Luke Hunter – @lukehunter8
My dad headed through his 20s during the mod revival of the 80s and his insistence on raising me to the sounds of modernists and the successive genres of two-tone, ska and reggae helped to build the sturdy roots my musical awareness has blossomed from. To describe my music taste as diversified would be an understatement, growing up adjacent to the Manchester music scene has of course had its influence, but I suppose I have always gravitated towards the alternative acts, those that do things a little bit differently.
I wouldn’t find it difficult to list 100 playlist recommendations here, so I’ll impose a limit on myself of ten and attempt to take you through at least three or four of my favourite genres with a little explanation to boot. The emotional and nostalgic charge of music is often my therapy in a confusing, busy world and it is certainly necessary in these times. I’ll try and throw in a mixture of old and new for you to enjoy – in no particular order:
1) Fat Freddy’s Drop – Blackbird (Jazz, Soul, Reggae, Dub)
Fat Freddy’s Drop are a seven-piece New Zealand extravaganza, taking influence from a plethora of musical styles, they’re renowned for exceptionally vibrant live shows and lengthy, bass-lead, groovy songs. Their latest album Special Edition Part One is techno-leaning and great fun. A Kiwi tour driver introduced me to them in 2015 and I have certainly enjoyed the journey.
2) Ladyhawke – My Delirium (Synthpop)
Maintaining the New Zealand theme, Pip Brown, stage name ‘Ladyhawke’ has protected her slot in my record collection diligently over the years. Pip’s self-titled 2008, debut album propelled her to the mainstream with My Delirium leading the charge.
3) Peter Tosh – Wanted Dread and Alive (Reggae)
It is incredibly difficult to summarise – and do justice – Peter Tosh’s biography in such a short paragraph, but he has an inconceivable story and lived a fascinating life. Hailing from Jamaica – of course, Tosh was not only a founding member of The Wailers, with Bob and Bunny, he is also credited with teaching them how to play guitar. His writing acclaims are incredible with Concrete Jungle and Get Up Stand Up to name but a few. A true revolutionary and messenger of peace, Tosh met a cruel end, murdered by a man he had helped rehabilitate following a prison sentence.
4) Dustin Tebbutt – The Breach (Folk, Indie)
Australian singer-songwriter Dustin Tebbutt delivers calming soft tones inspired by countryside abyss in Australia and Scandinavia. Dustin nearly never tours, so I’m waiting patiently for the opportunity to see him, but a number of short albums are well worth your time on a Sunday morning – or any morning, actually. He has a beautiful voice and is a very talented lyricist.
5) Modest Mouse – The Good Times are Killing Me (Indie Rock)
It is difficult to assign a genre to Modest Mouse. My favourite ‘current’ band but with material stretching back to the early 90s – I wouldn’t say they reinvent themselves with each album, but there’s certainly progression and ‘new’ Modest Mouse take inspiration from their simply faultless older works. Johnny Marr joined for one of the later albums and not many bands can boast that. Based in Portland, they followed a similar trajectory to ‘Built to Spill’ who you may recognise – also always worth a listen, incidentally. Lead singer Isaac Brock seems accustomed to substance experimentation, as narrated in this closing track on the “Good News For People Who Love Bad News” record.
6) UB40 – One In Ten (Reggae, Pop)
I think the cultural significance of UB40 is often understated, perhaps clouded by a hideously messy break-up, two remaining – and opposing – existing bands, family feuds and some rather aimless new releases. The mass unemployment of the 80s and a group of disenchanted brummie youths were the propellant for the band’s early success (Unemployment Benefit Form 40…). Their ability to re-purpose reggae tracks that hadn’t hit the mainstream in the UK was faultless and at the time they spoke for a lot of people – One In Ten, a nod to the number of people out of work at the time, is a harrowing, yet intelligently delivered track that really tells the story.
7) Bob Marley – Iron Lion Zion (Reggae)
The greatest – he needs no introduction from me. It is a tragedy that we lost Bob when we did and it pains me to think I’ll never be fortunate enough to see him live.
8) Tender – Nadir (Electronic, Synthpop)
London duo ‘Tender’ are simply brilliant. I stumbled across Tender at ‘Dot To Dot’ a few years ago, a fantastic festival held in Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol that invites up and coming artists to play at a series of venues across the respective cities. It is very intimidate and the line-ups of yesteryear speak for themselves – Ben Howard, Florence and The Machine, Ed Sheeran (not for me, but still! to name a few who have graced their stages with less than 100 in attendance. Tender deliver their lyrics as such and demonstrate a sensitive approach to masculinity, much like the master of it in my next selection.
9) Wild Beasts – End Come Too Soon (Indie, Synthpop)
In February 2018, myself and two of my best mates watched Wild Beast’s penultimate and final shows in Manchester and London in what remains (comparatively) one of the saddest and yet illuminating weekends of my life. Wild Beasts are the band – everybody has one – that accompanied us through our adolescence, a ludicrous amount of gigs (and money) spent with them. I was (and still am) devastated when they called it quits but it was to be understood – sometimes it is best to leave on your terms.
Lead singer Hayden Thorpe (now a brilliant solo artist) poignantly describes the male vulnerabilities and the minefield of masculinity across five flamboyant and unique albums – unlike anything you will have heard before. As the song title suggests, you don’t have to dig deep to uncover what exactly the Cumbrian four-piece are singing about, it is the way they do it which is so special.
10) Hero – Michael Kiwanuka (Indie, Folk)
An exceptional new album from Indie stalwart Michael Kiwanuka landed late last year and this is my favourite track to rise from it. I’m relatively new to the MK scene but I’d highly recommend not only this new album but also the predecessors – a very talented artist who I was extremely lucky to catch at a free gig in Melbourne last year – epic live as well. Hero is a catchy anthem that it is impossible not to love.
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