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  albums - january 2007

 


 

Cyann and Ben- Sweet Beliefs

I'm not sure if I'm alone here, but until this arrived on my doorstep, I hadn't ever heard of Cyann and Ben. Yet this is their third album to date. And what a gorgeous affair it is too. Everything about it resonates beauty and tranquillity. Somewhere underneath the music there seems to be an underlying discipline, as if you know the amount of time and soul they've put into this record. ‘Sweet Beliefs' offers nine tracks of must have material, and at the time of writing this their live shows here in the UK were receiving a good deal of acclaim.

Previously, Cyann and Ben seem to have attracted terms such as 'space rock' to their music and admittedly, that is a good term to associate with them. But it seems too loose; it doesn't do them good to generalize them completely. 'Space rock' seems to conjure up images of Spiritualized and Mogwai and although they are great reference points in their own right, Cyann and Ben hold a good deal more attractive melody on the whole. Imagine Low-type harmonies and sparse piano, underscored by warm electronic hum and solid, if not sometimes, understated drums.

I was disappointed to have missed out on the live show this time around, but their website (beautifully supported by 16mm style black and white films) promises additional longer touring dates soon.

This is surely a must have and should be up at the front for one of the better full length releases of 2006. Single 'Somewhere in the Light of Time', may seem like an odd single and certainly isn't the best track from the album, however it is good as a reference point or stepping stone into the rest of 'Sweet Beliefs'. Encouraging listening. Please purchase. As usual, snippets can be found at the bands myspace and official site.
www.cyannandben.com
www.myspace.com/cyannben

TM

 

Gorch Foch - Thriller

Take two drum kits, three guitars, several arbitrary bursts of trombone playing and a smattering of belligerent vocals. Top with a heavy layer of feedback, serve with a huge side order of ‘noise-rock’ posturing and voila, you have something resembling a Gorch Fock record.

Thrilller’ (spelt with three ‘L’s - presumably to ‘fuck with the spell-check, maaaan’) portrays Gorch Fock as a deliberately antagonistic bunch, out to make ‘difficult’, tounge-in-cheek music; the more abstruse the better. And although they’ve succeeded in that aim, the resulting record sounds contrived and banal, bearing none of the eventual rewards that such a challenging record should deliver, which tends to defeat the object.  However, further listening suggests that defeating objects and being as contrived and ‘abstract’ as possible is what Gorch Fock are all about, this being exemplified by frontman Joey Ficklin’s statement that “The new record is primarily about fire”. Good one Joey.   

 Despite possessing the volume and energy that befits a seven-piece band, the constant thrashing guitars on ‘Thrilller’ soon lose effect and descend into repetitiveness, occasionally punctuated by quieter, more lo-fi moments during which very little happens. Inexplicably, the band choose to play their most intricate guitar parts during the louder, more chaotic points during the record, with the result that they are all but drowned out by (a) the two competing drum kits (b) the excessively loud rhythm guitar. So it’s difficult to say what these parts are like; they would perhaps have been put to better use during the more exposed sections of the music mentioned before.

For a band trying so hard to be big and clever, it’s a shame to see them fail on both counts. But the artwork is very nice. That deserves noting.

Sam Edwards

 
 

Mouth – Drown  

I love a band who can do nine songs in sixteen minutes! ‘Avant Grind’ Mouth is two Derby brothers relaying a frantic clamour of extreme racket disorder and experimental noise. Relentlessness is the name of the game here; each track impedes you from being able to take a breath before the next comes hurtling in to assault. 

The sickly opener ‘Merge For the Kill’ goes straight for execution.  Blood curling tortured screams peppered with dirgy fuzz guitars. The sound achieves to be fuller than their two members would suggest. Grind done with such basic method would expect to be limited on creativity, but thankfully this premonition is defied.

Track 8 ‘Hands’ is the only complete track that can be regarded as anything close to a reprieve. The pace here is dawdling and grimey. The noteworthy slower sections of their songs comprise of sluggish rumbling riffage harking back to the old Napalm Death sound with the added fuzzyness of Bongzilla. The doom laden form twists and morphs at times, making it altogether more experimental than mainstream grindcore. Slower rhythms and hasty stop start tempos are added to the frenzy pot to successfully do ones head in. 

