Time for the regular monthly Track Recommendation Bonanza, the rules for which are very simply as follows (hey, why don’t you take this format and do your own? I’m always keen to listen to new stuff!):
Each month, I’ll pick ten tracks from my current playlist, plus two albums or EPs and one live show video or playlist of live tracks.
Without further ado, let’s see what we’ve got this month!
The July Playlist
The individual tracks I’m highlighting this month are:
1. Newton Faulkner – This Town – an underrated one, this, in Faulkner’s back catalogue. His best-known hits are probably tunes like Dream Catch Me and Badman, but I think This Town is a great example of the sort of delicate guitar picking he’s really good at.
2. Twin Atlantic – Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator – I like a vocalist with a strong accent; Sam McTrusty has a great Scottish accent that comes through really nicely on this song, and it’s got some banging rhythms to boot.
3. Dio – Holy Diver – an absolute classic; the video feels like Castlevania swigging at a flagon of heavy metal.
4. System of a Down – Chop Suey! – the only lyrics I know (aside from the slower bits) are ‘why’d you put your keys up on the table?’, and I’ll be darned if I have any idea what that means, but this song’s just so fun.
5. RuPaul – American – I’m not American, and yet this song makes me feel some feeling that might be a cousin of patriotism. A hope, perhaps, that the USA can be better than it sometimes feels like it’s leaning towards becoming. And yes, I sometimes listen to RuPaul. It’s often genuinely good, so put that in your tuck and… smoke it.
6. BABYMETAL – Doki*Doki*Morning – I really like BABYMETAL’s self-titled debut album. It’s about exactly what you’d expect the metal offshoot of a J-pop idol group to sound like, in the sense that it leaps dramatically between the two genres with no pauses whatsoever. This particular tune is a really good example of that.
7. Broken Social Scene – 7/4 Shoreline – I’m an absolute sucker for irregular time signatures, so a song that’s not only in 7/4 but even names itself for it is made for me. Done right and once your ear settles into it, odd time can have a sort of waving ease to it, and 7/4 Shoreline is a rare really good irregular-time track that isn’t super proggy or out-there.
8. Reki – Spores of Mind – I’m trying to get a little bit more into ambient Japanese jazzhop, because I do like nothing if not a bizarrely specific genre which turns out to have an absolute wealth of content behind it. Reki is one of the first artists I discovered, and I’m loving what I’m hearing so far.
9. Nightwish – Amaranth – the song that triggered my first investigations into heavier music, Amaranth is heavy yet accessible, melodic and symphonic and chugging all at the same time. I need to listen to more Nightwish.
10. Jimmy Webb – Wichita Lineman – what a tune. Recorded perhaps most famously by Glen Campbell, I think this track shows the skills of a really great pure songwriter, one who’s been active for decades. (He also wrote MacArthur Park, a song about a cake left out in the rain sung very earnestly by Richard Harris, who would later go on to be the pre-Gambon Dumbledore.)
I’ve only just discovered Porcupine Tree – I think I was browsing Muse’s TV Tropes page and saw them mentioned as a not-dissimilar potential if-you-like-X-you’ll-like-Y sorta thing – and I really like Deadwing in particular. Arriving Somewhere but Not Here is a highlight for me, but it’s one of those albums that I like to listen to the whole way through rather than in disparate tracks.
As for Path of Miracles, I’ve loved this for ages. Composer Joby Talbot, whose only other work I know is dolphin song So Long and Thanks for All the Fish from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie, created this four-movement journey to follow the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. All four pieces are beautiful, but I particularly like the first few minutes of the first of the four, in which the voices do this phenomenal sort of fade-in-and-slide that I wouldn’t have believed would be possible to do physically with just voices. I thought for ages that it must be mixed with some kind of effects or something, but nope. I get goosebumps up my spine, honestly.
And, finally, my recommended live show for the month of July is Tenacious D playing at German festival Rock am Ring only a couple of weeks ago. I saw this pop up and just thought ‘well, heck, Tenacious D are still going? I gotta see this’. Their set is just fantastic, including a bunch of classic old tracks and what amounts to an epic fantasy stage play in which – you guessed it – Jables and Kage encounter the Devil and have a rock-off with him. They’ve still got it, that’s for sure.
As a semi-relevant aside, I’m having a great time music-wise at the moment. Back in mid-May I (and my partner and her family) saw old bluesy-rockers Dr Feelgood, then late May Hannah and I saw Take That’s 30 year anniversary tour. In mid-June I went with her brother and dad to see Muse, which was absolutely spectacular, and next weekend we’re all off (so me, Hannah, her brother, and her mum and dad) to watch Rammstein, which should be truly epic. And then in August she and I are popping off to the town where I went to university to watch WWE’s NXT UK Takeover, usually a very good wrestling show. I’m having a fantastic string of live events!
… and that’s the playlist for July! Check back at the beginning of August to see what I’m beaming into my earholes by then.