Parquet Courts brisk, breezy and breathless new track ‘Borrowed Time’ is responsible for launching this band into the minds of music fans everywhere. The Brooklyn-ites have even managed to claim some airtime off Hue Stevens Radio 1 show as they make their bid for success, and when they have tunes as good as this you wouldn’t want to stand in their way. They’ve actually been around since 2011 with their tape/LP ‘American Specialties’, but really hit their stride at this years SXSW. ‘Borrowed Time’ doesn’t hang around(!) over in two and a half minutes, but in that time they fit in some fuzzy guitar riffs and typically punk stop start lyrics. It’s much like last years American punk breakouts Howler, although with slightly less grit. But a nice breathe of fresh air from the shores of Brooklyn is always welcome!
‘Sacrilege’ by Yeah Yeah Yeahs is currently holding up 6th place on Hype Machine, a place usually reserved for obscure remixes of Daft Punk or whoever, but today is home to a humongous slab of 70’s rock’n’roll. Yeah Yeah Yeahs are back, and if they posses any other tunes even close to matching this on their new album I will welcome them back with open arms. The driving, almost war like refrain shouted out over a deliciously shuffling, jungle echoing drum and guitar line build this tune into something worthy of sound tracking the beginnings of a revolution. The gospel choir joining in on the act does create blindingly obvious comparisons to ‘Gimme Shelter’, but when a tune is this epic already of it’s own merit, it would take a heart of stone to right it off.
This song has been my first real experience with the mythical US artist that is The Weeknd, and my welcoming gift is this. ‘Twenty Eight’ is four minutes of Abel Tesfaye whining mournfully over a pretty standard, synth heavy hip hop beat and painfully obvious harmonies. The Canadian also possesses a falsetto which leans just on the wrong side what is acceptable, making this track a slow tempo trudge through the X Factor montage department. This woefully weary track is sure to succeed with the “god I’m so deep and miserable” section of the market, but for me, it falls quite a long way short of some of the other truly groundbreaking hip hop acts around at the moment.
I, like many people have been eagerly anticipating ‘In Love’ by Peace for at least a year, with some even placing the burden of representing British music on their young shoulders. They are part of a select and lucky group of British and American bands who have presented such tunes to us that we are already on our knees ready to lap up what ever the give us, as if it had fallen from the mouth of Bowie himself. This, I feel, can be dangerous both for the bands and the people hyping them up. I will hold up my hands and say that after Dog Is Dead released their EP, I was the first one down the shops buying it and crying about how good it was. Oh what a fool! But I shall begin by saying there are many dangerous things about the sounds Peace are making, but what there is no danger of is disappointment.
‘Higher Than The Sun’ is an amazing tune to open with. Crashing guitars and fuzzy synth sounds herald in the first of many sing’a’long choruses to grace this album. It also gives us the first taste of those vintage psychedelic influences that drip off the very plastic of this CD. A middle eight that could have been ripped straight out off something from The White album makes this a very early contender for album highlight.
‘Follow Baby’ may have become the radio friendly replacement for ‘Bloodshake’ off their previous EP ‘Delicious’ thanks to it’s safer lyrics and glorious chorus. But to leave it there would be to forget the shuffling drum scratches and epic guitar sounds. This brings us to my biggest gripe. Where the bloody hell is ‘Bloodshake’? Why leave such a sugar coated, day glow gem out in the cold? You didn’t see Palma Violets leaving out ‘Best Of Friends’ did you?
But what I love about this album is that every single song manages to sound fun, yet still shows off those more technical guitar flourishes and always wears it’s influences on it’s sleeve. ‘Toxic’ sounds like it was written whilst running through a thick swamp of cigarette smoke and alcohol fumes; creating a track full of yearning and emotion. Old favorite ’California Daze’ hasn’t lost any of it’s colorful charm as lead singer Harry croons “here’s one for the diamonds in the dark//California daze” to the sounds of the band winding down. It’s no end of the album blooper, just a perfect come down from the other worldly goings on in the previous half an hour.
When I read about the psych revival gripping Birmingham and indeed the world, I couldn’t wait for a Tame Impala to be produced from these very shores. What we have here is nothing as serious and self depreciating as Tame Impala. What we do have is an album brimming to the full with delicious riffs, florescent melodies and intoxicating rhythms but done with a hint of good humor and a drop of laddish optimism.
Noah and The Whale are back! The band that stand for geeky loveless teenagers, trapped in their suburban houses everywhere have returned with new single ‘There Will Come A Time’. Unfortunately for these guys, I doubt there ever will come a time when they can either fully break into the main stream, or gain credibility as a decent indie band. They seem distended to occupy the middle ground somewhere between commercial success Mumford and Sons, and fellow indie poppers Metronomy. But ‘There Will Come A Time’ seems to me to be a great tune to break back with. It’s dripping with singer Charlie Finks aching vocals and classic pop hooks that adorned ‘Last Night On Earth’. It’s obviously no great artistic departure for the four piece, but right now we couldn’t ask for anything more.
