“Doesn’t it feel much better when you’ve had a better day than yesterday?”

“So Human” by Lady Sovereign | I do follow through on my plans. I did listen again to Couleur 3, and while I can’t write about this French song because I can’t find any lyrics to it, I will write about this song they played on the same stretch. Also, I have a question. Whatever happened to Lady Sovereign? When I was still stumbling my way into British music, she, somehow, was up there on the list. Maybe it’s the ill-informed “novelty” of a female rapper. Maybe it’s me actually liking “9 to 5”. (As well as “Nine2Five”, the one with the Ordinary Boys.) Ah, the days when I was still stumbling towards British music, when everything was (to me) fresh and new and ripe for the learning and understanding. And now you play some songs more than others, and some songs you like fall by the wayside, only to be rediscovered. So whatever happened to Lady Sovereign? She hasn’t released anything since Jigsaw back in 2009. There’s this thing about her coming out as gay and getting involved in a spitting scuffle in Australia. And then, no leads. [NB]

“…looking for a clear spark up in your eyes.”

“Milk” by 13 Year Cicada | It takes me a whole to go through my inbox, especially as we only post once a day and sometimes we receive just a lot. This almost fell down the cracks – well, the album was released last week – but it caught my attention for some reason. This is “Milk” by Berlin band 13 Year Cicada. They say it’s about “messed up communication”, as epitomized by this traffic cop doing weird things on the road. I don’t exactly understand where the song was going, or perhaps it’s because I was distracted while listening to this. Why do I always get emails from obscure European bands? I’m not complaining, but have I really been listening to a lot of European radio stations? The zig between the verses and that entrancing keyboard interlude, though, snaps me back to the task at hand, and here I am, telling you that the album is called Totem Tongue and it’s now out in the usual places, and that they’ll be touring again this week. But, again, I am on the wrong side of the world for that. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“You remind me of true love when there’s nowhere to be found.”

“Nowhere” by East of Eli featuring Chyler Leigh | When you’ve got a lot of things on the inbox you really start hoping to get that one hook that would make one song stand out from the rest. The press release accompanying this one had some star factor: Chyler Leigh. “Chyler! I remember her dying on Grey’s Anatomy!” A throwback to my old job, that. She is, of course, married to another actor, Nathan West (another throwback) and he’s been doing songs under the name East of Eli (another throwback, although I don’t remember how). Apart from being a collaboration between husband and wife, “Nowhere” is a Valentine’s Day gift from him to her. And yes, it may be a gloopy song, but it’s a nicely produced one, with just the right shades of Los Angeles. And yes, I know it’s been a week, but we all need a good love songs once in a while. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“We may choose to die, love, or we may never stop listening.”

“Never Stop Listening” by Trapdoor Social | Well, this one’s rousing. Set aside the angle of this video being powered by a trip to the site of the much-contested Dakota Access Pipeline, of how it came from a trip there by the band to help the protesters out. “Never Stop Listening” – this song from LA duo-turned-quintet Trapdoor Social – is pretty rousing. I would do it a disservice if I limit it to this one issue alone: it’s perhaps a song that we need for these times. It’s not one of those songs where the earnestness is incredibly heavy-handed: I can hear this in many settings and you wouldn’t feel gross about it. And then you dig deep about the band being into all these causes (and touring in a solar-powered trailer, even) and you realize this is all par for the course. If you’re in Cincinnati, you might get a glimpse of them. But I am half a world away, so we have this song, which is pretty good. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words #24: Difficult, open-ended, and possibly fascinating

“5 (Valentin Liechti)” by UFO | Three things. One, I will be the first to admit that this is a pretty difficult album to make sense of. Two, the song I’m embedding does little to give a taste of the album – it’s really one of those things where you have to listen to everything. Three, I know I am publishing this the day after Valentine’s Day, when everybody feels lovey-dovey out of obligation – what will they make of this? (Shalla and I didn’t get involved this year, considering we just came from Taipei last week.) The band is called UFO: they’re another one of those Swiss acts that find their way on the blog, and they’re releasing a new album, III, in a week and a half. The lazy will call this an experimental record; they’re playing up the improvisation angle here. The band invited five guest musicians for one mostly improvised recording session, KL each, then invited six sound artists to make something out of the sessions (thus the Valentin Liechti subtitle); supposedly they’re making sense of the link between documentation and performance in these times. Well, to me, it is a record that you really listen to, and one that makes sense after a while – but it will depend on what you’re thinking at that moment. Me, I was thinking of how to slot this in the day after Valentine’s Day. So… horror date stories? Waking up to a person you didn’t expect to wake up to? Maybe a dystopian story of romantic bliss? Up to you. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)