#22 - Former Ghosts - The Bull And The Ram
Without a doubt the musical project that excites me more than any others right now. Take one of the best modern performers going in Freddy Ruppert, add contributions from the beautiful vocals of Zola Jesus (third track in the top 50 for her, this one) and the most important figure indie-rock has seen in a good ten years in Jamie Stewart and you’ve got yourself an amalgamation of ridiculously talented individuals. And that’s without mentioning the more recent addition of Yasmine Kittles whose fragile singing helped make Winter’s Year one of the best tracks across two near-perfect records.
The difference between Former Ghosts and most (every?) supergroups though is that the talent is used to it’s full potential, and I think in part that is due to Freddy Ruppert’s ability to write perfectly for those that are contributing, as well as excelling, himself; I find it a real shame that Pitchfork has such influence with its reviews and that many will be put off because of their recent lukewarm review of New Love - and subjectivity, innit - but to use his vocals as a particular point of criticism I couldn’t disagree with more, in particular on Fleurs his vocal takes on This Is My Last Goodbye and Mother being two of the most heartbreaking and powerful put to tape. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing Freddy perform three times this year including one for a gig I booked myself, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they’ve accounted for some of the most incredible performances I’ve ever seen.
I actually think of Former Ghosts being something of a modern This Mortal Coil in set-up, with Freddy Ruppert effectively being a modern day (and more prominent) Ivor Watts-Russell; Kittles, Danilova and Stewart being a smaller group of contributors. This Mortal Coil feels especially like a fitting analogy because on The Bull & The Ram, Danilova gives a devastating vocal turn that makes the song all about her in the same way that Elizabeth Fraser made Song To The Siren hers all those years ago - the only, hugely impressive, difference being that a song this beautiful was made from scratch, and not reinterpreted.
#23 - John Maus - Do Your Best
Oh man, John Maus. Last summer I spent a lot of nights listening to Jeff Mangum’s WFMU archives of the weirdest sounds imaginable, over 24 hours of material and there was no consistency but it was nearly all awesome if almost totally ungoogleable. Due to that inconsistency I can’t really say that John Maus is at all representative of the music you’d find on those radio shows, but for me he sounds like a manic depressive genius half-singing over the more ambient tracks there (though the music is far from ambient). This is a pretty absract and ridiculous description but I think it’s as close as anyone can come to describing the batshit world of John Maus.
NEW TRACK: Future Islands - ‘Tomorrow’
Baltimore trio Future Islands new single is an echoey pop number served up with a nostalgic gospel vibe, thanks to the choir-backed vocals of Jenn Wasner (of Wye Oak), Lexie Mountain, and Elena Johnston. The tone perfectly suits lead singer Samuel T. Herring’s deep and soulful voice, which occasionally flies into high-pitched wails.
The single follows their Less Artists More Condos 7” series from last month. The band has also earned a slot on this year’s jam-packed Virgin Mobile FreeFest presented by LG at Merriweather Post Pavilion on October 6th.
We want your feedback! What do you think of the track?