Monday, 27 December 2010

Braindead Collective - The Whites Of Our Eyes

Normally improvisation leaves me cold, but there is something quite wonderful about this. It is the first collaboration between Oxford / London kraut-jazz-drone experimentalists Braindead Collective (featuring members of Guillemots, The Epstein, Keyboard Choir and others), and the Scotland-via-Lancashire purveyor of lo-fi creaks and drones, Rob St. John and was recorded on the coldest day of a freezing British winter in Oxford’s oldest church – St.Michael’s on Cornmarket St – by microphones strategically strewn from pews and rafters. You can listen to it via the player below, and pick up a download in exchange for a donation to Shelter.

Matt Longo - Alexandria

After the downbeat tone of the last post, here comes something else to restore my faith. Not only that, Matt Longo gives singer songwriters a good name, a difficult thing when acoustic troubadors are ten a penny and worth even less nowadays. Wonderfully angelic vocals that leap hither and thither, some sweet melodies and an uplifting air all contribute to make this splendid mini album something special. You can listen to it on the player below. Click on the player to find all the links your heart desires and to download the album for free.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Wonderflu - Lota Schwager EP

This is the first in a series of brief year end recommendations, in an effort to catch up the backlog that has been created by my current disenchantment with reviewing. With personal time ever decreasing, I simply don't want to spend it listening to an ever increasing number of distinctly average bands. Some things however are worth bringing to wider attention, such as this, the latest EP by Pavement-esque Parisien band Wonderflu. Normal service will be resumed sometime soon...have a listen to this below in the meantime.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Edwyn Collins – Oxford Academy 05/11/10

Much has been made of Edwyn’s miraculous recovery from two cerebral haemorrhages and a bout of MSRA, and it is true that the fact he is even here to play the show tonight is amazing. Leaving that to one side for a moment, this is a brilliant show by anyone’s standards. Tonight we get a rich and varied selection of tunes from the beginning of Orange Juice, through seven solo albums up to the freshly released Losing Sleep. Edwyn makes his own way on stage after the band take up residence, and they give him a funky backing track to arrive to. And what a band. Paul Cook of the Pistols on drums, long time Morrissey band member Boz Boorer on keys and sax and Andy Hackett of the Rockingbirds on guitar for starters. Pick of the band is lead guitarist Tom Edwards who plays some wicked licks, but in a wonderfully understated way. It’s some achievement to stand out in this line up, as Boorer delivers some delightful teasing sax interludes and Cook looks like he’s having the time of life on drums, and having much more fun than any Pistols reunions.

Edwyn has a book to prompt him of the lyrics, but it’s an entirely natural delivery and the band adds a little beef to some of the more twee OJ numbers. The quality of the songs and show are such that I forget all about A Girl Like You until it kicks in pre-encore. For the start of the encore there is an acoustic interlude which is divine, then the band return with Frankie from the Heartstrings (who were excellent in support earlier) for a storming In Your Eyes from the new album before they deliver my favourite OJ song, Blue Boy, which sounds fantastic. Before the gig I was biased towards Edwyn’s talents and hoping it would go really well for him, while at the same time worried it would all go wrong. I needn’t have fretted; Edwyn has overcome another big challenge and then some.

Originally published in Nightshift

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Various – Home Volume 2

It’s a difficult task putting together a compilation album, but after the musical success of Home Volume 1, Rash Records are having another go at it. It is a pretty mixed bag, but as it is free to download, it’s definitely worth the few clicks effort.

First up Toodar’s song Toy is a pleasant noodle and squiggle that improves on a fairly basic acoustic tune. The Poems singer has a delightfully rich country voice, and Can You Come For Me sounds like Jealous Guy drifting across the plains. Sweet harmonies abound on Orwell’s I Need A Friend, like the delightful Teenage Fanclub. We Have The Right To Starlight by Cult Of Wedge glistens like an amateur Kraftwerk, while No One In Particular by Bobby Wotnot and Snippet is like a trippy White Town. The Men From Delmonte produce She Was Beautiful, a repetitive spoken word, ambient piece, like Little Fluffy Clouds for the downbeat thoughtful set. Louise Le May’s effort Cassandra is rather odd, like Tori Amos doing some bland piano based showtune, but it’s also rather touching and endearing. Whispers by Mr Fogg is pleasant enough, even though it is just emotive singing over a squelchy synthesised tune. Decent, but not groundbreaking. Testbild tinkle nicely with All Of The Fishes, Wim Oudjik is way out of place with some old dancehall reggae that clashes with beatboxing and Hawaiian shimmies to make it the best thing so far. Make You Happy by Better Fires is rather gorgeous. It’s a simple tune, with some delightful female vocals, like Laura Marling but with more warmth. Butterfly Perception by Mank is a noodle from a lost film and finally we get the stupidly named Tim and Sam’s Tim and Sam Band with Tim and Sam. Their Choices threatens to be a lovely sumptuous big sounding alt folk thing, a bit like Sufjan Stevens, but never really takes off.