Rapid and furiously filthy, the album abruptly flies by, ending as soon as it starts. The finale is so short you’re not even sure if you heard it. A limited appeal for general music fans is obvious, but if this form of noise extremity is your bag then go and squeeze this bastard in your pile of cd filth. Basic and ballsy, these stinky filthmonger sibs should be well proud of this. Get on these bastards! 

Kiran the Killer

 
 

Alex Gomez – Warm Sensations (ASCAP) 

I think I reviewed his last LP that the postie dropped off at Tasty, so wondered how more bluesy and distorted is guitar playing would be this time. Intentions are made clear early doors with nagging guitar heavily left imaged and vocals gnawing their way into your skull from behind centre stage. There’s pretty much the same furrow being ploughed throughout, so marks lost for that, however powerful and cerebrally mithering the tunes are (7/10)

Dave Procter

 
 

The International Playboys – Cobra Blood Hangover (Australian Cattle God Records) 

This is definitely a bit more like it. Hives/Jon Spencer/ of vibe, and fun to be had of feeling, it’s a stripped down, shouty, fuzzed up drink and drugs punk rock shambles. One small gripe mind, with this sort of action, if you’re having 5+ minute song action, for me it’s necessary to either rock out of the stratosphere or drone off into infinity. Otherwise, chop down the song lengths. Good stuff mind (8/10)

Dave Procter

 
 

Various - The Engine Room Presents..Vol III (Engine Room )

Although based on a typically sketchy premise for putting together a compilation ('great local acts wot we 'ave seen plus a few others who aren't local' type thing) this is a mammoth of an album in a number of ways. and no mammoth album would be complete without the mammoth sounds of This Et Al, the monstrous bastard rock of The Scaramanga Six and the intoxicating bombast of Immune. But there are much defter touches here too. The doleful chanting melodics of Champion Kickboxer, the genius of Napoleon IIIrd, a powerful but understated affair from The Somatics and soothing electro of Stateless.

There are a few blank spots as there will always be on a compilation album this broad in interest. I'm still not sure I really get Wild Beast, Shut Your Eyes and You'll Burst Into Flames are a fine band but sound like many others and The Moth Lantern just don't rock my boat. But there are real gems in this compilation for anyone with working ears.
www.thengineroom.org.uk

SB

 
 

Dapunksportif - Ready!Set!Go! (PHD)

What a strange experience this record is. Although it seems like a barely disguised homage to Queens of the Stoneage, Portuguese stoner rockers Dapunksportif are actually acquitting themselves impressively.

Layers of massive growling guitars and a Josh Homme impersonator up front equip the band to deliver crisp riffs with a crunching rhythm section. In fact, I'd even go as far to say that musically Dapunksportif are little more adventurous in their song writing than QOTSA. Strange but good.
www.dapunksportif.com

SB

 
 

Everyone to the Anderson - s/t (Toy Soldiers)

We're not snobbish at tasty and we'll review pretty much any format. We get retail quality CDs, hand printed CDs, CD-Rs with hand written labels, hell, I've even reviewed a record recorded on a C-60 cassette tape. But when someone makes a real effort with their submission CD it's a real plus - not just because it's nice to have a good looking piece of artwork in your hand but also because if the band have made this amount of effort in the packaging, there is a fair chance the music it contains will be equally thoughtfully constructed.

Step forward Brighton 3-piece Everyone to the Anderson who have not only hand made and printed a card CD case with manilla track listing insert but have also got a very smart fabric badge of the band name knocked up and stuck to the front. There is a similar design theme running through as on 'Red Paint on the Odessa Steps' by Leicester's doom laden The Swarm and interestingly there are glimpses of a similar aggressive approach on 'The Dead Angle'. The hugely fuzzed up vocals on this track and opener 'For is 450 Yards' also reminds me of We Will Be Pilots.

Generally however, Everyone to the Anderson have a more techy, funkier bass driven sound. 'Wartime Map Mystery' has a kaleidescopic and desolate beauty about it with just the intermittent shouts breaking through the immaculately clean guitar and bass lines. But unlike a lot of tech rock/post rock/ call it what you will, there is a refreshing looseness about this which makes it sound like a a very well played jam session.

'Starve a Virus, Feed a Cold' introduces a few electronic beats and loops amid a guitar line that could scratch your eyes out. By comparison 'Incident Commander' has a lush bubbling bassline which will get you drooling before the main finale where the guitars build up and break down with great skill.

