Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Joy Formidable - Album Release

I first wrote about The Joy Formidable back in February '08. Gosh, doesn't that seem like a long time ago? Now, with the release date of the Welsh trio's debut album The Big Roar confirmed, and widespread critical acclaim from taste-makers at The Guardian, Pitchfork, and NME, I feel my early support of the band was well justified.

Following the U.S. release of E.P. A Balloon Called Morning via Black Bell Records (Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy's label), the band withdrew to a corner of a London bedroom to self record and produce the album. Along the way, they received help from engineer Neak Menter as well as L.A. based mixer/producer Rich Costey, who, long-time followers of the band will be pleased to hear, oversaw new recordings of signature tunes Austere and Whirring. The album will be meated out with eight new recordings of the band's epigrammatic indie-rock sound.

The Big Roar will hit U.K. shelves on January 24th, being released via Canvasback/Atlantic Records. Head over to the bands website to pre-order.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Patrick Wolf - Time Of My Life

I don't normally give relationship advice, but what do you do when friend breaks up with his girlfriend? What you should do is play him Time Of My Life, by English multi-instrumentalist Patrick Wolf. The feature of all-to-many-a break up tune is the angry rant. Time Of My Life contains no such diatribe. Instead, Wolf's romantic croon consoles it's troubled listener - things will get better; they always do. And in the end, you'll be happy without them.

Time Of My Life will get a single release on 6th December via major label imprint Hideout Recordings. Expect an album to drop May next year.

Patrick Wolf - Time Of My Life

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Ruby Frost

Ruby Frost is the ice cold moniker of pint-sized New Zealand sing-songwriter Jane de Jong. I introduced you to her - briefly - earlier this month when I posted the Leno Lovecraft rework of her track Moonlight - a shimmering masterpiece. It's about time you got to know her better.

As a youngster, Frost funnelled her creativity into the written word, putting to paper the time when a gunman burst into an American church she and her family choir where attending - the gun, it turned out, was a hockey stick. Now 22, Frost has turned to music as a way of expressing her creative bent.

It was this time last year she won New Zealand MTV's 42 Unheard competition, seeing off competition from 357 artists from across the country. I never watched the show, but, wearing her handmade sequinned bat-cape, I can imagine there was only ever going to be one winner. The competition won her a recording contract with major label Universal Music, who sent her on a song-writing jaunt to Australia. There, she hooked up with a slew of big name producers and now we're starting to hear glimpses of the electronic-infused direction Frost music is heading. A little less 80's than Marina and the Diamonds; a little more fun than Ellie Goulding, Frost nestles between the two. Her voice - appropriately - takes on the icey chill of Bjork, while her charismatic style brings to mind a cuter version of Kate Bush.

Out there is precious little of Frost's music. This could be a clear sign that label want's to get things right - but when you want to hear more, it's a damn pain. Nevertheless, we're told we can expect and album out sometime in 2011.

MP3: Ruby Frost - Goodnight DOWNLOAD

Monday, 22 November 2010

Cut Copy - Take Me Over

Things are moving fast in the world of Cut Copy. A few weeks ago I reported that the band had penned in 7th February as the European release date for Zonoscope, their upcoming LP. Now we have Take Me Over, the first official single to be taken from the record. You'll be pleased to hear it's available to download now from MP3 retailers across the web. A 12" release is imminent. The band have also announced a world tour that will follow the release of the album. Head over to Pitchfork for dates and venues of the European leg of the tour.
Cut Copy - Take Me Over

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Brother Tour

Last month I introduced you to the sounds of Slough based band of miscreants Brother, hoping you'd approve of their attempt at reviving the Brit-pop genre. The guys set themselves the rather aspirational target of playing in front of 10,000 people by this time next year; and now, with the announcement of an extensive UK tour, they appear to be making definite inroads into achieving this dream. Visit the bands website for dates and venues.

MP3: Brother - Time Machine DOWNLOAD

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Treefight For Sunlight

When you think Denmark, I'm sure you picture Vikings, Carlsberg, and Lars Ulrich. When I think Denmark, all I hear is whimsical psychedelic pop-rock. Or at least I did after listening to Copenhagen quartet Treefight For Sunlight.

