Monday, 26 January 2009

Molloy – Thursday Electric EP

London four piece Molloy deliver their fourth release unto us. The electronics squelch and fizz on the title track, while Caz goes into distressed, disinterested eighties girl mode. The chorus hook is good, but not massively catchy. There’s a good breakdown bit though, where things are getting smashed and the robotic singer is powering down. There follows Gather Round Girls, which is a repetitious electro pulse, ice cool and sinister. Wrong Way is slinky, but an unfinished half idea although The Healer is better, a more well rounded feisty electro pop song. On the whole though, this EP doesn’t give off the energy or power of their live show, which is a great shame.

Thursday Electric EP is out now on Silverstation Records
Molloy myspace is here

Monday, 19 January 2009

Wavves – So Bored

I wasn’t entirely sure about Wavves when I first encountered them, what with the silly name, the marijuana leaf on the sleeve. Turns out Wavves is just one person, Nathan Williams from San Diego and I find myself liking So Bored despite myself. It’s a petulant strop hidden behind waves of fuzz, something that craves attention that it secretly doesn’t really want. If you want an endearing teenage pop song, this is your one. By contrast How Are You? is a slacker ballad, lost in a blissful haze. It’s pretty good too, so next time I shall look forward to see what Wavves do.

So Bored is released by Young Turks on March 2nd
Wavves myspace is here

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Luca Olivieri – La Quarta Dimensione

La Quarta Dimensione is the latest release from Luca Olivieri, an Italian composer and musician. The first track Angelina is beautiful and brittle, mysteriously French and delicate. Chrome slows things down, moving along at its own maudlin pace and Lontana Presenza presents itself as a window to a happier place. If there’s a problem I have with this album, it is that it’s all too slow moving and a bit too samey for me. Maybe I don’t really understand atmospheric, instrumental, slightly classical music though. That may well be the problem, that it’s just not my bag. I can imagine it being right up the street of some people I know however.
Moving on, Il Sogno Di Napo shimmies a little, with a laid back trad Italian vibe. L’Attesa is similar in tone, but drags its feet a little more. Fantasmi is all waltzy like a magical merry go round and Baricentro Morale brings things right back down to earth; it’s a beautiful little piece, sad and moving. Most of the rest of the album passes by much the same as before. On the whole its not bad, but a little too atmospheric and non dynamic for my tastes.

La Quarta Dimensione is self released and out now
Luca Olivieri's website is here and myspace here

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

When you put The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s debut album into iTunes, the genre comes up as ‘noisy pop’, which is pretty much bang on the mark. Contender kicks things off, a little fuzzy thing that makes me think of the Primitives getting overwhelmed by feedback. Its gentle tones ease you in nicely. Come Saturday follows, a proper indie pop classic. The drums rolls in, and the tune’s overwhelming cuteness is offset nicely by the fuzziness of effects pedals. It’s a song that reminds you of the relief of the weekend after the drudgery of your nine to five, the weight lifted and replaced by effervescent joy. Young Adult Friction comes chiming into view and this time they play it a bit more straight forward, although there’s a nice ghostly touch to the backing vocals. It comes into life though on the rallying ending. This Love Is Fucking Right! is a shy shoegazer, more upbeat like Ride than the atmospherics of Slowdive though. The Tenure Itch clatters around pretty well, but seems to be the mid album dip. It’s not bad per se, just not up to the quality of the other songs. The muffled vocals don’t help much. Stay Alive is all swirly and shuffles about in a daydream, capturing something lovely in the way Chapterhouse used to. Another indie pop classic in the form of Everything With You follows, it has a shambling feel but not as lo-fi, the hooks and slouch of early Mary Chain a divine melody and catchy chorus. A Teenager In Love is a departure, featuring some chiming guitars and rudimentary drums reminiscent of sixties girl pop while Hey Paul is the closest The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart get to being boisterous. It charges along out of control, being enveloped in fuzziness. Gentle Sons starts with a roar of plodding jet engine guitars and stomps around moodily, lost in an echo chamber, ending a very fine album with something different again.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart is released on Slumberland Records on February 3rd
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart myspace is here