There are many comparisons to draw with the likes of The Dragon Rapide and Capillary Action (especially on the jazz-metal 'Click-Track') and the guitar work on 'Poorman Deadpan' is reminiscent of some of TEAM's more melodic moments. But the album closes with 'Jump Your Bones' and a seriously warped string bending bass line before exploding in a hail of aggressive guitars that is purely down to Everyone to the Anderson. Check them out at:
www.myspace.com/everyonetotheanderson

SB

 
 

Neurosonic - Drama Queen

A real mixed bag this one. 'So Many People' opens with a whizz-bang of industrial drums beats and heavy guitars over Numan-esque synths-very promising i was thinking. Then the vocals start courtesy of Jason Darr, in a bizarre fast rap style that will have you gasping for breath just listening. 'Are Solar' compounds the confusion with a similarly promising melody yet this time Darr sounds more like Akira the Don. Weird.

It's about at this point that the grandiose stadium rock of 'I will Always Be Your Fool' signals a distinct turn away from the electro-industrial sounds and more towards a disappointing standard rock. There is the obligatory ballad, a track that sounds like The Offspring and another that sounds like 'Crazy Horses'. The electro-rock crossover returns in the nifty 'Boneheads' but it is at this point that you realise that Neurosonic don't sound much different from 'Info Freako' era Jesus Jones. I liked Jesus Jones (I know, I know...) and frankly they were a little bit better than Neurosonic. But if you aren't an old git like me then you might just find something on 'Drama Queen' that you really like.
www.myspace.com/neurosonic

SB

 
 

You Judas - Happiness (Fight Me)

A staggeringly ironic title for this, the second album from You Judas. Do not be tricked into buying this for your girlfriend or boyfriend as a loving gift - unless they actually enjoy being subjected to one of the most unremittingly intense and foreboding albums you are ever likely to hear. Me, I love this shit so on with the review!

There are a whole number of epically long and grinding tracks but none more so than the 10 minutes of 'On Your Knees Cowboy'. We are hardly eased into this state of mind either, the opening (and title track) being a concoction of sub-marine whale-like guitar rumbles and screams. Breaking the ethereal aura comes 'Spies' - a Sabbath heavy monster  which groans under the weight of the guitars and pounding drums and which seems to be reprised in 'Mountain Song' though in a version which sounds like it was recorded on a £9.99 dictaphone from Woolworths.

You Judas are also capable of a more tuneful song writing and have been compared to Radiohead 'with bollocks' in the past. This is not only due to the shared drawling vocals of both bands but as a testament to their song writing which throws in plenty of rusty guitar licks through tracks such as 'Adding Machine' and 'Stop and Search'. Some of it is also similar to Redjetson and iLiKETRAiNS in it's precise yet overwhelmingly full layering of guitars through a mist of reverb and distortion.

This certainly isn't easy to listen to but then I don't think all music should be. It's powerful and encapsulating and in the main quite hostile, but all the better for it. I would suggest that maybe the album is a little too long at 10 tracks (there is only so far you can go with the echo, reverb and sustain pedals) but I daren't be the one to tell them that.
www.myspace.com/youjudas

SB

 

Viva Stereo - Rarities and Improvements (Much Better/Fence)

It's saying something that for a band who has only released two albums that they still have enough 'secret' tracks to lend 19 of them to this very limited edition (99 numbered copies). But as well as forming an interesting summary of work to date and a look forward to the new album in 2007, there is probably enough stuff on here to warrant release on an 'album proper'.

A lot of the work comes from remixes of Viva Stereos previous tracks. Analog gives 'You're Not Committed to the Company' a further shot in the arm and Satellite Dub works his magic on 'Patterns of Behaviour' with a mesmerisingly cool album closer. Joe Kane's remix of 'Jesus Son; is so complete that at times it sounds like it is recorded from a nuclear submarine's sonar station.