Home Volume 2 is available as a free download from Rash Records

Monday, 30 August 2010

Round Up 4

Oxford based band Dial F For Frankenstein combine the urgency and vigour of youth with a hard working essence and sound of yore. USA sounds like Midway Still, all flannel shirts and attacking guitars. There’s the fizz of the Wedding Present in there too. Combine that with a crazily catchy chorus and you have a cool thing indeed.

Flash Fiktion are a London trio specialising in walking the fashionista tightrope while staying just on the right side. With its jabbering keys new single Leni crosses Pop Will Eat Itself with Nine Inch Nails times some asymmetric haircut techno.

Apparently The Jolly Boys are a legendary Jamaican band. So quite why they’ve been roped into producing an album of bland reggae covers of pop tunes is anyone’s guess. It’s pretty tiresome, with one tune melding into another in a big sloppy mess.

Harper Simon’s Berkeley Girl is a quite gorgeous little acoustic ditty, but is rendered rather pointless by its close similarity to his dad’s work.

Frank Turner’s Try This At Home is a rollicking Levellers style protest tune, and one of his best things yet. If you know Frank, you’ll know what it sounds like. If you don’t, then you really should. The Pogues style chorus, as if they were doing Irish Rover, is enough alone to win you over.

The Duke & The King release the lead single of their new album Long Live The Duke & The King. It’s called Shaky and it’s a lovely piece of blissed out country with sweet harmonies and a touch of Laurel Canyon meets West Coast vibe. It’s a relic of older times, and a lovely one at that.

Dial F For Frankenstein's single is out now and available from their myspace
Flash Fiktion's single is out now on Split Records
The Jolly Boys album is released on 13th September by Wall Of Sound
Harper Simon releases Berkeley Girl on 13th September on [PIAS] Recordings
Frank Turner's single is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings
The Duke & The King single is out on 20th September, released by Loose Music/Silver Oak

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Antartica Takes It! – Constellations

Antartica Takes It! continue pops obsession with the extraneous exclamation mark onto their second album. Lead track Bossa is gorgeously twee, with children’s instruments and a sweet ukulele tune. C&F is You Can’t Hurry Love for the Herman Dune crowd; while Straight To Your Heart is a wonderfully shaky, ramalama, joyous bursting heart of a tune. This is sunshine in song form. The female sung Try Try Try is like Standard Fare in the cracked sunlight and contains some of the Research’s early spirit. The title track features a twee voice and sounds like a hyperactive Jens Lekman. Lions Of Love is an indie pop shantying Decemberists, Stay In Bed a female sung shonky bike ride and Spirit Of Love a delightful indie pop cheery tune. It’s like skipping in springtime. Thunderstruck is Lekman vs Dune and if you’re a fan of either of those acts, you should love this album.

Constellations is out now on How Does It Feel To Be Loved?

Antartica Takes It! myspace is here

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Angel Corpus Christi – Elvis Elvis

The latest of Angel Corpus Christi’s tribute albums, does a fine take on Elvis. It’s Now Or Never is reimagined as a sultry, sassy little bossa number. One Night is a mysterious smokey lounge thing, while Don’t Be Cruel is either Massive Attack or Primal Scream’s dub version of Higher Than The Sun, trippy, woozy and beautiful. Teddy Bear follows a similar pattern and Are You Lonesome Tonight is like a Parisian cafĂ© tune.

