Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Yeti Lane - The Echo Show

Album review by KevW


The 2010 debut album from Parisian psych-pop duo Yeti Lane was pleasant enough, but aside from insanely loveable single 'Lonesome George', none of it really stuck. It seemed a tad threadbare, like a batch of demos that were awaiting a sprinkling of gold dust to fully show their potential. There was promise there but whether or not it would ever be fully realised was difficult to predict. Fast forward a couple of years and Ben Pleng and Charlie Boyer have another crack at drawing us into their world with kaleidoscopic follow-up 'The Echo Show'.

From the opening glitches and swirls of 'Analogue Wheel' it becomes evident that we could be witnessing a great leap forward. Deeper electronic textures, a propelling motorik beat and sweeping vocal whooshes. By the time the track's reached it euphoric climax of shimmering guitars you're hooked. It's like Andrew Weatherall remixing Neu! covering The Beatles' 'Dear Prudence'. Hammering straight into the reverb soaked title track proves it's no one-off either. Many have dabbled with a Krautrock/psychedelia/shoegaze hybrid recently but Yeti Lane's version is more buoyant; still a lush wall of sound, only lighter, more airy. 'Warning Sensations' might as well have teleported itself in from Grandaddy's 'The Sophtware Slump', on which it would have been a highlight.

The fundamental reason why this album succeeds on such a grand scale is pretty basic. Strip the layers away and buried beneath are pure tunes. It's not that they've remade their debut with denser electronics and more attention to detail, it's that they've pushed their limits in terms of songwriting. Play 'Alba' or 'Dead Tired' on a just battered acoustic guitar and still they'd shine. Coat them in rich sheets of glides and chimes and they become breathtaking, but not once are things taken too far. There are no attempts at directionless washes of ambient sound; this is pop, Jim, but not as we know it.

'The Echo Show' is a fitting title for this record. Not because it harks back to their debut, yielding diminishing returns, but because it hand-picks traces of sounds from the past and neatly combines their best bits. Retro analogue electronics, the past twenty years of dreampop and the aforementioned 'The Sophtware Slump' are all clear touchstones, but they've pushed themselves, superseded their past recordings and most of their peers while they're at it. In carefully choosing elements of classics gone by, Yeti Lane have crafted a classic of their very own. Consider the ante well and truly upped.





Yeti Lane's website

Stream the album in full

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Five For Free #57


Fanfarlo - Replicate


Arty Anglo-Swedish indie/pop group Fanfarlo have taken their time following up 2009's debut album, but a second LP, 'Rooms Filled With Light' is out this week and on the strength of single and free download 'Replicate' you can tell it's been time well spent, using offbeat time signatures and held together with a unique arrangement of strings and vocals it shows them pushing the limits of what's expected from 'indie' bands.



Fanfarlo's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album





Disappears - Replicate


It may have the same title but this particular 'Replicate' is an altogether different beast. Taken from the new album by Chicago alt-rock band Disappears (and featuring Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth on drums) this track had plenty of power, it's mean and moody and brooding and the chorus packs a real punch. If it was a human you probably wouldn't want to mess with it.



Disappears' website

Buy the album





Strand Of Oaks - Spacestations


The latest instalment of Weathervane Music's Shaking Through series centres on Philadelphia's Strand Of Oaks, the musical project of Timothy Showalter, and definitely has an American feel to it. 'Spacestations' is a familiar blend of alt-rock, indie, country and folk that stretches back through everyone from The Band to The National and many many more.



Strand Of Oaks' website





Mind Spiders - Wait For Us


Texan garage band Mind Spiders have just released their new album 'Meltdown' and taken from it is free track 'Wait For Us'. There's a punky edge to this track and it also takes in a touch of psychedelia (as a band called Mind Spiders probably should). It's a fresh sounding clatter through a menagerie of sounds from the past but they're cobbled together in an expertly ramshackle way.



Mind Spiders' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album





Exitmusic - Passage


Exitmusic featured in our bands to watch in 2012 list and  'Passage' is the first new music made available by them since then. It doesn't disappoint and gets us even more excited about their album of the same name which is out in May. Aleska Palladino's voice possesses incredible power and emotion and this is another immense slab of haunting beauty from one of the best new bands on the planet.



