Friday, February 25, 2022

Songs About People # 1,323 Louis Wain


A wonderful song celebrating a specil artist, currently being celebrated in a just released film.

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 34 Lush- Loveless


The lovely Lush.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 720 Blur - Modern Life Is Rubbish


A fine record which as much as any heralded Brit Pop.

Song(s) of the Day # 2,952 Howless


To Repel Ghosts the debut album from Mexico City's Howless is instantly familiar, particularly to those of a certain vintage, like me for starters. It locates the spot where The Cure first decided that they actually might fancy Killing an Arab and Siouxsie & the Banshees started pretending they were from the Middle East rather than London's suburbia.

It's all highly derivative and probably best suited for those who have never quite got the inner-Goth DNA out of their bloodstream when it probably left mine at at some point in 1984. It's definitely a good record that should tick boxes for those who go for that stuff. 

If that doesn't entirely float your boat then it's still worth a listen if only to play spot the influence with music fans of a similar age to myself. I noticed In Between Days, early Cocteau Twins, Bauhaus, The Mission and Sisters of Mercy and then gave up as it was never the best developed section of my record lane. One to pop on next time you fancy rattling some chains around the living room.. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Mark Lanegan 1964 - 2022


Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 32 Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Welcome To The Pleasure Dome


Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 722 David Bowie - Let's Dance


Song(s) of the Day # 2,950 Nat Harvie


Yet another fine recommendation from Darren Jones, constant supporter of this blog, who is constantly suggesting great stuff that I almost certainly wouldn't come across otherwise.  I'm defintely grateful.

This one is from Nat Harvie an inhabitant of Duluth, Minnesota which just sounds like an interesting place full stop as well as being the hometown of Low, one of the greatest bands in the world.

Duluth only has a population of 87,000 so inevitably Harvie and Low's Alan Sparhawke share the same orbit. Harvie's latest album, or mini-album, Married in Song, is out on Sparhawke's label Chairkicker's Union.

It's full of early adult ennui and reflection about relationships, regret and general small town living. It's generally Juno in mood. A comparison I use a lot, but generally one that nails a certain sensibility. 

It's a great little record. So thanks again Darren and please keep them coming.

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 31 Foals - Holy Fire


Not a band I really understand. Particularly when they became huge.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 723 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes


Song of the Day # 2,949 Rot TV


Two days posts here. I forgot to actually post yesterday's .

Australia, and Melbourne, Australia in articular, seems to be the part of the world where they still understand and properly understand and cherish Rock and roll music and what made it so special in the first place. If that involves a certain amount of curation and loving restoration the so be it. Sometimes it's necessary.

What rot TV love most of all is Detroit 1968 and 1969. The MC5, The Stooges and plenty more, and how this all fed into Australia 1976 and 1977 and how it fuelled the tanks of the Saints, Radio Birdman.

That's all you need to know about teir latest album Tales of Torment. it sounds like that. exactly like that. They clearly love the whole package, and do it very well.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Life on Earth


Women seem to be pretty much in charge of things in the music world these days. That's a huge generalisation of course, and blokes and bands obviously have plenty to contribute but I'll just chuck a few names that seem to apply at you, entirely at random.

Weather Station, Courtney Barnett, Cate Le Bon, U.S.Girls, Sharon Van Etten, Goat Girl, Adrienne Lenker, Snail Mail, Cassandra Jenkins, Mega Bog, Jane Weaver, Little Simz, Greentea Peng.  That's a pretty formidable list off the top of my head. My Top 3 albums of last year were by female solo artists and I could have tweaked the final Top Ten fairly easily to make the whole thing female without betraying my essential musical tastes and preferences.

Add to that list Alynda Segarra or Hurray For The Riff Raff if you prefer. If she's not high on your list already. She may well be. She put out a fine album in The Navigator in 2017, and has a back catalogue that is worthy of exploration.

Her latest Life on Earth though seems like a point of genuine arrival. A realisation of where she's been heading to for the best part of ten years. Segarra does a fairly similar thing to Sharon Van Etten. That thing that Springsteen did on his albums up to Darkness at the Edge of Town. Walking the mean streets in your leather jacket. Not stepping aside for anyone and not showing any fear.

