All 14 entries tagged Pop
March 28, 2007
Lo and behold, a week after posting about my favourite Clientele tracks, they go and post one of my soon-to-be favourite Clientele tracks up on their MySpace. Bookshop Casanova and Nothing but Sunshine have been added to their playlist and if it weren’t for my awful internet connection, I’d be all over the page and the recordings. However as it is, I’ve had to slyly record it (complete with buffering gaps) and fix it up in Audacity just to hear the bloody things.
They are fantastic by the way…
...And if you haven’t caught the tracks I posted earlier, grab them now because they’ll be gone in the morning.
March 26, 2007
It’s hard to write anything about The Shins without retreading the usual arguments and reasons for their popularity. But the fact of the matter is, if they hadn’t written the brilliant records they are noted for, they wouldn’t be fawned over and elevated to the height they are.
I can’t write much about Wincing The Night Away, apart from that it’s another showcase of gorgeous melodies with a different production aesthetic to the previous two. I’m sure I will listen it to death much like I have Chutes and World but I’ve not had the chance yet.
There’s always been one non-album track though that has stolen my heart (and when they played it live at Oxford last year I melted), and that is When I Goosestep. The studio version actually isn’t that special, coming from the early pre-Inverted World era, it’s too choked up with its basement production and low-level vocals to really shine. I’ve included it here because I have it, and if it would still be a great song if I hadn’t found this alternative recording.
The radio session I’m talking about here is stripped down, just James strumming guitar and Marty (I think) adding perfect understated keyboard accompaniment. The vocals are pushed up front and centre, where they should be, and elevate the song above it’s murky origins. James ends the chorus, ‘I’m so impressed that you hear, my inventions / And that it matters more than what you saw with your eyes.’ They may not be most exciting band to look at live, but their inventions definitely impressed me, and most prominently this one.
If anyone actually knows where the radio session is from that would be awesome, because I have no idea.
The Shins – When I Goosestep (Studio) MP3 Expired
The Shins – When I Goosestep (Radio session) MP3 Expired
March 23, 2007
Maxїmo Park are a brilliant band. Nuff said.
Our Earthly Pleasures comes out later this month, and if the signals and signs of Our Velocity are anything to go by, it will be another cracker. I’ve got here a few b-side tracks from the album Missing Songs. Compilations like this always seem like a cop-out, a money maker for poor souls like me trying to get every track possible. But here, the tracks are of top quality (minus the demos), worthy enough to sit alongside many of the album tracks. Which is praise enough, because I can’t think of a single track on A Certain Trigger that it could do without.
Fear Of Falling is actually the second song I heard, coming from the Apply Some Pressure single. It stops and starts and surprises like all good pop should, constantly changing yet sounding seamless in its transitions. It’s almost a shame they don’t stretch the ideas out into a longer song, it being over before you know it.
Stray Talk is an acoustic number, somehow transferring their melodic interplay to a stripped down production. A welcome departure from manic energy, but still it only gives you a couple of minutes breath before the next track. In a recent interview, they mentioned more acoustic tracks being played with for use as b-sides which, from this account, is a great idea.
The final track here is a remix of I Want You To Stay by the glorious Field Music. A piano lifted from the intro to Cheers leads us down the stairs and we are invited to stay with Paul for a drink or two. With the Field Music boys we are gifted to a gorgeous reinterpretation of the song, all bouncing piano and effortless lead guitar lines. ‘You know the way I feel’ closes out the song and with it you also know its a place you wouldn’t mind returning to for another night.
From Missing Songs (2006):
Maxїmo Park – Fear Of Falling MP3 Expired
Maxїmo Park – Stray Talk MP3 Expired
From I Want You To Stay single (2006):
Maxїmo Park – I Want You To Stay (Field Music Mix) MP3 Expired
March 14, 2007
God Save The Clientele
That’s the title of the new album that’s due to arrive in April. But I think I’m already way ahead of myself. I’m sure many Americans have already witnessed The Clientele, as they supported Spoon on an American tour and also from the rave reviews for Strange Geometry, their third LP (after semi-compilation Surburban Light, and follow-up The Violet Hour) that have graced the web since it’s release. It also help that big indie label Merge are behind them across the pond. They are in fact from London, and it’s a fact that baffles me.