As I sit here writing to you looking out over snow in Spring with today’s plans lying dead at my feet, the only hope and energy is coming from Vampire Weekend. The new single to come from the Brooklyn four piece ‘Diane Young’ carries their trade mark bright, energetic chords and enthusiastic vocals. Ezra’s vocals dive down through the octaves becoming warped and distorted as he chants “baby” as if he is in some 70’s soul band. They then let rip into a colorful splash of vibrant guitars and sunny percussion with delicious descending piano lines. Following on from last album ‘Contra’, it’s clear that these New York hipsters have chosen more enthusiastic, poppier sounds for the new album. And based on this track, I can’t wait to hear it.
Sir Sly possibly have one of the coolest band names since Japandroids. And considering they have been surrounded by rumors they were a Foster The People side project, their name gives suitably little away. What we do know though is that they are a three piece from LA, made up of Landon Jacobs, Jason Suwito, and Hayden Coplen. When listening to this track I tried to throw Foster The People as far out of my mind as possible; but with every listen this track sounds more and more like the fellow LA group stalking the drenched streets of a rainy city instead of skipping down a sun soaked boulevard. Their love of synths is obvious, and coupled with an occasional falsetto ‘Ghost’ matures into a down beat pop gem.
Deptford Goth are currently being billed as the new James Blake, and by the sounds of ‘Union’ they certainly posses the spectral, eeriness to earn themselves that title. “I belong with everyone//everyone I’ve ever known” chants Woolhouse, the ex teaching assistant and Londoner. Whether or not he possesses that spark of inventiveness that would make him stand out from fellow bedroom producers is yet to be seen; but stuttering drums and a background hum of choral voices are pretty good indicators. The warm yet brittle synth and drum lines of this delicate tune seem more than enough to keep us occupied through grim and grey evenings to come.
The sound of 2013 has arrived, and Palma Violets have been charged with bringing it into the public domain. Their album ‘180’, released last Monday and named after the rehearsal space in Lambeth where it was born, has the potential to absolutely destroy 2013. One thing the band has become famous for is their very DIY, home grown and organic DNA, and thankfully that happens to be one of the key themes that’s weaving through each note.
Receiving airplay across the country as well as much coverage from the music press; Palma Violets aren’t one of those bands that have been lurking around in the background for a couple of years. But where as with Alabama Shakes last year (who received much excitement from both sides of the Atlantic) delivered an album full of potential but obviously didn’t have time to develop their sound as they would have wished, Palma Violets seem like a band who have done everything their own way. The album hasn’t been rushed out and as you will learn from listening to the album, they are far from a one hit wonder.
Recent single ‘Step Up For The Cool Cats’ is underpinned by almost gospel sounding organ chords that allow the rustic guitar sounds and reassuring rock’n’roll beat to seep through. Third track ‘All The Garden Birds’, possibly my favorite track of the album, begins with Metronomy style synth chords but builds into a delicious slice of pop rock perfection. Vocals full of emotion, deep, powerful guitars and a middle eight that could have come straight of a Noel G’s latest album. “All my friends were there//and all of the garden birds” sings Chilli between shouts and echo’s from the rest of the band.
‘180’ feels like the album I’d wished The Vaccines had made. Don’t get me wrong, I loved ‘Come Of Age’, but Palma Violets have taken the aggressiveness of there fellow Londoners and channeled it into something more creative and refreshing. ‘Tom The Drum’ possess a riff of The Kinks caliber and hooks aplenty. And not wanting to let the intensity drop, ‘Jonny Bagga Donuts’ is another red hot slab of rock’n’roll, clocking in at just over 3 minutes but it feels like you’ve been dragged around Lambeth in 3 seconds!
As with all albums there are tunes where the band don’t quite hit the spot. ‘Rattlesnake Highway’ stinks of a track where the band ran out of imagination so stuck a load of reverb over it and shouted the lyrics. There is one thing that makes this album stand out for me, and helped it succeed where it could so easily have failed. The band create songs that you feel you have a real connection with. Each song sounds like an in joke with the rest of the band and it leaves you dreaming you could have witnessed those legendary moments at 180 Lambeth Road. They have made bland lad rock, and at the same time they haven’t done a full on Everything Everything. What they have done is find a happy medium; balancing artistic flare with solid rocking tunes. A truly great album.
‘Ramona’ by Night Beds might not be at the cutting edge of music right now, but at half eight on a Thursday there couldn’t be a better time for some beautiful two part harmonies. It starts with cascading guitars dripping with early Kings Of Leon style, but soon morphs into a relaxing, warm bath of track thanks to it’s reassuring drum beat and male/female vocals that blend beautifully. Imagine Real Estate mixed with the lyrics of late Noah and The Whale and you may not have the recipe to set 2013 alight, but it will drown you in delicious melodies and soothing sounds. This Nashville group have an album, ‘Country Sleep’ out now.