 Viva Stereo's trademark mix of live and sampled/looped beats and bleeps provides the perfect raw material for remixes but there are some new tracks and raw edits which work equally well. 'Crying to Be Heard' is a light hearted bubbly Orb-esque electronic number. But the demo version of 'Tourniquet' featuring just bass and acoustic guitar with the vocals of King Creosote should be worth the £5 for the album alone. Superb.
www.vivastereo.co.uk

SB

 

Various Artists – Kitsune Maison Compilation 3 (Kitsune) 

About 10 years ago the original French Electronic Invasion happened with albums from the likes of Daft Punk, Air and Etienne De Crecy making a big impact in the UK and filtered french disco house the sound of all the clubs. Yes all of them. It’s happening again, and the label Kitsune, along with Ed Banger, is regarded by many as, being at the front of this new French Electronic Revival. Most of the acts on this compilation aren’t French mind. There’s only a couple, although one is Alex Gopher, who has been around long enough to see the first wave of artists making this much noise in electronic music (he was in a band called ‘Orange’ with members of Air, before they were Air, founded the Solid label with Etienne De Crecy and contributed to seminal French filtered house music album ‘Super Discount’). He’s lost nothing in his longevity though, contributing an impressive slice of dance floor electro to this compilation.  

Overall it’s an extremely consistent collection that rises above the watermark in being able to sound good at home as well as in a club. Only ‘The Lovely Feathers’ seem out of place, with their slightly twee ramshackle indie baring no resemblance to the rest of the album whatsoever and it clearly stands out from it’s surroundings, which almost makes it feel like it’s an easy target. But, it’s not really my cup of tea and I think they’d been better off finding another home for the track.  

Elsewhere on the album, producer of the moment (he’s producing Klaxons & Arctic Monkeys albums) James Ford’s ‘side project’, Simian Mobile Disco, offer up a dimly lit 80s synth grinder with a bassline that just won’t quit. It’s reminiscent of something off the album Darkdancer by Les Rhythm Digital (clearly, it was way ahead of it’s time). With an increasingly impressive arsenal of songs and the fact we haven’t had a massive dance act for a while. Expect Simian Mobile Disco to be filling the gap if they can work out a way to do it live at the festivals this year. In saying that, the Van She remix of Klaxons make them sound more New Rave than James Ford has done thus far.  

There’s a few more remixes on here as well, Soulwax make the Gossip sound like they’re on a speeding steam train before crashing into a big pile of punk funk,  Metronomy’s rework of Dead Disco’s ‘The Treatment’ could have done with a bit more of the original vocal being taken out but it makes up for it by punctuating it with some awesome synth stabs and The Valentinos Remix doesn’t really take off till after 3 minutes in but when it does it works a treat. 

Other tracks that I’ll give notable mentions to are Manchester’s The Whip’s driving glam disco number ‘Trash;’ London based Freeform Five’s ode to pulling on a night out ‘Home Wit U,’ they get minus points for ‘txt spk’ title mind; and also the other Frenchies contribution on the comp, Boyz Noise’s ‘Feel Good (TV=Off),’ which admittedly isn’t the their best track but it’s got a decent groove and would sound far better in a club than on my modest speakers. I’d put it somewhere between one of the weaker moments off Homework and something off Fatboy Slim’s ‘Better Living Through Chemistry.’ Which is better than it reads.  

Basically if you’re a fan of electronic music or want to hear what’ll be dominating the clubs this year, buy it. It’s well worth it.
http://www.myspace.com/maisonkitsune

Sweeney

 
 

The Tarka Groove Experiment - I’ve Fallen Over (Consequence Records)

Nightmare traffic on the way home? Too much stress at work? Nagging wife/husband? Then put your feet up and try the latest stress busting technique. Simply remove your shiny disc from the protective packaging (featuring a delightful monkey) and pop it into your chosen playing device. And relax. And most importantly, enjoy. The Tarka Groove Experiment, whilst having a rather bizarre name, have created a record that could be the soundtrack to your daydreams. Opening track Belmont Hill is a lazy, hazy start that eases you in gently with some glorious slide guitar before the rest of the album throws you into a world of blended genres and unlikely partnerships.  You’ve All Become Giants is a rip roaring country anthem, and at the same time a brilliant piece of funk. Proving that they’re not just another “chillout” band I’ve Fallen Over develops into a rabble rousing affair. Get On Down is a complete contrast to the earlier more relaxed tracks, with its twangy guitar riff and gravely vocals, courtesy of James Fender, who can switch from sounding like he’s being smoking five packs a day since he was 3 to a sweeter version of Jamie T. This album is the escapist’s soundtrack, and will soothe away all your aches and pains.
www.thetarkalounge.com

