The Claude Mono Blog

“Nice track – who is that?” – Claude’s Best of 2016
December 15, 2016, 3:05 pm
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I know everyone who is even just slightly cool hates ‘list season’, but not me, I love it and reading the lists – well a few of them – the ones created with way too much passion. It is my most compelling reason to take a pause for the cause and contemplate what actually was some the best music I heard during the year? The lists of others often help as they remind me of tracks that I would have simply just forgotten about – these days often played a few times and then just buried in a hard drive folder five levels down probably never to be accessed again. Never have that problem with 45s. I am so uncool I even like around list time going back to see what I picked last year and if it’s still ok? – of course being involved with The Golden Apples of the Sun means a Best of 2016 will be pretty loose genre-wise, have no order, and include songs not even from 2016 only here because I first heard them this year and that is good enough for me… enjoy…


El Michels Affair feat. The Shacks – Strange Boy


The story goes that Max Shrager brought the soft whispered Shannon along with him to the studio. Max was playing guitar on a track produced by Leon Michels — the producer and co-founder of Big Crown Records — and Michels needed a vocalist. They put Shannon in the booth to try it out. It was her first time ever recording. Then, in one take, the song “Strange Boy” had a singer who completed the vibe. The Shacks were born. Last year I was very big on David Holes and his Unloved project with Guilty of Love in my best of 2015. The Shacks fit effortlessly into a special place in my music collection amongst bands like Unloved and Death and Vanilla. This track really was a standout.


BP Fallon & David Holmes – Henry McCullough

All rights reserved ©Jen Maler Photography

All rights reserved ©Jen Maler Photography

David Holmes: “I received a phone call from BP Fallon the day before Henry McCullough’s funeral. He was heart broken having lost his dear friend and asked could he stay at mine after he returned from the funeral. After I picked him up from the train station he asked me if he returned early enough could we record something. I started working on the music that day and then I had an idea which was to record something about Henry and their relationship. When BP returned that evening I sat him down in front of the microphone and this happened in one take! We both knew we captured a very special moment that couldn’t have been created at any other moment – magic. ”


The Invisible – ‘Life’s Dancers’ (Floating Points Remix)


Seriously on point jumpers and one of the best remixes of the year. A nine minute beauty stab touched by the hand of Floating Point….

The Glass – Michael Nau


I had never heard of Michael Nau or of his bands Page France and Cotton Jones. I first heard ’The Glass’ on Sean Rowley’s radio show. Sean being a key source for music that often stays with me on repeat and also often finds its way into my ‘bests songs of the year’. It has some subtle very Timmy Thomas-esque lo-fi electric drums and then this amazing vocal – think Lee Hazlewood… his debut album ‘Mowing’ was released November 2016.


DINERS – Fifteen On A Skateboard


“Fifteen On A Skateboard focuses on the joy of bombing a hill. A Skateboard” paints a vivid picture of youth, where teenagers chase simple pleasures, like the wind in their hair or a two-stair set that’s just begging to be ollied”. AV Club. Sounds like a love-child born of a dangerous liaison.between Ariel Pink and Harry Nilsson.


Beyond The Wizards Sleeve – Creation


Another perfect genre-mixing indiepop electronic slightly 60s kind of thing that you can play again and again and which has a great video. Goes perfectly before or after Modular


MODULAR – Fiebre En La Disco


Part of the sprawling Spanish pop label Elefant that simply can do no wrong Modular released their third LP in 2016 and I am a big fan.“Fuga Al Paraíso is full of their trademark impeccable pop melodies, a solid collection of analogue synthesizers, and that certain combativeness that they acquired from their kraut influences is an album focused on dance, in a tribute to the disco music of the 70s, That means a lot of pop, kraut, some lounge music, touches of sabadabada and lot of ingenuity”. Perfect pop/disco with a great video.


