Back on Tracks

posted on July 20th, 2006 by Anthony

I’ve been very slack lately it has to be said.

I have excuses of course.

Things like dead computers, wedding plans, the World Cup, honeymoon plans (Antigua – woo hoo!!!), UKfpl and of course the ol’ 360.

Fortunately my PC is back up and running after 3+ weeks and one false start. I was surprised how much I missed it to be honest. I didn’t think I used it that much any more… what with a combination of laptop and Xbox replacing most of it’s key functions…

Then I realised:

Seriously I found that really hard – over three weeks without any new music to listen to in the car. Sure, I’ve got plenty of good tuneage stuffed into that little white unit… but I really miss not having new tunes to wrap my lug holes around.

Fortunately the drought is over, and I can once again fire my new music neurons with freshly encoded digital bits.

Tapes ‘N Tapes – The Loon

Tapes 'n Tapes

One of the few benefits of not having the iPod updated is that it forced me to listen to the Radio. Fortunately I’ve got a DAB one, and therefore access to Xfm rather than having to endure daytime Radio 1.

I was listening to one of the lunchtime shows when the Tapes’ first single Insistor jumped out from the crowd of standard classics the X-List tends to produce.

Tapes ‘n Tapes are this seasons Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They’ve apparently been causing quite a stir all over Über Cool Blogland for months and months. So much so that XL have taken them under their wing.

Tapes 'n Tapes - The Loon

I’m finding it hard to describe what they actually sound like. It’s very familiar fare, yet some how sounds very fresh. It has a very DIY feel to it. In fact some of it sounds like it has been recorded on actual tapes… not new tapes either, but ones that have been used over and over again to capture long passed Peel sessions.

But this is a good thing. The ghosts of those old sessions lend their presence to the album.

OK I’m jabbering here.

Basically, if in the last few months you have enjoyed the likes of The New Pornographers, CYHSY, Broken Social Scene or any others of that ilk – you will love this.

It is fast becoming one of my favourite albums of the year.

The Automatic – Not Accepted Anywhere

Another product of listening to the radio is picking up tunes that you wouldn’t normally like, but are played so often and are so catchy they attach themselves like limpet mines to the brain.

What’s that coming over the hill?
Is it a monster?
Is it a monsteeer? (x4)

The Automatic

Those lyrics shouted over the top of some stompy drums and thrashy guitar add up to something more catchy than MRSA in a NHS hospital.

The thing about ‘Monster’ is that it’s nowhere near as damaging to your health as the rampant super bug – in fact it is very easy to like. The same goes for their first single Raoul…

Let’s go see Raoul
Lets go see Raoul
Lets go see Raoul
Lets go see Raoul

Again incredibly catchy.

So although they are not usually my kind of thing I decided to give them a whirl.

So now I’ve got the likes of ‘Rats’:

Somebody told me,
there’s always a rat close by (x4)

and ‘Seriously Guys… I hate You’

That’s the happiest you’ve looked all day (ad infinitum)

I think you see the pattern here.

A lot of their song have that formula – get some words that sound nice, shout them out repeatedly – over and over and over.

And it actually works – up to a point.

They actually don’t produce music I particularly like. They walk a very fine line between a kind of cool tounge-in-cheek rock… and out and out gouda.

When they don’t employ their formula properly they do actually fall heavily on their arses in the specialty cheese section.

At times they sound just a bit too Blink 182, a bit too American – yet they are from South Wales!

It’s the glimpses of Britishness that just stop them form being completely shit, and actually quite enjoyable – if you don’t look to deep.


Nouvelle Vague - Bande A Part

Nouvelle Vague – Bande A Part

Follow up to the impossibly lovely surprise hit. 80’s rock done in a French Bosa Nova style just shouldn’t work – but by God it does.

Perhaps not quite up to the first albums standard, but still great none the less. Though I can’t help feel they missed a real opportunity to do something far, far greater with their Blue Monday.

Cut Chemist – The Audience’s Listening

Cut Chemist

The J5’s resident cut master goes solo and delivers some fine slabs of freshly mongered beat.

Those familiar with the works of the Jurassic crew will already be familiar with the Chemist’s brews – lots of mad beats, scratches and bleeps layered over some impossibly catchy beats.

Not as good as I was hoping, but still very nice. The tracks with guest appearances stick out most – the contributions for Mr Lif and Hymnal epsecially.

Graham Coxon – Love Travels at Illegal Speeds

Graham Coxon

The unashamedly geeky ex-blur bloke delivers another understatedly high quality album.

There’s nothing groundbreaking here but the guy’s talent for song writing remains undiminished.

It’s full of solid, if unspectacular, nuggets of guitar gold. It’s impossible to dislike, but hard enthuse about.

It is good though.