I don’t know about the Secret Cave readership, but i’m really getting a lot out of making these playlists. Last month‘s had an odd tinge to it, mainly thanks to some personal mishaps in my life at the time. After wishing myself luck for this month, it does indeed appear that things have taken a turn for the better. Oddly, May’s Office Chart has resulted in a slightly darker tone overall. Still, I feel I’ve hit on a nice coherence for this one. I’ve also managed to feature Juiceboxxx‘s latest single, as a follow-up to his interview with us last week. It’s a truly awesome tune, but more on that soon. I’ve also sneaked in some music from upcoming podcast guests. It’s an honour to have them scheduled for appearances, and it’s with genuine love for the material that I place examples of their work here.
Freaking Out – Juiceboxxx
As I said in my recent interview with the man himself, I’ve been familiar with Juiceboxxx since 2008. I first became acquainted with his energetic and inspired performances when my journalism career was in its earlier birth mewls. His presence and integrity stuck with me for a long time. It was an incredible joy to speak to him about his career, but especially to hear some news on his upcoming release, Freaked Out American Loser. This track debuted on the same day as our podcast with Juiceboxxx, and it was absolutely no surprise to me that it’s excellent. Freaking Out is a tight punk-rap bitch that will slap you in the face and saunter off; leaving you hopelessly in love with its fleeting bonhomie.
Aquarius (Version 3) – Boards of Canada
Well it didn’t take long, but an actual, dedicated, Boards of Canada track has finally made its way onto an Office Chart this May. Kind of. This version of Aquarius, which has long been a fan favourite, is actually a live performance. Boards of Canada have a strange aversion to live performances, having only played a mere handful in their prolific career. This particular recording comes from a Peel Session, a radio show hosted by the late legend, John Peel. There are all sorts of added elements in the mix here and it’s, probably, my favourite rendition of the track because of its extra depth. In truth, I was running out of Boards of Canada remixes I actually like (and are available on Spotify). Sorry BoC faithful, I just don’t like Odd Nosdam‘s remix of Dayvan Cowboy…
The Decision – Young Knives
If anyone follows my Office Chart offerings at all, it will be clear by now that I was once an extreme indie-boy. That was well over ten years ago now (holy shit), but there are certain key tracks that just kick through. This, amongst other gems in Young Knives’ catalogue, is one of them. It’s an angular, but somehow lush, song that meanders on through jagged production into seriously catchy territory. Young Knives were actually one of the more interesting bands of their zeitgeist, but I didn’t stay on the train long enough to see if they lived up to their potential. Personally, I found their debut album, Voices of Animals and Men, to be rather disappointing besides its mini-genius singles. Look into their early EP, The Young Knives… Are Dead, though. That was one hell of a little blighter.
Come Together – The Supremes
Come Together; one of the finest tracks from one of the most influential bands. This re-imagining, of sorts, by Motown darlings, The Supremes, is well worth its own airing, though. It’s an incredibly cool rendition of a track that was pretty windswept and magnetic to begin with. That distinctive production style of the time and genre is all over this, leaving it sounding full and alive. There’s a lot going on in this arrangement, but it sounds beautifully smooth despite its occasionally improvisational passages. Take a second to listen to the bass playing throughout this. Scrap that, take about four minutes and eight seconds to listen to the bass playing throughout this. It might just be because I play bass myself, but its playful bop really makes this version for me.
LUST. – Kendrick Lamar
Lamar showed up on my March Office Chart and I, usually, don’t like to repeat artists in close succession like that. However, Lamar went ahead and released DAMN. near the end of April, which I reviewed positively here. The more I’ve digested the album, the more I’ve fallen in love with it. It’s a true modern classic and, at least from my perspective, LUST. is far and away the most impressive offering of the bunch. The production on this is absolutely inspired, and that’s not even considering Lamar’s unstoppable flow. Add a great sung chorus (that’s quite an earworm, i’ll tell you) and you’re left with something quite close to flawless. Pay particular attention to the way the beat develops across this. It takes some time for it to drop entirely, but the time it takes in doing so is glorious.
Return to Patagonia – Lemon Jelly
Lemon Jelly may be one-trick ponies, but can’t we all agree that it’s a pretty excellent trick? Nowhere is it better displayed than on their strong, and still enduring, album, Lost Horizons. Almost every track from that record would make a proud addition to one of these playlists but, the way May was going, Return to Patagonia seemed to fit perfectly. It’s a bit long, but I was deliberately looking to include some lengthier pieces this month so that only helped in its choice. This is fairly unique, centring on a breakneck beat and some gorgeous saxophone, developing over several minutes. It features some of Lemon Jelly’s obligatory chopping and cutting later on, and throws a dark male choir into the mix, but it’s a surprisingly muted affair beyond that. You can always rely on Lemon Jelly to serve you up with some captivating production. This is no exception.
The John McLaughlin rabbit hole is one every musician, or true music fan, should fall down at some point. For me, it began when a housemate of my brother’s showed me a faded VHS of Mahavishnu Orchestra‘s appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test. The talent, dynamic, passion and colour of their performance made me pretty quickly binge their entire catalogue. To this day, Mahavishnu Orchestra represent a personal paragon of musicianship. The rabbit hole didn’t stop there though, as it lead to numerous side-projects; to my eternal glee. One of the best was always Shakti, a project that inflected Indian rhythms, traditions and instruments with a jazz-fusion approach and styling. The results are outstanding and, usually, hypnotic. If this is new to you and you enjoy it, I implore you to leap into the awaiting abyss as soon as you’ve finished listening to this Office Chart.
