Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Monthly round-up: February 2010

February - the shortest month of the year - derived from Februa, the Roman festival of purification. I have been drinking plenty of water, and eating fruit. Admittedly some of the water and fruit I have consumed has been mixed together, and left in bottles for a while in dark places before it reached me. Such is life.

ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Oh No Ono, from Aalborg are massive.....in Denmark. Eggs is their second album, and first to be released and promoted outside of the safety of their homeland. The album is an excercise in mimicry. As you listen to these ten tracks, it is very easy to pick out, not only genre influences, but specific bands. For example, Eleanor Speaks begins as The Telescopes, veers towards The Flaming Lips, then Mike Oldfield. The Wave Ballet starts out as the best track MGMT have never released, before ending up as an ELO wig-out. Elsewhere we find Roxy Music, Owen Pallet, Arcade Fire, The Wannadies, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, and of course, The Beatles. Throughout, we are treated to fantastically detailed production. Idiosyncratic sounds permeate this record, the gentle noise of a coin spinning then dropping, wind swept landscapes, distant fog horns and full rich orchestration. George Martin's influence is clearly at hand, and the musical variation throughout feels very much in the Sergeant Pepper mould. Though perhaps the mould has been melted with a bic lighter until it resembles an octopus. It's an oddly composed and frighteningly consistent record, but the final reckoning is that of a joyous collection of weird, and truly wonderful pop songs. (9/10) (Leaf)

youtube.com/oh no ono - internet warrior
youtube.com/oh no ono - icicles
youtube.com/oh no ono - the wave ballet

COMPILATION OF THE MONTH: The best compilations are compiled by music obsessives with better record collections than the rest of us. Minimal Waves Tapes Vol.1 is a perfect example. Stones Throw is fast becoming the avant-electronica label of the moment, and this set of obscure eighties european synthpop and cold wave experiments is like Genesis - the book, not the band. These gems have been expertly placed by New York scenester empresario, Veronica Vasicka (pictured left). I love this stuff, and she has kindly introduced me to music I was hitherto unaware of. I will be sending out my deep sea trawlers to excavate more of the same. (9/10) (Stones Throw).

youtube.com/crash course in science - flying turns
youtube.com/martin dupont - just because 
youtube.com/the somnambulist - things i was due to forget

SINGLE OF THE MONTH: It's Liars turn to try and coax us into buying their new album, Sisterworld, which finally materialises in March. The first cut off the record, Scissor, demonstrates again that this band has an uncanny ability to develop their sound with each release. Still more focus, still more structure, still more depth and still darker. There's nothing like an unhinged little ditty about murdering your lover to get the party swinging. The unliteral video for the single is also rather good. (8/10) (Mute)

youtube.com/liars - scissor


Black Noise is German producer Henrik Weber's third full length release under the moniker of Pantha Du Prince. The album rings with warm techno and is full of worldly atmosphere, present in the use of ethnically diverse samples (mainly chimes!). The overall effect is rather like listening to the soundtrack of a cutting edge National Geographic documentary. Luckily, this tactic is restrained enough to stop well short of the dreaded new age category of musical definition. (7/10) (Rough Trade). youtube.com/pantha du prince - stick to my side

Austin's Strange Boys emulate the tight schedule of the sixties bands they worship by releasing their second album in under a year. Unsurprisingly, this short space of time has prevented them from wandering too far from the sound marker they left with their debut. Be Brave provides us with more authentic, raw psychedlic garage delivered softly with charm and humour. (7/10) (In The Red). youtube.com/strange boys - be brave

Whoever told me that the Brewis brothers were no longer recording together as Field Music clearly had their pants on fire at the time. Lo and behold, we have been treated to a double helping of new material in the form of their third album proper, Field Music (Measure). This is definitely Field Music as we know it - though perhaps a little more stripped down than before. Sadly there are no 'In Context'  moments on the album, the track that stole the show last time around - but the experimental XTC influenced noodlings are enough to keep this listener relatively happy, for now. (7/10) (Memphis Industries). youtube.com/field music - them that do nothing 

XL's main mai Richard Russell nurtured this project whilst Gil Scott-Heron was still serving time in New York State Prison for cocaine possession. Gil is a man not known for his reliability, and the sessions that make up I'm New Here were spread out over a two year period. Russell provides the haunting urban production, and Gil wrestles with the same poignant political poetry that gave birth to his career forty years ago. Except this time he is talking about himself and the car-wreck that has become his life. Incredibly powerful stuff, though I am very sorry to say that this has all the trappings of a swan song. I sincerely hope I am wrong. (8/10) (XL Recordings) youtube.com/gil scott-heron - new york is killing me

Minneapolis's Clipd Beaks specialise in drone like gothic art-rock. To Realize, their third album, is reminiscent of Liars at their most subdued. The trick is in the layering, with every strata beautifully building up into cacophony, then parring back to trance then building up again. They have created a very natural sound which brings rewards for repeated listening. (8/10). (Lovepump United). youtube.com/clipd beaks - visions

The mash-up is one of the many end-products of producers attempts to find new ways for us to consume music. Tim Caruana is of the current batch of fine exponents of this great art form. It didn't have to be this man that stumbled across the inevitable marriage of The Beatles and Wu Tang Clan, but fate decided it would be him. Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers will give you a sideways smile from the top of one eyebrow to the opposite dimple which will remain fixed for the duration of the record plus one hour. You won't be able to exchange your hard earnt cash for it though, as McCartney's lawyers have already been on the case, and it has been removed from the labels catalogue. If you want to hear it, I'm sure you'll find a way (7/10) (Tea Sea Records) youtube.com/tim caruana - wu tang vs the beartles - mighty healthy

Yeasayer release their second album, Odd Blood as great hopes, rather than promising newcomers. They have taken on this duty by bringing a healthy dose of eighties new wave pop to the established world folk fusion that made up their debut. At somepoint somewhere, somebody in the band must have said out loud, "What we really need to do with this, is sound a little more like Talk Talk", and eveyone else chimed "Eureka! Give that man a prize". (7/10) (Secretly Canadian). youtube.com/yeasayer - ambling alp  

This one actually came out in the middle of January, but I missed it (I can't check everything!) and it's too good to leave out. Shlohmo is a 19 year-old  producerling from LA. Shlomoshun Deluxe, his debut full lenth release, combines matieral from an EP released last year with new tracks. It is simple experimental techno of the squelchiest kind. This is what insects listen to on their ipods. (8/10) (FoF Music). youtube.com/shlohmo - hot boxing the cockpit

Midlake have finally returned with the follow-up to their 2006 album,  The Trials of Van Occupanther. The Courage of Others has been a great dissapointment to many, as it just doesn't bristle with the same array of crunchy goodness of their past glory. However, I can report that it is a slow burner. The songs are certainly simple and subtler, like the English folk bands of the sixties that they pay homage to, but there is nothing wrong them. We just have to get over the fact that Midlake haven't given us another Van Occupanther this time around. Maybe next time, ay. (7/10) (Bella Union) youtube.com/midlake - the courage of others

Georgia Anne Muldrow produces the type of R&B that I can handle. Be-bop influenced dischordancies, made crisp with up-to-date production and enough experimentation thrown into the pot to make her stand out from the crowd. She is also prolific - King's Ballad is her fifth album in five years, and she has also found time to produce music for others, such as Erykah Badu. The title track is a heartfelt tribute to Michael Jackson. (8/10) (Ubiquity). youtube.com/georgia anne muldrow - king's ballad

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