Monday, January 31, 2011

Just so you can keep track of things, a new initiative for as long as the service doesn't manage to piss off a major or the big independents that walked out on eMusic (it's bound to happen to them one way or another eventually) - an end of month roundup of our favourite new releases and relevant other tracks available on Spotify.

STN January 2011

Don't think that the presence of a track from The King Is Dead is an endorsement for the whole of that album, by the way, just the bits that sound like Fables Of The Reconstruction, almost certainly not coincidentally also the bits that feature Peter Buck.

Tracklist: Darren Hayman January Songs special

As if to spite bands who talk up releasing new material every week or month as if they deserve a mention in the next honours list for it, throughout this month Darren Hayman has in his own low-key, defiantly English way been writing, recording and releasing a new song every day, in different styles while recognisably Hayman's oblique/bleak oeuvre throughout (even The French on a couple of tracks) and with a series of collaborators including Elizabeth Morris of Allo Darlin', Gordon Mcintyre of Ballboy, the Wave Pictures, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, brass hero Terry Edwards and former Hefner colleagues. The whole process has furthermore been documented in blogs, photos, crowdsourcing and videos on his Tumblr. Even Robert Pollard doesn't manage all that in such a short space of time.

Furthermore, rather than tossing off any old arse in the name of keeping the mad plan going, is it fair to state that it hangs together better than his last couple of proper albums have? The whole thing is very worthy of your investigation, but for now on this last day of the project here's three superior offerings:

Folk fingerpicking, guest bass clarinet and a paen to snuggling up at home with nothing and nobody else to think about.

03 Staying In by Darren Hayman

Writer of a song about Hayman Elizabeth Morris, sounding oddly like first album Laura Marling in places if you ask us, narrates gentle break-up emotional turmoil by her own hand.

10 I Know I Fucked Up (Sung By Elizabeth Morris) by Darren Hayman

Library culture and love is something Hayman's touched on before, but getting to expand on it with Madrid-based flamenco band Litoral is a new one. He claims he'd woken up with a cold, but it's not audibly affecting the tenderness.

21 Shh... by Darren Hayman

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tracklist: Alright The Captain - Rostov Could Get It

Time to take out the vocals and take Evel Knievel leaps across the time signatures. Derby-based trio Alright The Captain work in complex compressed spaces of instrumental math-rock as they bounce experimentally inclined riffs into each other, sear basslines across heavy drums and generally pluck fret-tapping pyrotechnics and little moments of almost melodic progression out of the heavy air before a series of effects come and whisk everyone off into deepest space. This leads off their debut album Snib, out 7th February on Field Records.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tracklist: Sharks Took The Rest - Restaurant

Tyneside septet Sharks Took The Rest are led by Beccy Owen, in her other life a member of the north-east's trad folk upsurge whose last solo album featured a guest spot for Kate Rusby and was supported by Radio 2, winning over Elvis Costello in the process. Her band's debut EP Grounds For Hearts To Swell, out on 14th February, double tracked frontloads her none more English swoon but places it in a jumpy, self-faulting story setting. The song's gloriously arranged and produced around her, pizzicato strings as restless as the lyrical notion, acoustic fingerpicking and hand percussion fading in and out of focus. Gorgeously subtle, gloriously nuanced.

Restaurant by sharkstooktherest

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tracklist: Thomas Truax - January Egg Race Dream

If you know Wowtown's finest at all it's for his absolutely singular live show, Hornicator, Sister Spinster and all. Yet his last record was a selection of David Lynch soundtrack covers. A Lynchian disquiet in suburbia pervades onto the first release from his Twelve Months/Twelve Tracks project ("a living, mutating organism taking place in twelve intervals over 2011. Tracks will be informed by any number of things: the vibe, feeling, texture, atmosphere of the changing seasons, the expanding and contracting lengths of days and nights, weather, news, dreams, personal or world events as they unfold. I'll respond to these with a piece that will be created, produced and released within the window of each month.") Truax retreats to evocatively odd spoken word as bits of piano and dislocated noises evolve seamlessly into orchestrated creeping menace, a film score for the darkest woods. Nothing to do with Heinz Wolff.

January Egg Race Dream by Thomas Truax

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Not worth pointing out the ending is very slightly mistimed, is it?

Tracklist: Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers

It's beginning to seem as if Wounded Rhymes, Ms Zachrisson's second album out 28th February, is going to be one of the early part of the year's more fascinating releases. After the percussive come-ons of Get Some, this attempts to pinpoint what Robyn replacing Victoria in Beach House might end up like, a hipshaking dance rhythm and big old stuttery pop chorus over mistified second wave keyboard effects and insistent beat.

I Follow Rivers by LykkeLi

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tracklist: Baaneex - Weird Dance 2

Weird Dance isn't too far wide of the mark. For a bit more than half its existence this song from the debut EP by some freshly hatched Londoners is content to shuffle along in a vaguely dark but also vaguely jaunty electronic carouse, imagining that this must be how Tim Smith of the Cardiacs would feel in a blue hotel swimming pool. Then it all goes unexpectedly cymbal-crashing psychotic for a bit and re-emerges as galloping, grotty punk thrash before waking up having had the strangest dream and picking up back where it left off. They've ideas, these. Said EP is entirely full of songs called Weird Dance and is soon out on Odd Box Records.

Weird Dance 2 by baaneex

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Soul sister (and brothers)

Usually with post-album EPs you get to put on all the offcuts and ideas that wouldn't fit on the full-length. Lucky Soul, as is well established by now, don't do things like other bands, so their digital only Upon Hilly Fields EP, out for Valentine's Day, includes three tracks from last year's A Coming Of Age. The title track is one, and the country heartache swoon has a neat animated video. The band are already in their studio working on album three, a process due to be halted soon for the obviously pitifully thin excuse that Ali Howard will have to give birth.

Lucky Soul - Upon Hilly Fields from Ruffa Lane on Vimeo.

Tracklist: The High Wire - Pump Your Little Heart

This is the first we've heard of Londoners The High Wire, which seems an oversight, partly for their history - they released the album this is from, The Sleep Tape, in March, and supported Coldplay in arenas at Chris Martin's invitation at the end of 2008. But it's also an oversight because there's plenty going on here in this expansive, textured intimacy. This single, out in February, is a breathy, elegaic waltz through emotive distraction, gorgeous harmonies against tentative guitars and dreamy crescendos.

The High Wire- Pump Your Little Heart by Anorak London

Monday, January 24, 2011

Celebrity Playlist: The Go! Team

Ian Parton, to be exact, cut, splice and overlay master of the garage pep rally beat collage that is the Go! Team. The Team's third album Rolling Blackouts is out next Monday and sounds in precis like this...

...but ahead of that they put out a 7" yesterday with Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast on vocals, which sounds like this...

The Go! Team - Buy Nothing Day by thegoteam

...and around all that, Parton gave us ten recommendations:

The Cake - Baby That's Me
The Shaggs - My Cutie
Paddy Kingsland - Take Another Look
Papa M - Up North Kids
Stereo Total - Supercool
Vince Guaraldi - Linus and Lucy
Sonic Youth - Genetic
Serge Gainsbourg - Initials B.B.
Solex - Solex All Licketysplit
Camera Obscura - If Looks Could Kill

Tracklist: Solid Gold Dragons - Serious Lover

Trying to find a real link between the bands that make up Oxford's house party collective Blessing Force is a little like a mug's game, but synths and an appreciation of Arthur Russell and Afrobeat is high on the list for most. Solid Gold Dragons, project of Sam Scott, also of Jonquil and once of Youthmovies, has that wash of hazed out synths and contra-rhythms down pat and both is and isn't math-funk in the way Youthmovies fans would recognise, were they open to a little space disco.

Serious Lover by solidgolddragons

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tracklist: Daughter - Run

Helpful, producing the sort of music you want to tell people about then choosing a name that makes yourself completely unGoogleable. Daughter, who is here for further reference, is nineteen year old north Londoner Elena Tonra, who's won support from Communion Club, the folk night co-maintained by Mumford & Sons' Ben Lovett. Any folkily homely young female acoustic guitar wielder is going to get the Marlingalike comparisons straight off, especially with that biog detail, but Tonra seems to be pretty close to the real deal with her sweetly acidic voice, wryly dark humour and resignedly roughshod tales of relationships, eroding patience and the world closing in around her. There will, we're assured, be plenty more this year. Can't wait.

Daughter - Run (demo) by ohDaughter

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tracklist: Ralegh Long - Winter From Here On In

When we briefly touched upon Long towards the end of last year we noted a certain Robyn Hitchcock influence to his writing, placing the enigmatic into the classically melodic. Even though he's taken to piano on this track it seems more apparent while devoid of polish here, the swells of rhythm section and dischords passing by as something not entirely conciliatory builds up. The spectre of Darren Hayman is present too, and maybe this is just us but we think there's also something of the culter-than-mere-cult 90s outfit Animals That Swim.

