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  albums - october 2008

 
 
 

Hollywood, Mon Amour – s/t (PIAS Recordings) 

In a nutshell, Hollywood, Mon Amour, as the name would suggest, play classic movie songs. So it could go either way really. They’ve selected some absolute classics for this album. Eye of the Tiger is given a sultry female singer with an offbeat jazz swing to it, and sounds all the better for it. It takes on a whole new life, sounding like a woman seducing a man rather than a cheesy anthem. 

When Doves Cry is a definite miss though, and sounds more slutty than sultry. Luckily they redeem themselves with a half-speed version of What A Feeling from Flashdance. I’m hoping the over-sincerity or playing the song as a ballad is intended to be funny rather than taken seriously, because it certainly gave me a giggle, as did Footloose, which is transformed into 12 bar blues, right down to the walking bass. 

Most of the songs are treated with the same formula – some smooth female vocals, a slower tempo and a bit of a swing. The one word summary has to be ‘why?’, but there are far worse things to listen to, and Don’t You Forget About Me strangely almost brought a tear to my eye. Give it a listen out to satisfy your curiosity if nothing else.
http://www.hollywoodmonamour.com

Catriona Boyle


 

Kelli Ali – Rocking Horse (One Little Indian) 

Kelli Ali has the voice of a five-year-old. Whilst at times it’s endearing to hear a pure innocent voice, at times it’s also a little annoying, particularly when it’s la-la-la-ing. 

Innocence is indeed the name of the game for this album, and it seems Kelli Ali is aiming for a quaint, charming sound somewhere between Laura Marling, Kate Bush and an old-school kids’ song. 

Sadly it’s lacking the edge and depth to really hit the mark, and becomes simpering and a bit drippy. Heaven’s Door carries on a bit too long, and the identical intonation of the couplet lyrics throughout call for a press of the skip button.  

It’s the one dimensionality of this album that makes it falter. Kelli Ali has a delicate, airy voice that really only lends itself to quiet tracks, therefore this is thirteen tracks of flutes, gentle piano and banjos that are either mid-tempo for full blown ballads. Rocking Horse is an attempt at something a little darker, and if they’d replaced the echo-laden guitar noise with some drums it might’ve worked, but as it is it just sounds like a possessed child singing about a rocking horse. 

A good try, but it’s just a bit too gentle and insipid to have any effect apart from mild annoyance.
www.myspace.com/kelliali

Catriona Boyle

 

Marianne Dissard - L’Entredeux (Regularbeat Recording Co.) 

I read a blog on The Guardian website that said Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On is now considered too clichéd to work as a mood setter, and apparently induces fits of giggles rather fits of passion. That’s a shame. But good news everyone, I think I’ve found the new Let’s Get It On. 

Well perhaps not. But let’s face it, a lady singing in French is going to work every time*. (*I’m not guaranteeing this…no angry letters please). In addition to the French, Marianne Dissard has also got one of those sexy husky voices that most women only achieve when they’ve got a raging cold. Add to that some gentle acoustic guitar or sweeping strings and we’ve got ourselves a winner. 

Getting lucky aside though, L’Entredeux is a very listenable album. Perhaps there’s something comforting about not having to concentrate or engage with the lyrics (my French doesn’t even stretch to GCSE), and the vocals become more like an instrument The acoustic liltings and low French rumblings have a rather soothing effect that washes over like a big cloud of Rescue Remedy. 

So slip this on the record player, slip into something a little more comfortable and see where L’Entredeux takes you.
www.myspace.com/mariannedissard

Catriona Boyle

 
 

Finlay Morton – Back to Basics (Stoneroom Recordings) 

There’s something a bit strange about hearing a grown man sing, with all sincerity, scary monsters’ are coming to get him. Does he still need his mum to check under his bed? After this rather shaky first track though, Findlay Morton seems to settle down a bit and starts acting like a grown up. A rather boring grown up. A rather boring grown who’s putting on a rather horrific American country/blues singer accent, and attempting far too much to sound like Bob Dylan/Tom Petty/ Neil Young et al. The result is exactly that – this sounds like a poor man’s version of Tom Petty. Hammond Organ riffs, a lo-fi feel, and a low rumbling voice. It’s dull, and it’s been done before by people with far more imagination. No one likes a copy cat.

