Singles of the Week
While you're all busy enjoying this Indian summer, we here at TMF are still hard at the day job sifting through the week's singles so you don't have to...unless we say it's a good'un that is. Onwards.
For every band like Arcade Fire or Sigur Ros that, through some small fortune, manages to carry its epic anthems into the hearts and households of music fans everywhere, there is also a Calexico; a band as readily ambitious and soaring but sorely overlooked by the mainstream. Algiers, their seventh album, is further evidence that this musically eclectic and talented troupe continue to refine a sturdy sound that fans will recognise as the one they've come to love, at the same time adding progressive new textures to make it a worthwhile endeavour.Recorded in, and inspired by, the musical melting pot of New Orleans, Algiers (itself the neighbourhood where a large proportion of the album was recorded) is Americana writ big; this is country music but on a large scale, taking in various influences and melding something unique as a result. You'd have to be pretty daft to title your album opener 'Epic' and not deliver on the promise and, between this and string-drenched closer 'The Vanishing Mind', there is a wealth of material fans and newcomers can latch on to. The title track is a rootsy, bluesy instrumental that showcases the musicianship established by leads Joey Burns and John Convertino, while 'No Te Vayas' brings the band's Mexican tip to the forefront with Mariachi horns and authentic vocal. Similar in scope to 2006's career highlight Garden Ruin, this extension to the band's catalogue widens the vast horizons the music already so easily conjures but, despite the cinematic landscape, is unlikely to transform them beyond a cult concern.
Americana writ big on underrated yet ever-ambitious band's seventh album.
You know, 'Say Nothing' doesn't start off too badly. A bubbling little pop melody sailing blithely along with a sweet toe-tapping charm. But then it breaks into this white-boy rap interlude that is so bad it should be a criminal offence. What could have been a nice little pop ditty suddenly becomes a ridiculous and forgettable piece of fluff not worth your time. Shame.
First Aid Kit
Ah, we love First Aid Kit, they can do no wrong in our book. The haunting 'Wolf', one of the stand-outs from their stand-out second album The Lion's Roar, is an eerily beautiful tale of the shape-shifting wolf-men and women of Norse mythology. The sisters' glorious voices impeccable harmonies help bring the vivid tale to life. Stunning and moving.
Nothing unites the office like some day-glo pop music and 'Hospital (Win Your Love)' wins us over with a big, Cyndi Lauper-style chorus and fun video. Hoop is a name we've seen bandied about but written off as yet another tedious folkie. Colour us stoopid eediots.
We're a week late with this one, but we felt it was too good to pass over. It's all about Karin Park's alluring, breathy vocals as 'Thousand Loaded Guns' hits its target dead centre, propelled by throbbing synths. There might be a plethora of electro pop/rock artists out there at the moment, yet Karin Park suggests there's always room for one more.
guitar rock, hard rock, blues
Locrian & Christoph Heemann
A meeting of the new and the old, this self-titled record from [b]Locrian & Christoph Heemann[/b] promises on paper to be a fine study in sound manipulation and vast ambient drones – and does not disappoint. A combination of Locrian's controlled power and Heemann's mind-bending aural vision, these four tracks of deeply dark and menacing atmospherics evolve over the sixty minutes to tap into those hidden recesses and soundtrack the horrors that emerge.
Opening with the sparse gentle descent of 'Hecatomb', underpinned by a foreboding heartbeat rhythm, the music swells and fades, replacing bleakness with terror, distress by paranoia. And it all culminates at the magisterial 'The Drowned Forest', building from just a single wordless vocal to this monolith of enormous, spaceless minimalist drone. [i]Locrian & Christoph Heemann[/i] is a truly unsettling record, and one of the finest examples of its kind this year.
Welcome to their nightmare.
Marry Waterson & Oliver Knight
You can almost feel the enjoyment pouring out of the speakers as the supreme harmonies, delightful lyrics and a wonderful 1940s feel combine to make this a wonderful piece of gently shuffling folk whimsy. Great stuff and a perfect primer for Waterson & Knight's upcoming new album, Hidden.
The opening two songs on this debut EP from Californian singer-songwriter Melinda Ortner, ‘Strangers’ and ‘Wait Another Day’, are mighty fine examples of glitchy lo-fi folk where maudlin arrangements combine with Ortner’s wonderfully crisp vocals to provide genuinely exciting listening. Sadly the remaining two songs are annoyingly anodyne, and instantly forgettable, chart friendly jazz-pop ditties, that undo some, but not all of the previous good work. A promising first step.
The return of No Doubt is worth marking up on the calendar, but this Bollywood-inspired effort might not be what you were expecting. If this turned out to be a Gwen Stefani out-take, it would be less of a surprise but what's certain is that it's not the knock 'em dead smash it needs to be.
Nice tunage from The Cribs. 'Anna' is a first rate indie nugget that bounces merrily along on a soft bed of drums, bass and guitar, with Gary Jarman's angst-ridden vocals giving it that little bit of edge. Good stuff.
If in doubt, aim low. Gary K on the emptiness of The Killers' American dream.
Single of the Week
Fortunately not a cover of The Killers track of the same name, 'Bones' is the first track released from New York duo MS MR's EP Candy Bar Creep Show. As befitting the EP's name, the track is a stunning combination of the ominously dark - check out those stabbing synths - and the delightfully sweet which comes in the form of the lead vocals replete with just the right amount of edge to blend perfectly with the electro pop/rock backing. A belter.