Oh, and he's also covered the much discussed Brother in the style of French electronica. Obviously.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tracklist: Moscow Youth Cult - Break-In Work-Out

The Nottingham/Leicester (see what we meant yesterday?) duo's earliest circulated tracks always had a hint of electronic beats submerged behind the 8-bit wooziness. If this track's big old hook is more aimed at the Gatecrasher floor, or at least the Cut Copy stream, there's still a none too comfortable coating of electronic wire bending, multi-shaded layers and Fuck Buttons sci-fi psych-noise. This is from their first commercial release, Hive Glow EP, out next month. (The EP has, we're told, now been put on hold in favour of something else, we don't know what yet)

Moscow Youth Cult // break-in work-out by MYC

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sing! Autoharpy

Why does the male vocal harmony bit in this...

...turn in our head into this?

Not the same rhythm or anything. The latter is an old Toshiba advert in which Vivian Stanshall alters his own Terry Keeps His Clips on; the former is the especially great new PJ Harvey single The Words That Maketh Murder, from her Valentine's Day released album Let England Shake. We'd have this in Tracklist in a flash if it wasn't backed up for a full fortnight, and also our Polly deserves better in a way so here it is especially. Lest we forget this is what she chose to premiere last April in front of Gordon Brown, Andrew Marr and a current affairs inclined nation - an autoharp played in a different key to the Four Lads sample it overlays, although apparently that didn't make it to the album version.

Tracklist: Sisterland - Walking Wounded

Although based in Leicester - said this the other week, we know, but that's a city that's going to have a big year this year, though we've thought this for at least two of the last six years - Sisterland (who did some rounds as Dysneyland at the end of last year before, well, guess) are connected to the infernal Blessing Force and play the collective's weekend long Warehouse Party somewhere in Oxford on 12th-13th February. Jonquil, Fixers, Rhosyn, Pet Moon, Chad Valley, all that lot. A sculptor is also listed. Back to the matter at hand, this debut single, out next week on the occasionally venerable Fear & Records, distorts crunchy guitars into Sub Pop shapes like Male Bonding with the thermostat turned down a tad, an insistent bounce/strut that pays little mind to whatever's in its path.

Walking Wounded by fearandrecords

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

You thought you saw a shooting script

And now we've officially run out of tortuous puns based on Johnny Foreigner titles.

So to new business from the aforementioned hyperBrums with gin for blood. Earlier on today they open source released a video for Harriet By Proxy off last year's You Thought You Saw A Shooting Star And That EP, directed by one J Matthew Nix around Chicago. Saam Faded Glamour chose to do the uploading honours, and here it is.

If we caught recent Facebook and Formspring posts correctly they're planning live business in April/May - we're waiting, especially after the Sub91 fiasco - and an album is being written and will be in the offing once Alexei has cased the requisite Securicor van so they can afford to record it/live (delete as appropriate). We could have asked him about their actual plans when we were offered an interview the other week, but that's what you would have expected us to do.

Abort, retry, succeed

First old chart of a new year, and it's w/b 19th January 1997, a chart to celebrate the week at number one for one of the very greatest one hit wonders.


40 The Wedding Present - Montreal
Now that's an opening curveball. Gedge's seventeenth and penultimate (mind you, who really knows?) top 40 single, quite a good one in his slower, heartbroken, not six minutes long phase even if nobody remembers it.

39 Damage - Forever
The only thing people remember the JLS of their day except not really successful for is that one of them went out with Emma Bunton for ages, and indeed still is twelve years later.

38 Mary Kiani - 100%
There were a lot of forgettable even for its field club dance vocalists around then.

37 Spacehog - In The Meantime
Overblown Viper Room glam-many-years-too-late from expats, the guitarist of whom is the happy-shitting PA in Joaquin Phoenix vanity project I'm Still Here.

36 Virus - Moon
A week earlier and we'd have had Kenickie.

35 Warren G Featuring Adina Howard - What's Love Got To Do With It
We can't imagine the song survived kindly.

34 Jamiroquai - Cosmic Girl
This is the one where in the video he's driving all his expensive supercars around mountain roads, inventing Top Gear in the process and failing to make anyone feel more inclined towards him.

33 Arkarna - House On Fire
Prime members of the post-Prodigy heavy beats and shouting movement (see also: Lunatic Calm, Bedlam-A-Go-Go). Apparently reformed, whatever help that's going to be.

32 Mr Jack - Wiggly World
Excitable disco with giveaway acid-friendly title.

31 The Beautiful South - Don't Marry Her
The kind of daytime radio sound everyone thinks they always made, with a great big swear in the chorus. Which, obviously, was re-recorded for the daytime radio edit.

30 QFX - Freedom 2
And the problem with all this dance music is there's absolutely nothing to say about it other than accept its presence and move on.

29 Puff Johnson - Over And Over
Puff Daughter? Michael Jackson tour support essentially Toni Braxton before anyone was ready.

28 Erasure - In My Arms
Well past the peak and into "are they still together?" stage for the one time omnipresent Chart Show Indie Chart high flyers.

27 Thunder - Don't Wait Up
Hard rock travellers pay tribute to Nigel Havers.

26 Enigma - Beyond The Invisible
Like Enigma, but out of ideas.

25 MC Lyte - Cold Rock A Party
There was a time - about here, in fact - when MC Lyte was going to take on allcomers at being the biggest female pop-rap thing out there. Only problem, apart from that Missy had something up her sleeve she'd be revealing in the coming months, was she was relying on the omnipotent Combs for a leg up, and given he was also involved with Lil Kim... yeah, as far as getting on covers in the late 90s goes one of these things would not be like the other.

24 Mark Morrison - Horny
"I will always be the all-time musical great of your city. I'm the Beatles of that city." Even though it's not on the paper's site any more we've got a transcript of an interview he gave to the Leicester Mercury in 2008, and it's all gold. "I don't see a Gary Lineker soccer school in Leicester. I don't see an Engelbert Humperdinck or a Showaddywaddy singing school in Leicester." Exhibiting his full range of lyrical emotion here, this being the single before Moan & Groan. If you're keeping score, the stun gun arrest had happened by then but the lookalike doing community service wouldn't for a while yet. Releasing an album this year, it says here, though he's been saying that for years. "That's N-to-the-E-to-the-E-to-the-G-to-the-B-to-the-T-to-the-L."

23 Orbital - Satan (Live)
And so Butthole Surfers get in the top three by osmosis.

22 The Lightning Seeds - Sugar Coated Iceberg
We were going to mention that they've been ending their reunion tour sets with this, which seems odd as it's really not among their best rememebered hits, but we've just discovered their current drummer is Raife Burchell of Jetplane Landing! Admittedly he has been working a bit as a rhythm machine of a man should since JPL were last required for live performance, specifically Ed Harcourt and the Veils, but even so... the man who played on Backlash Cop is now merely keeping time on Pure for money?

21 Robert Miles Featuring Maria Nayler - One And One
The ambient piano house thing was getting a bit worn by now, even with a helium voiced singer who knew her platitudes.

20 The Prodigy - Breathe
For perhaps the only time, the Prodigy actually sound dangerous and thus worthwhile. Though of course visually everyone's trying far too hard, which was why Leeroy was always our favourite member. He didn't sing or play anything, he indulged in impressionistic lanky-man dancing that can't even have fit in at raves and he left before Baby's Got A Temper.

19 Kavana - I Can Make You Feel Good
Ten years later, the runner-up in ITV's in no way me-too search for a West End musical star, Grease Is The Word, the Sandy role in which was won by Bry/ian McFadden's sister. And they say X Factor is misleading keen plebs.

18 The Outhere Brothers - Let Me Hear You Say 'Ole 'Ole
Having got to prominence via school playground whispers of a naughty language version of Don't Stop (Wiggle Wiggle), the not actually brothers basically spent the rest of their career making what wasn't so much songs as attempts to harness chants for their own evil.

17 Whitney Houston - Step By Step
An Annie Lennox song she still gets credited for even though Whitney changed quite a bit of it, which is a neat trick if your publisher can pull it off.

16 Ginuwine - Pony
Single entrendes ahoy featuring odd bass-sort-of noise that every single journalist described as "bloke burping/farting, lol" (we didn't know what lol meant then, they wrote the long way around that) but was in fact the first mass market strike for Timbaland.

15 East 17 - Hey Child
For a band who prided themselves on their blokes down the dogs act, they couldn't half give it the full Westlife when required. Around this time it was the fate of all boy bands to put out at least one single that sounded very much like the ballad the Bee Gees never got finished.

14 Byron Stingily - Get Up (Everybody)
Actual name, that. Always chart bothering combination of second hand house beats and soulful falsetto like a post-acid Sylvester led to four-single-charter dance career.

