Friday, 16 September 2011
The Antlers- Sylvia
In 2009, The Antlers released their third album, the heart-wrenching "Hospice." An album that was proclaimed by many to be one of the saddest recorded in recent times and album that "had the power to emotionally wreck its listeners," "Hospice" is a harrowing but beautifully crafted and written work throughout. "Sylvia," the third track from the album, starts off with a screeching electronic hiss and front man Pete Silberman's vocals being drowned by the depth of the atmosphere, before lifting itself into a soaring and just as dense but heavily beautiful flurry of guitars, before closing on a huge fanfare of hypnotic brass. It's one of the album's most dense moments, and at first it may seem like a wall of sound, but if you look beneath the surface, a world of heart-break and truly magnificent musicianship is unveiled.
David Bowie- Drive-In Saturday
This is the third track taken from Bowie's 1973 masterpiece "Alladin Sane", which is probably my favourite Bowie record of all time. This song is a culmination of Bowie at his most fruitful. He had a fine talent from creative and emotional lyricism, a fine ear for huge and anthemic melodies and that grudgy, rocky underbelly which was showing its last obtrusive peaks throughout the album but not taking anything away from the monumental epic sound scapes that were portrayed, "Drive In Saturday" being one of the record's finest examples. Arguably the best song from arguably Bowie's best work.
Wolf Gang- Lions In Cages
On his project Wolf Gang's debut album "Suego Faults" released at the beginning of August, Londoner Max McElliot created for himself a fantasia land; a world where heart-break was present, but there was always hope. A world where romance was a way to escape from reality, just as pop music was back in the day. McElliot's revival of escapism and romance in pop has lead to "Suego Faults" being one of the most heartfelt and wondrously tuneful releases of the year so far. "Lions in Cages" was the first single from the album, and is perhaps the finest example of McElliot setting his lovelorn writ against a back drop of sketchily and mysteriously hazy yet beautiful backdrop. In starts off within McElliot's mind what of what "Suego Faults" should be, as he sings: "In the city where I'm from/ There are lovers 'til the dawn," before looking somewhat switching back to reality briefly as he skeptically glances towards the future as he sings "Who's gonna pick up after we've gone?". Like a life-like dream, "Lions In Cages" catches McElliot at his most creatively fertile.
DZ Deathrays- Gebbie Street
If you closely follow any music blogs or magazines and pay close attention to new music that's been surfacing over the past year or so, then you may well be familiar with DZ Deathrays. The Australian thrash-pop duo who apparently formed at a house party garnered much more attention after their stirling performance at The Great Escape this year. They've yet to release any EPs or records, but "Gebbie Street" is their signature 4 minutes of sleazy and bouncy scuzz- rock joy. Built upon a low-slung and tuned guitar line that Death from above 1979 previously trademarked and shifting forward groovily in a whirl of teenage fantasy- lyrics and crushingly heavy guitars as the song progresses, "Gebbie Street" encapsulates all of their slacker-but-sexy orientation. They will shortly be joining Wolf Gang, Niki & The Dove and S.C.U.M. on the NME radar tour around the UK, so try and catch them at one of those dates- They are well worth your time.
S.C.U.M. are another band who are just beginning to really make waves in the new UK modern music scene, despite having formed over two years ago. Featuring the runner of London's Underage Festival and the younger brother of Tom Cowan of the Horrors, their glacial, moving and atmospheric synthy take on post-punk is surprisingly fresh and brilliantly well crafted. This epic six minutes of soft euphoria rotates around an off-kilter but funky bass line and icy synths, making it sound like The Horrors if "Primary Colours" had been more "Blue Monday"- era New Order than Joy Division. They're also taking part in NME's Radar tour which kicks off soon, and they're another new young band that very much deserve your attention, both in terms of their recorded stuff and live.
Saturday, 10 September 2011
Album: Leave No Trace
Release Date: 16/8/2011
Afro- Pop underdogs leave the shadows and get nearer to the big league
Afro- Pop collective Fool's Gold, on "Leave No Trace" are seemingly intent on proving that they deserve more than to simply exist in Vampire Weekend's shadow for their whole career. For the most part, they do a fairly fine job. Most noticeable of all is just how far they've spread their influences and turned them into something fresh, from the Talking Heads- esque strut of "Wild Window" through the title track's unashamed Smiths- y bounce and the full on central- African rattle of "Bark and Bite."
Download: "Leave No Trace"
For Fans of: Vampire Weekend, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Talking Heads
Los Campesinos!- By Your Hand
Depressive twee indie-poppers Los Campesinos! return with their fourth album "Hello Sadness" on the 4th of November, and "By Your hand" is the first single released from the record, and is a mighty fine taster of what we can expect from the record. In typical Los Campesinos! fashion, the lyrics deal with the trials and trivialities of young love, but in the most heart- wrenching fashion. They're a band who, akin to Wild Beasts, have always done sexual tension and heartbreak very well, and "By Your Hand" only re-enforces this tenfold. Musically it's more poppy than anything they've done before, but the catching keyboard melody along with their trademarked noodling guitars and hand claps and arguably the best chorus they've ever written, it's probably their most instantly memorable song to date. Front man Gareth Campesinos! has said that the songs on the new album are so sad that he'll struggle to sing them live without crying- sticking to their depressive guns though, he does try to asphyxiate himself in the video. It's a masterful pop song, but it's not for the faint hearted.
