I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again – 2007 has been absolutely top notch for music. There have been so many quality releases – and it’s still only September. In fact there have probably been almost too many – I’m sure I’ve missed, or overlooked, lots of good stuff.
Of course this should have given me lots to write about, but as you’ve noticed – it hasn’t! By the time I’ve got myself ready to write about one album, another one will come along and divert my attention.
It’s been over three months since my last musical musings (I thought it was longer) and it’s hard to accept stuff like Feist, Pigeon Detectives, New Young Pony Club etc have only been around that long already.
I can’t even begin to think how many top albums have come along since then!
So here are a few quick pointers to some stuff that’s been rocking my ear cochlea recently. (I know I’ve missed loads)
White Rabbits – Fort Nightly
This seems to have crept out of nowhere. I can’t even remember where I found out about it.
30 seconds into the first track you should be able to tell if you’re going to like it or not. Jangled guitar straight into a throbbing repetitive piano hook with accompanying kick drum. Backed up by some nice vocals etc it’s a cracking start.
Things carry on a similar vein for most of the tracks. The stand out instrument is definitely the piano, lifting the album into something that sounds quite fresh. I’m a huge piano fan, but I do realise that it’s rock status has been somewhat tainted recently – thanks Keane and the Fray. Rest assured it’s used in a great way on this album, and the poorer tracks suffer from an under use of the ivories.
M.I.A. – Kala
One of the many Difficult Second Albums in the Year of Many Difficult Second Albums.
I hit the M.I.A. phenomena really late. I still have no clue how, but it took me like a year to cotton on to her (and Diplo’s) general awesomeness.
With the MySpace release of the mental ‘Charly’ sampling XR2 whetting my appetite I had high hopes and I haven’t been too disappointed.
It’s a more diverse (and odder?) album, with more styles and international beats thrown into the mixer. You only have to listen to the Bollywood-via-Sweden string lashed disco anthem ‘Jimmy’ to hear what’s new.
Mia is given a bit more space to breathe on a lot of the tracks, meaning she can express herself more clearly. As Diplo’s production takes a bit of a back seat it initially make things a little bit less immediate… but it’s a massive grower of an album.
I hated ‘Paper Planes’ when I first heard it, with it’s stupid gun shot samples… but, after a few listens – well they don’t sound quite so stupid.
Not as ground breaking as the debut, but still a great album.
The Go! Team – Proof of Youth
Yet another Difficult Second Album. This must have been an interesting album for the Go! Team to approach. Here is a band which wasn’t really a band but a snowball kind of solo project of samples that grew into avalanche sized live performances with multiple members (and drummers!).
A band with a sound as distinctive as anyone else around.
Crazy drums, high tempo pep rally samples, cheer leader rhymes, horns, and general wondrous noises. A heady mix that worked beautifully well.
Do you chuck all that in and try and become more conventional band?
No chance! You create another awesome record that sounds the same, but cleaner. You hone your sound ever further and bring in some new collaborations to freshen things up a little.
1990s – Cookies
This was another album that I totally stumbled across. That was lucky because 1990s is a horrible name for a band.
Fortunately they produce a nice line in straight up indie with more than a hit of Rolling Stones. Two thirds of the band used to be part of The Yummie Furs – a band which also consisted of Alex Kapranos and Paul Thompson off of Franz Ferdinand – so there is a bit of pedigree here.
There’s nothing hugely ground breaking here – although this is something I always mention, does it really matter? There are some great lyrics and some pretty jingly tunage, all without ever getting too cheesy. I’m surprised they haven’t had much radio play… but that may yet come. (Having said that, according to their website, they’ve just lost a band member.)
Well worth checking out.
The Earlies – The Enemy Chorus
I wish I could listen to my digital radio more often. Every time I listen to BBC Radio 6Music it seems to turn up a gem or two.
I was laying some lino in our en suite (oooh hark at me!) last weekend and I had Stuart Maconie’s Freak Show on. I had no idea this show existed, but what and interesting few hours it was. The idea of the show seems to be to simply the most weird and wonderful semi-experimental rock and electronic stuff that most radio stations wouldn’t have within 200km of their building. .. and the shows on at 5pm on Sunday evening – not 3am in the morning!