13 Toni Braxton - Un-Break My Heart
Grandstanding r'n'b balladry from embodiment of overbreathiness always played on Radio 1 in unhelpful dance mix.

12 Nas - Street Dreams
Apart from when KRS-One reinterpreted Shaddap You Face - oh, he did - re-singing someone else's lyrics to your own rap intentions never, ever works, no matter what your reputation.

11 Spice Girls - 2 Become 1
The 1996 Christmas number one, having had its release delayed by a week so the Dunblane charity single, a not totally tactful cover of Knockin' On Heaven's Door, could have a week at number one. About condom wearing, of course, although it's since transpired it was also inspired by Geri and co-writer/producer Matt Rowe having some form of relationship, status of consummation not publicly known. She's a sly one. Well, no she isn't, no.

10 Lisa Stansfield vs Dirty Rotten Scoundrels - People Hold On (Bootleg Mixes)
Coldcut cover, except that Lisa sang on the original too, that charted higher than the original, just because.

9 En Vogue - Don't Let Go (Love)
The fourth and last time we'd see them in the top ten, also the last time they'd record as a quartet. Did we underestimate this band at the time?

8 Reef - Come Back Brighter
"Reef all now pathologically afraid of postmen". If anyone ever tries to tell you this period in music was so superior, point out that bellowed surf-anthemry was considered top ten fare.

7 Madonna - Don't Cry For Me Argentina
Perhaps the only time the phrase "she's no Julie Covington" has been used in worldwide debate.

6 Suede - Saturday Night
Narrator goes out with girl on Saturday night in Suede song and fails to get into fight, take loosely disguised drug hordes or get involved with gasoline or nowhere towns. Remarkable.

5 No Mercy - Where Do You Go
It's not even the summer dropping of guard that can explain this sort of thing being a hit. It was just the poor dance beat radio revolution of the day.

4 Backstreet Boys - Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
Perhaps America never really got the boy band as teenage commodity. That's why all those from this period, your *NSYNCs and 98 Degreeses, essentially sound the same entirely through their career, something that Westlife proved could be taken overseas but it doesn't present them as anything but a lowest common denominator act, deciding if one strand works why not do it again all the time. This is the one where they get rain machined upon on some steps.

3 Texas - Say What You Want
The one that Chris Evans relaunched them with - he'd had Sharleen on the show the previous November as a late booking, apparently as a guest had been arrested that afternoon, she sang Tired Of Being Alone on guitar, and things swelled from there, Evans picking this up for breakfast show duty shortly afterwards. Who knew all it took was Sharleen to get a haircut and the blues guitar bits to be expunged. Looking comfortable there, Method Man.

2 Tori Amos - Professional Widow (It's Got To Be Big)
Armand's Star Trunk Funkin' Mix, lest we forget. The previous number one, though as with Primal Scream's I'm Losing More Then I'll Ever Have before her, you do wonder how they got from the original to the remix and got away with passing it off as one and the same.

1 White Town - Your Woman
Oh, just another of your big band crackly sampling socio-electro-pop nuggets with mixed message sexual leanings ("To have created such mass confusion is one the best achievements in my life") by a British Asian ex-Trotskyite Magnetic Fields fan made in his bedroom. Jyoti Mishra's was fourth debut single (>Abort, Retry, Fail?_ EP, technically) to enter at number one, after Whigfield, Babylon Zoo and Robson & Jerome. Now there's company. Although it wasn't actually his debut release at all, he'd already been going for ten years as it said in the EP sleeve notes (yeah, we've still got the CD). The press didn't know what to make of it, routinely describing him as a housebound by choice recluse. We've seen him at two of the last three Indietracks, he must have got over that. It was originally released in early autumn 1996 by a small American label, picked up and played endlessly by Mark Radcliffe on the Graveyard Shift, and we remember emailing Jyoti for distribution details. Then Mark and Lard got a breakfast deputisation stint, chose it as single of the week, Simon Mayo picked up the slack once they'd sloped back off to overnights, and Chrysalis signed him to a deal that led to a flop second single and album, and back to his own label he went. Mishra describes it now as being about "my first love affair and how I couldn’t reconcile my grand Marxist posing with real love". Wiley worked around it, briefly hyped nu-jazz annoyance Tyler James covered it, as did Cats On Fire. It remains an absolutely singular chart achievement.

Tracklist: Fixers - Iron Deer Dream

No point in pretending it doesn't, for about its first seventy seconds this bears a distinct resemblance to My Girls shorn of the Frankie Knuckles reference. So does the rest of it, actually, but not as directly - the crossthreaded harmonies are still there, but the delayed guitar driving on and Beach Boys harmony breakdown are very neat touches before everything bursts through the barrier and over the edge floating in while tunnelled limbo. Back on earth they're another of those accursed Blessing Force bands and this is out on limited edition 7" through Young And Lost Club on 21st February.

Fixers - Iron Deer Dream by isaidahip

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tracklist: Sherlock's Daughter - Reprise

Although they put out an EP in August 2009 we don't think the Sydney originated, Brooklyn based Sherlock's Daughter have released anything in Britain yet, which means we can pretend they're an absolutely up to date discovery. Thurston Moore, Mumford & Sons, the Charlatans and the Chess Club lot are fans and their spring debut album is being produced by John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Hold Steady, Buffalo Tom). On this basis, it's something to be looking keenly forward to. They're introspective but driving in their own time and space, slowly building into a Stereolab-like crest of 4/4-driven electronics. Repetition's in their music and they have no immediate need to lose it. And yes, this is the proper video.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A free farewell

This has been around since just before Christmas but we didn't get an opportunity to mention it until now. Leeds' gloriously ambitious am-dram Grammatics split in August with one final release, the Krupt EP. They're now giving it away. Recommended.

Tracklist: Jonny - Candyfloss

Few words necessary today. Jonny is Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Euros Childs (ex-Gorkys Zygotic Mynci), a Celtic tweaked summery indie-pop superduo who here sound like... a coming together of Norman Blake and Euros Childs would. More the latter than the former on this, with its joyful organ and harmonic paen to a girl. Out as a single today, self titled album out on the 31st.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"It's cool, it's groovy, it's number one!"

We've posted this before, but that was three and a half years ago and it's so magnificent that when we discovered it was still on YouTube yesterday we had to give a hopefully wider audience a look. It's BBC current affairs magazine Nationwide in 1970, the days when no BBC bulletin would have run puff pieces about start of year pop predictions. Apparently of more importance to London viewers than a murder trial or two dead kids is the breaking news that some long haired midlanders are now more popular than the Beatles among Melody Maker readers. Therefore guilty parties Robert Plant and John Bonham of 'The' Led Zeppelin have to be hauled into the studio, their first time on telly and still hanging onto their protective cigs, to explain themselves to Bob Wellings, a man for whom the summer of love and hippie revolution clearly happened to other people, and who believes The Zep will see off the cult of personality for good. Pay particular attention to Maker editor Ray Coleman, contributing on his expert field of youth culture before dashing off to the All-England Eric Morecambe Lookalike Contest.

Tracklist: Sin Fang - Always Everything

There's been a bit of low level chat about Sin Fang (nee Sin Fang Bous) recently as the leader of psych-folk Icelanders Seabear branches out on his own for the second time. On this first available track from new album Summer Echoes, is out in March, it's more than justified. There's your usual quota of Animal Collective campfire expansiveness but in a more cleaned out cage, the shuffling backdrop, nodding towards Afrobeat, melted to the wandering acoustic guitar layers and shout-outs evoking the sunnier if no less woozy climes of a Banjo Or Freakout or His Clancyness.

Sin Fang - Always Everything by Freeman PR

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tracklist: The Lovely Eggs - Don't Look At Me (I Don't Like It)

To the uninitiated, or at least unforewarned, Holly Ross and David Blackwell can be a tricky sell. Obtuse post-Vaselines ramshackle punk riffing of not messy enough for some fidelity about people with a "car boot nose" and "sausage roll thumb" delivered in an occasionally screechy Lancastrian accent? You'll excuse JLS if they don't get worried. And yet the determination, and the idea there might be something underneath it all, can't help but carry the motion through. Also, best celebrity cameo in a video ever starting at 1:10.

Friday, January 14, 2011

RIP Trish Keenan

One of the very best electronic bands, and of course very best electronic band vocalists, there ever was.

EDIT: I've penned a tribute for The Line Of Best Fit

Tracklist: Honour Before Glory - Maison

The fascinating thing about Whiskas' new project is you're never quite sure where it's going to go. The latest offering from his desk is an aereated electronic pulse that takes its own sweet time to wrap a warming current around a low-key vocal. Think a ghostly M83.

