One of the upsides of Coronavirus home isolation is an increased chance to listen to music. In more normal times, I mostly discover new bands from chance attendance at concerts, and hear new tunes in record shops. In what might become a temporary/regular markontour feature, I offer up for collective enjoyment the bands and songs I have instead been introduced to in the last week via radio (mostly BBC Radio 6 Music and KEXP), Spotify and YouTube:
A violinist from Los Angeles whose stage name is derived from her love of old Sudanese string music. Many of Sudan Archives’ songs have a strong north African feel to them, and some of her videos are set in an African context, but it is hard to pin the overall sound down to a particular geography or genre. Sundan Archives is genuinely unique and her new Album, Athena, will hook you on first listen.
Listen: New album, ‘Athena’
Watch: Confessions performed at the 6 Music Festival
Read: Interview in Clash magazine
Stephen Malkmus, Xian Man
The ex-Pavement singer is not exactly a new find – he must have 20 albums to his name in one guise or other – but Xian Man (which he sings as “Christian Man”, not a native of the Chinese city) grabbed my attention when I heard it on t’radio. It starts acoustically but then adds some very Neil Young-esque guitar squall, while moving along throughout to a riff that is conjours up Stealers Wheels’ ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’. Cracking.
Listen: Xian Man / Stuck in the Middle With You
Watch: Xian Man the lyrics video on YouTube
Thanks to the Guardian music weekly, still my favourite music read, for this one. I know nothing except that she is a mate of Sam Fender’s, has a strange way of lying across armchairs, and this is a great, sad song. I was instinctively reminded of early 1990s indie band, Curve, but not sure the comparison bears up.
Listen: new album ‘Everday Nothing’
Two great collaborations, first a banging ‘Deal Wiv It’ featuring grime rapper, Slowthai, and second, a reflective Ellie Rosewell of Wolf Alice provides a haunting vocal on ‘Teenage Headache Dreams’
Listen: new album ‘R.Y.C.’
Watch: a manic Slowthai revisiting old haunts in Deal Wiv It; and for a less comfortable, but equally gritty watch, ‘Teenage Headache Dreams’
Ghostpoet, Concrete Pony
A stunning new single suggest a album is on the way. Ghostpoet has been a Festive Fifteen favourite in recent years and this is a characteristically dark track, along with a very arty video.
Watch: the official video for Concrete Pony
Jonathan Wilson, Ballad of the Pines
I’m pretty sure I heard this on KEXP, the Seattle-based not-for-profit radio station, which I thoroughly recommend. Los Angeles based, he’s been around a while, but this finger-picking ballad is the first song that has caught markontour’s attention. “Looking for a reason not to stay drunk all the time”.
Watch: Ballad of the Pines
Evan Dando, Hard Drive
This is a real oldie, from what I think was Evan Dando’s first solo album after The Lemonheads. It’s an understated beauty of a three-chord song, with the most uplifting chorus. As featured on Guy Garvey’s ever-magical Sunday show on BBC 6.
Listen: Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour, 2 March
Watch: this is a lovely, acoustic live version
OK – so this is breaking the rule, because I did discover Sierra Ferrell at the last live gig I saw in LA, but I have been listening to everything she’s recorded since I got back.
Watch: this great, laid-back live session and interview. I love the crowd shots of families sitting on the grass, with everyone gently bobbing along.