One of our most enjoyable and rewarding Twitter features is the New Song Task Force – where one group of community members suggest new songs for another group of members to vote on. The songs are showcased throughout the week with the results of the vote being issued on Sunday evenings.
We are always looking at ways to improve or expand our interactive features and so for the New Song Task Force we asked regular EIO40 contributor Rob Morgan @durutti74 if he would pen capsule reviews as he listens to each song for the first time (and second time just to make sure) then pick his three favourites. We also wanted to showcase each week’s songs with a bit more depth by seeing them from a listeners perspective.
We will publish Rob’s review of the week’s songs on Sunday afternoons after the voting has taken place. In the build up we are also asking people to rank their Top 3 of the week with prizes up for grabs if you match Rob’s Top 3 in order. So you may discover you have won a prize when you have finished reading this.There is also a playlist of the songs at the start and links to any songs not on Spotify so you can listen along with Rob.
So here is Rob’s review of the Week 18 songs
Hello, how are you? I know you, I knew you….
Listening Notes Week 18
Linn Koch-Emmery – Don’t Sleep on My Luv
A good noisy start to the song and the week, a guitar which sounds like an elephant bursting into a huge riff, hustling drums and a bass / muted guitar verse. I love Linn’s voice, and the backing vocals which appear towards the end of the verse. The chorus is heroic and epic, and the instrumental break after sees the return of the elephant guitar. There’s little hints of keyboards on the second verse, this is really infectious song. The little hook of “That’s where it started” is already hooked in.
Nice proper instrumental break, then a surprise breakdown into the chorus. This is great, it’s weird how it sounds so powerful and huge but doesn’t seem to use distorted guitars to do it. A very clever trick, and a great song to start this week.
Featherfin – Keep on Walking
A gentler opener than the previous song, the absence of bass at the start makes it float into view. This is a little trick Featherfin will carry out again in the first verse, dropping the bass. Either that or they’ve got Peter Hook guesting in the background, especially in the chorus. Definite hints of New Order here, but not overpowering. There’s a strange fragile sound here, like everything is being played under duvets, guitars like candy floss, drums hiding in the corner. It’s quite a unique sound, as is the oddly harmonic vocals.
There’s a lot going on in the background, I need to listen again, just to see what else I pick up. On second listen the vocals come into focus, as does the chorus. I’m really enjoying this song. I wonder what their other songs sound like.
The Fortuna Pop! All-Stars – You Can Hide Your Love Forever
Forgive me to not knowing much about this one, when really I should. I know Fortuna POP! is a label issuing fine indie pop for many years, and I know this is a cover of a Comet Gain song (and again I know nothing by them) and beyond that this is all new to me. Well at least I’m honest.
People with more knowledge of the label would be able to recognise the many singing voices here, but I have no idea. I’ll just take the song as it is, and it’s a ramshackle joy. I really feel I’m missing out by not knowing who these singers are. There’s a spirit of indie pop community here, and it’s infectious. What a great song, I love it, and the brass section is cool too, and the closing guitar solo.
Taken as a song and performance knowing absolutely nothing about it, that’s fab. I feel I’ve done a disservice here, I should be going “Oh yes, that’s so and so on that line” but who cares, it’s just a great song, regardless of who is singing it.
Carbon Poppies – Rain On My Face
As I’ve said previously, I’m a big fan of reverb and this is swimming in it, in a nice way. This is clearly an homage to 60s pop and girl groups, the interplay between the lead singer and the backing vocals is pure Phil Spector. Not so much a Wall Of Sound, as a Partition Of Sound. There’s plenty of clean compressed twangy guitar here, and a briskly shaken tambourine. Very 60s, especially the ending.
Short enough to insist on a second listen immediately, and the clever words become clearer, the singer has a defiance in her voice but a fragility too, especially towards the end, where there’s a twist. Very cool indeed.
Toothpaste – Bedtime
A subtle intro, heartbeat bass drum, soft guitar strokes… I like this! Gentle whispered vocals too. Cool how occasionally words are bathed in reverb. After a minute the drums kick in (do I detect a hint of “Big love” by Fleetwood Mac?) Definitely enjoying the lyrics and vocals too. That “drift a little deeper into paradise” line is repeated enough times to stick in the mind. The vocal sounds during the instrumental break – either “Time of the season” or “Pow R Toc H”. A lovely dreamy piece of music, which seems appropriate.