Elvis Elvis is out now and available through her website.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Cleemann – 45 Minutes Mostly About Caring

Cleemann is the project of Copenhagen based musician Gunnar Cleemann and 45 Minutes Mostly About Caring is the first album of a trilogy. Lead track Ambitious is sumptuous and delicate. It’s a slow motion groove with some dreamy European inflected sighed vocals. Righteous is a bit like Antony (of The Johnsons fame) vocally. Most of the songs on here are generally brooding parting of stormcloud moments, when the beauty reappears. Then you get Repairman, which is a bit Richard Hawley. Passing by the loveliness of both parts of Absent, we get the sublime Edwyn Collins silkiness of Collide. Optimist is gossamer light and entirely beautiful, mainly due to the voice which has a dream like quality. It sounds like this should soundtrack some artistic work by Michel Gondry. A delightful album from another plane in a dream world.

45 Minutes Mostly About Caring is out now on Series Two Records

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Round Up 3

Secret Rivals new one, It Would Be Colder Here Without You (self released), is the best thing they’ve done so far. The Oxford band keep improving as they hone their sound over time, the scratchy messiness replaced with a far more assured band letting the melodies shine through. Its mid eighties indie pop, with a Bis shouty bit at times and a touch of new wave effervescence. Rather lovely indeed.

Liechtenstein follow up a splendid debut album with a new single, Passion For Water (Fraction Discs). It’s a sweet little thing, with a repeated line making up a hummable chorus. Trying to come up with a comparison is difficult, because it sounds so minimal and retro, yet refreshingly modern and new. Spending Time With You skips with joy in its heart, as you’d expect from the subject matter, and a sixties girl group shimmy. On The Tram is a rush and a jabber and the land is theirs.

Next up is the Almost Verbose EP (February Records) by Brilliant At Breakfast. Splashdown is lounge music with gorgeous coquettish female vocals, an even more sensual Sarah Cracknell if you will. Beautiful stuff indeed. Strawberry TV is an infectiously catchy breezy bit of summer pop like The Lucksmiths used to make. Nobody Ever Died Of A Broken Heart is some delightful whimsy with a scary pay off, while If Monday’d Never Come is brisk twee pop, like the Concretes gone fey.

On the same label is the Secret Charisma EP, Complications (February Records). The title track is a bit of chirpy indie pop, with weird vocals that waver in and out. Intentional or not, it makes me a bit sea sick. I’m not entirely sure it works. Angel, Please is rickety indie, kind of like skiffle updated for the C86 set. Lord Thomas however is fantastic, some kind of ghostly folk song. It’s something that’s been plucked from the realms of folklore and resurrected through a haze of wistfulness.

The Spectrals 7th Date (Slumberland Records) is sluggish in a good way, just swaying and tinkling with a knowing cool. Oddly, Don’t Mind on the flipside is almost a continuation of the a side. It’s similar in style and attitude and has a melody that doesn’t lift its head from its slumbers.

The Wendy Darlings release the Not A Match Made In Heaven EP (Marineville Records). Zero Zero Seven is a cracking shrieked fuzzy thing, all that is best in girl led indie pop. Suffer Girl is a bit Velvets cool, with an excitable side. Sunday So Bored is shambolically and energetically great brisk pop, while Seven Years Bad Luck is a slinky shimmy, a bit like The Hot Toddies song HTML. Gorgeously understated and affecting.

The final thing this time is by Looking Glass, The First Real Target EP (self released). What do you get if you take the best bits of Midlake, Sufjan Stevens and Fleet Foxes and roll them into a lovely rustic ball? Looking Glass, that’s who. It’s an interesting EP that is obviously designed as an artefact rather than with any commercial purposes, as the tracks get better as the EP goes along. Cracking stuff.

All releases are out now.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Battle For Prague – Red Sky Stares EP

Here’s the second EP from Battle From Prague, recorded on analogue equipment in a Victorian Manor House. That was intended to capture their live sound, which on this showing is definitely a good thing. Lead track Modern Spirit is a snarling beast, wired to rock and roll. It has an indie rock cool about it, fresh enough to make you love it but also drawing on American guitar rock influences. We Used To Drink reminds me of Wilco with a tad of Stephen Malkmus tired drawl to the vocals. It’s like Wilco in that its unassuming and gentle, but has hidden depths that are revealed with further listens. I also think of Archers of Loaf when I hear this, but without the wilful amateur playing. Saboteur falls somewhere between the two, most reminding me of Hope of the States and their song Enemies:Friends, while finally Peccadillo is not as good as the other but still decent, earnest Yank alt rock.

