So the year is rapidly hurtling towards it’s inevitably anticlimactic car wreck evening on December 31.
‘Tis the time of year to be overwhelmed under the sheer weight of approximately 13,345 metric tonnes of pure, unadulterated listage. A lovely time of year it is too.
However before gorging myself upon the fruits of the season I think there’s time to squeeze out just one more round up of what’s been been tickling my cochlea over the past few weeks…
I’ve mentioned this little trio very briefly before (I think). They are brand spanking new, and have only just released their début single, I don’t think they’ve even signed a major deal yet. So I shouldn’t really be including them on my list.
That, of course, assumes that I have a set of rules in place to govern such things. Which I do… sort of…
but I make them up as I go along – so sod it!
I came across Elle s’appelle as they bashed out a little set supporting Hot Club de Paris a few months back. Their jaunty indie pop noise leapt off the stage spreading grins among the faces of those fortunate to be listening. Lovely keys, jumpy guitars and cheeky vocals. It’s win-win plus.
Their introductory single – ‘Little Flame’ – hints hugely at a band onto a winner. Starting off with a solid 4/4 kick drum, accompanied with a good slathering of guitar and keys before Lucy Blakeley (singer and keys player) leaps in with some sharply delivered lyrics.
DANCE TO ME YOU MISERABLE, MISERABLE BASTARDS!!
(Of course I’m too old for such energetic musical enjoyment these days, but I’m dancing in my head.)
What an odd review this has been. You can get it off of iTunes in fancy new DRMless Plus clothes. I would say get the 7″ but it’s sold out apparently.
If they can knock out a few more tunes as good as ‘Little Flame’ they’re gonna be hoooooge! (DiS and Lamaq, think so too… but you heard it first here!)
Burial – Untrue
From catchy, lovely, happy, poppy, indie danceyness I now take you to the Opposo World with bleak, downtempo, stripped down, dub step, electronical atmospherica.
Burial. Just picture that sort of scene in your head.
That scene will give you a pretty good idea of the soundscape to expect – and that’s just from the artist’s name (of who, little is known).
It’s hard to describe the actual music, except to say there’s not a lot there. I could be a bit poncey and say it’s all about what’s not there, but I won’t.
No, actually, bugger it! I am going to be poncey!
This album is all about doing just enough, and then letting the listener fill in the blanks. It’s like a sonic watercolour. If you get too close and try to analyse the brush strokes it comes across as a bit of a bland mess. If you step back and focus more on the overall picture you’ll find that your mind picks out lots of things that have only been hinted at.
The tracks all consist of a canvas filled with filtered rhythms and beats with smatterings of string, bass and vocals. It’s all barely contained in some sort of unearthly wind that somehow manages to pull all of the vague hints together.
It really is more than the sum of it’s stripped bare parts. Back in the day I could listen to nothing but a rudimentary 909-with-bassline techno track for 90 minutes and be happy. As I’ve got older I’ve developed a musical form ADHD, and stripped out stuff bores me to tears now.
This album should have me weeping. It doesn’t. It’s really, really good. It’s not stuff you’d here in many clubs. Singles won’t be coming from it. But, as an album, it’s a fantastic piece of work. It’s one of the most complete electronic albums I’ve heard in a long while.
Should you wish to bask in it’s bleak glory Amazon have it for a very reasonable £6.42!
Little Dragon – Little Dragon
This group have come out of nowhere.
Well, OK, Sweden.
I think I first heard them via a download from one of the many music blogs I subscribe to. I’d love to give that blog it’s due mad props but I can’t remember which one it came from. I just know it was in my iTunes and that the tune was classy.
Some people call this New R&B, Nu Soul, Noo Jazz or some other such nonsensical combination of all of the above.
What it actually is is part jazzy, part funky, part souly, part hip hopy, and all quality.
Members of the band have had dabblings with the likes of Koop and Jose Gonzales. When I say members of the band I mostly mean vocalist Yukimi Nagano, whose lovely voice is laid lusciously all over the LP.
While I’ve been trying to find stuff out about the band I’ve read reviews suggesting this music is a bit “Coffee Shop”. The kind of music that will appear on adverts. It’s undeniably true, but the music on offer here is extremely high quality. (Anyway if it hadn’t been for adverts people like Feist, Nouvelle Vague and umpteen others wouldn’t have got the recognition they deserve. There’s nowt wrong with it, dammit!)
It’s not the kind of thing that you will stick on to rock out too, or something you will reach for because you “have to absolutely listen to it now!!!!” But it is a great noodling-about-in-the-summer type of soundtrack. Actually it’s pretty good for the winter too. It’s lovely and warm. The bass is round, the vocals soothing. It’s not going to piss off your granny at Christmas either.
Not all music can be in your face – there’s plenty of room in this world for music that’s more comfortable setting the mood in the background. There’s no shame in it, and it doesn’t mean the music isn’t any good.
