Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Weekly Spin: 25/03


We're nearly a full quarter of our way through 2014 - yep, a musical finance of investment, profitteering, checking margins and perhaps investing a share or two in the odd label you might not have even bothered to snear at, come twelve months ago. How have the past three months treated you? Good? Found a beauty of a release that could be swiftly passed through as a definitive stand-out and highlight for all of time, let alone this year...flavoursome fad or otherwise? Well we're certain there's been something for everyone thus far, and from the looks of things it's only going to get better/harder come the forth and final quarter of our year-long journey. From the looks of our selection of new tracks, the year most certainly (still) has only just begun. Quizzical, querying, or just downright quriky; here's hoping we've generated at least one possible answer to that never-ending question of yours: who's next?



The Brian Jonestown Massacre - What You Isn't



If you've not listened to The Brian Jonestown Massacre yet, then you probably should. Their constant genre shifts have made BJM a sound to behold for a number of years - ever since their early days from the shoegaze > garage rock shift, then the garage rock > neo-psychedelia rock shift. It's a resurgence of music which marks change as the years go by, and the age of BJM rises.

Listening back to great albums like Methodrone and Take It From the Man! show BJM's meteoric rise in America's alternative rock scene which was mirrored by fellow rock goers Yo La Tengo and The Dandy Warhols. There's always a question regarding BJM's present music: is it going to be good enough? And it's asked because so many BJM fans listen exclusively to the early albums, and berate the other 'less successful (critical and commercially) albums'. But BJM have been hard at work preparing for their 13th studio album, Revelation. What You Isn't follows on from BJM's neo-psychedelia recordings of their recent history. It's a delicate track, taking on big sounding guitars and raw percussion, alike what The Beta Band would have been if they existed 30 years prior to their demise. Unlike some BJM fans, I'll be looking forward to Revelation to see what they've came up with, as I’m always expecting the unexpected, the BJM way.
~Eddie Gibson

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F A N S - All This Time



F A N S must really be feeling the recognition kick. NME have been sitting on their EP, Wasted Youth (PR represent them), and the trio have already had their songs on BBC Radio with festival appearances lined-up - all with below 300 likes on their facebook page. It's a testimony to the press' contribution to music, and to the small band which one, two, maybe five media men may recognise as a future talent. But its way more than that, F A N S' air of shrewd mystery supports them in their quest to the proverbial top, and not many can doubt their potential rise. All This Time is their debut single produced by Matt Peel, a raw three minutes of post-punk from the shoegaze loving days of British youth. You can hear the influence of layers and repetition, mirrored through two key essential bands My Bloody Valentine and The Velvet Underground. F A N S are the type of musicians (and fans) you'll never have to explain who Damo Suzuki is to.
~Eddie Gibson

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POOL - Harm



Now here's something I'd never thought I'd be saying. Two words: Joyous Germans. Yeh yeh, Germans have no sense of humor, bla bla bla. But I'm talking in the field of music remember; isn't that great bulk that is Deutschland known for great discoveries, vast voyages and recently leading us down the darker alleyways of Techno? Not for one second did I imagine three-piece one-screw-loose outfit POOL prooving it's not just the Anglo nations who know how to fuse jam-rocking guitars with electro-disco flair.

But that's exactly what Harm is, albeit it's a track so instantaneusly jangly and tongue-turning in its guitar melodies it makes me [involuntarily] recall the first couple (and thus repeated) bars from Aerosmith's infamous Walk This Way lead. But POOL's bibliography is much closer to home and not afraid to appear too lost to be considered present. From the unscathed, no-fuss whirl of Daniel Husten & Nils Hansen (guitars and drums respectively) on vocal duty, to the leap-frogging of bass lines and percussive rhythms, POOL are on a mission - like so many electro-friendly indie bands - to reignite the spark of the dancefloor, be it hall or open sandy beaches by contrast. You want something bizzare to top POOL's brow-raising slur of care-free imfection? I'm also imagining them beginning to parade on about showroom dummies. The melding dally of potential here is quite something.
~Jordan Helm

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Lykke Li - Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone 


Remember the days when Lykki Li was an indie pop newcomer? Her 2008 debut album, produced by Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, became a surprise hit with alternative pop fans. On one side of the Atlantic, Li was the answer to the lack of alternative pop divas, on the other, Li became FIFA music for male teens. If it wasn't for her history and blatantly Nordic first name, those FIFA boys would have thought Li was some C-pop star, but instead, Li and her entourage have climbed the ladder a Sweden's top musical export.

Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone is taken from Li's upcoming third studio album I Never Learn. The album, like the above track itself, follows on the progression of Li's lyrical artistry since Youth Novels. As what's seen as a loose trilogy comes together on Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone - the most reflective and lo-fi of Li's music to date. The refined sounds of Wounded Rhymes may turn in to the opposite. With this release, Li expresses a side to her which we've not heard before. It's enduring, pulling the proverbial heart strings with her loud and direct vocal which has been pushed through with various vocal effects such as reverb and distortion - fitting of the acoustic guitar rhythm and sound, which is more like an E.M.A recording than anything you expect to find on a Lykki Li record.
~Eddie Gibson 

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Sharon Van Etten - Taking Chances



Sharon Van Etten returns in 2014 with her fourth album Are We There? on Jagjaguwar. This neat snippet Taking Chances shows the development in Van Etten's folk sound. It's not quite folk to the point where you couldn’t listen to it at 6am, it's the kind of folk you expect to hear coming out of Brooklyn, this is the music you expect Van Etten to play. It's built around an electronic drum beat, with synthesizer keys whistling round in the back. As always, Van Etten's guitar plays an important role in the way her music sounds, so Taking Chances is represented well with her electric guitar accompaniment - like Cat Power circa 1998. She’s definitely gunning for a more complete sound, without trying to eliminate her basic styles.
~Eddie Gibson

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Friendly Fires & The Asphodells - Before Your Eyes

 
Still we wait. Still we await for our glorious, dance-centric, anthem-sized overlords Friendly Fires to emerge and gift us the follow-up to 2011's tropically-festive, tropically-coloursome array of groove and rhythm that was Pala. Oh sure we may have got Cut Copy, but...but guys...Friendly Fires! OK, enough of the fanboyishness creeping up from within me, it's at least promising to see the St Albans showmen offering us perhaps a taster of what might, or might not, be stroking the pages of their brain-storming sketchbooks for album number three. And in joining up with The Asphodells (the newest project from the infamously kaleidoscopic DJ & producer Andrew Weatherall), Before Your Eyes sets in motion a wider ball park with which the Fires jettison with more than a fair share of energizing electronica.

Scrap the park, how about the reaches of the exospheric unknown that this joint effort brings us to - Friendly Fires finding themselves coaxing with particle-sized grains of percussion and 4/4 marches of bass. Not a trace of the band's holidaying in the sun is felt here; the hazy clarity and sequential marvel of the music's scenery certainly push any and all Earthly wonder to the backlogs - Asphodells' own widescreen mixtures of electronics making Fires' cosey instrumentals more like an Oddyssey in its preliminary chapters. And by the sounds of it, this is a prologue - and indeed a trip - that's far from ending. Watch out for this space? Which space would that be, eh?
~Jordan Helm

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Perfect Pussy - Interference Fits


With punk rock's blending modern genres, it's about time a band with venom and an ear for rhythm entered the fray. After Sonic Youth called it quits, the punk rock / art punk hybrids seemed to disappear. The bands of punk's past, although still going with the likes of Wire, Pere Ubu, and The Fall; they don't offer that fresh piece of excitement a punk fan always needs. Whether it be a No Age single release, or an Iceage album, punk rock and its noise influences still plays an important role in alternative music. And with New Yorkers moving towards this D.I.Y aesthetic yet again with bands like Hunters, the one-time punk state looks further north for the successor to Sonic Youth.

Perfect Pussy are alike Iceage in their textures. They both go for deafening punk rock with the element of distortion acting as noise, reaching though listeners, hitting them with what appears to be loud punk rock, but with sweeter, more likeable rhythms and progressions underneath. It's not about the three-chord two minute song any more, it's all about the vibe, and how the band goes about creating something worth the listener’s time. Interference Fits features a great vocal from Meredith Graves in a spoken word style like Kim Gordon on The Sprawl, or even Stephen O'Neil of The Cannanes on many of their indie pop recordings.
~Eddie Gibson

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STAR SPIN

How To Dress Well - Words I Don't Remember



Love, trust, commitment. Not exactly the most radical of subject matter in contemporary music, but neither is it something Tom Krell shows difficulty in illustrating when at its most heart-aching and soul-draining of variants. For the ethereal RnB singer-songwriter and producer, such base level topics can be, and have been, anything but underwhelming in their spiralling of equal narration and illustration. It's in How To Dress Well's overwhelming, striking majesty of lyrical sanction and heart-of-the-matter focus that made Total Loss, Krell's 2012 sophomore, one of the year's most surprisingly eye-aching, and enriching, listens of the year. And all this, orchestrated by such wind-chilled, voided production and stripped-back instrumentation; it's more acclaim to Krell for his skills as someone capable of making even the tiniest of expressions feel like some almighty austerity we've never quite been given enough time to prepare for.

With such acolades, you'd think Words I Don't Remember would simply carry on from that same without-warning arc of painstaking precision via Krell's love for the glimmer of former RnB and the hazy withdraw of today's post-production. But even as this this one-off, unaffiliated release, Krell prooves himself a self-exposing artist; one who quite sternly moves on and merits capability with progressing his sound from its roots. Lengthening six minutes, Krell finds himself now the master of his confinement, rather than a victim of it - the echoey harmonics and softening pads make a return, but the beats take a backseat role. Ultimately, after what is a steady simmer of synth chords and Krell's balancing between presence and vacance, the chop-and-change splicing of vocal samples gives this new-found slow-down more time for us to admire and - rather than wallow in pity over - be simply proud of. The melancholy may not completely be gone, but in its wake, more surprisingly, there's a kind of assurance brimming up in Krell's stance as both a musician, and a bare, vulnerable, human being. Only this time, there is no pity or sympathy...there's merely enjoyment.
~Jordan Helm

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