Harry Harland (Florence & The Machine – Ceremonials)
Florence’s 2009 debut Lungs was the sort of inescapable phenomenon that managed to invade almost every facet of your life without entirely losing its dignity. Every party you went to, Dog days are over was blaring out, while her version of You’ve got the love was even more omnipresent than the original. She sailed painfully close to over-exposure, yet somehow survived. How would she follow it up though?
The answer is, fairly predictably. With a voice as powerful and unique as hers, it was never likely to be a total change of direction, but the policy of evolution rather than revolution is as welcome as it is unsurprising. The whole production is racked up to 11 on new album Ceremonials, with multiple layers added to the tried and tested formula. It is a resounding success.
Added choral layers on songs such as the superb What the water gave me are added to the general “Kate Bush” dramatics that perpetuate her music. It’s a wholesome listening experience that makes you want to run through fields and escape it all, which is exactly why I’ve been using it to distract me from the grim realities of the underground this week.
In short, there may not be much here to attract new listeners, but for fans of her first album, Ceremonials is a must.
Daniel Polak (The Doves – Lost Souls)
The Doves have played rather a large part in my (limited) maturing. I have done my fair share of travelling to date, that is, racking up miles in my car along Britain’s grey and murky roads, rather than swanning aroundAsia’s secluded coves, and The Doves have been a wonderful companion.
However, when discussed with many, I am met within a bit of a frown, an uninterested “they’re ok” or “just another middle of the road northern band” etc. No one really seemed to enjoy them in the same why I do. This could be for a number of reasons, most prominently though that they’re not actually that good and I quite like generic British indie.
I will try one last time though. Their first album, Lost Souls, is a wonderful piece and needs to be listened as a full album to be truly appreciated. It is atmospheric throughout, soars and lulls, with highlights such as Catch The Sun and The Man Who Told Everything which get under your skin and are addictive. The follow up album, The Last Broadcast, is also very good, although the latestKingdom ofRust is weaker.
The Doves won’t change your world, but in the writers opinion, they will provide a very good soundtrack for you to go drive through it. I may be wrong, and after this I promise not to mention them again, but for anyone who likes British indie music that is different from the rest, please try the album, give it time, and hopefully it’ll give back to you.
Edward Lines (Deadmau5 – Professional Griefers)
Rather than an album, I’m nominating a tune you need to listen to this week. Professional Griefers is a hulking beast of a track from producer Deadmau5 that belies his tiny-statured stage name. There’s more meat on the bones of this one than a prize-winning Christmas turkey. Destroy your neighbours’ eardrums as the massive bass beat drives like a tank through walls of their sitting room and causes their bookcases to collapse, porcelain china to rattle off cabinets and sends the cat into paralysis.
They get a brief respite in the form of Daft Punk style house electro interludes. But not for long. The bass drops again, each beat packs punches that could knock the Klitschkos out the ring. This is the tune that sent MillbankTowercrashing to the ground on Monday night.
I can’t find an HQ version online but this YouTube one is ripped from his essential mix at Space in Ibizain August this year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INsWdbR6J5g
Emily Bell (Wilco – The Whole Love)
Following a slightly negative response to their 6th and 7th albums, Wilco is back with their 8th LP and boy is it better. A group named after the military and commercial aviation radio voice acronym for ‘Will Comply’, Wilco definitely doesn’t comply this time round. And isn’t that what rock music is all about?
After the break up of the influential alternative country music group Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy took the remains of the band and made his own. And he really did take all of it. After an assumed awkward fall out with his co-singer Jay Farrar, Tweedy took bassist John Stirratt, drummer Ken Coomer and multi-instrumentalist Max Johnston and even guest guitarist Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets. From here he formed a spectacularly experimental and unpredictable American alternative rock band and they’ve been music to our ears ever since 1994.
The album makes a cracking start with Art of Almost, which is filled with oozing bass and creeping keyboard notes. A slippery melody comes in amongst whirring sounds and it really makes a statement – We are back. Their off balance arrangement is exactly what you want as we then bounce into the organ filled I Might which is a cover of Nick Lowe’s 1977 song, I Love My Label. We then come to a grinding halt with Sunloathe, a slow emotional piece filled with piano and you feel like you’re waiting for it reach a huge climax in the middle, but it doesn’t. It drones on in a good way. Just to contradict the last, we then go into the screeching guitar and upbeat track, Dawned On Me. This is a light hearted song filled with backing vocals, whistling and a catchy chorus.
Just as you were pumped up everything slows down again, with the thoughtful and quiet, Black Moon. Born Alone contradicts that and brings you flying up with guitar and light hearted vocals that make you want to click your fingers. But you never would as you wouldn’t look like a rocker would you. Open Mind slows down again with a smooth country feel. The vocals have a country twang that you can imagine sitting round a camp fire too. Capitol City is upbeat again and then we have Standing O, the climax of the album. Here is where the rockers really show you what they’ve got. The final three tracks slow down, with Rising Red Lung and then Whole Love and finally One Sunday Morning. This is a twelve minute track which rolls the album to a close and just like the first track on the album, makes its mark.
Look, the album is totally muddled and unpredictable. Wilco cast away tradition and caution and each song contradicts its neighbour. With an odd country tone to the songs, there is a mix of winsome delights and hard rock climaxes. The Whole Love is inconsistent… and I am so glad. That’s exactly what Wilco are known for and exactly what was missing from the last two LP’s. These country rockers are all the way fromChicago,Illinois and they are back with vengeance. I must say I’m pretty happy about it.