Some music is invented for a dark room, silence and solace. It’s the type of music you need for yourself, for contemplation and indulgence. But it still often sounds best as a shared experience. I came back from a music fuelled visit of Kanada with that shared experience still ringing loud in my ears and resonating through my heart. Songs that AnneMarie played somehow sounded different to how they could ever have sounded had I stumbled across them myself, for she hears things in songs that I do not and through her I have a window into them that I may not have otherwise. One of the bands that I found myself keeping coming back to was London’s A Grave With No Name. With AHouseDownTheRoad favourite Alanna McArdle’s vocals Dig Me Out is a charming, punchy little pop song that bubbles along, the kind that takes a grey sky and turns it blue such is the enduring optimism.
I’ve written about Sheen before on these pages. They are about to release the debut double A-side single Skylarks/Hey. Neither has quite the same shimmer and sparkle as Lovelust, or the same indulgent bludgeoning as Lunaire, but Skylarks is loud, urgent, intense, and most important of all – fun. Hey covers the other end of the spectrum. It has a lazy, dreamy charm that threatens to explode before reverting back to default as it lulls you into a false sense of security before descending into a chaotic, conscious altering blowout mess, the kind of distorted fantasy of sound that should not work, but in reality happens to be rather mind blowing.
Fresh Snow‘s debut long player is an ambitious beast: from the moment the swirling, incandescent and hook-laden opener that is French Horse Hall of Fame goes straight into a post-rock neo-classical composition, I is a wonderful journey. It’s a journey that oozes groove and feels more enriching with every listen. The song that grabbed me first is To A Sea, an upbeat, almost catchy halcyon digestif that takes their cavaliering style and runs with it.
I found Fresh Snow and Weaves working my way through this superb list of Canadian bands to look out for. Take A Dip is a refreshingly skewed sacrilegious anthem, a song that sounds as though it really don’t give a fuck. Rock and Roll was always supposed to sound like this and it’s addictive.
Moving further afield, I came across Melbourne bedroom genius Fergus Miller, aka, Bored Nothing this week. The eponymous debut album is full of understated, lazy charm – channeling all of the slacker cool one man can surely muster, and investing it into song titles such as Shit For Brains and Build A Bridge (And Then How About You Get The Fuck Over It).The standout track is Bliss, I’ve barely listened to Elliot Smith and yet as the vocals kick in it was as though his ghost was calling to me. Get over the shock and you’ll find one of the tracks of the year: Miller mixes a big sound, a fragile voice and lyrics full of bile to devastating effect, as his vocals caress your cheeks the glorious wall of noise and fuzz of the reverb fuelled guitars pummel at your ears. It’s both richly indulgent and strangely tender.
Moving to America but staying in the bedroom, Observer Drift, makes what I fear people call ‘Chillwave’. Whatever it is, Machine is 6 minutes of blissed out joy. It is full of nostalgia, sounds that wistfully hark back to a safe place in your head, with enough upbeat synth to carry you back to the modern day, arms aloft.
I normally only do 6 songs, because, you know, Sunday is God’s Day. But this week I have 7. Without Your Ex-Lover Is Dead this blog wouldn’t be called AHouseDownTheRoad and might not even have existed. From a shared love of this stunning song, a conversation in the car over the story it tells, to quoting the lyrics at airports and finally to standing at the top of Mont Royal and seeing Pont Champlain was pretty special for this one correspondent. And to think I always thought it was ‘Pontchamp Lane’…