Catriona Boyle

Finlay Morton’s ‘Back to Basics’ has been previously described as “rich, countrified blues based rock”, and if I’m perfectly honest, I couldn’t have described this record any better myself. It’s an incredibly powerful record, a fusion of many styles and genres augmented by strong; heart felt songs which do truly convey life, loss, and hope. Themes of which are directly connected with Morton (he had to delay recording the album to recover from a heart attack). It’s a melody-packed album, with strong storytelling ensued throughout; right from opener, ‘Scary Monsters’, to ‘Back to the Start’, you truly get the sense that Morton has the ear for a catchy tune. Arguably the strongest song on the album, ‘The Circus’, is a real highlight, combining haunting, echoey vocals with a beautiful, upbeat tune- It’s the kind of song that you would happily sing along to whilst driving in your car on a sunny day along a pretty country lane. 

Despite this, overall, the material on ‘Back to Basics’ isn’t that strong. Where ‘Scary Monsters’ is a ‘nice’, seemingly happy song, it lacks in true substance, and originality, which would have made it great. Sadly, this seems to be the theme that is echoed throughout. ‘Back to Basics’ is a ‘pleasant’ album that would satisfy many-a Dylan fan. However, you have to question what Morton has to offer going forward. Unfortunately, the answer is not a lot. ‘Back to Basics’ is a ‘backward album’, one of reflection and contemplation, rather than a stride forward- it’s good though.

Sean Phillips

 

Kat Flint – Dirty Birds (Albino Recordings) 

Apparently Kat Flint was pleased when she decided to be a writer because she could stop brushing her hair. That’s just not how it works is it. And in the picture her hair has not only been brushed, but styled. And she’s wearing lipstick. Enough picked apart the press release though. Track three has a kazoo, and any track with a kazoo is always going to be a winner. And it’s a brief burst of kazoo, which makes it even more rewarding when it pops up.  

Christopher, You’re a Solider Now if definitely a stand out, but it’s a shame it’s about such a well-ploughed subject, as the words seem to have less impact than they should. 

Kat’s low, earthy, rich tones are a welcome change to screeching pop banshees, and she has a touch of the Suzanne Vega’s about her. However her writing abilities expose her inexperience and go over much trampled ground.  

Musically, this is an accomplished album. The arrangements are expertly done, and the inclusion of the snare drum on track eleven works well.  

These are sturdy starting blocks, and Kat Flint is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
www.myspace.com/katflint

Catriona Boyle

 

Lizzyspit - Eggbox 

If ever there was a true musician, then ‘Lizzyspit’ must truly be that musician. She’s said ‘no’ to the professional recording studio, and no to a band, and she’s gone in head-first to record ‘Eggbox’ alone in her bedroom. It’s a bold and brave move, one of which ultimately highlights the rough edges within the release. Sadly, these production glitches are evident right from the start. Where ‘Jack of All Trades’ should be a contemplative balled of discontent, it ends up being a rather irritating listen. The slightly strained vocals seem to add to these technical issues. In fact it’s rare that you find an album as stripped-down as ‘Eggbox’- it’s what could only be described as a ‘naked’ album. In some ways, I do feel that these bedroom recordings do not do many of the songs on ‘Eggbox’ justice. However, it’s a truly honest effort throughout, and I feel that without the ‘raw’ feel, this album wouldn’t have had the same kind of effect on me. Throughout, ‘Lizzyspit’ sticks to her guns. On ‘I Don’t Need a Drummer’, her total stubbornness truly is conveyed; “I don’t need a drummer to make this a song!” she adamantly states. Ultimately, it’s this certainty on where she stands that makes ‘Eggbox’ a triumph.

I have a soft spot for this album. In my heart I know that none these of these songs will ever be played on Radio 1. I know that ‘Lizzyspit’ will never become a massive recording artist with this release, but if I’m honest, I hope she doesn’t. She doesn’t really need to. What I admire about this release is that it’s a complete statement of intent. For too long the music industry has focused constantly on ‘perfect production’ of records and we seem to have forgotten about all the things that made music one of the most special things that we endear on this earth. Lizzyspit seems to have her heart set on these special values, and made an album, that maybe lacks in quality, yet gives us all a sense of reality.
www.myspace.com/lizzyspit

Sean Phillips

 

Jon Redfern- What Else But Love? 