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

A Camp – Colonia

Now that their previous bands are over, Nina (The Cardigans) and Niclas (Atomic Swing) can concentrate on A Camp. Their second album Colonia arrives a mere eight years after their first.
It all starts with The Crowning, a grandiose number that sashays and swirls around the dancefloor. Stronger Than Jesus sees Nina lording it up over the fellows, while being the doomed star in some glitzy musical. Vocally she is really on magnificent form, curling her tongue around some great words, really imposing herself on the songs. Bear On The Beach is downtrodden, yet somehow maintains its glamour in the twilight of its existence. Golden Teeth And Silver Medals is a very atmospheric duet; they encourage each other by trading vocals, then burst into a big joint effort. In a film this is the moment when the stars would twinkle as they hold each other and sing out. Here Are Many Wild Animals reminds me a little of Nina’s song with the Manic Street Preachers, if done with a lot more style and panache. My America becomes a cry across the ocean for attention, with a bouncy, sunset pop feel to it and I Signed The Line is an understated grandiose piece, and one you could imagine Rufus Wainwright singing.
Where their first album was merely decent, they’ve really moved up some gears and pulled out all the stops on this one.

Colonia is released by Reveal Records on February 2nd
A Camp myspace is here

Antony and the Johnsons – The Crying Light

Antony’s third album starts in suitably maudlin fashion. That just seems to be what Antony’s voice does. As the title of the opening track would suggest, Her Eyes Are Underneath The Ground is rather sombre and grave. It’s followed by Epilepsy is Dancing which improves on the previous track, Antony picking out words carefully to start with, before pirouetting off with the tune and working himself up into an out of control dervish. One Dove is a bit more fractious, while Kiss My Name swirls round on an outer space kids TV tune. Another World is another ones of those drama soaked piano ballads he does so well, which he follows with Daylight And The Sun. This is a blissful, gorgeous pairing of songs that form a great centrepiece to the album. Dust & Water is a curious warble; either Antony is speaking in tongues or maybe just mumbling. Either that or it’s a foreign language. It gives the tune a weird other worldly feel to it. Everglade, though only short, is a wonderful grand climax to the album, one that builds and builds, before sliding out. In short The Crying Light is another wonderful album of what Antony and band do best.

The Crying Light is released on Rough Trade on January 19th
Antony and the Johnsons website is here

Friday, 2 January 2009

The Wedding Present / The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Oxford Academy - 04.12.08

Another review that's a bit old, but it seemed only right to wait for
Nightshift, the magazine for which it was written, to be published first. Read the Jan 2009 issue of Nightshift online here

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are the band on everyone’s lips in the indie pop world at the moment, and quite rightly so. They specialise in short, sharp pop songs, which bring to mind the early Mary Chain, in a more well rounded way, and all those legendary buzzsaw guitar bands of the mid eighties. On tracks like Come Saturday and Everything With You they have the early My Bloody Valentine vim and vigour and are pretty much approaching fuzz pop heaven.
And so to The Wedding Present. It’s a much changed line up from the glory days, but it has always been Gedge’s band, so it doesn’t matter. I had high hopes for this, having seen them for the first time in 13 years at the Indietracks festival this summer, where they blew me away, much to my surprise. And they proceed to do the same again tonight, opening with Kennedy and firing out a smattering of oldies. They don’t need to do this, as most people here tonight cheer as much for songs from this year’s El Rey set. In Spider-Man on Hollywood, The Thing I Like Best About Him Is His Girlfriend and Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Drunk they have three songs that easily stand up against the rest of their back catalogue. Tonight’s high points include Brassneck and My Favourite Dress, but it’s the frenetic cover of Girls At Our Best’s Getting Nowhere Fast that first appeared on ‘George Best’ that blows the roof off. When it gets to the finale they go with Boo Boo from their latest album, a song that starts like Pearl Jam’s Alive and takes you places you never thought the Wedding Present could go. Tonight they prove that they are one of the few bands that it was worth their while reforming, and then some.

