Friday, 29 June 2012

Playlist: 50 More Of The Best Songs So Far 2012

Because 50 wasn't enough!

Playlist: 50 of the best song from 2012 so far

Half way through the year! Here's what I'd imagine to be half of the final playlist

Album Review: Jesca Hoop - The House That Jack Built

To say this album was a bit of a curve ball would be accurate, I became familiar of Jesca Hoop after someone recommended me 'Silverscreen Demos' which, hinted at by the name, was an incredibly lo-fi collection of folklore sounding tracks. Now whilst at it's core Jesca Hoop retains her folklore sound on this latest record it's certainly a lot more pop and rock influenced then before with lots of incredibly up tempo'd and polished songs creeping threw, whilst for most artists this will strip them of their charm, Jesca Hoop's songwriting helps her pull threw the transistion coming out stronger then ever. This sounds like a breakthrough album with some interesting little riffs, lyrical ideas and sound hiding underneath the abrasive uptempo pop sound. It's a very enjoyable album and somewhat of a evolution of Jesca Hoops sound that I'm sure existing fans will lap up; whilst attracting an entirely new fanbase.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Album Review: Gaggle - From The Mouth Of The Cave

This album is the kind of album that'll get an immediate pass from me because it's an album with an experimental edge but has it's roots firmly rooted in pop music & for anyone that knows me that's pretty much a winning formula in my ears. Often this album actually reminds me of bands such as 'The Go! Team' just in terms of the energy and chanty vocal delivery often shown on 'Army Of Birds' & 'Power Of Money' in particular show this side to them with their 2 most concise and catchy songs taking center stage early. Songs such as 'Gaslight' focus on the noiser element of the band with lots of really interesting sounds and experimentation thrown in amongst the forumlar established in the early goings. Personal highlight for me is the beautiful and majestic swooping 'Hello Spider'  & the hypnotic album closer, 'Leave The City', which truly shows 'Gaggle' as a band with an incredibly fresh, dynamic and unique sound & that 'From The Mouth Of The Cave' is an album that should hopefully put the notions, that this 23 piece all girl band are nothing more then a novelty act, to bed.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Album Review: Boy - Mutual Friends

This album is a set of some very nicely understated songs, which is something I often feel missing in the modern indie pop, which usually relies heavily on that catchy chorus which can sometimes remove the delicate feel and build of any song. This album however excels on that side of things with tracks such as 'Waltz For Pony' which is so delicate, fragile and soft sounding it swarms you with its hypnotic intimacy whereas the following track 'Boris' starts off in much the same vein before exploding into a bombastic ending after a nice gentle build. This is the kind of music that gives you a reassuring cuddle, a gentle whisper in the ear and makes you smile when needed. It's not THE perfect indie pop album as I still find myself forgetting a fair amount of the songs despite repeat listens, but when it hits the mark it hits it pretty convincingly and as a result I think 'Mutual Friends' shows a band full of potential with a key understanding for their craft & a band with a very strong debut.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Album Review: Miaoux Miaoux - Light Of The North

It's summer & that means I need my indie electro pop album to pull me through the inevitable lack of sunshine & 'Light Of The North' is stepping up to the challenge & doing an admiral if unspectacular job of doing so. Now this may sound a lot harsher then I intended it to, for what it's worth I really do enjoy this album, but it's nothing remarkable. This album is a collection of very bright electronic songs paired with delightfully catchy piano loops which reminds me of the likes of 'The Postal Service' coming through particularly strong on tracks such as album opener 'Sweep Clean'. The isn't much in the way of originality on this album and I do find my attention span waning a little bit towards the rear of the album but I find 'Light Of The North' by Miaoux Miaoux to be a collection of some very strong electro pop songs & one that should at the very least be considered for your summers listening. Especially if you're just looking for some delightful, melodic and upbeat electro pop songs.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Album Review: The Smashing Pumkins - Oceania

I guess the most surprising thing I can say about Oceania is that this is the first album under the Pumpkins moniker to sound like what most would expect a Smashing Pumpkins album to sound like. Zeitgiest was a truly awful record seeing the band sink to a low that many didn't think possible; with 'Starz' being the centerpiece and at the heart of an album which was, put kindly, a self indulgent egotistical mess. 'Oceania' is by no means in the league as the bands 90s output, but the are moments where it comes staggeringly close. This album is full of the scope and ambition that made 'The Smashing Pumpkins' such a cornerstone in 90s alternative music. The songs are well crafted and thoughtout and truth be told this feels like the album that fans expected to follow Mellon Collie & The Infinate Sadness. Quite frankly I've been taken back about how much of a U-Turn Billy has done on this album and it's a record that will probably shut a lot of his critics up, shame this wasn't the come back record because 'Zeitgeist' was unforgivably shit.

