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.
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.
I was watching the Academy of Country Music Awards on television last week (there was nothing else on) and in among the usual cowboy-hat-wearing, truck-driving, good ol’ boy nonsense was this gorgeous track by Alabama quartet Little Big Town which just blew me away.
This came out a few months ago and is a sexy slice of retro Country-Soul that sounds like it could have been recorded by Dusty Springfield in Nashville in the 1960s. I’m not the biggest Country fan in the world but this makes me go Yee-haw.
For such a tiny country Scotland has produced a lot of great bands, particularly of the indie kind, and Honeyblood are the latest addition to that long line. The Glaswegian duo of Stina Tweeddale and Shona McVicar play a more crunchy, alt-90s version of the classic jangly-guitar sound associated with Scottish indie bands but with plenty of the same wit and skill with catchy hooks.
I’m a bit behind the curve with them because this track came out last year along with their self-titled debut album, but better late than never because they’re terrific and so is the album. Highly recommended.
Today’s new choon comes via Mr. Mondo, a man who puts all us mere bloggers to shame with his podcasting, writing, DJ-ing, bass-playing, gig-promoting, and full-English-breakfast-eating. On top of that he now appears to have added Music Mogul to his business card with the Podrophenia Records label.
From there come The Ends, a punky Canvey Island foursome whose first single sounds like The Buzzcocks having a punch up with Arctic Monkeys. Play loud and get sweaty.
On Sunday night I braved a snow storm (another bloody one) to go and see Wolf Alice play live on their very first US tour. My motivation being that one day they might be famous, arena-playing rock stars and I can bore people to death by smugly telling the story of how I once saw them in a tiny club in front of about 100 people.
They should become famous if there’s any justice (though we all know there often isn’t): they have the songs, the riffs, and judging by the performance I saw, can do the business live too. For a band that has yet to put out it’s first album (finally arriving this June) they have the chops of a more seasoned outfit, though one still young and keen enough to have a good time onstage and act like they think rocking out in a band is like the greatest thing ever.
A good-size crowd turned up considering the weather and Wolf Alice’s low profile in the States, and right from the opening “Fluffy” to the closing “Moaning Lisa Smile” they made us all very glad that we had trudged through the snow to see them. The songs off the new album sounded great too. My only gripe is that they didn’t play an encore.
I did have a go at filming some video myself this time and captured about two minutes of them doing their rifftastic new single “Giant Peach” before deciding I’d rather just enjoy the concert without that bother.
That one drove the crowd nuts and literally had the floor shaking, but the lovely “Blush” was my favourite song of the evening. Here they are playing it the night before in New York.
If you’re interested there’s a recording of the whole gig here.