Little Dragon’s début is a great Little album and well worth trying. So there! If you’d like to give it a spin for just £5.97 Amzon will sell you a copy.
The Wombats – A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation
Ahhh the lovable cheeky Scouse Wombats. I’ve been tracking these guys for a long while, and they are yet to fail me.
A couple of months ago we had one of our strangest gig experiences going to watch these lads. They held an album launch party on the Mersey Ferry. I bought tickets as soon as I got the email. Good times were in the offing!
Three weeks later we excitedly strolled up to the Pierhead… along with gaggles of Pirates, Clowns, Fairys, Spongebob Squrepants’ and a Patricia the Stripper.
It was one of those horrible moments when you realise that you’ve missed something quite fundamental somewhere. In this case we hadn’t seen the official gig posters that told everyone to wear fancy dress…
So we were crammed into a ferry with several hundred becostumed revellers (plus a hand full of other numpties that hadn’t realised either) for 5 hours as we ploughed up and down the Mersey until 1am.
There was no stage, so when the guys came on you had to be in the first two rows to see anything. According to this video they were in fancy dress too…
We still had a good time.
Oh yeah, the album!
It’s really rather good. Full of fun lyrics, great stories and general danceyness – all the stuff I like really. Even the tunes that have been around for what seems like years (like on semi-unreleased non-albums etc) haven’t been too ruined by studio tinkering. Klaxons take note.
One of my faves of the year. Again (can you see a trend here? Let me know if they piss you off…) you can get this wonderful LP for just £6.43 at Amazon. Or if you’re feeling posh you can get the version with a DVD for £11.40.
The Hoosiers – The Trick to Life
Another example of mainstream Radio 1 sneaking into my listening habits. Damn you Moyles!
‘Goodbye Mr. A’ and ‘Worried About Ray’ are undeniably cracking examples of indie pop. It’s the kind of catchy nonsense that drills it’s way into your head – so deep that you can’t help but be lured by it’s cheese filled charms.
A whole album of it though? Is that possible to carried off by these self proclaimed purveyors of ‘Odd Pop’?
The short – and very correct – answer is no, no it’s not.
I like the singles – I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that (in fact you’d have to be a pretty stone faced bastard not to like them). The rest of the album, however, is a bit of stinker (with the exception of maybe ‘Cops & Robbers’). They almost completely drop the silly, likeable indie pop and go off on a boring ballady sing song. Not nice.
Thankfully I find myself in the position where I can safely warn you against this record.
Phew. (If you’re a masochist you can buy it for £7.90)
The Hives – The Black and White Album
The Hives you say?
That band from a few years ago that seemed to be built up to God like status on the tidal wave of Strokes-iness, before being almost simultaneously being branded as also rans, leaving them to sort of slowly filter away to nothing?
They’re back with a new album, this time hauling along a trailer load of star producers along for the ride. Heavyweights like Pharrell himself and Jacknife Lee.
And, by Jove, it seems to have actually worked!
These days I listen to music mainly by having a smart playlist called Recently Added.As the name suggests this list holds tunes added in the past few weeks. I shuffle it and see what sticks out. The new Hives stuff really stuck out. It’s nothing earth shatteringly new, but it sounds good and is belted out with a bit of feeling behind it. It’s really rather enjoyable.
Not all of the tracks are brilliant, and some of the more experimental tracks don’t quite work, but overall I suggest it’s time to get reacquainted with this forgotten band of the noughties indie boom. (Even Pitchfork gave it 6.1, which for a band that doesn’t do anything
weird crap new, and plays in tune, means it may as well be 9.8).
Well worth a punt at £7.48. (Who comes up with these silly Amazon prices…)
Plus Some Quickies
The fact these are shorter ‘reviews’ does not reflect quality. In fact it reflects my ability to keep things brief.
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings – 100 Days, 100 Nights
Sounds like the classic 60/70’s soul.
Looks likes the classic 60/70’s soul.
Funks like classic 60/70’s soul.
Made in 2007 and sounding pretty damn good. Worth every one of the 568 pennies.
The Quantic Soul Orchestra – Tropidelica
I love Quantic. Everything he releases is Quality. The Quantic Soul Orchestra is his live action side project for putting back into the music scene. You could possibly attach a lot of the Daptones review here.
This album takes inspiration from the sounds of Latin America. It sticks to the Quantic Quality template closely. Horns a plenty, more funky rhythms than a James Brown convention and some nice collaborations.
Quality – and yours for just £7.72!
Soulwax – Most of the Remixes
Sometimes I think Soulwax are geniuses. Sometimes they get right on my tits. There’s a lot of hype and myth surrounding them, but this collection of their remixes showcases their undoubted talents very nicely.
The only downside will be having the likes of Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue appearing in your Last.FM playlist. This ones a double CD with a decent mix on CD two, so it costs a bit more at £8.71.