Sunday, January 31, 2010

Eastgate is sound Giza

THEY don't rap and they're from Manchester - hotly-tipped new band Egyptian Hip Hop release their debut single tomorrow, with the help of Castle Donington's Samuel Eastgate.
The Late Of The Pier frontman was behind the production desk for Wild Human Child, released as a double A-side with Heavenly on February 1.

Husky Rescue not worth saving


HELSINKI'S Husky Rescue may not have crafted a dog's dinner in Ship Of Light, but you needn't rush out in an emergency to pick up a copy either.
The closest comparison I can draw to the group's evocative indie pop is that of fellow Scandanavians The Cardigans - in fact I have to confess I clicked off and had a brief, nostalgic listen to their Gran Turismo half-way through reviewing this album.
There are positive differences between the bands - such as the subtle ambient noises and orchestral layers that fill out each track, or the leanings toward Americana that drop in.
There are also meandering experimentations with electronica that hit more than miss as the album progresses.
But ultimately it's hard to persevere with Husky Rescue when they lack both the sheer icy cool and the subtle humour of their nearest sonic neighbours.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Growing popularity

AHEAD of a tour of village halls across the country - including a trip to Quorn Village Hall on February 12 - folk duo Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou were kind enough to send me a copy of their self-titled album.
A review of Trevor Moss And Hannah-Lou is coming up on this site, but I thought I'd say a quick thanks to the pair - because tucked inside the CD sleeve was a packet of "tommy seeds".
This is probably the first time that this blog has actually put food on my table - although I do have to grow the tomatoes myself first.
It's also a timely reminder to other acts, artists, PR companies, labels etc. - bribery is as good, if not better, than flattery.
My address is on the right...

Hot Hot Chip


SYNTH nerds Hot Chip's fourth album One life Stand sees them in the form of their lives.
After suffering from the curse of patchiness on still-brilliant LPs like The Warning and Made In The Dark, their latest album is their most mature, most consistent collection yet.
The group exhibit the ultimate in geek chic here - not just by donning tank tops, correctional shoes and milk-bottle glasses, but by making the building blocks of cheesy dance cooler than a frozen cucumber.
So while the killer single a la Over And Over or Ready For The Floor that made the group's name may be missing here, in its place is a killer album.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Knife cut in to opera


I EXPECT all artists, over time, to progress their music, to experiment, to evolve - but opera?
I have to say I wasn't expecting bird-faced knob-twiddling siblings The Knife to craft an opera based on the life and work of Charles Darwin, but, as they say, nature abhors a vacuum, so someone was bound to do it sooner or later.
And better them behind Tomorrow, In A Year than Girls Aloud, hey?
And alongside cohorts Mt Sims and Planningtorock, the Scandanivian dance duo have had a pretty good stab at it - although opera purists would likely disagree.
The traditional 'fat lady singing' vocals associated with the genre are offset by unsettling electronica, animal noises and extended instrumental interludes, occasionally bursting forth with gloriously epic tracks like Variation Of Birds, Annie's Box and Colouring Of Pigeons.
So if you're looking for something a little different and a bit challenging to listen to, Tomorrow, In A Year is surely the natural selection.

Corinne Bailey hooray


WHEN a new album from Corinne Bailey Rae dropped on my desk this cold, wet January, I was a little surprised - as Rae was previously so Summery the sun actually shone from there.
However, like the seasons, Rae's previously perfect sunshine pop has waned into a more soulful, serious output on The Sea.
I shouldn't have been so shocked, as it's not the first change in Rae's career - which actually began as frontwoman for heavy metal band Helen - and it's hardly surprising the tragic death of her husband Jason Rae has muted her sunny musical disposition.
But with a more personal, emotive soul feel here laced with elements of funk and rock, it has gone to show that behind the twee pop debut was a real voice and a real talent.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Scott talent


NEW Orleans-born jazz trumpeter Christian Scott is a talent worth, well, trumpeting.
Because although the musician has a contemporary, forward-thinking take on the genre throughout Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, his playing has a real timeless quality to it, reminiscent of Birth Of The Cool-era Miles Davis.
His playing has a subdued, breathy feel to it, capable of wandering improvisation as much as tightly running through Thom Yorke's vocal line on a cover of The Eraser.
And the music mimics this feel, all sparse acoustic bass and brushed drums.
It's safe to say that from the first note of Yesterday You Said Tomorrow, this LP made my day.

