UK avant post-punk group Squid have released another single from their forthcoming new LP Bright Green Field, out May 7th on Warp Records.
“Written from two different perspectives, Paddling is a song about the dichotomy between simple pleasures and decadent consumerism. Recounting a familiar scene from Wind & The Willows, the song reminds us that although we are humans, we are also ultimately animals that are driven by both modern and primal instincts and how that has led to vanity and machismo around us in the everyday.”
“We started writing it when we were but kids still living in Brighton. Last summer we really got into playing this together again. Straight away we started to work the tune into new places whilst we were writing at the Old Road in Chippenham, the track became an important part of Bright Green Field for us. Recording Paddling was great, it was quite hot so naturally the tempo was upped a fair bit too. Dan Carey’s modular synthesizer is definitely the 6th band member in this one, turning Louis & Anton’s guitars into racecars from about the 5 minute mark.”
Formed in Brighton, Squid is the brainchild of Louis Borlase (Guitars & Vocals), Ollie Judge (Drums & Lead Vocals), Arthur Leadbetter (Keyboards, Strings, Percussion), Laurie Nankivell (Bass & Brass) and Anton Pearson (Guitars & Vocals).
Despite the weirdness and social and political fracturing of 2020, there were still plenty of great albums that saw the light of day – and that light was a salvation for many. You can check out our Post To Wire (alt-country, cosmic Americana & dark folk) Favourite Albums of 2020HERE and Favourite AU & NZ Albums of 2020HERE.
Here are our 40 favourite albums of the year, ranging from alt-country to electronic, ambient to indie rock, post-punk to soul.
* Full disclosure – I worked on the publicity campaigns for the Golden Fang and Buddy Glass albums
On our favourite AU/NZ album of 2020, Thomson delivers his most accomplished work to date… ‘Sunday Girl’ is the closest Thomson’s got to a pop song, ‘Roll Away The Stone’ is smoky, winding blues, while ‘See The Wheels’ could roll on forever with its effortless groove. ‘Fatal Ribbon Highway’ is a dreamy slow dance, cosmic, heavy-lidded and sparkling and just one example of the diversification Thomson has brought to his impressive songwriting on Golden Exile.
9 Arlo McKinley – Die Midwestern
A new name for us and what a way to announce your arrival. Restrained songwriting with some exceptional lyrical content, Die Midwestern is built on poetry of the finest quality, delivered in a wonderful roughed-up country voice.
8. Moodymann – Taken Away
We couldn’t stop listening to this when it came out. Like a mix of D’Angelo circa Black Messiah, soul-jazz and futuristic electronic space funk. It was all in the rhythms, the breaks and the soul of it all. Deep hypnosis par excellence.
7. SAULT – UNTITLED (Black Is)
An album (and its follow-up UNTITLED (Rise)) completely of it’s time politically and socially, yet timeless in its blend of soul, funk, r&b, trip hop and more.
For us, Isbell was off his game on his last album The Nashville Sound but here he’s fully resumed his mantle of one of the finest songwriters of his generation. Lyrically and melodically there are gems galore right across Reunions. It was one of those albums that constantly inspired repeat listens throughout 2020.
4. Coriky – Coriky
Coriky are half of Fugazi (Ian Mackaye & Joe Lally) with Amy Farina (The Evens) and it’s the iconic DC band that they swerve closest to in the stop/start, quiet/loud dynamics and lyrical repetition, though it’s a less caustic, more intimate and organic vibe overall. Great drum sound on this damn catchy and gently visceral record.
3. Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death
The Irish quartet sought to find different angles to approach their second album after the success and touring of Dogrel. They were hugely successful too. Widening their palette, going for denser guitar textures and rhythms that dug deeper and with more insistency. The vocals were just as earnest if more detached, observational and aloof. The key success to the album was that they showed they weren’t one trick ponies and look to be in it for the creative long haul.
2. Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways
Once again Bob brought the element of surprise with this immense piece of work. Bold, literary, graceful, funny and highly moving. We thought his muse may have taken an early retirement with the endless touring and American songbook albums taking up his creative real estate. But no, Bob was back, hunched over his typewriter, casting an eye over the last century of pop and political culture, weaving in heartache and devotion. Nobody can bring together universality and the minutiae quite like the master.
1. Young Jesus – Welcome To Conceptual Beach
An intoxicating blend of post-rock and indie rock that in my mind ranged threw up comparisons to Talk Talk, Lift To Experience, Talking Heads, Wild Beasts and Radiohead. This was an album that created a sonic world to escape to, with heady and evocative ideals and some incredible dynamics in the arrangements.
There’s a big New Orleans brass funk vibe happening on this recently released single by The Bigfoot Collective. There’s swagger and a nimble groove that lumbers along on the good foot, making it totally infectious stuff.
Written by trombonist Thomas Voss and featuring a trumpet solo from Harrison Smith, the song showcases the inspiration that the 18-piece Adelaide, SA group draws from the New Orleans “second line” tradition and the street performers of NYC.
Thee are a few other recent singles on their Spotify and Bandcamp and keep your eyes open for an EP due later in 2020.
After a busy few years touring and riding the wave of attention that their last album Con Todo El Mundo brought them, Khruangbin retreated to their Texas studio to begin work on their third album. Earlier this year we got a mixed bag EP with Leon Bridges but that was a stop gap. Mordechai is the band spreading their wings wider and drawing together stronger thematic qualities.
The other noticeable change on Mordechai is that most tracks feature the vocals of bassist Laura Lee Ochoa. Previously they were predominately an instrumental trio but here they’re playing vocally-enriched songs without losing any of that wandering, free-spirited musicality that has defined them. Ochoa’s lyrics are fragmentary in nature, mantra-like and perfectly in keeping with the drift and hypnotism of the music. Thematically, many of the songs deal in the idea of memory – Time (You And I), One To Remember, So We Won’t Forget all deal in the concept of remembering.
Musically, Ochoa, Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson cast their poly-sonic net even wider. From African and Asian guitar funk to Jamaican dub, cosmic jazz to tropical psychedelia, they pull from all manner of pan-global sounds. It’s still a thrilling concoction that sounds otherworldly, eternally infectious and upbeat in spite of its melancholic soul.
There’s some incredible sound design and programming going on in this track from South London-raised, producer Telemachus. His new album Boring & Weird Historical Music came out on 22nd May via High Focus Records and this is just one example of the splendid way he pulls different genres together while still allowing a glorious vacuum of space to exist around and within his music.
As he himself puts it: ‘the album certainly rewards a thorough and engrossed listen, but equally the general atmosphere is pleasant enough to play for your auntie when she comes for tea.’
Telemachus came up via the UK hip hop scene but was equally attracted to the sounds of grime, jungle, jazz, soundtracks and trip hop. Here he filters and distils them all into one trance-inducing collection of songs that sound both tribal and born from dark urban streets. Sounds hang suspended or cosmically drip from the speakers in a mist of digital drizzle and organic contact points. Jazz guitar and bass riffs pop up like funk meerkats before being subsumed back into the slow swirling miasma.
UK psych and baggy indie combine with 60s melodies and 21st century psych-pop explorations on this new catchy and expansive track from Los Angeles-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Danyew who played in Foster The People for six years before leaving to focus on his own music as Elephant Castle.
Danyew calls the song “A tongue-in-cheek anthem for the underdog.”
The sounds of Africa have been explored, excavated and reissued with great enthusiasm in recent years – from the Soundways compilations to Soul Jazz’s Nigeria series and many more. The sound has filtered through into plenty of contemporary acts too – Goat come to mind with their mix of African, psych and Krautrock sounds and this Oakland CA USA group Orchestra Gold are another fine example, with singer/dancer Mariam Diakite and the arranger and guitar player Erich Huffaker, plus an all-star cast comprised of musicians from the Bay Area and Santa Cruz.
II is their third EP, following 0 and I which were released in April this year. Authentic sounds and production, endlessly rhythmic and infectious sounds!