Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Andrew Morgan, Beach House, Spoon and Honour Before Glory

I think I first heard of Andrew Morgan via a Robin Hilton NPR blog post and an attendant mp3 file. Well something registered and I sent off to Broken Horse Records for the Please Kid, Remember CD. The terrifying geekly looking chap staring back from the cover doesn't really hint at the sort of music contained within. The breathy vocal could be irritating but isn't and there is something strangely familiar about the tracks and their sound, almost a cross between Elliott Smith and Badly Drawn Boy there is a peculiarly British sound to it all somehow, something I have just discovered referred to in the biog on the chaps web site. The seventeen tracks contain some very short, slight ones that might have made the whole affair feel fractured and disjointed but in fact the effect is one of joining up, building bridges between songs, the repetitions of all or parts of songs also contributing to the 'whole-ness'. Victory in Passing, Turn Your Collar to the Wind are fine tracks among a clutch of soothing and satisfying songs

The sublime Teen Dream album from Beach House was again an alert from a blog post, this time from The Line of Best Fit . Although credited to just Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, with live percussion from Daniel J Franz, there is a deep lushness to the sound. Flavours of grizzly Bear (who they support at Roundhouse gigs later this year) there are also twinges of Fleet Foxiness but all with a slightly more electro overtone. The 'single' Norway is of course gorgeous especially with its bendy guitar notes but other tracks like Silver Soul and 10 Mile Stereo ensure the whole affair is delicious stuff

Moving away from the lush corner of the room new Spoon offering, Transference, brings us back to life. Perhaps not a massive step in any direction but a very welcome return from the chaps. Ah those great choppy, jangly guitars and the strange use of sloppy reggae echo, I love his sound. Although doubtless the subject of hours of careful production it still sounds like it could have been knocked out in your front room. Immediate stand out tracks for me are I Saw the Light,
Got Nuffin and Written in Reverse. Grand stuff, as I say maybe not a great leap forward but then again they were already standing somewhere rather good... no UK date announced yet but we live in hope.

Finally the rather splendid Honour Before Glory, not just because of a great band name not the fact that Whiskas is out of the wonderful Forward Russia ( on a 'break', yea right!) and the sound fleshed out by a bunch of other chaps. A few dates in Germany has led to a very limited edition three track EP that can be bought via their Bandcamp site and streamed through their regular site. These three tracks are a tantalising glimpse into what may be coming with the trademark sparkling guitar work.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Deep Sht Comments

I am always infeasibly pleased to have comments on any of the postings so imagine my childlike joy to have TWO for the Deep Sht post -truly I must have alighted upon something wondrous. The first of course was from the ever-watchful IDS but the second from a person unknown to me - huzzah!

Well apparently the enigmatic 文章 said 灰心是動搖的開端,動搖是失敗的近鄰。- of course I was overwhelmed by the insight fullness of this but had to useGoogle translator to check. App arently 'Article' feels that "Discouraged is to destabilize the beginning of a failure of the neighbors shaken." - how true, how wise...

I would much rather believe that I have inadvertently communed with someone of like interests in a far-off land than say, perhaps, a potentially dodgy young lady web site that the link might point to.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Deep Sht - Hector

Unashamedly here because of the track title, first heard of this London based one-piece (although there are clearly three of them on the vid) on a KEXP podcast by DJ Rachel Ratner. The video certainly isn't of the highest quality and the tracks of course sound better on Myspace. Hector and No No Mr Greenspan can be downloaded from RCRDLBL

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Way To Blue – The Songs of Nick Drake.

Unable to rock up to the gig as planned due to a diary clash (OK it was my fault - I didn't put in the diary) and finding myself in London seeing other ageing alumni of the Ecole Superieure de Commerce in Reims to celebrate the 50th ( yes count them ) of Bernice Sweeney, the role of gig correspondent falls to IDS.... ladieeees and gentlemeehhn...

** Dearest reader, please be aware that this review has been written by a rank amateur wordsmith… please do not be too judgmental.

In the unfortunate absence of Mr. & Mrs. RHC, myself (IDS) and Mrs. IDS took the bold step of attending the Nick Drake tribute “Way to Blue” at the Warwick Art Centre sans escort. The venue itself was a triumph of ample leg spaced seating and beautifully balanced acoustics. A fab start to an evening which promised plenty!

