Monday, 3 February 2014

Weekly Spin: 03/02


Seven more days, seven more wonderful tracks for you to pop into your browser, refrain from deactivating the CAPS LOCK button over, and send your mouse's left-click wheeling over towards. Think this was a lone effort? You thought wrong. Here's our [joint] recap of the seven day spin for the week ending 2nd February...

Sun Kil Moon - I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same



Mark Kozelek's funeral will be a play through of his songs with Red House Painters and as Sun Kil Moon. The emotions released both on a personal, and on a purely attached music loving level cannot be discouraged by Kozelek's appeared depression, and the nostalgia that comes with his own regret. I Watched The Film The Song Remains The Same is 10 minutes of melancholic folk poetry. Kozelek's time signature is distanced from natural signatures, for the Benji track to come across as one fluid piece of work rather than a ballad, or a reflection piece.

It's story-telling time in the Kozelek recording studio, well it seems to be every time he steps in. I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same references Kozelek's past, such as his love for Led Zeppelin - with a direct reference to a Led Zeppelin movie in the song title. He then goes on to mention some regrets, with a belated apology to someone he punched as a child, to thanking gracefully the founder of 4AD Russell Ivo-Watts - who's name will be familiar with MRD readers as he seems to be mentioned often. This is a touching piece of pre-release material by Sun Kil Moon, and only excites the listener as to what else Benji contains.
~Eddie Gibson

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ETCHES - The Charm Offensive



A recent discovery of ours some few months ago, it's great to see the look-in to the melting pot of musical talent continues to stir up some developing and interesting sounds the World over. But for ETCHES, our figurative magnifying glass hovers no further than above the Mersey of North West England that is the city of Liverpool - the [un]official 'home of pop'. While the cities of Liverpool & Manchester may be known to have a quite a heated affair on football pitches, this is no different (well save for the potential physical injury) in the music circuit; the latter city surprisingly leading on-looker's fondness towards a yearly influx of new talent, fresh sounds and exciting possibilities. Well, if ETCHES' latest track The Charm Offensive is anything to go by (name and content alike), the lads based in Liverpool aren't willing to simply roll over to North England's supposed musical capital dominance.

Yet for a track that inundates a suggestion of attack, ETCHES are surprisingly, and thus impressively, more refined and focused than what their post-punk edge initially offers. The presence of clanging wood percussion certainly brings a cheeky smile, but the best is left to an unashamedly bold twang of baritone vocals that are gracefully as confident as the ambitious underlay of electronic-come-guitar melody. There's a dual nature in its pacing; broodly slow and warming, yet driving in its confidence. Yet the paradigm isn't at all disarrayed or dizzying. In effect, ETCHES' latest brave and bold material is moving as it is grooving. Liverpool may have had its pop and current electronic wonders, but make sure to look out for these guys representing both Liverpool's musical rebirth as well as the UK's newfound pride in branching out rock's formulae.
~Jordan Helm

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Elbow - New York Morning



The five-piece from Bury, England may have lost their [undesired] place among TV advertisement as the go-to place-holder for hyperficial corporate declarations of love, joy, happiness, and above all, indulgence in spending a lot of money, but that hasn't taken away from the band's own creative investment in wanting to remain one of the country's (if not the World's) most uplifting and passionate acts striving for more than just a catchy chord sequence or title of winning the loudness war. From Mercury Prize to composing the theme for coverage of the 2012 Olympics, the proof is in the pudding when it comes to Elbow's ever-increasing height of standard in personal appreciation. Appreciation is a theme that pops up - perhaps fittingly - in the video accompanying the band's latest single, New York Morning, the latest to drop from the band's upcoming sixth album, The Take Off And Landing Of Everything.

While it may be dazing to some to keep focus on both the track's dual narrative as well as the video's dispersing of audio in favour of closed captioning, the latest offering nestles just as swiftly on the use of percussive timbre and conventionally less-rock instruments as it does on Guy Garvey's mountainous range of vocals that remain strong when at their most tender, yet driven when the track requires such a crescendo. New York Morning may follow in the same homely, cosey progression as the video it's tied into, but that doesn't take away from the harmonic focus and careful layering with both piano and drums alike. In the end, Garvey remains as heartfelt and honest as he's always been, and while TV may still be falling back to editing One Day Like This to slideshows of slow-mo opportunities and false, forced aspiration from the other end, we can at least sleep easy knowing Elbow have no intention of flailing in their attempt to breathe life and emotion into the 'rock' umbrella of terminology. The Take Off And Landing Of Everything is out March 10th via Fiction Records & Universal Music.
~Jordan Helm

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SOAK - Blud



Derry singer-songwriter SOAK signed to CHVRCHES' very own Goodbye Records not so long ago, and has since planned the release of her next EP titled Blud. At just 17, SOAK (unknown as Bridie Monds-Watson) has already toured with Tegan & Sara, something I flicked over since discovering SOAK on Facebook via... I'm uncertain who or how... but that's all irrelevant, because we have a rising star in the palm of our hands here, and we as listeners, critics, fans, certainly don't want to destroy the innocence and purity of SOAK as a recording artist. CHVRCHES unreluctantly signed SOAK as their first artist on Goodbye Records, and for good reason. SOAK's songs of the past have varied from incredibly touching lyricism like fellow young female singer-songwriter Billie Tweddle. It's these young potential starts which make you realise how lazy and unimportant you really were as a pre-adult teen.
 
