NewMusicMondays – 19 October

I’ve been a fan of Monophonics’s throwback psychedelic soul for some time. Their album It’s Only Us, released in the spring and just as lockdown was kicking in, was a significant updating of the sound for the modern era with eight stunning slices of soul prompted along by driving bass, mournful horns, insistent strings and dreamy keys, all topped off by Kelly Finnigan’s burningly honest vocal. And now, nine month later, Colemine Records have released a re-made version of the title track with just Finnigan’s vocal and piano, keys grounding the vocal line and acting as the rhythm, and highlighting the searing lyric.

Hopefully this is indeed a teaser – an acoustic version of the whole album really would be something else. ‘It’s Only Us (Acoustic)’ is available for the ridiculous price of $1 – a floor for whatever you can spare (euros and pounds accepted too) – over on the Monophonics’ bandcamp page.

Also appearing in my inbox last seek courtesy of an e-mail from bandcamp – yes, these things are sometimes read! – is This Is The Kit, a band centred on Kate Stables’s guitar and indeed banjo, and insightful songwriting and astonishingly pure vocal, but which also features a rolling number of musicians who Kate can round up on any particular day for a session. Here, with Kate stuck in Lyon, she managed to recruit bass and drums, as well as horns, to record a video for the single release of ‘Was Magician’, ahead of the album release of Off Off On, out on Friday this week.

‘Was Magician’ is typically Kate – gently mesmerising and with real hypnotic power as the band, driven by the horn section, builds during the song. Beguiling and bewitching. Like with the Monophonics, ‘Was Magician’ is available on Kate’s bandcamp for the ludicrously cheap price of $1 (or so).

The drowning reported yesterday of someone seeking to cross the Channel in the search for safety and a home struck me in the lack of humanity in the tone of the reporting: ‘The authorities later confirmed the body of a man in a lifejacket, found on a beach near Calais at 08:00 BST, was that of a migrant.‘ While accepting that reputable news organisations do tend to give names where possible, and that this is too early to give a name to people whose identity documents are necessarily obscured, or left behind, I couldn’t help but think of Woody Guthrie’s ‘Deportees’. Guthrie’s song has been recorded by dozens of strong artists, but the version by Sweet Honey In The Rock (in the 1980s) was the first I heard; and the one that still captures best the pain and the heartbreak of people, and their families, caught up in desperate situations.

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