Singles of the Week
Where is the year going? Already approaching the end of April and it feels like we were saying goodbye to 2011 only weeks ago. If this frenetic pace keeps up the Olympics will have come and gone and we won't have even noticed them! I guess it's time to relax for a few minutes to take in this week's selection of singles...
A wonderfully dour dose of dark folk, this split 7" sees these two frontmen step out of the shadows of their respective bands to deliver two deeply depressing offerings. Nate Hall in particular whets the appetite for his forthcoming album with the morose 'Dark Star', a fine exhibition of how to create chilling atmospherics with just one man and a guitar.
Daniel Land & The Modern Painters
Fairly mundane stuff from Daniel Land & The Modern Painters on the first track to be taken from their second album The Space Between Us. With soft instrumental backing and slightly wet vocals, the track on the whole simply isn't captivating enough to inspire.
With a bluesy rock'n'roll streak and raw vocals - reminiscent a touch of Billy Corgan, only more upbeat - 'Masochist' is an arresting listen that serves its purpose in whetting the appetite for Devin's debut album Romancing out next week (April 30th).
Flats mean business and their business is good. This double A-side of dark, pounding punk rock brutality is strangely entrancing and will help ease the pain for those who missed out on the Refused Record Store Day reissues because of the Ebay vultures.
Of his band’s latest studio album - the first in five years - vocalist hyde says that Butterfly marks a monumental occasion in their twenty year history. In the spirit of things it’s not difficult to appreciate what he’s getting at but, at face value,L’arc~en~Ciel’s twelfth album is undoubtedly a little patchy.Butterfly isn’t a piece of work with too many surprises up its sleeve: only four tracks are exclusive new recordings (‘Shades Of Season’ written by drummer yukihiro being the most memorable), whilst many will have heard the rest long in advance as it collects hit singles released between 2008 and 2011. It just about gets away with the inclusion of last year’s singles ‘Chase’, ‘XXX’ and ‘Good Luck My Way’ - all of which are richly produced as expected - but there’s no shaking an overall sense of laziness; a quickly cobbled together album timed for their recently passed world tour. As a testament to their years together, Butterfly doesn’t provide itself as being a worthy summation of their achievements and it certainly won’t rank as one of their greatest outings in the years to come. That hasn’t stopped it selling a ridiculous amount of copies back home but then fans will be fans and this is perhaps for the most hardcore only.
The boys celebrate twenty years with album number 12.
Time, you would think, for at least a minor Levellers revival. 24 years on and they're still delivering imaginative, rabble-rousing folk of which 'Truth Is' (produced by Seth Lakeman's brother Sean) is a fine example. The Mumford's, etc. owe them a big debt for carrying the flag for all these years.
Maps & Atlases
Maps & Atlases have an ever increasing fanbase but, for me, rather being quirky and endearing, David Davison's voice is just to damn irksome for me to be able to find any lasting enjoyment from this latest slice of indie leaning alt-country.
With a welcome touch of grunge, the first single proper from West Midlands quartet Peace delivers on the promise of their demo 'BBlood'. 'Follow Baby' is helped by a nifty chorus and some well-judged guitar solos - not too long, not too short - with the result being almost like a rockier MGMT. One to watch.
Pulled Apart By Horses
Pulled Apart By Horses continue with their onslaught of adrenaline soaked anthems with 'Wolf Hand', the second single to be plucked from the aggressive disco-rock of Tough Love. Contagious riffs executed at lightening speed mashed together with the howling lyricism of front man Tom Hudson make this bound to be a live favourite when the five piece hit the UK festival circuit this summer. Exhaustingly energetic, it even sounds sweaty.
Scientists have been furiously working to ensure that one day, all music will sound like MGMT.
Probably the longest single we've ever featured, this 28 minute soundscape from Syndrome is a relaxing, disturbing dream through ebowed guitars promising calm and reverb-laden riffs full of menace. Always evolving and deconstructing, 'Now And Forever' gives the impression of barely moving whilst never becoming staid or dull.
Britpop - alive and well in Japan? They may eventually tire of drawing inevitable comparisons to a sound that they had no intentions of recapturing but whatever the case taffy’s 'So Long' is a much welcomed entry to the UK scene; a big marshmallow-y summer number of jangly guitar hooks and a dreamy chorus. Lovely.
Coldplay fan? Meet your new favourite band, Irish four-piece The Plea. This isn't necessarily meant as a backhanded compliment as 'Oh Ah Yay' is nicely crafted and altogether rather pleasant... but it doesn't really get the blood pumping. Hello Radio 2, meet your new favourite act.
The Robbie Boyd Band
I praise Levellers elsewhere on this page but now I curse them because this kind of chipper, already-dated-in-2009 thing gets right on my tits.
April's entry for the monthly Too Pure Singles Club is this release from Australia's Velociraptor, who peddle likeable, snotty garage rock. The obvious comparison is countrymen The Vines, albeit with a more obvious authentic 60s vibe. File under 'best served hot - in sweaty club'.
Single of the Week
While they might not be to everyone's tastes, you can never accuse Django Django of being dull - a trait that continues with latest single 'Storm'. An interesting blend of layered vocals, almost-tribal drums and a killer bass line, it's a hugely enjoyable and exciting listen.