Singles of the Week
It's a pretty good crop we got this week, seems like the dwindling daylight and colder nights are sending our musician friends back indoors creating some top-notch tunes. Who wins the coveted SOTW crown though? Well, take a look...
Benjamin Francis Leftwich
More acoustic deliciousness from Benjamin Francis Leftwich on the third single to be taken from his debut album Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm. It doesn't do much, but what it does is lovely, from the delicate guitars to the luscious male/female harmony over the chorus. Delightful.
Five tracks of weirdy experimental electronica on the Ninja Tune label. Those looking for tunes should stay away. That said, DJ Food succesfully conjures up some sinister atmospheres through a collage of strange sounds, growling basslines and dialogue clips.
Esben And The Witch
[i]Hexagons[/i] by Brighton trio [b]Esben And The Witch[/b] is the kind of music for those who hang around Renaissance fairs and participate in those re-enactments of medieval warfare: anachronistic and a bit OTT. Saying that this [i]is[/i] a very pretty EP.The album follows a cycle - The Fall, The Flight, The Surge, The Still, The Cast, The Thaw. The songs bleed into one another infused with Rachel Davies' beautiful trance-like voice, singing the lyrics as if she is casting a spell. Spooky, atmospheric, perfect for this time of year when the nights come quick and fast and the cold seeps into your bones like a ghost. Lovely stuff.
Must be the season of the witch.
Francois & The Atlas Mountains
Interesting new signing from Domino: Francois and his pals start all French supper club but slowly build into a light groove that will have you pulling at the first sproutings of your Movember growth. Pleasant enough - but the definition of minority interest.
Funeral For A Friend
If you pick up the new vinyl edition of the rather fine Welcome Home Armageddon you will get this nine track EP as a bonus CD (it is also available to buy separately) and a nice little bonus it is. Things kick off superbly with the brand new ‘High Castles’ rattling along at 100mph it’s a sure sign of FFAFs ever increasing confidence. An enjoyably raucous Strife cover, ‘Will To Die’ keeps things moving before a mixture of remixes, live and acoustic versions round things off. Although unlikely to garner many new fans this EP provides more evidence that Funeral For A Friend are one of the finest UK rock bands on the circuit.
Funeral For A Friend - See You All In Hell by DistillerRecords
The title track from one of the stars of 2011's debut album, Jessie J's 'Who You Are' certainly isn't lacking in melodrama and emotions-on-the-sleeves lyrics - "It's okay not to be okay / Sometimes it's hard to follow your heart" - and if it's all a bit too unsubtle for your tastes, just revel in that voice, given full reign here and so raw and emotive that it'd move the stoniest of hearts.
Putting Maverick Sabre's distinctive vocals front and centre with just low-key brass and acoustics for company is a bold move but one that pays off in spades on his second single 'I Need'. A lovely piece of soul to warm the cockles as winter sets in, it makes the release of his debut album Lonely Are The Brave, out January, a tantalising prospect.
The New York band go acoustic for this seven track EP. Short and sweet, you could imagine these songs filling in the soundtrack of an arthouse film. They're not particularly memorable on their own.
NIHITI - Pinko Morning from perfect&orbicular on Vimeo.
This quirky debut is an astonishing collision of styles with gently lilting shoegaze rhythms sitting side by side with, among other things, Krautrock, Asian pop and, as on the circuitous opener ‘Time Is A Melody', delicately swirling psychedelia.The edgy, fractured nature of ‘Everything Is Broken Or Stolen’ is eerily reminiscent of label mates Tunng but does just enough to keep you from labelling them mere copyists. Then comes the high point of the EP, the eleven minute epic ‘Dairy Queen’ that, sounding as it does like a mogadon infused Pink Floyd crossed with Leeds noise jazzers Trumpets of Death, is utterly beguiling for the first half before morphing in to a world of Japanese pop weirdness that, somehow, works perfectly. Off kilter; bizarre; strange; however you want to describe it, this kind of experimental music is far too rare and, though not to everyone’s taste, should be savoured.
Weird but wonderful EP of experimental goodness.
A stopgap before the release of their second album next February, four-track EP Shadow continues on Ringo Deathstarr's penchant for both psychedelic rock and all things The Jesus And Mary Chain. This is no bad thing, but what it does mean is that if you aren't already in line with their walls of feedback and vocals layered one-under the carnage the instruments create, Shadow will do little to change that. Stand-out is the woozy 'Prisms' which sees them soften and become almost meditative in glorious fashion.
Stay+ are one of the most mysterious acts around - such as answering questions with short video clips - and we're left none the wiser by their second release 'Fever'. A subtle three and a half minutes of echoed vocals, bolstered by tinkly synths towards the end, 'Fever' comes and goes without leaving any major tangible mark. Can't say we're not intrigued to see what they do next though.
A late entry in the Albums of the Year sweepstakes, Summer Camp's Welcome To Condale successfully evokes the 80s pop of which it is in thrall, with 'Down' throwing some fuzz guitar into the mix. "This is my life / As the world turns around to 3am / Spinning round, there's no hope." Wow. Required listening for anyone about to celebrate their 15th year.
This is (slightly) more like it from The Kixx. Eschewing the hideous modern edges that have blighted previous efforts, they strip everything back and go for the classic old-school boy-band ballad. You can almost picture the key-change get up from stool moment and, given that it was written about a friend they lost in Afghanistan, it's imbued with a strong heart that however cliched you may feel it gets, you'll want to raise your lighters.
Discordant horns lead in to a fuzzed up piece of good old-fashioned Rock ‘n’ Roll raucousness reminiscent of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at their finest. These Dublin lads are definitely one to watch.
The Sound of Arrows
Somewhere between techno and 'bass' music, these three tracks are playful, bouncy and infectious.
The danger, when referencing Blondie and Elvis Costello in the press notes, is that you set up expectations. Those influences may be there on Washington's album, but 'Holy Moses' is perky pop with a big West End influence. With a public not quite prepared to fall for Marina, et al. it'll be interesting to see how the Australian exile fares.
Single of the Week
We Are Augustines
Songs about suicide are notoriously hard to pull off but Brooklyn’s We Are Augustines have done just that on ‘Book Of James’ a heartbreaking, yet strangely uplifting, eulogy to James McCarthy, the brother of lead singer/guitarist Billy. A more affecting five minutes of pure rock music would be hard to imagine. Magical stuff.