Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Album Review: Mount Eerie - Clear Moon

I've always enjoyed Phil Elevrum's song writing, it's always been so atmospheric and hypnotic but it has to be said I've mostly been left a tiny bit cold ever since it evolved from 'The Microphones' into 'Mount Eerie' and despite being impressed by the songs when I saw him support Earth earlier on in the year I hardly jumped into this album the moment it was released. In fact it's taken a bit of a back seat for other newer artists that I thought I'd try out instead of falling back on the old dependable ones & what a fool I was as 'Clear Moon' by Mount Eerie is a fantastic album. From the beginning where the album starts off fairly conventional and warm it slowly progresses into an almost apocalyptic atmosphere in such  a seamless & engrossing way that I feel it's a ride anyone should try at least once. It's dusty, atmospheric, medative & at times very noisy, so it follows Phil Elevrum's song writing ethos & is my favourite Mount Eerie release to date.

Album Review: EL-P - Cancer For Cure

Having produced the excellent Killer Mike album 'R.A.P. Music' would it be too much to ask for 2 gems in one month from EL-P? Well the answer to that would be of course not as 'Cancer For Cure' not only knocks it out of the park it may be, in my opinion at least, EL-P's most enjoyable release to date. As expected the album is very electronic influenced, distorted and frantic in rhythm and pace & much like the Killer Mike album 'R.A.P. Music' it doesn't allow the slightly off kilter production get in the way off a good hook. This album is, as one would probably expect, an absolutely required addition to any hip hop fans library as well as fans of alternative music in general. EL-P is still the thinking mans emcee and he still pushes the envelope as far as beats and lyrics are concerned, however I think I prefer 'R.A.P. Music' just that tiny bit more, I think I prefer Killer Mikes delivery.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Album Review: Citizens! - Here We Are

I love straight up Indie Pop, the dancier and catchier the better, especially in the Summer and that's why I always throw my arms out ready to embrace a band such as Citizens! when they come around. Justification for this comes in quick with the quite frankly brilliant 'True Romance' opening off the album to a glorious sunshine filled indie pop funkathon. Now I'm not gushing here, Citizens! are a band who won't show you any new tricks, they sound very much a hybrid of Phoenix and The Spinto Band & this album is a very firm step into the indie pop arena without it being a game changer. But as a rule of thumb if you enjoy either The Spinto Band or Phoenix you WILL enjoy this album and if you don't then you won't. I really enjoy it, even if it does begin to outstay its welcome a little bit towards the end. An accomplished and incredibly solid debut.

Album Review: Karin Park - Highway Poetry

I appear to have a real thing about Scandinavian female pop this year, I am finding myself just naturally drawn to their music & here is the latest one in for my collection 'Karin Park'. Karin Park is an incredibly strong vocalist, I'm going to get it out there right away, she sounds like a blend of Bjork & Karin Dreijer Andersson, but not in a way that sounds like pure imitation as she carries her vocal patterns with real confidence and swagger. These vocals are put to good use against some really quite textual backing tracks mostly made up of   synth and drums, these compositions are both incredibly catchy & complex with some really interesting ideas going on amongst the dancey flair. The more outright experimental track on the album stands out for me  '6000 years' sounds like Bjork if she were to front The Residents... a prospect that always excites me. On a whole this is straight up Scandinavian pop goodness with dancing shoes but with some real depth ,complexity and a sinister feel to it & as a result I love it. 


Monday, 28 May 2012

Partially covers and partially original material the aptly named 'Electric Sound Of Summers' (I consider it a bit more analog myself with electronic elements) was apparently almost a decade in a making and featured esteemed guest musicians Stephen Lawrie of 'Telescopes' & Willie B. Carruthers  of 'Spiritualised' which is what makes it all the more surprising that, for the most part at least, this album really does nothing for me. The tone of this album is a very spaced out one, one that encourages you to shut your eyes in the midst of a hot summers day and to get lost in the music and whilst this works in some places such as the later half of 'Cheree' I just don't feel it working a great deal. It's the sort of album I would throw on in the background if I had it in a limited pile if it & were sunny out, but this one isn't likely to stick around in the memory banks very long & I would be hard pressed to really recommend it to anyone. It just lacks imagination and immersive qualities similar albums have & whilst I did kind of enjoy the cover of 'Some Things Last A Long Time' I'm not sure if the world is ready for yet another Daniel Johnston cover. The album is by no means bad just decisively 'okay'. 