Maison by Honour Before Glory

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Celebrity Playlist: Jen Long

So to reviving an idea that briefly ran in the days we could sync it with Muxtape when that was something anyone could compile streaming playlists with before the usual authorities got in the way. Celebrity Playlist is simplicity itself - someone we like lists ten songs they like. Our first candidate for 2011 is Cardiff's renaissance woman Jen Long - writer, promoter, DJ, blogger and as of last week the new host of Radio 1's BBC Introducing In Wales, from midnight on Sundays (streamed live on the site if you're outside the Principality). This is what she came up with for us:

Sonic Youth – Drunken Butterfly
This is my favourite Sonic Youth song of all time. Apparently the lyrics are all taken from Heart songs and song titles but I still think it’s great. I think it’s just how violent the guitars are when the drums break and how throaty Gordon’s voice is. This song is so amazing I got a bit of it tattooed on my arm. I’m such a loser.

Fol Chen – Cable TV
I can’t remember the first time I heard this song, but I pretty much listened to it on repeat for about seven months thereafter. I love the ping ping ping ping ping melody, and the lyrics are super sweet. Fol Chen are such heart-melters.

Kanye West – Monster
Yeah, so I’ve been listening to this song non-stop since December. It’s amazing. The beat, the production, the moment when everything drops out under Jay Z, oh, and that Minaj verse. Yes.

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
When I was in school we had an English lesson where the teacher played us Alanis Morissette’s Ironic since we were learning about irony. Which is kind of ironic, because none of it’s ironic, you get me?

Anyway, we had a different, far cooler teacher the year after who played us Kate Bush when we were reading Wuthering Heights. I loved it so much I learnt to play it on guitar and then I got made to perform it for GCSE students to try and convince them to do A Levels.

I say ‘got made’...


The National – City Middle
Also in my English class at school, we studied A Streetcar Named Desire and I kind of really loved it and had a bit of a book crush on Tennessee Williams. I love the line in this song that goes ‘I think I’m like Tennessee Williams I wait for the click, I wait but it doesn’t kick in’. Like, love it enough to get it tattooed on myself (such a loser).

I love The National, they’re epic and desperate and majestic and beautiful and emptily hopeful. I feel like this song kind of embodies that.

The Smiths – How Soon Is Now
When I was a kid I remember watching The Craft and there was this song in it that was also the theme tune for Charmed, but a different version. It intrigued me a bit, mostly because I had nothing better to do with my weekends. I first heard The Smiths when I saw the video for this track on MTV2 and then everything kind of clicked into place.

I went online to download the guitar tab and I kid you not, at the top of the page it read ‘Dear Jennifer, I’ve been trying to figure this tab out for a while…’ It was almost like fate.

Amy Adams – That’s How You Know
I think this is in the forefront of my mind right now because Enchanted was on TV over Christmas, but I LOVE this song. I always get really annoyed because there are not enough songs in films anymore. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the Mary Poppins soundtrack is amazing, and don’t get me started on The Sound of Music.

Anyway, I loved Enchanted and if you don’t feel a tug inside your chest when the chorus soars in this song then you, my friend, are dead inside.

Deftones – My Own Summer
Welcome to the greatest opening riff of all time. Every time I hear the sound of that snare popping, something in my mind snaps and I’m fourteen again, moshing in my bedroom alone to Around The Fur.

I spent well over a year wearing nothing but my Deftones hoodie, with the hood up, even in summer. They called me ‘hood girl’ in my local record shop. I miss that hulk of black cotton.

Andrew WK – Party Hard
Imagine if you saw the world through his eyes. Just imagine.

Death From Above 1979 – Romantic Rights
If I’m drunk in a disco and this song comes on then you had better get out of the way… because I am going to dance like a complete loser and you really won’t want people to think you’re associated with me, basically.

Tracklist: Jack Hayter - I Stole The Cutty Sark

Jack Hayter, once of Hefner among others, has a voice so rotting and lived in he could apply for a government grant for its restoration. Early days in 2011, we know, but it'll probably the only song this year which will set itself by singing a fisherman's lament over theremin, we'll say that. The timbre, harmonica and what sounds like wheezing pump organ accordion suggests one rural-high seas thing, the cavalcade of other instruments, whether warped pedal steel, weird electronic noise or unidentifiable metallic banging, places him in a landlubber mad folk scientist's shed. It's actually a defeated love song disguised as drunken piratical lament. Sucky Tart EP, the rest of which keels from Richard Hawley lover's balladry to keening death march, is out on Audio Antihero on the 31st.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tracklist: Thank You - Birth Reunion

Baltimore trio Thank You, who release fourth album Golden Worry on Thrill Jockey on the 25th (US date), share a lot with our own Islet - largely instrumental, all three playing a bit of everything, very percussive, keen on subtly shifting speed, fond of outbreaks of collapsing guitar and tinnitus organ. Crossbreeding polyrhythms, sheet metal sculpted noise breaks and threatening chants are the order of the day, borrowing ideologies from Pere Ubu, This Heat and Holy Fuck, brushing into No Wave and motorik. Avant-Kraut propulsion rarely sounded so exciting. And it's clearly not even a stretch to organise synchronised dances to them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Filter tips

It's said too often to even be notable any more that the BBC Sound Of... poll is a self-fulfilling prophecy, a marketing exercise based on which private school privileged weekenders (thank you, Simon Price) the majors want us to know about rather than any mass qualitative judgement. How odd, then, that in the wake of the prediction season the most talked about band weren't in the BBC poll's fifteen strong longlist at all.

This is, of course, the much 'discussed' Brother. Not so much a band as a lame group troll, peddling the sort of sixth rate dirge every band of either eighteen year olds or 35 year olds you ever saw opening in every grotty bar, valuable bandwidth has gone into critiquing their new-Oasis stance and the central casting nature therein, from haircuts to picking faults with everyone a willing journalist throws at them to "saviours of rock'n'roll" aphorisms. In turn, many a journalist has got riled on demand. The Quietus got someone to file 1100 words on why nobody should be writing about them and didn't appreciate the irony. Which is funny, as if any band is going to spend the next six months telling all and sundry that they don't mind if they're loved or hated as long as everyone has an opinion on them, the great get-out clause of the idea-free, it's them.

All this fallout raises two points. One is the sort of thing that any band creating a framework of cocky arrogant youth really should have seen to in this Internet age, though none of the anti-Brother pieces have picked up on yet. That being: two years ago they were called Wolf Am I and releasing an album compared to Brand New. A year before that they were called Kill The Arcade and sounded like this, that is to say accidentally inventing Kids In Glass Houses and thus would probably have been quite successful by now as they were. In a recent interview, they (as in their current guise) referred to "that American shit". Yeah. All much fun, until you realise their entire act hinges on getting people to believe that they mean it and are serious about bringing whatever commercial success British guitar music really requires, when they're gleeful bandwagon leapers who don't even bother to pick up the discarded identities that prove them to be entirely transparent. Hey, Potential Brother fans! They're openly mocking you, they are.

This, of course, is even more pointless, self-defeating words added to the Brother Mobius strip of criticism, but the reason why is in point two. See, the reason, of course, is someone has decided that it's time for a return to 'traditional rock values'. Note the prevalence suddenly given to the report that that most horrible and nebulous of theories, 'rock music', has had its worst year in fifty, but only if you count the devalued and deface singles chart, the download-friendly nature of which works against indie rock's nap hand of first week physical sales. Even that self same report undermines the headline statement in expert quote and secondary album chart of the year source. It fosters the idea that unthreatening route one guitar music has been in the doldrums since, oh, 1996. And not, say, 2007, when the Kaiser Chiefs kept prime Arcade Fire off the top of the album charts and The Enemy, Hard-Fi and Editors could still have number one LPs. It was three and a half years ago. You may remember it. And it's reflected in the way Beady Eye still seem, despite having music out, only to exist in theory, hovering above all critical faculties because OMG IT'S LIAM. Look at the excitement around the Libertines reunion until it turned out spending years keeping deliberate distance from each other hadn't made them any less scrappy, oddly enough. Look at the amount of spectacularly uncritical prose heaped upon the Vaccines, a workaday 1988 post-JAMC pub band playing What A Waster on the human face forever (and, for that matter, on the cover of all the supposedly double covered NMEs we've seen)

Rock'n'roll must come back is the cry, as much from label marketing managers targeting a particular demographic that might have dropped off a touch in the last two year as from people who make music. Nothing better proves that rock'n'roll, as a carefully choreographed sequence of sneers, quotes and pouts, is an outdated shithole and must be humanely destroyed.

Calm. Calm.

The nature of Sound Of... is often pulled up as going along with who people think will be big rather than who they think will achieve good things. That's something which to an extent is driven by who has things coming out around the polling period, as seen with the level of specialist attention already long given to Do It Like A Dude, Limit To Your Love and Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra). If you're involved in a relatively mainstream area of music criticism it's less likely you're going to have time to dig around for something entirely fresh unless someone else has handed it you on a plate, and if you did it'd likely fall victim to the nature of such a widely polled survey. Even predicting on the grounds of possible commercial success is increasingly scattershot, as Joe Lean might be able to tell you. Exactly how crossover successful is James Blake likely to be? One critic man's 'inventive use of space and sub-bass' is another chart blogging man's 'dreary and dull' (we know, we've seen one). (Tellingly, the official description on the Sound Of 2011 minisite doesn't mention his 2010 EPs at all, cutting straight to his vocal-and-piano influences.)

