Since 2004 the all-female Brighton-based band have been a steady favourite of mine. I heard ‘On Parade’ on MTV2 and was totally hooked, I spent alot of time listening to them and absorbing everything especially ‘The Power Out‘ which was produced by one of their best record producers out there, Steve Albini. They have released a slew of records and EPs since 2001, but after the release of their fourth record ‘No Shouts, No Calls’ they decided to part ways to persue other ventures. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed. But early this year they announced that they would be reforming for a few festival dates in England and continental Europe. This is exciting news although they have said they have no plans to make any new records at this time, but hopefully once they start playing again they’ll miss being Electrelane. So watch this space.
I always get kind of mad when people release self-titled albums, It’s a bit lazy and unimaginative. Anyway, the follow-up to everyone’s love hangover ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ has finally been released, and to critical acclaim I mean Pitchfork gave it a 9.5 which personally is a bit too high but I mean it IS Pitchfork. The album is a lot more ambitious than the stark debut, the side projects with Volcano Choir and Gayngs have a definite influence on the sound of this one. Holocene is fucking heartbreaking, I must mention that, if you need that ‘make you feel like shit’ factor this song is definitely one to listen to. A welcome return for sure.
I’ve said before I wasn’t a fan at first and even now I don’t like his debut record all that much. But there’s something about this new songs that I’m really liking. To me he’s a much better singer than he is a rapper. The new songs are a lot more R&B but in this weird, moody confessional way that’s more like some sort of singer songwriter. ‘Marvins Room’ just hit me like a tonne of bricks, and everyone can relate – drunk calling someone who screwed you over and that isolated loneliness you do stupid things in that head space, right?. The other song is ‘Trust Issues’ deals with just that he brings something to these songs that wasn’t there before and I really like that if his next album tentatively titled ‘Take Care’ is anything like these songs I’m going to be happy, hopefully a lot less Lil’ Wayne too.
They have always been a band that I’ve admired, I love indie folk music and they were definitely a band that made me love the genre (along with Devendra Banhart, Jana Hunter, Six Organs of admittance and Joanna Newsom of course). And while their 2009 album ‘Tight Knit’ wasn’t as pleasurable as their self-titled debut and ‘To Find Me Gone’ Vetiver really return to form with ‘The Errant Charm’ its beautiful, honest and just an all round enjoyable experience. Plus, I really like the album art, very 70s.
THE ANTLERS BURST APART
I don’t really know how The Antlers 2009 album ‘Hospice’ made everyone else feel, but for me that album was much like how The Angels of Light album ‘How I Loved You’ makes me feel – detrimentally sad, but in a really good way. I always feel that if music can conjure up those types of feelings then the musicians are probably doing something very right. Anyway, Brooklynites the Antlers are known in the indie community for this delicate, melancholic sound even in there seemingly more joyous moments there’s this underlying sadness .With ‘Burst Apart’ they seem to take the ambient soundscapes of their sophomore record ‘In the Attic of the Universe’ and the use the melancholia of ‘Hospice’ and tangle it together to make this deluge of beauty that floats throughout the entire record. Songs like ‘No Widows’ and ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’ are prime examples of this, though the latter is definitely one of ‘Burst Apart’ more upbeat moments still this fragility seems to lay just below the surface bobbing up for air every now and then.
I think the overall feeling I get from this album has a lot to do with front man Peter Silberman’s vocals he has this cadence in his voice which echoes shades of Thom Yorke (yes, I know controversial) flecks of this comparison grace the song ‘Tiptoe’ it’s probably more of a feeling than an actual sound, I just felt it was a little bit Kid A-ish (yes, again I know). The song that really stood out for me was the closer ‘Putting the Dog to Sleep’ I just love how sincere it is, how ungrudgingly sincere Silberman sounds, it also has this weird 60s/70s soul rock sound to it like maybe something from Ike Turner or one of those soul guys who played guitar. I have to say I’ve given this many listens and it’s my favourite album of the year so far, its honesty is what I gravitated towards and that dash of sadness only sweetens the deal.