I can definitely understand why they aren’t more popular here. In a national music scene of bold dramatic statements of retroism and laddishness or every attempt to be bigger than the last big band or more different or whatever, who wants to know about a slightly morose band with subtle arrangements, a penchant for reverb and a tendency to sound ‘intelligent’? (I can’t think of a better term, sorry). One of the songs on Strange Geometry is spoken word prose! It would never fly in NME!
Regardless, the truth is people are missing out here. Songs from the first cut, Joseph Cornell and I Had To Say This, show off a jazzy shuffle over Alasdair’s voice-in-a-church-hall laments with a bit of groove coming across like a mix between Love and the Zombies. And that is a good combination.
Strange Geometry cleaned up the act, paring down the reverb and adding gorgeous string sections (from Louis Phillipe) and is worthy of all the praise it’s been given. They are not afraid to show off that sometimes do let loose, the solo in E.M.P.T.Y. and the coda of Impossible, dare I say it, ‘rock out’, but you know, not too much. It was never all about loudness anyway, the album being packed with those late evening reflections built over graceful fingerpicked electric guitar and shuffled drums. Since K Got Over Me is built as one giant melodic guitar line running through the whole song, Alasdair’s playing being another unique selling point. Songs like Spirit and (I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine are beautiful numbers, building and releasing gently like when you’re sat outside the club on a park bench wondering how the hell you’re going to deal with the morning. Strange Geometry hits the right amount of highs and lows, but previous album The Violet Hour took it too far, actually pushing to make you depressed.
And that (somehow) brings me back to where we began, a new album. Described as being ‘happier’ and introducing a new keyboardist/violinist, Mel Draisey, whilst incorporating ‘disco beats’. Intriguing to say the least, but maybe this will finally make people get up and take notice.
God Save The Clientele indeed.
From Suburban Light (2000):
The Clientele – Joseph Cornell MP3 Expired
The Clientele – I Had To Say This MP3 Expired
[Buy album from Amazon]
From Strange Geometry (2005):
The Clientele – Since K Got Over Me MP3 Expired
The Clientele – (I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine MP3 Expired
The Clientele – E.M.P.T.Y. MP3 Expired
[Buy album from Amazon] (highly recommended)
March 08, 2007
Does anyone miss Clor? They seemed to last barely a year in the public eye, with three fantastic singles, Good Stuff (obviously), Outlines and Love + Pain to their name. Unfortunately (for me anyway), these were the first three songs on the album and the rest of it just didn’t match up. Fortunately, Sheffield’s Darlings of the Splitscreen have stepped up to replace the gap with added vocal harmonies and Super Furry Animals levels of inventiveness.
DOTS are looking to release The Dash (geddit?) sometime in April, and if these two tracks are anything to go by, it should be pretty fantabulous. For only three guys, they make an awful lot of noise. Harmonies bounce all over the place with ‘oh-oh’s and ‘dot dot dot dash dash dash’s balancing out all the electronic riffs and sparkles. Dash Dots Dash is their Love + Pain, trading riffs for lines, before completely leaving the rails (if they were ever on any) halfway through to give us all a lesson in how to give a morse chorus. Something Beautiful begins with an almost ripped guitar line from the beginning of Art Brut’s Good Weekend before going all hyperactive like Field Music on substances of the amphetamine variety. In fact, if you listen to I Know What You’re Doing on their MySpace page you’ll be surprised at apt the comparison is for one of their less manic cuts.
Those cool folk among you (I’m sure you know who you think you are) will probably have seen them at the Ginger People Are Wizards club night that operates in Coventry (well, last December, I’m late. I know). These people are that same band with the same name!