Album Review: Doseone - G Is For Deep

Doseone has been a central figure in my music taste for as long as I can remember. Being a member of cLOUDDEAD, Subtle, 13&God as well as Themselves and being a co-founder of the always incredible Anticon label he has been in, some way shape or form, my gateway drug into alternative hip hop and electronic music for quite some time. This album sort of carries on from Subtles excellent 'exitingARM' in that each song feels like a combination of many whilst carrying a coherent arc & it works very well. The production is quite alienating at first but on repeated listens it reveals its self to be a very catchy and strangely beautiful set of compositions with some truly brilliant/odd sampling. On top of Doseones ever weird, wonderful & creative vocals I find it very hard not to recommend this album, it's brilliant.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Album Review: Future Of The Left - The Plot Against Common Sense

Future Of The Left are easily one of my favourite bands of recent times but it has to be said that the EP 'Polymers Are Forever' left me really cold & a bit concerned about the quality of the upcoming album 'The Plot Against Common Sense'. Luckily though these fears mostly go unanswered and what we get is the bands most adventurous album to date. Whilst not a perfect release, it could easily be argued that the album be 2 or 3 songs longer, when this album hits the mark it hits it a lot stronger then it has ever done before. Particular stand outs being 'Beneath The Waves An Ocean'  & the closer 'Notes On Achieving Orbit' are arguably the 2 best songs Falco has ever penned. Mostly brilliant & lots of fun and with a few exceptions such as the rather lacklustre pairing of 'Anchor' & 'Rubber Animals' this is as good a follow up as you could have hoped for from the band & I am glad they're moving their sound forward as opposed to flogging the same shtick over and over.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Album Review: Maximo Park - The National Health

Always had a soft spot for Maximo Park & whilst their albums have generally been accepted as those with diminishing returns, rarely straying from their long-established formula, I always look forward to a release from this band because, as said earlier, they always offer a couple of killer singles. 'The National Health' does deliver in the singles respect but as an album it could be the bands strongest yet, it's just full of incredibly effective indie rock songs, the sort of stuff I've been vying for. Not since the mid to late 2000's has a major British Indie rock bands sounded so relevant, energetic and exhilarating. Okay one could argue the sound is a bit dated but as far as I'm concerned this album sort of focuses on all the strongest aspects from that era of music and that's very strong well written guitar driven songs with strong hooks and tickles your ear with it's major keys. If released 5 years earlier I'm sure this album would go on incredibly strong and be a huge success but I'm glad I've finally got long awaited hit from the dying genre.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Album Review: Laurel Halo - Quarantine

I have a very strong feeling that this will be one of the most polarising albums of 2012, Laurel Halo on 'Quarntine' combines some beautifully produced and crafted electronic music with some of the most disjointed, jarring and awkward vocals I've heard in quite some time & couldn't be happier with the overall direction of this album. Dreamy avant garde pop scopes are often met with dreamy vocals and whilst that's all well and good I just love the way this totally tears apart the rule that this should happen every time. At it's heart this album is experimental avant garde music that sounds distant, dreamy & other worldly and has an incredible pop edge to it but the vocals are incredibly direct, confrontational, blunt and well don't feel like they fit at all. It gives this album an unsettled feel to it which just adds to the appeal, but as I said I can see people tuning off the moment 'Years' kicks because the vocals are so jarring, however I still say give this album a try because if you can get over the vocals then you'll find a very rewarding & different album. 

Album Review: Infadels - The Future Of Gravity Boy

Infadels are in a genre of music which I find very easy to dismiss, the kind of electro rock pop that is so very often very generic and disposable and at first I felt it would easily fall into this category. But after a while I found something strange happening, I was nodding along, I was enjoy the simple in you face romper stomper uplifting electro pop on offer here with it climaxing perhaps at the anthmatic 'Mercury Rising' which just sounds massive. Under no circumstances will I ever trick you into thinking this band where anything more then just a straight electro pop band playing very straight forward electro pop songs but that's why I think I enjoyed this album; they aren't trying to be anything else, but having said that they do take some risks at the end of the album. It's not reinventing the wheel or anything but for what it is I really enjoyed this album and for those looking for that next electro pop hit to dance along to when the sun finally comes back out then 'The Future Of The Gravity Boy' is a very safe bet.

