Wednesday, March 31, 2010
IF YOU knew up and coming band Peggy Sue, then you’d know why I feel blue, without Peggy, my Peggy Sue.
Because the group, formerly known as Peggy Sue And The Pirates, fuse the warm drones and rich instrumentation of contemporary folk a la Mumford And Sons with angular punk and indie rock akin to Blood Red Shoes on their debut Fossils And Other Phantoms.
As a result, the group throw enough grit into the mix to make this a sturdy offering - with enough solid tracks like the Sons And Daughters-esque Yo Mama standing alongside more trad strummers like Watchmen.
Because Australian pianist Blasko, like Thom Yorke et al, comes across as miserable as a damp bloodhound at times.
However just like mardy old Radiohead, it's not necessarily a bad thing - there's plenty of gentle orchestral gorgeousness here, and Blasko has an enchanting breathy loveliness to her vocals - but As Day Follows Night could still do with a little more light and shade over the LP's run for my liking.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Taking the term roots rock literally - the subject matter for April Uprising is band leader John Butler's family tree - the group riotously plough through a collection littered with fluid guitar licks, meandering solos and extended jams.
And this upbeat jam rock feel is fused with elements of reggae, blues, funk and surf, bringing to mind acts as diverse as Red Hot Chili Peppers and G Love And Special Sauce.
Although the album may be a tad unwieldy at 15 tracks long, the Antipodean act are at their irresistible best on tracks like Don't Wanna See Your Face and One Way Road.
When experimental rock band Yourcodenameis:Milo folded, the last thing fans of the cult band would have expected from guitarist Justin Lockey would be radio-friendly Coldplay-style alt rock such as White Belt Yellow Tag.
But Methods does point towards the mainstream, and does it well - propelling the group upwards and outwards with the drive of Doves and a soaring emotional quality akin to Chris Martin's work across this workmanlike debut.
With a smattering of sturdy singles such as Remains and Always And Echoes, White Belt Yellow Tag deserve to elbow their way onto the airwaves.
Monday, March 29, 2010
THE tracks on busking band Skuffle’s debut may normally be turned up to 11 - but the group manage to make enough noise with the 16 rock anthems unplugged.
The acoustic arrangements of the tracks here - such as AC/DC’s Back In Black, Deep Purple’s Black Night, The Rolling Stones's Jumping Jack Flash, Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love and The Beatles’s Come Together - are all pretty faithful, and vocalist Sean Kingsley, while possessing a powerful voice, does ape each cover’s original style.
But it matters not - the group’s self-confessed mission statement is to get people to revisit the originals, and to pick up their own guitars and have a bit of fun, something the four-piece clearly are here.
And on top of this - no offence to that tramp and his tin whistle - I’ve yet to come across better buskers in Loughborough’s Market Place.
WHILE an album remains elusive, London live IDM band Three Trapped Tigers have a third EP, EP3, out on Monday - and it's well worth raiding the kitty for.
A post-rock band whose goal is to reproduce the electronica of acts like Autechre and Aphex Twin on standard guitar, keyboards, bass and drums instrumentation, and three releases in, following EP and EP2, the sound is close to being honed.
The group build songs they way the people of Babel built towers, with rising and falling drumbeats and percussion, irregular guitar, synth drones and vocal moans creating an engaging experimental cacophony.
I for one can't wait for Three Trapped Tigers to let loose with a full album.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
A SLEW of recent Download announcements has gotten me in the mood for moshing recently, and with decent metal albums few and far between in 2010, I've dug out a beauty for a Classic Collection airing - American Head Charge's 2001 introduction The War Of Art.
Brutally sadistic in subject matter, singer Martin Cock verges on parody covering subjects such as murder and rape.
Luckily Cock has the talent to back this up, growling, whispering, roaring, shouting and occasionally singing peerlessly.
This intensity is matched by the guitarwork of Chad Hanks, who met Cock in a rehab centre, which is as equally raw and aggressive as it is technically brilliant, disregarding the usual frameworks of time signiatures and song structures throughout - lead single Just So You Know switches from seven beats in a bar to eight beats in a bar mid-chorus, losing no momentum.
An onslaught of an album in every sense, when the group sang they were Pushing The Envelope here, it was more like they were bludgeoning the envelope to death.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
WITH a name like the London Community Gospel Choir, you'd think it was a social enterprise rather than a pop group.