It is important that you understand, at this stage, that I have been “like a bottle of pop” for weeks at the mere prospect of this gig… being a massive Scott Matthews “groupie” (as RHC so delicately puts it), the promise of the combination of fine tunes coupled with the occasional appearance of Mr. Matthews was a treat not to be missed.

We took our seats; not exactly front, but nicely central and waited with anticipation…

First up, Robyn Hitchcock performing Parasite – personally, and contrary to other, more/better “informed” opinion (The Independent), we felt he set a level for the evening that in ordinary circumstances would have been easy to surpass. However, the now almost iconic Green Gartside failed, and even Scott Matthews although providing a much needed breath of fresh air, seemed somehow removed at times.

Thankfully, Kirsty Almeida, Lisa Hanningham and Krystle Warren provided moments of inspiration; each delivering an individual, beautiful homage to the late and great Mr. Drake.

During the interval Scott Matthews was gracious enough to sign my program “Big love Scott Matthews X”, arrrr *sigh*.

Round two, also seemed to pass me by – Vashti Bunyan provided moments of painful amusement performing a rendition of a Molly Drake tune, but probably not as exciting to find that Crossroad Motel’s Nicola Freeman aka. Gabrielle Drake was seated three rows away from us!

Having said all this the “band” driven by Kate St John and including the incredible Danny Thompson on Bass were completely outstanding and at times mesmerizing.

A much deserved final word must go to the “ *?!*ing woman” seated behind us – if you must tap your feet/kick chairs, please make sure that you are listening to the same music as everyone else, and, surely every mention of Nick Drake’s name can not merit a “Whoop”.

IDS over and out **

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Mantles, These Monsters and Her Name is Calla

A couple of new chaps to me and a favourite putting out some new material.

The Mantles are a San Francisco bay bunch, proudly proclaiming their (or maybe their parents) record collection influences. They clearly fit alongside The Girls with this charmingly, and welcome retro, Yardbirds sort of stuff. It makes me feel like its 1969 all over again . the track Don;t Lie can be streamed or downloaded from Siltbreeze

These Monsters are a different kettle of fish. Leeds based they are an intriguing mix of
of early Gong saxophone, twangs of Hawkwind and something strangely orchestral in a post-rocky portentous sort of way. Reportedly a great live band - out playing with Mono, iLiketrains etc - they have this self made schlock gothic video to accompany a track from their album that is due for release at the start of March

Her Name is Calla I have been a Her Name is Calla fan since
first hearing the frankly monumental and magnificent Condor and River in all its 16 minute or whatever glory. They produce grand, cinematic and sometimes a bit gothic (here we go again) sounds. Having recently expanded into a six piece, the sound feels even more crafted, uncompromising and from the heart. They have a new three track EP, Long Grass, released prior to their debut album, that can be downloaded or purchased in one of its artistic formats from Denovali who are also streaming the frankly wonderful three tracks

Monday, 4 January 2010

New but Late

Well it seems there is some benefit to end of year listings other than just proclaiming your favourites and perhaps trying to look cool with a few left of field artistes. They have nudged me to check a few otherwise unkown or un-listened to bands:

AA Bondy has had numerous plaudits for When the Devil's Loose and I can see why. Laid-back, articulate and beautifully constructed, it may take some time to sink in but given a little time it will. The BBC review sums it up for me and tracks are of course streamed via Myspace .

The Rural Alberta Advantage sound as much a statement
as a band. The album, Hometowns, is full of nostalgia and emotion, serious songs played seriously. Pitchfork of course have an excellent review and Myspace streams

Doveman is the slightly fey band title for Thomas Bartlett keyboard player with a slew of quality musicians including The National, Antony and the Johnsons, The Swell season amongst them. The fragile and quiet songs with multiple guest appearances are affecting and although I can see how some find his vocals odd they sound good to me on this his third album, The Conformist. Again Pitchfork reviews and Myspace streams

Finally something for later in the year - Broken Bells is a project between Danger Mouse and James mercer, guitarist and vocalist of The Shins. There is a load of dubious web hype knocking around but from the one track out there at present, The High Road, it sounds like it may well be a good set of work. The Broken Bells have a web site and the single streams from Myspace