Exitmusic's website





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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Errors - Have Some Faith In Magic


Album review by James M



You have to feel for Errors. Any new band starting out will tell you that as much as they want to pay their own way, having a few contacts wouldn’t go amiss. Sure, now three albums in and playing hundreds of gigs worldwide they’ve more than earned their respect the right way. However, certain comparisons seem to regurgitate around just about anything they do. Being the favourite child of Mogwai who are the founders of Rock Action Records, Errors were always going to be living in the shadows of their Glaswegian peers. Yet when stepping from the shade and into the daylight, anybody who had taken time to actually listen to the band would have realised this is far from the truth. The tempo of most of the songs wouldn’t sound out of place on a post-rock record, that’s true. The way the songs build up, before breaking into a plethora of beauty is another trait familiar with that genre. Call me unconventional, but as the opening track on their debut album, 2008’s wonderful ‘It’s Not Something But It Is Like Whatever’ suggests – this is dance music - something the bandwagon jumpers seem to have forgotten.

After an abrasive guitar and drum duel has commenced, we’re reminded of just that, as not longer than a minute into opener ‘Tusk’ the band's keyboarding duo have us searching for our dancing shoes. As the title suggests ‘Magna Encarta’ follows suit with all things electronica. The added ingredient not just here, but on a big portion of this album is the vocal element. Like dreampop and shoegaze before them, they seem to incorporate vocals into the mix, leaving the listener without any understanding of what they’re saying. Instead using it as more of a tool, an added instrument into the fray, and they pull it off just as well as all who have tried before them. ‘Blank Media’ is the best example of this, a trippy journey in which a faint voice hazes in and out consciousness, whilst the song steadily gets louder and louder before a blissful climax. If people were still doubting the band's credentials to get you moving then they really need to look no further than ‘Pleasure Palaces’. Recently decided as the next promo single, if put into the right hands the band could certainly fill a few fields with pleasure at festivals this summer as their sound reaches epic proportions.

As the dust settles over the party season and as the album draws nearer to a close, ‘Cloud Chamber’ creeps in with its faint, melancholic touch showing there is a quieter side to this record. ‘Barton Spring’ follows the theme, a slow, industrial sounding, yet beautiful interlude before the lights are turned back on and we’re told to get back on the dance floor one more time. Artists tend to leave the last track on their work for something a bit special and we aren’t going to be let down this time. If you were short on time and needed 2 words to sum up Errors then ‘Holus-Bolus’ would be a good choice. The finale absorbs everything else from the album into five and a half minutes of alluring artistry. The pristine drum beats, the bewitching keys, the noisy middle sections, right through to the attention they pay to finishing a song off.

Choosing a highlight on an Errors album is almost as difficult as summing up the bands sound itself. There’s so much going on that it certainly isn’t something you can become a huge fan of in two or three listens. It’s definitely something you can enjoy, yet even ten plays in you’re always finding something new, something hidden into the mix. This may be why despite their potential, and as contradicting as my high opinions go, they haven’t found themselves attracting the attention they deserve. That isn’t a bad thing of course, if anything they are miles ahead of similar artists who have a guitar background but are plotting their way into the hearts of electronic music enthusiasts. It is an album that gets better with every listen and if you give it enough time you won’t be disappointed. Hopefully this time around they have done enough to stop any nonsensical comparisons, but don’t hold your breathe.




Errors' website

Stream the album in full

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Slow Down, Molasses - Bodies


Single review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com


The last few years have seen a resurgence in the once defunct 3D movie category, and even the invention of 3D TV. While it may be a pain to sit through 95 minutes of the latest Hollywood blockbuster wearing a ridiculous set of glasses, videos of shorter duration are far more accommodating. It's surprising then, that the format hasn't been utilised more often for music promos, but that's exactly what dreamy Canadian band Slow Down, Molasses have done to promote new remix album 'Bodies Of Water'.

The stormy, nightmarish animation perfectly encapsulates the drama of  the track and both 3D and 2D versions can be seen below. As for the actual song, 'Bodies', in its original form as shown here, is the epitome of dreampop: hazey, reflective, emotional; a thing of beauty. At seven minutes long it feels like a journey, from woozy atmospherics, through mournful cello and anxious uncertainty. You get a good ride for your money as the song builds into a finale as stirring as the accompanying footage.  Music videos don't always do songs justice and often are best avoided, but in this instance they're perfect bedfellows.


Click twice on video below to open in youtube for full 3D effect.


Slow Down, Molasses' website

Buy the original

Buy the remix album





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Monday, 27 February 2012

Out This Week - 27th February 2012


Fort Lean - Sunsick


Brooklynites Fort Lean have a new 7" single out this week, the infectious powerpop of 'Sunsick'. It sees their indie-rock sound taking a leap forward, sounding more anthemic and complete than the few previous tracks we've heard. Hopefully the thriving, competitive scene of their hometown will spur them on to record a cracking debut album, although we've heard no news of an LP on the horizon just yet.