Gallows- True Colours
Alexisonfire split up ----> Frank Carter Leaves Gallows ----> Gallows search for new front man and recruit ex- Alexisonfire guitarist Wade McNeil ----> They then start making some of the most monstrous yet exhilarating heavy music you'll hear all year. It's an equation that makes perfect sense, and one that, by the sounds of "True Colours," they've made work fantastically well. "True Colours" is a 37- second long stab of furiously pummeling drums, crushingly heavy riffs and Wade McNeil's meaty growl, marking it as the shortest but heaviest thing Gallows have done to date. Whereas Carter's strong cockney brogue was more clear- cut over the rising tide of punk heaviness, McNeil's vocals are simply demonic, leading Gallows to amp everything up by about 1000 times. If Gallows are to follow this direction on their upcoming record, then you can bet your life that it'll be heavy record of the year 2011. You can also grab this tune as a free download over at the band's website.
Junkie XL- Molly's E (Azari & III instrumental remix)
There seems to be somewhat of a House revival going on at the moment. Last year the emergence of artists like Canadian DJ crew Azari & III spurred house music into new pastures of fresh creativity, and since then a more refined version of the music that dominated the charts in the early '90s has found its niche. Junkie XL is one such artist from Chicago, whose acid- fried funky house deserves to be sound tracking nightclubs all over the world. In their own artistic implosion however, Azari & III have chosen to make an instrumental remix of his track "Molly's E." They've turned it into something twice as subtle but just as funky, it's more minimalistic and mystic, almost more daring, but something that is ultimately dreamy. It's probably the kind of thing you'd rather put on when you got back from a big night out rather than whilst you're at a club, but all the same, it's a brilliant piece of dance music.
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
Album: The Rip Tide
Release Date: 2/8/2011
Zach Condon finally finds and settles into his own sound
Zach Condon is a man who seemingly, for as long as he has been traversing musical different sojourns, has been searching for a genre to call home. Except "Home" for Condon is outside of any existing niche- it's a world of expansive pastures and the desire to break away from normality and live in a universe that is entirely his own. If in all his previous work Condon and Beirut haven't quite found their nook, "The Rip Tide" finally sees them find their utopia.
Opener "A candle's Fire" announces itself with tones of picturesque accordion, before being joined by high-flying flushes of euphoric brass. "East Harlem" marries wonderfully crafted orchestration with Condon's thick but handsome brogue and romantic visions of home as he sings "Sound will call me home again." The title track, with its tranquil yet expansive orchestration, captures the ever-present roving feeling in all of Beirut's previous work. "The Peacock" is a cacophony of sparse but stirringly beautiful trumpets and Condon finding within him the mystic but wondrous poet as he sings "There's an answer for "I'm Cold Again"/ Down in the sand just like those soldiermen."
In honing their craft and feelings back towards those with which they grew up with, Condon and his cohorts in Beirut have comfortably slotted into their own dream- world. "The Rip Tide" is an album that keeps home close to heart, but also yearns for adventure and a certain element of escape.
Download: 1) East Harlem, 2) The Peacock, 3) A Candle's Fire
For Fans of: Bon Iver, The National, Fleet Foxes
Saturday, 3 September 2011
"Gigantic" is from inspirational and now legendary Frank Black- fronted '90s alt. rockers Pixies' second album, 1988's brilliant "Surfer Rosa." Pixies were always like rough diamonds- They did aggression and spontaneity fantastically well, but they ever kept in touch with that glistening sense of melody and ear for a great tune that they always had. "Gigantic" follows the structure of most of the band's songs; Steely, plodding bass lines, slacker-ish and overcharged guitars and nonsensical lyrics. Sung primarily by bassist Kim Deal, as well as having all the aspects of a classic Pixies song, it also contained a sense of high-flying melody that gets released on the chorus in soaring fashion. It's one of the most brilliant examples of Pixies matching their ethos perfectly.
Girls- Honey Bunny
LA duo Girls have been a young pinpoint for slacker indie for the last couple of years now. Their 2009 debut "Album" was a hugely brilliant affair of great melodies and Christopher Owens' awe-inspiring song writing talent. Their third album "Son, Father and the Holy Ghost" is out next week, and this new song from it is a wonderful and hugely catchy little pop- rock nugget, the kind the band have always been dab-hands at. It sounds more pristine and much more clear- cut than any of their previous work, and whereas before their charm lay in fuzz, it now seems it lies in the ability to write bopping, hugely melodic and brilliantly crafted pop songs. This track sees the band lose none of their ethos, as Owens moans on the chorus "They don't like my bony body/ They don't like my dirty hair." It's still undeniably Girls, but now more refined, and probably one of the best songs they've ever written.
Azari & III- Manic
A new wave of late '80s/ early '90s -esque house music is hardly what the music world in general needs right now. However, in the grimy depths of dance music however, unless you're one to dig deep and dark into the horrifying throes of grimy bass lines and penetrating beats, there's very little to marvel at. Canadian DJ crew Azari &III seem to have found a way to counter this with their brilliant self-titled debut album. It's probably the campest thing you'll hear all year, but with it's pounding and deliciously funky beats and dark lyrical warnings against AIDS and, well, society in general, you'll struggle to find a more relevant dance music album in 2011. The track above, "Manic" is the foursome at the height of their funky, sexy yet dark spur that could bring a new lease of life to dance music.
Wild Beasts- End Comes To Soon
The closing track to Wild Beasts phenomenal third album "Smother" could hardly be more fitting an ending. It's a pensive, peaceful and quietly beautiful 7 minute masterpiece, unlike anything the band had produced before. It rolls deep in the realms of organic instrumentation, and it's spectral and heavy air of retirement makes it one of the most moving songs the band have ever produced. It's a perfect song for this time of year because as things come to a close, you're left waiting on the edge of a cliff, as though something huge and epic is about to happen. You'd be hard- pressed to find a song better- suited to that situation than "End Comes To Soon."