Blud is SOAK's new single, taken from the EP of the same name out in March. There's a percussive approach to Blud, with hazy backing vocals and a secondary electric guitar. It really aligns SOAK to the atmospherical singer-songwriters out there. She has a likening to Cat Power, which is clear for all to see both with her voice, but also on the way SOAK's songs come together. There's a copious amount of potential here, and honestly, wthout sounding too optimistic, SOAK can be the song writing answer to Adele.
~Eddie Gibson


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NONONO - Hungry Eyes



With our tastebuds still tingling from last year's banquet of female-led, synth-pop acts dominating the electronic corners, it's no surprise that 2014 sees us digging into yet another course of potential feasts, from not just the Anglo-speaking corners of the World, but so too from the counter. NONONO signed to Warner Music in 2012, but already in such a short space of time - with 2013's Pumpin' Blood EP making an astonishing impression on the synth-riding circuit - the Swedish trio have already left a startling mark of pop-infused energy, even within what is already a strong Scandanavian quartet of countries whose own electronic and pop-leaning efforts have been World-dominating. NONONO have a new track out, Hungry Eyes, and with the band declaring in the accompanying press release that they 'will be around as soon as [they] can for new music and a proper album' there's no breaking the anticipation building for potentially Scandanavia's next big thing.

Yet, if you'll excuse the bizarre stereotyping, Hungry Eyes feels as un-Swedish as a huddle of middle-age women attempting Dancing Queen in a drunken slur on a Saturday night. If anything, the arpeggiating drum beats, the frosty-yet-cheerful piano keys, and above all vocalist Stina Wappling's careless flow, deviates more into Denmark's Mew territory than homeland similarities to favourites The Knife and Icona Pop and beyond this. But sovereignty comparisons and collectiveness aside, Hungry Eyes shows NONONO can create soaring giddyness over the snow as they can exuberent hooks as was shown on early favourite, Pumpin' Blood. Their debut album, revealed to be called We Are Only What We Feel remains shrouded as to its release date, however. Keep your eyes peeled North folks.
~Jordan Helm

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BANKS - Brain



BANKS, like her music, has been slowly creeping up from the dark undergrowth of modern-day, urban electronica & RnB. Where last year's early round in Fall Over found her laying foundations with a mix of ethereal-tet-enriching vocals and sprawling beats, it wasn't until the follow-up EP in London did we see BANKS truly find her just reward and comfort zone in a release offering up much more tenser song-writing and nimmersive production thanks in part to the EP's host of cotemporary stars in and out of electronic music from the likes of Jamie Woon, Lil Silva & Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. The guest production remains in full force and (hopefully) as strong in its stride on BANKS' latest offering, Brain, which features one of the genre's latest rising production stars, Shlohmo.

And just like her wonderful 2013 EP of latter, Brain offers as much th same taste for RnB revivalism, close-net hip hop rhythms and a liking for everything associated with black light radiance and away-from-the-open intimacy of sound. While the track itself is far more stripped back in its layering - encompassing a greater emphasis on the space between than the content included within - BANKS' vocals remain as ever-present and ever-textural as they've remained these past twelve months. Brain, for all its slow-cooking, slow-rising RnB influence, eventually lets the boil reach pinnacle in BANKS' continued prominence to strive for an ethereal yet down-to-Earth control of her sound. A more personal and reflective listen than what's been offered thus far, but if there's one thing we've learned from BANKS over the year, it's that the balance between personal and production choice is a fine balance she is keen to keep at as high a level as possible. Brain is out now via Harvest Records.
~Jordan Helm

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STAR SPIN

Cloud Nothings - I'm Not Part Of Me




Cloud Nothings' Dylan Baldi managed to catapult his sound from this greasy, teenage power pop rock kid stuff to, well, rock, when Steve Albini produced his third studio album under the moniker Cloud Nothings. Instead of going alone like he did on his first two studio albums, Baldi enlisted live musicians TJ Duke and Jayson Gerycz to back the record, and pretty much back the band. Baldi's sound really transformed in the studio with Attack on Memory, and the outcome was one of the heaviest and rawest indie rock / lo-fi albums of 2011. On my first few listens, I honestly didn’t like it at all, but it did grow on me. The simplicity of conventional pop melodies on Fall In and Stay Useless kept The Strokes' poor releases at bay, while the more energetic experiments such as Separation and Wasted Days really paid off in the recording studio.

Moving on to Cloud Nothings fourth studio album then, Here and Nowhere Else. Baldi expects it to come across far less melodic and more destructive. This is perhaps welcomed for some of the heavier fans of Cloud Nothings sound, but that's not how the 'new direction' comes across on pre-release single I'm Not Part of Me. Yes, it does come with screaming vocals from Baldi, but it also represents something far more... 90s, than Cloud Nothings norm. The guitar riffs progression sounds alike the punk rock recordings of the 70s, but with the American pop punk tediousness you would expect from an American Pie soundtrack. This doesn't justify I'm Not Part of Me, but it does suggest how Baldi wants Cloud Nothings overall sound to be loud, violating and powerful. You can hear the bass riff and its expletive brashness. Baldi delivers the verse very clearly, and calmly, but there’s still that dark, grim aesthetic to his voice that makes Cloud Nothings come across as a depressing alternative to No Age. I can see the rest of Here and Nowhere Else stepping forward in too long, distorted segments with very little 'single' material. I'm Not Part of Me seems like the pre-release single because it is the pre-release single. I fully expect Baldi and co to come out with a cracking follow-up to Attack on Memory, as what they have is a stunning introduction to what will be a noise punk record.
~Eddie Gibson

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