Album Review – Meursault

Meursault – ‘I Will Kill Again.’ (Song, By Toad Records)

In 2014, Neil Pennycook announced that he was retiring Meursault and bowed out with a final performance at Edinburgh Queen’s Hall. Despite releasing a cassette under the name Super Moon, towards the end of last year a six-track EP Simple Is Good heralded the return of the Meursault name – and now the release of the fourth album, I Will Kill Again.

First of all, that album title. It’s not that Pennycook has changed direction with something akin to Slayer’s Reign In Blood. It’s the punchline to one of comedian Josie Long’s jokes. (Well, that’s that cleared up.) Musically it continues the journey begun with the debut Pissing On Bonfires/Kissing With Tongues back in 2008. The band were once described as epic lo-fi. They’re less lo-fi these days, but that gorgeous epic melancholia that seduced all who heard it still soars.

The first track to be released as a single ‘Klopfgeist’ sets the tone for the album. There’s something about Pennycook’s voice and songwriting that could make even singing your shopping list heartbreaking yet simultaneously life-affirming. With the sung refrain of ‘Like Sinatra, Sinatra, Sinatra’ it seduces you, commanding your attention. An earlier version of this appeared on the aforementioned Super Moon release, but this version is far superior.

The idea of things being ‘clever’ in rock music often arouses suspicion (possibly a decades-long hangover from the worst excesses of the prog-rock era) – but Meursault can pull this off without ever seeming self-indulgent. This is perhaps most clear on the title track. At moments almost ambient and other times a soaring cacophony, over the six minutes play time there’s an ascending and descending scale, radio samples, backing vocals, a church organ and it all comes together.

Like the best albums, this is one that reveals itself upon repeated listens, even some of the effects that can seem a little irritating on first hearing make more sense when heard more frequently within the wider context of the record. There is no justice in this world (frequent perusal of the media will confirm this) but Meursault have made their most accessible album yet, without compromising what made them so special in the first place. It would be great to think that not only will this make end of year lists, but take them to the next level commercially speaking.

****1/2

I Will Kill Again is released by Song, By Toad Records on February 27. The album will be launched at Edinburgh’s Summerhall on February 25.

The album can be pre-ordered here.

 

 

 

The return of Pale Honey

Gothenburg duo Pale Honey were a fresh delight when they released their self-titled debut in 2015. Guitarist Tuva Lodmark and drummer Nelly Daltrey had bonded over a love of PJ Harvey and Queens Of The Stone Age at school. As a two piece inevitably  they were compared to the White Stripes but the reality was listeners could see that they had their own sound.

Back in October, the band released a new track ‘Real Thing’ which suggested that they had kept their edge and that the long-awaited second album will feature more of the same. But the release of a new track ‘Why Do I Always Feel This Way?’ stops you in your tracks.

The grungey guitars are nowhere to be heard. Instead we have yearning vocals, ice-cold synthesizers and a completely different side to Pale Honey that we might have expected. As with previous work, it has been produced by Anders Lagerfors. Clocking in at six minutes, it holds the attention and begs for repeated plays. With that new album set for release later this year, it will be interesting to see and hear how they have developed.

…and for both completeness, and contrast, here is that previous single ‘Real Thing’:

Presenting…Mateo Katsu

Believe me, after more than a decade of writing this blog, I do not lack submissions. This is a privileged position to be in. Still, I receive more than I can listen to – there is no team ’17 Seconds’ (and still people send in their follow-ups, despite the polite requests for them not to do so. I have more than 40,000 unopened emails in the 17 Seconds account).

So, it can be a sheer luck when I get to hear something new – and in the case of Mateo Katsu, I am so glad I did.

The email stated simply:

“Welcome to “The Glow”. A song that sounds like Neutral Milk Hotel, or Built To Spill, or maybe the Breeders.
“The Glow” is about living in a scummy artists co-op and the ambivalent feelings that come with that. It is the last single I will be promoting from the recently released Mateo Katsu album, Fourteen Weeks, which was written and recorded in a scummy artists co-op, over the course of 14 weeks.”
Fourteen Weeks came out in November – and you can buy it here. It sounds fresh and exciting, evoking the best American indie rock of the last thirty years, without sounding like a throwback. For me, the artists I most hear within are Sebadoh and Pavement.
According to his bandcamp page, ‘Mateo Katsu writes, teaches, performs, and records. He was born in Los Angeles, California, and he lives there still. He also runs a small label called Miedlena.’
Check out ‘The Glow’ below – and then check out the whole album

Time to start getting excited about forthcoming albums!