Segarra's own personal twist on this is a slight New Orleans one. She moved there from The Bronx in 2007. She's also taking an 'it's the end of the world as we know it,' eco-line on this one, like so many others right now. Inevitable frankly, given the state of the planet we live on.

This leads to a slightly unfortunate record sleeve for with a picture of Segarra up to her knees in what looks like a Bayou river, wearing the oddest and not the most fetching battle garb. It's a dreadful choice of image to be honest but you shouldn't let it put you off because the record itself is just excellent and finds Hurray For The Riff Raff shifting into an altogether higher gear than she's ever operated at before.

In a year that's already provided some completely excellent and inspiring records; Big Thief, Cate le Bon, John Xerxes Russell, Beach House, Green/ Blue, Costello and any number of others, Segarra finds herself in the leading pack as we head towards the end of February. But it's far too early yet to make predictions for end of the year podium places just yet. Nevertheless, this ones a definite candidate and I suspect it has staying power. It's already getting a play for me every few days.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Things Found on My Local's Jukebox # 488 Gil Scott Heron


A pub I've been going now for about 25 years. Every time I'm in Canterbury with my parents. A song I've been listening to for a fair bit longer. Always pricks the ears up.

Song(s) of the Day # 2,948 Shybits


I hesitate to use the P*** P*** label again on here. It's such a lazy, and ubiqitously applied label these days that's it's almost ceased to have any meaning whatsoever. Here they come. Yet another band with Gang of Four, Fall, B-52's, John Cooper Clarke, Wire or Mission of Burma records in their collection looking to make a quick buck / splash or turn a few heads by jarring, clattering and perhaps evenjangling and being determinedly angular.

Shybits, a Berlin based trio comprising a British frontman, an Italian bassist and a South African drummer do better than most by not coming on too clever and choosing to jangle and conciously entertain. I can't say how tired I'm getting of bands trying to come across as clever without saying anything. Or at least not anything I can relate to.

Instead, Shybits ramp up the Pop, the melody and the sheer fun on debut album Body Lotion. If they can be categorised as Post Punk, they're Post Punk on trampolines, jellybeans and fizzy pop. The contemporary band that they resemble most obviously is Atlanta's Omni, but they speed straight through Atanta and head for Athens, Georgia, and the late seventies and early Eighties, and one of the  most thrilling guitar scenes there's ever been.

So you get B-52's, Pylon, Method Actors, Oh Ok, Love Tractor, name your own personal favourites. Everyone but early R.E.M. really, they don't really sound like them, but R.E.M. would surely have been in the audience, enjoying what they do. They're trebly, they're bouncy, you can't really hear the lyrics but it never seems to matter. You always get the gist. it's pretty much about the sheer thrill of being young and the awareness of being alive.

Body Lotion. is just twelve tracks long and it all works for me. They're having lots of fun and its hugely infectious. Shelve any notions of giving the new Black Country, New Road record a spin and head for this instead.

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 30 Aztec Camera - High Land, Hard Rain


The best album ever made about being seventeen. Came out when I was seventeen. how lucky am I.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 724 Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus


Sunday, February 20, 2022

Tony Wilson


Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 29 Sleaford Mods - English Tapas


One of the English bands and phenomenons of recent years.

1982 Singles Post Script - Dexys Midnight Runners


A Post Script for this series of how wonderful 1982 was in terms of  music and especially singles wise. I imagine I could have chosen 60 songs fairly easily. Perhaps even 75, to describe how special it was. But I do know that I have a tendency to go on and on here.

But it was a special year. A cusp year before Thatcherism and Reaganism encroached rather too much, the charts became rather more American and by definition rather brash as it was mostly AOR and MTV America. The great stuff came from there mostly, and it was truly great, was coming from the underground. R.E.M. Husker Du, Sonic Youth, Minutemen, Replacements, Violent Femmes, Dream Syndicate. You could go on and on. You should go on and on.

But Dexys should certainly be mentioned when it comes to talking about 1982. Dexys came back from nowhere really, when they'd gone underground for a while and you were beginning to wonder if Kevin Rowland, who was beginning to come across as slightly unhinged in terms of his righteous and destructive fervour. They release Celtic Soul Brothers early in 1982 to introduce there new fiddles, dungarees and dirt look, and it was a relative flop. Only making it to # 45 in the singles charts in the UK first time.

