Exclusive Playlist: British India's Declan Melia brings us his Four Favourite Tracks from across the decades…

Today is British India‘s last day as our AU artists of the month! Tomorrow, our May artist will be announced, but before that happens, we wanted to share with our readers a special playlist that British India’s Declan Melia put together for us earlier this month. You may have heard it on AU Radio already, and we’ll continue playing it on the station for a couple more weeks! In the meantime, enjoy the four songs he chose for the playlist and the reasons why they made the list…

The first song I’d like to play for you guys, I’m going to go right to the source of rock and roll really, and play a song called “Don’t You Just Know It” by Huey “Piano” Smith, he’s a New Orleans soul/blues pianist… this kind of American music, is really the wellspring for all modern pop, rock, hip hop and whatever else you want to call it. This song in particular has all the elements of great rock and roll. It has a fabulous melody. The passes roll into each other, in a way where you don’t know what’s the bridge, the verse or the chorus. It’s something that’s common to all truly great songs… the lyrics are complete nonsense. But it’s something about the spirit of rock and roll that makes you realise that the finest poetry still can’t say as much as “wop bop a lomp ba…”. It expresses the inexpressible within the apparent nonsense.

The second song I’m going to choose… I’m going to go chronologically here… I’m choosing a song from 1967 called “(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone” by The Monkees. Now I really could have chosen any song from this era from The Beatles or The Stones or The Who, but I went with this song because it’s lesser known from a hugely underrated group. The first criticism is that they were a manufactured band, put together by a record company and they didn’t play their instruments. They didn’t write their own music. But to focus on that is missing the point of what makes 60s pop great, and that was the explosion of pop culture that went with the 60s.

When you’re listening to it, it’s incredible punk rock… try to pick up on the ferocity of it. The lyrics, regardless of who wrote them, are really poisonous, there’s a real venom in them and the woman he’s singing about. I think they are just as relevant today. He sings “You’re reading all those high fashion magazines
The clothes you’re wearin’ girl are causing public scenes.”. Still very apt. You can keep all your Skrillex and EDM. If you want to get me and my posse moving on a Saturday night, reach for some 60’s Pop.

The next song I’m choosing is something a little different. It’s a track called “Sowing Season” from Brand New. They’re an American band and this song came out in 2011. I think I got into music like this and this song in particular at a formative age… my taste crystallized around then maybe, I think this kind of music that you could call “indie rock”, leaning towards punk alternative, is impassioned. It’s really dramatic. There’s nothing middle of the road about it. It goes straight to the vein. That’s what music should be all about. I think the best music is life exaggerated. Because real life, as you well know, is really boring. It takes music to step outside of the every day and make something a little exaggerated and bombastic. And this song is certainly that. “Emo” has become a dirty word, and this does lean toward that, but music not being emotional sounds a little bleak… and it doesn’t get more emotional than this!

Going to choose some hip hop now, which was one of the earliest genres I really loved. For a lot of 12, 13 year olds, who get into hip hop, the first thing you’re attracted to is the bravado, the swagger and the exotic “other world” of wherever the rapper is from. As your taste becomes a bit more sophisticated, you do start to hear the lyrics and get intrigued by what they’re actually saying. The wordplay and the finesse of it.

There’s so many songs I could choose here, but I’m going to go for something newer, which is “Pusherman” by Chance The Rapper from the Acid Rap mixtape that came out in 2013. He’s one of the many rappers who are spearheading a new mature wave in the genre. Certainly a lot more vulnerable, a lot more direct and honest. It’s given the absurd title of “alternative hip hop”, but all music should be emotionally honest anyway. So that’s a bit of a misnomer.

This track, talks about Chicago, from what I understand is still a really violent place, especially for those on the low social economic end of the ladder. The track is really tender, heartfelt and really clever. The thing about hip hop, is it’s not about understanding everything that’s said… you should have a listen a let the rapid fire words rush over you and make a collage of it all from what you do understand. Like jazz, it doesn’t have a melody, but it sticks with you.

British India are currently touring the country on their Nothing Touches Me album tour with guests Grenadiers and Tired Lion. For dates and tickets head to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/britishindiaofficial. Nothing Touches Me is available now.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.