Oh No Ono a no no


OVEREGGS, not Eggs, should be the title of Oh No Ono's new album.
Because the Danish group overcook every track on their sophomore album, which was recorded in a mixture of studios and unusual locations such as churches, forests, beaches and abandoned factories.
It was probably more fun to make than it is to listen to.
Eggs is made up of bombastic operatic indie, scrambled up with wacky samples, cod-Beatles psychedelia and seemingly anything else the group stumbled upon during the nine-month-long recording process.
As a result, the messy Eggs is not worth shelling out on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Expect surprises" says Download

GIRLS Aloud to headline Download Festival?
Unlikely - but speaking after the announcement AC/DC are to break their recent festival duck to headline Download, the Castle Donington festival's booker-in-chief Andy Copping has warned that there may be bigger surprises in store for 2010.
He told Sound Advice: "You'll have to wait and see, but there's at least one big surprise which will shock everybody - in a good way.
"We will be keeping the bill as diverse as possible and we're happy with it. There's always been variety across the whole bill.
"When we booked the Prodigy I was vilified, but when I brought them back everybody was so excited.
"The same happened with Pendulum, but they turned out to be one of the bands of the weekend.
"The reaction to AC/DC has been a huge amount of amazement and excitement - they just don't do festivals - and the other two headliners we'll be announcing in the coming weeks are also both big acts and worthy headliners."

Romance Is Boring is interesting


WELSH band Los Campesinos! are not your conventional indie pop band.
For a start there's seven of them, eight when live, and their new album, Romance Is Boring, is chock-full of unwieldy titles like A Heat Rash in the Shape of the Show Me State; or, Letters from Me to Charlotte or We’ve Got Your Back (Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #2).
And this increasingly-obtuse nature is also clearly exhibited in the band's music, on this, their third album in 24 months.
For every catchy angular post-punk riff - such as the sporadic chorus There Are Listed Buildings of the gloriously up-tempo Straight In At 101 - there's an unexpected change of direction or oddball lyric to temper it.
This results in a cigarette-drag of an LP - not exactly pleasant on first encounter, but you can't help but be drawn back for more.
Romance may be boring, but for all their spiky awkwardness, Los Campesinos! remain as loveable as ever.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

First Download line-up announcement made

HELLS bells! AC/DC have been confirmed as one of the headliners at this year's Download Festival.
Also gracing the Castle Donington festival's stages this year will be Them Crooked Vultures, Motörhead, Megadeth, Stone Temple Pilots, Deftones, Bullet For My Valentine, Wolfmother and Volbeat.
Andy Copping, Download festival promoter, said: “Download 2010 will be one for the history books.
"It will see the return of the world’s greatest rock band to the most legendary and spiritual home of rock.
"We have been pushing for this moment for many years, but for this to become reality alongside the likes of Them Crooked Vultures, Motörhead and Megadeth is the best 30th Anniversary of the site we could have dreamed of, it’s also going to be a fantastic tribute to Maurice Jones who started this all off back in 1980."
Why not whet your appetite for the festival with this hastily cobbled-together Spotify playlist.

Thinking big


THE return of RJD2 in the form of The Colossus is a mixed bag - but don't think from that description it's a massive disappointment.
Far from it, the producer, real name Ramble John Krohn, lays on enough fan-pleasing heavy slabs of his trademark beat-driven breaks, such as Giant Squid, Small Plans and Let There Be Horns.
But as the album progresses a new, soulful side shows itself, with a smattering of guest vocalists, such as Kenna, Phonte Coleman and Aaron Livingstone grooving over more subtle, upbeat cuts.
This new approach is put together masterfully, with a retro funk feel replacing the hip hop beats.
But, just as when DJ Shadow went crunk for half of The Outsider, I know which side of The Colossus I prefer RJD2's foot to be planted on.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Download up

CASTLE Donington festival Download has been shortlisted for an NME Award.
The three-day metal event will go up against Glastonbury, Reading And Leeds Festivals, T In The Park and V Festival for the Best Festival gong.



