Posted on November 16th, 2015
To celebrate Down I Go's 4th studio album 'You're Lucky God, I Cannot Reach You' and their 'Iceland Extras' LP the band have curated a Spotify playlist.
LPs, digital downloads and shirts available from here.
'We have made no effort whatsoever to make it a pleasurable listen, or for it to flow like a good playlist should.'
Here is a track by track description of each song:
Charlottefield - Nine Tails: When I was a young man and still lived in Brighton, my friend Stuart would put on shows every month, he would somehow constantly find amazing bands who I'd never heard of to play. I can't really explain how I felt when I first saw Charlottefield, so ragged and raw with everything held down by a super super tight rhythm section. And they were all just so quiet and miserable afterwards, they didn't want to talk to anyone. Anyway, I still find this band's music amazing and wish I could somehow be in a band just like them. The best I can do though, is try to write basslines they might have come up with and stick them into our songs. We stole the idea for the start of our song Henry VIII, where the vocal comes in before everything else, from this band and this song.
Coalesce - Son Of Son Of Man: Coalesce are one of the only heavy bands I really listen to anymore and this song is off the Salt and Passage EP that really turned me on to them, I think it's the best thing they've ever done and I wish I could write heavy music the way they do. When I listen to my own guitar playing next to this, I feel a bit ashamed of myself. I was probably thinking a lot about Coalesce in particular when we wrote Poseidon and I recorded Gods with a Fender Mustang because that's what Jes Steineger plays. I suck.
Young Widows - Old Skin: I can't really think of the right words to explain much about Young Widows, I wonder if anyone can really hear anything of them in our stuff... Me and Pete saw them in London when they released Old Wounds and I was so angry because the support band was shit and they overran their set and still somehow decided it was ok for them to play an additional song. That song was so long and so so shit, my God. I was absolutely livid. But then Young Widows came and made everything alright and just overran their set time too. The sound girl was upset. I didn't mind.
The Paper Chase - Can I Pour You Another Drink Lover: I discovered The Paper Chase because a hot girl at a Cursive show gave me a flyer. I'd never heard of them, but I went. I remember the bass sound and all the space in the songs just being astounding. When I write I try to think about the heaviness you can achieve just by leaving space in a song and then punching through it like that, but I rarely actually do it. I think I took a fair bit of my guitar playing from The Paper Chase records and I've always wanted to bring a bit more of their structure and ideas into our music, I've never really been able to manage it, but the intention is there. A great band.
Cursive - A Gentleman Caller: Cursive were my favourite band for many years. I discovered them accidentally when they supported The Appleseed Cast at The Dublin Castle in London, they had just released Domestica. After they played I didn't really care about watching The Appleseed Cast anymore. I love the contrast in this song between the brash overblown beginning and the soft, beautiful ending.
Lite - Contra: I don't know much about this band. Someone from Adebisi Shank recommended them to me. I try to be like them, but I fail.
Shield Your Eyes - Drill Your Heavy Heart: This band completely blow my mind. How does this happen? How does this guy decide to play guitar like that? He only has three strings on his guitar and he puts capos all over it and messes with his tremolo and makes all this noise and everyone plays along and he sings in this weird voice and it's completely amazing and melodic and beautiful, I love them. They're completely on their own in the music world, it's so brave to do something like this, every time I see them I can't get over it.
D'Angelo - Untitled (How Does it Feel): There's never been a time where I've stacked a load of vocal harmonies up on a DIG record where I haven't been thinking of D'Angelo. This song is a masterclass in ad lib vocal arrangement, economy and the building of intensity. It has me punching the air by the end.
Archie Shepp - Attica Blues: I'm not sure I've ever heard a better Hollering Soul cut than this. The horn and string arrangements, rough and ready as they are, have provided me with much inspiration over the years. The intensity of this is just off the hook.
Nomeansno - The River: Nomeansno might be my favourite band. I love that they're old men, I love that it's heavier than most 'heavy' stuff, I love that they never do the obvious thing yet it never ever feels contrived and I love the vocal delivery, which is really full on, but never too shouty. He has a ringing, biblical, authoritative tone, which I appreciate. They're the band I listen to when I'm ambling home, drunk.