Free download: 'Sunsick'

Fort Lean's website

Buy the 7"





Hooray For Earth - Last Minute


Their near neighbours, Bostonians Hooray For Earth give the UK their third album, 'True Loves' this week (it's was released in the US last year) and despite their longer career, it seems they'd rather not settle on a single sound, the album hops about in various directions. One of our favourites being the melodic, sunny indie-dreampop of 'Last Minute'.

Hooray For Earth - Last Minute

Hooray For Earth's website

Buy the album





Hunx - Always Forever


Over on the west coast of America, Seth Bogart (AKA Hunx) is leaving His Punx behind for a solo outing in the shape of new album 'Hairdresser Blues', which pretty much carries on where his previous work left of. 'Always Forever' is that familiar mash of influences, 60s girl-groups, garage rock, punk and in this case a touch of glam, recorded with minimum production and treble turned up to 11.



Free download: 'Always Forever'

Hunx's website

Buy the album





Soko - I Thought I Was An Alien


French singer and actress Soko has hovered around the music and film scenes for a few years now, but only this week releases her debut album, 'I Thought I Was An Alien', which was recorded last summer. Chuck in words like 'offbeat', 'quirky' 'folky' and 'indiepop' and you could be talking about Cate Le Bon. Soko could loosley fall under the same bracket, but this sound is all her own.



Soko's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album





OBLIGATORY RECORD OF THE WEEK

Spiritualized - Hey Jane


It's been a long time coming but Jason Pierce has announced that the new Spiritualized album 'Sweet Heart, Sweet Light' will be out on April 16th. Was he throwing us a massive curveball by saying it would be a pop album? An initial glance at 9 minute long first single 'Hey Jane', which starts of as a fairy familiar Spiritualized-do-garage tune would suggest otherwise. But, blimey, this is a grower. Flipping itself on it's head halfway through, it builds and builds, powered by the repetitive bass and motorik beat, into a crescendo of horns, choir and melody, and then you realise he wasn't lying. J. Spaceman does pop in a suitably hymnal fashion. 'Hey Jane' is Spiritualized in a nutshell, combining all the phases of their career, at first purely very good, but ultimately as addictive as the demons that appear in their songs. Single of the year so far.



Spiritualized's website

Buy the single





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Sunday, 26 February 2012

School Of Seven Bells - Ghostory


Album review by Andy L



Wrap the duvet tightly round your shoulders and huddle in close; with a torch clasped under their chin School Of Seven Bells are ready to hold court and share stories of the supernatural – whether these tales are filled with hauntingly beautiful apparitions, or are a pillow clenching nightmare, may all depend on your perception.

When, back in 2010 the New York shoegaze and electronic pop merchants decided to ‘Disconnect From Desire’ they couldn’t have anticipated that they would also be disconnecting the core of their fan base. On one side of the fracture stood those who felt that what they now heard was significantly less imaginative, inventive or experimental than the trio's debut LP. The rest however, heard a record that was cohesive, streamlined and more accessible than its predecessor, and crucially, a record filled with a strength of song writing that could deliver them to more widespread acclaim. If you fell into category one then you may wish to abandon reading right now, your time could be better served. If however you belonged to the latter community, as we at The Sound Of Confusion did, then stick around.

The reason why some have now trooped out of the room mumbling, and left the rest of us to expectantly read on in peace, is that third album 'Ghostory' sees School Of Seven Bells pick up where they left off last time out and serve up what is, in the main, more of the same. Not everything has remained as was, three has now become two following the departure of keyboard player and dual vocalist Claudia Deheza, but, without in any way wishing to decry her contribution, stylistically if any remodelling and gluing has taken place you’ll be hard pushed to identify the joins.

Indeed what we’re greeted with for the vast majority of the record is an overwhelming sense of the familiar. The trademark crystalline vocals, cascading guitars riffs and detached beats are all present right from the off, as opener ‘The Night’ rolls in to the icy pop of ‘Love Play’ (very reminiscent of Madonna’s ‘Frozen’) and then on to the LP’s strongest moment - the chiming and crunching ‘Lafaye’. From that point forth however, it’s slightly disappointing to report that what follows is, while certainly competent, not as memorable as it should be. Where on ‘Disconnect...' tracks such as ‘Bye Bye Bye’ or ‘ILU’ stood up and demanded to be noticed, in this instance the remaining six offerings wash by without really managing to stamp their authority on preceedings. ‘Reappear’ has an eerie appeal, ‘Scavenger’ shows single potential, and eight minute closing track ‘When You Sing’ contains its sparkling sections, but all told this feels a little too comfortable, everything residing in its right spot but not leaving space for those twists and special moments that can elevate songs from good to great

Overall there’s still enough here to keep firm fans of the band more than happy, but to herald it as an unmitigated success would be doing the talent of School Of Seven Bells a disservice. The ghosts of their past have caught up with them on this LP, the challenge next time is to lay them to rest good and proper.


