In a slight break from tradition, I’m sticking to the vinyl that I bought this year (sorry Crocodiles & Mikal Cronin, your records were great too, I just don’t own them yet!) – Here’s a not-particularly ordered list!
1.“The Bones Of What You Believe” – Chrvrches. Unstoppable song writing from these Glaswegians, a pop heart shot through with a bullet of the all important Scots melancholy. Mighty non-cheesy 80s synths abound.
2.“Modern Vampires Of The City” – Vampire Weekend. Good golly there’s a plethora of cracking & clever tunes on here, as the VW begin to contemplate their mortality & place in the world.
3.“A Sea Of Spilt Peas” – Courtney Barnett. Bob Dylan, Lou Reed & Kurt Cobain as seen through the lens of a slightly bonkers, mildy stoned Australian singer.
4.“Pedestrian Verse” – Frightened Rabbit. The fourth good record in a row from Selkirk’s finest.
5. “Dream Cave” - Cloud Control. Skewed psych-pop from more Aussies (what do they put in their water over there?)
6. “Hobo Rocket” – Pond. Heavy deavy psyche nonsense lifting bits of Zep and Bowie, sounds like it was knocked off in an evening. Australian. Bonza.
7. “II” – Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Tripped out rambling 60sesque psyche pop from a bunch of long haired freaks. Not Australian!!! What??!
8. “Secret Soundz Vol 2″ – Pictish Trail. I think I may have put this in last year’s list too, but as it officially came out this year…
9.“Now That You Are A Dancer” – Kid Canaveral. More indie pop perfection from the brawsome foursome, now with added shoegaze & epicosity.
10. “EP 1″ – Pixies. Not technically an LP, but I did play the heck out of it. 3 amazing songs, one ok song. No Kim. Still a good deal.
I’d be interested in seeing your lists, so if you can’t be bothered to do a full post, please put top 3s/5s/10s/100s in the comments! I love lists!
…: PAY ON THE ON THE NIGHT ON THE DOOR AVAILABLE :…
LOW will be playing the beautiful Halifax Minster, a 12th Century building steeped in history and a quite winderful venue. The Minster will be candlelit for the evening and there will also be a bar serving real ale, beers, wines and soft drinks. Its a true gem and all who have played there, and the majority who have seen performaces in it are really blown away with the building, its acoustics and the welcome they are given.C’mon is the shortest title of any Low album, which seems fitting, as it also ranks among the most succinct and straightforward entries in their variegated discography. Singer-guitarist Alan Sparhawk has even perfected the “elevator pitch” for C’mon: “Recorded in an old church in Duluth, MN and mixed in an apartment in Hollywood, CA.” But that brief synopsis hides universes. To get to the heart of this album, we must delve deeper into both halves of the creative journey of C’mon.
Comprised of new material written on and off the road, the ten-song set was recorded in a former Catholic church, aka Sacred Heart Studio (where the band previously crafted 2002’s Trust). Sparhawk says Low deliberately seeks out circumstances that will generate challenges and happy accidents, breaking them out of established patterns. “We like to work in situations where there’s a character, whether that’s the time period or who we’re working with. A lot of times, the space can set that tone.”
“Mysterious, haunting, heart-breaking and life-affirming, listening to northern English band The Steals is like hearing something for the first time which you just know, instinctively, is going to become a part of your life for years to come….. This is a breathtakingly brilliant album” ….(Phil McMullen) TERRASCOPE
“Static Kingdom is an astonishing record” ….[SIDEWAYS THROUGH SOUND]
“Heavenly, Wild, Lonliness on CD” …BLOOM
“Static Kingdom” is a beautiful album, informed by folky notions that reminisce of travellers and pre-showgazed innocence, washed in electric instruments, equally swirling in echoes”….. [MANCHESTER MUSIC]
They’re playing Halifax Minster, where I saw shows by I Am Kloot and Dan Michaelson last year, but missed ones from John Grant and The Unthanks the year before. Well I ain’t missing this one.