Red Sky Stares EP is out now as a free download or a CD to buy from the band's Bandcamp page

Friday, 30 July 2010

Round up 2

Attention All Departments, the new single by The Winter Olympics is a monster of a song, a pulsating electro, snarling rock beast. It’s ridiculously over the top, especially the vocals, but it has grandiosity its hard not to love. It hunts you down and as you cower in the corner expecting to be beaten, drags you onto the dancefloor. Flipside They Launched A Probe is more bombastic stuff, like a coy indie band having their soul possessed by hard rockers.

Amadou & Mariam release the wonderfully joyous Africa as a download single; accompanied by some fairly pointless and not very different remixes by Bob Sinclar and Radioclit.

The oddly named Life & Times Of have their debut single out as a free download. Ballet falls somewhere between Radiohead and Wild Beasts and on first listens struggles to find its own identity. Greasy Magpie flounders moodily in its own dark corner of the world without achieving much.

For a band formed like so many nowadays under the influence of C86, Young Michelin have taken those inspirations and made something rather lovely, rather than merely aping their forebears. It is chirpy indie pop with a decidedly electro feel, and features words sung in the band’s native tongue of French. Indie poppers of the world get behind Young Michelin. They’ve released one of the best EPs (EP Eponynm) of the year and a decidedly simple and joyous pleasure.

Slumberland have reissued Sound Of The Westway, the sole album from the Swiss all girl group from the eighties, Chin Chin. Pretty much all you need to know if that it’s a shambling delight, and will please fans of The Shop Assistants and The Flatmates.

Finally Fraction Discs release the latest single from Twig. It’s a lush rickety splendour, both Hourglass and Scattered Dreams reminiscent of Edwyn Collins finer solo stuff, with the emphasis on the vocal similarity.

The Winter Olympics single is out now on Office Rock Records

Amadou & Mariam single is out now on Because Music

The Life&Times Of single is out for free download on August 2nd from their website

Chin Chin's album is out now on Slumberland Records

Twig's single is out now on Fraction Discs

Thursday, 22 July 2010

I Am Kloot – Sky At Night

Perennial underachievers I Am Kloot are back with a new album, their fifth so far. The underachieving is not necessarily down to them, but the failure to connect than with anything but a hardcore following. Of course, the fanatical should be enough in itself. In the past I’ve heard the odd track but never been inspired enough to investigate further. However if any album should be the one that gives them access to a wider following, it’s this one. Northern Skies is Nick Drake fronting Elbow, a simply sublime and beautiful pop song. To The Brink follows, another sumptuous Northern pop song. String laden and reminiscent of Richard Hawley, it also reminds of Elbow, whose Guy Garvey and Craig Potter are on production duties. It’s only when we get to track 4, the bluesy Lately that the quality dips. It’s something that wants to be really soulful, but ends up a bit turgid. When they follow it with a lovely acoustic number like I Still Do, you wonder why they found the need. There’s then a selection of songs when they go all muso and bland on us, which is a major disappointment. There are too many songs that seemed to have been noodled away at in a dark smoky room. Radiation is a rather splendid thing, soulful vocals and a beautiful melody that build in a way like the Polyphonic Spree but uncluttered by excess instruments. Same Shoes wraps up the album in melancholy fashion.

Sky At Night is an odd album, at times brilliant, emotional and catchingly melodic, at others over wrought and dull. It’s well worth wading through to seek out the good bits though.

Sky At Night is out now

I Am Kloot website is here

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Round Up 1

This post marks the return of the round up, something that I used to do for singles on my old website. Due to an overwhelming amount of music being sent me, and time constraints in my personal life, some things will get full reviews, the rest covered in the round ups. It’s not necessarily any reflection on quality, merely what I think I can impart to the reader on each release. At least this way stuff that would have otherwise been discarded gets a few words in passing.

Maths and Physics Club have a new LP, I Shouldn’t Look As Good As I Do out on Matinee. Which, when you see them geekily crammed into an old Beetle on the cover, is as ironic as you like. It’s also virtually the perfect pop album. Ten tracks in length, sumptuous melodies abound, an effervescent atmosphere and a general cheery vibe. Those indie fans downbeat after the Lucksmiths split last year, and looking for a replacement could do much worse than Maths and Physics Club.

