Selected Releases: Monday 31 March

 

R.E.M.
Accelerate

 

The Black Keys
Attack And Release

 

Gnarls Barkley
The Odd Couple

 

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Frank Turner
Love, Ire And Song

 

Brian Jonestown
Massacre
My Bloody
Underground

 

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Sun Kil Moon
April

 

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Boy Kill Boy
Stars And The Sea

 

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Barry Adamson
Back To The Cat

 

Shooting At
Unarmed Men

Triptych

 

The Most
Serene Republic
Population

 

Windmill
Puddle City Racing
Lights

 

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Lowgold
Promise Land

To be honest, not a great deal out this week that excites me too much. Obviously, its always nice to have an R.E.M. album floating around, though to call it a return to the form of Out Of Time, New Adventures… and Automatic For The People is stretching that welcome a bit far. Yes, it sounds a bit like Monster, but I never liked that a great deal anyway. The Black Keys new LP is pretty good though, stripped and rough-hewn. Chart-humpers Gnarls Barkley’s new record The Odd Couple has been released weeks ahead of schedule due to a massive internet leak, expect the same radio friendly, foot-tapping fluff as their debut. Indie, indie, indie is the sound of the week as Lowgold, Windmill, Boy Kill Boy all put out new records; whilst Barry Adamson holds up crooner’s corner. Frank Turner likes to think he sounds like Billy Bragg with tunes like Thatcher Fucked The Kids, but the former Million Dead frontman isn’t fit to lick Bragg’s boots. Sun Kil Moon (named after two-weight Korean boxer Sung-Kil Moon) put out the album of the week in April, a haunting, sparse record in the vein of Low, or collaborator Will Oldham, with tracks given the space to evolve and breathe. The album is underpinned by Kozelek’s glorious voice, an instrument used to endearing use. Check it out on Caldo Verde.
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Ladytron – Black Cat

 

Ladytron are probably my most highly rated band still in operation. Well, it’s between them and Massive Attack. Imagine my sheer joy when this new track appeared on the Hype Machine’s most popular list. Black Cat is the opener from their fourth LP, Velocifero. Released June 3, it follows up Witching Hour (my fave album of ’05), and by the showing of this track promises a great deal. Similar to Fighting In Built Up Areas this is sung in Mira’s native Bulgarian, but unlike that track this has a greater warmth to it. This could prove a whole new world for the quartet: could the days of icy narratives be gone? Christ I’m looking forward to this album.

Ladytron – Black Cat

Fridays’ FTW #2

This week’s Friday hotties are brought to you on Sunday, in official British Summer Time! 

Lupe Fiasco – Superstar
Caught this on Radio 1’s 1Xtra live thing, and I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t someone completely shit. Catchy as syphilis.

Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You
Roll up, roll up, come see the hype in all it’s glory: Black Kids are here! Decent enough indiepop strumathon, but I just can’t see through the fog of acclaim. A sprinkling of the ‘Spree, a dash of Los Campesinos!, mix well with Florida sunshine and there’s a cocktail ideal for mid-afternoon festival sets, sunshine or not.

Hot Chip – Hold On
A right grower from the Chip’s latest LP Made In The Dark. Although I wasn’t massively enamoured with the record to begin with, I’ve found it difficult to shake this track from my mind following the belting performance on Jools Holland. For any song to still be considered good when it rhymes hell with caramel has got to be going some. Watch the video for some supreme keyboard humping from Joe Goddard…

Saint Etienne – Shower Scene
Another playlist perennial, from the maligned Finisterre LP, bumped up in the order this week. Prime example of what Saint Etienne do best, gorgeous synth pop.

Girls Aloud – Can’t Speak French
Pop music. It’s great, isn’t it? I hate the whole debate whether its ironically good, or plain good. There is great talent behind crafting three minute pop masterpieces, and this group have a pretty enviable track record in pop tunes. This is the latest in their conveyor belt.

Selected Releases: Monday 24 March

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Foals
Antidotes

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Mystery Jets
Twenty One

The Raconteurs
Consolers Of
The Lonely

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Guillemots
Red

Does It Offend
You, Yeah?

You Have No Idea…

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The Whip
X Marks Destination

Son Lux
At War With Walls
And Mazes

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Beequeen
Sandancing

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Rameses III
Basilica

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Daniel Menche
Glass Forest

O. Rodriguez-Lopez
The Apocalypse
Inside An Orange

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Singer
Unhistories

If nothing else, this weeks’ releases have some awesome cover art, check out Daniel Menche, Rameses III, Guillemots and Mystery Jets and Son Lux in particular. Album of the week is Foals’ debut effort, leaked so long ago that it almost doesn’t qualify as a new release.Whilst album leaks are great it does lessen the anticipation of big new releases: for shame I remember the massive thrill of getting Oasis’ Be Here Now on the day of release back in 1997. Those days are long gone. Musically, this week is dominated by some of the indie scene’s middle players; both Guillemots and Mystery Jets serving up their sophomore LPs. Guillemots will be hoping to emulate the success of 2006’s Mercury-nominated Through The Windowpane with Red, while Mystery Jets (who reside a mere float upstream from here on Eel Pie Island) soldier on amongst stories of them firing Harry Harrison, the lead vocalist Blaine’s father to offer Twenty One. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez takes some time off from The Mars Volta to turn out what sounds to me pretty much the same gear, all long twiddly bits and garbled vocals. The Raconteurs attempt to ‘stick it to the man’ by announcing and releasing a record in a matter of days. Annoyingly named Does It Offend You, Yeah? ride the swelling hype-wave to put out a record of enjoyable cliches, and The Whip release X Marks Destination, containing the blistering singles Trash and Sister Siam. 

Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Battle Royale
Foals – Balloons
Son Lux – Breaks
The Whip – Sister Siam

Fridays FTW

These are the five tunes that have dominated my stereo habits this week: 

 Neon NeonI Lust U
The catchiest track from Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip’s collaborative Neon Neon project. The album, Stainless Style, is a loose concept record based on the life of Ulster car-maker John De Lorean. He’s the chap that designed and built the Back to the Future car. The album is mainly 80s synth-sheen pop, with exquisite vocal contributions from Rhys, and a host of guests, including Cate Le Bon on this track.
(buy)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs10 x 10
Last years Is Is EP was a great collection from the noisy trio. Although other tracks from the record grabbed my attention first, this is the one that has remained high up on the playlists. This track has got real strut, tearing through it’s tight riff, teased along by Karen O’s barely-restrained vocals, and attended reliably by the pounded drumkit. The EP as a whole spans the ground between their two full-length LPs and finds it a fertile place, retaining the raw noise of the first and the pained melodies of the second.
(buy)

The WhipTrash
Highly-hyped, The Whip are indie-dance darlings of the NME. On this occasion, the comic can be forgiven for slipping into hyperbole, this track is simply fantastic. Borrowing heavily from their Mancunian compatriots The Longcut, as well as the NYC brigade (LCD, The Rapture etc.), it is a prime example of how to get this kind of track right. Originally released in 2006, this reissue precedes the full-album release, due next week.
(buy)

Jimmy Eat WorldSalt Sweat Sugar
Always a pleasure this one, a rousing alt-pop-punk anthem. This was the track and the album that took JEW from ‘spacey-emo’ to rockier waters, as well as being the first I had heard of them. And after loving it first time around I promptly forgot about it, rediscovering the track about six months ago following a YouTube trawl for songs that I could barely remember, this being unequivocally the pick of the bunch.
(buy)

PortisheadMachine Gun
You disappear for the best part of a decade. You leave behind a clutch of classic songs that helped define a genre. You whip the blogging fraternity into a frenzy by playing ATP. You announce a string of big-venue dates with no new material released to support them. You barely maintain your website. You stand by as your record is leaked to the net. You rule. Third is no disappointment, it is a record that acknowledges that Portishead are famous for a sound, and plays to that sounds’ strengths. It also sounds like a record that has longevity. Good news for fans of a band with a release schedule measured in double figures. Machine Gun is the lead single, released next week.
(buy)

Athur C. Clarke – Songs About Space

Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 2008)
One of science fiction’s brightest luminaries rotates slowly towards the light at the end of the tunnel today, Arthur C Clarke passing away in his home in Sri Lanka this morning. Obviously most famous for his novel The Sentinel, transformed for film into the lauded 2001: A Space Odyssey. Upon reading about Clarke this morning, I discovered many tangents between his life and mine. Clarke was born on December 16, as was I. He studied at King’s College London, as did I. He was chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, whose office is across the road from mine, and whose bin padge adorns my monitor. Small coincidences that spurred me to write this post, and accompany it with some songs about space. I guess there is something about the cosmos that inspires art of all forms. As a concept it is pure fiction and fantasy: an infinite blank canvas for creatives to work their magic. Clarke leaves this world with stories of higher intelligence, futures yet to be realised, robots ruling humans. A true literary giant passes. R.I.P.

Selected Releases: Monday 17 March

Elbow
The Seldom Seen Kid

Crystal Castles
S/T

The Teenagers
Reality Check

We Are Scientists
Brain Thrust Mystery

Neon Neon
Stainless Style

Fuck Buttons
Street Horrrsing

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Girls In Hawaii
Plan Your Escape

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Youthmovies
Good Nature

Devotchka
A Mad And Faithful
Telling

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Be Your Own Pet
Get Awkward

Freiband &
Machinefabriek

Oahu

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Chris T-T
Capital

A varied set of releases this week, from chart-scraping hopefuls Elbow through to pysch-prog-space nonsense from Fuck Buttons. The Elbow album is pretty decent, certainly a better effort than Leaders of the Free World, even teaming up with Richard Hawley on one track. There’s synth-dance-pop a-plenty too, with excellent releases from Neon Neon and The Teenagers, and a slightly disappointing full-length from Crystal Castles. Back for a second helping are Be Your Own Pet and We Are Scientists, the latter attempting to prove they can better The Great Escape, which of course, they can’t. Be Your Own Pet on the other hand continue along the perverse scream-quiet path trodden by the debut. It’s not a bad trip though. Elsewhere, Foals’ cohorts Youthmovies get around to releasing their debut LP,  while Chris T-T releases the final episode of his London trilogy, Capital. I saw said T-T more than a few years back as a support act. He had a song about how Eminem was shit. I think that says it all. Girls In Hawaii present some lovely indiepop from Belguim, and a lovely dead animal on their cover. Lovely. Also from continental Europe is the interesting release from Freiband & Machinefabriek where a 30-second sample of lap steel has been passed back and forth between the two producers for months, the end result being Oahu, a full length full of distortion, atmospheric noises and really not very much lap steel. Album of the week, however, has to go the superbly monikered Fuck Buttons, whose album full of blips and bobs has one of the crappest names and crappest covers in a long time, but still manages to be bloody great. Check out their Myspaz for what they sound like, because to be honest written description doesn’t do it justice.

Crystal Castles – Air War
Elbow – Grounds For Divorce
The Teenagers – Love No