BEST SONGS: I Don’t Wanna Love, Parentheses, No Widows, Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out, Tiptoe, Hounds, Putting the Dog to Sleep
Now, some might be a bit disappointed by his abrupt directional shift, but I mean people can’t be miserable forever just so fans will be happy plus I don’t really believe a musician has to be sad to make good music. Anyway, after a name change and several release dates later Patrick Wolf’s fifth record is finally being released. From the impressions the three official songs that have been released ‘Time of My Life‘, ‘The City‘ and ‘House‘ respectively I can safely say that I’m really looking forward to this and will be buying it when it finally hits the shops on 20th June. It’s not as distorted as Lycanthropy or as melancholy as The Bachelor but his new-found love is splattered all over the new songs they’re jubilant, extroverted and ideal for the summer weather. June 20th
OK, so it has been leaked already and I’ve had a little listen. Love it. But I’m definitely going to be buying it. I don’t really know what it is about Justin Vernon that gets everyone all giddy with excitment. I know for me when ‘For Emma, Forever Ago’ came out it just seemed to fit with the stuff that I was going through personally maybe thats why everyone loved that album. The self titled Bon Iver album still has that same ‘For Emma’ sensibility the song that was the teaser ‘Calgary’ is absolutely stunning. I guess this new album has more fuller sound rather than the skeletal sound of their debut. I am looking forward to purchasing this. It’ll definitely be a vinyl purchase the artwork is really pretty don’t you think? June 21st
This album is something that I’ve been waiting for, for along time eight years in fact. Though she does keeps herself busy with collaborating with friends such as David Rawlings, Emmylou Harris and Conor Oberst and a constant tour cycle the mysterious Gillian Welch hasn’t released a full length album since 2003s ‘Soul Journey‘ while good wasn’t as enjoyable as say ‘Hell Among the Yearlings‘ of my personal favourite ‘Time (The Revelator)‘. ‘The Harrow & the Harvest’ has been described as ‘southern Appalacian music’ which to be fair is pretty standard Welch territory. Some of the songs featured on the album have been played live over the last few years especially the beautiful ‘The Way it Will Be’. Cannot wait for this one. June 28th
One of my favourite artists of the last few years is Dallas, Texas native Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent. She has put out two distinct indie pop records, the first being her 2007 debut ‘Marry Me‘ the title of which was named after a quote from the hit TV show ‘Arrested development‘ and the slightly more experimental follow-up 2009s critically acclaimed ‘Actor‘ which was interestingly recorded using GarageBand.
Aside from collaborating with friend Justin Vernon of Bon Iver for the Twilight soundtrack they contributed the ethereal ‘Roslyn‘ and doing bits and pieces with The National, Clark has been pretty quite but via St. Vincent’s twitter page she confirmed that her third record will be released in September titled ‘Strange Mercy’ it will be produced by herself as well as John Congleton with whom she worked with on ‘Actor’. Eleven songs will grace the new LP with song titles such as ‘Cruel’, ‘Surgeon’ and ‘Cheerleader’ and rumoured to also be a title track. More info with will surely be dropping in the next coming months, and its also exciting that a tour will commence later on in the year. I’ll keep you posted. But before that enjoy some classic St. Vincent.
Now and then when an album comes out from an artist I really like it usually takes me a while to come round and listen to it. Why this happens, I’ll never know. Anyway, this is what I’ve been playing recently.
I absolutely loved their debut ‘Fever to Tell’ it was angst ridden, aggressive and Karen O’s energy can’t really be matched especially on the live stage. With their third release they seemed to take a more electronic route and express a softer side but the singles that were released ‘Head Will Roll‘ and ‘Zero‘ never really caught me like say, ‘Maps‘ or ‘Y Control‘ did. Now while this album was released in 2009 and I have had it since around about that time it mainly just has sat on the shelf It wasn’t until I heard ‘Dull Life‘ and ‘Skeletons‘ on a TV show I was like ‘wow, those are good songs’ so that in turn got me interested in the record again. It’s a good album very consistent, though not as edgy as their previous stuff is has a more of a pop sensibility and that’s not really a bad thing..
Another album from 2009. Folk singer Marissa Nadler has been a favourite of mine for a few years ever since her 2007 album Songs III: Bird on the Water with her cover of the classic Leonard Cohen song ‘Famous Blue Raincoat‘ and the exceptional single ‘Diamond Heart‘. Again, sifting through my album collection I came across this and to be honest I totally forgot that I had it, in fact it was still in the shrink-wrap, that’s the perils of being a compulsive record buyer you forget you have things. Anyway, I don’t know what it was about 2009 but everyone seemed to be making poppier music, not that Nadler would ever be that way but this album is a lot more polished than her previous releases especially with the song ‘Mary Comes Alive’ with Kate Bush style drums and even has a catchy chorus. So yes, if you like folk-y singer songwriter music then Nadler is your girl.
Through my Marrisa Nadler resurgence and her cover of Famous Blue Raincoat, I went back to the man who can reduce me to tears, Leonard Cohen. I’ve always liked his music and love his albums ‘Recent Songs‘ and ‘Death of a Ladies Man‘ but for some reason ‘Songs in Love and Hate’ just seemed to pass me by recently it has occured to me that this must be his best album. Songs like ‘Avalanche‘ and ‘Joan of Arc’ are absolutely stunning. The only thing that was a bit of a question mark was the need to put a live version of ‘Sing Another Song, Boys‘ or even state that its a live recording you can’t really tell apart from Cohen talking but anyway. If you are a newbie to Leonard Cohen maybe start hear first its the best way to summerize his overall mood and feel.