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Accidents Never Happen- Oslo Beat (Sheep Rec)

Accidents Never Happen are from Norway, funnily enough. They’ve recently relocated to our sunny shores, but a glance at their myspace confirms they’ve got a strong fan base back home, as almost every comment is in Norwegian. Saying that, my knowledge of the language is fairly limited, so it could all be hatemail. Killer Boots, released as a single in Norway last year, opens the album and is a bit of an epic at 5 minutes 20 seconds. A bit slow to start, it finally builds up into a drum driven, beat hopping stomper. Track four, How to Fuck up a Cup of Coffee, is worth listening to for the title alone. Luckily though, it’s also quite a nifty song with some brilliant drumming. Accidents Never Happen claim to sound like an older generation of bands, including Pavement and Fugazi, when in reality they sound much closer to our current crop of bands. Magne’s vocals are very similar to that of Kele Okereke’s their dark, brooding songs echo Editors. They should fit in nicely over here.

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Whirlwind Heat- I Fucked Up Types Of Wood (Brille) 

Let’s recap kids. Swearing is neither big or clever, or funny. And neither are remix albums (i.e. trotting out an album you’ve already released with the songs performed in a different way). Having not heard the original version of Types of Wood I’m not sure what position I’m in to be able to comment on the level of “fucked up-ness”. However I can say that I Fucked Up Types of Wood is a waste of time if you’re not a member of Whirlwind Heat. Playing with kazoos is good clean fun, but who really wants to sit down and listen to it? Luckily there are a few saving graces. I Fucked Up Captain Cave is a charming song with a lovely computer game riff. I Fucked Up Umbrella People is a Tilly and the Wall-esque tune, which, believe or not, is actually enhanced by the kazoo. Although it would work equally as well with a less annoying instrument. The phrase “one for die-hard fans only” has very rarely been used more appropriately than now.
www.whirlwindheat.com

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Manicured Noise- Northern Stories 1978/80 (Caroline True Records)

 I’ve heard a lot of strange things about the 70s and 80s. Whether they’re true or not, I have no idea, as I wasn’t around to see for myself. But, I can say with a fair amount of conviction that I’ve never heard of “Jazz Punk”. But it must have happened because I have it right here in front of me. Manicured Noise come from the age of Morrissey and Joy Division. Rather refreshingly though, they sound nothing like either of them.

Northern Stories is a collection of tracks from the studio, live, and a BBC Session (almost a prerequisite on anthologies these days). Moscow 1980 is a ska influenced instrumental that sees some rather experimental sax playing and some strange heavy breathing at the end, but gallops along nicely nonetheless.  In most of these songs it’s all about the bass and sax, which makes a welcome change from today’s guitar driven noise. At times however Manicured Noise can sound a little dated to modern ears, and dare I say it, a little cheesy, especially Mystery Sound.  Back in the day though, I imagine this band were way ahead of their field, and they’d make a fabulous soundtrack to an 80s party.
www.myspace.com/manicurednoise

Catriona Boyle

 

Benjy Ferree- Leaving The Nest (Domino) 

Benjy Ferree is quite the cliché. He moved to California to pursue an acting career, ended up working as nanny (perhaps not so cliché), decided he didn’t want to be an actor after all, worked in Starbucks in Hollywood serving famous people, and is now a bartender is Washington DC. And somewhere amongst the clichéd earlier years of his life, he developed a penchant for writing and singing songs.  Leaving The Nest is a lovingly crafted selection of songs that, despite Ferree’s varied life, are actually quite normal. In The Countryside is a harmless jaunty number that wouldn’t be out of place on a Shins album. Mainly the album contains harmless country songs (In The Countryside, The Desert, Hollywood Sign) sung in the vocal style of the Shins. Occasionally Ferree dips into some dirty rock and roll, especially in Dogkillers!, which features a wickedly filthy guitar riff. Leaving The Nest is a pleasant listen, especially if you’re a country fan, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before.
www.myspace.com/benjyferree
 

Catriona Boyle

 
 

The Hold Steady - Boys and Girls in America (Vagrant)

As well as staying well and truly under Tasty's radar with their debut album, it isn't immediately obvious to me why they have been included on so many end of year hit lists. Fair enough - things start OK with a pleasingly simple retro guitar and piano riff and Craig Finn's rambling spoken word vocals have a charming shambolic quality to them. 'Hot Soft Light' is a goody too - some fabulous guitar work and honky tonk saloon piano abuse.

