Table of contents
1) “This Is How We Walk on the Moon” – Arthur Russell
Beautiful yet harrowing. A terrific piece by today’s standards. Then you learn about it. He was an American cellist who died aged 40 from AIDS in the early nineties, in relative obscurity and nearly broke. Throughout the 2000s, a series of reissues, compilations, books, and a biographical documentary helped to raise his profile. The song feels even more powerful armed with that.
This track forms part of the soundtrack for the 2020 HBO series Love Life. The two people behind the soundtrack Dan Romer and Mike Tuccillo seem to be onto something both having numerous soundtracks to their name individually as well as together including most recently the Ramy series.
Album: “Love Life (Music from the Original TV Series)” (2020)
Label: Lions Gate Entertainment Inc.
2) “Valhalla” – Breakage
Breakage is a British electronic producer and DJ. He knows Shy FX and has performed with him at Notting Hill festival for ten years in a row! This song features on the fifth release on his own label Index, as part of the “India November Delta Echo X-Ray” EP. It’s a great drum and bass track. Huge repeat play value while really getting you in the mood. The beat that drives through it all is divine.
Single: “Valhalla” (2020)
3) “California Screaming” – Liz Lawrence
Great riff. It sounds like it could be a rock anthem being very catchy and memorable making me imagine that it could be a great piece if performed live. Liz Lawrence seems to be climbing slowly but surely up the recognition ladder performing as a support act for Bombay Bicycle Club and others while also contributing vocals to their album that was out earlier in the year. The members of the band also help to produce her work.
Single: “California Screaming” (2020)
Label: Second Breakfast
4) “Baba Ayoola” – KOKOROKO
KOKOROKO’s first single since “Carry Me Home” in February. “Baba Ayoola” was written as a tribute to the grandfather of the band’s alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi and is “an invitation to celebrate life”. It features all the great sounds they are known for as well as a really nice vocal sample.
They seem to be getting more of the recognition they deserve as in September 2020 the band made their BBC Proms debut in the Royal Albert Hall. I’m sure the sound was terrific.
Single: “Baba Ayoola” (2020)
Label: Brownswood Recordings
This Is The Kit artist profile
This Is The Kit is the musical project of Kate Stables. I knew of “Bashed Out” (2015) but unfortunately forgot about them until the terrific “Off Off On” (2020) arrived.
In 2006, record label Sunday Best Recordings included This Is The Kit’s song “Two Wooden Spoons” in its Folk Off compilation album. Many said it was the best track on there and a double sided single release followed shortly thereafter.
This Is The Kit’s first album, “Krulle Bol” (2008), was produced in Bristol by John Parish, a musician best known as PJ Harvey’s longtime producer. A pretty good way to start.
The band’s second album, “Wriggle Out the Restless” arrived in 2010 with Guy Garvey claiming it deserved a Mercury Prize Nomination after it was snubbed.
Very quickly “Where It Lives” followed in 2011. Not much is available about this one online and it’s even been snubbed on Wikipedia!
In 2014, the band began work on their fourth album “Bashed Out” with Aaron Dessner of The National. Yet again proving they have a knack of getting impressive guidance and producers onboard. It received attention as the band’s breakthrough recording, and as one of the best British recordings of 2015. A lot of attention from online and print press came their way.
The band received a boost in attention in August 2015 when BBC iPlayer debuted an episode of the documentary series “Music Box” devoted to This Is The Kit’s music and influences. They also later appeared as a band in BBC One drama “Wanderlust”. Using another medium to help raise awareness for their music is a clever tactic when trying to compete with countless others on streaming platforms.
July 2017 brought the release of the band’s fifth album “Moonshine Freeze”. The record was well received and began a relationship with the record label Rough Trade even being chosen as the Rough Trade Album of the Month for July.
Between 2018-2019 Kate Stables worked with The National as vocals and support during their tour. She says this helped inspire This Is the Kit’s fifth album.
In October 2020, the band released their sixth album “Off Off On”, again with Rough Trade. I thought it was a masterpiece and a terrific piece of work. A rollercoaster ride that demonstrates great songwriting ability while being able to cover a range of subject matters. I believe it will be one of my albums of the year.
Standout tracks: “Started Again” (2020), “This Is What You Did” (2020)
Albums: “Off Off On” (2020), “Moonshine Freeze” (2017), “Bashed Out” (2015), “Wriggle Out the Restless” (2013), “Where It Lives” (2011), “Krulle Bol” (2010)