Reinspired Year 2 mixtape

It’s been exactly two years since I started this blog and the difference it has made to my life has been remarkable. Not the writing part; I’ve always done that. Even when I wasn’t writing for publication, I was wittering away on internet forums or clogging up Facebook with my rantings. No, it’s the inspiration. It’s like being in love. You know, the butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling you get that makes you feel like you’ll just burst if you don’t shout it from the rooftops – that’s how I feel when I hear a great song. It goes far beyond just transforming my mood or giving me an idea. The word “inspiration” is related to breathing, and that’s how essential and natural this process is. I might have a conscious discipline to blog every day, but that just facilitates my discovery of these wonderful tunes – the words that appear on the screen are just a manifestation, a by-product of the process. If I couldn’t write, I’d just have to speak about it, and if I couldn’t speak I’d grunt and gibber. I’d point. I’d take you by the hand and drag you over to the record player. This. Hear it. Now.

These are just a few of the songs that have inspired me in the past 12 months. You can hear them as a Youtube Playlist (click to stream). Enjoy!

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Alexander Tucker – His Arm Has Grown Long

Wow – this album, Dorwytch, was a real case of love at first byte. It turned up on end-of-year lists at Collapse Board and The Quietus, but I never seemed to have enough money in my pocket to take it home until this month, though I had it on frequent rotation at Spotify. Think of folk and you think of knitwear and frump and inoffensive upper-middle-class twits with awful hair, but this is no such thing. Alexander Tucker makes music that feels like it’s been pulled from some other era when things were newer and a lot more dangerous – but more innocent, too. It’s really pretty and has cellos in it.

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Amebix – The Messenger

The flipside, if you will, of that Alexander Tucker track, this smacks of the kind of magic where lambs are slaughtered under a blood-red sky and people mutter chants with burning sage: there’s something incredibly primal about Amebix. It sounds a hell of a lot like Pandemonium-era Killing Joke, and given that Pandemonium is one of my favourite albums ever, this is no bad thing.

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Lanie Lane – Ain’t Hungry

It’s going to bug me now that someone pointed out that this sounds like Meg White played drums on it, because now all I can hear is the crappy drums, but even that can’t spoil this song for me. Yes, it’s old-style rock ‘n’ roll blues that I’ll hypocritically love Lanie Lane for while castigating producer Jack White for the exact same thing, but tough titties. I just love the guitar on this.

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Zola Jesus – Vessel

It took me a while to get into Zola Jesus, but this one reminds me a lot of Madonna’s Frozen, and not just the video. It has a whole Dead Can Dance thing going on too, but in a very accessible way. I like the percussion, particularly towards the end.

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Gazelle Twin – Men Like Gods

Another one of those Danielle Dax-style female-vocal-electro acts that seem to be everywhere at the moment. Gazelle Twin’s album is very strong throughout – full of catchy and memorable tunes with intriguing arrangements – but this is one of my favourite songs.

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No Mas Bodas – Flesh

The most straightforward of NMB’s eclectic EP, this has a huuuuge layer of whirling psychedelia that sounds like Syd Barrett frugging on the dancefloor at your local 80s gothic disco.

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Nice Nice – See Waves

This is more like Battles than Battles. I know absolutely nothing about Nice Nice, but suspect they’ll be in my favourite-bands-list by the end of the year if this is anything to go by.

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Amon Tobin – Kitty Cat

One of the most immediate tracks on the much-lauded ISAM. The Youtube notes say that Tobin speeded up his own voice to create the “female” vocal on this track.

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Anna Calvi – Suzanne and I

There isn’t much to say about Anna Calvi that hasn’t already been said – she’s absolutely huge right now. This song sounds absolutely enormous – the phenomenal production (from PJ Harvey regular Rob Ellis) jumps right out of the speakers and yells TA-DA! into your ear. It was apparently recorded using vintage analogue equipment, which explains a lot.

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DJ Food feat JG Thirlwell – Prey

Well, obviously I had to include something by JG Thirlwell and have been thoroughly spoilt for choice this year. (I would have included something by Manorexia but it didn’t flow with the other tracks.) DJ Food’s Magpies, Maps & Moons EP was fine enough in its own right, but Thirlwell’s snarling growls against the baa-baa-baa backing vocals really make this something special. Of all Thirlwell’s collaborations in the past 12 months, this is the most moreish.

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Azealia Banks feat Lazy Jay – 212

Probably the rudest song I’ve ever heard. Still, underneath the filth there’s some seriously skillful rhyming and one of the most adorably infectious hooks in pop memory.

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Snowman – Hyena

This track is addictive. I can’t stop listening to it, it’s so alien and mesmerizing, really like nothing I’ve ever heard. It’s like Tool and Ladysmith Black Mambazo collaborating for a track on the Pan’s Labyrinth soundtrack. It always reminds me of the All Souls Procession during the Day of the Dead festivities in Tucson. Very strange and evocative, a masterpiece of emotion and dynamics.” – Youtube comment by “CancerLicker”.

My thoughts here.

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Oh Land – White Nights

The great Dane impressed with another glacial pop tune. I’ve not quite come around to being unequivocally a fan of Oh Land, but I do love this song. As usual, it’s the percussion that does it for me.

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Thinking Plague – This Weird Wind

It says something that my favourite song on Thinking Plague‘s In Extremis keeps changing. It’s currently this, which is half a dozen truly wonderful tracks squished together in one. The bit from 5:45 to around 6:15 keeps going around in my head, compelling me to play the song over and over again.

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Battles – White Electric

That combination of the weird and the wonderful. The build that seems to last forever that drags you through the track like an unstoppable torrent finally exploding into clashing noise but all the while remaining something pleasurable to listen to and foot-tappingly catchy. Bloody hell, this is good. I didn’t know Battles got this good.” – my Gloss Drop review for Collapse Board

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Future of the Left – sheena is a t-shirt salesman

Future of the Left have been popping up left, right and centre lately, and this song gives some indication as to why they’re increasingly popular. I bet you can’t make it to the end without wanting to play it again immediately.

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>>STREAM PLAYLIST>>

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