However after listening to their LP Glorious, I was feeling less than charitable - I was expecting something a little less obvious from a choir that's worked with Blur, Nick Cave, Madonna, Paul McCartney, Tori Amos, Gorillaz, Elton John, and many more.
Because although the group have tight knight vocals led by some talented singers, a combination of deeply uninspiring song choices, both secular and religious - Hallelujah followed by When The Saints Go Marching In - and leaden, overdone production just kill the LP.
The results are gospel, for sure, but there's no soul.
Friday, March 26, 2010
ATTENTION to detail is clearly Okapi's thing - as a promising newcomer, he had to e-mail pictures of his 'working out' to his record label suitors to prove that music of such intricacy had been made on his computer, and not simply lifted wholesale from elsewhere.
And rather than just creating a new collection of songs for his latest LP, Okapi has gone the trouble of creating an entirely fictional Kyrgistani composer, Wikipedia entry and all, for him to cover on Okapi Plays The Work Of Aldo Kapi (1914-1982).
This focus is applied brilliantly to an eclectic mix of tracks here, from the childlike plod of Bud Dub to the brassy big bands of Everything Must Change Part 2 to the techno stomp of The Next! - although Okapi never once settles into a groove throughout.
Music of this invention and intricacy, however schizophrenic it may be, surely demands a close look.
ORIGINALLY supposed to be released in 2009, then February this year, neo soul legend Erykah Badu's sixth album, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), finally arrives on Monday.
You can see why the album, the follow up to her 2008 release New Amerykah Part One (4th World War), took it's time - in comparison to her politicised outing last time round, it's so laid back it's horizontal.
That's not to say Badu doesn't put in the effort, with vocal virtuosity demonstrated over laid back funky soul grooves, which hint at hip hop and jazz with swaths of live instrumentation, such as the harp work on Incense.
Exploring themes of romance on the album, with a return to the acoustic vibe of her breakthrough Baduism listeners of New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh) will remember why she captured so many hearts all those years ago.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
For their new album The Noyelle Beat, named after a French town they played at, is just that, standard fare.
Setting out a stall of jangly rather than jingly guitars and relationship-based his ‘n’ hers vocal lines, the band’s indie pop is honest if not inspiring.
Luckily these are mostly “hers” vocals - if underage love ode Fifteen was sung by a man it would have been unlistenable...
This isn't the case, the Sheffield band's sound is worth a brief fling - but it's unlikely you'll discover the love of your life here.
DO YOU want a band you can count on?
Then live IDM act Three Trapped Tigers, who lay down Aphex Twin and Autechre style electronica on live rock instrumentation, are the band for you.
Because their debut release EP featured tracks called 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and the follow-up EP2 was made up of 6, 7, 8 and 9.
Later this Spring, EP3 is released - and as a taster you can download a copy of 11 by clicking here.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
ATTENTIVE readers of Sound Advice will have noticed a recent post has disappeared.
A download I offered, of Marina And The Diamond's track Hollywood that had been remixed by Mr Fogg, has had a claim for copyright infringement filed against it under United States law, so will be temporarily unavailable.
For some time by the looks of it, as despite Google, who host this site through Blogger, being an Internet company, they don't accept e-mails over the subject, only faxes or letters, to California, at my own cost.
I digress - the reason for this post is to reassure readers that all my downloads are offered in good faith and totally, 100 per cent legally.
In this case, a trustworthy PR company working on behalf of Mr Fogg submitted the file for posting, and I even confirmed with them that I would be okay to host and post before doing so.
Please do not hesitate to check out any of the other mp3s on this site, without fear of breaking any laws, and hopefully I can rehost the Marina remix in the near future - in the meantime, please avoid purchasing any of her records and funding her overzealous representatives.
● UPDATE - After consulting with the PR Company who submitted the file, the Mr Fogg Remix was an uncleared, unofficial remix, and as such will not be reposted.
THERE'S a danger that Bonobo's music, being lush and warm and smooth and sultry and gorgeous as it is, can be written off as mood music, a sort of musical wallpaper.
And true, it's easy to hang with Black Sands, but a little closer inspection reveals that the album is in fact an understated masterpiece.
Brit Bonobo, real name Simon Green, has always been a master of beats, something clearly in evidence on tracks here like Eyesdown and Kong which will have you nodding like you have an elastic neck, but there's more than chillout room beats to please here.
