Album Review – Underground Railroad

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Underground Railroad -’White Night Stand’ (One Little Indian)

Looking at my notes for reveiwing this album, I notice I have written ‘not for the faint-hearted.’ I should clraify: this is not a Norweigian Black metal album. It is an album by a French trio who describe themselves as post-punk. There are some great moments here, but also some parts that are impenetrable.

Like Rayographs’ recent self-titled debut, the band that I hear most on these recordings is early Throwing Muses. There are some excellent songs -’Russian Doll’, despite its name, is rather krautrocky. The two opening tracks ’8 millimetres’ and ‘We Were Slumbering’ get the album off to a good start. ‘Gingko Biloba’ and ‘Seagull Attack’ are highlights – though the latter will probably frighten your Granny (and be used against those the US suspects of being Terror Suspects).

But too often it gets a bit stodgy, like on ‘The Black Widow’ and ‘The Orchid’s Curse.’ Some very good bits then, but a bit much over an entire album.

***

White Night Stand is out now on One Little Indian.

Does there have to be a reason?

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Every so often i just like to let the music do the talking.

‘Solid Air’ and its’ parent album by John Martyn are simply essential.

This you need to know.

It’s been a very nice day and I’m happy to let the music just do the talking.

Hope you’ve had as nice a day as I have.

John Martyn -’Solid Air.’ mp3

(and if you feel the urge to check out albums by John Martyn as well as Solid Air, I would recommend Grace & Danger, Bless the Weather and One World as starting points…)

Forthcoming from Throwing Muses

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Throwing Muses are preparing to release a compilation entitled Anthology in September. Chosen by the band, the first disc is more of the band’s favourite numbers, while he second disc is b-sides and rarieties.

According to legend, when they wrote ‘Dizzy’ they felt it was too commercial and it is sorta conspicuous by its’ absence; but I am made up that ‘Cry Baby Cry’ has made the cut, as has ‘Bright Yellow Gun.’

The tracklisting is as follows:

Disc One:
1. Garoux Des Larmes
2. Finished
3. A Feeling
4. Marriage Tree
5. Fish
6. Hate My Way
7. No Way In Hell
8. Colder
9. Tar Kissers
10. Mr. Bones
11. Limbo
12. Summer St.
13. Furious
14. Bright Yellow Gun
15. Pretty or Not
16. Flying
17. You Cage
18. Two Step
19. Vicky’s Box
20. Mania
21. Cry Baby Cry

Disc Two
1. Hillbilly
2. Same Sun
3. Amazing Grace
4. Cottonmouth
5. Cry Baby Cry
6. Manic Depression
7. Snailhead
8. City of the Dead
9. Jak
10. Ride Into The Sun
11. Handsome Woman
12. Like A Dog
13. Crayon Sun
14. Red Eyes
15. Tar Moochers
16. Serene Swing
17. Limbobo
18. If
19. Heel Toe
20. Take (Live)
21. Finished (Live)
22. Back Road (Matter of Degrees)

(The two appearances of ‘Cry Baby Cry’ are not necessarily what you think: the first disc is the track that appeared on the ‘Chains Changed’ EP; the latter is the Lennon/McCartney song that appeared on the b-side of ‘Not Too Soon’)

If you’re based in Scotland, you may be interested to know that Chief Muse Kristin Hersh is appearing at Edinburgh’s Cabaret Voltaire on August 18; she is also appearing at the Edinburgh International Festival on August 16. It is also hinted at – in the press release I received today from 4AD- that there may be more Muses live dates too…

Enjoy the following

The return of We Were Promised Jetpacks…

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Edinburgh band We Were Promised Jetpacks are set to return with a new album in the next couple of months, the follow-up to the really rather excellent These Four Walls.

I was getting very into this, and then I understood when it finished just why these are called ‘Teasers.’

But I’m intrigued enough to share one of these with you for the first time ever…

..and while we wait for the forthcoming album, try these, if you haven’t heard them before (or even if you have!)