They should have unleashed Come on Eileen straight away. They did so next and the world cracked open for them almost immediately, it was a quite unstoppable song. It was Number One in The UK, it seemed forever, and also got to Number One where they are oddly labelled as One Hit Wonders. America's loss. This band had any number of genius songs that they missed out on.

Anyhow Celtic Soul Brothers was re-released the following year and made the Top Twenty. in the UK Quite rightly. It deserved its moment. Pretty soon afterwards Rowland decided he wanted to rip it all up and start again. Again. He had form in this respect.He wouldn't be seen again for another couple of years and when he did return he would surprise us all again. Most of all his own record company who had no idea at all how to market another utterly wonderful third album.

Rowland was one of the true great mavericks and 1982 was probably the last year when the maverick figures of British Pop Music were firmly wher they belonged. High in the singles charts. it was a wonderful year to come of age. I ditched my NHS specs, got some much cooler John Lennon or Leon 
Trotsky ones, went from Secondary school to college and, music and self-construction wise, awaited the arrival and my discovery of R.E.M's Murmur and everything that came to be from that.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 725 Eminem - The Slim Shady LP


Song(s) of the Day # 2,947 Ben Auld


UK based Ben Auld's debut album Lemongrass is strictly in line with the Beatles songbook  commandments. Simple, crafted, melodic songs that maintain a resolute glass half full approach despite having a fair bit in common with Elliott Smith. 'Well adjusted Elliott'. A genre in itself.

It's altogether a sweet suite. None of the songs here will change your world, but they might well make it seem like a better place in the course of its run. Auld also seems to make sense when compared with other set of bands that took that kind of classic songwritting as their basis for doing things, dBs, Robyn Hitchcock, Teenage Fanclub, Wilco.

The record began to cast a rather lovely spell as I made my way through it and I'll be back. Auld is a talent. file next to Andy Shauf, Fog Lake and Daniel Rpmano in the young Classicists section of your recotd collection. Strictly beatles, Byrds, Big Star, Elliott. One of my favourite places.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Beach House - Once Twice Melody


Baltimore's Beach House's long awaited and much anticpated new album Once Twice Melody, sets off with its opening and title track as if it's on a mission. The mission seems to be to find the missing link between Serge Gainsbourg at his dreamy peak, Suicide's electro pulse, Nancy and Lee's Some Velvet Morning, Broadcast, The Whicker Man and Goldfrapp's marvellous Felt Mountain.

That's a pretty good place to start from and the record shifts on from there, twisting and turning in interesting ways for the course of its run. Like a smooth, high speed train, travelling fast while appearing to travel slowly at one and the same.

I'd like to say immediately that I think it's a very good record. I won't go into how it ranks among their back catalogue, as I'm not familiar with all of that. 'There was never enough time, Michael.  There was never enough time,' as Marlon Brando, (speaking from within the skin of Vito Corleone), said to Al Pacino, (listening from within the skin of Michael).

Beach House have been doing this, or things that are rather like this, for quite some time now. I first became aware of them about Veckatimest, the superlative 2009 Grizzly Bear album. I went to see them shortly afterwards play a great set at The Sage, in Gateshead.

Beach House were supporting them that night and though I was aware of and interested in them at the time, I arrived too late to see them. A mistake I cannot amend, though I'd like to. On Once Twice Melody they alternate vocals between the duo's core members Victoria Legrand Alex Scally, and it's quite a disarming process sometimes.

Nancy does the Nancy Sinatra / Broadcast thing while Alex can actually come across sounding rather like Neil Tennant. Not that I've got anything at all against Tennant and The Pet Shop Boys at all. Far from it. But it does come across as a strange, contrasting ride sometimes. But it still works remarkably and incredibly soothing. There are also hints of Flaming Lips occasionally and certainly Kraftwerk which all adds to the mix. 

Anyway it's a fascinating and rewarding listen. A record to fall asleep to, and I mean that in the best sense of the term and experience. It will give you sweet dreams. One to listen to and tease out the nuances from over the coming months. 

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 28 Belle & Sebastian - The Boy with The Arab Strap


1982 Singles # 1 The Go Betweens


So, to my favourite single of 1982, a quite wonderful year for music. A magical year. A single that never ever got anywhere near the upper or even lower reaches of any actual singles chart ever and I don't think I actually heard until a couple of years later, when I first started to get into this band, the namers of this actual blog.