The Dillinger Escape Plan - Sugar Coated Sour: Oddly, I'm not a fan of a lot of screamy music, but I just love this record. The singer sounds like he's barely coping throughout, and everyone feels like they're really reaching, in terms of their ideas and what they're able to play. On later records, I always feel like DEP became a little more like every other metal band on their scene, but this record feels incredibly distinctive and charming to me.
Vic Chesnutt - Everything I Say: I love everything about this song and album. The production is unfussy (the record was produced by filmmaker, Jem Cohen, and I feel his dramatic priorities and ear for ambience over accuracy are clear in the performances), everything is really dynamic, the playing has an air of the improvised to it, and they reach awesome heights of full-on-ness. You also get Vic's songwriting and vocal delivery to boot, which is never less than brilliant.
Fugazi - Epic Problem: I'm not sure what I can really say about Fugazi. They always feel like they're bursting at the seams, both in terms of ideas and performance. I love that the guitar sounds are bendy and scratchy and imperfect. They made almost every album with the same producer, Don Zientara, who began as a home recording enthusiast, and I feel a kinship with them in that sense, in terms of how we've always recorded our albums at Ben's house. They tried to do a record with Steve Albini once, and they abandoned it before completion. If Albini is too slick a producer for you, you know you're an interesting band.
Manatees - Of Wax and Wing: Manatees are the best band DIG ever played with. I can't think of a group of musicians on earth I'd rather stand in front of for 45 minutes and have my head blown off by. Their sound is necessarily a live one, and how you're affected physically by the noises coming towards you, from their wall of amplifiers, is important. This tune gives you a little taster of how it might feel though. They are just awesome.
I have serious issues listening to music recreationally. So most of these songs are from albums I liked the production on, and ultimately used as a reference for either mixing or mastering You're Lucky, God...
Failure - AM Amnesia: Smoking Umbrellas used to be my go to track to blast whenever I got new monitors or headphones, and then they came back with an album with the same ridiculous song structures and 90s aesthetic, so this is my new gold reference. Does it sound as good as Failure? If so, you've won.
Dub Trio - Not For Nothing: Jamie Lenman told me to listen this album. I liked how they milk a riff and develop it, without letting it get too repetitive. So I sent the album to Pete and Alan before we went to Iceland as an example of how we could structure the new songs, and we just ended up pissing it out the way we usually do. In fact, we took a lot of new and old, unused riffs with us to Iceland, and didn't use a single one. It's just what always happens. We get in a room, start playing, and as soon as we have two minutes of noise, we sign off on it and call it a song.
The Skints - Live East Die Young: I was listening to this album a bunch the summer before we went to Iceland, mainly at the coffee shop I work at, because it's at the more palatable end of my listening spectrum, and you don't want to scare the customers off. I still go back to it for the basslines. Played by a person with a real bass guitar. It takes up so much room in the mix, but you can still hear everything around it. Prince Fatty is a genius.
Lonely The Brave - Black Saucers: The original EP recording is way ballsier, but this is about as Helmet as these guys get, and I was praying that there'd be more like this song on the album. I always describe them to friends as 'a U2 that you'd actually want to listen to'. Maybe I should improve my pitch.
BATS - Astronomy Astrology: our fine Irish friends. I'm not just throwing this in to get people to listen to my mates' band. They did this one with Chris Common and it sounds amazing. So crushing, yet so spacious. I wish I had that man's chops.
Oceansize - Trail of Fire: Every song should be a journey, not just a series of stuck together bits, which is often how Down I Go ends up sounding. This monster of a song is a great reminder of the potential of dynamics. You think it's maxed out on the double kick section and then all of a sudden it just explodes onto another level.
Laura Mvula - Green Garden: The last time I was in England I was driving along the M4 with my wife and Laura's prom came on the radio. Ever since then I've gone to this album for decompression, when my ears are tired. I'd like to think there's no pitch correction on this album. She can just sing.