Sunday, 26 July 2009

There Will Be Fireworks

Warning - I am really rather liking this alot. Another band from north of the border, down Glasgow way, inevitably bundled up with the likes of Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Twilight Sad and so forth. Whilst its great to have a such a clutch of new bands from this fertile caledonian patch, I do hope they don't get bogged down with that as they are very much their own band.

This eponymous album was released at the start of July despite the band, incredibly, not being signed to a label. Although they are all hideously young blades there is a maturity in approach and sound, a complexity that grabs the attention and marks them out. Not simply another climactic band sound but one that seems prepared to take some chances. The opener, Columbian Fireworks, does this from the off. With apparently specially lyrics/poetry written and read by Kevin MacNeil, the Stornoway poet/writer/musician, the track is scarcely what you might expect from the first track from a first album - no disernible melody but high on atmosphere.

The album rolls through quiet almost delicate tracks interspersed with harder, angrier tracks with Nicholas McManus spitting out the words, not really singing, off key with emotion. Midfield Maestro is a fine fine track (the vid below is blessed by the fabulous Barra landscapes) and contains some evocative lyrics - 'we'll set these tapes on fire, as your heart breaks in my car, you're unravelling in my arms'. Off With Their Heads sees McManus at his least musical vocally but still highly affecting.

If there is any justice TWBF should have a successful second half of 2009, especially if people drop by their web shop and spend the paltry £8 on this fine piece of work (and rather beautifully packaged too with splendid photos from Jonathon Pritchard)

Next question is - how would they translate this to a live show? Well fix some shows where I can get to them and maybe we'd see...

'Midfield Maestro' by There Will Be Fireworks from Peter Gerard on Vimeo.

Buy the album !

There will Be Fireworks Myspace

Kevin MacNeil Myspace

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

We Were Promised Jetpacks - These Four Walls

Another rather late set of comments on this Scottish bunch of lads. The debut album, out on Brighton based Fat Cat Records has been with me a while and has earned a nice little warm corner in my heart.

I think that rather strangely I first heard them via the KEXP posts from Seattle when DJ Shannon got onto them on a trip to the UK. Nothing was available for some time unless you managed to get to one of their gigs, usually north of the border. But the album is now here and well worth geting hold of.

They sit in that clutch of new Scottish bands that includes Frightened Rabbit, Twilight Sad as well as There Will Be Fireworks (of whom more later when their debut hits the mat). In addition to the always alluring Caledonian-ness of the band they have that wonderful energy and immediacy that often gets lost with the passing years. But right now the chaps are young and eager and Adam Thompsons vocals are full throated and uninhibited, in the sort of way that, for example, flamenco singers really let rip, and even if the notes are sometimes not quite nailed, that isn't the point, the point is in the delivery and the gusto behind it.

That said, alongside full ahead stuff like Quiet Little Voices and Ships With Holes Will Sink, there are other sides to the Jetpacks like Conductor and This is My House, This is My Home which is both quieter and stranger.

The chaps are out on tour later this year in the UK (over the summer in the US alongside Frightened Rabbit), and I shall be trekking along tothe dubious delights of The Cooler in Bristol to experience them live and firsthand.

Fat Cat Records website
We Were Promised Jetpacks Myspace
Frightened Rabbit Myspace
Twilight Sad Myspace
There WillBe Fireworks Myspace
Photo credit: Neil Thomas Douglas

Monday, 20 July 2009

Silversun Pickups - Swoon

I am not sure why it has taken me quite so long to get around to this album. I have had it since its UK release a couple of months ago but haven't really gotten into it til these last couple of weeks. Maybe I had one of my fifty quid man moments and bought too many at the same time - always a bad move despite the brief enjoyment of scooping up a bundle of things at the same time. The trouble is they dont all get the time and attention they deserve and I suspect that Swoon suffered this ignominy.

Anyhow its now been on repeated play for a while and I am well in love with it. Despite the rather odd vocal delivery from Brian Aubert, I have grown used to it and even see it as part of the albums charm.

The opener is still not a favourite but The Royal We, and Growing Old Is Getting Old certainly are. Panic Switch is a great blast and Draining represents one of the calmer, quiter tracks that punctual the later stages of the album. Indeed Aubert thinks the quiet /loud contrast is a defining charactersitic of the album. Overall there is something wonderfully melodramatic about the whole set, sweeping soundscapes with for me some particularly impressive and endearing bass lines from Nikki Monninger.

The album artwork is fabuluous, apparently courtesy of Darren Waterston, his piece, 'St Clair' being the basis for the cover with two more pieces featuring inside. Mmm I do regret not getting into the album sooner and so spurring me to get tickets to their Thekla gig which I missed 'cos I was too darned slow... let that be a lesson

Silversun Pickups Myspace
Silversun Pickups website
Darren Waterston website