Also new on Matinee is Cats On Fire’s collection of old stuff called Dealing In Antiques. After kicking off with a cover of Your Woman that sounds like a cross between Kele from Bloc Party and Robert Smith fronting a crisp indie pop tune, the album features lots of lovely indie pop, beautifully sung. Although at times this can be a bit weedy and samey, when they do get it right it sounds great. Such instances are Don’t Say It Could Be Worse which reminds me of Ballboy, and They Produced A Girl which a more ballsy Drums.

Those who were The Wookies, are now Golden Hours. The first single under their new moniker isn’t a patch on their previous efforts. Pioneering is reasonably interesting, like a subdued and less frenetic Futureheads. Wash The Night Eyes is merely alt-80s ok-ness.

The second EP in a trilogy from Breton, Sharing Notes, is also out soon. It’s an interesting piece of work with lead track The Well falling somewhere between Gorillaz, Bloc Party and Scroobius Pip. The title track is pretty good dirty trip hop, while Episodes is like first album Foals, jittery and knowingly fashionable. Finally 15X is an annoying post-Rapture groove. Intriguing stuff, some good, some not so.

Finally Harper Simon releases Wishes And Stars off his debut album. It’s rather good, but a tad too much like his dad Paul for my liking.

The Cats On Fire and Maths And Physics Club albums are out now on Matinee Recordings

The Golden Hours single is out now on Broken Tail Records

The Breton EP is released by Breton Labs on 5th July

The Harper Simon single is out now on [PIAS] Recordings

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Tender Trap – Dansette Dansette

Tender Trap return with their third album, keeping up the four year gap between them. As befits a new, expanded line up which now includes Allo Darlin’s Elizabeth Morris, the album sounds much more rounded, with a fuller impressive sound. While the subjects are still very much teenage it sits very well with Amelia’s voice, especially on current single and top notch tune Do You Want A Boyfriend? Lead track Dansette Dansette is rather appropriately a slice of delicious sixties girl pop, while Suddenly is much more adult sounding luscious pop. It has confessional whispered and half spoken vocals and some lush backing vocals. Girls With Guns carries the most non threatening threat. It’s a rumble of almost rockabilly guitars and chiming percussion. These are the highlights of what is easily the best Tender Trap album yet, the majority of the songs being highly melodic gems.

Dansette Dansette is out now on Fortuna Pop!

Tender Trap myspace is here

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Lodger – Flashbacks

The Lodger are back with their third album, dealing out well crafted melodies with ease. If you like indie pop you’ll love this, especially if you’re one who looks back to the late eighties/early nineties with much fondness. They can be Going Blank Again era Ride (Back Of My Mind), The Brilliant Corners (Have A Little Faith In People) or a less idiosyncratic Orange Juice (Time To Wait). The End Of The Affair slots into some sort of middle ground, so fares best as it grabs your attention instead of making you wonder whom it sounds like. What can you say about the rest of the album? It’s thoroughly pleasant indie pop that I’d happily listen to again and enjoy. But is it something I’d dig out deliberately to play? Probably not. Nothing against it, it just doesn’t have that certain something that grabs your lapels and shakes you down. Which is weird as it’s also probably a cut above a lot of current indie pop around. This probably means it’s a grower, one worth persevering with to reap the rewards.

The Lodger's website is here

Flashbacks is out now on Slumberland Records

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Various – Fast Forward: An Indie Music Companion To World Cup 2010