Free download: 'The Night'

School Of Seven Bells' website

Buy the album





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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Dead Mellotron - Stranger


Single review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com



This side of the Atlantic, unless your finger is so firmly on the pulse of new music that it's practically breaking its wrist, it's unlikely that Dead Mellotron will be a name you're overly familiar with. And this is despite the fact that the trio have already self-released two albums worth of material. The shortage of publicity and web presence have meant that the scuzzy Baltimore revivalists have remained resolutely under the radar. That is until they were hunted down by shoegaze sniffer dogs Sonic Cathedral who will be putting out new album 'Glitter' in May - and even their press release contains the line "I don't really know anything about them".

Still, a little mystery can often enhance a band's appeal, although on the strength of new single 'Stranger' no further augmentation is needed. At under three minutes long, this track feels truncated in comparison to others who ply their trade in similar sonic territories, and this teasing glimpse succeeds in whetting the appetite for more, like an effects pedal starter before a banquet of (what I expect to be) more blissful distortion and atmospherics when the album drops. You generally have a fair idea of what to expect from a band on Sonic Cathedral's roster, and a quick browse through Dead Mellotron's previous work confirms that comparisons will be drawn to My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse and so on (they even have a song called '1993') but if this new track is anything to go by then 'Glitter' is an apt name for the album. There's plenty of sparkle amongst this fuzz.



Stranger can be downloaded for free by heading here

Dead Mellotron's website

Pre-order the album





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Five For Free #56


Crocodiles - Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)


San Diego's finest Jesus & Mary Chain inspired fuzz-rockers Crocodiles have just announced that their third LP 'Endless Flowers' will be released in June this year, and along with this news they've brought us the first single to be taken from the album, 'Sunday (Psychic Conversation #9)'. This track doesn't break from their established sound but is one of their more commercial sounding efforts and it's quite superb.



Crocodiles' website

Buy the single





The Heartbreaks - Winter Gardens


More good news comes from Morcambe band The Heartbreaks who've announced that their long awaited and much anticipated debut album 'Funtimes' will be with us in May, with a single, 'Delay, Delay' expected at the end of April. For now, though, they're giving us album cut, the typically dramatic and overblown 'Winter Gardens' as a free download.



Free download: 'Winter Gardens'

The Heartbreaks' website





Charli XCX - I'll Never Know


One of the leading lights in 2012's batch of female pop starlets is Charli XCX whose single 'Nuclear Seasons' we featured a few weeks back. Her sound brings with it an alternative edge that happily counteracts the pop vulgarities spewed out by the current crop of top 10 gate-crashers. No news yet as to when she'll have an album out, but here's an excellent new track, 'I'll Never Know'.

Charlie XCX - I'll Never Know

Free download: 'I'll Never Know'

Charli XCX's website





Father John Misty - Hollywood Cemetery Forever Sings


We do have a date for the album by Father John Misty! 'Fear Fun' is set for release on May 8th in the UK and if the name Father John Misty doesn't sound familiar then you might know him better as sometime Fleet Fox and successful solo artist in his own right, J. Tillman. You can pick up a free taster in the shape of the folky rock of 'Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings' below.



Father John Misty's website

Pre-order the album





The Van Doos - Look Away Now


Also teasing us with a free track this week are London based indie types The Van Doos. Their debut EP was out in the autumn and as yet no future releases have been announced, but we can assume recording is ongoing and to coincide with forthcoming live appearances an excellent demo of the track 'Look Away Now' has been made available from their website.



Free download: 'Look Away Now'

The Van Doos' website





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Friday, 24 February 2012

Swaying Wires - Demos


Demo review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com



Given its rich tradition in folklore, it should be of little surprise that, along with the UK, Scandinavia has caught the folk/alt-country revival bug in recent years, with the genre threatening to outshine pop and indiepop as their biggest musical export to British ears. Beginning as the one woman project of singer-songwriter Tina Karkinen, Swaying Wires hail from the city of Turku in south-west Finland and have gradually filled out into a full band, recording a clutch of demo tracks that have caused more than a few listeners to prick up their ears.

With such a strong voice and universal sound (if you were told the band were English or American you'd have no reason to think otherwise) this cracking batch of tunes have the potential to generate widespread interest. Plans are in place to hit the studio in the summer to begin work on a debut album, and the fact that the band are inspired by lo-fi indie bodes well. What's recorded so far isn't exactly rough around the edges and it would be awful for the soul they have to be stripped away with too much studio trickery. 'Brings Me Home' and 'Bluebird' would sit happily on many acclaimed indie/folk records of recent years, so fingers crossed that they resist temptation to meddle with what is already a thoroughly decent sound. With these few songs Swaying Wires are already halfway to creating a debut album of some stature.