The album envelops the listener, with rich cinematic tones smoothing over the eclectic influences on display - ranging from hints of dubstep on 1009 to the soul jazz vocals of Andreya Triana on tracks like The Keeper - resulting in a very modern classic feel.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
GLAM parody band Steel Panther head up a 22-band boost to the Download Festival line-up.
With their leopardskin and lycra, the LA band certainly command attention - while Sound Advice favourites Coheed And Cambria, The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Blackout and 36 Crazyfists are all also confirmed.
To mark 30 years of Castle Donington festivals, old school Monsters Of Rockers such as Cinderella, Y&T and Saxon are being lined up.
Others heading to the area include HIM, Airbourne, A Day To Remember, Dommin, Taking Dawn, Unearth, Lawnmower Deth, Job For A Cowboy, Whitechapel, August Burns Red, Ratt, We Are The Fallen, Rise To Remain and HellYeah.
A spokesman said: "These acts all join AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine, Aerosmith plus more in what’s shaping up to be one hell of a way to celebrate 30 years of Donington rock history at this year’s Download Festival."
Of course, you can celebrate the news by listening to this hastily-expanded Spotify playlist containing all confirmed Download acts.
A TANTALISING teaser a week ahead of their full album, White Belt Yellow Tag's Always And Echoes EP will be ringing in your ears while you wait.
The group, formed from the ashes of Yourcodenameis:Milo, have crafted an emotive, soaring Doves-style lead track which gives an excellent indication of the impending LP Methods.
This is backed by two tracks, Postcards and You Have No Friends, which split the difference between Snow Patrol and Idlewild, before capping the release with a worthwhile exercise in remixing which sees Methods track We All Have Sound having a workout.
Melody-driven and big-sounding, as Always And Echoes mirrors Methods, consider your appetites whetted.
Monday, March 22, 2010
AS JOSIAH Wolf is best known as being the drummer with Why?, an abstract hip hop act led by brother Yoni Wolf, it's a surprise hearing how much of a departure solo album Jet Lag is.
For the LP of bigger brother Josiah is more like the alt folk of Willy Mason or Bright Eyes, though for me with a little less spark - Bleary Eyes, if you will.
As you'd expect from a tubthumper, the best bits of the LP are the ones which have a strong rhythmic quality to them, whether through the drums themselves such as on opener The Trailer And The Truck or the guitar parts, like on Is The Body Hung or Master Cleanse.
But overall, whether the solo work is likely to oust Why? as a day job is questionable.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
WITH their sunny stomps, Graffiti6 could be set to be a big draw in pop circles this Summer, if EP Stone In My Heart is anything to go by.
The duo mix the beaming Motown soul vocals of Jamie Scott with equally energetic dance pop compositions from Tommy D over four uptempo, upbeat tracks.
A little more variety might have been nice here - it's all very full-on, and it's no surprise that the best track, Foxes, is the only one to temper this with a little sultriness.
If the pair heed this for their full release, they could be the next big thing - if they don't, the next thing they know, they'll be the next Phats And Small...
Saturday, March 20, 2010
NOW I must confess, much as I'd like to claim to be in the know about up-and-coming bands, I only chose to listen to Six Gallery's debut as it's got a picture of an octopus holding some balloons on the front cover.
And I'm very glad that I did.
The American group's album Breakthroughs In Modern Art is the sound of a flurry of Minus The Bear-style icy guitar licks cutting through a warm heap of post-hardcore vocal harmonies, and it sounds like it's being done by a guitarist with eight arms, or at least a few extra fingers - it's no surprise that the group's roots are instrumental.
It's tentacle-tapping stuff, pulsating with energy and invention throughout, as each layer wraps itself around the last - in fact, the sole suggestion I can offer to improve this album would be for the aforementioned octopus to be wearing a hat.
I HAVE been enjoying the new Andrew WK release Close Calls With Brick Walls on many levels - but mostly full volume.
Before the metal music can even be considered, first the man needs a mention - WK has been relentlessly accused of being a puppet persona created by either a mysterious svengali named Steev Mike, or a committee of record industry types and family members, leading him to issue a statement last year saying: "I am a real person who thinks for himself."
This has tended to overshadow the actual work of WK, which tends to be written off as singles like Party Hard and Party 'Til You Puke.
But this enigmatic LP, previously only released in Japan and Korea, has so much more to offer than nosebleed-inducing party anthems - although I Want To See You Go Wild covers that base nicely.