With ‘What Else But Love?’ Jon Redfern has created a truly ‘beautiful’ album. Although ‘What Else but Love?’ is on the whole low-key and simplistic, it’s the elegance and emotion conveyed that make this a truly special release. The album kicks off with the very Nick Drake-esque ‘Spark in the Sky’, with its rather understated vocals and dreamy tune. Arguably the strongest track and first release from ‘What Else but Love’, ‘Play for Fear’ truly displays the exquisite song writing ability of Redfern. It’s an aural pleasure, combining excellent vocals with gliding guitar riffs with perfect ease. In a way it’s the perfect pop ballad. From start to finish, ‘What Else but Love’ never ceases to entice the listener to want more; it’s a gorgeous-sounding record, combining all the elements that make truly beautiful music.

Although the album is not overly memorable, with many average tracks, it's certainly not dull. The varied tempo of many of the tracks provides enough differentiation to make for easy listening.  I have to say, however, when Becky Unthank provides vocals on the closing ‘Don't Worry’, you get the impression that she’s at the next level, and Jon Redfern is sadly lagging behind. Ultimately, this appears to be a metaphor almost for Redfern’s career thus far. Being good, yet not quite yet reaching the heights of the industry and with this release, I sadly get the gist that he won’t reach those heights just yet.
www.myspace.com/jonredfern

Sean Phillips

 

Envisage - What Tomorrow Might Mean?

Envisage have been described as loud, brash Brit-rock but there appears to be nothing boisterous at all about their music which is watery and mellow, their lyrics are simple and uninteresting and the recording is incredibly simple and has little merit. Envisage have no depth and are nothing more than a local band who you may hear down the pub and think nothing off. A waste of recording time in my ears I don't think I made it much further than a minute into each song without a cringe and a shift track change. Their melodies are drab and slow, boisterous! what a joke.
www.myspace.com/eastlondonenvisage

Gareth Ludkin

 

Pelle Carlberg - The Lilac Time

There's maybe an element of Jens Lekman and Belle and Sebastian in Pelle Carlberg's music. On Labrador records it doesn't strike me as an instant hit. The album drags somewhat and lost my interest fairly early on. Animal Lovers is a nice tune but the rest of the album left me fairly lukewarm. It's not an endearing listen or one I would put on again and again. One fairly swift listen was plenty enough for me.
http://www.myspace.com/pellecarlberg

Gareth Ludkin

 

Chanty Poe – Yeahh

This is many things, originality is not one of them. Bassline and Party Techno are the hot words of the week, month and its looking like the whole year is dedicated to some inspiring and creative juices flowing all over Mac music makers. Even he’s not heard of Does If Offend You, Yeah? I have, and this is them all over again – minus the guitars and sappy tracks; so pretty much an extension of the four tracks which did include a Korg synthesizer. Even his guests are copy cats; Miss Oddkidd is M.I.A. without credibility.

Neither here nor there, after a (insert chosen intoxicant here) or two you and I wouldn’t say no to dance to it. In fact, if all shit indie bands would stop using keyboards as a way of ‘crossing genres, maaaan’ I’d see this as a work of fun rather than another clog in the rave wheel.

Let’s not get too upset, Chanty Poe hasn’t broken any unwritten law (eg do not cover Joy division etc). Instead we should point the finger of blame towards those who look to bewitch the scene (and MySpace) with their gluttonous exploitation of a sound which is far too easy to recreate.

Nick Burman

 

Ralph Myerz – Ralphorama!

Formerly of the Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band, the man’s gone solo, teaming up with a pantheon of up-and-coming American emcees and singers.