Album Review: Royal Thunder - CVI

It's time to don the devil hands as I take a look at CVI an album but stoner metal band 'Royal Thunder'. I had never heard of this band until this album came about so forgive me if my knowledge of the band is pretty much bugger all but what I do know is this band are sludgy, progressive, hypnotic, stoner rock fun with a powerful female vocals. Now this album is by no means anything out of ordinary for the genre, it's mostly slow and very grungy discords playing over some anguished vocals but it does the formula very well especially in the 2nd half where an above average album becomes a very good one. The album seems to take more life when it experiments a bit and from   'Blue' onwards you get driving rock, stoner rock bliss in the fantastic 'Sleeping Witch' and even some calming melodic tones in 'Black. Yes this album is good and if you're looking for something to do this to \m/ you could certainly do a lot worse & for what it's worth I think this is one of the better heavier releases from the year. 


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Album Review: DR. John - Locked Down

This is one of those albums that immediately make you think 'How have I never heard this guy before?' to my astonishment Dr. John has been releasing records since the 50s and influenced artists such as 'Captain Beefheart' and 'Tom Waits'  & yet I had never heard of him. Expect this to all be changed for 'Locked Down' is not only an incredibly enjoyable introduction to an artist with a truly gigantic discography it's also one of the best albums I've heard all year. The grooves found on this album are unrelenting and the hooks are plentiful, the is a lot of imagination going on here as well with some really interesting song writing... way more interesting and fresh then the majority of his younger peers. I highly recommend this album, it's a blast from start to finish & I cannot wait to get deeper into this mans discography.

Album Review: Some Velvet Morning - Allies

The is a reason that the Indie rock scene that populated the UK in such great abundance the past decade no longer matters & that's because the music got incredibly lazy and dull. Though I should know better I do still give these bands opportunities because I believe that British flavour of 'Indie Rock' when done right to still be one of my favourite genres and the latest band to attempt to reignite my love for such music is London based band 'Some Velvet Morning'. To get straight to the point, no this isn't the glorious come back of 'Indie Rock' and nor it should be. Asides from a few songs being plenty hooky and melodically strong the majority of the songs would have been considered dated even back in 2005. This isn't the worst album from this genre, not by a long shot & it does have a few redeeming features with tracks such as 'National Valentine', 'The River' & 'Allies (Reprise)' actually being pretty good but for the most part it's an indie rock album that could have been done by any number of bands but for those looking for a quick fix for this sort of thing, then it might do the trick.                           

Album Review: Lone - Galaxy Garden

Summer is the ideal time to listen to this euphoric dance music, the sort of music that you can dance to as well as sit back and listen to with a nice cold drink lounging in the sun. Both energizing and calming 'Galaxy Garden' is yet another release from Manchester producer 'Lone' & if you're familiar with his past work you pretty much know what you're going to get. When I first heard this album it didn't do that much for me but the was something about laying down by the sea with my headphones firmly lodged into my ear canals basking in glorious sunshine which allowed this album to show its true colours. This is the perfect soundtrack for the incredible weather we've been experiencing recently & will go nicely alongside the likes of Yppah, John Talabot and Actress in your CD collection for what has been a very good year for dance & electronic music in general.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Album Review: Best Coast - The Only Place