THE fact the Ke$ha spells her name with a dollar sign makes it even harder to see her music as anything other than a cynical exercise in producing pop.
Because Animal, for the most part, sounds like Lady Gaga doing Katy Perry.
The pumping dance pop from former Flo Rida backing singer Ke$ha is contrived, gimmick-laden and low-rent - tracks like Back$tabber and Ki$$ And Tell are like episodes of The Jerry Springer Show on vocoders.
However with unashamedly wild tracks like Tik Tok and Your Love Is My Drug - which pleasingly ends with the line "I like your beard" - OTT brat Ke$ha will still no doubt go on to have more hits than a website dedicated to pictures of Lady Gaga doing Katy Perry.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Put Spoon on your bill


ROCK band Spoon's new album Transference is worth forking out on.
A sturdy collection by the Austin-based band, on their seventh studio outing, Transference's consistency belies the group's inventive streak.
Because the album sees Spoon bending their guitar, bass and drums sound one way, then the next - the groove-driven Mystery Zone, the jazzy outro to I Saw The Light, the snarling Written In Reverse...
All these elements contrast throughout Transference, and Spoon never bite off more than they can chew.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pallette able


FORMER Final Fantasy frontman Owen Pallett - who changed his name because he wasn't Square enough, presumably - has crafted an album to please the musical nerd in us all.
, a concept album about a fictional farmer turned fighter, is an intricate, beautifully crafted collection, put together with a Brian Wilson-circa-Pet Sounds intricacy sure to reward repeated listens.
There's Beirut-style folk here from the Canadian, as well as electronica leanings, akin to the work of Jim Moray and Patrick Wolf, all spread over delicate Grizzly Bear indie.
Epic, orchestral, adventurous and, finally, fantastic, Heartlands is hard to beat.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Haiti help from Basement Jaxx

BASEMENT Jaxx are among music stars lining up to support an auction for earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
Artists including DJ Shadow, Damon Albarn, Chemical Brothers, The Kooks, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and Pet Shop Boys will auction off prizes on eBay to raise funds for Oxfam to support those affected by the magnitude-7.0 quake.
An Oxfam spokesman said: "A major earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, just ten miles from the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
"Oxfam is getting aid through despite immense challenges.
"Our immediate priorities are providing safe water and shelter material for the people who have lost their homes.
"In order to continue this vital work and to reach more people Oxfam urgently needs your help.
"Please bid for a chance to own a piece of unique celebrity memorabilia, and to support this life saving appeal."
The bidding for the signed Jaxx back catalogue closes at 9am on Tuesday, February 2.
To view all the items for sale click here.

Late Of The Pier side project?

LATE Of The Pier's Sam Eastgate has revealed he is launching a side project, according to NME.
The Castle Donington band's frontman has said "the project will see him team up with an as-yet unnamed drummer for live shows in Japan, before they perform in the UK".
He also revealed that despite single releases in 2010, there's no new LOTP album looming.

First Aid Kit's second outing


IN MY review of their EP Drunken Trees, I suggested that First Aid Kit could do with the aid of a band - but the Swedish sisters haven't patched up their sound as I'd have liked.
Instead, on their full LP The Big Black And The Blue, they continue with their bare bones country-tinged acoustic guitar-and-vocal harmonies approach.
That said, although there's not a full backing band, there's improved production here, and their sound has been filled out in more subtle ways, via atmospheric drones and subdued ornamentation.
The result is teen siblings Klara and Johanna Söderberg have created a log cabin-in-the-snow atmosphere that's still warming - but in the way a slug of neat vodka is, rather than a roaring fire.