Although there's no denying an MGMT influence, their approach is a more organic one - a synth free zone. Treefight use a wall of harmonies to create weight while still keeping things light and bouncy. The intricacies of their music demonstrates an awareness of psych-pop/rock that runs deeper than the genre's latest revival. I mean, there are times when these guys are one flute flurry away from sounding a lot like The Free Design. One listen will have you transported to West Coast America.

Having just signed to the Bella Union label, you can expect a full length album some time in February next year.

MP3: Treefight For Sunlight - What Became Of You And I DOWNLOAD

Friday, 19 November 2010

Dancing With The DJ (Monsieur Adi Remix)

(Not my arm)

Like master brewers, The Knocks know a winning formula when they see one. Last time it was their summer ditty Make It Better that got the once over from Parisian electro wonderkid Monsieur Adi. Now, the two have teamed up again; this time on single Dancing With The DJ, which Adi has stretched into seven minutes of shimmering French-disco. A wonderful pairing.

MP3: The Knocks - Dancing With The DJ (Monsieur Adi Remix) DOWNLOAD

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Kids Of 88

I think it was during the Louis and the Nazis episode, when Louis Theroux meets pre-teen skinhead pop group Prussian Blue, that I learned the significance of the number 88 to the white power community. Translate the numbers to the alphabet and you get HH - or Heil Hitler. Now, as far as I'm concerned there can only be two reasons why a band would name themselves Kids Of 88. Either they're an enterprising electro group attempting to create a niche in the white supremacist market; or they are literally kids of 88 - 1988. I suspect it's the later.

After signing up with Sony records, this Auckland city duo released their debut LP Sugarpills to much fanfare in their native New Zealand. Now, on the back of an appearance at CMJ and a mini-tour with fellow kiwi's The Naked And Famous, their new wave dance-rock sound is deservedly gaining attention outside their homeland. Check out Feed The Birds, a track that comes complete with wailing guitar and In The Air Tonight style drum fills.

MP3: Kids Of 88 - Feed The Birds DOWNLOAD

While I'm covering New Zealand music, I hit on a singer who goes by the name Ruby Frost. She won some big MTV competition last year, but hasn't yet achieved breakthrough status. Judging by this gem of a remix, Ruby is definitely one to keep an eye on..

MP3: Ruby Frost - Moonlight (Leno Lovercraft Remix) DOWNLOAD

Girl Talk - All Day

I don't like Girl Talk's new album. There. I said it. Happy now?

All Day is the follow-up to 2008 breakthrough album Feed The Animals, which itself was preceded by 2006's Night Ripper. For me, both these records represent a seminal moment in my consumption of music. They made me get the mash-up art form. Both where pacey, energetic, fun and intelligent. Somehow, Greg Gillies - aka Girl Talk - managed to coherently knit together five generations of music that seemingly spanned every genre known to man.

I heard All Day was two years in the making. A good thing, right? Such a length of time would allow an artist to consider their work, re-evaluate it, make changes. But for this kind of gonzo-genre, has it proved fatal? All Day sounds flat and lifeless, the fun surgically picked out of it. Samples are drawn out and hang around for way too long, a serious problem for this kind of record. There are moments that hark back to the genius of Night Ripper and Feed The Animals - Triple Double for instance - but they are few in number and only point to what could have been. Girl Talk was meant to be music for the ADHD generation. Well, this album is dedicated to those kids adequately medicated, attending after school catch up lessons and eating their greens.

All Day has been roundly praised on the blogs, but in the long run I fear the album will end up in the cupboard like a toy with a flat battery. On the plus side, All Day was released as a free download via the Illegal Art website.

MP3: Girl Talk - Triple Double DOWNLOAD

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Urban Cone

Stockholm's Urban Cone managed to hit the Hype Machine's Popular list the other day with their track Urban Photograph which was posted up on Swedish blog Klubb Ace. I had a listen, and thought "this is a bandwagon I ought to be jumping on". Trouble is, with a band this minty fresh - they where formed only six months ago - there's so little information about them that the chances of a protracted post analysing the bands history and how it might relate to their current sound is zero. What I can tell you is they sound like French indie-electro groovers Fortune, fronted by Black Ghost's vocalist Simian Lord. If that sounds like it something that may appeal to you, then take a listen.