Indiecater Records have taken about the mammoth task of putting together a World Cup compilation, featuring bands representing in the form of song the 32 teams in this years World Cup. Thankfully most of them haven’t taken this too literally and have put forward a loose interpretation. Let’s see if we can get through them all. Cop On The Edge commence proceedings, representing South Africa with a fun cheesy tune, which sways a bit like Hammond led garage pop and reels off a list of notable South African sportspeople. According to the chorus they’re ‘gonna win the cup for Charlize Theron’. Mad claim undoubtedly, but a fun sunny pop tune anyway. Standard Fare give their song a Mexican tilt, but it’s not a patch on the top quality pop of their recent debut. It’s still good but a bit twee. Showstar provide a rabble rousing Uruguay, while The Very Most have playfully called the French tune Irlande, and it’s another one of their sumptuous summery pop tunes. The Dirty 9sBallad Of El Diego is suitably grandiose and a tad operatic in its celebration of Argentina, with a little of The Divine Comedy at their most knowingly overblown. Grand Pocket Orchestra’s Nigeria is fantastically like a drunk version of something from The Lion King. The South Korean song is Pearse McGloughlin’s quite beautiful rolling piano ballad Jongmyo Shrine, while At Last An Atlas do a pondering electro buzz tribute to Greece, a bit like The Research being quietly electro shocked. Detox Cute’s England song is suitably twee and toothless and Boca Chica do a lovely French sung Algerian song that combines flute and a walk by the Seine. It’s very bohemian and delightful. Lightholler do Slovenia in a misty eyed European movie way, Betty and the Cavalero do Meet Me At The Red Light for Germany as a gentle squeeze like Duke Special and Sleep Good’s Australia is an instrumental bouncy Saint Etienne. Hunter Gatherer’s Serbia buzzes with the intent of a darkest Europe industrial electro thing, but never really carries through its threat. The Invisible Clock Factory do Ghana, in a similarly minimal but unexciting way. Their way is repetition why is cool, but nondescript. Burning Codes present Holland as a half hearted spiritual, Cleemann’s Princes Of Denmark is a wonderful soaring alternative eighties pomp tune and Goatboy give us a squelching romp for Japan. Spirit Spine’s Cameroon song continues the instrumental theme, a rousing glitch fest bringing it home. Le Man Avec Les Lunettes do a gorgeous summery twirling Sufjan Stevens style thing for Italy, while Harry Bird does Paraguay as a baby Bob Dylan. Adam and Darcie do some swoonsome girl pop for New Zealand and Escape Act’s Slovakia evokes a trip to the host nation in an updated by Paul Simon kind of way. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin do Brazil in their alt folk way, but it sounds tossed off at a minute and half of little in the way of ideas. Francis Bacon’s Ghost do a suitably dark and sinister reeperbahn slow trudge in the form of Kim Jung II for North Korea, Storkboy Choons provide Ivory Coast with a rattling lights housey instrumental and Tap Tap represent Portugal with strained vocals and a brittle tune, but a lovely happy melody and some squirming guitar lines. The Yellow Melodies Spain song is like power pop early Beatles, while Candy Claws ethereal Swiss tune, is a bit too featherlight to carry anything off. My Brother Woody do Honduras in the style of Athlete and a band that have never heard of football before and got their thoughts about it off the internet. Finally Manwomanchild provide an excellent climax in the style of a europop Denim as a tribute to Chile. What seemed an expansive and ambitious project has reaped dividends in a big way.

Fast Forward: An Indie Music Companion To World Cup 2010 is out now on Indiecater Records and can be bought from their website

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Stornoway – Beachcomber’s Windowsill

Every now and again a band arrives on the scene and immediately makes you want to eagerly devour everything they do. For me Fountains Of Wayne, eels, The Divine Comedy and Luke Haines in his many guises are such acts. To that list I’ve added Stornoway. It was apparent as soon as I received their self released Early Adventures EP that this was a rather special band. There’s another thing, where the usual revisionist record company historians have deemed March’s I Saw You Blink as their debut single, discounting the self released three EPs and single. I guess it makes for a better story when a band suddenly appears fully formed. No matter, as many of those songs make up this debut album. After leading off with the bands best known tunes, Zorbing and I Saw You Blink we arrive at Fuel Up which shows another side to the band with a keen ear for a crafted folk pop melody. Fuel Up and the following The Coldharbour Road are gorgeous tender ballads, the former of which comes close to making you cry. We Are The Battery Human is close to a reel, whirling gently around harmonising singing making for a joyous song of hope. Here Comes The Blackout is an optimistic and reflective request for people to love not fight, not some hippy sentiment, rather a lovely gesture. Watching Birds is splendid, motoring along then exploding into a psychedelic out of control carousel chorus, all powered by a hyperactive youth orchestra. Then there is more melancholic beauty in On The Rocks, then The End Of The Movie, Brian’s voice quivering with emotion as the song swells to a sumptuous chorus, all gorgeous strings and harmonies. If you’re one of the people who have joined the massed infatuation for Mumford and Sons and Laura Marling, please check out this album, it surpasses them and then some. Album of the year so far, and I honestly can’t see anything catching it.

