This week’s column is pretty much a round-up of all the new music featured on the RW/FF website over the last couple of weeks, including new albums from East India Youth and Angels Die Hard. As well as those, there’s new music from Damon Albarn, The Anchoress, Elbow, Breton, Mode Moderne and more.
For me, the first few weeks of 2014 have been spent listening to the growing selection of new music being prepared for release over the coming months. These include a number of reissues from 90’s legends Gene and Cast, both coming out through Edsel Records in February. So since I’ve taken on the task of reviewing the entire back catalogues of both bands, I’ve been hearing a lot of them recently. My articles on those will make up part of God Is In The TV’s ‘Britpop Month’, which starts in a week or two. More info on that HERE.
My weekly radio show The BPS Broadcast can now be heard online at Mixcloud HERE, and from now on I will be recording all future shows for listeners to catch just in case they can’t listen live every Monday night from 7pm-8pm. My MTS radio colleague Cameron Bianchi hosted part 1 of a rather good UK vs USA ‘Battle Of The Bands’ show this week, which can be heard HERE.
It’s always sad when a great band breaks up, especially if they never achieved the success they deserved. British indie combo Doyle And The Fourfathers were a hugely promising group who split in 2012 after one wonderful, but unnoticed debut album. However, there was a major silver lining around the cloud as frontman William Doyle returned with a bold and unexpected new electronic solo project that has already gained him more acclaim than ever before. And when I first heard his work as East India Youth, I was hugely impressed at how natural Doyle sounded within his new musical surroundings, taking to a majorly new way of working like a duck to water. On the brilliantly inventive ‘Total Strife Forever’, he lets his imagination free and demonstrates his effortless flexibility as a musician.
With his previous work in mind, starting a debut solo album with the glitchy beauty and digital/analogue drones of ‘Glitter Recession’ is something that demonstrates a great deal of confidence. Bright electronic arpeggios emerge and chords change in unexpected places, as a rising glare of white light consumes the track. On ‘Total Strife Forever I’, analogue synth sounds are layered over each other and joined by perfectly positioned electronic noises that push and rise together in beautiful harmony. It sounds like the work of a genius who has worked in electronic music for many years rather than something made by a man who was the frontman of an indie pop group not so long ago.
One of only four tracks that use vocals, the dazzling ‘Dripping Down’ combines the gift for melody that he demonstrated in his former band with a wealth of wonderfully constructed machine sounds, while another major highlight arrives in the shape of the superb ambient-meets-acid techno workout of ‘Hinterland’ which is constructed masterfully; progressing, building and peaking at all the right moments. The vocals reappear again on ‘Heaven How Long’, a sublime piece of euphoric 21st century leftfield electro-pop that learns from the past and creates its own present, leading into a driving instrumental coda that rides freely until the song’s close.
The mesmeric ‘Total Strife Forever II”s hypnotic ambience pairs Eno-esque synths with angels voices, before the yearning melancholic glow of ‘Looking For Someone’ brings together Doyle’s more traditional songwriting qualities and electronic beams of sound that crash through each other wonderfully. ‘Midnight Koto’ blows Haunting eastern tones drift across a foggy soundscape, and on the beautiful ‘Total Strife Forever III’ we get joyous noises that zip over the music, sounding not unlike buzzers from the old episodes of ‘Catchphrase’. Elsewhere, the broken-up classical fragments of ‘Song For A Grandular Piano’ evoke an almost Radiohead-like moment, but is still unique enough to cast a different sort of atmosphere. The closing ‘Total Strife Forever IV’ gradually builds from heavy static noise into the cries of buzzing keys that open up the gateways of heaven halfway through, ending the album blissfully.
Sounding like a man determined to make his work as unclassifiable as possible, Doyle fuses genres and influences effortlessly to create something that sounds very much like 2014 should. Clever, enjoyable, uncompromising and highly recommended. [Rating: 4.5]
Named after a 70’s biker movie, Angels Die Hard are an Antwerp-based three piece made up of Alex Van Herk, Rob Eelen and Thomas Noope, who have all played in another Jezus Factory act, Strumpets.
This self titled eight track LP is definitely an unusual mixture of stuff, definitely best appreciated over the course of repeated plays. While the opening ‘Blue Mambo’ piles noises from the deepest darkest part of the jungle on top of interesting rhythmic patterns, ‘Angel Ride’ journeys into space rock lounge bongo jazz territory and provides two of the album’s best moments. The mayhem of ‘Unga Dunga’ perhaps isn’t as great, and although some may warm to the noisy percussion, cheap keyboards, and guitar lines built on repetition, it sounds like the band had more fun making it than what the listener gets from hearing it.
