Hullo. Welcome back to your weekly portion of pop picks. I trust you’re well and the winter weather isn’t biting too fiercely. Thanks to everyone for their kind shares on Facebook last week, it’s nice to know you’re happy to spread the Nobody’s Listening Love. Keep doing that voodoo that you do so well.
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My very good friend, bandmate and bridesmaid to Su Pollard, Paul D’Cruz is here once again. His pick of the week this time around is no stranger to the playlist although his previous appearance was as a solo act way back when.
Shall we get going then? Ok. Here, my dear…
Track 1. Love Letters by Metronomy.
We’re straight off the bat with our cover stars this week and the title track from their fourth LP released in 2014. Metronomy are my type of band, willfully experimental but also unafraid to flirt with the sugary side of pop. This particular track falls in the latter category and with its day-glo Michel Gondry directed video below the saccharine levels are close to causing tooth decay. Intelligent but catchy as a catchers mitt, it remains for me the best thing they’ve done to date.
Track 2. Daddy Don’t Know About Sugar Bear by Marva Whitney.
We welcome back an artist who has previously appeared on the playlist next, Soul Sister #1, Marva Whitney. Probably most famous for ‘It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To),’ a response to The Isley Brothers’ hit ‘It’s Your Thing’, Marva had a long career as a highly regarded singer of raw power releasing cracking, brassy 45’s such as this single released in 1972. Just listen to that opening wail, a trick she picked up from her former gaffer, Mr James Brown.
Track 3. Finistère by The Lilac Time.
****PAULO’S PICK OF THE WEEK****
Stephen Duffy is also no stranger to the playlist, his superb mid eighties solo effort ‘Icing On The Cake’ made an appearance on Nobody’s Listening back in the early days. Here, Paul has gone for a track from Duffy’s underappreciated baroque pop band The Lilac Time. Taken from their fourth Lp ‘Astronauts’ released during their brief time on Creation records in 1990. I recall it was about this time they played The Town Hall in Hartlepool, one of precious few acts that have made the stop in my North east hometown. To my shame, I didn’t go, probably contributing to the reluctance of bands to play these poorly attended outposts.
Track 4. Home In The Morning by The Smoking Trees.
Some modern day psych pop for you next with this 2015 single release from LA based duo The Smoking Trees. One half of the band, Sir Psych, describes the track thus. ‘Its a song about the comparison of life between a 20 year period. The youthfulness of night is reflected back through the years until today, which shows how life leads you into a totally different outcome from where you started from.’ Quite. All I know is that it’s a catchy, reverb swamped track that puts a spring in your step from the off before breezily going about its business two minutes later.
Track 5. Little by Little by Radiohead.
When ‘King Of Limbs’ dropped back in 2011, it was greeted with the usual chorus of ‘Why don’t they write proper songs anymore?’ which has followed every release since 1997’s ‘OK Computer’ with tedious inevitability. For me, the band have grown with every release and the syncopated rhythms of their eighth LP were another step in another direction. This is a standout track from that album and below is a superb live rendition which bolsters my opinion that they are the most important British band of the past 25 years, ‘proper songs’ or not.
Track 6. You Won’t See Me by The Clarendonians.
It’s been a while since we had a Wackers cover so let’s put that right with a take on one of McCartney’s best from 1966’s ‘Rubber Soul’. The original marked a gear change from Macca’s usual cheery love songs and was penned as a response to his then squeeze Jane Asher who he had recently fallen out with. This version from Jamaican ska band The Clarendonians was released the following year, the b-side to their single ‘The Jerk’ and it’s an absolute peach.
Track 7. Angel by Nice As Fuck.
It was a lovely surprise when this brand new supergroup announced their existence last year. Featuring the next Mrs Orley, Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley and Jenny Lewis fame along with Au Revoir Simone’s Erika Forster and The Like’s Tennessee Thomas, they quietly dropped their debut LP last summer. With just a drum and bass backing, Ms Lewis lends her always welcome tones to this track which has a lot of warmth despite its sparse arrangement. Now, if she would just return my calls..
Track 8. California’s Callin’ Ya by The Explorers Club.
No prizes for guessing who this South Carolina collective are influenced by. Over the three LP’s they’ve released thus far the spectre of one Brian Wilson looms large. This track comes from the third of those albums, last years ‘Together’ and could easily be mistaken for a long lost Beach Boys classic. As it is, it’s wholly original and so much more than a pastiche. Its production has a polished feel which elicits comparisons with overlooked latter day BB releases of the seventies such as ‘Good Timin”.
Track 9. Le Paradis Pour Toi by Gillian Hills.
Gillian Hills was born in Cairo in 1944 to adventurer Denis Hills and Dunia Leśmian, daughter of Polish symbolist poet Bolesław Leśmian. After spending some time living in France she signed with the French Barclay record label and released a clutch of singles in the early sixties including this light piece of Gallic pop. She also had an acting career appearing in seminal sixties films ‘Beat Girl’ and ‘Blow Up’ before retiring from ‘the biz’ in the early seventies.
Track 10. Lovin’ On Borrowed Time by Anitta Mitchell.
This weeks soul slowie closer is by an artist I have no information on whatsoever so I’ll just let this organ led slice of heartbreak speak for itself. I will however mention the superb guitar line which runs just underneath, ploughing it’s own furrow but never dominating proceedings. Just superb.
And that’s us done for another week. Don’t forget to keep spreading the good word. It’s really appreciated and it warms my heart when I see that other people are digging what I’m doing.
We’ll be in this very spot at the same time next Friday with another ten tunes of distinction.
Until then, take it easy my brother Charlie.