Beachcomber’s Windowsill is released by 4AD on 24th May

Stornoway myspace is here

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Drums – The Drums

For a band much talked up and about, it will come as a surprise to many to find out that the Drums are more than a tad twee. It’s kinda cute but a bit one dimensional by nature. This renders the last few tracks a bit of a slog, the twee genre being far better suited to the shorter format of mini albums or EPs. Still, there are some decent songs on here. Current single Best Friend manages to be upbeat and melancholic, brittle and fragile sounding, just like the emotional lyrics. Me And The Moon follows in a similar vein, but with a slightly more chugging, motorik rhythm. There’s also rather less substance. Let’s Go Surfing, is echo skiffle, twee rockabilly if you like, while Book Of Stories is rather eighties minimalistic percussion wise and a big widescreen melody. Forthcoming single Forever And Ever Amen is lovely and incandescent, but also rather hollow. Down By The Water is choirboy fresh slacked out Jesus and Mary Chain, and the last thing of note before the descent into similarity.

The Drums website is here and the album is released by Moshi Moshi on June 7th

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Boy Mandeville – Christina

From Cambridge to North London, a small journey for this four piece. Now they release their debut single on Voga Parochia. A-side Christina combines the in vogue Vampire Weekend sound with the middle of the road quirk of the Mystery Jets second album. There are twiddly guitars and chirpy vocals a plenty, and its rather fine melodic indie pop. Raisin Snake has chirpy afro beat guitars and an awesome bit where it stretches out in the sumptuous way that Grandaddy used to. There’s not much to choose between the tracks, both are good and a pleasant way to spend a few minutes.

Voga Parochia release Christina on June 7th

Boy Mandeville myspace is here

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Echo Boomer – EP

A new EP from Oxford’s Echo Boomer and a drift in sound is apparent. The Circle is like Fyfe Dangerfield solo, with a particularly bouncy eighties beat. It’s studied and terribly over commercial, but there’s something rather cool about it. It’s also pretty retro, but still stands out from other retro stuff. Learning To Lie is odd. It’s very much eighties big music, all windswept and tortured, with a wailing guitar solo in the middle too. You Are is gorgeous widescreen turbulence, and something definitely influenced by Guillemots second album, in that the tracks that moved to more middle of the road, but with a quirky identity. It springs along, in a Bladerunner landscape, with an airy, ominous vocal. Finally Broken Bird is a slightly too sappy, a true middle of the road piece. It has its own charm however, its languid gait making you smile despite yourself.

The EP is self released and available from the band's myspace

Monday, 19 April 2010

Godzilla Black – Godzilla Black

After a bunch of EPs here is the first album from Godzilla Black. Opener Fear Of A Flat Planet has a juddering bass line pulsing through it, and funks like Funkadelic on an African holiday. It has mini breaks of respite while a heartbeat thuds and percussion tinkles, and then it tribally kicks back in with some voodoo sounds. Immense. The Bad Place is deranged and highly charged electro industrial funk. From Here To Clare is frenetic like a psychotic early B-52s, while Insect Day is some jittery fun, but not too noticeable. Burning Wires gets more experimental, being jabbering electro gabba, First Bite In is a neat Link Wray style instrumental and The Drought is a crazed metal, with added sax funked up near instrumental. The vocals that there are don’t add much. Sadly Imaresident is dull sludgecore and Amazing is just weird, mysterious rambling. Finally Enjoy Yourself is a ridiculous mess, the kind of thing that happens with too many bad drugs and some spare tape left in the studio.