The Go Beweens were pointing the way I would go next in terms of my musical tastes. The singles charts became less interesting I'd say over the next couple of years. More Thatcherite, more Reaganite, blander. Less honest. Scrambling for a buck. A lot of the bands I've celebrated on here in this series became less interesting too or had just had enough, or run their course and disbanded. Associates, Japan, Clash, Jam, or sold out pure and simple in the case of Simple erm Minds.

So I moved elsewhere, to R.E.M., The Go Betweens, The Smiths, Aztec Camera, The Triffids, Lloyd Cole & the Commotions. Not all of this stuff got into the actual singles charts but was a lot more interesting to me than the stuff that did and described the person I was, or was in the process of becoming or wanting to become. It spoke to me and I'm so glad it did. I'm still learning from it.

Still, to Cattle and Cane, perhaps the finest moment of a very fine band who had several wonderful moments though they sold precious few records, at least at the time. The world seems to have finally woken up to how great they were. Too late for Grant McLennan, the writer of this song.He passed, in 2006. Far too soon. Still with plenty of great songs and great thoughts within him. Still with plenty to give and say. It's a tragedy really.

It's no wonder this wasn't a hit really. I put it on the jukebox at my local on a busy Friday night a while back and given the general babble and chat, it sounded like three shy people trying to have an argument. It's one for the ages though . Too profound and nuanced for mass consumption. Though it does get its due these days. About memory and loss and about forging forward at the same time. What we all need to do. This is still a very good place to start when thinking about how to go about doing that, It's a masterpiece.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 726 David Bowe - David Bowie (Space Oddity)


Song of the Day # 2,946 International Soleil Band


Great start to the weekend. Something from Mali to get up and dance to.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 26 Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther


1982 Singles # 3 Associates

Associates were one of the most extraordinary and surprising UK chart sensations of all, though their run only lasted the course of 1982, and they only had three genine hit singles. Billy Mackenzie led them on to a few more minor chart placings after Alan Rankine left, but really they were just as much about Rankine as Mackenzie and they lost much of their glorious sparkle when he went.

But for a while they were utterly glorious and Smash Hits, Radio One and Top of the Pops went for them in a huge way. Especiallly Top of the Pops, and theirs were some of the most wonderful and memorable performances the programme ever saw.

This was largely about Mackenzie. He was an utterly astonishing performer. Not just that incomparable operatic range, but just as much for his quite incredible good looks, charm, the way he seemed just born for the TV screen. I remember he provoked one of those, 'did you see' conversations at my school one Friday morning from a teacher before the school day started. She didn't think much of him. She was great but what did she know. He and they were something else.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 728 Elliott Smth - Figure 8


Song of the Day # 2,944 Cola


I found out by chance yesterday that Ought, that splendid Montreal band that put out some of the most interesting Post Punk albums of recent years are no more. But that's the bad news. The good news is that two of them have got together with an ex drummer of U.S.Girls to form a new bad called Cola. They put out a song last year. If this is anything to go for they may be well worth watchig.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - The Way it Shatters

RBCF are back with The Way it Shatters ahead of their third album Endless Rooms, which arrives in May. This seems to auger well. Their trademark streamlined guitar ride.


Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 25 The Breeders - Last Splash


This one again.

1982 Singles # 4 Rocker's Revenge


A quite astonishing track.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 729 Dream Theater - Images and Words


Song(s) of the Day # 2,943 Green/Blue


Instant, instant love for this one and I suspect already that it might be my leftfield, underground American guitar record on here. There are generally a couple of those on  It Starts. Previously Lawn, (on a couple of occasions), Wild Firth and Warehouse, among others, have done this for me.

The record Offering the second album from Minneapolis band  Green / Blue kicks off 
with first track Talking to Myself  in an uncannily similar fashion to the start of my favourite ever album and my favourite ever discovery of this type. 

An odd electronic sound, like some kind of electronic static and then the band kick in with wild rickety abandon and you know almost immediately that you're in very safe hands and that you're going to listen to a record you'll enjoy very much indeed.

Yes Talking to Myself  reminded me in the way it set off off the way Radio Free Europe kicked off Murmur in 1983 and Offering continued to offer that same mysterious, tangled, youthful thrill for the course of its run.