Darlings of the Splitscreen – Dash Dots Dash MP3 Expired
Darlings of the Splitscreen – Something Beautiful MP3 Expired
December 02, 2006
The danger of an early release for an album is that it can slip from people’s minds as the year progresses. This I fear could be the fate of the second album from Delays, which will be a real shame if it happens. This is the classic example of why bands need space and time. So many bands recently have produced a second album which is merely a slightly different rehash of their first, maybe with bigger producers and budgets, maybe with added burglary and prison (cough, Libertines). But what if a band came band with an album which improved on the negatives from their début? You See Colours is a perfect example of the latter phenomenon which must not become a victim of the former.
As melodic and tuneful as their début was, it lacked a punch. It was the sort of music you could do your homework to, lovely, soothing but not as urgent, not as vital and the records which make you sit up and pay attention. Not any more. You See Colours sounds like they’ve had an entire jar of disco biscuits shoved down their throats. Without sacrificing a single thing which made them good in the first place, Delays have gotten better – beats you can really dance to, swaggering synths, and a sheen which treads the right side of epic.
The only real mistake that is made is the unloading of the best four songs as tracks #1-#4. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with shoving them on repeat, it does mean the more subtle moments of the album, the later tracks, could get missed out. But what an opening four! There are maybe three or four albums released this year which can hold up an opening to match ‘You And Me’, ‘Valentine’, ‘This Towns Religion’, and ‘Sink Like A Stone’. Each is wonderful, with ‘Valentine’ in particular one of the best songs released this year. No question. The delivery of the line “I heard the last night on earth is for living”is more worthy of praise than most of the other songs which have been inflicted on the Top 40 this year.
So swirling La’s-like jangle and a heavy duty dose of disco/electro? What’s not to like?
November 28, 2006
As a kind of ruse to let me post lots of good music at once, I’ve compiled a collection of tunes that showcase the violin in a different light to the standard rock/pop fare that usually comes to mind when a band goes to work with an orchestra. Funnily enough however, all of these are solo male artists so I’d be happy if you could suggest some female artists in the same vein (I’d have posted Joanna Newsom, but she’s all harp, ain’t she?). Anyway here we go:
Andrew Bird and his Bowl of Fire have been playing and recording for years, but it was only when scouting out various sites’ lists for the top albums of 2005 that I came across The Mysterious Production of Eggs. It’s a fantastic array of tunes that shift the focus from strummed, stroked or plucked strings, electric and acoustic, whilst fronted by his seem.ingly effortless vocal. Oh yeh, it seems strange to mention it, but he’s not a bad whistler either.
Fake Palindromes is a rock song with sly rhymes and building rhythms before battering drums back up the whirling violins in the wordless chorus. It’s possibly the noisiest on the album, and it’s over before you know it, but I love it all the same.
Andrew Bird – Fake Palindromes Mp3 Expired [buy The Mysterious Production of Eggs]
Bonus MP3: Andrew Bird – A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left Mp3 Expired
[taken from andrewbird.net]
Owen Pallett is probably more heard for his work arranging most of the strings for The Arcade Fire’s album, Funeral, but if you went to any of the early live shows, you’d find he’s also a damn fine solo artist as well. On stage, he builds up the songs around looping samples, tapping and plucking rhythms before forming string quartets over the top. On record, he’s allowed more freedom and adds effects and instruments into the mix.
Either way it’s amazing, and The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead was one of the first songs I heard before seeing the live show and I still find it’s buildup and release fascinating. He has since recorded a second more expansive and more concise record in He Poos Clouds, but instead of a fresh cut off that, I’ve added a favourite live cover.
Final Fantasy – The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead Mp3 Expired [buy Has A Good Home]
*Bonus MP3:*Final Fantasy – This Modern Love (live Bloc Party cover Mp3 Expired
We now cross the ocean to an artist that actually shares a label with Final Fantasy, and one who also seems to relish a sort of otherworldly feel. Patrick Wolf enjoys revelling in electronics and adding a more harsher edge to his songs. Of course, a firm eye is kept on that killer hook as well as the atmospherics, well presented on both songs here.