MP3: Urban Cone - Urban Photograph DOWNLOAD

Friday, 12 November 2010

Trophy Wife

I would say I am excited about Trophy Wife, but that kind of emotion doesn't fit well with the band's ethos. The promotional literature from this Oxford trio tells me they regard their sound as "ambitionless office disco". As Self-depreciating as this may seem, it happens to be a neat way of packaging the bands creatively sparse take on the indie-disco genre into one sound bite. If you can imagine Swedish band Studio covering a Vampire Weekend track, you won't be far off.

Trophy Wife have signed up with label of the moment Moshi Moshi Records, and released their single Mircolite/Take This Night via download and 7" on 8th November.

MP3: Trophy Wife - Microlite DOWNLOAD

MP3: Trophy Wife - Microlite (Acoustic) DOWNLOAD

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Beady Eye - Bring The Light

Inspirational, pioneering, revolutionary, and ground-breaking - are not words I'd use to describe the first offering from Beady Eye; the band who've risen from the ashes of the now defunct Oasis, minus Noel. The track, entitled Bring The Light, was released as a free download via the band's website yesterday and is described as being "proper rock'n'roll" by frontman Liam Gallagher. It isn't. It more like a Status Quo record, minus the fun. Having said that, it's not quite as bad as some commenters have suggested. The problem is its mediocrity, which for a record that's obviously meant to stick it to brother and former bandmate Noel, is very worrying indeed. I hear rumours that Bring The Light will not be featuring on Beady Eye's forthcoming album. Given the songs lukewarm reception, that's probably a wise move. Better luck next time chaps.

MP3: Beady Eye - Bring The Light DOWNLOAD

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Irrepressibles

Referring to them as a band is something of an understatement, for weighing in at an hefty - wait for it - ten members, The Irrepressibles are more of an ensemble, verging on the orchestral. They're fronted by the dramatic Jamie McDermott who has a lot to say about the current state of British music - namely that it lacks "visual and sonic flamboyance". This is clearly a guy who mourns the absence of naff 70's dance troupe Pans People from our screens.

You'll hear The Irrepressibles be described as a weird hybrid of Anthony and the Johnsons and The Smith's frontman Morrissey. That's an accurate representation. But I find a more suitable description can be found in the formal education choices of it's frontman - yes, this is exactly what you'd imagine a band fronted by a guy who attended Westminster University's 'pop culture and industry course', to sound like. Get me on that course!

I suppose to fully appreciate the bands - sorry, the ensemble's - work, you have to be prepared to both look and listen. There's a lot to be said of their attempt to bring together wonderfully emotive orchestral sounds and soaring falsetto vocals, with arresting visual creativity, however pretentious it may appear. And when you think about it, in the age of youtube and easy-to-access visual media, what better time to make this attempt. Inaccessible to some? I should imagine; but these guys are definitely different and definitely worth a punt. The album Mirror Mirror is available now.

The Irrepressibles - In This Shirt

Monday, 8 November 2010

Satellite Stories

The prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD - a form of depression associated with a lack of sunlight - is alarmingly high in Finland and other areas of the Arctic region. One study puts the figure at 9.5%. That's nearly 1 in 10! Bear that in mind when you listen to Finnish outfit Satellite Stories; a four-piece guitar band who play up-tempo, jangly indie music that slots neatly in between The Wombats and Two Door Cinema Club. It sounds, well, happy. Think The Inbetweeners soundtrack. I can only assume these guys are being ironic. Or perhaps, they're just very optimistic people. Either way, they make great music.

Crystal Castles - Not In Love

I recall briefly listening to Crystal Castles back in '08 and thinking "Boy, I just don't get this". I was ashamed. They where everything I was supposed to like; I mean NME featured the band's eponymous release in their top 100 albums of the decade list, and heck, those guys know a thing or two about music, don't they? So, you understand my slight apprehension at giving the bands latest offering Not In Love a whirl.

Interestingly this is the songs third incarnation - that's right, it's a cover, initially released by 80's New Wavers Platinum Blonde. Its second manifestation featured on Crystal Castles' second, er, eponymous album released earlier in the year, which brings us to this current version. The track replaces the chipmunk-ish vocals of the bands frontwomen Alice Glass with the emotive croon of The Cure's Robert Smith (whose dishevelled hair will no doubt be heading any upcoming Goth revival). On any other Crystal Castles song, the addition of Smith's vocals would result in a musical train wreck. But here, bizarrely, sitting atop of a darkly euphoric trash trance hook, it shines. It actually reminds me of The Killers, circa Human, not least because it's now clear Brandon Flowers modelled his voice on that of The Cure frontman.