DESPITE a party promised by 1960s-tinged indie act Erland And The Carnival, the hotly-tipped newcomer's self-titled debut release was harder to celebrate than you would think.
After all as supergroups go, the line-up may be fair - with members boasting between them stints playing with The Verve, The Good The Bad And The Queen and Paul McCartney - but the lyricists plundered here include Leonard Cohen and even poet William Blake.
And true, there are some magnificent moments - especially the folkier 'hey nonny nonny' tracks - and when they up the tempo, such as on The Derby Ram, Everything Came Too Easy and Was You Ever See, you can see why this band is being paraded around by so many critics.
But as a whole, the group's psyche folk is as streets ahead as it's touted to be.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fogg lights the way


MR FOGG, a UK-born alt-pop artist pretty much unknown outside of Nordic Europe, blurs the edges between indie and electronica with his introductory EP Keep Your Teeth Sharp.
Sitting on pop's cutting edge, Mr Fogg fashions traditional singer songwriter fare from less-than-traditional building blocks of fuzzy electronics and subdued drum machines.
And on this EP the results are evocative and brooding, coming across as a kind of Get Cape. Wear Cape. Die. character.
On the evidence of Keep Your Teeth Sharp - made up of three excellent originals and an orchestral Olafur Arnalds title track remix - you should keep your eyes peeled for more from Mr Fogg.

Chew Lips service


THE time is surely right for Chew Lips to blossom this Spring.
The dance pop trio, with their new album Unicorn, bring to mind hordes of recent success stories, whilst remaining solidly consistant.
Leading the line, singer Tigs has a belter of a voice, which falls between Florence Welch of Florence And The Machine and Katie White of The Ting Tings.
And throughout Unicorn she gets to showcase her pipes on a selection of robust '80s-tinged electro songs crafted by Will Sanderson and James Watkins which are laced with more hooks than a Peter Pan convention - Slick, Toro, Karen, Seven, Play Together, any of these could mount a serious attack on the top 40.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

YeonGene too cute


BEING critical of YeonGene is like punching a kitten.
Because the Korean singer's new album, the expansive Bonnie Gene, is naively nice.
Tracks one to 12, subtitled Chapter One: Me & My Burt (A Burt Bacharach Songbook), are a series of twee pop-circa-1960 covers of Burt Bacharach tracks such as Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, Tower Of Strength and The Bell That Couldn't Jingle.
Then the second half, Chapter Two: YeonGene Vs BMX Bandits, is an ever cheesier, cutesier collection of originals penned on a trip to Scotland - featuring tracks about love, smiles and playing.
Yes, that's right, a song about going out and playing - it's enough to make you sick! Pass me the Nine Inch Nails, quick.

The Lowe down

KIWI DJ, TV presenter and one-third of Breaks Co-op Zane Lowe will be performing a DJ set at Loughborough University.
The gig, which is open to students only, takes place on February 18.

Phwoar Tet


AS YOU'D expect from any artist's seventh studio album, There Is Love In You, the latest from peculiar producer Four Tet, is polished stuff.
For some time it's been known that Four Tet, real name Kieran Hebden, twiddles knobs with the best of them, and here he presents some of his most seductive stuff to date, alluringly accessible yet as bewitchingly enigmatic as always.
But the album sees a new direction for Four Tet.
Warm tones smooth out his trademark IDM fiddling, and the background beats here are sultry and slow rather than skittering and angular as on previous efforts - with the whole album rising and falling like an orchestral movement.
If you don't fall for There Is Love In You, you have a heart of stone.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wave hello, America

WYMESWOLD'S Wave Pictures are heading west - looking to make a name for themselves in America.
A double CD of the band's most recent LPs, Instant Coffee Baby and If You Leave It Alone, will be released by Moshi Moshi Records Stateside on April 27, ahead of an appearance by the indie band at this year's SXSW festival in Texas.