'First Night' is the first sign of a slow track and is pretty good too - the piano seemingly being coaxed along by Finn and his world weary tones suiting the style ideally, very Pogue-ish. But things are already beginning to move from the retro to the clichéd and sadly much of the remainder of the album sounds like a number of MOR 80s covers.
http://www.theholdsteady.com

SB

 
 

The Pines – It’s Been a While (Matinee)

A retrospective of The Pines’ work has been waited for for some time ‘round these parts, and this album in a fine testament to one of the UK’s most underrated acts.

The Pines deal in proper nu-folk. None of this beardy shite that seems to be all the rage these days. Nope, The Pines do nice and simple and without looking or sounding like something 1976 dragged up.
And so, this is a compilation of a-side, b-sides, stuff that’s hard to get hold of, stuff that’s easy to get hold. And other stuff. Yet it’s this stuff they call stuff that will have The Pines a regular place in my heart. Songs like ‘The Chalet’ are so flippin’ affecting that it gets me feeling like I’m a moody teenager again.

There’s loads more here that I could go on about, but I won’t. Regular Pines fans can wallow in over an hour of gorgeousness; newcomers can find a band that might not change their lives, but will make their lives a whole lot better.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Airport Girl – Slow Light (Fortuna Pop!)

To say that Airport Girl have changed over the years is something of an understatement. Where once they thrilled Pop! kids with songs that had really long names, now they prefer to wallow in languid magnificence.

‘Slow Light’ sees Airport Girl finally perfect a sound they’ve been working on for a good three or four years now, and ‘Ode to the City’ is the culmination of that. It’s a pretty wonderful song.

Of course Airport Girl can still pop it up. ‘The Weather Song’ is a particularly ace shamblepop ditty, but it’s not long before Slow Light – and what an apt title that is for this album – reverts to type. ‘How Long can This Go On?’ is haunting to the max, and is absolutely beautiful.
After seeing Airport Girl live recently, it’s not hard to see why they struggle to replicate the sound of this album. Songs like ‘Show Me the Way’ are remarkable for their complexity and will therefore suffer.

But forget that, because this is a brilliant album. Fans of old school indie will love it, fans of nu-folk have something to cling to, too. Thank heavens for Airport Girl.

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Wolf & Club – Vessels (Beggars Banquet)

I can’t make my mind up whether Wolf & Club are worshipping at the altars of The Cult or Spacemen 3. I’d like to think it was the latter, and certainly, opener ‘Vessels’ has the gorgeous monotonous tone of the ‘3, but also feature a mental guitar solo and wibbly synth bits. Oh, I’m so confused. It also has TERRIBLE lyrics.
One thing’s for sure, W&C don’t like the three minute pop song. Only ‘Vultures’ comes in at less than three minutes. It’s this kind of bombast which ultimately turns me off ‘Vessels’, that and the bits that sound like INXS. If only they’d kept it nice and simple…

Sam Metcalf

 
 

Diane & the Shell - 30,000 Feet Tarantella (Australian Cattle God)

A truly cosmopolitan offering in almost every respect. Offered up by the magnificently named, Austin-based Australian Cattle God label, Dian & the Shell are four like minded musicians based in Catania, Italy. They are fixated with air travel, and '30,000 Feet Tarantella' is laced with aviation references, right down to several of the tracks being named simply \\\\\\, referring perhaps to the convention of airport departure boards showing this symbol when a flight clears.

All this attention to detail (some may say geekiness) is reinforced in the precise nature of the music. Very geometric and technical rock with regular interludes of tannoy announcements, aircraft noise and ambient weather. At their best and most fluent, Diane & the Shell spill out riffs with all the fluidity of The Dragon Rapide, Slint and Tortoise, the title track being an example of this, lurching emphatically to it's fairground style conclusion. 'Suite for Bancomat' is a lulling, tender track yet interrupted with a piercingly high string sound that is quite grating. All this builds up to the mammoth 'Scandinavian Landing' which builds up through glockenspiel, sparse keys and very ragged guitars quite low in the mix. Some rumbling bass is thrown in as the piano gets more frenetic just before the track stops abruptly around the 7 and a half minute mark. have these chaps had a bad trip to Stockholm perhaps? Maybe, but this is definitely their most angular track on this album.

