Thursday, 28 February 2013

Song Of The Day 28/02/2013: King Creosote - So Forlorn

King Creosote is a Scottish singer/songwriter. He's also the leader of the Fence Collective, a Scottish label that puts out records by a variety of excellent bands & singers such as Withered Hand and James Yorkston. I got into King Creosote a couple of years ago when his album with Jon Hopkins was getting praise all over the music press - that record, 'Diamond Mine', really is a spectacular (if spectacularly short) piece of rural modern folk. Beyond that, though, he's released over 40 solo records. I haven't really scratched the surface yet.

This song appears on (at least) a couple of his records, 'KC Rules OK!' (probably the best record of his I've heard) and the album that this recording comes from, 'Kenny and Beth's Musakal Boat Rides'. I prefer this version - the guitar part (apparently sampled from Funkadelic, if you trust YouTube comments) treads the line between 'driving' and 'annoying' pretty closely, but always stays on the right side of the line.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Song Of The Day 27/01/2013: The National - Exile Vilify

The National are definitely my favourite band, and have been for a number of years. I try and refrain from getting too fanboy-ish on here, but they've just announced the upcoming release of a new record, their first since 2010's brilliant-but-not-quite-as-good-as-Boxer 'High Violet', and that seems like a pretty good excuse to post a song of theirs. I was at ATP in Camber Sands in December when they previewed a few new songs from the record, and from what I can tell it'll have more of the slow, sombre stuff (check out 'I Need My Girl', which has been doing the rounds for a while) than the last record. Now all they need to do is throw in a few shouty Abel- or Available-type songs and it'll be a return to what they do best.

This song, from the Portal 2 soundtrack, is a fairly simple piano ballad that the band released as half of a double A side in 2011. It's not all that typical a National song in general, but the vocals and lyrics are quintessential Berninger.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Song Of The Day 26/02/2013: Young Romance - Swollen Hearts, Bitten Tongues

In this blog's long hiatus I lacked a vehicle for talking about new bands I discovered, so now it's back I'm going to revisit some of the bands I discovered in the past year or so. One of those new bands I've listened to the most is Young Romance, a boy-girl indiepop duo from London who play sweet, slightly fuzzed-up tunes underneath surprisingly melancholy lyrics. The band consists of Claire (officially vocals and drums, but probably more 'spectacular vocalist who happens to also have a drum') and Paolo (guitars & backing vocals). This is the song of theirs that seems to be most widely known, having been on the Indietracks compilation last year.

Not much of their stuff is widely available. They released a single on EardrumsPop, and have a Bandcamp, but other than that stuff is pretty hard to come by. Probably my favourite song of theirs, 'Wild', was released as an acoustic demo last year, but seems to have disappeared from the internet. It's definitely worth an investigate if you can find it - there must be some kind of reason they took it down, so I won't post it on here, but trust me. It's good.

Unfortunately it seems like they only ever do gigs on Friday nights, which I can rarely make. Also, they recently pulled out of the OddBox 2013 Singles Club. Hopefully new songs (as well as actual releases of old songs) will be along sooner rather than later.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Song Of The Day 25/02/2013: Courtney Barnett - History Eraser

I only heard this song for the first time very recently, but it has been on extremely heavy rotation ever since. Courtney Barnett is a Melbourne singer/songwriter who is apparently just beginning to make waves over there. She released an EP last year, called "I've Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris", which is well worth a listen. This new single, though, which is apparently going to feature on a new EP this year, is a real step up. Hopefully she'll make it over to the UK at some point.

