Soundtrack to a Week in the Country

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We spent last week in rural Mid Wales.  There was a crispness on the air and the scent of wood smoke as the local pubs started lighting up their fires. You could feel winter moving in.

Time to break out the folk and Americana.

Recent Listening

The Butchies, Make Your Life (2004)

This album is SO much fun. It’s just catchy, dumb, lesbian pop/rock tunes from beginning to end.

 

Image shows the album cover which is a red and black painting, showing a stylised man and woman at the centre with black plant designs around the edges

Tanya Donelly, This Hungry Life (2006)

I love everything Tanya Donelly’s done. This album feels less innovative than most of her other work, but it’s lovely.  Top tracks: “Kundalini Slide” and the title track, which makes me think of my grandmother for some reason.

This hungry life won’t let you out whole
But you can change a thing or two
Before you go
This hungry life
Might not leave you with much
But you can change your story
And throw a hand up from the mud

 

The album cover features a close-up photograph of PJ Harvey's mouth with smeared lipstick on the lens

PJ Harvey, Dry (1992)

I first heard this when I was about nineteen, which is the perfect age for it. It undid my brain and is probably still in my top twenty albums ever. Powerful, emotional and totally uncompromising. Top tracks: Dress and Sheela-Na-Gig.

The album cover features a widescreen photograph of the lead singer, Beth Gibbons, with a blue filter.

Portishead, Dummy (1994)

I remember my housemates at university listening to this when they broke up with people. Personally, I prefer the second album, but this wears well and still sounds classy. Top tracks: Roads and Glory Box

The album cover shows a sepia photograph of a naked man lying on a bed below an opened window.

Suede, Dog Man Star (1994)

Completely over the top and, yeah, maybe pretentious, but I like Dog Man Star. It’s an album to wallow in. Top tracks: This Hollywood Life and The Asphalt World.

The ablum cover features a collage of small black and white photographs

Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street (1972)

It’s a good time. Top track: Shine a Light

The album cover features a large pink flower with a yellow iris with orange flowers on the left and below

Lucinda Williams, Essence (2001)

Beautiful, melancholy songs and one of my Dad’s favourite albums. Top track: Blue

Soundtrack to last week

Image shows the cover of Lauryn Hill's album The Miseducation of Lauryn hill. The cover features a sepia headshot of the artist

Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

I hadn’t listened to this for years. The production is amazing and it still sounds incredibly fresh and vibrant, but you can also hear the influence its had on a lot of artists since it was released. A classic album. Top track, Ex-Factor

Image shows the cover of the Bonnie Prince Billy album, Ease Down the Road. It is a photograph of an empty green field on a cloudy day

Bonnie Prince Billy, Ease Down the Road (2001)

This isn’t one of my favourite BPB albums, but I like it. It’s mostly about sex and is fairly upbeat for Will Oldham. Top track, At Break of Day

Image shows the cover of Pulp's album Different Class. It is a photograph of a wedding party with a black border

Pulp, Different Class (1995)

Woah! This was a nostalgia trip and a half. Some of the lyrics seem a bit dated and immature now, but these are still great songs. I saw Pulp live twice, once when they played the entirety of their grim This is Hardcore album, and a second time when they were a lot more friendly! There was nothing like a storming ‘Common People’ encore. Tops track, Something Changed (because I am a sap).

Image shows the cover of Morcheeba's album Big Clam. It is a photograph of a blond white woman relaxed in a chair listening to a record player in a red room.

Morcheeba, Big Calm (1998)

I’d forgotten how much I like this album. It’s warm and comforting and lovely. I saw Morcheeba live once too and they were brilliant. Top track, Part of the Process 

Image shows the cover of Mary Gauthier's album Drag Queens in Limousines. It shows a blurry, sepia toned photograph of the artist reflected in a mirror

Mary Gauthier, Drag Queens in Limousines (1999)

I first saw Mary Gauthier live back in 2003 in a tiny coffee shop. It was incredible, everyone was crying and I was so drunk. I’ve seen her three times since and she’s always fantastic. This is a great album, sad but full of life and compassion. I love every song, so it’s very hard to pick a fave, but I’ll go with Our Lady of the Shooting Stars

Image shows the cover a greatest hits collection. The cover features three black and white photographs of Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, Respect: The Very Best of

I had to listen to some Aretha #RIP

Soundtrack to the Week

Album of the Week

Image shows the cover of Janelle Monae's album Electric Lady. It depicts Monae and five identical women dressed in black and white stripes. There is a skull in the lower left hand corner.

Janelle Monae, Electric Lady (2013)

I’ve been listening to this a lot recently. It’s a life-affirming joy of an album. There are so many great tracks here (‘Given Em’ What They Love’, ‘Q.U.E.E.N’, ‘Electric Lady’, Dance Apocalyptic’, ‘Ghetto Women’), it’s hard to pick a fave, but right now I think I’ll go with ‘We Were Rock and Roll

Image shows the cover of Ladytron's album 'Light and Magic'. It features an abstract design with purple and pink lines on a black background.

Ladytron, Light and Magic (2002)

I can’t say this one does a lot for me, but it’s fun electronica. I usually have it on in the background when I’m doing something else. Top track: Seventeen

Image shows the cover of the album Raising Sand. It features a black and white photograph of Robert Plant (L) and Alison Krauss (R) standing in a desert, both looking away to the left

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (2007)

A lovely collaboration from two brilliant vocalists, plus a fantastic production from T. Bone Burnett, results in a very satisfying listen. Top track: Please Read the Letter

Image shows the cover the Townes Van Zandt compilation album Drama Falls Like Teardrops'. It features an oval sepia toned photograph of Townes on a white background.

Townes Van Zandt, Drama falls like Teardrops (2002)

Epic compilation with almost forty tracks. I love Townes Van Zandt, but I have to say, this album is a lot of Townes in one go and I find it a bit of a slog to get through.

Image shows the cover of the collaborative album Case/Lang/Veirs. It features an abstract image that conveys a sense of icebergs, seas and mountains

Case/Lang/Veirs (2016)

This is a regular listen for us. It’s a beautiful work from three amazing vocalists and songwriters. I particularly like how you can tell who led on the writing of each song, but it’s still a coherent album. Top track: Atomic Number

 

Soundtrack to the Week

Album of the Week

LP

LP, Lost on You (2016)

LP has been around for ages. My girlfriend saw her play live about twelve years ago. She finally seems to be getting some traction as a purveyor of upbeat, lesbian pop/rock. I’ve been listening to this all week. It’s more bluesy than her last album and is full of catchy tunes like ‘Muddy Waters’, ‘Lost on You’, ‘Other People’ and ‘Strange’. A lot of fun.

Top Track, ‘No Witness’

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Soundtrack to the Week

Pixies

The Pixies, Complete ‘B’ Sides (2001) 

This is a great compilation, which includes the first Pixies song I ever heard, ‘Wave of Mutilation’ (UK Surf). Top tracks for me are ‘Into the White‘ (oh my god, those drums at the beginning before Kim Deal starts intoning “And there ain’t no light”), and this fantastically ominous cover of Neil Young’s ‘I’ve been waiting for you‘.

tindersticks

Tindersticks, Curtains (1997)

I probably never would have come across this band, but my college housemate, who was into them, used to put songs on mixtapes for us. They have since established a place in my music collection with their lush, romantic, and slightly seedy dirges. Top track, ‘Rented Rooms’.

murmur

REM, Murmur (1983)

Still sounds amazing (and incomprehensible). Top track ‘Talk about the Passion’ 

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