By Adam Robinson
Sink your teeth into this mish-mash mix of songs this week as we explore moody dreamscapes, illusions, rainy seasons, club night-outs, adultery, and space (hopefully not all at once) to get you through the days as they get darker and the nights colder. These musicians are here to help you understand that you’re not alone when that charming Politics guy from Trev’s left you alone on the dancefloor or why that hockey player girl ghosted you after you had a good time together at klute and the morning after flat-white date. Life’s full of odd mysteries but that’s why we dream I suppose. Got your coffee and snack? Good. Let’s begin:
For fans of Cigarettes after Sex and possibly either Mazzy Star, or any other dream pop band, this is a going to be a rare treat. Released in 2015 from their EP Illuminaughty, (I laughed too when I heard the name) their song is drenched in misty jazz and amazing vocals. This is, however, only a fan made video (and I’m not really sure what is going on in it other than it looks like an Instagram filter going berserk) but it really suits the meandering smoky pace of the song, and the band in the comments endorsed it so why the heck not use it. Enjoy with a comfy pillow and a window to stare out of. Or if you’re at a party this is your perfect cringe-worthy (but secretly worth it) slow-dance song with the one you’re chirpsing.
Why, oh why, oh why, did they not include this on their main album and only on the deluxe edition?! Perhaps it’s the indie collector’s predisposition to horde and hide their favourite gems from the supposedly common filth of ‘mainstream music,’ although I think, in this case, it was just a simple marketing error. ‘Seasons run’ is a return to their guitar based atmosphere with the added nuance of a string orchestra and it is one of the best songs on the album, entitled I See You (released in September). With the same emphasis upon Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that other musicians such as Two Door Cinema Club and Lana del Rey have explored, the xx’s contribution is another brilliant addition to the theme. They’re caught between worlds and seasons. Has the bleak northern November rain got you down? The xx have got your back.
Ever wondered what liquid smoke sounds like in slow-motion? The kind that floats out of your fancy cocktail or when that one friend of yours does that trick they do with their e-cig for the millionth time. No? Still, just listen to this song. Slick, measured and constantly oozing, this song is smoothly saturated in vibey goodness. Tirzah is upset that her partner has done her wrong and is looking for recompense. I hope to God that her partner, whoever the poor sod is, found out that she was mad at them via listening to this song. Their facial expression (and yours when you first listen to this) would be priceless.
This lot you won’t find on Spotify or any other platform very easily. This song, from their album Afrodisiac (1994), as the ‘Guy from Newcastle’ quite rightly says on his YouTube channel, (in dad-like fashion) is meant to be played loud. I always imagined this song to be the opening credits for an episode of Skins or a 90’s young adult sitcom but it can be enjoyed simply by itself as an uplifting piece of alternative soul. They were pioneering black soul shoegazers and even this article gives them the accolade of being the forerunners to The Weeknd. They were swept up in the grunge fever of the 1990’s and were quietly forgotten until fairly recently. They deserve a resurgence after so long. They’re just too good to be wasted.
It might be a bit pre-emptive to start thinking about December’s festivities but Paperchase has started to so why can’t I? Released a couple of days ago on BBC Radio 1 Pale Waves continues to make music that you can dance and have an emotional epiphany to. I was a bit miffed at first when I discovered the Palatinate had got to them before I could in this lovely interview they did here. However, I was even more excited to discover that Heather Baron-Gracie (lead-singer) grew up in the same northern city I did, perhaps she’s singing about the same New Year’s Eve I had once enounctered (probably not but it would nice if I wasn’t the only one). So its New Year’s and the pressure is on to be that ‘couple’ in that notorious postcard mid-fireworks-kiss moment. Things don’t always go to plan and the emotional fallout can be equally as intense as the fireworks. So the next time its New Year’s and you’re trying to find something to clamp your choppers on, just take a second and remember this song. Also to really (and I mean really) get into this song: smudged mascara, ripped jeans/coats and wet hair with glitter messed up in it (but with lovely shoes) is required. “I don’t wanna be alone on New Year’s Eve, do you even wanna be with me?” at which point a kind club bouncer would hand you mountains of tissues while you have a quiet moment next to a rusty skip.
The word ‘haunting’ doesn’t do it justice. To commemorate the end of the Cassini-Huygens Mission, Sarah Schachner (the brains behind the outstanding soundtracks of the Assassins Creed games) made this breath-taking song which was released in September. Using actual images captured by the NASA probe and a heavy reliance on synth and violins, she creates something you can literally drift off into. This song is brilliant for if you’ve been struggling to sleep because of work/studying or just need something to help you focus. Mind you I showed this to a friend of mine while writing this and she said very quietly that she was scared of the music video, at which point I laughed, but you have been warned. (A similarly creepy but kind of cute song which creates a dramatic cosmic landscape would be Loveliescrushing – Babybreath (1994)).
I can only apologise to my college neighbour for playing this (along with a whole host of other songs) on repeat in the dead of night (this is my written apology note if you’re reading this btw Katie). I only found this song this year even though it was released in 2014. Mixing a disco heavy beat and seductive bass guitar line with the increasing realisation that his partner is cheating on him (ironically with an uplifting tempo), it has the same dance appeal Mr. Brightside has – If you ignore the fact that that song has been overplayed to death. The video for Not This Time is fantastic. Camp and unapologetic it’s a classic pride celebration. I only feel sorry for the poor walls and surfaces of the random pub which are being battered by all the lip-syncing and high heels. This one isn’t really about dreams but it has drag queens, which is a fantasy based thing so let me just have this. A cool game I found was to spot which drag character in the video you want to be. P.s I want the blue one in the kitchen scene to actually cook for me because I think it would be absolutely hilarious.
Nightmarish. Mad. Insane. Chaotic and Satanic. Believe me these are actually compliments. This song by Danny Brown plays out as if he decided after going on a chemical binge he’ll just casually step into the TV screen while Friends/The Golden Girls (or any other American sitcom you can think of) is on and exist in that world rather than the real one. It is an escapist satire perhaps based on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Brown says how his life got consumed by drugs and addiction (literally turned upside down) and he became the prince of hell rather than Bel Air. Another title for this song could even be American Horror Story: Bel Air (Ryan Murphy I hope you’re taking notes). The lyrics are just as mad as the decadent trumpets used and relentless bass and bars that backdrops Brown’s increasing self-induced hysteria “Jokes on you but Satan’s the one laughing”. Addiction is pain but Ain’t it Funny. All gore and sarcasm aside I want his leather jacket in this video. Like, seriously. Enjoy!
I really am spoiling you this week with this one, I hope you know that. To continue the theme of adultery we conclude our dreamy journey with this poetic guitar ballad of love. The kind of love where you’ve left the relationship and you know it’s a bad and toxic mess but you still say “Call me sometime”. We’re only human after all, so consider this song as a return to reality. We want to have the strength to never want to talk to that certain somebody ever again because they sucked but, like I said before, things don’t always go the way you want. Especially if you’re in Durham and doing the joy that is the walk of shame at 6AM or in Tesco’s buying bread and bump into that other ‘special’ somebody from last year. As Nilüfer struts around a British seaside village that may or may not be near Osea Island, Essex (which is the one Woman in Black used for that creepy swamp road up to that certain house, luckily though Daniel Radcliffe isn’t here to ruin it for Nilüfer). She sings a gorgeously written song with a good use of inflatables. “Do you like Pain? Babyluv.” The truth hurts. You can see it in her eyes.
Illustration: Katie Butler