Anyway he played this track called ‘Foundation and Earth’. It kicks of with some rousing horns, breaks into some strings and soothing vocal before building back up to some more horns… then some church bells… then some meandering synth and cosmic therimin style noise.
The Earlies quickly went in my note book.
The album is equally weird and wonderful. There’s elements of funk, electronica, straight out rock and plenty of other styles that you’d expect from a band that straddles the lesser know Taxas-Bury borders!
A nice suprise!
Scouting for Girls – Scouting for Girls
Is it OK to like them?
Their songs are more sickly than a deep fried curly wurly… but so happy… and poppy… and, well, damn nice.
I’ll get my coat.
(the fact that they got their break via Innocent smoothies makes me feel better though).
Hey Venus! – Super Furry Animals
A band for which the Difficult Second Album is a long, and distant memory. Hey Venus! being their 8th studio album in 11 years!
I’ve never been a huge fan, and I hadn’t really comprehended the sheer depth of their back catalogue, but smatterings of their music has pleased me and the missus over the years.
So I gave Hey Venus! a spin and, blow me, it is really rather pleasant.
So pleasant that I somewhat hastily procured most of their other releases. Now I don’t know if you have tried to digest seven albums by the same artisit in a small time period… well… all I can say is don’t, it doesn’t work!
Hey Venus! is a lovely album though.
GoodBooks – Control
I became aware of GoodBooks via a remix they did of a Hot Club de Paris track. I don’t think I ever got to hear that particular track – I only know it’s supposed to be a cracking remix – that was enough for me to track down more info.
I eventually got hold of their new album, and blimey it’s a goodun. It’s worthwhile alone for the track called ‘Passchendaele’ a gorgeous track about two generations of men trooping off to their deaths… sad, but lovely.
Their sound is a mix of standard indie, strings, horns, and judicial use of electronic blips. The lead singers voice really reminds me of somebody that I can’t put my finger on, but he’s got a nice clean voice that lends itself well to their penchant for storytelling.
Another happy discovery.
The White Stripes – Icky Thump
I like the White Stripes, I like this album. If you like the White Stripes you will like this album.
It’s a great addition to their ever growing library.
I wish I could see them live.
The Dead 60s – Time to Take Sides
Oh dear, where has all the ska gone!?!?
Guys! You were a beacon of proper British ska!
Now you’re just another (very) average indie band in a massive ocean of average indie bands.
I’ve tried very hard to like your new sound, but it’s a battle I’m quickly running out of enthusiasm for.
Such a shame!
Non Album Stuff
I’ve slowly been upping my music blog intake… so I’ve started listening to more single tracks and things. Here’s some thoughts on music that isn’t on an album.
Well technically there has been an album form these guys. Just not one that wasn’t released that well. Girls, Boys and Marsupials it was called. It’s a cracking album too, but it was done before they were signed to anyone.
It got the people excited though – they sold out their home gig at Liverpool’s Academy without any major label backing.
They now have a label behind them, and their first single was released in June. They are on tour with the Holloways, and will apparently be on this year’s NME tour – which has been a big launching pad for the Arctics and Klaxons in recent years.
With their humorous lyrics and infectious tunage you can expect to hear a lot from these Liverpool lads in the coming months.
Dan le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip
I first saw these guys being interviewed by Colin Murray as part of the Reading festival coverage. I hadn’t heard any of their music, I didn’t catch their name, but they made me laugh.
Then listening to Radio 6 (again) I heard the first minute of ‘Beat that my Heart Skips’. During the second minute I was already researching them.
I love Scroobius Pip’s rhymes and flow. He’s not a rapper, he’s a poet… and sodding awesome. Dan le Sac is a great name and using his trusty MacBook Pro he provides some great beats for Scroobius to lay his voice over.
‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ is genius…
“Thou shalt not think any male over the age of 30 that plays with a child that is not their own is a paedophile.
Some people are just nice.”
An album can’t come soon enough.
Late of the Pier
There’s been a lot of buzz about these guys for a while. When I heard that Erol Alkan is currently working with them I couldn’t ignore them any more.
Blimey, dancey disco and indie mashed together in harmony, but live – and sounding good. It’s been tried many, many times before…
As usual once I’ve gotten going I couldn’t stop. Sorry about that, but hopefully you’ll take something nice away from my musical musings.
There will be plenty more.