Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The Top 25 Tracks Of 2014

Chosen by KevW

We couldn't finish off the year without the annual rundown of great music that we've been championing either on here or elsewhere, and of course, things wouldn't be complete without the unveiling of the Obligatory Record Of The Year! You can check back over our Scottish correspondent's lists and also the top 10 albums of 2014, but now it's time for the best tunes. For a full playlist of all the songs together, just scroll to the bottom of the page. Hopefully there's plenty here for you to enjoy!


25) Tyburn Saints - With The Night In Our Eyes




Tyburn Saints' website

Buy the track





24) Simian Ghost - Echoes Of Songs (For Trish Keenan)




Simian Ghost's website

Buy the track





23) Pretties For You - Talk

 


Pretties For You's website

Buy the track





22) Soft Science - Feel




Soft Science's website

Buy the track





21) JJ - All White Everything

 


JJ's website

Buy the track





20) When Nalda Became Punk - Song For Carrie Mathison




When Nalda Became Punk's website

Buy the track





19) The Heartbreaks - Hey, Hey Lover




The Heartbreaks' website

Buy the track





18) The Walking Who - With Roses


 
The Walking Who's website

Buy the track





17) Ummagma - Lama

 


Ummagma's website

Buy the track





16) The Popguns - Lovejunky

 


The Popguns' website

Buy the track





15) Gold-Bears - Hey, Sophie

 


Gold-Bears' website

Buy the track





14) Sheepy - Another Day




Sheepy's website

Buy the track





13) Wonderful Humans - Edge Of The Night

 


Wonderful Humans' website

Buy the track





12) The Persian Leaps - Sleepless

 

The Persian Leaps' website

Buy the track





11) Dignan Porch - Harshed




Dignan Porch's website

Buy the track





10) The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Until The Sun Explodes




The Pains Of  Being Pure At Heart's website

Buy the track





9) Withered Hand - Horseshoe

 


Withered Hand's website

Buy the track





8) The Tablets - Tablets

 


The Tablets' website

Buy the track





7) East Brunswick All Girls Choir - West Brunswick




East Brunswick All Girls Choir's website

Buy the track





6) Buffalo Sunn - By Your Side




Buffalo Sunn's  website

Buy the track





5) Spiritualized "Mississippi Space Program" - Always Forgetting With You (The Bridge Song)




Spiritualized's website

Buy the track





4) The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Eurydice

 


The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's website

Buy the track





3) The Raveonettes - Sisters

 


The Raveonettes' website

Buy the track





2) Elephant - Elusive Youth

 


Elephant's website

Buy the track





OBLIGATORY RECORD OF THE YEAR

Broken Records - I Won't Leave You In The Dark


A few years ago, Edinburgh's Broken Records were making intricate baroque-indie that was impressive but unlikely to find mass commercial appeal. There were Arcade Fire comparisons, but really what they were doing was too sparse to become that huge. Until now. For third album 'Weights & Pulleys' the band truly excelled themselves in expanding everything to epic proportions. Had the gloriously massive 'I Won't Leave You In The Dark' been released by The National, The Gaslight Anthem or, yes, Arcade Fire, then this song would have been everywhere this year. The fact that it hasn't been is a crying shame, for if ever a band has shown they can step up a few gears then it's Broken Records, and 'I Won't Leave You In The Dark' is the sound of them doing just that - in triumphant fashion.



Broken Records' website

Buy the track










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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Top 10 Albums Of 2014

Chosen by KevW

Yes, yes, we know the site is closed, but as we were running for most of the year we thought it would be fitting to do the regular end of year lists where we salute those who've made the best noise over the past 12 months. These are the albums that have lit up the year.


10) Mode Moderne - Occult Delight


In Brief: Like the post-punk songs of Factory Records being given a dose of melody to counteract the darkness.




Mode Moderne's website







9) Fanfarlo - Let's Go Extinct


In Brief: Ambitious, experimental indie/psych/chamber-pop that doesn't really care what anyone else is doing.