FEHM – Scarborough Warning
A nicely sequenced opening, lots of synths increasing their resonance, but (i presume) live drums kicking the song along, and New Order styled guitars and bass. Certainly wasn’t expecting the declamatory style of the vocalist, but it works well with the music. Not quite Andrew Eldritch but close, actually similar to the singer from Lowlife. The chorus hits the spot too. What is a Scarborough warning? Is there something Adam Jeffery hasn’t told us about?
I’m really enjoying this to be honest. Nice breakdown after the second chorus. Nicely flanged guitar on the final chorus, then some cool guitar parts and it finally hits me – it’s like “Missing the Moon” by The Field Mice! And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Very fine indeed.
Toy – The Willo
No need for introductions here, I’ve been a fan since hearing their first single while cooking up a storm in a nursing home kitchen. Thanks to Tracey for pointing this out to me, I wasn’t aware they had a new single out. It’s a strange melange too, there’s cheesy organs, an old drum machine set to samba, echoing guitars a la Morricone, there’s a quiet menace here, lightly sung vocals and off kilter elements. It’s an odd comparison but it reminds me in places of “Tender Buttons” era Broadcast. I’ve got another five minutes to go, I’d better settle in for the ride….
Having said that, around 2 mins 30 seconds the song slips into another gear, the chords and vocal melody swerve and swing, elements drop away and it suddenly turns into a different, more organised song. This is really special, that chord sequence and melody combination is fantastic. Slowly there’s more elements being added and I don’t want this to stop at all. I really wasn’t expecting this to turn in this direction, I’m a bit gobsmacked. I also want to go back to listen again to see if there’s hints of this second part of the song during the start, but I’m enjoying seeing what kind of journey this is taking me on. Beautiful!
Second listen – there’s so little hint of what’s going to happen during this first section. Even the drums are totally different. Very good indeed.
Documenta – The Blue Sleep
Now this is immediately interesting, the drums skittering around, everything starting quiet and getting louder, did this fade in from another song on the album? Echoing guitars, lots of ride cymbal… So far so good. Is there a vocal? Nearly two minutes in and no sign as yet. Whoops, spoke too soon. Dreamy male and female vocals, in harmony and octaves. The hinted strings which have been in the background are suddenly foregrounded.
This is different, and very good. I presume that’s the end of the vocals? Spoke too soon again! Lovely wash of sound. Really intrigued to hear the rest of Documenta’s music based on this song. Reading their Bandcamp puts the song into a little more context. Lovely stuff.
Waxahatchee – Singer’s No Star
Another name I know and I’ve heard a few songs on the radio (that’ll be Pete Paphides on Soho Radio). A slow piano intro which makes me think of Carole King, emphasises the vocals. After a verse, there’s girl group backing vocals. Another King reference? Definitely think this could happily sit on “Tapestry”. The addition of bass guitar adds weight, still focusing on the vocal and lyrics. “Recognise the failure in my voice”? That’s a good line.
There’s subtle things happening in the background too. It’s weird, I can hear subtle hints of Mellotron flutes during the final verses… And as the song slows and ends, the flutes become clearer. This song is hypnotic, and a second listen just confirms that. And that the flutes were kind of there all along if you knew they were there. Clever. Lovely song.
The Daysleepers – Tropics
Urgent drums kick this off, followed by a wash of sound – Robert Smith guitar, echoing washes, deep vibrant bass. So much delay on the vocals they are imperceptible. But that may be the point. I like how there’s an odd guitar chord at the start of each line of the verse, like a whale rising from the sea before disappearing again. This may take a few listens to figure out. So much reverb. Quite heavenly. I have no idea what the lyrics are, or what the song is about. Just a lot going on.
Hang on, is that the end? Fades out WAY too soon, just as it gets going. Bandcamp describes this song as a massive wall of sound epic, and quite frankly they’re right, it is. Massive, definitely. Could go on a lot longer, to be honest.
Wow, another fab set of songs. Really hard to choose again. One obvious winner but close behind them for a number of artists.
1 – Toy
2 – Featherfin
3 – Toothpaste
Very close behind – all of them really. An excellent spread of songs. Thanks once again for the nominations. Good luck appraisers!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rob writes about music and other less important subjects at his blog A Goldfish Called Regret (https://agoldfishcalledregret.wordpress.com) and also creates podcasts for Goldfish Radio (https://m.mixcloud.com/robmorgan589) and hosts the Everything Indie Over 40 album listening parties over at @eio40LPParty
He never achieved his ambition of making a Sarah Record.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading Rob’s review of the Task Force songs. If you want to follow the New Song Task Force and get involved head over to @indieover40 on Twitter and check out the feature hashtag #newsongfaceoff