1.) ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by Screamin J Hawkins (At Home with Screamin Jay Hawkins, 1956)
Start this one around 1:40 – the only soundcloud track of this song I could find was part of a radio show.I always find myself coming back to this Screamin J Hawkins tune. It is hands down the best vocal performance recording I’ve ever heard. I love that he recorded it completely wasted which resulted in this song having no inhibitions, just primitive and pure, raw emotion.
Hot tip: There is only one cover of it worth listening to and that’s Nina Simone’s version.
2.) ‘Dead Radio’ by Rowland S. Howard (Teenage Snuff Film, 1999)
The opening lines of this song alone are enough to express my love for Rowland S Howard’s music.
My first introduction to his music was around 2011 when I saw the documentary on his life “Autoluminescent”. I was instantly moved by his unique approach to guitar playing, and his dark but romantic persona. There is a distinctive atmosphere that is generated from Rowland’s music. It swallows you up while highlighting the essentials of human existence. From the early nerve-jangling wails of feedback heard in The Birthday Party to his tender, solo records decades later, Rowland had a constant thirst for exploration allowing him to find his own unique sound and artistic vision.
3.) ‘Black Is The Colour (Of My True Love’s Hair)’ by Nina Simone (Nina Simone at Town Hall, 1959)
This performance is utterly mesmerising and chills me to the bone. As with every song, Nina effortlessly breathes wisdom into every phrase, weaving a seductive spelll, offering us deliverence. This song epitomises her brilliance for musical storytelling and power to induce exaltation. Nina sings and her emotions are sent resonating into the ether.
4.) ‘Shut Up’ by Savages (Silence Yourself, 2012)
This was the first Savages song I ever heard so I thought it would be a good one to include. Last year I saw them live in Brighton and I was literally blown away by the sheer force of their conviction. A band with true intent and a sound that expands every orface of space. Savages create a magnetic field that sucks you in, urging you towards revolt. ‘Silence Yourself’ is quintessential listening from one of the best bands around right now. World class.
5.) ‘Kollaps’ by Einstürzende Neubauten (Kollaps, 1981)
This West Berlin, early industrial band are not for the faint of heart, which is why I’ve chosen ‘Kollaps’, a track from their first album of the same name. Einstürzende Neubauten in their most authentic form; primitive, radical and extreme and featuring a hash of self made instruments from music machines to scrap metal plates. This is one of the only bands to ever terrify & gladden me at the same time. Madman Blixa Bargeld (otherwsie known for his efforts in Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) leads the band with anarchic shrieks above unrelenting harmonic and rhythmic repetitions. This is the soundtrack to the apocolypse, music intended to pulverise the listener.
6.) ‘Walkin’ With The Beast’ by The Gun Club (B side of Fire of Love single 1982)
I’ve only recently started listening to The Gun Club and I actually prefer the LP version of this song from ‘The Las Vegas Story’ album. Any album dedicated to Deborah Harry wins my attention. The Gun Club are surprisingly underappreciated for a band that spawned a sound associated more immedietly with acts like The Velvet Underground. Their sound is a marriage of blues and punk music. An abounding catalogue of swamp rock beats and blazing slide guitar adorned with the crooning of Jeffery Lee Pierce. What more could you want?
7.) ‘My House’ by Mangelwurzel
Melbourne’s Mangelwurzel are a shit hot band. Live they are electrifying, blending a plethora of sounds to create a joyous form of mutant rock. Their songs are catchy, clamorous organisms souped up by lead singer Cosima’s vivacious prowess. They make you want to party. Mangelwurzel! When can I come to your house?
8.) ‘Biscuit’ by Portishead (Dummy, 1994)
‘Dummy’ is the kind of album that trancends time and space. Ten exeptional, fully formed songs and at the heart is Beth Gibbons’ ghostly compelling and soulfull wails of beaten down anguish. This song shows off a soiree of musical influences like blues, hip hop scratches, dub beats, re-sampling and reverb drenched 60’s guitar licks. Its the smoky ambience throughout the album that holds you ransom, demanding repeated listens until you’ve rid yourself of present distractions and are completely subdued.
9.) ‘Divinity’ by Kucka
Kucka is a Perth artist who’s new music I am constantly anticipating, probably because Laura Jane Lowther’s exploration of her sound is fresh and constantly evolving. Each new track moves into previously unheard territory. Divinity’s uniquness comes from Kucka’s signature off-kilter rhythms and otherworldly vocals but its the subject matter and fluidity of this song that make it a stand out for me. The soft bubbling electronics and entrancing vocals melt over slow paced dubby beats. To me the lyrics express an intimate affair with one’s own creativity and the accompanying video is just sublime.
10.) ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ by PJ Harvey (Let England Shake, 2011)
If there is an album that wins most repeated plays by me it’s ‘Let England Shake’. PJ Harvey in her finest form. In January I had the pleasure of watching her record parts of her next album at Somerset House. What an experience. A tiny peek into the illustrious mind of an artist I truly admire. As heard in this song, throughout Let England Shake PJ Harvey narrates stories about the darkness of war, drenching them in ethereal sounds whilst dancing with musical complexities. A pure example of artistic vision. A monumental piece of work.
That brings me to the end of my mix. Hopefully you enjoyed it!