Our original review



Fanfarlo's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album 





8) Sheepy - Sheepy

 
In Brief: Teenage Fanclub taking on The Ramones with youthful vigour, resulting in a joyful powerpop explosion

Our original review



Sheepy's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album 





7) Temples - Sun Structures


In Brief: Sixties psych-pop impeccably revisited with tunes aplenty and never a moment that's less than kaleidoscopic.

Our original review



Temples' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album 





6) The Raveonettes - Pe'ahi


In Brief: More dark tales from Denmark's king and queen of fuzz and twang, this time with a new production style.

Our original review



The Raveonettes' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album 





5) Gold-Bears - Dalliance


In Brief: A non-stop roller coaster of fuzzy excellence that proves that the lo-fi indiepop revival is still in good hands. 




Gold-Bears' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album 





4) Cheatahs - Cheatahs

 
In Brief: Delivering you one-hundred percent undiluted shoegaze; as it used to be and as it should be.




Cheatahs' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album





3) Champs - Down Like Gold

 
In Brief: Heavenly harmonies, haunting atmospherics and masterful songwriting that wraps you up like a snug blanket.




Champs' website







2) The Popguns - Pop Fiction


In Brief: Returning power-indiepop heroes triumph with wall-to-wall tunes on what sounds like a greatest hits album.




The Popguns' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album





ALBUM OF THE YEAR

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Days Of Abandon


Many people had written off Brooklyn guitar-pop darlings The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart after their (still excellent) second album didn't quite scale the same heights as their debut. With news that only Kip Berman remained from the original line-up, fuel was added to this fire, but what a way to extinguish it. With a new band, some added synths and stripped of the scuzz, 'Days Of Abandon' was a step forward in terms of songwriting and prevented them getting stuck forever in a fuzzed-out rut which yielded diminishing returns. On this album the doubters were proven wrong as the group produced arguably their strongest set of songs to date. Not the end then, but a whole new beginning instead.

Our original review



The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's website







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Monday, 15 December 2014

Sound Of 2014 - Andy's List

Article by andy@thesoundofconfusion.com


Have you missed us?? Oh come on now, surely you can feign at least a modicum of excitement? WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN’T NOTICE WE WERE GONE?! FINE, STUFF THE LOT OF YOU!!!!

*slams door*

*opens door*

......The boss has told me to come back and not be so precious. First things first then, we better blow off some of these cobwebs from the corners of château Sound Of Confusion - and if someone could give me a hand shoving this tumble-weed out the door that’d be greatly appreciated, thanking you. I’ll just stick the heating on to get rid of the chill and then we can get cracking.

So then, by now some of you may have realised that since the height of summer we’ve not been around these parts! Those of you fretting with the logical conclusion - that we were unexpectedly washed away while drinking from a coconut and reclining on a crocodile lilo - need worry no longer; you can put your minds at rest that we’re still alive, and if you follow the more observant readers and divert your eyes over to the blurb on the left, you’ll see exactly where we’ve been loitering.

That being so, why are we popping back here I see you wonder? Well, the thing is, we tend to be creatures of habit, and as such it didn’t feel right to let December pass without sharing with you our now traditional, and obviously quite legendary, end of year lists (after all, though the keyboard may have been inactive, our ears never switched off!). Over the coming days our head honcho Kev will be bringing you his well considered selections for the tracks and albums of 2014, but first of all as an hors d....or dooov....horse dove.....something to snack on, you have the opportunity to cast your critical eye over the 25 tunes that have most regularly induced involuntary wiggles and uncoordinated arm waves from yours truly throughout the last twelve months. As always just a single stipulation has been applied in the list composition process, only one track per band or artist allowed! Enough talk, let’s go...


.........................


THE LIST


1) The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Simple And Sure: Setting the tone for what was to come on the fantastic Days Of Abandon, this bouncy lead single affirmed Kip Berman’s ever more assured talent for writing pop tunes that jangle with irrepressible energy and pristine melody. Timeless.


The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's website 





2) Colleagues - Tears: Scandinavia may most frequently be associated with the chiming indie-rock fraternity, but they certainly know their way around synth-pop up there too, and there’s no finer example than this effervescent and anthemic gem from good old Sweden.