I have to say I've sort of been taken aback by this hi-fi approach Best Coast seem to have gone for on this album. Is this the follow album you'd expect from the band that set lo-fi lovers hearts alight back in 2010 with 'Crazy For You'? Well definitely not and whilst not bad I can sort of side with the nay sayers on this one.... to sum it up I think this album is really quite boring, the are a couple of stellar indie pop songs here such as 'Last Year' & 'Dreaming My Life Away' but for the most part I've heard better examples of this polished clean hooky guitar driven flavour of indie pop elsewhere. The distinct problem with this album is a clear lack of personality, you get the feeling any band would've made this album, I still say to anyone that likes Indie pop to check this out as the is a lot about this album that is right but for me it's a bit too bland, predictable and lacking any real personality to justify any sort of real recommendation in this quite pedestrian rock album .

Album Review: Tenacious D - Rize Of The Fenix

I'm not going to beat around the bush, to this day I still love the self titled 'Tenacious D' album and I frankly will never get over how perfect a song 'Tribute' actually is & the original TV series involving the duo is still to this date an incredibly funny & one of the best band based sitcoms I can think of. Truth be told though somewhere around 2006 when the album & movie double 'Pick Of Destiny' came out it all became apparently clear that the joke had long outstayed its welcome & 'the d' gracefully faded into obscurity. Is 'Rize Of The Fenix' even necessary? Well no it isn't at all necessary but to say it was bad would be a disservice to the album it's self, whilst not nearly as fun as charming as the debut the are a few giggles to be had out of this album and for the most part the song writing here is solid. 'Rize Of The Fenix', 'The Roadie', 'Death Star', '39' and the surprisingly hilarious skit 'Flutes & trombones' does justify it's existence somewhat but on the whole this album is one from a band of diminishing returns, a must for fans but those with a passing interest needn't bother.


Album Review: Allo Darlin' - Europe

Ahh twee pop, you fickle mistress you! I have quite a mixed relationship with Twee pop on a whole, usually I see the genre as a collection of bands trying to cover up their weak songwriting, with so cute it'll make you sick melodies and lyrics, however when the balance is finally tuned and crafted along side some solid songwriting then it quite often churns out some of my favourite albums. Prepare to file 'Europe' by Allo Darlin' in the later camp as this album combines sensible doses of sweet & very solid song writing with a nice dose of melancholy on the side. This album is pretty fantastic, it's melodic & uplifting with some upbeat guitar driven numbers and my personal favourite the slower ukele numbers, any question as to whether this album was fantastic or mearly very good is settled by the time 'Tallulah' comes in with real emotional force with nothing more then sweetly sung female vocals and a ukele, a truly stunning song on a very very very good album.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Album Review: Jimmy Edgar - Majenta

Off the bat, this album is really enjoyable at what it does & what that is is a sleazy minimal dance music. Yes this album is clearly not short of any libido as implied sexual acts and the general groove and feel of the thing just screams 'This is sexy and it's having a sexy time come and join us by being sexy' and by doing so it gives it's self just about enough identity from the rest of the minimal dance crowd. This album is really low-key as you'd expect a minimal dance album to be, it's the sort of thing you can throw on in the background, at a club, during a comedown, obviously during sex or in the car and it wouldn't feel out-of-place. It's full of bleeps bloops, shuffling drum patterns, melodic chimes, repeated vocals, Prince and high-pitched female squeals & if you like that sort of thing I'm sure you'll really enjoy this album.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Album Review: Hush Arbors/Abouretum - Auerola

I've never been that much of a fan of split LPs, it often feels like an excuse to basically combine 2 bands set of B-Sides in one easy to digest package, whilst some bands have a catalogue of B-Sides to salavate over other bands do no,  & whilst I acknowledge this may not a collection of songs that both artists wrote a while back but couldn't fit them on their earlier recordings it sort of feels like it. This album contains 8 painfully bland songs with none of them doing anything for me. It's the usual indie rock meets folk song writing type of fair & all feels very uninspired, as a fan of Hush Arbors I had hoped for stronger songs from at least these guys but whilst they clearly try to hit the harmonious pop note they strike so often they fail here in an explosion of mediocrity. As for Arboretum it's slightly better but only slight, his collection of songs play off with distorted guitars dragging a sprawling mood but none of it rubbed off on me, this split LP is the very definition of average.