The Wedding Present myspace is here
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart myspace is here

Teitur – The Singer

Teitur has a lovely voice, somewhere between Andrew Bird, Rufus Wainwright and the guy from the Decemberists. He’s from the Faroe Islands and has that Northern Europe mystique to him. This is his first UK album but numerous others have appeared back home on his own label, sung in his native tongue.
The title track (or Act I as he prefers to number them) starts things off, just minimal wobbly backing and Teitur singing beautifully in his amazing voice about doing what he does. Your Great Book has a clicking beat, some mysterious noises and Teitur chirruping away contently, you could say that there’s an element of Fleet Foxes bliss to this one. The Girl I Don’t Know is Teitur is some brass and a desolate place while Catherine The Waitress has a bit more verve, he still sounds sad, but a little more hopeful now. It’s on this song you’re getting the impression that Teitur has taken in a lot of recent influences, or is maybe coming from the same spiritual place, and therefore making music with a similar feel to Bon Iver and the aforementioned Fleet Foxes. If he gets mentioned in the right places he’ll do well. Back to the songs, We Still Drink The Same Water brings things back down to a funereal pace, its solemn feel not detracting from how great the song is. Guilt By Association is reminiscent of one of Andrew Bird’s more disjointed tunes, deep strings evoke mystery, broken lyrics skip by, with sparse percussion punctuating things. Legendary Afterparty is another showcase for his voice. I love the way the music does the absolute minimum it has to, and he sings almost a capella. Don’t Let Me Fall In Love With You follows a similar formula. Its despairing and affecting, you can’t help being moved just by the power of his voice, especially when it is clutter free.

The Singer is released on A&G Records on February 16th
Teitur myspace is here

The Mountain Parade – Kitchen Songs

The Mountain Parade are a loosely assembled collective based in Oxford and Bristol and these are their first recordings, put to tape in a kitchen as the title suggests.
The Squid And The Whale is as trad folk as it gets with a plaintive chorus and some lovely bits where singer Roxanne steps back and lets the brass take over. Where other bands are offering up a new take on folk, The Mountain Parade take it back to the beginning and still sound fresh. Awesome Wonder has a very cyclical and rolling feel to it while the sombre musical start to Shackleton Bewley gives way to some cracking strings and a buoyant feel, while still restrained. I’d love to hear the vocals more prominent in this mix on this song though. Dragons doesn’t do much for me, but that may just be the recording and Egg Shaker, Sky Scraper is suitably chirpy and sweet, but can sound a bit cluttered at times. While there is an element of school orchestra to these songs, there’s a na├»ve charm you just can’t resist.

The Mountain Parade myspace is here. I don't think Kitchen Songs is a being given a proper release, but if you drop the band a message you may be able to get your hands on the songs.

Shrag – Shrag

The debut Shrag album is basically a collection of their singles so far, but it’s a good starting point. First up is Pregnancy Scene which starts like an electro rockabilly tune before kicking into military stomping bits, fierce ranting and bits where the girl vocalist is standing with her hands on her hips lecturing you. A weird mix, but one that works rather well. Long Term Monster is a rallying hard indie tune, with the well used sing a bit, scream a bit vocal technique. It’s a cracking tune, so they pull it off. Lost Dog becomes the best thing so far, a dark rumbling tune and some creepy vocals, replete with punky chorus. Talk To The Left is rather icy cool, a processed, nay robotic tune, with some near spoken words instructing the man to just get on with the task in hand. And when you’re spoken to like that, you wouldn’t argue. Forty Five 45s is one of my favourites, a lovely slow tune, some laid back gorgeous vocals and a chorus that picks up the pace just slightly, but to the absolute right level, and then only for a moment. It’s a great example of making people listen by being carefully spoken rather than ranting. After that there’s Cupboard Love which is a spindly, scrawny tune that twists and turns and squirms its way into your affections, Mark E Smith which is a ranting, rattling tune of which the man himself would be proud and Hopelessly Wasted, a downbeat end to the album, desolate and despairing.

