February 2009

Again, I seem to be a bit late to jump on the bloggy bandwagon here, and I still don’t know much about them but The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are pretty good aren’t they? The one song I’ve properly heard enough to pass comment on is “Young Adult Friction”, a riproaring romp into twee-land.

The boy-girl vocals, upbeat tempo, happy-go-lucky organ and the general swing of the thing all adds up to a song that cannot help but make you jump around like a 6 year old who just got a dinosaur cake. There’ll always be comparisons to the Belle & Sebastian crowd, but it all adds up to create their own style, and one I’ll be wanting to hear more of.

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Young Adult Friction (YSI)

xI’m taking a break from reading about the intricacies of High and Low Cultures and their subsequent applications to the study of literature to bring you another three delicious rump steaks of juicy musical goodness from the sacred cow that is my iTunes library. Can you tell I’m hungry too?

Mountain – Mississippi Queen (YSI)

Ah, Guitar Hero. I really wouldn’t have found a lot of brilliant old school rock music if it wasn’t for the amazing addictiveness of a game that essentially stops me from wanting to learn to play a real guitar. This song is all about the rumbling boulder of a riff that tumbles throughout the song, whilst the interjections of vocals and lead guitar just add to a song that never fails to garner some rockin’ air guitar from me.

Bob Sinclair – Love Generation (YSI)

This is another one of those, well not quite guilty pleasures. Of course, Bob Sinclair got very annoying after this, but this was a shot of unbridled pop joy to the sagging arm of the charts in the UK. Plus, the whistling will never leave your head once you’ve heard it.

Cold War Kids – We Used To Vacation (YSI)

I am so glad this song came up, because it probably ranks amongst my favourite songs ever. This is the original EP version (it was ever so slightly polished up for the album release) which retains all the elements about it that I love most – infectious use of the piano, the merest shake of a rattle at the beginning, a wonderfully discordant guitar outro and Nathan Willett’s hauntingly beautiful lament to the problems of alcoholism. I’ve already listened to it four times just writing this post, and I could listen to it for just as long again. If you haven’t heard it yet, I implore you to give it a spin, it’s incredible.

I’m going to have to say it again. Good Shoes were/are amazing, and I really want them to come back. Come on guys, The Maccabees have made their return, where are you? well, whilst searching for Good Shoes goodies, I found this really lovely cover of “Small Town Girl” by an (I think) Italian artist, Enrico Boccioletti, who goes by the name of Death In Donut Plains.

I gather this was done for a compilation somewhere on the interwebs, but it’s one of those rare covers that keeps the spirit of the original whilst changing it enough to stay interesting. The intro is all airy, hypnotic synths and occasional plucks of distant guitar, before the song proper starts and the jangling chords of Steve Leach are replaced by layers of electronic loveliness. The vocals are tinged with the merest hint of a European accent which, for some reason, I really, really love. I can’t get hold of any of his own work yet, but check out his Myspace page for some more great tracks (“Brotherhood” being my personal favourite)

Death In Donut Plains – Small Town Girl (YSI)
Good Shoes – Small Town Girl (YSI)

Radiohead – 15 Step
Uploaded by Alisvideo

Just a quick note to say one thing: This video is bloody amazing.

Thanks to I Guess I’m Floating.

Radiohead – 15 Steps (YSI)

Ah the summer of indie. After the explosion of the new breed of British band with Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand et al hitting the charts came a raft of brilliant British guitar bands, and amongst them were The Maccabees. Specialising in romantic, high-octane tracks, and topped with the amazing voice of Orlando Weeks, they quickly cemented themselves as one of my favourite bands, live and on record. However, after the release of their amazing debut album “Colour It In” they disappeared into the indie aether, leaving me a little downhearted.

But, checking their Myspace this fine evening, I discovered that they’d released a new track for free download, and almost fell out of my chair. I’ll start by saying that “No Kind Words” is a departure from their last album. The first thing to hit me was that Orlando’s usually yelped and frenetic style is not present, instead we’re faced with deep, almost spoken vocals, with backing vox added every so often, sounding distant and ethereal. The instrumentation is worlds away from what we’re used to from the Brighton boys, this song is all about the build up. A kick drum moves to high hats moves to a measured beat, the guitar starts with the occasional strum and moves to a repetitive hook. There’s nothing of the breakneck pace of “X-Ray” or “Latchmere” here, but a band that wants you to listen up and listen in, and let them get to the point in their own time.

Essentially what I’m trying to tell you is it’s all very, very different. But, tempered with that is the fact that it’s bloody brilliant. When the pace ups, when the backing vocals join in with the lead, as the band takes a rest and then bursts into a squealing dual guitar (for want of a better word) solo and as the song ends before you expect it to, it all becomes very much worth the wait. If this is how The Maccabees are going to sound for the new album, I for one am completely behind them.

The Maccabees – No Kind Words (YSI)

I never really got into The Rakes and I’m not particularly sure why. They came about in that great year of British indie rock with Bloc Party, Futureheads, Maximo Park and all the rest but my awareness of them somehow got affected and I never heard the first album.

News of their new album therefore, you might think, wouldn’t excite me that much, but after being sent a song off of Klang, “The Light From Your Mac”, my ears have pricked up considerably. Alan Donohoe’s deep, drawling vocals weave their way all over the top of this track whilst an infectious bass riff worms into your head, and jangling guitars that haven’t been heard since Good Shoes were still playing gigs make for a jerking, flailing chorus.

One major part of The Rakes appeal that I actually did pick up on before this track were the lyrics, and they’re still just as brilliant – the pick of a good bunch has to be “Yeah you probably had some bad advice, but your flatmates aren’t that bright, and one’s got a moustache, and she talks a lot of shite”. There’s just something about this track that pushed its way into my helpless brain from the first time I heard it, and I’m hoping you’ll suffer just the same as me.

The Rakes – The Light From Your Mac (YSI)

At some point I’ll get round to making a controversial list of things that really aren’t as good as people say they are. The reason I say this is because Animal Collective are, beneath the surface, just a bit rubbish, aren’t they? I mean let’s not kid ourselves, once you get past all the psychedelia that MGMT made cool again this year, and the reverb, the songs really don’t add up to much*.

However, if you are looking for some reverb-drenched beauty look no further than New York’s own Crystal Stilts. Now, using comparisions is usually rather vague and unhelpful, but I promise this sums them up: Imagine if Ian Curtis had grown up on a Californian beach, formed a band and they’d all gone to play in a wind tunnel. Honestly, it makes sense when you hear it. A throaty, upfront bass drives things along whilst faraway organs pipe and guitars strum away repetitively, whilst sing Brad Hargett drones his way all over it. It’s nothing new, but it’s still positively moody genius.

Crystal Stilts – Departure

*This is all opinion. Even if I am right.

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