Album Review: The Destroyers - Hole In The Universe

The Destroyers are very much a Gypsy Punk outfit from Birmingham, they bring the sounds from Eastern Europe and give them a punk rock edge and structure & as other bands have shown in the past this combination can really succeed & for the most part it works particularly well on this album. However this is a collection of songs, like I have said earlier about this kind of music, that'd fare much better in a live environment (ideally a festival). You see the problem I have with this album is it tends to grate after a little while, I dunno I just think the is limited appeal for this kind of music when I can't cha-cha in the sunshine in some field. It's by no means a bad album, in fact it's a very enjoyable one, but it's more an album I'd have in my collection so the odd song crops up when my media player is on shuffle, it's loud & fun but a little bit tiresome when listened to in a single sitting.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Album Review: The Imagined Village - Bending The Dark

The thing about most world acts is that they often translate quite poorly onto record & lose a lot of that raw earth energy that translates oh so well when you run across it on the Park stage at Glastonbury at 1pm carrying a flagon of cider. However when it does work I often find it's the bands who embrace new genres into their world of world music & this is what 'The Imagined Village' do here on 'Bending The Dark'. Combining their traditional English gypsy folk with world music and techno really makes for a sonically pleasing and interesting album. Check out the 12 minute epic 'Bending The Dark' and you'll really get a sense for what this album is really about & whilst I still feel this music is really needed to be seen live to really be appreciated for what it is I still do recommend you check out this album.

Album Review : KIller Mike - R.A.P. Music

My rules of hip hop
1) Don't have boring beats
2) Don't have shit lyrics

Well that was simple wasn't it? As long as both these boxes are ticked then the chances are I'll like your record & Killer Mike's R.A.P. music passes this test with flying colours. With interesting beats produced by the legendary EL-P & some very strong well-informed lyrics this album comes very close to what I'd consider a perfect hip hop album, it's quite versatile too, the are songs to dance to and songs to groove to with a healthy dose of hooks to help you go along for the ride. This is a very strong entry into Killer Mikes blossoming career and I cannot wait for more, especially if the self titled closer is anything to go by, this is hip hop with ambition.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Album Review: Niki & The Dove - Instinct

Didn't know of this band until this past weekend when I saw them at a truly fantastic set during the Great Escape at the old mans pub Horatios located on Brighton Pier where I was instantly won over and put this album firmly on my radar. Comparisons to Stevie Nicks & Kate Bush are ripe on other publications but so I'm not going to dell on it too much but I will just confirm that these comparisons are accurate, only with a more tribal spin on their female vocal formula. This album is full of soaring euphoric pop songs & whilst it's not the perfect pop album it come staggeringly close with tracks such as 'The Fox', 'Mother Protect' & 'The Drummer' all with hooks so strong they should be illegal. I highly recommend anyone into the girl led electro pop or any fans of ms. Nicks & Bush out there, the is plenty to enjoy, even if it doesn't QUITE come close to capturing the totally epic and chaotic live performance it's still probably my favourite pop album released this year.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Great Escape Day 3 Rundown [Post Festival Blues Edition]

Well it's all over & I already feel incredibly sad as this was easily the best Great Escape I'd ever attended, special thanks to all those involved who made this weekend incredible.  Didn't see many bands today, was rightfully exhausted after last nights festivities!