Shrag is out on January 19th on Where It's At Is Where You Are
Shrag myspace is here

Thursday, 1 January 2009

The Lolligags – Out Of Perversity Join Hands

The second EP by electro-duo The Lolligags starts with Merry Go Round, which is a bit like new wave goth meets electro pop, somewhere between Siouxsie and Robots In Disguise. Yes, the female vocals help point you the way of these comparisons, but if they are accurate why not use them? This flows into Sister Lover and you can barely see the join. Sister Lover might be slightly more flighty but there’s not much in it. It’s this initial similarity that makes All The Deer Daughters even more special. It has a glacial beauty provided by some great strings that hides a sinister interior, supplied by the lyrics and chimes. Basically it lures you in and ensnares you in its dark world. A Spanner In The Works is electro girl group pop; while the tune can prove a tad weak it’s another interesting twist from the band. Best Behavior is great, a cool robotic electro pop tune, some nice yelps, twinkly noises and squelches. Kitten, Come Over is a new wave classic, all dated yet still futuristic sounding while My Mascara closes the EP with a pulsing New Order dance beat, it throbs and thrusts around the dancefloor as the icy vocals shout out the instructions.

Out Of Perversity Join Hands is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records
The Lolligags myspace is here

Bearsuit – Oh:io

A new Bearsuit album commences with Jupiter Force (Recruitment Video) which starts with some right joyous keyboards, before a guitar fuzzes in along with some brass sounds and then the keyboard is fighting back, weaving magical spells across the tune, while the singers, Iain and Lisa, do their best to shout then sing and make themselves heard. There are so many delightful parts to this song I can’t begin to convey it. More Soul Than Wigan Casino follows that and is again upbeat, it reminds me of some weird hybrid of The Brilliant Corners and Los Campesinos! The emphasis when they shout “soul” tells you all you need to know about this song. Steven Fucking Spielberg starts all Spanish sounding, before sounding like some modernised electro folk song. It’s a little less frenetic than the other tunes. Dinosaur Heart flies by at a mad speed, the singers alternating between being screamo and angelic. Keep It Together, Somehow is a sweet little pop tune, the singers swapping lines throughout, although it could do without the shouty backing vocals at times though. Foxy Boxer shows how Iain can sound despairing like Graham Coxon, while Lisa shows him who is boss. Riot electro grrl anyone? The Love Will Never Find You is some class driven electro pop and with bands like Johnny Foreigner getting popular, why not Bearsuit? Hark! The Feral Children is the sound of children building up to and having sporadic tantrums while Stay Alive wraps things up with a lovely piano led coda of a song.

Oh:io is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records
Bearsuit myspace is here

Cars Can Be Blue – Doubly Unbeatable

On their second album, Cars Can Be Blue kick things off with Sun Blows Up, a song that sounds like a great fifties style Grease tune with great girlie vocals, ramalama rhythms and ooh-ing backing vocals. Coat Tails follows and is a rickety little song, but hurtles by in a blur of infectious enthusiasm. Eyeballs fuzzes and then drones in the chorus and couples that with some uplifting verses. Hope You’re Hurting is one of those great little indie pop tunes, fine melody, hurtling tune, spiteful lyrics and even some cool drum rolls while Pretty Special sounds like a weird nursery rhyme with some lyrical warning to musicians, and a slightly deranged singer. I Wish I is another cracking indie pop tune that jerks and rolls around, Ribbon is half kind of trash surf instrumental with the rest being mad shoutings in the middle, while Cycle Of Violence throws us a curveball, sounding like Tom Waits romping with Suicide and the Cramps, all within two minutes. You’re On Drugs brings things back round to how it was, a rollicking little tune with great vocals from Becky who has just the right mix of sassy and snotty throughout the album. Just Because is another cracking tune, the way they seem to churn out these delightful two minute pop songs with ease amazes me, but pleases me in equal measures. So Cheap sees them doubling up the vocals to get the required anger and bile needed for this snotty but ace punk pop song. Seems We’re Breakin’ Up is an epic by their standards, clocking in at almost three minutes. It’s probably their most straight forward pop song, it stops and starts with delicious drums rolls, infectious vocals and a keen melody.
Definitely an album worth checking out, you’re in for one hell of a ride.

Doubly Unbeatable is out now on Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records
Cars Can Be Blue myspace is here