It has a very Pavement-y slacker vibe but lacks a lot of the laziness that ruins a lot of that kind of thing. Dan Luscombe, from the Drones, plays guitar on this song and definitely adds a bit of punch that was missing from the debut EP. Fundamentally, the song is just an incredibly catchy pop song, in the very best way that phrase could be used.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Song Of The Day 24/02/2013: Lower Dens - Brains

I haven't been on here in far too long. Shortly after posting the My Sad Captains summary below, I made a terrible mistake. I put the song 'A Present Tu Peux T'en Aller' by Les Surfs on 'repeat'. Physically unable to turn it off, I was forced to let it just go on and on until I got bored of it and was ready to listen to other music. I suppose I got off lightly in the end, with the video looping a mere 242,062 times. (Go on, do the maths. It's correct.) Now I have (hopefully) thoroughly got that song out of my system, it's time to start catching up on all the other things that have been going on in the music world in my absence.

I struggled to decide what to make my first 'Song Of The Day' in what is approaching 2 years. I toyed with being 'hilarious' and making it this, but in the end decided that would just be in bad taste, and that I should just mention it in my introduction. I toyed with doing a 'best song since I've been away' post, doing a 'best of 2012' post or doing a 'best song My Sad Captains released since my last post, seeing as they were the subject of the last post I made'. I in the end rejected them all, either because I'd just be posting what everyone else would have posted a couple of months ago or because the feature name was far too unwieldy, and decided just to post a song I liked.

I like this song. It's good. Good 'groove', good tune, good lyrics. I'm not going to say any more about it. After all, that's what this blog was and always will be about - completely uninformed listening to good songs.

I'm unlikely to be able to get back to the daily posting, but hopefully I'll be able to post more often than I did in 2012!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

My Sad Captains

Over the past few months I've begun to get really excited over a band that I'd thought I'd got over a couple of years ago. Recently, London's My Sad Captains have completely reinvented their style, dialling down the indiepop tunefulness that made up the majority of their 2009 debut, 'Here & Elsewhere'. That was the major characteristic that first brought the band to my attention, and it made that record one of my most anticipated debuts that year. When it came out, it provided me with a few months of listening pleasure, with some of the songs on it being genuinely brilliant, but I just kind of lost interest in them after a while. I didn't see them at all live in 2010, and when I saw them supporting Allo Darlin' at the Bull & Gate in May this year I was expecting them to be the same as ever. 

I first heard of MSC nearly three years ago, when they did a gig at the Lexington with the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and the Manhattan Love Suicides (and apparently Horowitz, who I've got into since but to be honest can't remember from that night). The Pains would release their debut album a few months later, and it was the first time I'd seen them live, despite having had their debut EP on pretty much constant rotation for a year or so. They were astoundingly good, as were the not-much-longer-for-this-world MLS. I hadn't really got into the latter band properly by that point, and didn't know many of the songs aside from the obvious 'Clusterfuck' and 'Extra Medication', but they have grown into one of my favourite of that line of bands, and I wish I'd focused on seeing them more when they were still around.

The real revelation of the night, however, were My Sad Captains. They were, back then, very much a Fortuna Pop! band, with a guy who looked like a cross between Stephen Merchant and Graham Coxon on guitar/vocals and a whole load of absolutely lovely little pop songs that jumped straight out at you. At that point, I wasn't really aware of the London indiepop scene to the extent I am now, but I was completely won over by their lovely tunes and the boy-girl harmonies on songs like All Hat And No Plans and Bad Decisions.

The next summer, they released their debut, and it was really enjoyable, but all felt slightly predictable. It wasn't really an album that I could get massively excited by. The best songs on the record were the ones that had been around for a long time before the album was released. They didn't even put on the upbeat single mix of Bad Decisions - and I'm not going to make any obvious jokes about that - and seemed to be caught between musical directions. It got some good reviews on release, but wasn't really anywhere when critics came to look back at the year, and they seemed to get overtaken in people's affections by various other Fortuna Pop! bands.

This year, I've seen them a few times, starting with that gig at the Bull & Gate, and each time they've blown me away with the atmosphere the new songs are able to create. The way they get stuck in a groove, which wouldn't get wearing even if they did a Sister Ray and stretched each song out to 20 minutes, is just spectacular, yet they still have the pure trebly tunes to be classed as a bona fide indiepop band.