Album Review – King Post Kitsch

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King Post Kitsch -’The Party’s Over’ (Song, By Toad Records)

The latest release from Song, By Toad Records continues with the high level of output that has been established over the last three years (including releases from eagleowl, Jesus H. Foxx, and Meursault, amongst others).

As has been noted previously, Charlie Ward’s debut abum may share its’ name with Talk Talk’s 1982 debut, but that’s where the similarity ends. Hopefully by now the awesome first single ‘Don’t You Touch My Fucking Honeytone’ has alerted you to the garage-related goodness on display here. And if you’ve been paying attention, with two free downlaods doing the rounds ‘Fante’s Last Stand’ and ‘Walking On Eggshells’, that this album is not nine carbon copies of ‘Honeytone.’ There’s rather nifty songwriting on display here, and a rather impressive variation of sound that doesn’t often appear on lo-fi records. Not to mention the appearance of the flute, all too rarely used in rock music (I’ll Jethro Tull YOU in a minute).

An excellent little gem of an album.

****

The Party’s Over is out now on Song, By Toad Records.

King Post Kitsch -’Fante’s Last Stand.’ mp3

King Post Kitsch-’Walking On Eggshells.’ mp3

King Post Kitsch – Don’t You Touch my Fucking Honeytone by Song, by Toad

You can buy it via Song, By Toad Records here. Or on downlosd from eMusic or Amazon, but if you live in Edinburgh, go and buy it from Avalanche Records.

Album Review – Sons & Daughters

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Sons & Daughters -’Mirror Mirror’ (Domino)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

I first saw Sons & Daughters book in 2003, when they were first on a bill at York Fibbers, which also featured Dogs Die In Hot Cars and was headlined by Franz Ferdinand, who had just released their debut single ‘Darts Of Pleasure.’ It was an awesome night, and I continued to recount it with glee to anyone who’d listen over the next year, asthe profile of all three acts rose considerably. Sons & Daighters were good that night, but impressed me progressively more and more over the coming few years. I saw them as a support acts numerous times (Franz again, Fiery furnaces, Fire Engines, Idlewild, and Morrissey), eventually seeing them headline in 2008, with a then unsigned Broken Records as support. They became more and more bewitching on stage, with the interplay between Adele Bethel and Scott Paterson on stage becoming positively like sorcery.

The first record to come out was the Love The Cup mini-album, with its fiery feel, and hardly a foot out of place in twenty-five monutes. They followed this up with The Repulsion Box full-length (they claimed that they’d released two debuts), and when The Delgados split in 2005, Sons & Daughters became my favourite Scottish act. This Gift had some good moments, but it wasn’t as bewitching as their earlier material. Mirror Mirror has been talked up as return to the sound of those earlier releases and being darker. It has been produced by JD twitch, one of the team behind Glasgow’s famous Optimo club.

Within a few moments of opener ‘Silver Spell’ making its presence felt, what we have heard is true: they have got darker again. Throughout the album, the glam meets American Gothic that characterised their early work is once more to the fore, and it seems that the decision to work with JD Twitch was a good one, adding more texture to the sound. There’s still surprises to be had -’Axed Actor’ seems to hint at Bananarama’s hit ‘Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye).’ Unquestionably the album is the most atmospheric of their career.

It amazes me, and frankly, frustrates m in all seriousness, that sons & daughters have not had the commercial breakthorugh that I believe they deserve and have earned. This is a damning slight on the part of the record buying public.

Do not make the same mistake…

Mirror Mirror is out now on Domino.

Sons & Daughters – Silver Spell by DominoRecordCo

Sons & Daughters – Silver Spell (A JD Twitch Optimo Remix) by DominoRecordCo

Covers in honour of Glastonbury

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OK folks…

this is not all Glasto-related, but unless you’ve been under a rock for the last six months, you will know that Beyonce is headlining Sunday night at Glastonbury this year.