Self-perpetuating, then? Only insomuch as this is what naturally came to pop attention anyway, as nothing can be manipulated into attention and success without genuine support from someone, and if the major labels have a role it's in their own fondness for launching viral clips and limited edition fake indie singles at the same time when they sensed the increasing amount of press from all sides such lists attain, in an increasing game of survival of the fittest - Rough Trade's post-Duffy nu-soul-but-male hope Joe Worricker, say, has probably been put back in a cupboard for another year. Jessie J, if she's going to catch on, will catch on anyway, no matter what baubles she's garlanded with.

Tracklist: The Son(s) - Radar

"The Son(s) were three men in a band, in Edinburgh. One Son went to London, and made his fortune in the movies. Another Son went to Oxford and lives in a small commune there. The last Son eventually went back to the North East of Scotland and wrote and recorded these songs." We see. When we wrote about them/him a while ago we mentioned John Martyn and Bon Iver; this new single, out on the 17th, edges away from that woodlands sound to journey down a barely lit open highway, harmonic but still intimate and in waltz time too. There's something here of a more straightforward Grizzly Bear, the Antlers or Sam Beam when he's not messing about.

Radar by The Son(s)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tracklist: Bearsuit - A Train Wreck

They, whoever 'they' are again, said Bearsuit's forthcoming third album The Phantom Forest, on home of the indiepop hits Fortuna Pop!, would be more synthy and less prone to ADHD than before. Well, forty seconds into A Train Wreck everyone starts staccato shouting in the name of a chorus, and it's just like the old days. While all that in the first sentence could be said of last single Please Don't Take Him Back, this one actually sounds like a band enjoying themselves, if in a little more regulation than before, which in this case is no bad thing as it means knowing how to build up tension to the central appeal. Download for the price of an email address.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

So this is the new year: 100 reasons to look forward to 2011's musical output part II

James Blake
Much as he became known for the fascinating shapes his EPs have pulled and pushed dubstep, filtered electronics and bits of R&B through, he's talked for about as long as most have known him for his desire to record a vocal and piano album, and let's not pretend he didn't get that high in Sound Of 2011 for much other than Limit To Your Love. Released 7th February.

Jens Lekman
Although now based in Melbourne Lekman was in LA in December, during which time he played a couple of gigs showcasing a handful of new songs, one about stalking Kirsten Dunst, while wrapping up recording of the new album.

Jetplane Landing
It's been a long, long time (well, no it hasn't, Backlash Cop came out in 2007, we mean figuratively), but word of at least two members is they're working on an album with hopes to have it out by autumn.

Johnny Foreigner
"This year there's a comic coming" says their press bloke. In other news Alexei claims "in my head the whole album is pretty much finished... every time we've had a few rehearsals to do new stuff, something else has cropped up that’s taken priority. Not complaining though, the longer the songs have to mature and develop with the three of us then the better they'll be for it.." He does however also claim the band are too heavily in debt. Basically, SEND THEM MONEY.

Josh T Pearson - Last Of The Country Gentlemen
After many, many years of only playing his Pentecostal apocalyptic/demonic preacher appeals live for most of the decade since Lift To Experience split, Pearson has signed to Mute and recorded an album of epic acoustic country ballads for release some time in spring. Here's one now.

Kate Jackson
Late last March the Long Blonde opened her own Myspace account with a song, Homeward Bound, produced by Bernard Butler. It, um, wasn't very good. After that, nothing, until October when she announced she'd signed an EMI publishing deal and could get back to writing. Watch this space.

Laura Marling
Do you remember when Marling was previewing I Speak Because I can and said there was another album of her new material almost ready to go for 2010? No sign of that before year end, but rumour has it the material is still fit for purpose and will be released shortly.

Let's Buy Happiness
Plugged this very week by Coldplay, the Newcastle youths came up with one of 2010's very best debut singles in Six Wolves, a song that simultaneously evoked the Sugarcubes, Modest Mouse and the Sundays, who seem to be turning up as an influence with increasing regularity. The songs are iceberg monoliths in a sea of calm without stillness, led by Sarah Hall's skewed clarion calls. A single, Fast Fast, is due February 28th and was posted about two days ago, an album is promised for the summer.

Lord Huron
Lord Huron is Benji Schneider of LA by way of Michigan, taking his own route to the shimmering haze of the sunkissed beach vibe, letting Afropop disintegrate in the heat, bringing his folk and calypso cassettes with him to the sort of overlapping, sample friendly stew members of Animal Collective habitually inhabit.

Los Campesinos!
Not an unprolific band, but the launch of Heat Rash with new material and tour promises - one track has already surfaced - and Gareth dropping hints about writing new lyrics suggest something may be on its way.

The Lovely Eggs - Cob Dominos
Holly and David's first album together, 2009's If You Were Fruit, could only be described as 'bloody odd', veering from scuzzed out riffs and shouting to Daniel Johnston naive balladry, like a northern Moldy Peaches gone feral. The second album seems like it might be less accomodating, a track uploaded this week to their Myspace. Released 14th February.

The Loves - The Loves Love You
It's not a war, just the end of The Loves. After a decade together, a notion only held in language given nearly forty members have passed through Simon Love's bubblegum finishing school in that time, Cardiff-inaugurated 60s postmodern throwbacks The Loves are calling it a day with one final gig on 13th February at the Lexington and one last blast of ten songs, all of which are previewed below, in under half an hour. Apparently nearly called The Pains Of Being Poor Through Art, it features appearances by members of The School, Pocketbooks, Still Flyin', The Voluntary Butler Scheme and the Velvet Underground (Doug Yule, though) Released 17th January.

Low recording in a deconsecrated church sounds like a fine match. That's where they've been over the autumn recording an album possibly entitled C'Mon, featuring appearances by Wilco's Nels Cline.

The Low Anthem - Smart Flesh
As a couple of others in this rundown have, you'd expect the quiet hymnality of the Low Anthem to be recorded in a church. In fact, Smart Flesh was recorded in a deserted pasta sauce factory. All about the sonic space and resonance, apparently. Mixed by Bright Eyes sideman Mike Mogis, bowed saw and customised pump organ are involved. Released 21st February.

Lucky Soul
We weren't expecting it, we can't tell you anything else, but in their new year Facebook message they dropped in the line "Lucky Soul 3 will be hitting you some time in 2011".

Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
As if Get Some wasn't a clue, Li's second album is said to be more direct, heavier and less accomodating, written in LA and inspired by time in the desert. The first proper single, I Follow Rivers, is below. Released 28th February.

Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers by sheenabeaston

Anthony Gonzalez has moved to LA and describes his new material as "very dreamy, powerful, intense", more like Before The Dawn Heals Us than Saturdays=Youth, and longer with spoken word sections.

Floorshaking, cinematic post-rock gentry have a new single out on 7th March, Critical Distance by name, with an album planned for early summer. Not the only Leicester band worth keeping an ear out for - malevolent voodoo blues-rock'n'roll attack dogs We Three And The Death Rattle already have a John Kennedy XFM session under their belts before so much as considering putting a single out, while the barely hinged post-hardcore of Codex Leicester has also got under Kennedy's skin. Meanwhile half-Leicestrian Moscow Youth Cult have their first EP set for February.

Mechanical Bride
Lauren Doss' haunting woodland Meccano folk has been around for years, emerging as a compadre of Larrikin Love in 2006 and releasing a compilation of EPs in mid-2008 before going quiet bar a handful of supports early last year. Transgressive finally announced album plans in November and there's a 7" called Colour Of Fire listed for the end of January.

MJ Hibbett - Dinosaur Planet
Busy year for the East Midlands working man's bard, with a new one man space opera, Moon Horse, taking shape. Before that come the last few shows for his Edinburgh show of the last two years Dinosaur Planet (22nd January Autumn Store alldayer at Birmingham Victoria with Pocketbooks, Ace Bushy Striptease, KateGoes, LookiMakeMusic and Horowitz; 8th February The Old Coffee House, West London; 16th and 17th February Leicester Criterion), and above all its full cast recording, of which some of the hot studio action is accompanying.

The Mountain Goats - All Eternals Deck
The most immediate point of interest with John Darnielle's latest hyperliterate life scripts is that a third of the album is produced by death metal figurehead Erik Rutan. Darnielle's famously a metalhead but says the album isn't like that at all and in fact sounds like, well, the Mountain Goats. Although, "If you have ever watched say a 70s occult-scare movie where one of the scenes involves a few people visiting a storefront fortune teller, getting their cards read, and then trying to feel super-hopeful about their predicted outcome when what they’re visibly actually feeling is dread, then you have a pretty decent idea of what the album is all about." Released 29th March in America.