Album Review: Ladyhawke - Anxiety

I love the self titled album that came out in 2008, it was a great blend of rock and 80s pop sensibilities with huge songs and even bigger hooks and interesting song writing that just came around as so effortless, natural and just had a spark to it. 'Anxiety' on the other hand is a stodgy uninspired collection of songs which, for whatever reason, decides uninspired 90s britpop revival was the best course of action. With the exceptions of 'Sunday Drive' and 'Black White & Blue' ,both of which I quite like, the album just sounds like any number of female fronted brit pop bands we've long since forgotten about & the is reason for us forgetting them & that's because it was all so forgettable. This album is totally disposable, the are some ideas here which lead me to believe Ladyhawke can come back with another fantastic pop album, but this isn't it & certainly wasn't worth the 4 year wait.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Album Review: Japandroids - Celebration Rock

I think it'll be the guitar driven sound with the uplifting woah's and ooh' that makes it so whenever I hear a song by these guys I find it a thrilling experience. The difference between listening to a single song by Japandroids and an entire album though is quite telling; whereas I find listening to a single song utterly exhilarating and brilliant, I always find listening to an album very difficult and quite dull. Japandroids are to me a single listen band, a band I'll get their albums just so the songs can crop up on random or be put on a playlist but the moment I start listening to successive tracks the appeal goes right out the window because I find it all too repetitive. Up until the weak cover of 'For The Love Of Ivy' I was quite content with what I heard but beyond that I just wanted to turn the thing off. It wasn't the song quality, the are some great songs all over this thing it just outplayed it's welcome. Will still recommend this album for the tracks but not as a complete listening experience.

Album Review: The Walkmen - Heaven

I've always been one of these people who will always say 'I enjoy but do not love The Walkmen'. I don't know why this is the case, they produce music that sound like my cup of tea and the sort of thing I should go wild for, up until 'Lisbon' I never really considered them a band worth following but here's the thing 'Lisbon' really grew on me and showed me more of what I liked about The Walkmen then ever before with some really nice interplay between band and vocals. This album though, frankly, is a choir to sit through. It's not bad it's just very dull with the exception of a few songs such as the fantastically brooding and building 'Line By Line', 'Heaven' & 'The Love You Love' but for the most part this album comes off very predictable & flat and is the first album I've heard of theirs where I felt this way. It feels over long as well even though it's only 47minutes & to me seems like  a shadow of their discog up until this point, fans however, appear to really enjoy it so maybe I don't know what I'm going on about but for me this a load of songs I think I should enjoy but don't actually enjoy. 

Album Review: James Blackshaw - Love Is The Plan, The Plan Is Death

James Blackshaw's guitar playing style is one you can pick off a mile away, for starters he rock as 12 stringed acoustic and he just has this way with it, the way he plucks and constructs a melody is fairly unique and bespoke to him. It has to be said that 'All Is Falling' his last album released in 2010 really didn't do much for me & was the first release of his to leave me feeling that way but I'm glad that this album seems to have gone back to what makes James so unique and stand out and that's those songs mostly constructed with nothing more than his 12 string and a couple of keys thrown in for good measure. Unlike many guitarists that noodle and frantically pluck at their guitars this album doesn't do it at the expense of emotion or song structure. This album is just here to swallow you in sheer acoustic beauty and it does it so well that if you like the sound of that in anyway then I suggest you pick this record up, though the heavy breathing you can hear which many might describe as intimate can be a bit distracting at times.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Album Review: DNTEL - Aimlessness

I love 'Life Is Full Of Possibilities' and the 'Give Up' so much that I think it's a bit odd that everything else DNTEL has produced has left me so very cold. 'Dumb Luck' the collaborative album with various indie musicians was by no means bad it just lost a lot of the electronic charm that drew me to Jimmy Tamborellas production in the first place. After several bits and bob compilations being released I sort of lost track on the guy until 'Aimlessness' came up on my feed of recommended releases. Now I wouldn't call this the level of either 'Life Is Full Of Possibilities' or 'Give Up' it does come appealingly close. It's got more of the DNTEL feel that I love, it's both sparse and totally rammed up the arse with pop quirks & with vocals being used more sparingly it allows DNTEL to experiment a bit more like he did in 'Life Is Full Of Possibilities' as opposed to the rather monotonous approach of 'Dumb Luck'. Aimlessness is a good album with some glorious moments but while not quite up to his best, it is a defiant step in the right direction.

Album Review:Liars - WIXIW

After 2 releases which toned down the experimentation a few notches we see Liars return with WIXIW (pronounced Wish You) an album which see's the band embrace all things electronic. Fans of the bands later 2 albums 'Sisterworld' and 'Liars' may be slightly disappointed with the direction taken on the more experimental 'WIXIW', which see's the bands more contemporary influences in the last 2 records all but disappear, in favour for sombre atmospheric electronic sounds. It's all a lot more chilled, with the exception of the frantic, noisy & pounding sounds found on 'Brats', this album is all about the atmosphere which is incredibly easy to get lost in. This album is one probably best listened to in solidarity & threw headphones, when listening to a few of the tracks released prior to the album I found they bit left me feeling a bit cold, but as a collection of song's it's pretty great & see's the band feeling reinvigorated. *Note: I do actually really enjoy Sisterworld but am glad they didn't get stuck in a contemporary sound, that's not what Liars are about*