While I’ve been aware of the whole OFWGKTA/Tyler, the Creator buzz and have admittedly found it intriguing and entertaining it has occurred to me that it’s probably again just another indie fad and seeing as Hip-Hop in general has been in a lull the last couple of years it was refreshing to hear a new voice with a less ‘gangsta’ and money driven sensibility. The last few days I’ve been talking about and discussing the open letter that Canadian duo Tegan and Sara posted on their website entitled “A Call for Change” in which Sara expresses her disgust and shock over Tyler’s seemingly cavalier attitude towards homophobia and misogyny. She really does give a fair argument and raises the issue of “When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness asracist and anti-Semitic offenses?“
I really feel she has a point, while yes, I do enjoy listening to the OFWGKTA material and I never have really taken it seriously but in fairness and I am siding with Tegan and Sara on this one, critics and music fans are constantly siding with Tyler and his shenanigans and it sort of making it OK to be as offensive and as brazenly ignorant as you want to be. Of course he has a right to freedom of speech but what he doesn’t realize it that music is a powerful tool, people really banded together when Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were writing protest songs and even those arseholes Bono and Bob Geldof got everyone to ‘Feed the World’ not that this is on the same scale as any of that but its seen as a cultural phenomenon but it seems like society is so close in gaining acceptance and really on the cusp of getting full human rights, I just think its people like Tyler who are just pushing everything back 10 years. Tegan and Sara throughout their 16 year career been a pillar in the LGBT community as inspirations to young fans who find it hard to be able to be who they are and have also been great inspirations to women in the industry inregard of doing things of their own terms and not backing down to label pressures or making sure that their public persona is kept as is and not rendered in any way.
Its been a while since I’ve done a post. There’s been a lot of music in my ears lately some old favourites, some new stuff and some new, old stuff.
Now, I haven’t exactly been a proponent of this guy. He perplexes me for one he is from Canada, so why does he speak and rap like he’s from Atlanta? and secondly I still feel that singing is his strength rather than rapping, I think he sounds forced and contrived, singing he sounds a lot more honest and natural but that’s just me. Anyway, I did like a couple of songs from his debut like Karaoke and Fireworks but nothing else grabbed me. A Friend burnt this on disc for me and listening to it all the way through the song ‘Houstatlantavegas‘ was the one that really grabbed me I must have listened to it about 10 times in a row. It’s actually not a bad mixtape has some weird moments like singing/rapping over the beat of Lykke Li’s ‘Little Bit’ and Peter, Bjorn and John’s ‘Lets Call it Off’. Maybe he’s trying to prove his diversity which does seem a lot more genuine than other people.
Now speaking of Lykke Li, her sophomore release is a monster. If this is the future of pop music then I’ll definitely be all ear. Moving away from the more subtle sounds of her debut ‘Youth Novels’ Li gets a lot more grandiose and confident especially with the thunderously tribal first single ‘Get Some’ which includes suggestive lyrics such as ‘I’m your prostitute/you gon’ get some” as well as the ambitious nature of ‘I Follow Rivers’ which with the right promotion could’ve of been an actual hit single with its crossover appeal even the Phil Spector flavoured ‘Sadness is a Blessing’ could easily appeal to the masses.
These three people are probably my favourite people of all time especially Reed. This is an amazing live album that was heavily bootlegged over the years when they performed at the Bataclan in Paris for the first time post break-up. Its utterly mesmerising and extremely low key and features both songs of The Velvet Underground as well as songs from each of their solo careers. It features a beautiful version of ‘Femme Fatale’ and a heart renching rendition of Lou Reed’s ‘Berlin’. Admittely its not the best quality but doesn’t take away the magic of all three of them being on stage together.
So, again, its insomnia time and while the sun has been shining and keeping everyone in good spirits at night it can be somewhat chilly. We all know now that misery loves it some company. What better way to keep you company on a long journey out of the city than with some nice downtempo, slightly melancholic music.
Side 1 – The Escape
- Telépopmusik – Breathe
- Thievery Corporation – Lebanese Blonde
- Sébastian Tellier – La Ritournelle
- Four Tet – Unspoken
Side 2 – The Contemplation
- Air – La Femme D’Argent
- Zero 7 – In the Waiting Line
- The Cinematic Orchestra – Into You
- Little Dragon – Twice
- Esthero – I Drive Alone
Side 3 – The Long Distance Back Home
- Fever Ray – Keep the Streets Empty for Me
- Flying Lotus – Tealeaf Dancers
- Fink – Biscuits
- Jenny Owen Youngs – Voice On Tape
- Lamb – Gabriel