The first three tracks are straight up electro house affairs, offering up some shape-throwing beats and bleats. The following third of the album gives us a round of hip-hop tracks, with big downward bass beats moving the sound on – until we get to the acid-induced R’n’B. Track sixteen ‘Out of Reach’ is ultimately euro trash house, ‘Stormy Weathers’ has a Gorillaz groove in it but much like track four (featuring Karin Park) this, featuring vocals from Christine Sandtorv, is a cost cutters cheap Bjork rip off. UFOs fly over Massive Attack’s nineties warehouse parties on ‘Sandviken’; an eerie slow burning industrial track.

Ralphorama is an odd album, when listened to it in its entirety the drifts and curves in the sounds works, separately they don’t. Production from the main man himself brings out the sound in a way other producers may have held it back. Over an hour of insight/mash up of today’s button mashing when it comes to sounds rising out of the underground. There is a downside to such a hearty piece of work, it’s just damn hard to actually like as oppose to appreciate.

Nick Burman

 

Sienna – A Pure Land

Japanese born, continent drifting Sienna is a modern day Yoko Ono, Bjork with a hint of Underworld… or not.

I’ve never liked world music, and this is effectively world music trying to get away with its own portentousness by being ‘dance music’. Well, there’s nothing more portentous than portentous dance music, and all the Norwegian influence in the world can’t change that. The beats are pretty lo-fi, generic affairs. What goes over the top of them is a bit more interesting – track two ‘City Traffic – I Am Growing’ (how these two things are connected I’ll never know) turns into an old school jungle flavoured party track, before realising its own importance and turning into blank noise.

No one should be allowed a debut album whereby almost every track hits the five minute mark. Make your point, and do it quickly, because this is like hearing a seminar on why not to smoke weed.
www.myspace.com/siennaweb

Nick Burman

 

Various:Delicious Vinyl All-Stars RMXXOLOGY

I’m still a bit perplexed about the basis for this album, even after reading the promo slip about twenty times a day I can’t work out whether its old-schools tracks remixed or nu-school tracks remixed. All I know is it sounds like the train to Ibiza left its tracks and took off for the stars this summer.

Compiled by Peaches and Delicious Vinyl head boy Rick Ross with remixes from Hot Chip, Diplo and any other hip names you want to throw up, RMXXOLOGY is a bizarre soundtrack to the greatest dance tent in the middle of space. Not a mix, for once it works in this format, as its pretty much an exercise for DJs to get hold of some of the best remixes around this autumn gaining two CDs of pure groove enjoyment. CD one is the original remixes; number two instrumentals. Even if certain tracks do double up (not the same one repeated, the same original remixed separately) it’s still a wide sounding collection.

Far more original and fun than I was expecting, this breaks through any musical barriers put up by other supposed ‘dance acts’ this year, this is proper dance music for proper dance music fans. Delicious Vinyl is the place to go for the hottest in break beat, techno and old-school renaissance sounds.
http://www.myspace.com/deliciousvinylrecords

Nick Burman

 

Benjamin Wetherill - Laura (Red Deer Club/Ba Da Bing)

Like the last swallow of the summer, or in our case here at Tasty, the last CD of a large summer backlog, Ben Wetherill lights up an otherwise dreary autumn day with his debut long player 'Laura'. Opener 'For All the Headlines' and 'So Dark the Night' literally sum up this feeling with feather light immaculately picked guitar, birdsong and the distinctive trill of Wetherill's voice.

However for large swathes of the album, the influence of being holed up in a disused Budapest palace with an ensemble of Hungarian musicians is clearly apparent. There's a distinctly European tinge to the folk here, leant a sombre gravitas by a mournful woodwind in 'Ada'. There's also a large amount of darker experimentation with the folk idiom - 'Oh Sorrow' being the perfect example - dark, brooding and slightly menacing - the folk music equivalent of 'The End' by The Doors. The piano, bass and guitar play off each other superbly through the midsection before welling up to a tumultuous climax.