There's glam stomps like Pushing Drugs, the Meat Loaf and Muse-esque epics like You Will Remember Tonight, delicate piano interludes like Dr Dumont, the showbiz pomp of Las vegas, Nevada, there's so much to enjoy.
And it's all so ridiculous and overblown - laughable, even - but true to his mysterious form, after listening over and over I still don't know whether I'm laughing at him, we're both in on it, or whether the joke's on me...
Friday, March 19, 2010
GABRIELLA Cilmi's new album Ten doesn't exactly see the Australian singer standing out on the crowded dancefloor.
Before, although as grating as a brillo pad codpiece on uber-hit Sweet About Me, she at least had a brassy individual sound, which sat somewhere between Anastacia and Amy Winehouse.
Admittedly there were hints of what was to come on the more electropop tracks from her debut like Got No Place To Go, but Cilmi has gone the whole electrohog with her follow-up - and now she sounds exactly like every Tom, Dick and Lady Gaga.
And without any standout tracks, the pick of the bunch being the mediocre On A Mission, Ten may well see her five minutes of fame coming to an end...
Thursday, March 18, 2010
ELECTRONIC producer Daedelus's new LP may be called Righteous Fists Of Harmony, but one listen and it's clear that he's a lover, not a fighter.
The 11th album from Daedelus, real name Alfred Darlington, is a wonderfully woozy swirl of dreamy electronica, dominated by six minute opener An Armada Approaches and Order Of The Golden Dawn, featuring his wife and The Long Lost partner Laura.
The problem is, even with these two more memorable tracks, the whole thing, evocative and string-soaked as it is, passes by in a slumber.
If you're reading this, Mr Darlington, please see the Junk Culture review below.
ANOTHER fantastic freebie is being palmed off on Sound Advice readers today - an intriguing cover by Wild Palms.
As a B-side to their forthcoming single Deep Dive, out on May 17, the London band have tackled Icelandic legend Bjork's classic Human Behaviour.
Grab a copy of the track by clicking here.
DON'T walk, dance like an Egyptian, courtesy of a remix of up-and-coming Mancunian indie act Egyptian Hip Hop.
The group's debut single Wild Human Child, which features production from Castle Donington band Late Of The Pier's Sam Eastgate, has had a going over by friend-of-Sound Advice Radient Dragon.
And you can grab a free download of his "spaced out" reworking of the track here.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
METHOD Actors didn't so much fall off the radar as never quite get on it - despite producing red carpet material.
As a fleeting extra in the all-singing, all-dancing careers of their Athens, Georgia peers that included REM, Pylon and The B-52s, Method Actors deserved so much more - as this compilation of their work says, This Is Still It.
With a punk attitude and energy, played on sparse instrumentation made up of Vic Varney on guitar and David Gamble on drums, the duo's inventive, raucous, hook-laden garage rock is pretty much timeless in appeal - sounding as much like cult heroes like The Violent Femmes as next big things like Eddy Current Suppression Ring.
It's such a travesty that Method Actors never played a bigger part in the 1980s rock scene, and the likes of myself are only just hearing of them - let's hope the script can be rewritten for this retrospective release.
ONE man's trash is another man's treasure - and electronica act Junk Culture has made an art form out of this.
Harnessing untapped sources of samples - mostly taken "in the field" by Junk Culture's Deepak Mantena who takes a tape recorded everywhere he goes - his debut LP West Coast is a mish-mash of distorted and out of context sounds.
As a result, although put together as loops upon loops by computer, these extraordinary sounds still have the lo-fi feel of having been weaved meticulously by hand.
On top of this tapestries, Mantena has thrown gritty hip hop beats, anchoring the sound in a way his peers such as Toro Y Moi would do well to note.
So don't be a waster, Junk Culture's sound is one you can't refuse.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
FOLK singer Laura Marling has grown up on her second album I Speak Because I Can - hardly surprising as she was a mere 17 years old when the gorgeous Alas I Cannot Swim came out.
No longer a teen, this mature Marling sound is fuller than before, her acoustic folk padded out with a sound akin to the rich tones of Mumford And Sons - showcased best on tracks like Devil's Spoke and Blackberry Stone.
However I do feel, like a blanket of snow, that this padding cools the emotion of her first LP which landed Marling a 2008 Mercury Music Prize shortlisting - with nothing here as raw and haunting as tracks like Ghosts or Night Terror.
