Slacker Shack – The Best New Music – Volume 3

Slacker Shack wizard

Last week the shortlist for the annual Mercury Music Prize was announced. I’m not sure whether or not there’s supposed to be any focus on trying to unearth hidden gems, but this year’s picks are incredibly obvious in the most part. There are a handful of acts I love like, Ghetts, Mogwai, Sault and Floating Points, and I’m sure there’s at least one act on the list most folk would like, but wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting if they were unearthing new talent or at least digging a little bit deeper than already hugely successful acts like Arlo Parks, Laura Mvula and Wolf Alice? Otherwise it’s just The Brits in different lipstick isn’t it?

The announcement came as I was finishing off the latest ‘Best New Music’ playlist for this blog and it made me think of some of the old radio shows I used to listen to and find hidden musical gems on. Like the mighty John Peel’s weekly show (and festive 50’s), Mark Radcliffe’s late night slot on Radio One in the 90’s and some of the pirate radio stations I listened to in my youth. It used to be a lot harder to find plenty of new and exciting music, but it’s easy now and we still have a lot of the same old names being bandied around come awards time year in year out.

Music industry laziness just makes me hungrier to find new music and only one of our top 20 tunes this month has been featured in a previous playlist. Every single other act was completely new to me and they’ve all given me thrills and/or chills in different ways. There so much great music being made it’s sometimes overwhelming but I’m finding lots of great psychedelic and expansive rock and folk music all the time and loads of bands that’ll be increasing their audiences and fan-bases now the UK is finally opening up again to live music.

This month’s playlist starts with Knomad Spock, a British/Somali poet, and neo-folk singer-songwriter whose new album ‘Winter of Discontent’ is a beautiful and fascinating record, unlike any other I’ve heard this year. Folk music, in all it’s 2021 forms features quite heavily in this month’s playlist and Nottingham singer-songwriter Jiminil’s song Spider blew my mind when I first heard it a few weeks back – it’s melodies have brain-wormed their way into my soul and it reminds me of tunes by folk greats like, John Martyn, Alan Hull and Roy Harper. London based, MF Tomlinson is another acid-folky / alt-country singer that’s left me goose-bumped this month – his new album, Strange Time is one of my favourites of the year (so far) and Them Apples reminds me of some kind of near perfect 7 minutes where Jim O’Rourke, Bill Callahan and Brian Protheroe channel their collected vibes into MF’s head to create a multi-layered, mid-70’s prog-folk mini-masterpiece – it’s that good. Other folk gems on the playlist include the beautifully poetic and ethereal The Silence by Swedish-Chilean singer-songwriter Matz Andersson (aka Almost w/ Feeling), and the lo-fi lushness of Glasgow four piece, Sister John’s The Sound of You with all its Gainsbourg-esque wooziness. Stunning.

The spirit of psychedelia has its paisley tendrils all over this month’s picks and our one and only playlist mainstay, friendly psych-pop adventurer, Blokeacola’s latest single, Surf the Lonely Tide features and flutters like Ray Davies fronting Unknown Mortal Orchestra in a hidden Chinese temple garden. Australian four-piece, Spookyland’s The Roses of Silence is another psych-pop triumph, swaying hypnotically into view like Jeff Mangum crooning with a Deserter’s Song’s era Mercury Rev, and Anglo Swedish three-piece, King Casio’s latest single Passing Time is a dusky summer’s eve gem of a tune, tapping into a sweet, triangulated mid-point between Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, The Zombies and Kings of Convenience. There’s also the wonderfully cinematic, The Sequel from Cobalt Chapel’s Orange Synthetic album, which will provide new wonderment and neck hair tickles to fans of Broadcast, Jane Weaver, Anika and Stereolab, and the expansive, neo-psych jangles and swells of Gesticulating Wildly from Sheffield’s Dead Slow Hoot.

This month’s head wobbling, turn them up to eleven slices of psych-rock come courtesy of Birmingham garage rock monsters in the making, Table Scraps and their monolithic and mighty, Threads; Gaacher Blitz, the debut single from Kyoto Kyoto, which fuses krautrock curiosity to Anatolian psych-metal mayhem, and the kaleidoscopic, ‘flowerkraut’ magic of Gonkulator from Oxford’s Mandrake Handshake.

More wonderfully noisy garage rock lands on the list via Dublin’s SPRINTS and their urgent and soul stirring, Drones, and the brain knocking post-punk intensity of Girls In SynthesisCalm Waters. Both tunes made me dream of future gigs where I go half deaf and feel like my bodies been pleasantly electrified.

Sprinkling an eclectic touch to this month’s proceedings, Nicole Marxen’s Tether booms and arcs in Lynchian shadows like a club hit from a lost dystopian sci-fi epic, and Mexico City based bluesman, Benjamin Adair Murphy’s One Hundred Pills Per Person brings some toe-tapping, neck strutting honky-tonk to the party. And then there’s Hello Cosmos a Manchester collective who manage to capture that cool, swaggering, edge of the dancefloor magic that bands like LCD Soundsystem, Fujiya & Miyagi, the Happy Mondays and !!! all dizzily trade in.

Rounding off this month’s playlist in wondrous style are Pennsylvanian slacker rockers, Gaadge whose Murphy’s Law tune (from their excellent Yeah? album) has a lo-fi air of Grandaddy and Sebadoh brilliance about it, and Manchester singer-songwriter, Lindsay Munroe’s Need A Ride which has a cool This Is The Kit meets Sharon Van Etten in a badly lit bar at midnight vibe about it that I loved.

If you’re on the hunt for some new music to get giddy about and have a passion for all things psychedelic (and independent), there’s bound to be plenty to love in our Volume 3 playlist – have listen and give it a share…

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