Mew – Comforting Sounds

Set aside some time for this one – you’ll need it, but it’s well worth the effort.

In the traditional style, I’ve saved the best for last. And by best I mean most epic. And by most epic I mean just gloriously anthemic and rousing in the way that only a 9-minute album-closer can be. Commpared to some of Mew’s more, shall we say, artistic song titles – “The Seething Rain Weeps For You (Uda Pruda)”, or “Saviours of Jazz Ballet (Fear Me, December)”, for example – or their more ornately orchestrated songs, this is pure, straightforward, and boy does it deliver.

It’s so good, that even though it was a recommendation from a friend, rather than a track I discovered through my own invention and curiosity, I might just be able to set aside stubborn pride and admit that there is no finer song with which to end a mixtape.

Well, maybe.

The Sugarcubes – Hit

Before the highly and diversely talented Björk embarked on her solo career, all kooky screams and smiles, she was, of course, lead singer of Icelandic band The Sugarcubes, doing pretty much the same thing, only at this time fighting the confines of a relatively straightforward alternative rock group.

Although the band managed a few number ones on the UK indie charts, and a few top tens on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart,as far as I can tell this was their only top 40 hit anywhere. Shame, really, as this and other standout single “Birthday” are still well worth a listen. Listening to the rest of their work, though, you probably have to admit that a solo career was the right move.

M83 – Midnight City

In 2001, M83 were a vaguely shoegazey dreamsynth French outfit releasing a debut self-titled album. By 2011, they’d transformed into an epic double album releasing group, capable of unleashing a cathedral of electronic sound.

“Unrecorded”, from 2003’s Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts will probably remain forever my favourite M83 track, but then I do a) like to back the underdog, and b) just need to casually drop in that I was there, you know, in the early days, before they were big…

The endpoint of this journey is a musical triptych of three singles from 2011′s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. The epic fun starts in “Midnight City”, and continues with “Reunion”. “Wait” concludes the story. Enjoy!

Koop – Koop Island Blues

Apart from the vocals, everything you hear is sampled.

Each piece is meticulously fixed in place in a perfect impression of a smooth, soulful swing standard.

It takes an admirable dedication to choose a method like this of recreating actual studio recordings, when you could just hire a van-load of session musicians and get the job done in half the time. And, of course, no small amount of skill to do it this way and not make it sound cold and artificial.

M – Ma mélodie

File under “not so easy to google”, along with !!!. -M- (his more retrievable given name is Matthieu Chedid) hails from a musical French family, and created his on-stage persona to combat his natural shyness. Wikipedia tells us:

The character ‑M- is a superhero, noted for having a playful nature, and recognized for his flamboyant costumes (primarily monochrome suits with slim trousers and long jackets with upward pointed collars) and hair styled into the shape of an M.

It’s a little hard to reconcile that description with what is a pretty laid back track, sung in a not particularly flamboyant style, so I guess -M- himself has an alter ego he brings out for the straightforward classic soft rock moments like Ma mélodie.

Avocadoclub – Too Much Space To Walk Away

The trouble with producing inoffensive melodic indie pop is that there’s already so much of it to go around; new songs sometimes make only a tiny splash in the melodic indie pop pond, and the ripples are soon forgotten.

Which is pretty much the case here. It’s a perfectly decent effort, this, from German group Avocadoclub, which I picked up on some random sampler CD somewhere. Unfortunately for them it didn’t lead to great commercial success (and the claim on the band’s page that ‘The new album with the working title “The Upper Classes Loneliness!” is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2009’ doesn’t give great hope for future releases) so it could remain ever a career high.

Kraftwerk – Tour de France

Something German, I feel, in honour of this evening’s Champions League final. Also, something for the Giro, and coming Tour. And really, something beautiful and entrancing, and comfortably the greatest 30 year old electronic track you’ll hear this evening / week / month / …

Miike Snow – Silvia

Sometimes I am a google ninja, finding the facts that you can’t. Other times I am just a dumb guy who likes a TV theme tune but doesn’t even think to look it up, which is how I’ve only just discovered that the excellent theme tune to C4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner is the Punks Jump Up remix of Miike Snow’s Animal.

I once read a particularly scathing article about Miike Snow in which the writer took great exception to the double “i” in Miike. It was, he felt, an affectation clearly indicative of everything that was wrong with this band, their music, and no doubt modern indie and the ever-increasing dreadfulness of the modern world as well. Kids, today, eh?

Now, what that writer should do is calm down and lip-synch to Silvia on public transport. That’ll brighten his day.

Delorean – Stay Close

The sound of summer, as channelled through the creative hive-mind of a bunch of Barcelona-based Basques. I highly recommend you listen to the Stay Close remixes and 2010’s Ayrton Senna EP, the first three seconds of which sound uncannily like some BBC news intro, making the 18 minutes that follow so much more blissful.

Erlend Øye – The Black Keys Work

Loathe as I am to post video-less tracks, I can make exceptions for the perhaps lesser knowns, such as this track by the bespectacled half of Kings of Convenience. “The Black Keys Work” appears on Erlend Øye’s album in the DJ-Kicks series, and is as mercury smooth as anything graced by Øye’s vocals.

Phoenix – Entertainment

I’d love to be the guy that develops concepts for music videos: it’s pretty much a free-for-all, anything goes kind of frontier world. Take this effort from all-the-rage French popsters Phoenix, for instance. While I’m not saying it confounds expectations, I can’t see anyone watching it for the first time and nodding a "yeah, that’s more or less what I had in mind" to themselves.

Junior Senior – Move Your Feet

Staring across at Efterklang from the other end of the Danish pop spectrum, Junior Senior would be an entertaining choice, but only if they can recreate the magic formula that led to “Move Your Feet”. If the rest of 2003’s “D-D-Don’t Don’t Stop the Beat”
album is anything to go by, I wouldn’t be so sure of it happening, but I seem to be harsher on it than most critics, so perhaps I should give it another try. This, after all, is pure joy from start to finish.