Tears' website 





3) Camera Shy - Secret Word: A compelling testimony in support of the old adage that less is sometimes so much more, this is simplicity at its finest. Gorgeous harmonies filled with a spirit of wanderlust tug the listener by the sleeve and invite us to share in their dreamy secret.


Camera Shy on Bandcamp 





4) Dream Police - Hypnotized: Worthy of a top ten spot for its electric opening sixty seconds alone, this track then lives up to its title by unleashing a pulsing base line, murky vocals and searing guitar riffs. Dusky and deeply persuasive rock and roll swagger.



Dream Police's label website 





5) Pepa Knight - Rahh!: Jinja Safari member Knight appears to be somewhat of a free spirit who's digested a bit of the world. Pleasingly he's all the better for it, as that open eyed enthusiasm, world influences and adventurous spirit is injected straight into his solo work. None more so than on the bright and hugely uplifting Rahh!.


Pepa Knight's Facebook





6) Beverly - Honey Do:  Equal parts grunge and shoegaze, with a little surf rock added into the mix, this fuzzy trio of minutes seems custom built for a road trip along dusty desert roads with the top down and the stereo blaring - get to it!


Beverly's Facebook





7) Ryn Weaver - Stay Low: Surely a guaranteed pop champion in the making, Miss Weaver and friends (including Michael Angelakos of this correspondents favourites Passion Pit) produced a flawless four track EP of solid gold melodies and stardust production. Hmm where to go, where to go... I pick Stay Low.



Ryn Weaver's Facebook 





8) Alvvays - Archie Marry Me: A tongue in cheek look at the approach to matrimony of those in their mid twenties, that pairs great tune composition with laughter inducing dry wit. Possibly the only song ever to reference bread makers.



Alvvays' website 





9) The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven Holds A Place For Us: This list just wouldn't be right without the San Francisco lads making their annual appearance. Their long awaited debut album didn't disappoint and this funky number was the heavenly light shining on proceedings late in the piece.


The Bilinda Butchers' website 





10) Sylvan Esso - Coffee: For a staunch tea drinker it goes against the grain to be extolling the virtues of Coffee, but this is one track that's just as effective as a well timed caffeine hit for perking up your mood. Sedately paced but stirring itself to a warm and fulsome conclusion, drink it in folks.


Sylvan Esso's Facebook

....................


11) Letting Up Despite Great Faults - Automatic
12)
Dog In The Snow - Concrete Wall 
13)
Saint Pepsi - Fiona Coyne
14)
Elephant - Assembly 
15)
Craft Spells - Breaking The Angle Against The Tide
16)
Lowly - Daydreamers
17)
Painted Palms - Too High
18)
Space Daze - Line Up On The Solstice
19)
Jessica Chase - Heaven Won’t Change 
20)
Northern American - Wander
21)
Alpaca Sports - Just Like Johnny Marr
22)
Desert - Quars 
23)
Japanese Wallpaper - Waves
24)
Sound Remedy - Victory (Feat Evvy)
25)
The Away Days - Your Colour


....................

And that as the say is that.....except this time around it's not, because, in a break from previous form, you're also getting a top ten albums list from me, which you'll be able to read....well right here now actually!


1) The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Days Of Abandon
2) Alvvays - Alvvays
3) The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven
4) Letting Up Despite Great Faults - Neon
5) The High Wire - Feels Like Honey
6) Field Mouse - Hold Still Life
7) Alpaca Sports - Sealed With A Kiss
8) Superfood - Don't Say That
9) TV Girl - French Exit
10) Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow



....................

Worth coming back for? We hope so, but if you don't find something amongst my selection you like, then be sure to check Kev's lists which will have plenty more tunes for your delectation. Thank you to the bands for making it another fine year of music; to those of you who helped us unearth songs we love; and to everyone who has taken the time to read any of our ramblings. All the best for 2015 and have a fun filled festive season.

Goodbye from me, over to you now Kev...





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Friday, 1 August 2014

Chartburst Podcast August 2014


Another month and another excellent batch of new and unsigned music discovered on new music platform Chartburst. If you missed our July podcast then you can check that out here and find out a bit more info on what the site is and how it works. For now though, press play and listen to an hour's worth of great tunes (as chosen by us), with some bits of talking in between. More info on the bands can be found by clicking on their profiles below. Feel free to share and embed! Enjoy!



