Here is the first edition of a semi-regular feature of The Off Beat where I provide a playlist of five tracks that have either resonated with me during the week or others that I have continued to play on repeat. Some will be old, some will be new, but I hope you find something here that you enjoy.
Leonard Cohen – ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’
Leonard Cohen has always been an artist I have had an immense amount of respect and appreciation for, but I have not given all of his work as much of a chance as I really should. This track, however, has always been a personal favourite with its eery instrumentation and Cohen’s unsettling vocal performance. Framed as a love song, this track has been described by Cohen as comparing the power of music over people to that of love, with the roots of this track being drawn from stories from concentration camps and the Holocaust. Such complexity and intricacy highlights how and why Cohen is such a revered figure and he will, unquestionably be missed. Rest in Peace, Leonard Cohen.
Arcade Fire – ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’
With news of Arcade Fire debuting new songs at live shows and being added to more and more festival lineups for 2017, the anticipation for a new album is growing by the day. As one of my favourite bands, Sprawl II is a clear personal favourite with its punchy electro-tinged instrumental proving to be the perfect backdrop for Regine Chassagne’s passionate vocal performance exploring the themes of changing suburbia. I can’t say I know which direction the band will head in after Reflektor, but this single from 2010’s The Suburbs is the perfect way to whet your appetite in anticipation.
Japandroids – ‘Near to the Wild Heart of Life’
Japandroids’ 2012 album Celebration Rock is an album that sounds just as punchy and visceral now as it did when I first listened, and although there has been essentially four years of complete silence from the band I have been eagerly anticipating their return. This return single isn’t quite ‘The House That Heaven Built’, but I cannot stop smiling whenever I put this track on due to it’s huge chorus, tight grooves and classic “ohh-ohs”. This track is a definite grower, but all of the elements of a great Japandroids project are here- bring on January 27 for album #3!
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – ‘Rattlesnake’
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard are without question one of Australias hardest working and most prolific bands at the moment, and despite releasing 8 albums and 2 EPs since 2011, the band have just announced that another five albums will be released next year. The quality of all of their work so far has been consistently brilliant, however, such a wealth of releases in such a short time will surely result in a decline in quality, right? Well, judging by the first single from ‘Flying Microtonal Banana’, nope. Rattlesnake is a hypnotic psychedelic odyssey, taking the best parts of I’m In Your Mind Fuzz and Nonagon Infinity while exploring the use of microtonal tuning. This track, and this band, are an absolute treat to listen to. Do yourself a favour.
Foxygen – ‘Follow the Leader’
Foxygen’s new album is becoming more and more attractive to me with the release of singles ‘America’ and ‘Follow the Leader’. 2014’s ...And Star Power was a huge disappointment for me after how much I loved their previous two releases. Where some of their more problematic work was too indulgent, I feel like ‘Follow the Leader’ shows Foxygen at their best, exploring additional instrumentation and experimentation without becoming too bombastic or self-indulgent. ‘Follow the Leader’ is tightly constructed, with glorious strings and additional instrumentation complimenting their Rolling Stones influenced style of rock n roll.