Swaying Wires' website





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A Few My Nephew - A Few My Nephew


EP review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com



Whether A Few My Nephew is a joyfully obtuse name for a band or just a bloody awful one is a debate for another time, either way it's certainly unusual. It's fitting therefore, that this debut EP from the Nantes quartet is similarly unusual and will quite possibly divide opinion. A hybrid of influences can be extracted from these six tracks; the band cite Love, Yeti Lane and Grizzly Bear, and have supported Baxter Dury, Allo Darlin' and Here We Go Magic. Whizz that lot up in a blender, top with some early Gorky's and a sprinkling of 70s weirdo Kevin Ayres - et voila!

It's an intriguing blend and yields mixed results. 'Bossa Nova' even chucks in some Stereolab and is the most upbeat track here. Elsewhere things get a little misty, the choppy tempo of 'Endless Night' does its name proud in bringing in a dreamy feel and offbeat indie-folk is the default setting for much of the rest, but done in their own way - this is a band with ideas and a wilful disregard for convention. There's a certain je ne sais quoi that's missing; that little extra quirk to provide these songs with a bit more punch, or maybe the addition of a producer to give things a kick up the backside. Still, this is a promising first offering, and although A Few My Nephew haven't quite reached their destination yet, they're certainly heading in the right direction.



A Few My Nephew's website

Buy the EP





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Thursday, 23 February 2012

Shearwater - Breaking The Yearlings


Single review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com



It seems a strange move for Austin's ornithology-based indie-rockers Shearwater to mark the release of their new album 'Animal Joy' by picking 'Breaking The Yearlings' as its lead track. This is by no means a bad song, in fact it's quite the opposite, bringing with it an urgency that's been rare on their recordings so far. The jerky rhythm and thundering drums certainly add a sense of occasion, and that, surely, is the reason for pushing this song above others. They may also be taking this as an opportunity to send a message to detractors who've previously (and wrongly) described them as dull.

As decent as 'Breaking The Yearlings' is, it's slightly misleading. In shunning the rich tapestry they've woven on other tracks on the album (try 'You As You Were' or 'Animal Life' as prime examples) there's a slight sense that they've sold themselves short. Elsewhere things are allowed to soar as majestically as their name implies, giving a far greater sense of beauty. Get this single, it's enjoyable and it's free to download, but don't judge their latest full-length on the strength of this one track. If you dig a little deeper into 'Animal Joy' you'll reap far more satisfying rewards.


Shearwater's website







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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Five For Free #55


Ugly Kids Club - My Soul


Historically Nashville has been known as a hotbed of musical activity, even earning itself the nickname 'Music City', but things, globally at least, have been a touch quieter of late. Doing their best to remedy the situation are indie/pop/rock duo Ugly Kids Club who released their first album last month. Taken from it is the excellent 'My Soul' which sounds like The Kills given a pop makeover.



Ugly Kids Club's website

Buy the album





Beach Fossils - Shallow


The second album from Brooklyn band Beach Fossils will be released later this year, following a brief break for some solo projects. This week they give us a taster in the shape of 7" single 'Shallow' which you can download for free below. The track is a wistful mix of hazey vocals and jangly guitars, set to capture the hearts of any lo-fi indiepop fans.



Beach Fossils' website

Buy the single





Damien Jurado - Museum Of Flight


As mentioned a few weeks ago, Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado returns with his twelfth album, 'Maraqopa' which is released this week. The second single to be taken from it is 'Museum Of Flight' which he's kindly giving away for free. Usual top drawer songcraft, meaningful lyrics and heartfelt delivery all apply, and unlike so many others, he makes all those attributes into something quite wonderful.



Damien Jurado's website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album





Terry Malts - Killing Time


If you prefer your music a little rougher around the edges then you could do worse than check out Californians Terry Malts (yes, it's a band, not one bloke) who are about to put out their debut album 'Killing Time'. From said album is free track 'Tumble Down' which combines the best bits of ramshackle punk spirit, minimal production and pop sensibilities.



Terry Malts' website

Buy the album





WhoMadeWho - Below The Cherry Moon


We finish this batch of freebies with Danish electro-rock band WhoMadeWho and a track from their new record 'Brighter'. 'Below The Cherry Moon' is from a similar mould to the one Hot Chip use to manufacture their crossover blend of guitar-fan-friendly dance tunes, they're not the first 'band' to make dance music, but they don't half do it well.


