Wednesday, 10 August 2011

LP of the Month (July 2011): Cats And Cats And Cats - Mother Whale

Cats And Cats And Cats - Mother Whale (2011)
Cats And Cats And Cats - Mother Whale (2011, Function Records) 
"My heart is all smashed up, how is yours not?"

Cats and Cats and Cats are a peculiar band. Their often pained and out of tune vocal lines tread dangerously close to the line between endearing and uncomfortably bad. To a fan, these 'dodgy' moments somehow add to the magic of the music, often creating beautifully meaningful harmonies between the male and female counterparts. I love Cats and Cats and Cats, and have done since they were introduced to me by a mate when they released a split with another favourite, This Town Needs Guns. 

Mother Whale was a pleasant and unexpected release for me, just a year after 2010's brilliant 'If I'd Had An Atlas'. Having barely made it off my stereo, I was blessed with another full release. This is an album that I was so intent on listening to that I actually ordered myself a physical copy (which is, if you know me, quite a rare thing). 'Mother Whale' is beautiful. It delivers more twee, angular pop tunes encompassing trumpets, violins, vocal 'harmonies' (see last paragraph) and unexpected tempo and time signature changes. As a whole piece of work, the album is possibly more accomplished than their previous debut full length. Each and every track has something about it whether it be 'O' Science's dual guitar lines or 'Christmas Lions' call and response style vocals. French accordians feature heavily, with 'For The Love Of The Mechanical Bears' bordering into Yann Tiersen Amelie territory. A welcome addition.

Some may not be able to handle the tweeness. Some may not be able to endure the vocal discrepancies. If you can, you will no doubt enjoy this band. I can't liken them to any other. Delicious.

Walter-High: 'O' Science', 'Christmas Lions'

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Banger of the Week (25/07/11): Dream Dream Dreaming - Glasvegas

Dream Dream Dreaming: 5:17
Taken From: Euphoric Heartbreak (2011, Columbia)

"I know you're out there somewhere"

Scottish Marmite-esque 4 piece Glasvegas are an acquired taste. Their pretentious yet painfully obvious lyrics and Jesus & Mary Chain inspired rock music gets on a number of people's tits. Shamefully, I was briefly obsessed with their debut release, but it took me a while to have a listen to their sophomore release, 'Euphoric Heartbreak'. Receiving hugely varied reviews, I doubt Glasvegas gained any new fans. Addressing acceptance issues from the homosexual perspective of a couple of friends was an odd yet interesting concept on two of the tracks from the album. 'Dream Dream Dreaming' is my personal favourite from the initially solid yet tiring release, bringing in all of the classic Glasvegas traits; echoy organs, prominent basslines and pained, off-kilter vocals. Lovely.

Listen HERE

Banger of the Week (18/07/11): Still Life - The Horrors

Still Life: 5:21
Taken From: Skying (2011, XL Recordings)

"The moment that you want is coming, if you give it time"

After Clash magazine's raving review of the 3rd album from art-goth-noise/punk outfit, The Horrors, I thought I had better check out what all the fuss was about. Finding myself listening to an 80's drenched feel-good Summer album was unexpected. In a good way. Nodding heads to bands such as Simple Minds, Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen, the album's first immediate highlight 'Still Life' has it all; a catchy chorus, cheesy synth lines, a horn section and a driving bass. I love a bit of 80's synth pop so this track is awesome. Shame it wasn't released in the 80's eh?

Listen HERE

LP of the Month (June 2011): Pictureplane - Thee Physical

Pictureplane - Thee Physical (2011, Lovepump United)
Following on from 2009's 'Dark Rift', 'Thee Physical' has crept out with little media coverage. Dark Rift was a hugely accomplished album, combining electronica with straight up 90's dance/rave music. Offering bangers such as 'Goth Star', and giving mind blowing live sets opening with a remix of Enigma's 'Return to Innocence', Travis Egedy, the man behind Pictureplane, has been a favourite of mine for the last few years and so I was eagerly awaiting this release. Initially I was disappointed. Tracks were more straight forward pop songs and embraced the 90's influence even more; some of the female vocal samples could be (and might be) straight from rave compilations I had when I was a kid; lots of 'ah ah yeah's and 'oo's. The 90's style magic eye cover should have been a clue. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; this is an album that provides nostalgia with new and better songs than those kicking about in the 90's. Travis' vocals are again noticeably weak, showered in reverb and hidden by stock synth sounds, but this takes nothing away from that fact that every track is a massive tune. Classic rave pianos, female vocal samples, synth licks; all that is missing is a rave horn. Not as enthralling as 'Dark Rift', but it is still time to chew on your cheeks and dance wide-eyed like a fool. I love thee Pictureplane.

Walter-High: 'Post Physical', 'Techno Fetish'

Listen HERE

Monday, 11 July 2011

Banger of the Week (04/07/11): Hyetal - Phoenix

Phoenix: 5:25
Taken From: Broadcast (2011, Black Acre)

Now I realise this album was released back in May, but I have only just been able to get hold of a copy to pass judgement. The album is a well crafted and solid piece of Bristolian techno-electronica (think dirty dubstep crossed with Massive Attack's eeriness and Vangelis' Blade Runner era synthesisers). It features a number of absolute bangers and some less interesting atmospheric low points but 'Phoenix' is not one of these. 'Phat' beats, crisp production and light synth work make a definite dancefloor filler. Get involved.

Listen HERE

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Live: Junior Boys @ XOYO (30/06/11)

I was so not up for this gig. There were a number of reasons for this;
a) It was a Thursday night and since becoming a teacher I am beyond tired.
b) Getting home past midnight having had no time to eat and after a couple of drinks means I would buy fried chicken from one of the two hundred grimey fast food joints in East London on the way back. This can never be a good thing.
c) Newest release 'It's All True' was a bit of a disappointment for me; a flat and depressing album with no real stand-out tracks.

But... Junior Boys won me over. This is a band that has to be heard live over the record. Whether this is simply down to the sheer volume in the venue or whether they add a certain energy that is lost in the recording studio is debatable. What I do know is that each track played from the new album was transformed into a 80s inspired banger, with subtle guitars and whispered vocals resting behind pacey synth lines. The new found immediacy of the tracks may be down to my numerous forced listens of the album prior to the gig, but Junior Boys really did have something about them. Their blatent 80s sound almost reminds me of New Order but with tracks occasionally breaking into long minimal techno passages. These are welcomed with whoops and finger pointing from the crowd, adding to XOYO's club-like atmosphere.

Now for the real reason the Canadian duo earned a place in my heart. Not only did they play the exceptional 2006 single 'In The Morning' but also my personal favourite 'Teach Me How To Fight' from debut album 'Last Exit'. I'm not sure of the details but this was possibly originally written with previous member Johnny Dark. Either way, this song is mint. The live rendition added another level, combining a dubstep inspired wobble to the backing. Glorious.

It was definitely worth popping into the city on a Thursday night.


Banger of the Week (27/06/11): tUnE-yArDs - My Country

My Country: 3:42
Taken From: W H O K I L L (2011, 4AD)

"The thing about living a lie, is just wondering when they'll find out"

Opening track on new(ish) long player from tUnE-yArDs is a lot of fun. Initially reminding me of Vampire Weekend, before realising the vocalist is a woman, the track offers a driving bass line, energetic vocals, big synths and strangely not out of place saxophone solos. Undeniably catchy, yet quite odd. Great stuff.

Listen HERE