New festivals
We're entering a year of recession, cuts and reduced propensity to spend on fripperies. So of course the already fairly saturated festival market is teeming with people wanting a toehold. Friends Of Mine has grown out of a new band night into the fields surrounding Capesthorne Hall, Siddington, fourteen miles south of Manchester, on the weekend of 21st-22nd May. The Charlatans headline, as the Charlatans are wont to do with this sort of thing, on a bill which also features the Wedding Present, Buzzcocks, A Certain Ratio, The Phantom Band, Emmy The Great, Black Lips, Dutch Uncles, Cherry Ghost, Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, Hatcham Social and Kong, as well as DJ sets from - and who says Manchester's music scene is too retrogressive - Mike Joyce, Stephen Morris, Douglas Hart, Martin Moscrop, Dave Haslam and, with a certain sense of inevitability, Howard Marks. Weekend tickets are £89.50, children free. Meanwhile Headstock began last year as a one day event in Newstead and Annesley Country Park in Nottinghamshire, featuring Ash, Frightened Rabbit and Field Music, and designed to regenerate villages affected by pit closures. This year they're going for the long weekend, 9th-11th September. No ticket or bill details yet. ATP know how to run these things and their latest expansion plan comes to Ally Pally this year. I'll Be Your Mirror, named after the B-side of the titular Velvets single, is a weekender on July 23rd and 24th curated and headlined by Portishead with guests including PJ Harvey, Liars, Grinderman, DOOM, Beach House, The Books, Company Flow, Swans, Anika and Factory Floor. £59 a day, £100 both.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
"There will be a new Bad Seeds record next year... I've got to write one. I haven't written anything yet." Oh well, then. But we know he works to office hours and deadline dates, so who'd rule it out.

Okkervil River
There's a single out on Jagjaguwar, Mermaid, out on February 8th stateside, with an album promised later in the year.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Belong
Produced by Flood, mixed by Alan Moulder. This is not what happens with bands who trade in unassuming indiepop fuzz wistfulness. On the evidence of Heart In Your Heartbreak not much has actually changed, which is a good think, Kip admitting it was mostly to "iron out all of our rough edges". Released 21st March.

Panda Bear - Tomboy
The next cutting from the AnCo monolith, the follow-up to Person Pitch was due out last September but a tepid response to early singles and live shows seems to have held it back. Now he's told the Wall Street Journal it's close to a final mix. Meanwhile he also let on that Animal Collective are to start writing again before the year is out.

Patrick Wolf
Formerly known as The Conqueror, possibly now known as Lupercalia, this is the second half of the double album promised back in 2008, the first half of which was the inconsistent The Bachelor, this bit of which is more upbeat and lovelorn. Katie Harkin, Thomas White, Tilda Swinton and Groove Armada are involved somehow; release in May, they say.

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Recorded in a Dorset church and, following White Chalk's piano experiments, mostly written on autoharp. But of course. It's darker, more political and engaged with war, featuring a prominent sample of Niney The Observer's roots standard Blood And Fire. NME did a track-by-track. Released 14th February.

The Pre New
Members of Earl Brutus and World Of Twist doing new songs very much in the former's style, as well as 'covering' their work live? I'd say!

Public Image Ltd
You know how Lydon said the reason he did the Anchor adverts was to finance a PiL tour? Those went so well he's been able to start working on a new album, although plans have been indefinitely put on hold since stepdaughter Ari Up died but he thinks it'll be ready this year. He's also got a coffee table book coming out, Mr Rotten’s Scrapbook, a personal treasure trove telling his life story.

Pulp reunion
So as Blur went last year, so the His'n'Hers/Different Class lineup, waggishly referred to as "the original members" in the press release, go this year. So far confirmed are Primavera, Wireless and a slot uncomfortably behind the Foo Fighters at Isle Of Wight. We don't want to make out it's connected to the fact everything but the album got good promotion for Jarvis' last solo album, but...

Gangway! Jonny Greenwood said in November they're approaching completion, have no idea how to release it and will follow it with the cousin of all tours.

REM - Collapse Into Now
Said by all concerned to be a return to basis REM values. Yay! Produced by Jacknife Lee. Oh. Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith and Peaches are on it. Released 7th March.

Rose Elinor Dougall
Don't hold your breath given Without Why took eighteen months soup to nuts, but it's reported she went back into the studio in December armed with the new songs she's been playing live since months before that album's release.

Standard Fare
Their year begins with Standard Fare On One Happy Island, a split 7" with the lively, playful Boston outfit on which they cover one of each other's songs and introduce an original. They've already been playing a few new songs live and in various forms, such as this one in someone's kitchen:

Slow Club
With a tour throughout May - Shepherd's Bush Empire! Man, they got big under the radar - an album is set for May, fuller figured if some of their recent live spectaculars are to be taken as gospel.

Still Corners
Even among the gang of shimmering Cocteau-heads emerging in 2010 Still Corners stand out a mile (yeah, we know they'd been around for a couple of years, we're making a stylistic point) Tessa Murray's spectral vocals float on a dreamy, very carefully made bed of reverberated, droning widescreen as much Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack as shoegazers. Sub Pop are putting out a single soon.

The Strokes
Ten years in August since Is This It. Suddenly every one of you feels that little bit older. We won't pretend we unstintingly think the fourth album will be amazing - have you heard the side projects? - but there's still a frisson upon learning recording finished in November. March, says Nikolai.

Summer Camp
This time last year Summer Camp were, as far as most of us knew, somewhere between two and seven people, perhaps Swedish, almost certainly based in London, about whom we really knew nothing than a love of John Hughes films and Super-8 memories. A year of Stool Pigeon revelations, misled chillwave appropriations and found photo back projections later, an album is set for this year with Steve Mackey producing when he's not busy and advising on new forms apparently including electro and hip hop influences.

Thomas Tantrum
"We consider this album as a fresh start" say the band, whose 2008 debut wasn't notable for a lack of pointed enthusiasm. They have a new deal, having put that album out themselves, and a single to come, but first some non-album tracks have been offloaded on a free EP.

Those Dancing Days - Daydreams & Nightmares
Different but the same is about what we can say of the second TDD record. Fuckarias is according to the band the most aggressive thing on it, but growth from the pop kids they were on In Our Space Hero Suits is what they say they're aiming to get across. Released 7th March.

Three Trapped Tigers
Abrasive electronic textures, polyrhythmic analogue IDM, electronic math-rock...whatever you call it TTT pull it off with mighty amounts of aplomb, as they should with the album they started recording this week.

Trips And Falls
It may have been one of our sleeper favourites of 2010 but the original Canadian self-release was in August 2008, so it's explicable that they'd already be underway roadtesting songs for the follow-up the label expects this year. As well established by now all Song By Toad Records output will come across our watchful eye - promised are Animal Magic Tricks, King Post Kitsch, Jesus H Foxx and especially one Matthew let on about the other day about a collaborative effort between Meursault's restless Neil Pennycook, Jamie Scott AKA The Japanese War Effort and Glaswegian Fence associate Jonnie Common.

Under Alien Skies
See previous post.

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club
Writing, recording, touring UK and Europe with Archie Bronson Outfit, having a disturbing mannequin on stage. That's about the size of what the now returned to trio status TVEGC are up to, with some sort of churning menace doubtless following.

Wake The President
You're right, we did report not too long ago that the dark hearted jangly Glaswegians had split up. In fact it was just personnel changes and the Sandberg twins (and bandmates) finished their second album in mid-December.

The Wave Pictures
Just assuming that something new will come out of the David Tattersall pen in any given year is a gimme, but their third album for Moshi Moshi - an electrified one, it seems - is due some time in spring.

Wild Beasts
If something works, do it again. That's roughly the message the band have been putting out around sessions that started in October for the follow-up to Two Dancers' dark, lascivious wonders, essentially that it'll still mine the same bits of the human condition. Bit more piano and synth, though, it says here.

Wild Flag
Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney have a new band? Yes please, and you'd best be better than the Corin Tucker Band record. Mary Timony (Helium, Matador Records solo career) and Rebecca Cole (nobody you've ever heard of) are also involved; beyond that, and the detail they're opening for Bright Eyes in New York in March, is up in the air publicly.

Wire - Red Barked Tree
The twelfth album and second without founder guitarist Bruce Gilbert continues the quixotic melodic art-pop clashes that have regularly lifted the last eleven, slightly less linear than Object 47, slightly more decipherable than Send. You'll hear conscious callbacks to their prime work without ever being openly self-referencing. Have a listen. Released 10th January.

