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  • Writer's pictureJO'B

What's Going On....the albums on our turntable right now - January/February 2024

Updated: Feb 18

Old and new, here’s a few of the records dominating my little turntable right now.

1. Big Sigh – Marika Hackman

Mrs JO'B and I saw Marika at the By The Sea festival at Margate's Dreamland in 2017, along with Dutch Uncles, Sea Power, Everything Everything, Jen Cloher, Snapped Ankles, Deep Throat Choir, shame and Metronomy. It was a great little festival, and Marika and shame were probably the standouts.

This, her fourth album proper, is amazing. Indie, but a bit prog rock in places (one of its producers also produces Thom Yorke and Alt-J so the prog feel is no surprise). It's not cheery, the songs all seem to have messages for some lost lover, with references to blood and gloom peppered through the record. It's pretty bleak at times, a series of withering reflections on her ex but trust me, this is well worth your time. It's visceral, fiercely honest in its openness as she sings (sighs) about masochism and emotional abuse.

Its heavy lyrics are supported by her biggest, broadest music to date, and lots of vocal harmonies. It will be in the "best of 2024" lists, I promise you!

2. Drop Out – East Village

Contemporaries of The House Of Love, East Village formed in the mid-80s and were part of the C86 bands that NME championed. Hampered by failing record labels, their only album, Drop Out was finally released posthumously in 1993 on Heavenly Records. It's a collection of all the band's early singles, along with unreleased demos.

They are one of those bands I missed at the time, but I am really enjoying this. If you like 80s, jangly C86 pop, but a bit slicker than most of those bands, this is right up your street.

3. Babe Rainbow - The House Of Love

Speaking of The House Of Love, my lovely friend Loz got me this for Xmas. Their third studio album, this was released in 1992. Their first album without the mercurial genus guitarist Terry Bickers, it was more mainstream than its predecessors. I didn't love it then, but these tracks have grown on me over the years. Live, these songs have really come to the fore in recent couple of tours where they have been playing The Girl With The Loneliest Eyes, Crush Me, Burn Down The World, Cruel, Fade Away and Feel.

You can hear them trying to accommodate a little bit of the baggy sound in places, which doesn't suit them, but The Girl With The Loneliest Eyes is still quite lovely. Definitely worth revisiting.

4. Dead Meat – The Tubs

Recommended to me by Florence at Casbah Records, it's jangle-tastic and features at least one member of Ex-Vöid, a band I discovered in a record shop in Japan four years ago.

The vocals aren't that strong (very Richard Thompson-esque), but the music is The Soft Boys, Sugar, The Smiths, a dash of Wedding Present and even XTC. I really like it. It's not going to set the world alight, but it's good, really good. Well worth a spin.

5. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash

Again, speaking of Casbah Records, they recently acquired two boxes of punk and post-punk 7 inch singles and I was hooked when I saw this in the pile. It's the gun logo on the record label that I love, though it's obviously a great song.

If they were your singles, be assured at least one has gone to a good home.

6. My Big Day - Bombay Bicycle Club

I felt a little jaded by Bombay Bicycle Club and gave this album a miss when I first heard a few tracks from it, I felt they were trying too hard to be poptastic. Plus the album cover is horrible - what were they thinking?

But....Tekken 2 which features Chaka Khan is marvellous, as is Heaven, which is a collaboration with Damon Albarn - a jazzy, lazy lollop of a song, which I love.

As is so often the case, my first take on this record was off, I was having a bad day - it's definitely worth a listen. Just don't look at the album cover, while doing so.

7. Strange Disciple - Nation Of Language

So 80s electronica, when I first heard them I had to check if I had just missed them when they originally came out. But further listens show there is more to them than 80s revivalists. It's delightful, a bit like Teleman, but more restrained, leaner.

That said, there's a bit more going on here than previous albums, a bit less minimalism, a bit more guitar - closer I Will Never learn is positively New Order-ish with its subtle guitars. It's all jittery soundscapes and downbeat lyrics. 16 year-old JO'B would have loved them, as does 53 year-old JO'B.

8, Pick-Up Full Of Pink Carnations - The Vaccines

It's a Vaccines album. It sounds exactly like the previous Vaccines albums. And that's no bad thing. Love To Walk Away, Discount De Kooning (Last One Standing) and Heartbreak Kid are more of their usual stomping, motor-along indie pop, each with a chorus the terraces and moss-pits can shout along to.

Cracking stuff, even if it won't change the world - not everything has to.

9. Pearlies - Emma Anderson

I saw Lush on their comeback tour at the Roundhouse in 2016. Whilst initially, I was never a big fan, I had gone back to their albums over the years and was bowled away at that gig. I had seen them support The Cure in 1990 and was unimpressed - I was, again not for the first or indeed last time, wrong to write them off.

They released a great EP around that tour, Blind Spot, but then split again. I have half read Miki Berenyi's autobiography, How Music Saved Me From Success, but then got distracted. Mrs JO'B has since picked it up and read the whole thing (she is our house's demon reader), announcing "gosh, Miki really doesn't like Emma does she?", forgetting I haven't got to that bit yet! I'll finish it soon and find out for myself!

But I had already assumed personal tensions meant we will never see Lush live again, but Emma Anderson's solo album more than makes up for that. Some of these songs were started, with one eye on the next Lush album, which never happened. I am so glad that Emma has put this out, as it's superb. It sounds very much as I imagine Lush would now, but with more tunes, more space and with a more electronic feel.

10. Weather Diaries - Ride

Released in 2017, this was Ride's comeback after splitting up whilst recording their (pretty ropey) 4th album, 1996's Tarantula. Ahead of their 7th album, I have been playing this a lot. Charm Assault, Lannoy Point and Cali are just fabulous. It sounded exactly how I wanted Ride to sound, but different as well. Retaining some of that feedback drenched indie but with big tunes. Since then, they have released an EP, another album (This Is Not A Safe Place) and two remix albums. Interplay is out in April and me and Mrs JO'B have tickets to see them at the Roundhouse in September.

New singles Peace Sign and Last Frontier sound excellent - lots of synths this time. Ride are a band that have pulled off that rare trick of repairing the damage done by a couple of terrible albums and a nasty split, and making the albums they should have made after their first two crackers.

That's it for now, Some people do dry January, I am doing vinyl-free February. I think I'd rather give the booze for a month! But It will make me spend a month playing a few albums that don't get the airing they deserve!

Stay safe, and if you enjoyed this, please subscribe (see link below), x


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