As a result this LP is never going to have the longevity of her debut - put it on, you'll hear it for yourself.
That's not a dig at I Speak Because I Can - if ever a second album was a difficult one, this would be it - which more than justifies all the talk, but for Marling such growth upwards is worth nothing if the roots of her appeal are forgotten.
LISTENING to Autechre's new album Oversteps is like stepping into a fractal.
The more you explore the IDM landscape, the more there is to take in - at times the LP is almost too much for the listener to comprehend.
Then again, listening to the Manchester duo isn't meant to be easy - I've heard words like fractured, awkward and agitating frequently banded around, and that's by self-proclaimed fans.
Don't expect verse chorus verse chorus anywhere, or even anything close to a breakdown - musically, that is.
Instead be prepared for a shifting unpredictable mass of clicks, beats and thundering bass swells.
However amongst this all there are still enough echoes of techno and a clear hint of doomy dubstep among the dense, overbearing electronic soundscapes, making the whole LP more welcoming, if that is the correct word, than most of their extensive nine album strong back catalogue.
Do not underestimate Oversteps - it could be the album of 2010 right here.
Monday, March 15, 2010
CANADIAN Deadmau5's At Play Volume Two should give fellow DJs plenty to entertain themselves with.
And others for that matter - as this second instalment of extended early works, though not quite up to the standard of last year's Albums Of The Year inclusion For Lack Of A Better Name, still contains several techno electro and progressive house tracks that deserve to be Joel Zimmerman live set standards.
Instrumentals here like Mr G and Orca are serious, heads-down stuff, while the likes of Melleefresh collaboration Sex Slave and BSOD's This Is Also The Hook add variety.
Although with most tracks pushing 10 minutes this is clearly aimed at the DJ, the whole collection is beatmatched and contains more than enough for the casual listener to make merry.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
DRUM and bass vocalist-turned-folk singer Lou Rhodes has done a lot more than One Good Thing over the years - so forgive me if I'm being a little over critical of her third solo LP.
As part of pioneering '90s electronic group Lamb, rather than singing over the top of tracks Rhodes gorgeous tones were an intrinsic part of the machine, fusing with the complex beats and embellishments crafted by Andrew Barlow like a musical cyborg.
Then, after Lamb's breakup in 2004 she reinvented herself as a stripped-down folk singer, with her solo debut Beloved One good enough to be nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize.
And One Good Thing continues to tread this lo-fi, delicate route, providing intensely cathartic tracks such as Janey, which deals with the death of Rhodes's sister, expertly flecked with sparse strings and ambience.
There's no doubting that One Good Thing is a wonderful album - I just feel that, in a career defined by invention, Rhodes shouldn't be looking to retread her steps next time round.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
ATTENTION fact fans! It's A Musical isn't actually a musical - it will never have a run on Broadway, be replicated by an amateur dramatics group at Loughborough Town Hall, nor have its music featured on a John Barrowman album.
Instead, it's a Berlin-based quirky guitarless indie pop band that clearly like to have fun with their art, judging by The Music Makes Me Sick.
That's not to say it's a laugh-out-loud novelty collection - more of an in joke, with the music a halfway house between The Wannadies and Tune-Yards.
Interesting and oddball, The Music Makes Me Sick may not knock the listener for six, but its catching nonetheless.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I'VE always liked Scroobius Pip - not just because his name's Scroobius and he rocks an awesome beard.
But for some strange reason, despite his perceptive, clever wordplay, common sense social politics, originality and quintessential Britishness, his solo work has never quite worked for me.
However anchored by the hip hop influenced electro breaks of Dan Le Sac for a second time on The Logic Of Chance, Pip once again impresses - particularly on drum and bass workout Sick Tonight and the invigorating Get Better.
With Dan Le Sac providing a base for Pip to take root in, we can expect this partnership to bear fruit for a good while yet.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
THE name's Bond... Lou Bond.
No? I'm not surprised, as this 1974 release - his only album - was caught up in record industry politics and only received a low-key vinyl release up until Monday's reissue, before Bond drifted off into anonymity.
It's a real shame, as Lou Bond has a real timeless quality to it, mixing sweeping horn and string Marvin Gaye circa What's Going On-sounding tracks with Bob Dylan acoustic guitar politicking.
Added to this Lou himself has a distinctive tone to his vocals, which borders on freestyle poetry at times.
