The best way I can think of to describe Anna von Hausswolff is a Nordic Kate Bush, but that seems like a too trivial and jokey way of talking about someone who sounds as amazing and unique as she does.
Her latest album Ceremony originally came out in Sweden last year and is being reissued worldwide next month. It’s a suite of songs inspired by the death of her grandfather that she plays on a church organ. Heavy stuff, but beautifully so.
Psychedelic Prog-Metal is hardly my cup of tea but London-based Purson sweeten their long-haired riffing with some solid tunes and have a hell of a lead singer in Rosie Cunningham. They would make the ideal soundtrack for an old Hammer film involving witchcraft and virgins being sacrificed on pentangles.
Is this going to be the next big thing? Time to break out the velvet flares and Dennis Wheatley novels.
I’m well past the age when I’m supposed to think modern pop music is rubbish and I do 99% of the time, thinking it’s mostly a narcissistic, autotuned horrorshow. But I’m not ready to move to a retirement home with my Human League and Madness records just yet so I’m very thankful for spunky young pop tarts like Charli XCX for showing me that it’s still worth bothering with.
Charli (aka Charlotte Aitchison) is a 20-year-old Hertfordshire lass who’s been putting out self-penned singles for a couple of years now and she’s just released her debut album True Romance which is stuffed with moody electronic dance-pop that sounds like Britney Spears going through a Goth phase. It’s highly poptastic and warms the cockles of this old man’s heart to know I’m not dead yet.
I was in a record shop on Saturday (I don’t need a special day to go to a record shop) and they were playing the new album by Charles Bradley which I thought sounded rather terrific.
Bradley sounds a lot like James Brown and it’s all very retro but what the hell, the groove is good and he has a great voice which burns with the emotion of a man who has waited a lifetime to make it and taken plenty of hard knocks along the way.
Fab new single from Glass Candy who are part of the same crew as the Chromatics and play a similar sort of hypnotic electro-disco but given a more pop/New Wave edge by the deadpan, stoned-Debbie-Harry vocals of the lovely Ida No. I’ve been listening to their terrific 2007 album B/E/A/T/B/O/X a lot lately (see right) and they have a new one out later this year.
If I had to pick my favourite kind of soul music I’d probably go with the smooth 70s sound of Philly, especially the dreamy harmonies of groups like The Delfonics. So I was more than a little intrigued (and very surprised) when I heard that they had a new album out, sort of.
Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics is basically a solo album by lead singer William Hart with different backing singers and producer Adrian Younge makes it sound almost like an old Delfonics record while keeping it fresh and modern so it isn’t just some safe exercise in dusty nostalgia. Hart is in his late 60s now so his heavenly falsetto is a bit more wobbly these days, but he still sounds wonderful and the album is very good indeed. Listen to the whole thing here.
A while ago I started writing a post about the “retirement” of David Bowie who, since his heart attack in 2004, seemed to have given up the rocking and rolling and was content to live the quiet domestic life in New York – painting, reading, and picking his kid up from school. I thought of him as the stranded alien Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell To Earth who has wearily “had enough” at the end and lives in anonymous seclusion.
Like 99% of the posts I start writing it never got finished, but the point I was going to make was that I was happy for Bowie that he’d retired, and personally didn’t care much if he never made another record because, you know, we’ll always have Paris. He made enough great records and left me with enough good memories that his reputation was golden for the rest of his life, no matter how many average late-career records he made that I didn’t want to buy.
But I suppose he must have had a creative itch he needed to scratch because he’s gone and made another one after a 10-year silence which raises the hype and expectation way higher than it was for Reality or Heathen and all those other albums of his I was never arsed enough about to actually buy (along with everybody else). He’s risking a lot with The Next Day because people are paying attention this time and he could have very publicly fallen flat on his geriatric rocker face with it, but — phew! — it’s actually a very good album. Not Hunky Dory or Low good of course, but almost Lodger or Scary Monsters good. Pulling off this surprise this might be Bowie’s most audacious move in a career that’s been full of them.
Now if only Paul McCartney would bugger off for 10 years.