Animal testing


THE revered experimental psychedelic indie act Animal Collective - the band behind one of 2009's most critically acclaimed albums, Merriweather Post Pavilion - re-release their 2003 album Campfire Songs next week.
Whoopee, right?
Well, not really.
I know I risk the wrath of many, many people with this, but Animal Collective's releases are, collectively, a load of rubbish.
Over the course of Campfire Songs' five tracks and 40-plus minutes, I counted two songs, at a push.
It sounds like, and for the most part is, a chord being played repeatedly on an acoustic guitar outside while some people moan and make inexplicable "jingjingjing" noises, and occasionally mumble some lyrics.
And anyone who disagrees with me should be forced to live in the woods with only a piece of flimsy canvas for shelter - they'd probably like it anyway.

Hot Rats covered in glory


SUPERGRASS supergroup Hot Rats, which sees Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey teamed up with Radiohead and Beck producer Nigel Godrich, should rat race straight into your collection.
Set up to fill the void while Supergrass' bassist Mick Quinn recovered from a freak sleepwalking injury, Turn Ons is a collection of cover versions of tracks ranging from Roxy Music's Love Is The Drug to the Beastie Boys' (You've Gotta) Fight For Your Right.
Each is approached with a real sense of fun - and perhaps without the weight of expectation that comes with each Supergrass release - and as a a result the LP is a real blast for the listener too, best shown by the stomping version of The Cure's Lovecats, which Hot Rats fused with an Iggy Pop, Lust For Life groove.
Hot Rats' Turn Ons - exciting stuff indeed.

Monday, January 18, 2010

One-Armed Bandit on the money


WITH One-Armed Bandit, a return from a five-year hiatus, Jaga Jazzist have hit the jackpot.
With their fifth studio album, the Norwegian nine-piece experimental jazz orchestra, led by Lars Horntveth, continue to defy categorisation, melding mainly jazz, electronica, and rock with a mind-bending array of other genres.
On 220V/Spektral there's sections with a hint of funk, Toccata has a classical feel, One-Armed Bandit has an Afropop feel to the main riff, and these are mere drops in the ocean of playful eclecticism here.
This is complex, shifting, experimental jazz at its very best - with a cherry on top, you might say.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pink Elephant's on parade


THE back story to neo soul singer N'Dambi is in evidence all over her second album, Pink Elephant.
Growing up in the forest with her friends Thumper and Flower, one winter's day while visiting the meadow with her mother, a chance encounter with a hunter left N'Dambi...
Oh wait, my mistake.
Actually, N'Dambi, real name Chonita Gilbert, grew up the daughter of two strict Baptist ministers, and added to this strong soul and gospel-only upbringing are clear hints of the 1970s funk she discovered and rebelled with.
The former Erykah Badu backing singer's collection of grooves may be missing enough hooks to really make it stick, but in terms of a feeling, Pink Elephant leaves the listener rosy.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Go wild for Feral Children


BRAND New Blood is an apt name for Feral Children's introductory album - because the newcomers' new LP is refreshingly heartfelt.
The rural rockers, who hail from Washington state, have crafted a wonky collection that sounds like Grizzly Bear being mauled by a grizzly bear on this, their second album - a superb mixture of timeless pop and indie rock as raw as an open wound.
And every note of stand-out tracks like Kid Origami, Castrato and On A Frozen Beach is intensely meant by the band.
This primal intensity does lead the band awry at times, but you can excuse these wild blips from Feral Children - it's what makes them so fiercely different, and totally intriguing.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hero's not so welcome


I WAS expecting pretty awesome things from Hero's Fires Of Beltain - mainly because of the incredible artwork, which features armoured archer monkeys on horseback, an inexplicable lion, some sort of dark lord with a really big sword, and lots and lots of fire.
And as storming metal opener Hey Hey Hey Hey rolled into Lying In The Closet, I thought I was onto a winner with the Canadian band.
Sadly, from these heights, it was all downhill - slower number Fires Of Beltain is followed by a brace of even slower numbers, with only the awful country-meets-pub rock of Hangover upping the tempo until the dying embers of the album.
Sadly, the likes of Sea Islands are too little too late - Hero? A bit of a bold statement if you ask me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vishnudata rock


A BULGING Finnish package greeted me on my arrival at at work this morning - full of CDs courtesy of my new friends Exogenic Records, you dirty-minded surfers, you.
And among the highlights was an EP, out tomorrow, from producer Vishnudata.
The Silver Falls EP, led by its title track taken from last September's Vishnudata album, is a slice of ethereal dance as chilled as a nordic fjord.
Backed up funky Accu, breaky Jimi Python and, most notably, airy Mellow Dog Society remixes, the EP is a like a pleasant stroll in the winter sunshine.

