Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Isolation playlist

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:

Sudan Archives
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

Brooke Bentham
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’
Watch: Control

Mura Masa
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

Sierra Ferrell
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.

Full playlists are available here:

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