The Libertine confusingly came out around the time of Mr. Doherty’s first foray into the public eye (and into the cells for that matter) and didn’t make quite the mark it should’ve done. Its galloping drum loop and punchdrunk violin line definitely made a hit with me, and I’m hoping new song, Accident and Emergency from the upcoming The Magic Position pushes him to fresh and inviting ears.
Patrick Wolf – The Libertine Mp3 Expired [buy Wind in the Wires]
Bonus MP3 Patrick Wolf – Accident and Emergency Mp3 Expired
I’ve been kicking myself for the past week for not paying more attention when my radio co-host (the wonderful Emily Andrews) was thrusting a vinyl copy of Jeremy’s EP, Other People’s Secrets down my neck, and also when we actually played the lead track off the record. Of course now, it’s come back to bite me as his new album, The Art of Fiction is gaining praise wherever I’ve happened upon it and he’s just finished touring it around the UK (again, I missed him last time, despite more protestations).
Dirty Blue Jeans was that lead track, and it’s everything a lead track should be. Excited violins stutter, drums pound, spaces are filled with trumpets and Jeremy forces his way through as the song breaks down with him singing _“I’m still in control!” before it explodes and finally contracts. It’s a wonder so many glorious sounds could be fit into three minutes but he manages it with great aplomb. And yes, the album is a corker.
Jeremy Warmsley – Dirty Blue Jeans Mp3 Expired [buy The Art of Fiction]
Bonus MP3 Jeremy Warmsley – I Keep The City Burning (demo) Mp3 Expired
[taken from jeremywarmsley.com]
November 08, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.wearephoenix.com
For me, there couldn’t be a better time for a band like Phoenix to be entering my playlist. Here in Auckland, the sun is beginning to shine a little more, exams are almost over and I’ve got a whole summer to look forward to (sorry, I won’t milk it any more). This album was rather handily released back in May in time for the Northern summer but it’s only recently that I’ve really got to appreciate just how good it is.
Phoenix started out back when Air were getting big (and in fact spent some time as Air’s backing group) with Moon Safari, and their first two albums United (2000) and Alphabetical (2004) concentrated on the electronic/guitar pop their French contemporaries were famous for, but with a more direct band approach. You’ve probably inadvertently heard them through Lost In Translation (the singer Thomas Mars is dating Sofia Coppola) and the delightful song Too Young, a great example of this vibrant sound. The latest album doesn’t bring a total reverse of this straightforward approach, but instead you can hear the guitars are harder, the rhythms are tougher and it feels a lot more revitalised with an exciting level of energy that tended to be absent from most of previous album tracks.
The album kicks off with the shrill guitar alarm of Napoleon Says and doesn’t let up with the guitar hooks all the way through the album (with the exception of the tepid instrumental North which rather thankfully segues into the giddy blast of Sometimes in the Fall). The European connection is decidedly evident, characterised by Thomas Mars’ slight inflections and accent. Various lines are dotted with sly ‘huh’s that on paper may sound horribly pretentious (in the hands of someone like Jet, heaven forbid) but end up rather sweet and endearing. Another obvious touchpoint would have to be The Strokes, dealing in the same chugging guitar delivery but then nothing in the NYC-ians’ recent output can match the pop brilliance and innocence of something like Consolation Prizes or Courtesy Laughs.
Here are some of my favourite cuts from the album:
Phoenix – Rally MP3 Expired
It’s not a song that really hit me first but it’s one of the songs where there are just parts of the vocal I love. Particularly in the second verse where he croons “Teeeeee-easin’ me”. Gets me every time.
Phoenix – Long Distance Call MP3 Expired
This immediately follows Rally and ends a pretty much perfect first four songs that the two songs afterwards suffer a little for it. The keyboards return for this track but only in subtle touches. A perfect pop crescendo to finish it off as well.