Race Horses also-rans


PSYCHEDLIC Welsh indie rock band the Super Furrrr... sorry, Race Horses, have full length album Goodbye Falkenburg hot on the heels of last month's Man In My Mind.
And on their current form, it wouldn't be an outside bet for Race Horses to emulate the success of their aforementioned compatriots.
Brimming with ideas and invention - for example Man In My Mind was a just four tracks yet a concept EP exploring the theme of madness - the group use their oddball pop rock to cover tracks with subject matter as diverse as Intergalactic Space Rebellion, Discopigs, and Cake.
You get the picture - putting this album on is the musical version of opening one of those joke peanut tins full of colourful snakes that leap out at you unexpectedly.
And as I said before, I just wish that Race Horses could stick their blinkers on - there's a lot of goofing around going on, and a lot of the time it's to the detriment of the tunes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Twitter competition

FANCY a tweet? Sound Advice author Isaac Ashe is running a competition on Twitter to find the worst album cover listed on Spotify.
To suggest a stinker, tweet the album along with the hash tag #covercomp, with the winner scooping a free CD.
UK residents only, and the deadline is 5pm tomorrow.
The benchmark of tastefulness to qualify is Lil Coner's beautifully packaged Hogg Status, shown above - of course this is no reflection on the music on the album, please don't pop a cap at me, Mr Coner, sir.

Pianist's grand plan

A LOCAL pianist is hoping a new album will be the key to her achieving chart success.
Sarah Kershaw, 30, who grew up in Castle Donington and Shepshed, has been playing piano since the age of six, and studied the instrument at Birmingham Conservatoire.
Four years ago Sarah auditioned successfully to become part of long-running act The Irrepressibles, a ten-piece pop performance orchestra led by singer-songwriter Jamie McDermott, and this week the group released their debut album Mirror Mirror on V2 Records.
Sarah said: “The Irrepressibles are very theatrical, it’s all about making a spectacle, putting on a big show.
“The album’s good, we’re really pleased with what we were able to do - although we’re already thinking about the next album.”

OneRepub rock


DESPITE the name, OneRepublic are no revolutionaries - just a pop rock band cast in the mould of The Script.
The group are a studio-polished U2-a-like, whose new album Waking Up is slicker than an eel in oil.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the group shot to stardom this year with their expertly crafted tracks that on paper is hard to knock - the epic two track opening of Made For You and All The Right Moves, the awesome acoustic guitar lick of Everybody Loves Me, the orchestral close to title track Waking Up...
The problem is that the group have been airbrushed to nothingness - and unfortunately I like my rock music warts and all.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mr Hudson heading here

MR HUDSON, the man behind one of last year's Albums Of The Year, Straight No Chaser, will be coming to Loughborough.
The star, and his backing band The Library featuring Loughborough's own Wilkie Wilkinson on drums, will take to the Students' Union stage on May 1.
For more information click here.

Emika makes a mark


EMIKA'S arrival may just be the eureka moment for female-fashioned dubstep.
Because the new EP, Drop The Other, showcases a take on the notoriously male-dominated genre that's as sultry as it is shadowy.
A skittering stop-start piano and beat combo is tacked onto a breathy vocal for the title track, creating a single that sounds as much Tori Amos as Skream.
Alongside this are Scuba's Vulpine Remix, which takes the track down a claustrophobicly-deep route, and a GeRM version which takes a more mainstream, glostick-waving electro route.
Overall it's stunning stuff - my only complaint is that Emika is clearly a prospect, let's have a bit more to get our teeth into next time, eh?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Scene should be heard