A couple of the slow-burners on the debut album foreshadowed the direction they have taken since, especially You Talk All Night, still a staple of their live show. They have become probably the primary exponent of the genre that, in private, I call 'kraut-twee'. They really have gone above and beyond anything on their debut album with some of the songs they have released recently - there's not way you could have listened to any songs on that on repeat for an hour, as I have done with the only two new tracks to be properly released onto the web, 'The Homefront Part 2' and 'Orienteers'. The latter really is one of the best songs I've heard this year, but there are many others that I've only heard live that I'm expecting to be blown away by studio versions of.

The new album, 'Fight Less, Win More' is out on November 7th, quickly followed by a release party on the 9th. I can't wait.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Things We Lost In The Fire - Recommended PIAS Records

After the much-publicized burning of the PIAS warehouse a few days ago, many people have been doing their best to get behind the various labels and shops that could well be severely hit by a lack of cash flow. Despite the fact that (as far as I know) most of the labels will be covered under PIAS and Sony's insurance, the fact that the labels currently have nothing to sell, and might not get the money from the insurance for a month or two (or more) will cause the delay of many new releases and could even force some of the smaller labels out of business. To this end, various people are currently organising fundraising gigs and compilations. However, the best way to help is probably to buy records, be it digitally, mail order or in independent record shops. Here's my pick of some excellent records made by some of my favourite smaller labels hurt by the fire.

Sonic Cathedral

Sarabeth Tucek - Get Well Soon

Lovely singer-songwriter-y folk. There are, admittedly, a lot of albums like this released, but in my mind this has just the right blend between warm comfy guitar textures, Big Star-y power pop sensibilities and the occasional bit of rocking out. I probably prefer her debut, also available from the label, but this one shows more sign of crossing over into the mass market, something that Sonic Cathedral would definitely welcome.

Sad Day For Puppets - Pale Silver & Shiny Gold

After their debut, which was much more in the twee-pop vein, Sweden's Sad Day For Puppets turned in a second album that had much more of interest going on. There's a dash of girl groups, a dash of reverb-y shoegaze and a hefty amount of brilliant pop songwriting, this album should be high up your list. Fundamentally a pop record, with most influences obvious from first listen, it's brilliant fun, never descending into pastiche of the bands it clearly admires.

Angular Recording Company

This Many Boyfriends - Young Lovers Go Pop! 7"

Officially not released for another few days, this is the latest Angular release. I presume all the physical copies were lost in the rioting, but it's still well worth getting a hold of digitally. TMB first came to my attention with the excellent 'I Don't Like You ('Cos You Don't Like The Pastels)', a Tullycraft-style reference fest released on Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation, and I've loved everything they've released since. This song is typically shambly indiepop, and is featured on their SoundCloud.

Full Time Hobby

Tunng - Good Arrows

'Folktronica' gets a bad press, but some of this record is genuinely beautiful, and 'Bullets' was one of my favourite singles of 2007, a song that I've listened to a crazy amount and am still not really sure whether it's meant to be happy or sad. Tunng spent a long time recording this album, integrating some of the more electronic elements that were much less obvious in their previous albums, and the songs really benefit from the extra levels of detail. It's possible to see Tunng as the friendly, wholesome British equivalent of Animal Collective, and they deserve to be just as big.

One Little Indian Records

Asobi Seksu - Citrus

The oldest label on this list, and probably the most well-known album. This record has become a bit of a cult classic because of the way it managed to join the shoegaze of bands like Slowdive with the dreaminess and pop sensibility of bands like Rocketship, making for a lovely record that is full of not only brilliant tunes but also genuine feeling. There are also some genuinely heavy moments, a rarity for a dream-pop album like this.

Obviously, there were a lot of other labels affected. The full list is here. Go spending crazy!