WhoMadeWho's website

Buy the album





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Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It


Album review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com 



The words 'piano balladeer' are enough to strike fear into the heart of many a music fan and have them ducking for cover behind a stack of Stooges LPs, but things are a little different when it comes to Seattle ivory tinkler Mike Hadreas, whose plaintive compositions arrive from a different dimension to vulgarities such as 'Candle In The Wind'. His 2010 debut album as Perfume Genius brought with it a succession of gushing reviews, both of the record and of his live performances. For a brief period you could barely move in the music press without bumping into words such as 'emotive', 'intimate', 'heartfelt' and 'spellbinding'. The wealth of clich├ęs were without doubt accurate, and 'Learning' contained some truly wonderful tracks, check out the stunning 'Mr Peterson' for proof.

Two years on, Perfume Genius drops his second album, 'Put Your Back N 2 It', which is shaped from the same DNA as its predecessor. The bulk these songs being nothing more than, uh, emotive piano, heartfelt lyrics and an, er, intimate delivery that results in a collection of songs best described as, well, spellbinding. The descriptions may be nauseatingly familiar but the music is resolutely unique. Occasionally fleshed out with subtle guitar and strings, each and every one of these tracks packs in more genuine passion that Elton John's entire career. It's a dozen songs so beguiling that an unusual paradox is reached. Some albums work best as a whole and isolating individual tracks would fail to do them justice, but here these compositions are so perfectly formed that almost all of them work best when standing alone, playing them continuously can be a bit much.

Berating an album for containing too many good songs may seem odd, but isolating each song allows it the respect it deserves, plus the similarity of some tracks can be off-putting. When things step up a gear (well, half a gear anyway) we're treated to some genuinely captivating stuff. 'Hood' builds into a piece chamber-pop of the highest order, whereas 'Take Me Home', in all its choral majesty, is the reason why the word 'genius' is included in the man's chosen moniker. 'Put Your Back N 2 It' is an album to be digested in whichever way you see fit. If that means listening to it as a whole then so be it, but if it means downloading a few tracks to dip into or finding them cropping up when your iPod is set to 'shuffle' then, for once, no disservice is being done. Despite the conventional arrangements and format, usual rules don't apply here, and confusingly, Perfume Genius has made an album that's too damn fine for its own good.


Perfume Genius - Take Me Home



Perfume Genius' website

Stream the album in full

Buy the album





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Monday, 20 February 2012

Out This Week - 20th February 2012


Towns - Gone Are The Days


'Gone Are The Days'? Gone are the days when what? When a band could make psychedelia infused guitar music that fits snugly into the gap between baggy and Britpop? Not if Weston-super-Mare's Towns have anything to do with it they're not. It early days so their full mettle is yet to be tested but this fine new single is probably how Viva Brother think they sound - i.e pretty good, not bloody awful.



Towns' website

Buy the single





Tindersticks - Frozen


A band who've existed through all the aforementioned genres (but embraced none) are Nottingham miserablists Tindersticks who give us their ninth album 'The Something Rain' this week. As you can guess it's not exactly a lol-a-minute but their expert songcraft is still enough to put many imitators to shame. Have a listen to an early favourite from the album, 'Frozen'.



Tindersticks' website

Stream the album in full

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Thee Cormans - Biker Bitch


Californian's Thee Cormans are a whirlwind of scuzzy guitars, growled vocals and surf riffing that's as good as anything that could be described as 'psychobilly' since The Cramps were at their most haunting peak. New single 'Biker Bitch' is a mess of under-produced clattering and shredding and screaming. It's the kind of music that puts hairs on your chest. Essential listening.



Thee Cormans' website

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Wild Nothing - Nowhere


It's a bit of a mystery as to exactly how the debut album from one man indie/dreampop band Wild Nothing didn't gain more coverage. It was full of jangly, melodic loveliness of the kind that's capable of causing a reasonably mass appeal a la The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Let's hope people take more notice this time around, a new album will follow ace new single 'Nowhere'.



Wild Nothing's website

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OBLIGATORY RECORD OF THE WEEK

The Cribs - Chi-Town


Having parted ways with Mr Marr, The Cribs have suggested a return to their punkier roots for fifth album 'In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull' which should be with us in the summer. First single and free download 'Chi-Town' is certainly resplendent in ragged glory and urgent energy but it's also crammed with melody and earworm hooks that get stuck in your brain. Their best single yet? We wouldn't quite go that far, but it's got to be up there.



The Cribs' website





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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Internet Forever - Internet Forever


Album review by Andy L



Long since passed are the days when the WWW in your address bar proudly sported an identity all of its own. Back then the online world moved at a more sedate speed, moseying on down as it pleased, tipping the brow of its Stetson and pausing passively to survey the scene – this was life once upon a time in the Wired Wild West; a frontier ripe for exploration and conquest, and boy how the settlers came. Where once lay a tumbleweed town, there now sits a thriving metropolis; horse power has been superseded by high speed download, ranches removed in favour of social network skyscrapers, and traversing the heart of it all is the teeming tarmac of the multi-lane information super highway – upon which, firmly with their pedal to the floor, arrive Internet Forever blasting out their debut LP.