But above all it is the sheer quality and talent of Wetherill's musicianship and voice that leave the strongest lasting impression. There are a hatful of would-be folkies out there who are splurging their dull musical efforts into our post bag every month. But the skill and intricacy of Wetherill's guitar playing and the lightness of touch of his voice see him him leap out head and shoulders above the mainstream. This is not a fashion, not a fad, not the latest album by The Kaiser Bloc Monkeys. It is just sheer talent and we should take every opportunity we can to bask in this record's brilliance  to remind us of that.
www.benjaminwetherill.co.uk

SB

 

Eugene McGuinness - s/t (Domino)

Eugene advertises himself as a singer songwriter and the strident acoustic chordage that opens this album seems to attest to this but merely blink and 'Rings Around Rosa' actually is all over, managing to cover a significant range of musical styles of which conventional guitar/vocal is only one within its slightly less than two and a half minutes. Things slow down a bit with 'Wendy Wonders', which Eugene could retitle as 'Shaftesbury Avenue' without raising even part of an eyebrow, as the actual title only appears in the song twice while the reference to London's theatreland forms a repetitious motif throughout the song. We are quite definitely inhabiting Quirkeville, where things are a bit bonkers all the time and no-one can really guess exactly what wacky nonsense is going to happen next, sort of like one of those furniture adverts except with animals instead of people trying out the sofas and chairs.

'Hey now, we're tumbling down a rabbit hole' is the main lyrical focus of a song entitled 'Moscow State Circus' and this ought to provide sufficient hints as to exactly where Eugene McGuinness's quirky style finds much of its inspiration. A lot of the twelve songs on this album, and it sounds as if there are more, though in a good way - bear strong resemblances to the work of Neil Hannon and his Divine Comedy, which nobody remembers, it was ages ago. I hope we remember Eugene McGuinness though, this is much too good a record to promptly collapse into obscurity.
www.myspace.com/eugenemcguinness85

Jon Gordon

 

Metronomy - Nights Out

The name 'Metronomy' used to have some sort of pastiche comedy value amongst certain friends of mine. 'You Could Easily Have Me' seemed the archetypal post-new-rave, Late of the Pier-esque brazen pop tune that failed to excite purely on the basis of wildly hyped electropop synths.

'Nights Out', then, should fail: the PR company-scribed Wikipedia entry lauds it as a 'half-arsed concept about going out and having a crap time", which is generally not a cool thing to say. Maybe the fifth song, 'Heartbreaker', is Enough, with the sub-Klaxons vocals having quite nothing about them, but the whole 'lookit, we have some machine which makes fancy horns sounds' formula is sufficient to warrant a listen to 'The End Of You Too', 'A Thing For Me' or 'My Heart Rate Rapid'. You'll shuffle along to that one like you did to 'Random Firl'. First single 'Radio Ladio' also makes a mark in that it sounds like The Ting Tings over, well, a Metronomy beat. And having a trademark like that is no bad mark.

Phil Coales

 

Building Castles Out Of Matchsticks - Secret Land

This album is, as the name would suggest, the sound of unlocking an extra level on one of those games where the reviewers miss the point in the plot and look straight at the graphics, which is the real point anyway. Unfortunately, there's precious little left in the detail. Murky, maybe, but as electropop goes it is not rivalling the Knife for mystique or, like, another band in terms of fun.

Phil Coales

 

Gramercy Arms - Gramercy Arms

This is pretty bland. There is a member of 'Nada Surf' and a comedienne and 'some other names' on here, which means nada, either to me personally or in terms of the album's quality or frame of reference. The archetypal 'bloke pissing' shot on the cover sums it up, and the deluge of similarly disinterested-looking and disinteresting photography in the booklet gives you a '...' feel before the game's even begun. The rulebook on cliches is plaintitively ignored, and the least contrived lyric is 'You could take out the king / But you leave the pawn'. Largely forgettable Britpop.

Phil Coales

 

Fujiya & Miyagi - Lightbulbs

I didn't hear the first album. No worries. You don't need that as a 'starting point'. You can pick up from where Chromeo, or Neon Neon, left off... wait, where are you going? Okay, okay, so song titles include 'Uh' and 'Sore Thumb', but then there's also 'Rook To Queen's Paw Six'. Okay, maybe, like with Chromeo and Neon Neon, the whole thing seems a bit tired by the time we have the penultimate song (the title track). Still. It is really fun, in a way that the aforementioned 'other groups' struggle to attain - there is no over-pervasive sexiness, and, in a way not unlike that belonging to Chromatics, it is a half-sexless and half-sexy party. 'Knickerbocker' is the best song about ice cream since the last really good song about ice cream, and Fujiya & Miyagi seem to have that quality that one now-forgotten band desired when they stated their aim was 'to make music that girls can dance to'.
www.fujiya-miyagi.co.uk