BLOCKHEAD'S new album The Music Scene shows that the New York-based artist is no simpleton.
For the hip hop producer and long-time Aesop Rock collaborator, real name Anthony Simon, has crafted his most accomplished, intricate solo collection yet with his fourth studio album.
His always-irresistible break beats are coloured here with a broad palette of samples.
However there's no cut and paste here - everything is firmly fused together with dense, rich and thoughtful production - for example take opener It's Raining Clouds, which segways from a soulful hip hop stomp into world music territory before ending on a full-throttle rave-up.
Epic and engaging, to miss out on this Blockhead LP would be idiotic.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

FM Belfast not quite radio phwoar


TURN on, tune in, veg out - FM Belfast's electropop isn't destined to rip up many dance floors.
Instead the Icelandic outfit's How To Make Friends is a wry collection of plodding beats, buzzing synths, meandering keyboards and dry, dry vocals.
Now please don't consider the group a comedy outfit - despite subject matter such as running around the streets in your undergarments and the sad demise of VHS - because only about half of their output touches on this category.
But these moments are the only one's I'm likely to retune in to - such as the two clear stand-out tracks, the wonderfully laid-back version of Technotronic's Pump Up The Jam, Pump, and the Rage Against The Machine's festive favourite Killing In The Name cover, Lotus.
Most of the rest of this LP may as well be radio fuzz.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Psychonauty but nice


LISTENING to Songs For Creatures, the Psychonauts' album, was a voyage of re-discovery for me.
Because as I pressed play on groove-soaked opening number Circles, I thought: "This sounds familiar."
It should teach me to actually read the press releases that get sent out to me first - as although there's a new album cover here, the music is actually a re-release of the group's influential 2003 LP.
And throughout the album sections were jogging memories, whether through their inclusion on mixes and samples I've heard since, or through the many artists influenced by this work - cited by the likes of DJ Hell, James Lavelle and LCD Soundsystem, to name but three.
Voyaging seamlessly through an eclectic collection of genres such as house, electro, psychedelia, folk and funk, the pioneering dance album is well worth this timely reminder.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Twigg hard to stick to


CANADIAN Randy Twigg, who travelled to Germany to find success with her raucous sound, releases her debut album Undone in the UK next week - or should that be unleashes?
Because bass-plucker-and-synth-twiddler Twigg, and her drummer Andre Lange, deliver their electronic rock shtick like a punch to the gut - imagine a cross between Debbie Harry and Hulk Hogan. Got that? Now imagine them shouting dirty pop songs at you.
Sadly too much energy is expended on this loud and lairy approach, too often to the detriment of the music, which on nearly every track begins promisingly before heading off key and ending up just jarring.
Undone? Sadly, for most of the LP's duration I was left wishing it could be.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Free Grasscut track a snip

ODDTRONICA act Grasscut are set to release a second single, Muppet, on March 1, ahead of a debut album's release later this year.
And the duo of Andrew Phillips and Marcus O'Dair are offering a free taster, in the form of a Nathan Fake remix of the forthcoming single.
Click here to grab a copy.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Top artwork under the microscope

LOUGHBOROUGH electronica act Kelpe has been voted as having one of the best record covers of the past year.
The Best Art Vinyl 2009 competition, which was won by Muse's The Resistance, named Kelpe's single cover for Microscope Contents at number 18.
Andrew Heeps, Art Vinyl's director, said: "With the Best Art Vinyl Award now in its fifth year we've really seen the award grow in stature and it is a great way to celebrate the unsung heroes behind the art and design of some of our favourite bands and artists."
To see the top 50 winners, click here.