One of the most hotly anticipated albums of 2013 has just dropped like a Russian meteor into our eagerly awaiting laps. It is of course ‘Holy Fire’ by Oxford five piece Foals; the follow up to the delicious ‘Total Life For Ever’. Intellectual, high brow indie pop is something of a whole when it comes to genres. Bands can aim to reproduce Radiohead style records, but end up teetering on the edge before falling into obscurity and their own sense of self importance. In the past Foals have straddled this line with precision, but could ‘Holy Fire’ see them topple?
‘Prelude’ introduces the album like a thick haze of fog clearing to reveal the treasures that lie with in. It matches hushed vocals with more traditionally indie guitars to create something that’s at the same time driving and delicate. This all clears to release the thankful reminder that despite ‘Inhaler’ being the single that’s been around the longest, it’s still refreshingly sharp. The whirl pool of reverb envelops Yannis Philippakis’s earthy vocals. You could possibly compare this to a heavier moment on The Maccabees 2012 album, but Foals certainly give the track an edge that is truly unbeatable.
‘My Number’ is a more breezy, poppy moment where Yannis sings “I feel the streets are pulling me down//People of the city//I don’t need your council now!” before launching into a Two Door Cinema style sing’a’long chorus. Continuing with the Maccabees style fragile vocals, ‘Everytime’ builds into another ghostly banger complete with percussive beats and a rich texture.
As with all albums, there are always weaker tracks nestling among the grandeur that surrounds them. ‘Out Of The Woods’ is that track as it fails to reach the required euphoria, but it’s certainly no ‘After Shave Ocean’ (yes we’re looking at you Vaccines). Things get a little conceptual with tracks like ‘Milk and Black Spiders’ where guitars are used to imitate the movement of eight legged insects, and ‘Providence’ ushered in by an African style chant. But saying that, these are still quality tunes that provide something a little but left field towards the end of the album.
We finish with ‘Moon’ the final track and the glorious come down. Brittle guitars, saddened musings and the feeling of everything around you moving too fast make up this track. So that brings ‘Holy Fire’ to a close and all rumors that they might have gone all ‘deep’ on us close with it. Instead I have found magnificent post punk guitar riffs matched by Yannis’s heartfelt vocals and just the right amount of synths and electro wizardry. A perfectly composed piece and an early contender for album of the year.
Welcome to Cloud Rap my friends. I have about as much knowledge of this genre as Tesco does of the content of it’s burgers so please feel free to stop reading if I get something drastically wrong. Cities Avic, I’m led to believe is rapper from Memphis, and one of the people making waves in the genre. What I can say for sure is that ‘I Want All’ is possibly the most chilled out, relaxed R’n’B record I have heard in a long time. The whole thing is drenched in a think haze of distorted synths and ultra slowed down drum beats. It’s only at the end when a stuttering, dance like snare shakes the wax out of our ears that the track releases us from it’s foggy grip. Perfect for three in the morning when you have no idea why your awake.
Well this is different isn’t it. ‘The Throw’ by Jagwar Ma has that kind of opening that makes you immediately check your computer to see if all is well. Thankfully my computer has not gone insane; these are the noises produced by Sydney duo Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield. Starting off sounding rather like the music you might hear coming out of tiny speakers whilst waiting to get your hair cut, ‘The Throw’ soon dispels those fears and develops into a delicious banger thanks to anthemic vocals and ghostly guitar stabs. As voices echo around this synth heavy number, your thoughts can’t help but turn to how this is going to sound live. And I have to say, at 6 minutes long, I’m struggling to think of anything else I would rather listen to on a sweaty summer day. Looking forward to hearing an album.
When ever I’m sent something to listen too, despite trying to keep an open mind, I always prefer to discover bands rather than have their music thrust in my face. But ‘Ghost Coast’ by We’re No Heroes is pleasingly fresh compared to some of the stuff that clogs my inbox. The track is heralded by a fleet a tribal sounding drums, and it quickly finds it’s groove and stays there. But despite the WU LYF sounding vocals, there is unfortunately little to excite here. With no real changes in dynamics, tempo or style, when it all comes to an end it takes you by surprise! These guys have the vocals and the gnarly guitar sounds to really make a statement, but for me there is a distinct lack of aggression.
Before we begin I’ll just clarify that San Cisco are not actually from San Francisco. Okay? Good. Right, this Australian four piece have actually been around since 2009 but have only recently been brought to my attention. And I’m not surprised Australia have been hiding them away from prying eyes all this time; who wouldn’t want to keep such delectably up beat indie poppers to them selves? ’Golden Revolver’ drapes jangly, chilled out guitar riffs over a relaxed Friends type drum line and yearning vocals. The lyrics beg and implore us to “slow down and read the signs/’cus your going too fast” and when you say it that nicely we can’t deny! Built for hazy days under a baking sun, the chorus almost becomes a sing’a’long as vocals are distorted and the rhythm takes over. Think Friendly Fires on a come down and your not far off.