Phil Coales

 

Juana Molina - Un Día (Domino)

I can't believe it was spring 2006 when I first heard the previous Juana Molina album which at the time was a complete revelation to me. It became the soundtrack to a summer which seemed to be filled with lots of warm sunny evening, doors and windows open enjoying the sounds of Molina drifting across the night air. Oh, and more often than not probably accompanied by a cool beer or two. The seasons may have changed but seeing Juana Molina play live in January 2007 with Adem, Vashti Bunyan and Vetiver was an equal revelation. Within what was already a good good, Juana Molina was simply stunning and stole the show. So on the back of this, the release of 'Un Dia', Molina's 5th album has been hotly anticipated in my postcode at least for some time.

Now I can't put my finger on any one reason or influence why, but I am really struggling to warm to this album. I can see exactly what the press release says about Molina 'humanising' this album by bringing her voice more to the fore, by making the rhythms more explicit. But maybe that was half of the allure of 'Son' - the feeling that you had discovered a new level to each track, picked up on a unique undercurrent. It was mesmeric and otherworldy whereas 'Un Dia' is just, well, too damn accessible.

That said, Molina has produced a very listenable album - I can quite easily potter around doing my bits and pieces while 'Un Dia' provides the soundtrack in the background. I can't quite as yet pick out any individual tracks which deserve special attention but I am listening out and maybe one day, like some kind of epiphany the whole thing will come together for me and make wondrous sense. With Juana Molina I wouldn't discount the possibility of this happening for one second.

SB

 

The Streets – Everything is Borrowed – (The Beats) 

For the second-to-last time, the Streets return with a fourth studio album. Everything is Borrowed, which follows the overtly introspective Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living and resolutely closes the door on that chapter in the band and chief protagonist Mike Skinner’s life. 

By absenting the musings about the mundanity of everyday Britain, the intricacy of relationships with girls or his relationship with the press, or drugs, Skinner delivers on his promise to deliver a record free of self referencing or pop culture.  The drum machines and UK garage underpinnings are axed as Skinner instead turns bona-fide-storyteller with fables and parables and parodies of biblical scripture. Musically, the interweaving of brass, piano, acoustic guitar and strings give the album an organic, heavyweight feel. 

The lyrics, from a man who once wrote “Maccy D’s or KFC, only one choice in the city, done voicing my pity, now lets get to the nitty gritty” are sagacious and articulate. Flip of a Coin, possibly in homage to Reinhart’s The Dice Man, tells the tale of a person living his life by the toss of a coin; the subject nearly drowns, his father just watches, it is interesting stuff. 

The ballads are as tender and aching as ever, but again, by circumventing the usual subject matter, Skinner avoids direct comparisons between his new material and the benchmark of Dry Your Eyes.  Instead, On the Edge of a Cliff is a sentimental and heartwarming tale of a man being convinced not to commit suicide by a passer by. 

Strongest Person I Know is from the trademark Streets ballad camp, more predictable in its construction and delivery, and consequently one of the few moments where the concept slips and the album fades into pastiche. 

Skinner has promised the final Streets album will be a dark, digital affair, inspired by Lou Reid’s Berlin and a synthesizer exhibition he recently attended, so enjoy this halcyon offering while you can, and get ready for the swansong.
www.myspace.com/thestreets

Ian Anderson

 

JUD – Sufferboy

JUD have been releasing albums for 12 years now and with this their fifth album the fact that no one knows about them whatsoever must be quite disheartening. Particularly when their music exists somewhere in the Queens Of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Silverchair mould that is so universally popular in the popular and alternative scenes. As a result moving to Germany and starting all over again seems to be their middle finger to the world, and this album is the result of this transition.

