Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Monthly round-up: January 2010

This is the first of a monthly overview of recent music releases that have prodded my interest. Who know's if I'll keep it going on a regularly basis - as with everything on his blog - I make no promises.

Nobody listens to new music in the first couple of weeks of January anyway. Personally, I was too busy keeping warm and recapping on things I've missed in 2009 by trawling through everyone else's end of year lists to notice what was current. Publishers obviously concur, as the release schedule was dead until about two weeks ago, and that's when the year officially exploded into action:

ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Without a doubt, the most suprising release of the month has been from Southend's These New Puritans. Very rarely does a record come along that makes you sit up and think - where the fuck did that come from? TNP's debut was pretty good as a math-rock library piece, but with their second album Hidden, they have taken a leap into new territory. This is music that takes itself very seriously - it is the sound of politics, war, science and history. There is no room for self-absorbed angst here - the hard rhythms and stark orchestrations have gauged away at any sentimentality that might have crept through. This is agressive music, but not in the same way that metal or punk may serve violence as gothic horror and male posteur. It is mannered agression presented in a way that is quite real and beautiful. If there is a better album released this year then we are in for a vintage period. (10/10). (Angular Recording Co)

youtube.com/these new puritans - we want war
youtube.com/these new puritans - three thousand
youtube.com/these new puritans - attack music

SINGLE OF THE MONTH: It's always worth getting off on the right foot with your debut single, and Emika has succeeded in doing that with Drop the Other - a lusciously dark and off-kilter piece of electro dubstep released on Ninja Tunes. This is the music that Alison Goldfrapp probably intended to make (should have), but couldn't quite reach down low enough to grapple in the grime and extract. Very promising indeed. (9/10). (Ninja Tunes).

youtube.com/emika - drop the other


Vampire Weekend were the first off the mark quick this year. Contra, the follow up to their successful 2008 debut utilises their penchant for afro-beat and urban story telling to good effect. Cousins, the first single of the album seems to be doing the rounds on the radio at the moment - which makes a nice change to N-Dubz. The strongest is the final track, I Think Ur a Contra, which is reminiscent of Paul Simon's african collaborations. (7/10). (Rough Trade). youtube.com/vampire weekend - cousins

Due to the threat of multinational litigation, Final Fantasy has now reverted to the name on his birth certificate - and to be honest Owen Pallett is a perfectly usable moniker anyway. Heartland is his third solo album away from the constrains of Arcade Fire. The orchestration is big and bold and the vocals fey. Great stuff - might even be better than He Poos Clouds. (9/10). (Domino). youtube.com/owen pallett - oh hearland, up yours!

I have never be
en too sure about Beach House, but Teen Dream could well be the catalyst for my re-evaluation of this Baltimore duo. The first single from the album, Norway, may have the legs for a successful indie crossover hit. The rest of the album is just charming too, in a laid back, boy/girl harmony kind of way. (8/10). (Sub Pop). youtube.com/beach house - norway

Mirror Mirror is the debut from London's avante-garde pop ten-piece, The Irrepressibles. The band is actually the vehicle for Jamie McDermott, who's penchant for glamorous extravaganza has been realised with pazazz. The effect is like listening to a Vegas cabaret show in a world imagined by Tim Burton. Their live performances and videos are impressive - like Peter Greenaway arthouse cinema. Very distinctive. (8/10). (V2 Coop). youtube.com/the irrepressibles - i'll maybe let you

Hot Chip are in danger of becoming prolific. One Life Stand, is yet another in the line of impressive albums. Same ingredients here - old school electro patterns, indie rock sensibility and quirky romantic points of view. At least five stand out tracks too. (8/10). (Parlophone). youtube.com/hot chip - one life stand

2008 was the year of Los Campesinos! - two fantastic albums within the space of eight months, and so the follow-up, Romance is Boring has been greatly anticipated. I've been told that they are a marmite band, and I bleed the brown stuff. This new record exudes the same levels of cocky youthful exuberance, and very british lyricism as the previous - so it must be great - though maybe not quite as great as before. (8/10). (Arts & Crafts). youtube.com/los campesinos - there are listed buildings

s Lindstrøm & Christabelle have consilidated the mark they made last year with some very promising single releases with their debut full length. Real Life is No Cool is a consistant collection of smart dance tracks. (7/10). (Smalltown Supersound). youtube.com/lindstrøm & christabelle - high and low

Scout Niblett has released a new collection of material produced by Steve Albini. The Calcination of Scout Niblett is not quite as consistent as some of her previous albums, but the same sparse rhythms and troubled vocals extend her repoirtoire without harming her average too much. (7/10). youtube.com/scout niblett - cherry cheek bomb

Good Sh
oes also make a return with No Hope, No Future, their follow up to their acclaimed 2007 debut. Despite not pushing any new boundaries with its sound, there are enough highlights on the album to keep things interesting enough. New single "Under Control" is one of them. (7/10). (Brille).

One from
the rock left field, the debut release of Surfer Blood. Astro Coast is ripe with melodic riffs lost in waves of distortion. There are so many hidden corners in this record. I think this could be a real grower as the year progresses. (8/10). (Kanine). youtube.com/surfer blood - swim

Kieran Heb
den returns with his fifth Four Tet album, and first since 2005. There is Love in You provides more post-rock electronica. Very nice, without having to be too innovative or cause much undue stress on the emotions. (7/10). (Domino).

Other releases worth a listen to this month:
Bullion "Say Goodbye to What" (Single, Rush Hour); Dirty Projectors "Ascending Melody" (Single/free download, Domino); Esben and the Witch "33" (EP
, Rough Trade); Jaga Jazzist "One Armed Bandit" (LP, Ninja Tunes), Keepaway "Baby Style" (EP, Jezebel); Malory "Water in My Hands" (LP, AC30); The Octagon "Warm Love and Cool Dreams Forever" (LP, Serious Business); Laura Veirs "July Flame" (LP, Bella Union); Charlotte Gainsbourg "IRM" (LP, Because); AFCGT "AFCGT" (LP, Sub Pop); Adam Green "Minor Love" (LP, Rough Trade); Clipd Beaks "To Realize" (LP, Lovepump United); Dorias Baracca "Handsome Melting Point" (EP, AC30); Race Horses "Goodbye Falkenberg" (LP, Fantastic Plastic); Shield Your Eyes "Shield Em'" (LP, Gravid Hands); Spoon "Transference" (LP, ANTI-); Shlohmo "Shlomoshun EP Deluxe" (LP, FoF Music).

And finally, for your convenience, a couple of mixes for you:

youtube.com/DIGITAL TENDERNESS:2010/1 

(25 tracks so far, though I'll add more when they come up).
(21 track mix - ditto).

1 comment:

Jand00m said...

Great Blog. Only just realised you are posting a Spotify Playlist. Good stuff.