Songs of the week – 13th September 2020

Technically it’s more of a song of the fortnight, but, as we all know, life sometimes gets in the way. Still, I will try and capture some songs that really stand out and talk about them a little bit here. They won’t always be ‘newish’ releases, but more-so, new songs to me, and maybe an old favourite here and there that has been rediscovered.

Hummer – Fruit Bats

This is in some way an old song re-imagined. The song, Hummer, comes from the 1993 (The) Smashing Pumpkins album, Siamese Dream, and is part of a Sounds Delicious music club, which sees artists re-imagining albums for exclusive release.

The lighter touch that Fruit Bats inevitably bring to this song allows it to breathe in a way that differs from the original. Rather than drowned in 90s hazy reverb and grunge aesthetic, the mostly acoustic number has an almost tropical feel, not unlike much of Fruit Bats’ output. It’s a fun take, and highlights the precision of the original songcraft, and was a great trigger to revisit one of the finest albums of the 90s.

Alapathy – Fenne Lily

I had first heard Alapathy on NPR’s All Songs Considered and thought the back story of the title was a little hokey, though it’s actually something I can relate to. The word is something the artist thought was genuine a word, but on closer review, it turned out not to be the case. It is instead a portmanteau of apathy and allopathic (i.e. modern medicine), referring to Western medicine’s focus on symptoms, rather than causes, especially in mental health.

I too find myself occasionally using a word that I don’t actually know to be real, or that just popped into my, but later find it weaves its way into my internal monologue. The song is an urgent guitar jam and Lily’s vocals pack a warming melodicism to them. A new album, Breach, is due later in September and it will be interesting to hear the whole package.

Plum – Widowspeak

Look, if you open a song with a rambling, Pavementesque, Range Life era guitar line, I’m probably 90% of the way there. The delicate, breathy lyrics of Molly Hamilton lilt across a major/minor chord progression that is basically my favourite song trope. It’s a delightful 4+ minutes of melancholic, late afternoon soundtracking. And has two gentle solos.

Impossible Weight – Deep Sea Diver and Sharon Van Etten

This song doesn’t know if it’s in the 80s or 2020s, but it’s just so good at either, or, it doesn’t really matter. Two strong vocalists deliver sequential versus and come together for one of the catchiest choruses I’ve heard all year. The main riff, delivered by ex Shins guitarist and Deep Sea Diver lead singer, Jessica Dobson, will get wedged in your head. The song is precise in its execution and magnifies the collaborator’s strengths. Clocking in at a little over three minutes, the track commands your attention the whole way through and leaves you wanting more.

Same Old Brick – Josiah Johnson

Same Old Brick comes from the debut solo album from Josiah Johnson, Every Feeling On a Loop, who was also lead signer of The Head and the Heart, who I don’t claim to know much about. The album is very strong, and something I can see myself listening to quite a bit. There are a few standout tracks, but this one has sat with me this week. A song of lamenting having not moved on, and still ‘fucking around’ after ’20 years’, it rises without a chorus to the admission:

It’s a good sign that we’re talkin’ at all,

It’s a good time, c’mon! Give me a call!

Let’s have a good fight, put my back to the wall,

‘Cause on a good night, I don’t miss you at all

The album is worth sinking some time into as each song is nuanced, and has Sufjan Stevens like orchestration, though perhaps with less synthesisers and aliens. Perhaps 50 state era Soof. Lots of horns too. 2020s could do with more horns, we’ve already got guitar solos back.

And that wraps up the Song of the Week for this week. It’s Sunday, so, time to start a new week of listening!