* [Disclaimer] ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue’ is a desperate attempt to show that my musical palette isn’t as bland as a chino-wearing yacht owner from Norfolk called Keith eating a plate of couscous with a biodegradable knife and fork that he bought in a 2 for 1 special at ASDA while watching a highlight reel of ‘The 80s Greatest Quiz Show Moments’ in his fully carpeted, decadent bungalow in Slough. Please enjoy this week’s selection of (hopefully) great music. *
Something Old: Marlena Shaw – ‘California Soul’
I can’t believe it took me a full 21 years of my naïve life to discover this song. Opening with vengeful strings suddenly followed by an effortlessly cool drum fill, the song suspends you from the very beginning. And then that opening line: – “Like a sound you hear that lingers in your ear but you can’t forget from sundown to sunset”. It’s pure, unadulterated soul, with everything the perfect soul song could ever need: a meandering bassline, a singer with a powerful range, and an overall sense that you are indulging in some delicious forbidden fruit with every listen. It drives you at a steady, adamant beat to the point where you feel you can breathe the song itself, and I am convinced that the masterclass that occurs between 2:10 and 2:24 are the greatest 14 seconds of music ever recorded. The perfect song for cruising along the coast in a convertible 1963 Modena Spyder California Ferrari (Ferris Bueller fans look out) as the blazing sun scorches the road ahead of you – you can almost smell the burnt asphalt in oozing out of the song as it reaches its enchanting climax.
Something New: SUGARHOUSE – ‘Love Anyone Else’
When you’re sat gazing into the endlessly blue skies of summer, sometimes something a little more care-free and upbeat is required to suit your surroundings. With their debut single ‘Love Anyone Else’, SUGARHOUSE deliver all the ingredients necessary for enjoying hay fever season, resurrecting a refreshing mode of indie-pop that is infectiously smile-inducing. Its simple chord progressions, piercing eclectic synths, and the electric chemistry of Charlie Sinclair and Connie Craven permeate every dimension of the single, offering a cute personality that is difficult not to fall in love with. Charlie’s nasally falsetto vocals drive the song throughout, but it is Connie’s vocals that really make an impression. With an excellent diction to her voice, the exquisite tone and style of her words seem to tantalisingly linger before gliding effortlessly into your ear drums. A mesmerising, repeat-button-pressing, sugar-sweet record, SUGARHOUSE’s debut offers huge promise of a sparkling future ahead.
Something Borrowed: Kelis – ‘Who’s Loving You’
There’s not many people that can do it better than Michael Jackson, but I for one am thankful Kelis gave it a go. Her cover of the Jackson 5 classic has a succulent ska vibe that completely changes the dynamic of the song. With additional horn sections, a clanky piano set free, and muffled yet piercing drums, Kelis ups the tempo and makes ‘Who’s Loving You’ sweat. The maturity to her voice, breaking and yearning for a lost love, gives her vocals an audible quality of experience that an eleven-year-old Michael Jackson simply cannot provide. It sounds like it was made for the acoustics of some abandoned dancehall far away, where you can tango amidst the ruins and rubble like nobody’s watching.
Something Blue: Foals – ‘Moon’
Foals are known for their upbeat, catchy guitar riffs and their intense, anthemic performances. But ‘Moon’, the final song on their 2013 album Holy Fire, captures me more than any of their more well-known songs. I distinctly remember the first time I listened to it; sat in the back seat of my Dad’s car as we returned from an Easter holiday with my grandparents, the last time I saw my Grandma before she passed away, looking out of the window as two birds danced, weightless, above the endlessly rolling fields of some lost corner of England, emblazoned by the blood orange April sun that was setting behind them. I slowly began to realise what I was listening to, as Yannis’ looped guitar harmonics bored gently into my skull, until I found myself in blissful desolation. Neither “happy” or “sad”, ‘Moon’ leaves you in a space of nothingness that nevertheless possesses a clarity that is hard to fathom. It is a testament to what can be achieved, the emotions that can be stirred, with just two instruments.