It’s been three years since this trio of southern English prospectors first headed to the hills, pans in hand with a dream to pursue, so now we ask, have they returned to this chaotic civilisation with pockets full of gold musical nuggets? The answer is a 24 carrot yes, and what’s more, a little bit of polish has brought everything up gleaming!

From the moment the rota blade roar of opener ‘Golden Temple’ crashes into the big beat psychedelics of ‘3D’ – a lament on how a virtual persona may not stack up in the flesh – the tone is set.; this is 'Tomorrow Never Knows' with muscles, and it lays down a marker for an album totally in step with its modern fast paced surroundings. Spanning twelve tracks, crammed into little more than thirty minutes, what follows is a feast of chanted chorus’, chest thumping drum beats and fuzz flavoured fun.

Be it the Sleigh Bells on summer vacation pop of ‘Break Bones’, the urgent Go! Team-esque, baton twirling, majorette march of ‘I Don’t Care’, or the punk rock power of ‘I’ll Seep When I’m Alive’ this a record that is bright, bold and blistering at almost every step – almost, but not quite, because what really helps it raise its level are the subtle switches in pace that sprinkle the LP.

On ‘Pages of Books’ that variety is provided in the shape of a sun-kissed outro, think The Beloved and their blissed out, bathing Balearic house; ‘Zbigniew Sings’ drops out in even more lazy, shimmering fashion, but most interesting of all is the albums parting shot. ‘3M’ stands apart from its predecessors, adopting a dreamy, hazy demeanour from the off, allowing the guitars to swirl and spiral in and out in the manner of My Bloody Valentines classic single ‘Soon’. It’s an intriguing pointer to what could lie further down the road for Internet Forever, but more importantly an ideal sign off to this pop perfect debut long-player.

"We want to be the centre of the universe but someone above us won’t let us through" the band declare as the record reaches its middle moments; well to any higher powers up there, if you’re listening, please lift the blockade - this brave new digital world would be so much better for it, we can't let this lot ride off into the sunset unnoticed.


3D by Internet Forever

Internet Forever's website

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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Five For Free #54


Barry Adamson - Destination


Mancunian veteran Barry Adamson has been a member of several bands of note in his career, including Magazine, Visage and various Nick Cave projects, but he releases his latest solo offering, 'I Will Set You Free' this month. The album sees him turn part crooner in places and at other points try his hand at some particularly fine post-punk, such as on free download 'Destination'.




Barry Adamson's website

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Mirel Wagner - No Death


Another recently released album is that of Mirel Wagner, an Ethiopian born Finnish folk singer-songwriter. The influences of neither of those countries is overly apparent on free track 'No Death', which has more of a traditional British folk sound, at points the guitar seems to echo Scarborough Fair. This track is dark and haunting and sounds like the emergence of a great new talent.



Free download: 'No Death'

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She's So Rad - Iceblock


Definitely a band to keep your eye on should they ever reach UK shores are New Zealand's She's So Rad who released their debut album 'In Circles' last year. Fingers crossed it gets picked up by a UK or US label soon. Free track 'Iceblock' is a sublime mix of distant harmonies, shoegaze and electronica that soars in a very lovely way indeed.



She's So Rad's website

Stream or buy the full album






Superhumanoids - Geri


Superhumanoids are another of those bands we know little about. The facts we have: they're based in Los Angeles, there are 3 of them and they will be releasing an album sometime this year which will be called 'Exhibitionists'. Whether it will be any good is difficult to guess off the strength of the one track we've heard but if it's all as good as the dreamy pop of 'Geri' then they're on to a winner.



Superhumanoids' website






Little Barrie - Twisted Little Blades


Nottingham power-garage trio Little Barrie blessed us all with another album in the summer and you can pick up this track from it for free. 'Twisted Little Blades' is a rifftastic piece of R&B inspired powerpop that puts many other revivalists to shame. Another album full of these for this summer would be just great if that's ok with you, guys!



Little Barrie's website

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Friday, 17 February 2012

Yeti Lane - Sparkling Sunbeam


Single review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com



From the first few cursory listens and reports from elsewhere in the music world, the early signs are that the second album from French duo Yeti Lane might just be a little bit on the bloody brilliant side. Could we be looking at the next band to make the transition from lovable indie curiosity to critically acclaimed heroes (see also Animal Collective, The Horrors and Beach House), or will the buzz amount to little more than a month or two of feverish media activity while the record buying public barely give it a second look?