Overall it’s pretty good full of fast paced, and raw songs like the excellent ‘Accelerate’ that if the world was a fair place would get them noticed and be headlining at the very least the Astoria within the year. However with the current trend for no one giving a flying fuck about American alternative rock bands since Audioslave were overcome by their own egos I sadly don’t see that happening. Thundering riffs, raucous drums and raw, powerful vocals and a more than dark edge to both their sound and lyrics should at the very least maintain the fans they have and hopefully earn them some more. For now though it’s going to be more frankfurters and bratwurst for JUD.

Chris Sharpe

 

Trost – Trust Me (Bronzerat Records) 

Trost, formally of Atari Teenage Riot is a Berlin based singer songwriter, she plays sparse, slow burning, electronica and sings in her native German but also French and, predominantly English. 

Most of the vocals are delivered in a breathy, understated way, which is fine, as they suit the general understated ambiance of the music. Percussion is minimal, being either a basic metronomic electronic beat, or brushed drums, the bass is similarly restricted to the odd stab or atmospheric touch here and there.  The end result is that all of the songs here are quiet, uncomplicated affairs.  Occasionally they border on being overly twee, a tale of an injured sparrow being a prime example.

But that’s not to say that there isn’t anything here that’s not worth listening to, the opening song, in German, sounds like an old Bond theme, wonderfully atmospheric and suitably exotic and the second to last song, which might be sung in English about an arrow, or possibly in another language altogether sees Trost up the tempo and intensity a bit and provides another highlight.  But unfortunately they book-end a lot of dinner-party-luxe quasi-exotic and ultimately stone cold downtempo electro pop.  It’s the lack of feeling, intensity or frankly, anything interesting to say that means that Trost fails to get under your skin or into your head. 

PS sorry about the lack of song titles, no tracklisting was provided.

Ian Anderson

 
 

Burgaboy – BASSic Mixtape 

Much has been written, lots of it by middle aged Guardian hacks about the healthy state of British music. Often their articles cite various genres of urban music, grime, bassline, 4x4, as proof of the talent and diversity we have in this great nation. 

What I really wonder is if those people have ever listened to the music they write about? Burgaboy being a case in point. He is a leading exponent of the 4x4 / bassline scene and after hearing his music I can firmly state two things. 

Firstly, nothing about it is original, inventive or interesting. 

Secondly, the whole scene will slip entirely off the radar in less than a couple of years. 

The sound is simply a splicing of the drum and bass ‘wobble’ bassline into a 4,4 structure, with the addition of some of the most amateur MC’ing I have ever heard, and / or some helium inflated vocals, and that’s it. 

Comparing well produced UK urban music from Sway, Foreign Beggars, Kano or even classic Roots Manuva with their clanging samples, reggae influences and raw, heavy beats to Burgaboy and his style of music, it is obvious that the bassline format loses all the gritty bits, all the reference points, except the wobble bassline, and all that remains is an MC shouting ‘when I say DJ you say Burgs, when I say burger you say boy’ over a tired beat. Predictably, I didn’t like that very much and neither would you in all likelihood.

Ian Anderson

 

Alaska In Winter – Remixes (Regular Beat)

Alaska In Winter’s debut album, ‘Dance Party In The Balkans’, was released last year. Zach Condon of Beirut contributed to parts of the album, perhaps giving the album more attention that it would otherwise have received. With or without the Beirut influence, the album deserved any positive attention it gained at the time. ‘Remixes’ is a follow-up to this debut album, and includes six tracks all remixed from the original album.

The first three tracks have been remixed by Alaska In Winter themselves, while the remaining three were altered by previous contributor to the band, Doctor Vey, a Black Country duo called Young Dead, and Hull-based Coney Island Sound. The remixes cover a variety of styles; some retain the feel and atmosphere of the debut album, while others seem to completely move away from this and intentionally lose the character of the original song.

‘We Are Blind and Riding the Merry-Go-Round’ reshuffles parts of ‘Close Your Eyes – We Are Blind,’ while completely removing any traces of Zach Condon’s vocal contributions. This remix works well and keeps the same mood and tone of the parent song, while still being a credible track in its own right.

The remix of ‘Horsey Horse’ completely steps away from the original version. Dr Vey creates an electro version of the song, that focuses mainly on the piano riff of the original. This bass-heavy remix may be too repetitive for some listeners, but definitely gives a new perspective on the original.