Godzilla Black is available for streaming and as a free download here

Friday, 16 April 2010

David G Cox – David G Cox

David G Cox has a voice somewhere between Tom Waits and Stephen Meritt. The Serpent’s Tale is a dusky jazz odyssey told down a back alley, between the dumpsters. The choir of the dark side help out with some spiritual backing vocals. She Moves Through The Blue is even better, a kind off lounge lizard act, David’s slippery but gruff voice meanders through the music. Duet has a Greek slow quickstep beat, and a sultry duet vocal wise. Merry Go Round sounds like Cathal Coughlan on a slow boat to nowhere, which is rather good if you were wondering. Song 7 is Spider and the Fly spookiness, double bass and brushed drums, spooky hemmed in rockabilly. Forever And A Day is a twiddly folk thing with intertwining female vocals, coupled together so close and so warm. Please Don’t Cry could be the best thing here, a bare piano melody and a cracked voice, Mercury Rev type sadness. The Ballad Of the Yellow Moon is a sweet m/f tender folk ballad, while Bogart and Bacall is like Tim Burgess doing a Nick Cave murder ballad with seaside organ. When The Blue Sky Turned Red is an affecting little duet, more of David singing with ebbing and flowing female backing vocals, it twists and turns gently. House Of Cards is another jazzy, sleazed up thing, that turns all freestyle and a bit Ghost Town to complete the album.

The album is out now on Dreamtrak. David's myspace is here

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Blanche Hudson Weekend – The Rats In The Cellar EP

And neatly we move on from the last Manhattan Suicides final release, to the first from The Blanche Hudson Weekend, featuring Caroline and Darren from said band. It leads off with Grip Of Fear, a female vocalled and oh so cool song, all black leather trousers and pouting. It’s reminiscent of Some Candy Talking, mainly in attitude, but once or twice musically also. But that’s no bad thing as the band evidently have enough style and musical skill, not to mention enough of their own identity to pull it off. Sharks follows that and is rather slouchy, with it’s just got out of bed hair and demeanour, so achingly cool, but lovely too. Final track Only Snow takes the Sharks blueprint and improves on it somewhat. A fine EP for fans of the fuzz pop melodies.

The Rats In The Cellar EP is out now on Oddbox Records

The Blanche Hudson Weekend myspace is here

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Manhattan Love Suicides – Dandelion Session

The Manhattan Love Suicides ceased to be last summer, and their final recordings as part of a session for Dandelion Radio are now released on Odd Box. Everything is in place on amazing opener Misery City, which is a combination of high speed thrills channelling Mary Chain, Birdland and sixties Nuggets too. It’s derivative but highly authentic and heartfelt too. Even if it wasn’t, this is rock n roll at its best. An acoustic version of Veronica is like a spruced up and fresh faced version of the Velvets with Nico, while Never Far From You is a fuzz laden Talulah Gosh. Time Enough At Last slouches and fuzzes elegantly and an acoustic Things You’ve Never Done has a tender quality and the best singing on the album beautifully brought to the fore. I’m Not A Young Man Anymore reminds me of the primal beat of Altered Images Dead Pop Stars, done over by an even dark side. It drones on for a wonderful seven minutes. To complete this release there are also mono versions of all the tracks for those of you who prefer their sound that way.

Dandelion Session is out now on Oddbox Records

The Manhattan Love Suicides myspace is here

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Various – Home

Home is another compilation of new, unsigned bands and it’s available as a free download. There’s some interesting stuff contained within. The Big I Am’s track is rather lovely in a heartfelt and bucolic Del Amitri sounding way. Fair warms the cockles of the heart. Big Hands Big Hearts deliver a piece of bouncy twee electro fun, while My Little Pony’s Skipping Down the Street is as twee as it sounds, but its infectiously melodic and with a backbone. It‘s all very Welsh and loveable. Head Of Light Entertainment’s Lady Godiva’s Horse is playful and joyous, Snippet’s Man Without Mobile is offbeat quirk, a bit like the Voluntary Butler Scheme and If I Grow Old by Dan Whitehouse is like one of Just Jack’s more recent tunes, only less oddball. Beachy Head Music Club provide a sombre version of Carter USM, all sardonic vocals and English home truths. Sleep by Stealing Sheep is a sweet shoop shoop of a song that reminds me of Blue Roses. Bobby Wotnot is like Johnny Cash being channelled by a mellowed out Beck, while Wim Oudijk delivers something between Beefheart and an easy listening jazz odyssey. Richard O’Flynn falls somewhere between Damien Rice and Marc Bolan’s hippy folk days, so it’s difficult to decide whether I like this one. Overall though, there is some fine stuff and it’s certainly worth a listen.

Home is released by Rash Records and is available as a free download from their website