Gary Davenport – Sarra


Gary Davenport founded both Closet Records and Texan post punk/folk-wave group Mannequin. ‘Sarra’ was written for a 17 year old English girlfriend who he was crazy about, much to the detriment of his band relationship. The young lovers eventually broke up and out of consideration, he never officially released the 100 copies which sat in a box for the next 30 years. Released in July this year by Noise In My Head offshoot Efficient Space, the Sky Girl compilation has got a lot of attention from the DJs within the Golden Apples collective who love everything about it


 Myron & E – Going In Circles


Actually released in 2013 but who cares. Here because I only picked up the Broadway LP as part of a little 2016 haul of second-hand records from Safari’s Record Shack. And Microgroove did not get it when he was there before just me. Amazing album with this track taking it to another level – a classic. Timmon Records in Helsinki, Finland – the home of Myron & E’s band & collaborators The Soul Investigators – have released their own custom versions of the Myron & E recordings, cut right at home in the Timmion Cutting Laboratory – check them out.

BadBadNotGood – Lavender (Feat. KAYTRANADA)


December 2016 saw my favourite gig of the year. BadBadNotGood still flying under the radar. They played jazz, they played it wiggly with beats and they played it straight, and they played with no vocals – just the grooves – and best of all a packed main room full of kids at Capitol were digging the jazz…this is a crazy video


Autumn Leaves (feat. Anthony Kerr) · Kathryn Williams


Sublime jazz wrapped in gossamer fine silk vocals. Is it a classic from the late 60s – no its from 2016. Kathryn Williams has teamed up with revered jazz musician and vibraphone player Anthony Kerr, to create an album of complete re-imaginings of classic jazz standards, including brand new single ‘Autumn Leaves’. Previously performed by greats such as Eva Cassidy, Doris Day, Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra, Kathryn and Anthony’s version of the infamous song is hushed and delicate – Williams’ signature vocal tip-toes over lush, rich vibraphones.


Farbror Resande Mac – Chemtrails

Gets it just right for deep listening – leave on repeat – essential travelling companion – actually from 2016 but only discovered this year by me


Tele Novella- Heavy Balloon


Possibly almost an afterthought Tele Novella caught my attention because it included some of the original members of Voxtrot responsible for another of my all time indiepop favorites. This one is more here for its kooky video.


Best of 2015 (Golden Apples)

Best Videos of 2015

Top Ten of 2014

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Top Ten of 2014
December 13, 2014, 8:12 am
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2014 written in sand

Its the ‘Listing Season’ and I am not afraid to go out and face-off to Pitchfork, Drowned in Sound etc all and share some of my own personal listening highlights from this year. So here is my Top Ten for 2014.

As per last year I have used the same sophisticated scoring mechanism which is that because I listen to a lot of music across a lot of sub-genres these songs are the ones that when I listen to them they just stick in my head…I think that is a scoring formula that is entirely honourable and respectful of the artist’s creative process and one that can be tested by others who may be interested in my little self-indulgent list…

10 – Francois Sky – As We’ve Been As One

A great start to the year with this released in January. I discovered it a bit later in on the April  Active Listener compilation. It’s a free download on Bandcamp and also on Mixcloud. Francois Sky is from Berlin and the track is described as sitar and additional drone by Jeff Levitz – it is that but also so much more than just that …


9 – Haiku Salut – Sounds Like There’s A Pacman Crunching Away At Your Heart

I am definitely more melody than beats and this track presents the correct balance of simplicity, innocence and beauty to ensure it just sticks in your head – great on the train for watching the world pass by while still being a part of it…


8 – Anna von Hausswolff – Deathbed

Although this track is from her 2012 LP Ceremony I only discovered Anna von Hausswolff this year thanks to The Dreamers a tribute to Kate Bush cover CD with MOJO magazine. I love this track for what it is in its own right and its heavy video but I also like that if you listen you do get reminded of Kate Bush – really reminded of Kate Bush. See also my Golden Apples post on Kate Bush playing live in 2014 – only about 35 years since she last played out live  – now that is another 2014 highlight.


7 – Larry Jon Wilson – Sapelo (yap z rework)

It is always hard to find time to be creative but you need to. This year I managed to get some really nice mixes up on mixcloud to share that I am very happy to go back and listen to again. When I can I have also been noodling about a little with video editing. Sometimes, like creating music mixes you can have a quiet Friday night and a few beers and a nice long lonely edit session and something unplanned but special might result – that is the joy of creating. It was pure luck but when the short film Growing Up in Appalachia and Larry Jon Wilson‘s Sapelo (yap z rework) both met each other in my video editing software – My own personal creative highlight of the year happened…


6 – Throwing Snow – Saltare (Parts 1 & 2)

I am always trying to find interesting sounds for The Golden Apples of the Sun and through this process I get to discover great bands and great new labels. Throwing Snow (Ross Tones) is one as is his other project Snow Ghost with vocalist Augustus Ghost. Throwing Snow are on the Houndstooth label. I think Mosaic is one of my favorite albums of the year. It has a specific sound, its very pure, and its thematically consistently across all the tracks. Also last year’s live set at the Boileroom is still one of the best.