Young Knives
You remember! Tweed, bassist called House Of Lords, that one about punching someone's dad? They were much better than you remember. Hopefully they will be again, they've been in LA over the autumn recording and are aiming for April.

Tracklist: Under Alien Skies - When She Wears

When we first wrote about the Prestatyn duo last February we expressed surprise more people hadn't picked up on them. Now we're in January 2011, ditto, although they've had plentiful support from BBC Radio Wales nabob Adam Walton and appeared on Drowned In Sound's radar. As much as their surface frame of reference passes through Beach Boys to Owen Pallett to Washed Out to Animal Collective, their invention and knowledge of build and release marks them out as their own people. They've just made available for streaming a new EP, Paste. Three of its five tracks we've written about before in their demo form, all delicious in their delirious wash of harmonies, effects and beats. Of the new ones we've singled out When She Wears for its beatific nature, blissfully hovering above the hazy ground.

paste by underalienskies

Saturday, January 08, 2011

So this is the new year: 100 reasons to look forward to 2011's musical output part I

"When did music tips for the year articles just become throw-as-much-shit-at-the-wall-as-possible deluge of bands?" - Sean Adams, Drowned In Sound editor

Simple enough concept, really, although one fraught with danger for everyone's sanity when you actually put together what this all means. One hundred things we expect or look forward to in this new year, old friends to new blood, fully aware that any one of the latter may turn up in two years' time as frontperson for a "blazing young rock'n'roll" band. And let's not overlook that it'll be the surprises we don't know about yet that provide the greater delight (though let's face it, that's usually not the case) and something need not be "tipped for big things" to be worth looking forward to the possibilities of (in other words, things that we can't get anyone to like and sell no copies). So...

A Classic Education
One of our longest held favourites, the expansive Bolognans have just finished recording their debut album in Brooklyn with one of Woods, aiming for late spring. Keep alert for more from Jonathan Clancy's own His Clancyness project too.

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead - Tao Of The Dead
The double drummer, gear wrecking Austinites' seventh album, the fastest they've ever recorded a full set, is made up of two tracks. Luckily they're split into a total of sixteen 'movements'. Bands think like this after seven albums. Oh, and each 'track' is in one tuning. Advance track Summer Of Dead Souls has little to do with such highfalutin plans, instead just getting down and space-rocking out. Released 7th February.

Art Brut
Somewhere in between his thousands of side projects Eddie Argos reconvened with the band - one likes to think he did this by ringing them up individually in the middle of the night and shouting "ready, Art Brut?" - and went back to Texas to work with Frank Black, as on Art Brut Vs Satan. Argos has claimed it'll be called Wam! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out! Then he changed his mind.

Audio Antihero
The 'Specialists In Commercial Suicide' (Nosferatu D2, Benjamin Shaw) get round to a third release with Jack Hayter's Sucky Tart EP at the end of January, the start of a plan to release an EP a month this year, in Jamie Halliday "like the old Sub Pop singles club only an EP because they're better and sadly not on vinyl." Shaw, Paul Hawkins and Tobias Hayes (Meet Me In St Louis, Shoes & Socks Off)'s new project are tied down for contributions, as well as a load of people you've never heard of but some of whom were in the label's recent podcast.

The Avalanches
Yeah, we know, we know. Thing is, ten years on from Since I Left You, stories are starting to circulate - they claimed they were clearing samples in May 2009, an October 2010 date was speculated this time last year, in June Ariel Pink was rumoured to be recording vocals with them, and in November the band updated their website, after a fashion, and joined Twitter. Shall we all see together?

Having spent 2010 dealing with a theatre run for his co-penned play Midsummer and electronic side project Money Can’t Buy Music, Gordon McIntyre's about ready to start recording a new album including the handful of tracks he's been playing live for the last year. We reckon. Here's one.

Banjo Or Freakout - Banjo Or Freakout
Alessio Natalizia finally releases a full album that matches wracked largely acoustic balladry with playing with the space around the recording and fading up bass noises and effects to catch the the recorded songs off-guard, like Elliott Smith in a dreamcatcher. Released 21st February.

Bat For Lashes
Reported in October that Natasha was soon to go into the studio with David Kosten with a set of already written songs.

Can't imagine they're a band that work with the utmost haste, but despite Tyondai's departure they still intend to release an album this year.

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2
If you've been following this, Part 1, apparently cherrypicking from everything they've approached in their career, got delayed when Adam Yauch was faced with a cancer battle; now he's in remission they've rejigged the tracks and given it the sequential title, but apparently there will still be a Part 1 at some stage, which might be the same songs in different versions. Or something. Oh, and primarily Yauch is making a short film based on Fight For Your Right.

Beth Jeans Houghton
The idiosyncratic, bewigged Geordie high priestess of odd-folk had a quiet 2010 after some early touring promise, but she reported the album mixed with producer Ben Hillier in October. Turned 21 last Sunday too.

Blessing Force
With four pages of the NME the other week the Oxford collective mostly made up of Youthmovies and Jonquil members (and a self-proclaimed collective, like all the best collectives) aren't exactly a secret, but this could be the year a whole gang of them break out. Jonquil themselves should be more active, Hugo Manuel has his own post-chillwave (WE WENT THERE) Chad Valley, then there's the warped electro R&B of Andrew Mears' Pet Moon, Trophy Wife's pulsing odd-pop, Fixers' arena-sized psychedelia, Solid Gold Dragons' math-synth (more about them later in the week) and our favourites, the looped vocals and pastoral strings of Rhosyn.

Bob Mould - See A Little Light: The Trail Of Rage And Melody
Not an album - Bob Mould albums are far too busy these days to invest much hope into at this distance - but an autobiography, co-written by the great Michael 'Our Band Could Be Your Life' Azerrad. Mould has had a life, as much outside music as within Husker Du, Sugar and a cornucopea of solo records, and hasn't told a lot about it in public as yet. Currently scheduled for 15th June, which is two weeks after the year's other tempting memoir Post Everything: Outsider Rock And Roll, the second volume of the Luke Haines story.

Bon Iver
Nobody seems to really know - apart from him, presumably - but odds are something emerging this year in whatever form Justin and band now take after.

Brainlove Records
We had to get a word in with our longtime online running mate John Brainlove, who told us that on the slate at the moment are an album on April 4th by the abstract kalimba-powered etherealism of Chicago's Bastardgeist, a We Aeronauts EP, a 7" collection of Stairs To Korea singles, including the forthcoming Guy Fawkes, a new 7" from Mat Riviere and a single, The Unknown Unknown, and tour from Napoleon IIIrd in March.

The south-east London collective, involving all sorts of film-making and multimedia sidelines, have just released their third EP on the label that put out James Blake's first record. Counter Balance EP is one of those fascinating art-beat curios you get occasionally, all dubstep low frequency basslines, hip hop and math rhythms, found samples, submerged electronica and strident London bloke vocals, and suggests they're finding their own little niche in a crowded market. They're reported/rumoured to be working with These New Puritans and, good lord, Tom Vek.

British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
They described single Living Is So Easy as "a mixture of Serge Gainsbourg, Ralf and Florian era Kraftwerk, Lee Scratch Perry and a sprinkle of Stock, Aitken & Waterman." No pressure, then. In fact it does take a greater sweep of their influences, from Krautrock to slowcore to the 'Cold War Pixies' of their early days. Hear for yourselves. Released 10th January.

Cat Power
2010 was an oddly Chan Marshall-less year, all the more so because of talk that straight after her last covers album Jukebox in 2008 she had another written and ready to go; in fact she described some of the material in a 2006 Spin interview. She's playing some Australian dates this month backed by Judah Bauer (Blues Explosion) and Jim White (Dirty Three), with a Hollywood date in early February.

The Chapman Family - Burn Your Town
The current holders of the tag of band keeping us waiting the most for their debut album, but the red-raw Teesside indie-noiseniks were studio bound in the autumn with Andy Falkous' producer of choice Richard Jackson. A couple of European sources are listing a 7th March release date.

Chapter 24
Not, it seems, the first band to name themselves after the Piper At The Gates Of Dawn track, but for now the only one worth bothering with. Originally from Corby, now based in London like they all are, they have the nodding terms relationship with linear rhythms of the Raincoats, a healthy knowledge of sci-fi effect laden rock'n'roll, notes of art rock and tropical punk and a captivating frontwoman with a Siouxsie on Ritalin presence.

Clock Opera
Guy Connelly calls what he does 'chop pop', cutting and pasting fragments of instrument noises and found sounds into mechanically building and pulsing precision avant-pop, electronics with emotion. He's toured with Marina & The Diamonds, for whom he also produced an acclaimed remix, and recorded the album with Graeme Stewart, who engineered Kid A, Amnesiac and In Rainbows and co-produced Jonny Greenwood's soundtrack.