Tickets for me AND DarceysMam already bought. I’m prepared to pay for one more … for Shoegazer, to return the favour he did for me on the only other occasion I’ve seen Low, [at The Social, in Orlando, FL in Feb 2009]. All you have to do, Shoey, is get here!
Anyone interested? Friday 13th July is the date for your calendars, folks, (if you think you can afford two Northern Socials in three months – I’m still gutted I’m missing DaddyPig‘s 50th with RockingMitch.)
It would be nice if we could make it a bit of a multi-day Social event, but I know I’m working for London2012 on uniform distribution that weekend, and fear I said yes to both Sat & Sun.
Lower Dens don’t only have a band name that’s lovely to say, they also have excellent song titles like “Two Cocks Waving Wildly At Each Other Across A Vast Open Space A Dark Icy Tundra” and a fine line in hypnotic vague-gaze.
Slotting nicely into my 2012 twee-core gap vacated by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, go The History Of Apple Pie with their nice fringes and colourful jumpers – kind of like a less depressed Giant Drag. Predictable? Me? Yes, but I prefer the phrase ‘reliable’ thanks!
After an extended hiatus the award-winning duo of Panthersan & Satankidneypie (accompanied by a backing band of the birds outside the window) are back back back with a new episode of Bends For… and this time they cast their critical eye on some up and coming bands and artists and lay into some new albums from established favourites.
In the up-and-coming camp, Scumbag Philosopher’s offbeat commentary on contemporary social issues gets the once over. Listen to the review and find out more about Scumbag PhilosopherHERE
Next up multi-genre dubstep/dancehall/electronica type Indiginus gets the critical treatment, with a review of his Sofa Surfer album. Listen to our completely uninformed opinions and then make your own minds up by going to his website
After that ex-Death In Vegas man Mat Flint’s Deep Cut have our humble reviewers reaching for the superlatives with their fuzzed up shogazey indie rock album Disorientation. Read about them HERE and then have a proper listen at their Myspace
New music from Hey Colossus and Euros Childs also get the review treatment amongst the mindless chat and waffle. Usual apologies for the low sound quality and cut-outs, but we are (about) 5904 miles apart!
Now, I DO love a good sub-genre, so imagine my excitement over the last few years as i’ve slowly watched the merging of two of my favourites; Black Metal and Post-Rock into the beautiful beast of a sub-sub-genre that has finally been named Post-Black Metal. It takes the lo-fo production, dark atmospherics, and often the anguished howls of Black metal and combines them with a lot of instrumental workouts, Mogwai-style quiet/loud dynamics and even some very prominent shoegazey moments. The bands themselves also eschew the traditional corpsepaint and spikes in favour of the beardy indie bloke look.
I started noticing it a few years ago when some wags starting referring to US Black metal types Wolves In The Throne Room as “Grey Metal” for being all metally and black, but you know, kinda nice at the same time, with lyric sheets dealing in environmental meltdown etc, they read more like a Guardian Saturday supplement than an extract from the Marquis De Sade’s undiscovered even more hardcore, “De Sade Nights” script! And, I finally found a special feature in Terrorizer magazine a couple of months ago, giving the sub-sub-genre it’s name, which I wasn’t aware of before.
I apologise for being about six months too late with this post as a lot of the leading bands in the scene (a large proportion of which seem to be French for some reason) have jumped the shark somewhat in my opinion, releasing recent albums that have acoustic guitar and like, real, proper singing, which is just going too far.
As we continue the tracking of the evolution of indie via the teenage lifeline of The Chart Show’s Indie Chart (on a 19 year delay system) we now reach the chart from the Springtime of 1992 – and watch the first seedlings of Britpop appearing amongst the shoegaze sunflowers and workmanlike indie shrubbery.
Yes! It’s Suede and their debut single “The Drowners” that really brightens up an otherwise quite dull chart. Glamour! Hair! Sex! Swoon!! This was their first terrestrial appearance on TV and I guess would be the first time that most of the UK indie kids saw Brett and co shake their money.
Shoegaze also-rans Adorable bring up the rear at number 10, a band that had a couple of really good songs to their name, but who I think appeared on the scene a bit too late. St Etienne are kicking about with “Join Our Club” a single that bridged their first and second LPs, at number two.