5 – Joni in the Moon – Dove Song

I had the opportunity to DJ at RTRFM’s World in a Warehouse event in an appropriately large great for parties warehouse in Fremantle earlier this year. It was also the first time I had either heard or seen Joni in the Moon. With Joni and special guest Ofa shrouded in white and bathed in soft lights it reminded me of another special gig a few years ago seeing The Stepkids at The Bakery – different sounds but same special intimate vibe – and with super tight production the live set was as dense and intricate as the LP. Produced, written and recorded by Joni Hogan and Josh Hogan, mastered by Lee Buddle this was the local LP for me for 2014. It should have been a double LP gatefold quadrophonic production. Its tricky in Perth but I hope the band all stay together as I am full of anticipation for what may follow. All the tracks on the album are great but this one has a video.


4 – Benjamin Schoos Ft. Laetitia Sadier – Je ne vois que vous

From France Gall and Jaqueline Taleb and the other 60s Ye Ye girls, from Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin through to the sounds of Mellow, Air and Charlotte Gainsbourg,  I have always loved ‘ French Pop’.  In 2012 it was Air’s Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Tomorrow’s World, in 2013 it was The Limiñanas, and now in 2014 its Benjamin Schoos Ft. Laetitia Sadier of Sterelab fame and  Je ne vois que vous


3 – Purple Snow – Forcasting the Minneapolis Sound

To be technically correct actually released in December 2013 but the big heavy LP boxset arrived very late and then was listened to almost exclusively at the expense of all other music (especially funk and soul)  during January, and into February, and then throughout the year. Numero Number 50 chronicles and celebrates the ‘should have been’ and ‘could have been’ and ‘some who were’ soul and funk wonders from Twin Cities Minneapolis across 4 LPs. Lavishly packaged with a 144 page (Grammy nominated) hard cover book “Purple Snow gathers as the sprawling, nonfiction prequel to Purple Rain’s cultural takeover”. Each of the 14 tracks here is very special.

Stylle Band –  If You Love Me  – as featured on Purple Snow


2 – Jane Weaver – Argent -The Silver Globe

I first got into Andy Votel’s Finders Keepers via the Folk is Not A Four Letter Word compilations. I knew Jane Weaver and Andy Votel were together, that she was a musician,  and that she is boss-woman at Bird Records home of Emma Tricca and the fab Bearded Ladies compilation (an essential starting point for female psych folk listening). Well when her The Fallen by Watchbird album came out it blew my mind!! with its trippy psych folk. It was followed by the equally essential and related follow up The Watchbird Alluminate with its all-star collaborations –  and then nothing… for a long time… until 2014 and The Silver Globe – these three albums together are an incredible listening experience. The Silver Globe highlight is of course the Krautrock inspired Argent – its so deep as it just washes all over you over 8 minutes…


1 – Beyond The Black Rainbow – Original Soundtrack

I discovered the track Sentionauts a few years ago while searching for some Tangerine Dream-esque layered analogue synth electronica. It was the day after seeing Jon Elliott of Emeralds playing a very intimate set at the North Perth Bowling Club. I have been obsessed by this film soundtrack ever since. Great sounds, great visuals – but unreleased. It also led me to Sinoia Caves and Jeremy Schmidt. In September 2014 thanks to JAGJAGUWAR the soundtrack to Panos Cosmatos’ ‘lost classic’ of the 1980s finally got a legit release. Not only a legit release but also a legit vinyl release. So this gets to be #1 because its about how seeing a live artist can inspire you –  the joys of searching and collecting –  how music and cinema connect – how great it is that lost classics are reissued – and how I believe we are looking to really ‘share’ what we think about our music not just ‘access’ it and perhaps that is why vinyl is doing so well again in this ridiculous digital age. Modest thoughts I know.


Near Misses

As I think of them (probably from looking at other people’s lists) I will add some near-misses…

ok – Viktoria Modesta – this video has so much going on it made me really rethink about how we view disability

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