat For Lashes record, frankly.
8. Lost Valentinos – Cities of Gold [etcetc]
OK, forgive the torrent of self-promotion that's about to unfold but it's been a while, and I've been working quite hard. And on good good stuff that the parties in question ought to be well-proud of. First up, Lost Valentinos' debut album (all of the tracks either produced or mixed by yours truly) is finally finished and it's a really rich and characterful set of songs that nimbly straddle various modes of indie and electronic pop without following any paint-by-numbers stereotypes (like so many woefully unimaginative bands at the moment). Songs stuffed with lyrics about the new world and the high-seas, summery afro-delirium, baggy manc grooves and dreamy pop, as much characterised by wheezing harmoniums and psychedelic guitars as by over-driven MS20 synth riffs. And stuffed full of singles too – "The Bismarck", "Serio", "Midnights", "Nightmoves", "A Common Thief" – this is a supremely confident debut album that's already getting hammered on Aussie radio and will be elsewhere soon. Hurrah!
9. Delphic – Counterpoint [R&S]
Finished off / mixed by yours truly, here's Manchester's best new band in years' first single. Following the city's most joyous and ecstatic traditions & in thrall but not beholden to the best of New Order, Orbital and more, with credible hook-laded songs by the dozen. I'm really excited to be in the producer's chair for the album. Soon come. Goosebumps, goosebumps…
10. Junior Boys – Hazel / Jon Hopkins – Light Through The Veins (Ewan Pearson remixes) [Domino]
A double-header of me remixing Domino acts. Jon Hopkins is 15 minutes of Kompakt-ish blissful neo-trance. The Junior Boys is the lead-track from their new album "Begone Dull Care". I did the final mix on their album version and then remixed it too in a deep-but-large vocal house style. There's a Wild Pitch-ish dub too for those of you who don't care for vocals (weirdos…).
11. Current highlights from the Pearson DJ "box" (er, wallet)
Mugwump "Mindflexes", DJ Hell, "The Angst", Blagger "Strange Behaviour" DJ Koze remix, Holgar Zislke "Mes Yeux", Different Gear "One Thing More", Iron Curtis "Pumping Velvet", Neville Watson "Full Flight", Audio Soul Project "Reality Check" Vincenzo remix, George Issakidis and Speedy J "Sculpture", Ricky L "Automatic", Gonno "I Don't Need Competition".