Number one are The Levellers with their second best known song “15 Years”. I never really identified with the whole Crusty scene, probably because I’d twigged that not washing your hair and pretending to be a gypsy wouldn’t get you a shag (at least not from the kind of girls I was chasing about the place) and also probably because the Manics had slagged the Levellers off in the music press.
As we continue the tracking of the evolution of indie via the teenage lifeline of The Chart Show’s Indie Chart (on a 19 year delay system) we now reach the chart from the start of 1992 – tearing headlong into a golden era where even having hair a bit like Mark Gardener from Ride could get you a snog.
Notable for a couple of appearances from British bands fronted by bonkers ladies, Silverfish -who were part of the Camden Lurch scene don’t forget (along with Th’ Faith Healers and um….anyways remember when everyone wore a “Lips, Hips, Tits, Power” Silverfish t-shirt??) with a bit of their grunt-rock sound and Daisy Chainsaw who featured the wacky Katie-Jane Garside upfront. Daisy Chainsaw once turned down a record deal with Madonna’s label. Where’s Madonna now eh?
Keeping up the shoegaze end are Lush, and crashing mightily into the chart are Ride with “Leave Them All Behind” – one of my favourite all time tracks, shoegaze classic, and a song I endlessly try and get into the RR canon.
Also, look out for a pre-Bjork Bjork, a song that regularly gets mentioned on RR that I dare not name, and some utterly incredible dancing from Bobby Gillespie from the newly-reinvented Primal Scream.
When a band is named after one of the best albums of the ’90s, you really do have to check them out. When you do check them out, you find they’ve been heavily inspired by “Be-In”, the first track from the Dandy Warhols second album, and lost classic “The Dandy Warhols Come Down”. You are happy that it turns out in the long run that shoegaze never really died at the hands of Grunge & Britpop, and that so much good music these days is inspired by the long-maligned genre.
Don’t press play if you don’t like shoegaze…you have been warned…
Youngteam are Swedish and are released on Northern Star Records, a label whose “Psychedelica” compilation albums I always buy as they’re released.
Male Bonding’s LP is the musical equivalent of comfort food for me. In the early 90s they would’ve been called “noiseniks” and I probably would’ve crowd surfed as they supported the Senseless Things at the New Cross Chimney & Bracket. It’s 29 minutes and 13 tracks of fuzzed out alt pop, stolen Nirvana basslines, joyous backing vocals, lo-fi feedback, battered drumkits, vague singing, incessant riffage, tropical top end – basically everything that’s actually any good about 3 guys with guitar, bass n drums – but stuff that’s been forgotten ever since bloody britpop happened.
It’s always hard to get the follow up to a record you hold dear, as it can never be as good as what you have in your head and your heart. It took a while – and perseverance- but I came round to the new record, and now I bloody love it. BLOODY LOVE IT!
I still have an massive soft spot for stuff that looks and sounds like it was on the Chart Show Indie Chart in the early 90s (as you know), so it was more than a pleasant surprise when one of my fave bands came out with this new video. They’re called Ringo Deathstarr, and I defy you all to give me an example of a band with a better name that that.
Well I suppose it serves me right for volunteering my services to Blimpy …
I was not alone in being surprised and delighted to learn that The ‘Spill is now offered music to review, but being asked (for once) to put my money mouth where my mouth is gave me a bit of a moment, I can tell you. I hope I carry out my duty to the required standard!
St. Thomas is the new album from The Scottish Enlightenment, a four-piece from Fife. I (unsurprisingly) had never heard of them, but our curator-in-chief Dropped me this bunch of songs with the open-ended invitation of “I remember that you’re an Aereogramme & similar fan … if you want to give [TSE] a ‘Spilling …”
OK, so I was intrigued enough to take the bait, and played the album through a couple of times. Then again the next day. Then burnt it to CD knowing I had five hours to come in the car the following day (it stayed on the whole time). Then on my return home on Thursday night, I even played it again DURING the RR MFF. So before you go any further I reckon you can see I was either (a) taking my responsibilities as reviewer far too seriously, or (b) I like it a lot.