As it takes a trip through heavy post-rock atmospheres, the top notch ‘A Walk In The Black Forest’ fuses kraut-funk with touches of old school metal and tops it with screaming theremin to create a freakout of impressive proportions, while ‘Frühstückstelle‘ puts a Klaus Dinger-esque rhythm to subtle electronics, occasional melodica and hazy, droning guitar before the stormy ‘Tropical Hibernation’ occasionally brings to mind a prog Deep Purple. ‘Angels Across The Pacific’ lays dry funk rhythms over ominous chimes, twin guitars and buzzy analogue synth to deliver the most progressive of all the tracks here. Closing the LP, highlight ‘The Lonely Angel’ is certainly more easy going and relaxed than much else here, as dreamy guitars laze over gentle drums to end with a touch of tranquility.
It may sometimes seem a bit aimless in places on the first listen, but there’s no denying that Angels Die Hard’s debut takes you from one place to another throughout the course of its eight tracks. An odd and rewarding listen. [Rating: 4]
2014’s release schedule is promising some great musical treats from artists old and new, but the upcoming debut LP from The Anchoress is the one that has got me buzzing with excitement. Even more so now this killer track has been unveiled. A collaboration from the highly talented multi-instrumental songwriterCatherine A.D. and former Mansun genius Paul Draper, the album is described as having a theme of “revenge pop”, and this first single delivers that superbly.
Catherine A.D’s icy purr is a perfect partner for Draper’s extraordinary musical instincts on the fantastic ‘What Goes Around’, which is released as a 7″ single on May 5, via the Too Pure Singles Club. Mansun fans will easily recognise this as the work of Draper (who co-writes, plays guitar and produces), and will be glad to hear that the magic is still alive. Dark, infectious and very classy, it marries smart piano and a subtle touch of strings with the rousing venom of its classic rock-shaped chorus, while the biting lyrics make you wonder if there was anyone in mind when the song was being written… “When you embark on revenge, you’d better dig two graves my friend”. It’s one of those rare tracks that grabs you on the first listen and still continues to reveal more with subsequent plays.
In a recent interview that I did with the legend Draper, he talks about The Anchoress: “I didn’t discover Catherine as such, she discovered me, it was the opposite way around. I was looking for a project and so was Catherine. Catherine hired me as co-producer with her to realise her songs in the form of a band, which we did. She’s my favourite songwriter of the moment. The songs are divided between Catherine’s and ones I’ve chipped in writing with her. We both love the collection of songs she’s put together and are really excited about people hearing them!”
Although some claimed it was a bad time for music, I really enjoyed the post-Britpop years of the late 90’s. One if the finest bands to emerge from those times was Manchester’s Doves. They were also one of the few indie bands to carry on making great music in the 2000’s, in fact without their four albums the decade would have been a lot worse. After releasing a ‘best of’ collection four years ago the trio have been on an extended hiatus. But this has given frontman Jimi Goodwin the opportunity to make a solo record, which will be coming in March of this year. ‘Odludek’ was co-produced by Jimi and Dan Austin (Doves, Pixies, Cherry Ghost), and is set for release on Monday 24 March 2014 through Heavenly Recordings.
‘Odludek’ is a Polish word, meaning “recluse”. Goodwin spoke about the LP: “I wanted to make this mad mixtape, the kind you’d pass back and forth with your mates. That’s the way we’ve all discovered music over the years isn’t it? We join our own dots to make it all make sense. As I got into making the record, it felt like I was proving something to myself, making a point that I could do all this on my own. You know – I can play bass, I can play guitar, I can orchestrate. As the methods changed, the original concept stayed intact. It’s me, powering through ideas, kapow kapow, no pause for breath. It’s not trying to be wilfully eclectic; it’s just a reflection of how I schizophrenically devour music.” On ‘Oh! Whiskey’, his voice is emotive, authorative and wonderful throughout, as hints of Dylan and Springsteen join with that distinctive Northern melancholy that Goodwin does so well. He will support Elbow on a series of arena gigs in April, including Manchester on Wednesday 9 April 2014.
Following on from their 2012 debut ‘Other People’s Problems’, the multimedia art/music collective Breton have issued a groovy new single, taken from their upcoming second full length ‘War Room Stories’, which comes out on Feb 3. Loving those steel drums. To my ears the sound is not unlike a hybrid of Foals and Birmingham’s bright hopesTroumaca, yet you couldn’t accuse it of imitating any song produced by either of those two bands. But style-wise, ‘Envy’ could certainly appeal to music lovers who are fond of those two aforementioned acts.
With of Joy Division here, bits of The Smiths there and touches of The Cure in other places, ‘Unburden Yourself’ is a great little number that’s well worth hearing.
The new wave-inspired Canadian outfit have just released their second album ‘Occult Delight’, which can be heard HERE for a limited period of time on Soundcloud.
Due to having my ears stuck into a load of Britpop reissues, there hasn’t been time for me to continue writing my ‘Rewind’ entries, which tells the story of my life in music.
But you can read previous entries here:
As promised (for a long time) my 1995 compilation featuring the finest tracks of the year WILL be coming son, just in time for GIITTV’s Britpop celebrations…