There are people who think a pop act has no place at Glastonbury -they’re wrong. And three years ago, Mr. Beyonce, Jay-Z proved that he could blow the minds of the people at Glastonbury. I haven’t been in over a decade, but I enjoyed acts as diverse as Asian Dub Foundation, David Bowie, The Pet Shop Boys, Spearhead, Pulp, The Cure and Radiohead, to name but seven.

And if I was going this weekend, I’d be looking forward to Beyonce as much as Morrissey.

I hadn’t heard of Heike Has the Giggles until this morning, when their cover of Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ appeared in my inbox:

Heike Has The Giggles – Crazy In Love (BeyoncĂ© cover) by Foolica Records

Download it here

Biffy Clyro -’Umbrella (Rihanna cover).’ mp3

Manic Street Preachers -’Umbrella (Rihanna cover).’ mp3

(Seriously, Glastonbury should get Rihanna one year)

The Streets -’Your Song (Elton John cover).’ mp3

Carter USM -’Rent (Pet Shop Boys cover).’ mp3

Sons & Daughters -’Killer (Adamski/Seal cover).’ mp3

James -’China Girl (David Bowie/Iggy Pop Cover).’ mp3

Kaiser Chiefs-’Golden Skans (Klaxons cover).’ mp3

Katzenjammers -’Cars (Gary Numan cover).’ mp3

Death Cab For Cutie -’World Shut Your Mouth (Julian Cope cover).’ mp3

Susanna -’Lay All Your Love On Me (Abba cover).’ mp3

Presenting…The Royalty

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I’ve been meaning to write about the Royalty for a while now; they sent me a very polite email a few weeks ago, and when I gave them a listen I was really taken with what I heard.

They come from El Paso, Texas, though they have quite a strong UK-indie sound, with a lot of northern soul, as Mrs. 17 Seconds pointed out last night. The band are Nicole Smith, Jesus Apodaca, Daniel Marin, Will Duagherty, and Shane Robles.

I can’t find out much more than this – only to say that if you love good music, give this a listen. You won’t regret it. So I’m just oing to let the music do the talking, as it were.

Album Review – Milk Maid

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Milk Maid -’Yucca.’ (Suffering Jukebox/FatCat)

It’s a funny old world. About a month ago, I was pretty underwhelmed by Mazes’ debut album. The significance being that Mazes’ Jack Cooper is the man behind Suffering Jukebox, and I absolutely love this record.

Milk Maid is the project of Martin Cohen, bass player from Nine Black Alps. With Nine Black Alps on ‘indefinite hiatus’ (is it passe to split up or something these days?!) he’s been working on his own project. It’s a garagey take on the c-86 sound, raw as anything, and somehow it’s one of the most addictive things I’ve heard in a long time.

‘Not Me’ the lead single single is one of the best tracks here, but other tracks such as ‘Such Fun,’ the album’s opener and the wonderful blink-and-you’ll-miss-it 49 second ‘Kill me Again’ are highlights too. It’s a very strong album that certainly rates as one of the best albums of the year so far, and in a few months time, when the end of year lists are being compiled, this album deserves to be there.

Go and get it!

****

Yucca is out now on Suffering Jukebox/FatCat

Not Me by Milk Maid

Album Review – Bon Iver

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Bon Iver -’Bon Iver’ (4AD)

Justin Vernon’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago became both a critical and commercial hit when it was released in 2008. A start and beautful record (boy loses girl but certainly not talent), how to follow it up? Well, by not making it feel that the sophomore album has to be part two, for starters.

See, what Vernon has managed to do is to create a record that’s a lovely as its predecessor but where that album was stripped down, this album has gorgeous textures. Epic album opener ‘Perth’ sets the tone, building from quiet beginnings into something loud and beautiful. On paper (given what the last album was like), maybe it shouldn’t work. Yet the whole album does – even the slightly eighties keyboard sounds on album closer ‘Beth/Rest’ which should seem awful somehow feels rather lovely. Other album highlights include ‘Wash’ and ‘Lisbon, OH’ but the entire album works as a whole.

Lightning has most definitely struck twice. A difficult second album? Not to these ears…