The KCKRS Music Post

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Written By Chris Azzopardi

It’s been a good long month of soccer and music since I last indulged myself. Didier Drogba won the Champions League, almost by himself, Manchester City brought a thrilling crescendo to one of the best league seasons anywhere in living memory, and Fun. got so overplayed on the radio, even I got a little bit sick of “We Are Young.” But there was some excellent new music in the Month Of May, so we’ll have a good look at that.

Best New Music

It’s a fairly common saying that only Radiohead can make “Radiohead music.” That is, they are the only band that could release experimental, deeply-textured electronic rock music and still have it sell like a top 40 hit. In a similar vein is Icelandic ambient post-rock group Sigur Rós. Their brand of soaring, ethereal music, mixing piano with bowed guitar and including numerous classical stylings may not be quite at Radiohead’s level of popularity, but for a band that sings in multiple languages, including one that’s completely made up, but they’ve carved out a nice niche for themselves among a certain set of music fans, even if you’re not likely to hear new tracks “Varúð” or “Fjögur píanó” battling “Call Me Maybe” for airtime.

New album Valtari may have leaked almost two months ago, but its actual release came just a few days ago. It’s a relatively mellow and accessible offering for the band, who infamously sold only 313 copies of their debut album in its first year (In contrast, their previous album to this new release, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust, went gold in the UK and hit #15 on the Billboard 200 in the US.

Honorable Mention: As much as I’m sure I’m scaring off readers with two experimental bands in one post, and I spent most of the month planning on bigging up a much more accessible solo artist, I have to go with an excellent concept by a band from my hometown; Ten Stories by post-hardcore band mewithoutYou. The album tells the story of the train of a traveling circus crashing in late-1800s Montana. Yes, that does sound like something of a joke about the inaccessibility of indie music, but it’s a fantastic album, so shut up and listen.

Currently Playing

I had been hoping for most of the month to include Sober Minds by UK soloist Jon Windle as part of “best new music,” but frankly, the other albums featured were just better. Windle’s music isn’t bad by any stretch, but it just makes me nostalgic for when he was the lead singer of Sheffield indie outfit Little Man Tate, one of my favorite bands ever, who disappointingly broke up a couple years ago. So instead of forcing his new album on you, fall in love with LMT like I did and be motivated to look it up yourself. This is the band’s only top 20 single 2007′s “Sexy In Latin.”

I really can’t mention Sheffield indie music without mentioning Arctic Monkeys. While other indie acts may have carved out a loyal following, the Arctics, led by genius singer-songwriter Alex Turner. I could devote thousands of words to the impact of Arctic Monkeys, one of the first “MySpace bands” who turned an online following into the fastest-selling debut album in UK history and then proved their staying power by evolving and deepening their sound, but I have other things to do today, so enjoy title track “Suck It And See” from last year’s fourth album.

And we’ll finish off the Sheffield love-fest with “Heavyweight Champion Of The World” by Reverend And The Makers. The Reverend himself, Sheffield musician Jon McClure, is a close friend of the aforementioned Alex Turner, and they share the ability to write excellent music (although if they’re compared, few can live up to the shadow Turner casts over the Sheffield scene. He’s the still-living Kurt Cobain of his Yorkshire Seattle).

Classic Track

However, if there is another musician/group that can challenge Alex Turner/Arctic Monkeys for the musical hegemony of the steel city, it’s Mr. Jarvis Cocker and the band he’s fronted since 1978, Pulp. Originally a post-punk group, the band hit it big in the mid-90s Britpop era, with Cocker cast as something of the “wise old head” around younger, brasher acts like Suede, Oasis, and Blur.

This is “Common People” from 1995′s Different Class, released at the height of Pulp and Britpop’s popularity, going quadruple platinum in the UK. It’s probably the band’s most famous and enduring track, as evidenced by the fact that it was covered by none other than William Shatner. Yes, Captain Kirk covered Pulp.

This month’s playlist, by the way.

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