The correct answer is definitely (b). So how do I put that into words well enough to convince some more of you to seek it out? Well, adding a link to at least one song would help, but as I keep saying, that part of posting on WordPress continues to frustrate me. Maybe Blimpy will add something in as an Edit after I post this (done! Blimpy).
As I’m no proper journalist, maybe I can be forgiven the lazy reviewer’s sin of description by comparison? Blimpy hooked me with a mention of Aereogramme (think Mogwai-lite with designs on Snow Patrol or Coldplay crossover success); my email to him, after first listens, promising to post this review said simply “iLiKETRAiNS play Dakota Suite“. During my motorway slog to and back from Birmingham, the names Sigur Rós, Nick Cave, even Stuart Staples also wandered across my thoughts. Pigeonholes suggested themselves: rock, post-rock, slowcore, indie, folk, shoegaze, pastoral … Hang on, PASTORAL? Yeah, I’ll come back to that in a minute. But again and again and again, one word returned to my brain: stately. This album is dignified, serious guitar-based music in which to lose yourself for fifty minutes or so.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not pompous, it’s not unapproachable, and it certainly isn’t brash or arrogant. It’s more like an aural equivalent of Robert Duvall’s Lt.Col. Kilgore in the beach-trashing scene of Apocalypse Now – calm, commanding and demanding respect whilst chaos and destruction abound. That there might just be a hint of madness behind the façade just adds to the mystique, in my opinion. For instance, is the decision to open your first album in around five years with a simple 2min+ instrumental that of a sane band? It’s very GIAA/Mogwai, but hardly attention-grabbing. But The Scottish Enlightenment know what they’re doing, as Gal Gal‘s repetitive guitar motif twists neatly into the one-string riff of Earth Angel – With Sticks In Crypt, and the tone and pace are set. EA-WSIC is one of two songs that have forced others off my Walkman to make room for them, and would be my first choice to insert into the review as an mp3.
Next track Little Sleep gets the DsD thumbs up for two reasons, (i) the understated way the rat-a-tat-tat drum riff doesn’t overwhelm the song, but adds to it, and particularly (ii) the line “All we need’s a little sleep and we’ll be fine”, which I think is going to be my new motto! This is the song that gave me the iLiKETRAiNS comparison. Taxidermy Of Love, on the other hand, is musically as ethereal as anything Sigur Rós produce (is that a harp I hear?), but has to content itself with merely looking at the stars instead of being up there with them because singer David Moyes is no Jónsi Birgisson.
The next two songs, Pascal (listen to the fingers sliding up&down guitar strings – is that a good thing or a bad thing? I never know.) and Necromancer continue the theme, though the latter raises the volume and darkens the mood nicely.
Remember I said both Nick Cave and ‘pastoral’ up above? The First Will Be Last is partly responsible for both of those. If we can add a link to it – hint, hint, Blimpy – I highly recommend a listen to the lyrics, though in truth the music and vocal tone here try to undermine my earlier “stately” argument by feeling almost urgent in pace. List Right returns us to Aereogramme territory. The Soft Place chucks some glockenspiel, trumpet and falsetto backing vocals into the mix, kinda reminding me of HUGE DsD faves, Guillemots’ Redwings & Songs Of Green Pheasant’s Alex Drifting Alone.
Then we have My Bible Is, which is indeed “filled with love and beauty”, forming a suitable climax to an album I’m really glad I was sent. But in a last little perverse and enigmatic twist, it isn’t the last track on the album. Cogito is fifty seconds of piano noodling, heavy on the echo effect. Not one that anyone is going to target their 79p at on iTunes, but does it leave you, er, pondering? Or is it a smartarse reference too far? I’ll plead the Fifth and leave it to others to decide!
So that’s a big thumbs-up from me. Call it post-rock, call it shoegaze, call it whatever you like – iTunes calls it “Ecclesiastical Rock”, ffs; all I ask is that someone tells me I’ve done enough to make at least one more person want to buy it.
The above player has Necromancer, The First Will Be The Last, Little Sleep.