Monthly Playlist: December 2021

One final playlist from us before the year is out. Get decidedly un-festive with us below as some of us detail what we’ve been listening to recently.

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Nick – Guitar

Kowloon Walled City – Splicing

I love the raw emptiness of this new album, between the simplicity of its instrumentation, the closeness of the production and the honesty of the performances, it’s one that makes you feel like you’re just sat in the room with them. And dang if that guitar tone ain’t fucking great I don’t know what is.

Emma Ruth Rundle – Return

As per the above, there’s such a delicate intimacy to this. You can hear every vocal wobble and all the natural ambience of playing music on wooden contrivance. This is not an album that slaps in the traditional sense but the sentiment remains the same.

Bohren & der Club of Gore – The Art of Coffins

Recently fallen down the rabbit hole of darkjazz thanks in no small part to this band (and of course The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble). I think I may have found my new favourite niche.

Chelsea Carmichael – All We Know

Delicious slice of psychedelic jazz and a late contender for album of the year. Beautiful harmony of acoustic jazz and subtle layers of electronics and noise make this such an interesting yet satisfying listen.

Poppy – Bloom

Just a great song to be honest. A little less garish than her usual output and stands as proof that she is an all round great songwriter, whether she’s mashing up genres or not. The chorus vocals stayed with me for quite a while after I first heard this one.

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Chris – Guitar

Heaven & Hell – Bible Black

Show me someone who doesn’t love Dio and I’ll show you a person without joy in their life. This album is stuffed with prime Iommi riffs and a lovely, weighty production to compliment the mighty vocals. You’re reading from the Bible Black!!

Maybeshewill – The Weight of Light

I had no idea we were getting a new Maybeshewill album, so this was a pleasant discovery – both their previous albums (Not For Want of Trying and I Was Here For A Moment) are spectacular, and this just continues the standard. Great instrumental post-rock.

Two Man Advantage – Bastard of the Ice

Sometimes you need a hardcore punk who write songs exclusively about ice hockey to brighten up your month. Enter Two Man Advantage, a band who are very good at just that. I don’t have any deep observations here, I just love ice hockey and music associated with it!

Bon Iver – Perth

Tranquil, fragile indie folk from one of my favourite albums ever released. I managed to pick up a vinyl of this and it was a joy to revisit it again – every song is full of inherent sadness but also hope, a kind of wistful, transportive longing for simpler times.

Aoife Fhearraigh – The Best is Yet To Come

Celtic folk-pop with a beautiful, soaring vocal line. I confess that my attachment to this is largely because it plays over the end credits of one of the best videogames ever made (Metal Gear Solid) but it’s an excellent song in it’s own right and worth your time.

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Richard – Bass

Kelly Lee Owens – On

After many COVID-based reschedules, I finally got to see Kelly Lee Owens live recently and it was magical. Whilst there are some artists around who mix dreamy, atmospheric pop with harder dance music, you’d be hard pushed to find any that go as far into the banging house and techno beats as Owen does, and live those moments were absolutely pounding. This track pretty well summarises the two extremes of her sound; if you listen to just the start and then just the end they don’t sound like the same song, and yet as a whole piece it flows perfectly.

Porcupine Tree – Anaesthetize

Somehow I’m the only one in Ba’al excited by the Porcupine Tree reunion, but I’m going to keep shouting about it anyway (even though the exclusion of Colin Edwin and John Wesley is quite criminal), and protest via the medium of a 17min song. As much as In Absentia is their best album for me – in fact, one of the best of all time – for some reason it’s the chorus to this epic that I’ve had stuck in my head since scrambling to buy tickets for their one (!) UK show next September (!).

Recoil – Shunt

Recoil is a project by Alan Wilder, formerly of Depeche Mode, who turns his hand to dark trip-hop meanderings to great effect. Though the album that this track is from, Unsound Methods, loses it’s way a bit in the middle with some bizarre and clunkily written spoken word about shagging, when they nail it these sultry grooves stand up against the greats of the genre.

Opeth – The Grand Conjuration

Though Ghost Reveries is far from my top Opeth album, it’s taken on a new meaning recently due to the loss of a close friend of ours, who sadly passed away last month. Thanks to a very generous family, I wound up with his CD of this album and I’ve been jamming it in my car in his memory. RIP Dario, gone far too soon.

CHVRCHES – Asking for a Friend

Since my two top picks for this month weren’t on Spotify (BRUIT ≤ and Anti-God Hand – both amazing bands you should check out on BandCamp), I’ve added in this cut from the most recent CHVRCHES album. As an album I think it’s a bit inconsistent compared to their earlier stuff, but the best tracks absolutely go toe-to-toe with the band’s all-time bangers, and this is one of them.

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