There's plenty of interest to be had in this record and the attention to detail is highly impressive. However, I did find it very hard to warm to the music at all - I've pretty much been playing the CD on and off for more than a week (longer than we have time to give a lot of tracks at tasty) and was still left feeling a little short changed and expecting to suddenly 'get it'. I haven't yet but maybe it is just another listen round the corner.
www.dianeandtheshell.net

SB

 
 

Peter Loveday - Moving Along (Middle of the Road Records)

Peter Loveday is an Australian displaced and now resident in Barcelona. An interesting starting point, and the music on offer here reflects that dislocation. Some of the songs have that thousand yard stare that come from the very best Antipodean artists including The Triffids and Nick Cave. Indeed, Loveday has live links with Mr Cave and his Seeds, having shared a stage with him. For this album, recorded with a full band, he develops a sound that is rather more fulsome than on his previous collections. Animal comes over like a loaded Lou Reed, which can never be a bad thing. Run has a sweet fiddle and some searching words , whilst the spirit of Gerald Langley from those Bristol Art-Punks the Blue Aeroplanes is also sympathetically resurrected here.One of Lovedays previous bands , The Supports, come to mind in the phrasing of Underworld, while the ballad Boy Found Drowned conjures a spooky Peter Greenaway scene tranposed to Catalonia. This track also conjuring that important afore-mentioned TYS . Certainly, the spirit of a time, though I’m not sure if that is now, is nicely trapped by this collection. Certainly, Peter L is an experienced and astute songwriter and I’d like to catch a live show. Maybe at the next Barcelona Independent Music Festival? Nice thought. (7/10)

John Kertland

 
 

Nikola Sarcevic - Roll Roll And Flee (Burning Heart Records )

Nikola moves away from his punk rock roots with a collection of classic rock and roll inspired tunes that are uplifting and very listenable. Described a musician who wears two very distinct musical hats, opener From Where I’m Standing sounds a little like the Waterboys. A distinctive Gypsy rock/ Dylan tinge is scattered liberally throughout the album, recorded at the studio owned by Swedish act Soundtrack Of Our Lives. All the songs were written in the studio, in a bid to keep the sound fresher than before, though I admit that I haven’t heard the predecessor to this set Lock-Sport-Crock. Love is Trouble is an uplifting ballad, while Let Me In harnesses some Dexy's style horns to great effect.
In the middle of the album, things get uncomfortably close to pop-rock-by-numbers- autopilot on several tracks, Thin Air being a culprit. The balance is restored at the end however with Don’t Kill The Flame which shows real song smithing dexterity outside Nikolas punk day job. (7/10)

John Kertland

 
 

Pitch Black - Frequencies Fall (Dubmission)

I’m a sucker for New Zealand, OK I’ve never been there. Lately however, the Fat Freddy’s Drop album has been a 2006 staple on the kitchen sound system. Before that, It was International Observers quite brilliant album for Different Drummer records “Seen” , a collection that fused deep and lovely underground electronics with found sounds and the best driving music (3am ) since anything off Neu 2. I could never quite believe how that album was not on a popularity par with Zero 7 and the like. So, here we are several years (5 ) later with International Observer appearing once again on this collection of remixes of Pitch Blacks Ape To Angel album which I admit, ashamedly, to having not heard just yet. Well, they infuse Lost In Translation with trademark beats and a warm electronic glow, always strange that their main man is Tom Bailey from the Thompson Twins. Please don’t hold that against them. Friends’ Electric remodel Freefall with some dubby and broken beats, while Son Shine revisit Flex with some “Seen” like textures.Remix ventures like this can sometimes be ill advised and hit and miss affairs, however, I’d say that here is a set that actually manages to complement and expand the original. Engaging and well crafted all the way by quality remixers. Alucidation I remember from Big Chill days of old, when it was fun. But let’s not get distracted here, as they deliver an Orbitalesque piece of electro lush. A track that you’d expect to hear in a Tom Middleton (Global Communications) set, it really is very good indeed. Recommended. (9/10)

John Kertland

 
 

Carbon Based Lifeforms - World of Sleepers (Ultimae)

Way back when my ears were regularly getting pounded by the likes of Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Front 242 a friend of mine put together a mix tape of ambient trance music which after initial bemusement became a firm favourite. 'World of Sleepers' reminds me so much of that tape that it is unbelievable and this is both its strength and weakness.

