Has it been a week already? My second 'Three for all' comes hot on the heels of my interview with Q Magazine’s Editor Paul Rees, who discussed the use of lists in modern music journalism, and what goes into creating a list such as Q’s Top 50 Albums of the Year. If you haven’t read it already, it’s an insight into the UK's second biggest music monthly.
My first recommendation this week is Down by Summer Camp, the second single from the retro indie-pop duo’s excellent debut album Welcome to Condale. The only problem with the first track released from your album being one of the best tracks of the year, which Better Off Without You undoubtedly was, is that you then have to follow it with something. But Down sees the duo upping the tempo and replacing the Footloose-y groove with fuzzy garage guitars, as they continue to delve into life in the imaginary LA suburb their songs inhabit.
They have a fascinating knack of placing melancholy subject matter, lyrics of failed relationships and wasted lives, over buoyant music laced with twinkly synth moments, to create something infectious and defiantly upbeat.
Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley funded their debut album through Pledgemusic by selling items from signed merch and private gigs to homemade brownies and even a sparkly jumpsuit worn by Elizabeth at Reading festival, and it’s a good thing they did, as it’s one of the year’s best.
Having missed Birmingham out on their most recent tour, they have now announced a date at The Rainbow in March, which I can’t wait for.
Down by Summer Camp
Up next is James Vincent McMorrow’s stripped-down cover of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love.
In a week when the John Lewis Christmas ad once again proved that no matter how good a song is, a soulless and bland cover of it can still become popular, this cover gives hope that some musicians can take a song and add something to it, rather than taking away. Ironically, McMorrow has added by removing, stripping the song to its bare bones with a less is more aesthetic.
I noticed this song from another ad as it goes, a Love Film ad, and it wormed its way into my consciousness over a number of views until I had to google who it was. This folk troubadour from Dublin is very much in the vein of Bon Iver, which is both good and bad, but this cover is a haunting and heartfelt version. With its falsetto vocal and echoing piano, it’s a million miles away from the number-one hit of the 1980s. It’s how a cover should be.
Higher Love by jamesvmcmorrow
My third and final song this week is from a band close to my heart, literally, as I work with their drummer, and what would be the point of having a blog if I couldn’t give them a mention?
Is I Cinema are a five-piece from Birmingham, and The Unnamed is one of several new songs they have recorded to follow their 2010 debut EP ‘Is I Cinema, You Are Physics’.
I’ve seen Is I Cinema live five times this year, and seen this song develop over a number of months into this finalised version, which was recorded over a weekend at Magic Garden Studios, Wolverhampton in September 2011 with Gavin Monaghan (Editors, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Scott Matthews) producing.
They’ve been described as indescribable by better writers than me, and I’ll admit to finding it difficult to encapsulate all they do in a single sentence.
This song builds from a sparse opening of delicate vocals and keyboards, to a crescendo of atmospheric, layered guitar and swirling synth sounds, anchored with pounding drums and pleading lyrics.
The Unnamed by is i cinema