“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is known by her friends as Melissa Guion but musically she is MJ Guider, whose second album “Sour Cherry Bell” on Kranky (home of VS favs Labradford, and featuring alumni like Bowery Electric) is about to drop (that’s what they say right?) this Friday. Except it doesn’t drop, it lands definitely but gracefully.
The beats on lead song “FM Secure” are deep, reverberating to your very soul, reminiscent of the Bristol sound, or 90s Mo’Wax, tethered invisibly to a pre-Raphaelite 4AD vocal, that’s gothic but never wispy. It’s dark, brooding, mechanical and yet never staccato, music of the shadows but rather than being scared you can let MJ Guider’s inky blackness envelop you like a warm embrace, part trip hop, part EBM.
Melissa Guion has taken the malleable framework of her 2016 debut “Precious Systems” and reformed it while pushing her own boundaries. Recorded between home and studio in New Orleans, it has a touch of the heavy Louisiana heat on the street, like Elvis’ “Crawfish” in an unlikely gumbo with Portishead’s sour mash. With such an intoxicating and intriguing creation, I was keen to find out Guion’s musical touchpoints, and with her “song for ewe” Melissa didn’t disappoint. Welcome to VS, MJ Guider…
Feast your ears and eyes on the video for “FM Secure” by Craig Mulcahy (features some flashing images).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Melissa has chosen a song that has some edifyingly fulsome beats and also a deep soul, so without further ado, this is MJ Guider’s edutaining “song for ewe” which is strangely reminiscent of MJ Cole meets Massive Attack “Safe From Harm”.
“Bovel – Check 4 U
This track by Bovel (or Bô’vel, depending on where you look) is one of those songs that I think deserves the designation of “ultimate jam,” or something equally hyperbolic. It came on a while back when I was following a breadcrumb trail from Off Peak’s amazing “Baby It’s You,” and I had to stop what I was doing to see what it was. I’ve since listened to it dozens of times and have done plenty of scouring for more songs like it. It was apparently popular on Manchester pirate radio, so I went down that rabbit hole. I’ve checked out every related track on YouTube, where I came across other recent favorites like Optimystic’s excellent heavily-borrowed-from-a-Sade song “Trust Me,” and I’ve probably listened to everything on user AndyManch’s page at least once (thank you).
“Check 4 U” has an effortless coolness, a light touch with heavy effect. I can imagine the scene: a mid-‘90s bedroom in Manchester, the middle of the night or early hours of the morning, one light and the radio are on and this song plays. Neither fill the room but are in it with you. You just listen. It’s an easy, sweet 4ish minutes.
The original record had apparently been going for some absurd amount of money until it got a reissue in 2018, so thankfully it’s actually attainable now. Also if you check the YT comments, there’s a really nice post of gratitude from Bernadette Mosoph – Bovel herself”
THANKS TO MELISSA AND ALSO TO LAUREN BARLEY AT RARELY UNABLE PR
“Sour Cherry Bell” is out this Friday 18th September on Kranky.