An unpolished gem which still strikes a chord 36 years on, please don't let Lou Bond be ignored second time around.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
PROLIFIC singer songwriter Chris T-T's new album, Love Is Not A Rescue, is not a rescue from drudgery - the perennial support man is unlikely to make the leap to headliner with this, his seventh album.
For the folk-tinged acoustic act is just that little bit too downbeat throughout his new LP - with the results about 50-50.
When the Brighton-based singer picks up his guitar, he comes across as dreary, a sort of depressed and contrived Frank Turner, but when he takes to the piano, his craft can be as affecting and poignant as they come.
So while not yet the main event, as a side show, Chris T-T is still worthy of your support.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
LONG time followers of this blog - yeah, I know - will be aware of generally how underwhelmed I am by The White Stripes's output, describing them as "mediocre at best and tone deaf at worst".
However one argument thrown at me time and time again is that if I'd seen them live, I'd be converted.
Now if anyone has a spare ticket next time the duo come to the East Midlands I'd gladly give it a shot - but I suppose listening to Under Great White Northern Lights, their latest live offering, will have to do for now.
And yeah, I agree Jack and Meg give their performances more welly than a farmer's shoe rack.
This exertion makes for a good show, and having a setlist which features more than a handful of fan favourites - Blue Orchid, Fell In Love With A Girl, Seven Nation Army, Jolene etc. - makes for an alright album, although I suppose you'd have to be there, in 2007, in Canada, when this was recorded, for the full effect...
In the meantime, I shall stick to the likes of The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather for my Jack White fixes.
Monday, March 08, 2010
Casting a huge shadow over his peers, The Private Press - possibly my favourite Classic Collection addition so far - is impeccably put together from start to finish, showcasing why Josh Davis is a god amongst producers.
Here he cuts and pastes with the best of the turntablists, with breaks and smile-raising samples laid on in equal measures on tracks like Mashin' On The Motorway and Right Thing.
But what sets Shadow apart are the mini masterpieces, the tracks like Fixed Income, Giving Up The Ghost or You Can't Go Home Again, which pile on his trademark cavernous orchestral feel.
It's these moments which sends shivers up and down the spine, and make The Private Press a true classic.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
FOLK star Eliza Carthy is set to breathe new life into a selection of traditional songs rediscovered by Loughborough researchers at a performance in the town.
As well as playing a set if her own material at the Martin Hall Theatre at Loughborough University at the May 4 Radar Arts event, she will tackle numbers unearthed by Prof Marek Korczynski and his colleagues during the course of their research into the social history of music in the workplace.
A spokesman said: "A unique opportunity to see renowned folk singer and musician, Eliza Carthy, perform a mix of her own songs and a selection of workplace songs.
"Prior to the performance Marek Korczynski will give a short introductory talk, I Hear the British Isles Singing."
Tickets cost £8 or £6 concessions. For more information call 01509 231914 or visit www.lboro.ac.uk/radar
Saturday, March 06, 2010
CARTOON creations Gorillaz have done it again, finally following up their 2005 Album Of The Year Demon Days with another star-studded stonker - personally, I shall be staying in Plastic Beach for a good while yet.
There's something for everyone here - from a serious message about global warming to ridiculous comic book plots such as the death of Noodle and her replacement with a robot.
And of course there's the genre-blurring collaborations, with Damon Albarn again bringing in an amazingly diverse array of acts such as Snoop Doggy Dogg, Lou Reed, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Kano, The National Orchestra For Arabic Music, The Clash, Gruff Rhys, Sinfonia ViVA and more.
In fact, the only thing missing from this Gorillaz release is a standout pop single - and the album as a whole is all the better for it, crafting an even landscape of irrepressibly sublime grooves one after another, the picks being Stylo and Empire Ants.
Friday, March 05, 2010
IF YOU fused Plain White T's, McFly and Sum 41 into one, creating some sort of youthfully energetic and downright irritating monster, you’d get We The Kings.
Because the group’s sound musically is an amalgamation of the trio, with cynical void-filling pop rock the order of the day.
With Smile Kid :), the group cover the limited topics of the summer sun of their Florida home, and love and romance - which, as you might guess from the fact their terrible album artwork depicts a bunch of fresh faced teens, they are naively optimistic about.
On one track, Summer Love, they even combine them both.
It's a depressingly simple approach, obviously aimed at wooing the impressionable swooning teen girl market - and me listening to it feels a bit wrong, to be honest, as I'm probably old enough to be their key demographic's dad.
