Destroyer’s Kaputt was my album of the year back in 2011 and the follow-up Poison Season is finally with us. I’m happy to say that it’s very, very good indeed, with the same smooth 70s/80s influences but with a heaped tablespoon of Springsteen and Bowie added to the mix.
Shana Cleveland is frontwoman of garage-rock band La Luz but I prefer the acoustic music she makes with her side project The Sandcastles. Though they’ve have been together six years they’ve only just released their first album Oh Man, Cover the Ground which is a real treat and highly recommended. Listen/buy it here.
I saw Wolf Alice again last week, that’s the second time this year. Don’t think I’ve seen the same band twice in one year since my early 20s, next I’ll be putting their posters on my bedroom wall and taping their live sessions off the radio. The kids still do that, right?
In the five months since the previous gig the London foursome have put out an album and done a shitload of touring, and as a result seem to be gaining an audience here in the States. Back in March I saw them in a small room in front of about 100 people, but this time the space was bigger and packed with, I guess, about 500 punters — not exactly a football stadium crowd but the vibe was very different too. Instead of merely curious onlookers, most of the crowd seemed to be partisan fans judging by the way they cheered and sang along to the songs. Nice to see that the band’s old-fashioned graft is paying off – as long as they don’t get too big, I don’t actually want to see them in a football stadium.
Having a bigger, enthusiastic crowd really helped the performance and they were even better than the first time. Good though they are at more gentle songs like “Swallowtail” (which they played live for the first time in the States), it’s on big riff monsters like “You’re A Germ” that they can really blow the roof off. If I was the sort of person who used the word “rock” as a verb I would do so. I left with the kind of happily satisfied buzz you only get from booze, sex, and great concerts.
Here’s some dodgy-quality video what I shot myself. I don’t think Jonathan Demme has anything to worry about.
I don’t know about you but I think 2015 has been a pretty good year for albums, and we still have new releases from Chromatics, Frank Ocean, and Lana Del Rey to come so it could get even better.
My contenders for best of the year so far include Wolf Alice and Roisin Murphy, but they’re currently being beaten out by Holychild’s terrific debut album The Shape of Brat Pop To Come which is chock-full of big, brash pop songs. I’ve featured the LA duo here before but I’m plugging them again because they’ve released another track as a single, and I don’t want to end the year lamenting the fact that they aren’t more popular — so buy the bloody thing, you won’t regret it.
There’s no way I wasn’t going to check out an album called The Great Cybernetic Depression by an artist with the name Princess Chelsea when I saw it reviewed on Pitchfork. I’m already predisposed to like something like that before I’ve even heard it, and luckily it turned out to be a terrific album of lovely synthpop balladry that I would have enjoyed no matter what it was called.
Buy/listen to more here.
SOAK is the stage name of young Irish singer Bridie Monds-Watson. Apparently it’s a combination of “Soul” and “Folk” but if I had a real name as great as Bridie Monds-Watson I wouldn’t be using a pseudonym.
She’s quite the precocious talent, having put out her first single at the tender age of 16 and now her debut album Before We Forgot How To Dream at only 18. It’s a terrific record with an ethereal, shimmering production that lifts SOAK out of worthy singer-songwriter territory into something more distinctive.
Nearly all the gazillions of emails I get from record labels and artists plugging their records go right in my Trash folder without being read, but last week I got one from Mr. Tom Robinson – yes, that Tom Robinson – asking me to lend an ear to his new single. I couldn’t say no really, considering how much I loved TRB and I was charmed by the fact that he ended the email with “Warm wishes from Wandsworth.”
Veteran rockers putting out their first new single in nearly 20 years can be a dodgy prospect but this is rather good. It’s a mostly spoken-word number about a teenage runaway that reminds me a little of Pulp in their more sombre moments.
Tom is still dedicated to the social justice cause, the single aims to raise awareness of the charity CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) which is dedicated to preventing male suicide in the UK. The single is out today and a full album is to follow later this year. Nice to have him back.
So nice to have the great Róisín Murphy back after an eight-year gap since her last album. Even better to have her back in top form too because her new album Hairless Toys is terrific. It’s electronica with it’s feet tentatively on the dancefloor while it’s head and heart are somewhere stranger and more eclectic.
Listen to the whole thing here.