…Actually, I’m already excited about these tracks from forthcoming albums. As always juggling way too many things, so here’s three in one for you!

First up, Goldfrapp will release their seventh album Silver Eye on March 31. (Read about it over at GIITTV). ‘Anymore’ is the first track to be released.

Blondie will release their eleventh album Pollinator on May 5. The album features songwriting collaborations with TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek, Charli XCX, Sia, Dev Hynes and Johnny Marr. Not only that but both Joan Jett and Laurie Anderson contribute backing vocals. The first track to be released from the album is ‘Fun.’

Last but by no means least, Future Islands follow up their breakthrough album Singles with their fifth album The Far Field, out on April 7. ‘Ran’ is likely to prove every bit as successful as ‘Seasons.’

 

Film Review: T2: Trainspotting

I’m still awed by just how utterly fantastic T2 Trainspotting is – and I watched it five days ago. Check out my review over on God Is In The TV.

This is the song that plays over the end credits – I can’t get enough of this track at the moment. Hopefully this track will prove to be one of this year’s defining tracks in much the same way that Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy (Nuxx)’ was in 1996, the year of the original Trainspotting film.

A song for today #38: Young Fathers

I’ve long-championed Young Fathers on this blog, first writing about the Edinburgh Hi-Hop trio back in 2010, and being utterly delighted to see them win music awards and have two hit albums.

Their profile is set to rise even higher with their presence on the soundtrack to the jaw-droppingly brilliant T2: Trainspotting. Along with pretty much everyone in Edinburgh I went to see it this weekend, and twas brillig, as Lewis Carroll might have said. Young Fathers have several tracks on the soundtrack, including the fabulous ‘Only God Knows’ which plays over the end credits. It’s credited as featuring the Leith Congregational Choir.

So turn it up, and give your neighbours a treat. And if you haven’t seen them live yet…tusk, tusk.

 

The return of Meursault (part 2)

Meursault will release their long-awaited fourth album on February 27. Entitled I Will Kill Again, the first track to be unveiled is ‘Klopfgeist.’ (That’s German for ‘Poltergeist’, apparently)…The album launch takes place at Edinburgh’s Summerhall on February 25.

The video for the song can be seen below:

 

The album can be ordered via the Song, By Toad Records Bandcamp.

The return of Slowdive

The last few years has seen a return of 1990s shoegazing indie bands, including Ride, My Bloody Valentine and Lush and now it’s the return of Slowdive. Last week I wrote about it for God Is In The TV but just in case you didn’t hear it, you really need to have this song ‘Star Roving’ in your life. Take the time to listen.

Their long-awaited fourth album (and first since 1995’s Pygmalion) should be with us shortly…

 

 

The return of Spiral Stairs

 

Pavement guitarist Spiral Stairs (Scott Kannberg to his Mum, and presumably once the school register) will return with his second solo album as Spiral Stairs (in addition to the two he released under the name Preston School of Industry) on March 24.

Entitled Doris and the Daggers, the album features an impressive list of US indie stars: Matt Berninger of The National, Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Justin Peroff, Kelley Stoltz and Shudder To Think’s Adam Wade. Additionally, the video for the first track ‘Dance (Cry Wolf)’ features Grandaddy’s Jason Lyttle playing the part of Spiral Stairs.

The album tracklisting is as follows:

1. Dance (Cry Wolf)
2. Emoshuns
3. Dundee Man
4. AWM
5. No Comparison
6. The Unconditional
7. Trams (Stole My Love)
8. Exiled Tonight
9. Angel Eyes
10. Doris and the Daggers

Presenting…Migos

OK, so I didn’t watch the Golden Globes last night. But two things seem to have become clear. Firstly, that Meryl Streep is not happy about the thought of Donald Trump becoming President. Hell, if you’ve been anywhere near social media in the last 24 hours, you’ll have seen the memes. Secondly, that Donald Glover’s bigging up of US-rap trio Migos has had a pretty big effect. Having described their song ‘Bad and Boujee’ as ‘just fly. There’s no better song to have sex to’ the song has rocketed to no.1 in the US and is already making serious waves in the UK.

Glover has described them as being the Beatles of this generation – while this might sound like hyperbole, they’re pretty damn great. The NME has put together a helpful article and the song in question ‘Bad and Boujee’ is what I believe the younger people might call a banger.

Their second album Culture is released on January 27.