The more I listen to Not In Love, the more I feel I may need to re-evaluate my opinion of Crystal Castles, for this is a truly fantastic track. My worry is that it's only Smith's vocals that I find appealing. I guess a listen to the album will show if this is the case. What is he up to these day's anyway? Does he not fancy turning this experimental dance music duo into a three piece?

MP3: Crystal Castles - Not In Love (Feat. Robert Smith) DOWNLOAD

MP3: Platinum Blonde - Not In Love DOWNLOAD

Friday, 5 November 2010

Dancing With The DJ (Chiddy Bang Remix)

The ever wonderful Neon Gold Records blog has just unveiled an exclusive Chiddy Bang remix of The Knocks latest release Dancing With The DJ. I've not been overly enamoured with The Bangs previous work, but this, I like. From what I can gather, the remix is a precursor to The Knocks debut London show at XOYO this coming Wednesday. In support will be label mate, Spark, with Chiddy Bang man Xaphoon Jones on turntable duties. If you're in the vicinity, head on down. It's free!

MP3: The Knocks - Dancing With The DJ (Chiddy Bang Remix) DOWNLOAD

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Kori Pop

Kori Pop took her name from...hang on a sec, that's actually her real name? Yep, you could say this girl was almost destined for a role at the performing end of the music business. And so it is that Pop has released her d├ębut album From The Outskirts, a wonderfully mellow collection of songs that brings to mind sounds as legendary as Carole King, Nick Drake, Laura Nyro and Cat Power. The album is headed by the single Nowhere Near My Heart, a song with subtle mass appeal that wouldn't sound out of place on the Juno soundtrack.

To accompany the single, Pop and her comrades have cobbled together a pretty cute music video, featuring puppets she fashioned from magazine cut outs and bits around the house. If this music thing doesn't take off, then a career on Blue Peter surely beckons.

MP3: Kori Pop - Nowhere Near My Heart DOWNLOAD

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Cut Copy - New Album

Cut/Copy (has that '/' always been there?) are turning up the hype up for their hotly anticipated follow up to their seminal album In Ghost Colours, sending out press releases to all and sundry. So, what do we have? Well, we have a name; Zonoscope (cool), an album cover (cool), and a U.K. release date; 7th February 2011 (er, not so cool). The danger with whipping up such a frenzy about something so far away (s'cuse the pun) is that, much like Christmas which appears to start in late September, when it finally arrives, it can often struggle to live up to expectation created in one's mind. That said, I have full confidence the boys can deliver the 'goods', so-to-speak. What else can you expect from an album described as "Cut Copy boiled down to [its] purest form, a suite of futuristic visions built upon primal rhythm tracks". What could possibly go wrong, eh?

If you didn't already catch it, here's the free MP3 the band released early this year.

MP3: Cut Copy - Where I'm Going DOWNLOAD


The stripped back nature of the folk/folk-rock genre can so easily result in music that's a little on the dull side, perfunctory even. These are not words I'd use to describe the folksy sound of Casey Chandler, aka Galapaghost, whose latest E.P. entitled Runnin', is simply a joy to listen to. Featuring seven tracks, the E.P. appears to effortlessly meld the rustic sounds of Neil Young and Don McLean with the more layered production of Beirut and Brian Wilson. Delicate falsetto vocals and simple melody seamlessly give way to rich, dreamy harmonic soundscapes with apparent ease. It should come as no surprise that this young talent has recently graduated with a degree in music production.

I can't recommend Runnin' enough, and given that it's being offered as a free download, there's literally no excuse. You can thank me later. For now though, enjoy!

MP3: Galapaghost - Disintegration DOWNLOAD

MP3: Galapaghost - Runnin' E.P. (Zip) DOWNLOAD

Monday, 1 November 2010

Kiss Off

With the dismissal of Belle Amie on X Factor last night you'd think the concept of a popular girl group was becoming something of an oxymoron. Undeterred, Kiss Off have thrown their hat into the ring, releasing the video to their upcoming single Misfit. Formally Dollie Mix, Kiss Off pedal a brash, confident brand of party pop, singing "I've got curves in all the right places/and my boobs and bum look amazing", with accompanying hand movements. Steady on! Basically, this is what Katy Perry would sound like if she was a band. Go see.