Cloud Nothings - Cloud Nothings
Lo-fi fuzzy guitar pop bursting with melody and indistinct of vocal. Yeah, hugely original these days, we know. Still, like Wavves at his best Cleveland teenager Dylan Baldi has the chops and a sense of how to construct things in growth spurts that puts it a step beyond most of those who turn on and DIY out. Released 24th January.

Comet Gain
Features members of Comet Gain. The impetuous, dreaming, occasionally shambolic indiepop ever-presents (except at Indietracks) have been recording for most of 2010 variously with Edwyn Collins, Ryan Jarman, Alasdair from The Clientele and undisclosed members of Shrag. David Christian Feck describes it as (spelling and punctuation artist's own) "a little bit rock n rol a little bit boo-hoo... i can almost listen to this Lp without puking my heart out,is that good?"

Copy Haho
For a moment we thought Stonehaven's finest had gone the way of all flesh, given their unbound promise and heavy support tour routine had gone quiet since the Bred For Skills And Magic EP in March 2009. However they were merely biding their time, recording in Glasgow's celebrated Chem19 studio in September.

2010: the official year of the cagily mysterious retro-leaning duo. Cults are a couple originally from San Diego, now based in New York, who got here basically on the back of first track Go Outside, both cutesy (glockenspiel-driven melody, Madeline Follin's voice) and haunting (Jim Jones sample, hazy atmospheric) at the same time. They really don't have a lot of songs still, but they've been signed to Columbia and are recording with Vampire Weekend/Sleigh Bells engineer Shane Stoneback for May release.

Second album declared finished on 22nd December on Twitter, having been in LA for a couple of months with Ross Robinson. John Baillie Jnr, who apparently is merely second singer rather than second drummer too these days, reckons there's more of a Krautrock influence.

The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
Much is being made about this being the Decemberists' Out Of Time, a reconnection with songs rather that concept suites, aided by Peter Buck's guest presence. It's also a connection with American roots music, Gillian Welch guesting on more downhome countrified fare, bolstered itself by Gillian Welch guesting. Colin Meloy's archaic language dictionary is however still in evidence. Try it out. Released 17th January.

Dirty Projectors
For sonically adventurous perfectionists Dave Longstreth and co do work quickly, and whispers are of a new album some time this year.

Dog Is Dead
Nottingham's restlessly jolting "skate kids and aspiring thespians" have big plans ahead following a 2010 which saw two spectacularly good singles and some airtime during BBC2's Glastonbury coverage. Their next single River Jordan is out at the end of February, coinciding with... oh god! Oh Jesus Christ no! They're going to be on Skins!

Echo Lake
Brought to you by No Pain In Pop (Banjo Or Freakout, HEALTH, Veronica Falls, Gentle Friendly), the London band are part of The New Haziness (go on, NME, you can have that one). A lo-fi, jarring, stand-up drumming rhythm take on dreampop floatiness, but gauzed in shoegaze noise and psychedelic while tethered to reverb and melody nonetheless.

Elbow - Build A Rocket Boys!
So what now, post-Mercury, post-fame, post-arenas, post-One Day Like This? Guy promises an album neither specifically pitched at the huge spaces nor at deliberately turning away from mass consumption. Returning home and tackling the change in priorities is his big theme. Released 7th March.

Emmy The Great
Having gone the PledgeMusic route to recording her second album, currently comfortably over three times her original target, most of the record, possibly called Virtue, is nearly mixed and should be out in early spring. Apparently there's songs about dinosaurs. Here's a track she recently performed for Hong Kong radio.

Emmy The Great - Exit Night (Live) by thisisellie

Esben & The Witch – Violet Cries
Are Matador's first UK signings in six years small-g or capital-G gothic? Not in the Fields Of The Nephilim sense, but the disquieting dark fog of a Dead Can Dance/This Mortal Coil type, something wicked permanently this way coming, and certainly not the sort of band that get nominated for best newcomer Q awards, as they did. And yes, Rachel Davies does sound quite a bit like Florence Welch, but that makes it seem all the more jarring. Released 31st January.

The Fall
The dalliance with Domino over already and Mark E having failed to change the band for the third studio album in a row - is that a record, does anyone know? - they were already back in a Manchester studio in autumn.

The Flaming Lips
No new album as such yet, but Wayne Coyne revealed plans to Rolling Stone regarding releasing a new song every month, starting at the end of January. That said he's not sure how yet: "The dilemma is whether we're going to release it on vinyl, cereal boxes or some of it on toys that we make". Something playable would be nice.

Fleet Foxes
Now here's a band with a lot to live up to on a second album. Recording was announced as finished in September... and then rescinded in October, Robin Pecknold claiming it still had some way to go. In fact they re-recorded three songs, tweaked others and have April or May pencilled in. Inspired by Roy Harper, apparently.

Frankie & The Heartstrings - Hunger
In something of a natural match, Edwyn Collins has been recording F&TH at his West Heath Yard studio, and if anyone's going to appreciate their slightly rickety classic indie... Released 21st February, with a not all that changed re-recording of Hunger out a week before.

Franz Ferdinand
They didn't play any new songs at their surprise Bowlie II appearance and Alex has said he'll be keeping schtum about predicting anything soundwise in the public forum, so this is more of a long shot.

Fujiya & Miyagi - Ventriloquizzing
Cut-up lyrics delivered deadpan, moody motorik, rumbling electronic tones and pulses - yeah, it's pretty much plain sailing for their fourth album, the theme this time loosely being other people making your moves for you. Released 17th January.

Future Of The Left
Keeping going due to what Falco self-diagnoses as "a mental compulsion which is akin to a dangerous undiagnosed psychiatric disease", as mentioned the other day there are three demos in the wild from the rejigged band, only one of which has explicitly been ruled out from their third album, and Falco reported studio hi-jinks in November. No label yet, as far as we know, after a split from 4AD at the start of 2010. Actual mooted song titles: Home Taping Is Killing Susan,, Confucius Say Get A Real Fucking Problem.

Gang Of Four - Content
Hard to think they were still releasing new material in 1995, into the teeth of a Britpop that wouldn't care for another half decade, isn't it? This is their first set of new material since then. Just Jon King's angry vocalising and Andy Gill's wall of guitar scree these days, still skewering and fat-free, still trying to find their place in a commerce world. Released 24th January.

The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts
The melange of styles Ian Parton slams together are still pretty much untouched by other human hands, so little tweaking really needed doing on this third record of cassette (or, to quote one track title, Back Like 8-Track) warehouse pep rallies. Seems to be more J-pop touches to balance out the mid-west schoolyard chants this time, evened out by guest vocals from Bethany Best Coast and Satomi Deerhoof. Released 31st January.

Gruff Rhys - Hotel Shampoo
Going on the first single, co-producer Andy Votel is bringing the mittel-European tropicalia to bear for Gruff's third solo album. Rhys plays most of the instruments himself, El Perro Del Mar pops by for a duet and this video... doesn't really explain it. Released 14th February.

Keep this Thursday free as there's a countdown going on on their official site until them with the promise of news at the end, after Fyfe reported mastering completed in November. Best to hope the MOR balladry that blighted Red has been siphoned off by his solo album?

Half Man Half Biscuit
Highlight of any year, a new HMHB album. They did a Marc Riley session of new songs in August, meaning something must be imminent - in fact in the accompanying interview Nigel said they might have had it out by the end of the year, but still no conclusive news. This was the highlight of that set:

Half Man Half Biscuit - Tommy Walsh’s Eco House by barrygruff

Honour Before Glory
Whiskas what used to be in ¡Forward Russia!'s solo project, ekeing out cracked dreamy atmospherics and wracked emotions somewhere between M83 and those sprawling Canadian collectives. Whiskas tells us he hopes to put out a single "very soon" and while the album is recorded but not yet mixed "I want to make the releases a bit special". Keep an eye on his new site.

The Indelicates - David Koresh Superstar
"Recorded in London and Austin with a full complement of pedal steel guitars, musical saws and percussive guns, the new record is a concept album telling the story of the Waco siege in a bitter cocktail of rebel country, luau, disco and rock opera... David Koresh Superstar delves into the murky, abusive world of religious extremism, government excess, bad sex and insane logic; rewriting the greatest story ever told on the assumption that the persecuted messiah is definitively mistaken about his divinity."

Internet Forever
James Rutledge, who's produced acclaimed remixes for everyone as well as making his own experimental electronic music as Pedro, is a curious choice on paper to translate the noise-twee trio into album form, something they look like completing next month. They say: "So far, we have afrobeat guitar, saxophone drones, party blowers. MEDIUM TO HIGH FIDELITY."

Together Celebrate This Place and Wimmy would have made one of the standout forward-thinking albums of 2010 but for their unwillingness to show their full hand too early. Still, Mark has said there will be a full-length next, and all being well and nobody gets injured by falling off the stage or being hit by flying drumsticks or whatever their live show will continue to be a peculiar wonder.