‘Remixes’ is an interesting idea for Alaska In Winter to take up, and the album would be a worthwhile listen for anyone already familiar with ‘Dance Party In The Balkans.’

Yasmin Prebble

 

Jon Savage presents: Dreams Come True – Classic First Wave Electro 1982-87 (Domino)

Another rare/retro/”look-this-is-who-started-all-this-dance-music-shit” lecture from another “look at me! I could dance like you youngsters can today” historian. First of all: this doesn’t even sound like first wave electro, it sounds like past-it disco acts found a drum machine in the garbage bin behind ‘mediocre 80s production kit inc’. Not that I doubt Jon Savage but for a better representation of really good early electronica check out Disco Not Disco, a compilation released earlier this year.

Released by Domino this is obviously a label trying to show that they have a finger on the now as well as the past. Well they might have the present covered but this has aged in the same way milk does. Let’s hope Late of the Pier, Simian Mobile Disco and others don’t taste quite so sour twenty years from now.
www.dominorecordco.com

SB

 

Discovery Zone – Machine

A truly odd band, built of five teenagers from Hollywood their tracks either start bad and end great (Machine) or start good and end in a downer (Moose). The last track Counterstrike is the longest track from the trio, and is the only one which almost pulls through as a complete package. Towards the climax of Machine some free jazz comes into the equation, while a telephone is continuously dialling in the background.

Less worth it for the heavy metal, picked guitar line and Beach Boys style harmony at the start of Moose this is kind of enjoyable… for pure entertainment’s sake. It’s all a bit pub rock to even consider getting past a crowd of twenty, and listen to the opening vocals of track three without just feeling like they wasted quite a bit of opportunity, energy and money making this. Ridiculous, but entertaining, and if your not having to pay for it then once in a while that’s not too bad.
www.mysapce.com/discoveryzoneband

Nick Burman

 

Sound and Fury - Sound and Fury  

Hailing from Toronto, Canada. Sound and Fury truly do live up to their name with their music. With a lot of passion going into their music, it is rock ‘n’ roll but with a punk twist to it. The theme behind the sound of this album is of heavy hitting guitar riffs but accompanied by catchy lyrics which aren’t screamed like most bands do nowadays, this coming as quite a pleasant surprise. The ‘fury’ side of things is shown through by the aggression which goes into their music and makes this debut album so great to listen to. By combining these two elements the band produce ‘Sound and Fury’ not just as the name for their band or the name of their album but as the music they are creating. They even try to tackle 80’s rock ‘n’ roll with ‘High School Hotbox’ which, if you’re wondering, does include a face melting solo in it just to top off the revival. On the whole, as far as debut albums go, Sound and Fury have produced an album which I believe is to the best of their abilities and this ‘best’ truly is something great to listen to. 
http://soundandfury.com/

Tim Birkbeck

 

Hjaltalin – Sleepdrunk Seasons (Cargo)

‘Sleepdrunk Seasons’ has already been released in Hjaltalin’s native Iceland, and the band is now being introduced as the country’s newest export. Hjaltalin won two awards at the recent Icelandic Music Awards, including an award for ‘Brightest Hope’. This is their debut album, featuring a plethora of instruments, making the band seem more like an odd sort of compact chamber orchestra. The band, who have rarely played outside of Iceland, create a carefree and uplifting sound liberally scattered with floaty instrumental lines.

Several songs from ‘Sleepdrunk Seasons’ would not seem too out of place on a Stars album. ‘The Boy Next Door’ is the best example, with several wind and brass instruments decorating the Amy Millan style vocals. ‘Traffic Music’ and ‘Trailer Music’ also have this tinge of Stars about them.

‘Goodbye July / Margt að Ugga’ stands out too, a sort of joyful romp laced with piano and spiky, rhythmic strings and brass, with a dramatic mood change in the middle of the song.

The overall sound is that of a twee indie band with an orchestral focus. ‘Sleepdrunk Seasons’ veers from striking string accompaniments to blissful melodies, and is heavily laden with an array of beautiful sounds.
http://myspace.com/hjaltalinband

Yasmin Prebble