After having watched Villagers live a couple of months ago, I
couldn’t wait for their new releases; all of their new songs being
as captivating and different as Awayland was to Becoming a Jackal.
This one, Occupy Your Mind, is particularly different to pretty
much anything else they have recorded so far. It’s funkier, heavier
and almost psychedelic. The line ‘I just want to occupy your mind’
repeats itself without becoming tiring and the video compliments
it perfectly. It is a bold move but I am so glad they have done
it. Their first two albums were, in my opinion, amazing, both
of which were nominated for the Mercury Prize, but it was time
to mix it up a bit. Conor O’Brien is a fantastic songwriter and
never compromises. I urge you to listen to this and then, when
you have a couple of hours, their back catalogue. 8/10.
– Black is the Color
Shearwater have gone back to their old ways with this rather
beautiful song Black Is The Color. It is certainly reminiscent
of their superb 2008 album Rook, in that it is patient and melodic.
With their 2012 album Animal Joy they were keen to pump up the
volume and throw in a few more instruments but here they’ve stripped
it bare leaving you with vocals as delicate as the quiet electric
guitar and a drum beat as steady as a one-man marching band. Cymbals
are introduced after two minutes and the sound continues to engage,
whilst remaining ethereal and honest. After just having released
a covers album at the end of 2013, it will probably be a little
while before they release another but, if their next collection
is as good as this track, I’d buy it, if only to find out what
else Jonathan Meiburg can do with his voice. 7/10.
It was recorded for Radiolab, a Natural Sciences Podcast, of all
things, and can be found here: https://www.subpop.com/news/2014/02/05/download_a_new_shearwater_track
Calvi - 'Piece By Piece'
It's all about holding things back on Anna Calvi's latest single,
'Piece By Piece', bright pulsating synths shimmer in a sea of
colour, backing the artist's breathy alto and signature controlled-aggressive
guitar. Most people will associate One Breath with the earlier
releases 'Eliza' and 'Suddenly', but might have missed out some
of the other great things on Calvi's sophomore. Sonically, 'Piece
By Piece' is at the more experimental end of the artist's work,
and offers some hints of the future direction we can expect her
to take. A gentle piece of dream pop, with its Sakamoto/Yellow
Magic Orchestra-inspired synth solo in the middle, 'Piece By Piece'
should charm its way into people's hearts and ensure the continued
upward trajectory of this talented multi-instrumentalist.
Schnauss & Mark Peters
- 'Walking With My Eyes Closed' (Radio edit version)
The radio-friendly version of the song from Schnauss & Peters
album Tomorrow Is Another Day is an unusual release in that it
features the German electronic artist on vocals. The mood is quite
sombre and introspective (“Walking with my eyes closed next to
you/I dreamed of white and blue/There was only one things I could
say/I let it fade away”) in contrast to the optimism of much of
the album, but the track kicks back with some nice home-schooled
metronomic drums and a backing track with a raft of all sorts
of musical influences. Those familiar with Schnauss's oeuvre will
already know the various vapor trails and tinkling “kitchen sink”
electronic sounds, but Peters' clean and incisive guitar work
has lit a new spark under the whole thing. https://soundcloud.com/bureau-1/ulrich-schnauss-mark-peters-2/s-1pWab
Lips - 'Justice After All'
On the press release, there's a picture of Atlanta's Black Lips
decked out iconically like The Clash in leathers and tight pants.
It's almost certainly tongue-in-cheek, but you expect more than
this relatively sedate goodtime rock'n'roll number, the first
single from the upcoming album Underneath The Rainbow (to be released
on by Vice Records on 18th March). A European tour will follow
in May and I'm sure much more exciting things are in store from
this collection of garage punk vagabonds.
Chemical Romance – Fake Your Death
If you call the new song on your farewell greatest hits album
Fake Your Death and you are a band with a knack for reinvention
you are going to make people talk. If you're a band who is good
at making people pay attention to you you would probably have
thought up this idea years ago. If you are a band that regularly
sang about death and rebirth, that used image in the way that
MCR did and associated image with each album then you'd be a fool
not to ask questions. (You'd be a fool not to ask questions.)
Lots of us know that when something that people find important
or special dies, people have a tendency to claim and hope that
that thing escaped. People still swear that Elvis is around somewhere,
Andy Kaufman may actually be around somewhere. I hope everyone
laughed at the idea whatever.
The song? Well, it made me wonder if eventually every band from
New Jersey will become Bon Jovi and/or Bruce Springsteen or if
the Garden State is just a home for people who like to be roused,
to clap and to hear that death or hardship are part of a process
and not necessarily the end. It's very good, but it left me feeling
a little underwhelmed while I was feeling sad about the end(?)
of a band I was genuinely fond of. There was something that fit
about MCR covering Under Pressure early on and this large song
about walking away on your own terms has a symmetry I'm probably
looking hard for, along with the clever reading of ceding power
because you have no other choice.
The video serves as an excellent reminder of how charming the
band could be and you can see why people have them as their favourite
band (and, I must admit, also why they are despised by some) and
maybe the song itself is pointing out that the band know when
to leave as well as it knew how to make an entrance.