Vamp it up


IT'S a testament to how quickly Vampire Weekend hooks sink their teeth into you that my three-year-old daughter has added the frenetic Cousins to her personal singalong songbook, alongside the hits of acts like Lady Gaga and JLS.
That said, the group's second slice of afro-indie is less immediate than their enjoyable eponymous debut Vampire Weekend - not that I'm against Contra.
Instead here the group continue to do what they do best - that is, energetic Paul Simon-tinted jangly guitar work.
However they twists of electronica, peculiar production and even harpsichord solos to reward repeated listens.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Mirror Mirror off the wall


THE piano-driven pop of The Irrepressibles isn't so much a little camp as a whole flaming big top.
No doubt this theatrical streak comes from the fact that studio effort Mirror Mirror is a reflection of The Irrepressibles's live show, where the ring master, artist and composer Jamie McDermott, leads a 10-piece "performance orchestra" which has fused music with drama, dance and circus skills since 2002.
Atop a flamboyant, fantastical musical backdrop McDermott's acrobatic voice soars and dazzles and excites, like a cross between Jeff Buckley and Rufus Wainwright.
And at times this showcase is irresistible - such as on the gorgeous The Tide.
But for me, overall Mirror Mirror feels like something is missing, like this big top is all blue-feathered-lady-on-horseback and no fez-wearing-bear-on-a-bicycle.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Planet into your collection


AFTER an amazing debut album, 2001's Discern/Define, nu funk band The Poets Of Rhythm sadly dropped off my radar - and now I know why.
For the German funk soul brothers behind the band, Jan and Max Weissenfeldt, have had more names than P Diddy since then - being known as Bo Baral’s Excursionists of Perception, Bus People Express, Dynamic Soundmakers, The Mercy Sluts, The Mighty Continentals Organized Raw Funk, The Pan-Atlantics, The Soul-Saints Orchestra, The Soul Sliders, Syrup, Das Geldene Zeitalter and The Woo Woos to name a few.
And now, under the title The Whitefield Brothers, they have a new LP out, Earthology.
Still as ruthlessly funky as ever - Earthology has more grooves than the surface of a James Brown vinyl - the album has an eclectic world music twist, as well as a jazz-like freedom to it.
This is welded together turntablist style with a choice handful of guest MCs, and of course mouth-wateringly dope hip hop beats.
Makes you proud to be an Earthling.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Caleb rated


STILL got a headache after partying hard to usher in the teenies?
Why not sooth away the pain with a poultice of cool jazz, courtesy of Elisa Caleb.
The manager-turned-performer works her way through meticulously performed standards such as Swing Low and My Funny Valentine as well as a couple of originals on her debut release Carry Me Home.
And for a first outing Caleb's performance is commendably crisp throughout, although the overall effect is less than challenging - if Caleb was more middle of the road here, she'd have cat's eyes.
Nevertheless with the assured backing band and Caleb in full swing, there's very little not to like here, even if the LP doesn't inspire love in the listener.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Five favourites back for 2010

Hardcore metal act Dillinger Escape Plan are set to release a new album, Option Paralysis, on their own label in March, the follow-up to their awesome 2007 effort Ire Works.
Oxford band Foals are set to follow up Antidotes this year, which was one of the most exciting debuts in living memory.
Is it just me, or do you get the feeling Castle Donington band have an all-time classic in them? Could their forthcoming LP be it?

Expect big things from the producer's 2010 album The Colossus.
February release Odd Blood is already in contention for an Album Of The Year if the buzz can be believed.

Five to find in 2010

A safe bet for success, Mancunians Delphic mix their hometown's two biggest exports - indie and dance.

Thar their futuristic Americana blows in 2010.

Holy moly! After a fair-to-middling debut, their jaw-dropping recent singles sounded like Foals on steroids.

Psychedelic Australian act Tame Impala will be essential listening - if they ever bother to finish their debut album.

The majesty of Tubelord's catchy pop indie is guaranteed to be piping into your ears in 2010.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year to Biffy Clyro

Biffy Clyro's Only Revolutions has been voted as Album Of The Year 2009.
The Scottish band won 19 per cent of the vote, with Acoustic Ladyland, Deadmau5 and Kasabian in joint second place.
So congratulations to Biffy Clyro, and a Happy New Year to everyone who's clicked onto the site during the past 12 months, whether by accident or not!
Here's to the Teenies...

● All blog posts published on this site are owned by myself, Isaac Ashe, and may not be reproduced without written permission. You have no right to copy.