Mirrors are a Brighton-based four-piece “pop noir” group who blew me away when I first heard them: I’ve not been so excited by a new band for quite some time. One of their tracks (Lights and Offerings) is without doubt my favourite song of the year. Mirrors recently announced they’re supporting OMD on tour throughout Europe and once you’ve listened to them it’s obvious to hear why: sophisticated and stylish, brooding and breath-taking, Mirrors knock the likes of La Roux into a cocked hat. New single Ways To An End will be released on August 23rd on Skint Records. I asked Mirrors what their Top 10 favourite songs were. James (aka Tate) replied with the band’s fantastically diverse selection: check it out below!
Metropolis has the most beautiful intro I can think of. Those incredible, slowly building chords, rising like an Escher staircase, the slowly ratcheting click, clack, click and that stretching, bending synth like an unearthly siren from another world, are together somehow joyously ecstatic and yet achingly sad. The music is perfectly poised, as if approaching an apex just out of view, and then it fades away, ushering into the vacuity a pulsating, pumping Moog groove and a whip-thin snare. We’re off!
2. Arvo Part (played by Elora Festival Singers & Noel Edison) — Nunc Dimittis
Heaven is turning off all the lights, lighting a candle, sitting back and playing this at a loud volume, alone. Angelic, bewitching.
3. Charles Mingus — Solo Dancer
The beginning of this music is so intense, so brooding. To me it feels like the sound of a black mood, an uncomfortable, seething mental state. It’s restless, warped, like a ship on a stormy sea. I love it. It’s one of my favourite pieces of Jazz. When the drums kick in proper, the sax comes out with the most wonderfully sublime line, and the music flops into a bizarre space between the languorous and the tensely fraught. It’s a real mind-bender.
4. Karen Dalton — How Did the Feeling Feel to You
My discovery of Karen Dalton came as the result of a bitter winter’s morning spent dredging through dew-soaked cardboard boxes full of records in a shed on the edge of a field just outside of Danzig. When I later listened to her album “It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best” her voice shocked me. It is so stark and so pained. I was infatuated. I’ve never known anyone who hears her to be anything less than blown away.
5. Fad Gadget — Collapsing New People (Berlin Mix)
I found this during a highly enjoyable visit to Berlin. I’d never heard of Fad Gadget but I thought it was such a great name, so I listened to it in the shop and was blasted with a deluge of insanely catchy hooks, stomping percussion, metallic clanging and huge synths. Then at five minutes in, it breaks down and an amazing grinding, grating rhythm covered in a rash of scraping noises comes in, slowly ushering in the main riff of the song again. If ever one needs a good shaking up, this is a dark, spiteful, full on blare of a tune.
6. Holger Czukay — Persian Love
I remember first hearing this song last year, during a springtime sojourn at the Provençal abode of an exiled acquaintance of mine, and positively beaming. It’s such a beautiful, sparkling shimmer of a record.
7. Drexciya — Sea Snake
This takes the prize of most deranged synth riff I can think of right now. Bumbling, bubbling bassline, schizophrenic whipcrack drum machine, and a squeaking, twittering synth line that sounds like a demented electronically modified sparrow on Ecstasy. It’s a killer.
8. Talking Heads — Listening Wind
Remain In Light is one of my most beloved albums, and Listening Wind is the most beautiful, melancholic moment on there. The tight, thrumming rhythms, the myriad synth textures, the stringy little sounds scurrying in and out, the desolate, wailing noise slip sliding all through the web of sound, it’s all enthralling, but the slow, chant-like chorus is what gets me every time. The name of the song is completely perfect – this is what the music evokes and it is utterly compelling.
9. Betty Wright — Clean Up Woman
This I first heard as part of a massive Atlantic R n’ B compilation, and I absolutely adore the laid back duel guitar playing. It sounds almost liquid, yet effortlessly tight and locked together. Betty’s singing is bang on too. If I’m ever in need of pure R n’ B mood enhancement, then I look no further than this beauty.
10. The Buzz — Holding Me Down
This absolutely unhinged Joe Meek production is a demented sixties garage pop belter. The machine gun guitars are truly insane, the whole thing is straining to escape from a quagmire of echo and the chorus is madly euphoric. The most exhilarating record around! I found it on a compilation of European garage rock called Searching In The Wilderness that I got during a frenzied record buying moment in my favourite shop Amoeba Records in Hollywood. Outrageous.