Thursday, March 04, 2010
FOR an album titled Follow Your Heart, Mat Riviere's new album can leave the listener cold at times.
That's not to say it doesn't have it's moments of warmth towards the end - such as the delicate Out Of Three and Lamplight - but for the best part the musically-autistic stop start backing tracks can be a little stoney, despite it being well constructed.
And when Riviere's deep, detached vocals - a spoken word impression of an Ian Curtis, Vic Reeves hybrid - are placed on top, it's all a little difficult.
If Follow Your Heart is a mantra of Riviere's, I imagine he likes spending a lot of time alone making his music.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
ALTHOUGH aware of Pavement, I've never really gone down their path in earnest before - so their best of Quarantine The Past was a voyage of discovery rather than a stroll down memory lane.
The reasons behind my ignorance? I suppose the name hardly inspired me, and a few seconds of their plodding lo fi alt rock from the cult band was enough for me to wander.
Also, a friend of mine used to relentlessly play a Pavement track at me, convinced I would like it.
I didn't, and I'm happy to say that bugbear of a track isn't included on this 23-track slab of Pavement, luckily.
I'm also happy to say I was wrong about the band being boring - there's some real gems here which I will file on the subdued side of The Pixies and The Violent Femmes.
However I will say that I still feel that Pavement are more of an important band, the foundation on which a good many of my favourites stand, rather than an enjoyable one.
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
YORKSHIRE'S Club Smith - where do I sign?
The group's four-track introduction, The Loss, should gain the group a few fans with their doom-laden indie.
Treading a similar path to the likes of White Lies, The Sunshine Underground and The Editors, the group's sound is leaner and more muscular than most, with soaring vocals and deliciously dark melodies which latch straight onto the listener.
With another EP already in the pipeline ahead of a full release, be prepared to hear lots of more from Club Smith.
ALTHOUGH on paper there's a lot of ground to make up between supergroup Broken Bells' two protagonists - hip hop producer Danger Mouse and indie rocker James Mercer of The Shins - in reality neither have had to ring the changes on their self-titled debut.
Although touted as a new band rather than a side-project, Broken Bells still has the melodic, mellow feel of The Shins' output, while Danger Mouse's beats and production here are characteristically crisp.
However this is no sound clash ding dong, but a well-crafted coming together - and as a result, the pair never go like the clappers, preferring to keep it laid-back throughout.
While Broken Bells are never likely to scale the heights of either's day jobs, it does provide a familiar yet fresh fix.
Monday, March 01, 2010
THERE'S a distinct lack of originality on Sugababes' seventh album Sweet 7 - and I'm not talking about the line-up.
About A Girl is good, I'll give them that, but the rest of the album - the first by their latest line-up featuring Jade off of Eurovision - is filled with cynical off-the-peg club pop and R&B by numbers.
There's the grammatically-awful sexed-up I'm Too Sexy of opener Get Sexy, the No Air rip-off Crash And Burn, the zeitgeist-chasing Miss Everything, it's all just so tasteless.
Hopefully for the group, the internal politics can distract from the music for a little bit longer.
NEW Zealander Connan Mockasin’s debut album Please Turn Me Into The Snat features Late Of The Pier’s Samuel Eastgate.
The Castle Donington-based frontman has lent his drumming to the album, which features “cats with larger-than-life personalities,” “unicorns in uniform” and “alter egos such as Don Dicaprio” and was part-recorded in a haunted house.
CALIFORNIA man Gonjasufi's debut album A Sufi And A Killer is such a mystical, magical, spellbinding introduction to the vocalist it should be supplied to every buyer in a puff of smoke.
Because the shamanic-looking singer, real name Sumach Ecks, and his co-conspirator, producer Gaslamp Killer, have weaved some magic here.
Gonjasufi's vocals are a unique and unpredictable blend of street poetry, soul and mysticism which remind me of the equally freewheeling talent Cody Chestnutt - veering wildly from genre to genre, for instance the electro stomp of DedNd sitting alongside the delicate Sheep.
However with Gaslamp Killer as well as Mainframe and Flying Lotus overseeing affairs, this patchwork approach is expertly fused, with world music, old school funk, LSD-soaked psychedelia, '60s rock and hip hop sewn together with skeletal beats.
You'd be wise to pick up a copy of A Sufi And A Killer as soon as you can.