Chartburst's website

Soft Plastic's profile
Documenta's profile
The Inkhearts' profile
Georgian Waters' profile
Lightouts' profile
Latimer House's profile
Black Tar Heroines' profile
AKW's profile
Stagnant Nebula's profile
Johnny Quadrio's profile
Rory D Wynne's profile
cålɱ↓ (calmdown)'s profile





contact@thesoundofconfusion.com

Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Album review by andy@thesoundofconfusion.com


Life loves nothing more than being a contrary tease, one that drops obstacles on the road to our aspirations and offers diversions with routes contradictory to the desired destination. So it is for those of a creative bent, who all too often find that their initial passion-fuelled wish to capture a little slice of their vision of heaven, can steadily become mired in an intricate and prolonged journey that begins to weigh heavy like a hellish torment.

One suspects this could be a feeling The Bilinda Butchers are able to relate to. Though the creation of their debut album didn't exactly see them cast into the depths of Tarturus, it certainly appears, from digesting a series of the bands' blog entries, that the recording process at very least began to resemble an indefinite spell in purgatory, where ideas and expectation tangled with the practicalities of, you know, actually getting the thing done! With no St Michael the Archangel swooping down to fight the good fight, the role of protecting this particular stretch of 'Heaven' fell on another Michal, who, along with band mates Adam and Ryan, had no choice but to battle on through the dark days determined and compelled to bring their lofty ambitions to fruition.

That the maturation of the record proved such a struggle is perhaps testament to two factors. Firstly the passion and precise desires the San Franciscan trio hold for their art, and secondly, that 'Heaven' is a concept album, one whose themes (forbidden love and entangled emotions) are universal but whose narrative and framework (a recounting of a young woman's entries in a fictitious 19th Century Japanese diary) are complex and creatively demanding. Let's be honest here though readers, concept records can at times be a lesson in pretentiousness can't they? All too often an artist labours on in ever decreasing circles of quality, while losing sight of what we the listener most care about, namely hearing some great tunes!

Delivering heart melting melodies has never been a problem for The Bilinda Butchers before though, and it's a pleasure to report that there's no sign they plan to stop now, because thankfully, putting the interesting back story to one side, what 'Heaven' ultimately holds at its core are a series of wonderfully crafted, effortlessly impressive, and most importantly, properly formed songs. In doing so it also showcases what is arguably the young group's most diverse collection of material to date.

Not that opener ‘Ume’ would necessarily lead you to believe this to be the case. While the band themselves may have recently been vocal in their desire to distance themselves from the dreampop and chillwave tags attached to their previous work, this introductory ode to romantic thought, is firmly fixed in the familiar woozy and sweeping synths that characterised 2011's 'Regret, Love, Guilt, Dreams' EP. Indeed, long term fans should worry not, because while the trio's repertoire may have expanded for the better, they certainly haven't discarded dreampop altogether - The Radio Dept. styled spoken word segments that litter the record bear witness to that. Nope, rather than ripping up the roots of whence they came, they've instead spread outwards and in doing so blossomed into something ever more beautiful.

Evidence of this growth is readily apparent as early as second track 'Less Than', a breezy pair of minutes which channel the spirit of paisley underground and college rock, to topple 'Teen Dream' as arguably the bands purest pop dalliance to date. The lovely lush, warm synths and garden chatter of 'Old Style Amami' woo next up, before one of the LP's real high points, 'Shadow Beat', appears on the horizon. A grinding rock chorus marks the band heaviest blast to date, but it's the warped atmospherics and oriental melodies of the verses and middle eight that provide this composition with its hypnotic beauty, while, intriguingly, the drum rhythms bring a touch of hip-hop to the table, akin to that prospered by 9th Wonder or 'Low End Theory' era A Tribe Called Quest.