1) French Films [Komedia Downstairs] 2.00pm - No better then yesterday they were still the same pop driven indie pop band I saw yesterday and did nothing for me, this was heightend by the hangover I was suffering form at the time. Again solid enough set for what they did and if you like this sort of thing then go for it. 4/10

2) Cheaveu [Komedia Downstairs] 3.15pm - This was great fun, think Fuck Buttons if they did hardcore and you'll have a vivid idea of what these guys do. It's great fun and dancetastic however the live rendition of 'Charlie Sheen' had a lot to be desired, still a great set. 8/10

3) The Soft [Digital] 7.15pm - Fairly decent affair here, it was really pleasent electronic music with a nice pinch of atmosphere as far as opening acts go they were very good at setting the mood for the rest of the gig but it's unlikely I will remember this set for very long. 6/10

4) New Look [Digital] 8.00pm - These guys were pretty good, I was nicely surprised, following the electronic theme of the stage these guys braught a pretty retro 90s club feel over some nice new quirky dynamics and covered the set with hooks. 7/10

5) When The Saints Go Machine [Digital] 8.45pm - I enjoyed this a lot, a hell of a lot, constantly had me guessing and some thrilling climaxes this act reminded me a lot of animal collective with Anthony Hegarty fronting. Great use of dynamics and a good collection of hooks to hang off & complete with energy this set is one I'm remembering. 9/10

6) Errors [Digital] 9.45pm - This set was way too fucking short! I enjoyed it a lot, I danced loads but I some how expected more! As much as I like the albums I feel Errors are a band I'll never fall in love with & I think this is mostly due to the emotional disconnect between the band and the audience. It's clinical guitar & synth driven dance music and if thats what you want then fantastic but I felt they were a slight disappointment in comparisson to 'When The Saints Go Machine' 7.5/10

Best acts of the festival: 
1) Trippple Nippples
2) Niki & The Dove
3) Rolo Tomassi

Overall thoughts: Pound for pound I think this was easily the best Great Escape I've ever attended! I think the variety in acts was far superior to previous festivals & it seemed a lot better organised then previous years, the larger emphasis on the Alternative Escape and daytime gigs really helped a lot and made sure the was never a dull moment. Other then the quibble of the Saturday having way too many clashes and the set allocations at the Drownedinsound stage at Digital being a tad questionable where Errors appeared to have the shortest set it was a very good festival with few let downs & I look forward to doing the same next year. The atmosphere was electric all weekend. For the inexperienced Great Escapees I still imagine Great Escape to be a soaring let down as the is still the pressing issue of too many delegate passes and not enough space but for the savvy festival goer this is great value for money. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Poppy Saturdays Episode 1

It's Saturday, so time to appreciate the melodic and catchy! It's Poppy Saturdaysss YAAAAY

Friday, 4 May 2012

Electronic Fridays Episode 1

From now on Fridays shall be known as Electronic Fridays around these parts, below you'll find a playlist of electronic/hip hop from different eras and backgrounds. Hooray!

Album Review: Polica - Give You The Ghost

This is glossy alternative pop slathered in auto tune, but whereas often autotune often guarantees an emotional disconnect between the listener and the artist, this is an example where this isn't the case thus making it really effective. Like a crying pocket calculator you feel the raw emotion coming from the artist & it creates for a sprawling and atmospheric album full of swagger and sex appeal. Oh yeah this album is damned sexy, despite it being a very lonely, personal and atmospheric experience, it carries it's self with thick bass lines that love to groove & this makes it somewhat of a unique album. It's far from perfect but it is still an excellent debut & I highly recommend a listen of this, ideally on headphones.

Album Review: The Cribs - The Belly Of The Brazen Bull

Never been much of a fan of The Cribs, in fact the moment a Smith turned up I thought they went from being an okay band that I didn't have much time for to a remarkably dull band I have NO time for... so imagine my surprise when I found out that not only enjoyed 'The Belly Of The Brazen Bull' but I think it might be one of the best indie rock albums to come out in a very long time, no don't you dare leave, for I am deadly serious it's an energetic hook filled block of bliss. If you've never liked The Cribs at all then the is a very high probability you won't find anything to like here because it's not a reinvention but they've just really refined their craft and ruddy well love it I do. A+ Guys

Tuesday, 1 May 2012