Phoenix – Second to None MP3 Expired
The track that closes off the album, and the taut rhythms here lock into each other so perfectly you almost forget that one guitar has just been playing one note for the past 90 seconds. It doesn’t matter anyway because it’s another brilliant pop song, and a brilliant ending to what I think is a brilliant album. \\
September 30, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.duelsmusic.com
I’ve always been searching for a good fun indie band channelling early-Bowie (well, okay, Hunky Dory-era Bowie, i.e. not Suede) into modern pop songs with youth and vigour. Over a year ago I happened across Duels who had come out with a little song called What We Did Wrong. The quirky piano melody was there, the la-la-la harmonies and thick lead guitar lines, it was pretty much perfect. Their website heralded a few more gems in the form of a radio recording of Young Believers and a few snippets of songs here and that they were in the process of recording.
With just two full songs I was hooked.
I’d just arrived in time for a single, Potential Futures, another stomper of a tune that lead me to my first online digital purchase; I was that enthralled. For the next six months though, there was no news of album recordings and a seemingly lacklustre follow-up single in Pressure On You. Time passed and earlier this year I caught wind that they were recording again, and the resulting album, The Bright Lights and What We Should’ve Learned, has turned out to be a cracker. It’s an album which I’ve rarely found, where a band actually lives up to that first promise you heard in them with so much hope. And a British one at that.
Full of these wonderful melodies and hooks, with the tracks I loved re-recorded with even more relish (that they deserve), giving songs like Pressure On You a bigger kick that just wasn’t present before. It’s hard not to mention the obvious influence of the Britpop era in songs like Animal and Brothers & Sisters but they manage to couple the more upbeat driving tracks with a more paranoid undercurrent in slow burners like The Slow Build (duh!), Young Believers and Taxi Song, showcasing a bit more depth to their sound.
The album came out at the end of July but being out in NZ it took me a while to actually realise it. They also have an EP to be soon released with the title track, Once in the Night, which I’ve included here alongside Animal. I’ve also included the first demo version of What We Did Wrong which captured me in the first place. If you dig around the website to find the ‘Little Monsters’ section then you’ll be treated to a few more free musical treats such as a rather sweet cover of the Talking Heads’ Heaven ( which funnily enough has also been covered by Discothéque favourites, Voxtrot ).
The Bright Lights And What I Should've Learned (2006)
Duels - Animal - MP3 Expired
Duels - Once in the Night - MP3 Expired
[Buy from Amazon]
Bonus: Duels - What We Did Wrong (demo) - MP3 Expired
Duels YouTube Channel
August 20, 2006
Made up of three core members (Andrew Moore and the brothers Peter and David Brewis) from Sunderland, Field Music write beautifully crafted indie pop gems. And I say crafted, because each song is littered with production flourishes and sounds that put the music one step ahead of any traditional indie fare you might think of.
People often bring up The Futureheads and Maximo Park with regards to the sound, not just because of the area they are from, but mostly because Barry Hyde from the Futureheads has been a former member and the drummer from Maximo Park (Tom English) often plays with them. Field Music are more contemplative and the vocals more subdued than those two bands and they play down the accents, but they keep the tight rhythms and group harmonies that the related bands have been recognised for. Each song has the uncanny ability to take sharp turns in structure without disrupting the flow or unsettling the listener.
A new album, Tones Of Town is released early next year, and the first single In Context, out in October, is a corker. The taut drum sounds return with the falsetto harmonies but this time with spicier guitar hooks following each line before exploding into a great chorus lifted by stabbing strings.
From Tones of Town (2007):
Field Music – In Context MP3 Expired
The first self-titled album is by no means redundant, with plenty of quirks and tunes throughout its brief runtime. It’s amazing how crammed with hooks and melodies songs like Shorter Shorter and You Can Decide are despite barely breaking two minutes. They’ve also released a rather competent B-sides collection earlier this year (how in-vogue is that nowadays), Write Your Own History, which includes the brilliant Alternating Current, which I’ve included here alongside the free mp3’s they have available on their site.
From *Field Music* (2005):
Field Music - You're So Pretty
Field Music - Shorter Shorter
Field Music - You Can Decide
[buy from Amazon]
From *Write Your Own History* (2006):
Field Music - Alternating Current _MP3 Expired_
Field Music - I'm Tired
[buy from Amazon]
A few more songs can be heard on their MySpace page .
Man, I really am spoiling you…