Including tracks from Bloc Party, Parquet Courts, The Beatles and The National.
The big opener
‘Walking At A Downtown Pace’ – Parquet Courts
Sympathy For Life has been in the daily mix for a few weeks now but it’s the opener that’s still impossible to stop listening to – the track that helped launched the album with a marching band right through the middle of Coney Island. Celebrating the best of Parquet Court’s sound in one noisy, messy shot of low-fi stoner garage and screamy funk-punk, ‘Walking At A Downtown Pace’ is everything you want a PC opener to be.
The perfect cover
‘The Ballad Of Easy Rider’ – The Natvral and Jen Goma
The Natvral is the latest project from Kip Berman (The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart) and their debut was one of this year’s standouts. They returned last week with a new song, a cover of Roger McGuinn’s The Ballad Of Easy Rider with guest vocals from Jen Goma (A Sunny Day In Glasgow). It’s a swaying, gentle waltz of a song, carried along on a warm Wurlitzer that may well have time travelled from a Dylan recording session in 1965 and featuring a vocal performance from Goma that is heart-stoppingly unaffected. Close your eyes, turn off the world and let it wrap itself around you.
The one that’s never the same again
‘Across The Universe’ – The Beatles
Peter Jackson’s extraordinary documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, landed on Disney+ this week. The big draw here is the surreal quality of the found footage – making the band’s backstage bickering look weirdly like it happened yesterday – but eight long hours of offcuts, demos and late-night jam sessions is also a great way to revisit Let It Be, with ‘Across The Universe’ still standing as one of the most enduringly beautiful Beatles tracks. “Just say whatever comes into your head each time!” snaps John, as a frazzled Paul tries to scribble the lyrics. Watching it all come together so casually, and without pretence, the album somehow seems even more magical.
The catchy one
‘On The Chaise Longue’ – Wet Leg
Isle of Wight post-punk duo Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers recently released their second single ‘Wet Dream’ (mixing bubblegum punk and Sylvan Esso vocals with lyrics about really sexy cars) but it’s their debut that’s still stuck on repeat – pitched somewhere between deadpan krautrock and old fashioned slacker rock. Easily the best song about soft furnishings in recent years (beating ‘Rockin’ Chair’ by Oasis and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Sofa’).
The one you probably haven’t heard yet
‘Winged Commander’ – Mo Troper
Mo Troper is a man who thinks deeply enough about power pop to know it’s not supposed be thought about too deeply. His superb Dilettante was this week included in Pitchfork’s list of under-heralded 2021 albums, around the same time news broke that excellent Spanish label Bobo Integral were planning a vinyl edition for next spring. Dilettante is almost a power pop primer, recalling many of the greats in its breakneck sprint through blissfully fuzzy hooks. The blown-speakered sugar jolt of ‘Winged Commander’ suggests Guided By Voices at their most accessible, which is the highest praise we’ve got.
The absolute classic
‘Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)’ – Squeeze
The south London pop supremos – currently on tour with Madness – have released more than a few absolute classics. But even when help up against ‘Cool For Cats’, ‘Tempted’ and ‘Up The Junction’, ‘Pulling Mussels’ stands out as the high point of the Difford and Tilbrook hit factory. It’s the perfect meeting point of music nerd smarts, new wave cool and pure pop catchiness. Tilbrook and Difford have always made the complicated sound beautifully simple, but they outdo even themselves here.
The instrumental one
‘Good To Go!’ – Los Bitchos
What if Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand hosted a ’70s style Wheel Of Fortune gameshow? Check out the retro video for Los Bitchos’ ‘Good To Go’ to find out exactly what that looks like. Sounding less like a TV theme than whatever acid-soaked disco-funk was playing at the Mexican afterparty, it’s a brilliantly trans-continental track that’s feels hard to place (in a good way).
The new one
‘30 Degrees’ – Naima Block
Naima Block’s debut album is still at least a few months away, but the former founding member of Goat Girl has just released her first solo single after signing with Sub Pop. Coming off very Nico and a little bit Nick Drake, Block’s beautiful ’30 Degrees’ also sounds a lot like wherever Goat Girl were headed a few years ago before she left the band – likely explaining why she wanted to go it alone. Looking forward to hearing more in 2022.
The one that never stops being funny
‘White Woman’s Instagram’ – Bo Burnham
Burnham deservedly got a Grammy nod this week for ‘All Eyes On Me’, taken from his visionary Netflix special Inside. If it was down to us, though, the nomination would have been for ‘White Woman’s Instagram’, a highlight that never stops being hilariously on the nose. What makes the song so wonderful isn’t just Burnham’s endless list of incredibly specific imagery. It’s how he carefully treads a line that could so easily veer into cruel misogyny but never does. Even if you feel very seen by the song, it’s almost impossible to take offence. We should cherish Burnham. There’s no one else quite like him.
The big finish
‘Mr November’ – The National
As November heads into its encore, it feels like the perfect time to turn the volume all the way up and blast the newly announced All Points East headliners’ traditional show closer. On the surface, ‘Mr November’ appears to be all flexing and bravado (“I’m the new blood blood, I’m the great white hope”), but that surface doesn’t hold up to even the slightest scratch. Underneath is frontman Matt Berninger’s crippling anxiety and fear over the expectations clouding their big break, 2005’s Alligator. To see them tear through the song live is to watch Berninger summon those demons on a nightly basis, charging through the crowd and ripping his vocal cords to pieces. It’s exorcism and catharsis all in one furious roar of a song.
Tickets are on sale now or soon for most of the names on this week’s setlist. Check back next week to listen to another Discover setlist.