It's not as good as Murmur was. Very few thing are, but it has a very similar drive and determination. It sounds like a record that people were waiting for somewhere. I'm happy with that

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 24 Leftfield - Leftism


Monumental record.

1982 Singles # 5 Japan


So Japan disbanded, just when they had the world, or certainly the UK in the palm of their hand. There was too much going on within that band for them to possibl stay together. But before they went they registered one of the truly most remarkable Top Ten singles there have ever been.

Songs like Ghosts should not really be on daytime radio or Top of the Pops on Thursday nights. they resonate too much. But there it was. And then despite their record companies desperate ploy of releasing everything in their back catalogue that might be a hit, to keep the cash tills ringing, they were gone leaving they field they'd ploughed for Duran Duran to reap an undeserved harvest over the next couple of years.

David Sylvian and the rest of the band released plenty of wonderful stuff to keep Japan fans more than happy over the coming decades, but it was a shame somehow that the original group didn't hang together somehow to release a follow up to Tin Drum. It would surely have been something else.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 730 Breeders - Last Splash


From Pixies to Breeders on here.

Song(s) of the Day # 2,942 Empath


There's a wilful, ineptness, a messiness to the way underground Philadelphia quartet Empath play on latest album Visitor. It sounds like each musician is playing in totally different bands and the singer is singing for someone else too. It's a quality they share with the likes of millenial Post Punk pioneers Life Without Buildings, and The Raincoats and Kleenex from the late Seventies and early Eighties.

This is not easy listening. It is clattering, jarring and consistently discordant. I'm not sure whether I'll go back to it but have to take my had off to its bloody minded intent. It walks its own road. But I think I'll take it off now.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 23 The Chemical Brothers - Dig Your Own Hole


1982 Singles # 6 ABC


ABC have as good a claim as any to have owned 1982.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 731 Pixies - Trompe Le Monde


Song(s) of the Day # 2,941 Grace Cummings


Australian Grace Cummings doesn't pill her punches for a moment in recently released second album Storm Queen. It's full on,soaring,  torch singer stuff, with a steely, classically rich voice reminiscent immediatelyo f Joan Baez, Marianne Faithfull and Judy Henske.

It's rather stentorian, old school and humourless for my personal taste, (many of these songs could easily have featured in Don't Look Now, or have been sung by the Folk crown in small Greenwich Village venues in previous years, there's not the remotest attempt to update the sensibility) but mightily impressive in its way. All feeling rather 1965 rather than 2022 in tone. But the songs are sturdy vehicles and Cummings certainly has the voice to do them justice.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 22 Wolf Alice - My Life is Cool


Not my favourite band. But each to their own.

1982 Singles # 7 Simple Minds


Simple Minds changed my world in a small but definite way in 1982. They released the New Gold Dream album the glorious pop realisation of their talent that they'd been heading toward since their inception. I discovered it, wrapped myself up in it for months and worked my way through their back catalogue from there.

It was and still is a consummate work of art. They had three actual hit singles from it, something you would never have imagined happening at one point, and Jim Kerr, such a svelt and odd figure at the time, pranced and twisted on Top of the Pops on Thursday nights and on The Tube on Fridays. Then they decided they wouldn't mind becoming U2. What were they thinking? What were they thinking?

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 732 Public Image Ltd. - Metal Box


Song(s) of the Day # 2,940 Mild Orange


Sometimes I surprise myself. On Saturday morning, flipping through new album releases, I chanced upon Looking For Space, the third album from Aoeteroa, New Zealand guitar band Mild Orange and almost instantly fell under its spell. 

I liked it, even though it  reminded me of things I don't particularly care for. Coldplay for one. Snow Patrol. The Edge's guitar sound. But despite all that I found it quite captivating from the off.

Mild Orange add something of their own that made the record appeal to me. How I'd describe this 'something' is a sense of their own homeland and what makes it so special. Of light and space and wonder in a quite beautiful, apparemtly infinite landscape.

Not every song quite worked in the same way for me. There's can be an essential emptiness to this kind of thing if it's not done properly, the sense that it's music made for vast stadiums, for people to hold their lighters aloft to. The kind of thing which make the attention wander for the likes of me who prefer music that seems to be aimed to be heard in small, underground clubs, where Jonathan Richman, Robert Forster and Tom Verlaine are the male patron saints rather than Chris Martin or Bono.

