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Flowering - Tweedy
Tweedy is a collaboration between Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and his teenage son, drummer Spencer. Their debut double album from which this track is taken foregoes the more experimental overtures and ambitious scope of Wilco, retaining their wistful sense of Americana in breezier wholly acoustic vignettes. ‘Flowering’ is indicative of the album as a whole: son drums while dad strums and sings longingly of spilling oceans and hanging out in trees.
Sweet Pea - Altyrone Deno Brown
I found this beautiful, languorous old soul cut on a compilation from the peerless reissue label, Numero Group. Eccentric Soul: The Bandit Label focuses on sixties/seventies Chicago music from the wrong side of the tracks, typified by the output of renegade Arrow Brown and his various bands. Sweet Pea though is striking in that another Brown takes over frontman duties: Arrow’s seven year old son, Altyrone croons with such innocence that you forget for a moment the violence of the inner-city Chicago area that spawned and often swallowed whole many of the other artists recording for the label.
Silence In The Secret Garden - Moodymann
To borrow a title from one of his later tracks, this Detroit House legend is one freaky motherfucker. In the flesh, he slinks and thrusts his way through perverted disco edits and pioneering deep house (back when deep house meant something more than the bastardised term it’s become today). ‘Silence In The Secret Garden’ came out on Peacefrog in 2003 and represents the latter of those two styles, a fuzzy four four beat fading in and out amongst a combination of twitchy saxophones, rolling piano chords and a wordless female wail. Of course, it wouldn’t be Moodymann if he didn’t spend the last minute or so throwing around some questionably explicit utterances from his own lips. I won’t repeat them here but will leave for you to enjoy after ten-plus minutes of zoned out house.
Grace Cathedral Park - Red House Painters
Whatever your opinions on the late period output of Mark Kozelek (despite his obvious shortcomings as a cantankerous old git, every new record still contains at least some moments of unrivalled genius), few would argue that his time spent as frontman for the Red House Painters was anything less than wonderful. At times depressingly wonderful but still. Grace Cathedral Park is one of their most loved tracks and its easy to see why: Kozelek’s undeniably beautiful voice paints an evocative picture of love on the verge of failure, distilled down to one particular moment in time. It starts with ‘a rare and blistering sun’ shining down on Grace Cathedral Park and ends with the desperate refrain of ‘tell me why are you like this? Save me from my sickness and tell me why are you like this…?”
Family Tree - Janko Nilovic
After a bit of a downer detour (it’s healthy!) let’s end with this buoyant piece of soulful jazz, courtesy of everyone’s favourite cult Montenegrin composer Jank Nilovic. He’s been sampled by the likes of Jay Z but the vast majority of his work was confined to obscure library LPs from the sixties and seventies, reissued for wider audiences only very recently. Here, bouncy brass and wind instruments strut their stuff across a real earworm of a latin-flavoured melody.