Personally, I'd stick a fiver on 'The Echo Show' making an appearance in a few end of year lists. Since dropping first track and free download 'Analogue Wheel' a few weeks back it was clear that the pair had taken a leap forward, from writing pop songs about lonely tortoises to crafting a barnstorming Krautrock/electro-shoegaze monster. No laurels are being rested upon, these guys are challenging themselves.

First single proper, 'Sparkling Sunbeam', is a more sedate affair, layers of sound built upon 70s electronic pulses and spidery guitar. It's not the all-guns-blazing attack that some of the album's other songs could have provided, but it's sure as hell a great track, and if you can imagine some kind of collaboration between the aforementioned Animal Collective, The Horrors and Beach House then you'll get a pretty good idea what we're dealing with. 2012 could well be their year.



Yeti Lane's website

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Thursday, 16 February 2012

Geoff Farina - The Wishes Of The Dead


Album review by KevW

This article also appears on http://www.soundsxp.com



Given that Geoff Farina's career thus far has consisted of being the frontman in 90s experimental alt-rockers Karate and one half of indie duo The Secret Stars, it comes as a slight surprise to note that his first solo album in a decade is about as cutting edge as Spongebob Squarepants' bollocks. 'The Wishes Of The Dead' comprises of ten songs chronicling a year spent living in a small town in Maine, and the influence of rural Americana is plastered all over these tracks.

This feels like a deeply personal record. Not in a 'bearing your soul' kind of way, more in a 'he might as well be sat opposite playing just to you' kind of way, such is the stripped back nature here. This is nothing more than gently plucked guitar and vocals, recounting stories gathered from the setting of the album's creation - from the struggles of the area's first settlers, to heroin addicts and modern warfare. The simplicity can be quite off-putting at first, the songs taking several listens to reveal their true colours, and while more variety and vigour may initially seem to be the missing ingredient, it's worth remembering that 'The Wishes Of The Dead' is a product of its environment and the traditional playing is entirely by design and inspired by the region's older generation of musicians.

Therefore, this isn't going to be a record of mass appeal and a cursory listen to a couple of tracks will generate little in the way of a wow factor, but it's worth sticking with the tunes and allowing yourself to absorb them. The overall feel is warm, homely and full of character, albeit borrowed character, but that seems to be the point. 'The Wishes Of The Dead' feels like a tribute to a place, its people and its traditions, and in that respect, despite at first seeming tame, Geoff Farina has hit the nail right on the head.





Geoff Farina's website

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Five For Free #53


Digital Leather - Young Doctors In Love


Omaha's Digital Leather is essentially the work of Shawn Foree and he releases a new album (his first for nearly three years) this week entitled 'Modern Problems'. His sound has been described as 'synth-punk' but it's more in the spirit of traditional garage (all recorded on tape, no GarageBand round here) and 'Young Doctors In Love' is bursty with gutsy, fuzzy, organic energy.



Free download: 'Young Doctors In Love'

Digital Leather's website

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Alex Winston - Fire Ant


2012 will be the year to decide who wins our Winston vs Yadi chart battle, and taking an early lead is Alex Winston who has her long awaited debut album set for release in a few weeks. Taken from it is this countryish, indieish, poppish tune with her distinctive vocals and usual quirks. Grab 'Fire Ant' free below. As for Yadi... *tumbleweed blows past*.



Alex Winston's website

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Stars In Coma - Paint My Picture On The Think Shell


It's about time we had some more Swedish indie/pop, so here's the new single from Malmo's Stars In Coma who are letting us have their latest offering 'Paint My Picture On The Thick Shell' for free. It's a mash of styles from acoustic guitars, to marimbas, to trip hop beats and more. This track is taken from their forthcoming album 'Midnight Puzzle' which is out at the end of April.



Stars In Coma's website

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The Minutes - Secret History


Tackling the recent influx of US garage rock bands head on are Irish trio The Minutes (they've actually been recording in New York but we'll ignore that). Their debut EP is out this week and this full throttle rock 'n' roll surge is as visceral as anything you're likely to hear that hasn't come from a Jim Jones Revue record. 'Secret History' is well under two minutes long, but a hell of a lot of fun.



The Minutes' website

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The Rosie Taylor Project - The Last Happy Writer


Picking up some glowing reviews recently are London band The Rosie Taylor Project whose new album 'Twin Beds' is out this week. Get a little taster of what to expect by downloading free track 'The Last Happy Writer' which blends English folk with Americana and maudlin British indie. Subtle, sedate, sweet and quietly superb.


The Rosie Taylor Project's website

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