Peace Go With You Brother (As-Salaam-Alaikam) – Gil Scott-Heron
Speaking of rabbit holes, Scott-Heron’s work is quite an imposing one itself. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to crawl my way into it. It’s something I always put on the backbench, with a general feeling that i’m certain to love his stuff so much that i’d get obsessive. Peace Go With You Brother (As-Salaam-Alaikam) would seem to agree with that assumption. I can’t even remember how I found this song. It may have been when Scott-Heron, unfortunately, died and everyone was sharing his songs on social media. All that speculation aside, I got entranced by this straight away. By the end of my first listen, I knew i’d found a new lifelong musical companion. Having said that, I actually forgot it even existed for a few years. The tone of this month’s playlist called it back to mind and I fell into its morose waves all over again.
With the greatest of honesty, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox is a great find for a couple of days but, fairly quickly, it starts to feel like a stretched gimmick. I’m probably really late to the game on it, but I found them a couple of weeks ago. While I did get bored with it all after a while, I still can’t stop listening to this insanely emotive take on Soundgarden‘s Black Hole Sun. This feels like far less of a gimmick than others, since the song seems right at home within the genre. What it’s really all about on this choice, though, is Haley Reinhart. I’ve heard it enough now to be confident in my assertion that this is a flawless vocal performance. It gives me shivers every time. Oh, their version of Royals with Puddles is pretty enduring too…
Never As Tired As When I’m Waking Up – LCD Soundsystem
I saw LCD Soundsystem at Leeds Festival when they were first kicking off. Their set was shockingly good, considering i’d never even heard of them before. Upon returning home, I immediately bought their debut album, which satisfied me for a month or so before I got sick of it. It was mostly clever electronica that bleeped and chirped its way through some interesting timbres. Of course, this track was always going to stick out like a sore thumb thanks to its more straightforward, guitar-band, style. In many ways it’s very Beatles, particularly evoking Dear Prudence by its conclusion. Comparisons to legends aside for a moment, this is more than enjoyable in its own right for great lyrics, melodies and a loose playing style that should be treasured for taking you off-guard.
Fighting Trousers – Professor Elemental
We’re yet to clamp down on a recording date, but i’m more than happy to say that Professor Elemental will be appearing on our podcast soon. This humble English gentle-fellow is a master of world-building and colourful wordplay. His oeuvre spans a whole horizon of steampunk madness, brought to life by fantastic videos, hilarious music and a multitude of extra-curricular Elemental well-worth wrapping your head around. While best known for his breakout video, Cup of Brown Joy, Fighting Trousers is a great example of his trailblazing chap-hop. Nobody does it better, and he’s made himself a firm mainstay of madcap British culture. I’m incredibly excited to talk to him about his career first-hand. Stay tuned!
I Don’t Cleam (Remix) [Live] – DJ Douggpound
Suffice to say, this one was difficult to place on May’s Office Chart! Thankfully, Professor Elemental, and his amusing aesthetic, provided a perfect bridge into this insanity. DJ Douggpound is the comedic persona of Doug Lussenhop, best known for his “fifth Beatle” status with Tim & Eric and his own unsettlingly fantastic web-series, Pound House. His “remix” approach to humour and jokes is entirely of its own. This displays that, taking a couple of lines from the end of a singular Awesome Show sketch to their absolute extreme. When I first heard this, the world seemed to pause and I couldn’t stop laughing. Beyond its speeding hilarity, there’s a strong musicality that you shouldn’t ignore. Oh, DJ Douggpound’s recording a podcast with us the day after I post this too. I wonder if we can get him to remix the Secret Cave Podcast…
Caught Out There – Kelis
To think that I was ten-years-of-age when this saw release blows my mind. I have a strong memory of it playing through my parents’ car radio on the way to school. Except that memory, Caught Out There fell almost completely off my radar until it randomly appeared back on it last month. YouTube recommendations are, apparently, not all bad! This is about as good as pop gets. I’ve thought about it at length, over multiple full-volume spliff-listens, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this track. I hope it’s not just a nostalgia factor, but almost every element falls exactly where it should be and does exactly what it should do. Kelis’ vocals are actually very on-point too, floating over sexy melodies with aloof ease. On second thoughts, the lyrics are a bit naff but, all things considered, who really cares? At least they’re better than Milkshake‘s.
Since DAMN. got a track on May’s playlist in the wake of a review, I knew that something from Humanz should be on here too. However, multiple listens have left me quite ambivalent towards the latest Gorillaz album, despite the positive review I gave it here. I mean, it’s alright but it’s just a bit too mushy and aimless to stick. There’s still some worthwhile material peppered on there and I, in no way, regret the inclusion of Charger. As one of the darkest and, somehow, threatening tracks on an already shadowy album, it fits nicely as a cap off to this Office Chart. A dense and fascinating listen, it’s similar to first-album Gorillaz; poked at with a stick until it’s gotten really pissed off.