Not prepared to let that standard tail off, Sarah Psalti is drafted in to provide vocals on subsequent number 'Golden House', her Carol Decker-esque delivery casting a breathy, impassioned air over the type of big sounding 1980s electronic pop that Sarah's previous collaborators Keep Shelly In Athens will surely approve of. With the excellent DJ Shadow reminiscent 'New Style Akashi' marking the midpoint of proceedings, the interlude of a rainstorm outro supplies the platform into which the fleet fingered, solid gold guitar riff of last year's single 'The Lovers' Suicide' is able to launch in marauding fashion; familiarity has not dulled its impact in the slightest and it's this tune that bestows upon the record its zenith, amongst what are unravelling to be numerous towering moments.

For break-beat backed 'Tanka', Josh Davis is again at the forefront of the mind, though the band's original source of inspiration, My Bloody Valentine, are also deserving of due acknowledgment. Significantly the latter's influence is further carried forth into the chunky electro rock of'‘Edo Method' which is likely to sit well with fans of The Big Pink, before, set to the sound of water lapping and children at play, 'The River Sumida' softly assembles a reflective and peaceful prelude to the LP's final knockings and the diary's denouement. Dazzling with the funky freshness of jangle-pop inspired Prince and the rhythmic fluency of The Stone Roses' 'How Do You Sleep', 'Heaven Holds A Place' is an impossibly upbeat acceptance of impending suicide. Layers of angelic harmony and soaring falsetto propelling the track, and the record as a whole, into the coveted realms of its celestial title; it is in short, a gem.

One final uttering of explanation from our heroine as to her new found emotional equilibrium and the chronicle comes to its close; a tale that evolves from discovering and chasing a dream, onwards through weary struggle and pain, finally resolved in the tranquillity of a glorious conclusion – you know, perhaps the recording process was simply a embodiment of the story. Thanks Bilinda Butchers, this right here is 'Heaven'.





The Bilinda Butchers' website

Stream or buy the album





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Obligatory Record Of The Day! Goat - Hide From The Sun

Single review by KevW


With the big psych surge from down under, as well as the UK and Danish scenes which are in rude health, it's been easy to let Swedish band Goat slip from your memory, despite their 2012 debut album 'World Music' receiving the kind of acclaim that's usually reserved for any occasion that Usian Bolt sets foot inside an athletics stadium. They were heroes, they were the next force to be reckoned with in the psychedelic movement. But then it went a bit quiet. Quite why isn't clear, because a gap of two years between albums is hardly rare, but still, they'll be looking to reclaim their crowns in September with second album 'Commune'.

As well as giving sound advice for those worried about skin cancer, 'Hide From The Sun' is a gloriously off-kilter song that plunders a treasure trove of lost '60s 45s and picks out the best bits. The guitar melody that mirrors the warped and faraway vocals, a rolling, rampaging drumbeat, breaks for a neat garage riff and then cranking up the noise ratio so that those guitars give off a bit more power. If this song was visual then it would be a heat haze shimmering its way off a hot desert road, seen through coloured shades and probably after narcotics have been consumed. Expect press excitement to recommence shortly.





Goat's website

Pre-order the album





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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Band To Check Out: Makaras Pen

Article by KevW


We sometimes think we're up to speed with what's happening in the world of shoegaze and dreampop, but such is the growth in popularity of music of this variety in recent years that such a feat would be almost impossible. It's not just keeping up with all the newcomers that's the challenge either; we regularly hear about quality bands who've been in operation for several years but have yet to grace our humble web space. So we should finally say hello to New York band Makaras Pen, a group who've been together for a while and have three albums to their name. It just goes to show that however hard you look, there are always splendid bands just waiting to be found.

Boasting a sound that ties in very nicely with what was happening in the UK indie scene of the late '80s and early '90s, Makaras Pen give the effects pedals a good airing on songs like 'Mountain View' which recalls the more shoegaze-oriented bands of the time, but they concentrate firmly on writing songs, so it's not all about the atmospherics. Take 'Interventionist' for example, this is a pristine jangle-pop song that also piles on some ambiance so that it's less fey than some others who've plunged into similar musical waters. The heavier undertones emphasise this further. How they've evaded us for so long we don't know, but they're not the first. The good news is that we have a rather fetching back-catalogue to catch up on.





Makaras Pen's website

Buy their new album





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