Nevertheless, when it hits it hits. Mild Orange seem to understand the essence of what makes this kind of thing work. Hailing from one of the most remote spots on Earth might be the key to why this appeals for me while so much of the music it reminds me of doesn't. The band have genuine heart and sincerity. Soul. I like Looking For Space very much and will return to it.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Grant McLennan


For Grant McLennan, namer of this blog. Would have been 64 today.

Tim Burgess - The Listening Party # 21 Gomez - Bring It On


An offbeat, quirky album clearly made by close friends that brightened my day in a period where there didn't seem to be much going on music wise.

1982 Singles # 8 Robert Wyatt


1982 was the year of The Falklands. Elvis Costello wrote this, but this is the definitive version. There is a short discussion of the song here before he sings it. Still unbearably poignant even this far down the line.

Best Ever Albums - Top 1,000 Albums - 733 Wire - Chairs Missing


Song(s) of the Day # 2,939 Night Shop


A nice start to the weekend. Justin Sullivan, who has played with Kevin Morby with Flat Worms and The Babies goes out on his own with a new album called Forever Night.

It's a mellow laid back record, looking for peace and small pleasures. Busily strummed guitar and easy going melodies. Sounding like your heading down the highway with good friends.

If I had to make a comparison it would probably be with Morby. Sullivan seems to draw on his core values. It's a really cool album that hums with positive energy. JJ Cale and Loaded Velvet Underground. With a twist of Leonard and Berman.  Alternating between the slow and fast lane.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Big Thief - Dragon New Mountain, I Believe in You


Big Thief are such a bunch of old hippies despite the fact that they're based, at least theoretically, in Brooklyn, New York. I'd like to say from the off in this review of their huge, new magnus opus, the ludicrously titled Dragon New Mountain I Believe in You, that this is by no means a criticism. In fact it's a huge compliment. It's wonderful to see such glorious ambiton from a band in 2022. Also wonderful to see this glorious ambition so utterly realised.

For this, it seems, is the band's masterpiece. That's really saying something, as they've already released some quite astonishing records since their debut, fittingly entitled Masterpiece way bach in 2016. I've followed their progress here in great depth on It Starts.. ever since to this point of new arrival. In 2022, or 1969 if you prefer to see it that way.

For the two bands that Big Thief resemble most of all now, having shed pretty much all of their early Punky, pained edge are the original Band, The Band, and Creedence Clearwater Revival with Janis, or perhaps Melanie, taking the mic.

Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief's lead vocalist and principle songwriter is the fulcrum of the band, their spiritual core, even though it's always clear that this is a full on collective effort from all four members of the group unit. This collective drive is immediarely apparent from any group shot that's taken these days, where they are inevitably draped around each other with clear and utter devotion and commitment.

For Lenker, who was raised in a Christian sect until she was 6, has clearly never quite lost her communal, outsider roots. In fact they've hardened and refined and defined themselves if anything over the course of Big Thief's career. Dragon New Mountain is the ultimate drawn out campfire hoedown, new age Music From the Big Pink meets Willie & The Poor Boys for new millenials and Lenker is always at the very heart of things.

It's a quite wonderful record. Focused on life, imagining death, with each band member straining ever sinew throughout the coure of ts run. Whether you can stay the course, and sit through all ot its twenty tracks at a single sitting is another matter. That's a lot to ask of twenty first century attention spans.

But that's what I did, early this morning, and I'm glad I did. It doesn't seem at first play, to have weak tracks. There was only one that I didn't particularlt care for and even that might grow on me. It's a quite astonishing record and may very well be the very best album that I'll hear all year. If that turns out to be the case, then Big Thief will certainly  deserve their moment. They're a band that have had their share of hard knocks, most notably Lenker and guitarists Buck Meek's marriage falling apart, but their staying on the band together anyhow, realising their musical mission took principle priority over all else.

So Big Thief are hippies essentially, just as The Patti Smith Group were hippies way back when as well as being original punks.  Dragon New Mountain is an altogether intriguing, mammoth trek, something to unpick at leisure over the coming months. They're a band that have stars in their eyes. I hope this record brings them their full critical and commercial due. It's utterly astonishing.