For reasons best known to themselves, the Swedish duo of Daniel Ringstrom and Johannes Hedberg who make up Carbon Based Lifeforms have decided to start the track listing at 12 and end at 22 - very odd and slightly pretentious for a start. This album is also seriously long but much of it cannot really be classified as distinct songs. Instead this is firmly in family of oscillating pitches, dreamlike passages of sound and airy beats that form a trippy ambient concoction. All well and good and there's probably no better music to have on in the background while you are trying to do something else. But while I confess to being a fan of this very ambient style, I would never really choose to sit down and really listen intently to it as I find it too much like aural wallpaper to hold my attention for long. Furthermore, Carbon Based Lifeforms started out together in 1991 and I would argue that valuable and well produced 'World of Sleepers' is, it brings little more to the table than what has been heard in the genre for the past 15 years.
www.carbonbasedlifeforms.net

SB

 

Adjágas - Adjágas (Ever)

I would defy you to find another record this year that can compete with Adjágas for sheer individuality. The album is based around the local Sami tradition of 'yoik' - describing a person or place in terms of their 'essence' rather than a more literal translation. In the Sami homelands of Sápmi in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and parts of Russia this 'yoiking' would normally involve a very simple chanting, often a capella and usually just set to a single drum beat. The effect (and the idea of transcribing an entity's 'essence' has shamanic overtones and the local intonations are very similar to what you might associate with American Indian cultures. Adjágas have added just a touch of embellishment to this with some simple but beautiful strings to produce a completely mesmerising and beautiful piece of work.

The fragility of previous single 'Mun Ja Mun' is matched at every turn throughout this album. The male-female harmonies work together blissfully well and really induce the semi-dream-like state which is described by the Sami word 'Adjágas'. 'Rievdadeapmi' has an otherworldly quality about it while conversely remaining firmly fixed with an earthy spartan production. Essential listening.
http://www.myspace.com/adjagas
Watch video about the lives of Adjagas, Yoiking and the Sami People

SB

 
 

Son Veneno - Son Veneno

Son Veneno appear to be real journeymen of the musical scene. Having emigrated to Australia from Latin America they have now pitched up in London and are releasing their own mix of Latin and contemporary music. Sounds promising doesn't it?

Opening track 'Blow' is an interesting quirky kind of gangsta rap number featuring Mystro and rambles on quite enjoyably. The sound of what I guess to be Spanish rapping sounds similar to some of the modern French rap bands from the banlieus. Not really my thing but decent enough.

Things begin to fall apart with the aptly titled 'Stupid Song' which combines rockabilly, Mariachi, ska, eastern European and any other influences going. It doesn't sound good - more like a bad holiday hotel band. I can almost picture the guy coming round afterwards trying to sell some CDs. Other stuff on the record reverts to more formulaic Latin sounds with expert musicianship but nothing spectacular in terms of song writing. If you want to listen to this sort of thing then get on a flight to Havana - don't buy a CD. 'Present' is an exception to the rule - being a laid back hip hop thing that doesn't grate quite as badly as the rest of the album.
www.sonveneno.com

SB

 
 

The Redlands Palomino Company - Take Me Home (Laughing Outlaw)

The Redlands Palomino Company have been building up a bit of a reputation within the UK alt-country and Americana communities and this album is unlikely to to that ascent much harm.

Based mainly around the husband-wife team of Hannah and Alex Elton-Walton, 'Take Me Home' features some really beautiful guitar parts and pleasing vocals. 'Take Me Home' has a bit of The Cardigans about it and the real raucous guitars are kept well in check until near the end with 'Pick Up, Shut Up' which provides a real lift after quite a few minutes of pleasing but resolutely gentle tracks. There's even a slight 'Bitter Sweet Symphony' moment to the strings in the 'Take Me Home' reprise right at the end of the record.

If you like your Americana firmly in the mainstream with pedal guitar et al then this is a fantastic purchase. personally I like my alt-country a little more alt and little less country but the craftsmanship of The Redlands Palomino Company is indisputably there for all to enjoy.
www.redlandspalomino.com

SB