Monday, 31 August 2009

Richmond Fontaine – We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River

As Richmond Fontaine reach their eighth album, the quality shows no signs in letting up. The lead and title track is languid and world weary, managing to sound even more brow beaten than Lambchop. Despite this it has a certain self assuredness albeit with a sombre lyrical tone. It’s always upbeat despite sounding downbeat in the worse of times before giving in and being finally broken by a specific incident. The rollicking come back letter of You Can Move Back Here would entice even the most hardy of souls back home, and the gentle slightly Mexican military waltz of The Boyfriends is a tale of a lady’s male companions that pass in the night. It’s another of Willy’s wonderful mini stories in a song. The Pull is a gentle and sombre tale of a poor guy, an alcoholic, then a boxer, who couldn’t cope with things taken away from him, no matter how harmful they were to him. He moves from one thing to the next, a gorgeous twinkling tune charting his undulating, mainly downward progress. Watch Out is a delicate near instrumental, tugging on your heart strings with merely a divine tune and the only words “watch out or your heart will be nothing but scars”. 43 is a rambling and rolling song that sounds like storm clouds gathering, the perfect music for a song about broken lives and broken homes. Lonnie is a staggering and brooding thing about a retch of a man while Ruby & Lou is a mumbly and downbeat thing, maudlin strings tugging on your heart. Past the intricate twinkling instrumental Walking Back To Our Place At 3 A.M. we get to the tumultuous and stormy Two Alone. A Letter To The Patron Saint Of Nurses bring things right down, a spoken word musing on more lives and a fitting end to another great Richmond Fontaine album.

We Used To Think The Freeway Sounded Like A River is out now on Decor Records
Richmond Fontaine myspace is here

David Gibb – The Oxfordshire Brigade

David Gibb is very much a young man’s Frank Turner, but with a much more trad folk edge. He’s an 18 year old hailing from Derbyshire with talent beyond his years. We like the multi vocalled euphoric choruses, the string laden breaks and the breakneck tune. It’s spirited and upbeat and tells the tale of a boy and an angel falling in love in a small place in Oxfordshire, which means that its lyrically far more interesting than half the stuff nowadays. Very good stuff indeed.

The Oxfordshire Brigade is released on Fuse Records on September 21st
David Gibb myspace is here

Monday, 17 August 2009

Searching For The Now vol. 6

Here we find The School covering Left Banke’s Suddenly, Liz’s exquisite voice wending its way along a sweet sashaying tune. It’s still very sixties and knowingly beautiful, landing somewhere between BMX Bandits and an Australian soap theme, but managing to be the right side of the brilliant/rubbish line. George Washington Brown sees the return of Kenickie’s Johnny X, and End Of The… is rather like his old band covered in swathes of stadium filling power pop and fizzing synth noises. Twin Towers isn’t quite as good, but becomes progressively more catchy as it goes on, being reminiscent of Velvet Crush or Redd Kross but with a touch more of the subtle.

Searching For The Now vol. 6 is out now on Slumberland Records

Searching For The Now vol. 5

Following on from their wonderful debut album, Liechtenstein release something new from the more twee end of their cannon. This Must Be Heaven is all rushing guitar and angelic girly vocals. It’s essentially Talulah Gosh, but pretty darn good so we’ll let them away with it. Better stuff however, can be found on said album, Survival Strategies In A Modern World. The Faintest Ideas get two tracks, the first of which, You're Gonna Wake Up One Morning And Know What Side Of The Bed You’ve Been Lying On, is really more a wave of feedback burying a decent tune. I’m guessing from trying to tune the feedback out that it might be something like early Wedding Present, but its too overwhelming to be sure. Feedback and effects have their place, just not here. The band should have a little more confidence in their tunes. Oddly enough, Procrastination Of Every Day Tasks proves this point. There is a little of The Weddoes in there, maybe some of The Bodines gorgeous pop craft, but mainly it’s a sweet little song with a tough edge lurking in there.

Searching For The Now vol. 5 is out now on Slumberland Records

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Wookies – Sparks

The Wookies new EP is a weird and wonderful beast. In The Forest has a chanted opening, some hacking guitar that eventually settles down and is overlapped by a mantra. There are some groovy blues riffs as the tune takes off; it’s a rabble rousing thing that reminds me of a dark version of The Jam. How Good Does It Feel? is a bumptious, beery sing along, surfing some effervescent keyboards. It slows down to a noodly jazzy thing, which just has the feeling of making it overlong. Doomsday is a weird thing, all mysteriously brooding and medieval, like Muse with a bit more class and less histrionics. There are chanted lyrics and twinkly bits that intersperse the song wonderfully. Daylight cuts swathes of drama through a rumbling gothic landscape, the low bass swaggering as the singer goes psychotic, into a living nightmare. Cool stuff indeed.

Sparks is released on Broken Tail Records on September 21st
The Wookies myspace is here

Monday, 3 August 2009

Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring – How I Wasted My Youth

The album opens with the sly bosa nova of Take Your Own Good Advice, a sultry little number that slithers away in a psychedelic atmosphere. Old single A Question Of Trust is an achingly beautiful pop song, with strung out heartfelt vocals, which is swiftly followed by another in the form of New Favourite Band. The twinkling Interlude provides a rather lovely diversion while Record Breaker is another whimsical ditty, more an angelic sigh than a song, delightfully understated and gorgeous. By the choral Fire Eyes you realise they might be onto a very English version of Fleet Foxes, the same blissful vibe, but coming from a different musical angle. I Saw The Lights Go Out is a jaunty little number, while A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away is a headrush of smiley indie pop. My Big Test starts a little heavier, then the careful croon comes in and it saunters around spreading goodwill and casual cool. Finally we reach The End, a Richard Hawley style maudlin mantra and a great end to a rather fine album.

How I Wasted My Youth is released on 10th August jointly by Strange Torpedo Records and Marketstall Records
Their Hearts Were Full Of Spring myspace is here

The Champagne Socialists – Blue Genes

This is the single on which The Royal We and Bricolage, Glasgow and LA collide. Blue Genes may have the ramshackle clattering charm of The Shop Assistants, but the vocals are buried deep in the mix and decidedly murky. Admittedly this wasn’t necessarily a strong point of the Shop Assistants, but somehow it distracts and detracts too much from the song here. It’s a darn shame, because there’s a good song in there somewhere. The Young Runaways suffers similar problems, there’s some sublime pop going on here, somewhere between sixties girl pop and C86. Better next time not to record the vocalist with her head down the toilet though.

Blue Genes is out now on Slumberland Records
The Champagne Socialists myspace is here