Soundtrack to the spring of 2013

The album of the spring has been Cat Power’s, Sun (2012). This is new ground for Chan Marshall – an electronic pop/rock album. It’s political and intense but feels upbeat and actually makes me want to dance, which is not something I thought I’d ever say about  a Cat Power album. I can’t really pick a single track as a favorite, but here’s 3,6,9.

I’ve also been listening to Kate Bush’s ambient album Aerial (2005)  a lotI wasn’t very impressed with Aerial when it was first released, but it’s grown on me since and is now one of my top 5 Kate albums, the others being Hounds of LoveThe Dreaming50 Words for Snow and The Kick Inside. There’s something very life-affirming about Aerial that’s encapsulated in the joyous title track.

Andy picked up Martha Wainwright’s new album, Come Home to Mama (2012). It’s a shiny, sexy, slinky affair. In places the sound reminds me a little of early Kate Bush. But then the astounding ‘Proserpina‘ (written by her late mother, Kate McGarrigle) comes along and makes my hair stand on end.

I got Patti Smith’s latest album Banga (2012) which is definitely my favorite since Gone Again (1996).  There’s a wide range of styles on this album, anthemic rock songs, touching ballads and a nice cover of Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’. The title track ‘Banga‘ is just classic Patti Smith.

Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball (2012) is a return to angry and political form and is just brilliant. It’s full of the big chiming guitar anthem songs he does so well, such as We Take Care of our own.

I’m still not sure what to make of the new album from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Push the Sky Away (2012), but I usually find that his albums take a few listens to sink in. The stand out track for me so far is ‘Jubilee Street‘. I love the strings here.

My top americana album this spring has to be Anais Mitchell’s ‘Young Man in America‘ (2012). I’ve been listening to the title track pretty obsessively. There was more from Anais when Andy got Child Ballads (2013) a collaboration between Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer. These are stunning new versions of very well-known songs. I love ‘Willie of Winsbury’, but they don’t seem to have that on Youtube so here’s Tam Lin .

I also really like Sharon Van Ettan’s Tramp (2012). The songs are perhaps a tad samey, but I think she’s got a good sound and if she continues the way she’s going she’ll be really interesting. I particularly like We are fine, which is about social anxiety and panic attacks.

It’s rare that a week goes by without my listening to some Kristin Hersh and this spring it’s mainly been Sunny Border Blue (2001), which I think is one of her best solo albums. It’s a very raw and tormented but also sexy and uplifting, a mood summed up in the opener, Your Dirty Answer

I’ve been getting into Robert Plant’s more recent work – I love Band of Joy and Raising Sand. I just got Mighty ReArranger (2005) on Spotify and my top track so far is Shine it all Around

The jury’s still out on Neil Young’s Americana (2012) a new covers album with Crazy Horse. I like it, but I’m not sure how much I like it. I’ve always preferred acoustic Neil to loud and crunchy Neil and this leans towards the loud and crunchy. Nice version of one of my favorite folk songs, Wayfarin’ Stranger though.

Random Tracks

  • Because I am a sap I keep listening to this love song by Nick Cave, To be be by your side
  • Martina Topley Bird’s awesome Shangri la has been a regular on my radio
  • I’ve been starting to get into Emiliana Torrinti recently and Fingertips has been the chill out track of the last month
  • I haven’t listened to Low in some time, but I recently rediscovered La la la song. It does me in for some reason.
  • I keep meaning to listen to more Santigold thanks to this wonderful song, The Riot’s Gone
  • I’ve been loving Fever Ray’s eerie Keep the Streets Empty for me 
  • How have I never really listened Stevie Nicks’s Edge of Seventeen before? Well, I’ve been rectifying the omission by listening to it over and over again for the last couple of weeks.
  • Another new artist for me is Marnie Stern, thanks to her song Building a Body. It sounds like it could fall apart at any moment, but she holds it all together. I love the riff and the use of the minor key for the chorus.
  • I always enjoy a bit of well-placed screaming and this month it’s been provided by Sleater-Kinney’s The Last Song. That must have been one hell of a break up.
  • Interesting cover of Patti Smith’s Because the Night from Garbage and Screaming Females (via @rubyfruitradio on twitter)
  • Finally, an old favorite from my childhood, Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence which always seemed to be playing in my house when I was a kid.

2 thoughts on “Soundtrack to the spring of 2013

  1. You’ve mentioned two firm favourites of mine – Come Home to Mama by Martha Wainwright is such a strong piece of work, so poignant, in terms of her mum dying and her becoming a mum. I think it may be her best album. Like you, I get shivery listening to Proserpina. I even introduced my cobbler, who’s a bit of a music-lover, to Martha. He was impressed. LOL!

    And Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. I came across this by chance some years ago, when I was about to make a long drive and had left my ipod and radio transmitter at home. Oh no!!!! I HAD to go and buy something, so I think I called in to a high street store like WHSmith and just got something that caught my eye. I was into Alison Krauss at that time so I grabbed it and having nothing else to listen to, I played it over and over on repeat. By the time I got to wherever I was going, I had fallen in love with the whole album.

    And as for Stevie Nicks, I have been trying for a while to track down a Stevie album, as I know she’s fab – I love her voice with Fleetwood Mac, but haven’t had a proper listen to just her before now. I much prefer to buy from a high street shop rather than online, but no one seems to have anything by her, so I may have to give in and get one online.

    I look forward to your soundtrack to the summer. Mine’s been almost silent as I can’t write while I listen to music with lyrics and it’s been good to just hear the birds and the bees.

    • Thanks for commenting. I do love both those albums.

      I’ve been having the same problem of not being able to find anything by Stevie Nicks in the record shops. It’s a bit strange.

      Silence is good too sometimes!

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