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  • [My Gang] Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - The World : Reco of the Week 10 May 11

    10 May 2011, 17:50 by Babs_05

    Track: The World [Soundcloud]
    Artist: Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi
    Album: Rome (16 May 2011, EMI)
    [ We7 | Spotify | mflow | 3voor12 ]
    Tags: ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, Rome trailer


    Oblivious to hype as ever, when I first heard this track and then the album, I thought I was listening to an original soundtrack. This track in particular, The World, has end credits written all over it.

    'The World' features Jack White and closes the five year project, the album Rome.

    The project between producer Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi was to create an album inspired by Ennio Morricone's music for spaghetti westerns, staying as close as possible to the original 60s/70s music. They recorded on analogue tape and used vintage equipment, recording the album at Rome's Forum Studios, formerly Ortophonic Studios, a converted church and founded amongst others by Morricone. Some of the musicians who recorded on Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly were enlisted, as was the soprano singer Edda Dell'Orso who contributed to the music for 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'. Further, they brought in Cantori Moderni, the choir put together by Alessandro Alessandroni for 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly'.
    Daniele Luppi: It was really the dream to reunite the Cantori Moderni 40 years later. It was a choir put together by Alessandro Alessandroni – think about the Sergio Leone movies, the Morricone soundtracks with those beautiful soprano melodies. Alessandroni was not only the choirmaster, but his whistle is all over those movies. It makes a sound that you could not put together with other singers. [Source: The Guardian]
    Jack White was invited to write the lyrics and appears on The Rose with the Broken Neck, Two Against One, and The World. Norah Jones was brought in later for the female vocals (Season's Trees, Black, and Problem Queen). The video (above) explains more.



    The result is a mix of old and new. The authenticity of the sound and feel is undoubtable, but to fully appreciate this album, you need to love the work of both Morricone and modern trip-hop. Online, there is much criticism for the 'weaker' tracks, performed by Norah Jones, complaints being that they don't measure up. I don't think it's that so much as you need to expand your mind and take in Morricone via Massive Attack. Listen to Norah Jones as you might Emiliana Torrini and it all falls into place.

    Fans of 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly' trilogy and Morricone's music for them are ecstatic, as are fans of Danger Mouse, who turns everything he touches to gold. Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi have found the right blend of contemporary classical, 60s lounge jazz and 60s/70s sensual pop. It's cinematic in sound and feel throughout, sprawling and expansive, crossing over to modern trip-hop and back again. Norah Jones is unrecognisable as the breathy 70s songstress and Jack White, too, introduces qualities in his vocals we haven't heard yet. As an exercise, the project is a triumph.



    'The World' was the first track I heard and the one I keep playing on repeat, making it an obvious choice for this week's article. The most striking thing about the track is Jack White's stretched, strained high vocal, tuneful and passionate. Surrounding that is every gorgeousness from a spaghetti western, the choir, the modern psychedelic 60s organ and the distant bell. In contrast to the darkness and melancholy of the rest of the album, 'The World' is brighter and more upbeat, dancey even. It maintains the sultry heat of the previous tracks and the themes of love, death and happiness, wrapping things up with a feeling of hope. The only downside is it is a little repetitive, but as end credits to a film, it would work.

    The album is out next week and is streaming on the sites listed below.

    Rolling Stone - listen now
    NPR - first listen
    The Guardian - full stream


    Further reading:

    http://romealbum.com/ - official site
    BBC review
    Wikipedia - Rome (album)
    Pitchfork - Danger Mouse/Jack White Project Details Unveiled
    The Guardian - Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi: how we built Rome, 8 November 2010
    NOWNESS - exclusive interview
    prefix mag - Danger Mouse To Release Ennio Morricone Homage with Daniele Luppi, Jack White, Norah Jones, Nov 29 2010
    IMDB: music recorded at Forum Studios, Rome



    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
    My Gang Reco of The Week

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  • [My Gang] Anna Calvi - Blackout : Reco of the Week 26 Apr 11

    26 Apr 2011, 14:37 by Babs_05

    Track: Blackout [Soundcloud]
    Artist: Anna Calvi
    Album: Anna Calvi (17 January 2011, Domino Records)
    [ We7 | Spotify | mflow ]
    Tags: , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video

    I've wanted to write about Anna Calvi since the beginning of January but had to wait; the only place her debut album was streaming was on the Guardian website and there were no videos yet.

    Since then, Anna Calvi has appeared on Later...with Jools Holland, the album is widely available online and there's a shiny new video for this week's recommendation, Blackout.

    Like the rest of the album, Blackout is all high drama, melodrama, passion and overblown sound. Here is a female vocalist writing romantic songs that comfortably compete with stadium rock artists such as Muse. Favourably compared with Nick Cave and PJ Harvey, the music is built on solid foundations; it is exquisite and detailed, both intimate and ranging, creating a sound that carries and sparkles as it goes.

    Then her voice, operatic, intense and powerful. Calvi allows her voice to stand on its own and doesn't try to embellish it with ornamentation. The raw power of her vocals delivered straight and the surreal David Lynch/Angelo Badalamenti music together form an atmosphere of mystery and darkness at once disturbing and captivating, seducing the listener so nothing else matters.



    Blackout begins with an ethereal shimmer before the curtain goes up and the song bolts ahead. The beat sets a relentless, galloping pace as Calvi's vocals are allowed free rein. It's so atypical of contemporary pop, it holds you in its thrall throughout, leaving you a little spent come the end, itself as abrupt as the beginning.

    The video is very simple, focusing on Calvi and dazzling with glitter and lights. It serves not to detract from the song so you stay with it.



    When the album first appeared online on the Guardian website, I played it on repeat. I was taken by her voice, at times just a whisper and others, pure power, trembling as she controls it, the virtuoso guitar and nods to Ennio Morricone, flamenco, blues rock and classical. I found the sinister, menacing tones appealing and what impressed me most was the consistent theatricality that she maintains throughout, changing its shape and colour with every song. There is depth and intensity contrasted against light that comes from shimmers and relief after tension in the music is released. Themes are of love, lust and devils as she broods on fears and longings.

    Overriding everything is its sheer beauty. It's in your face with filigree and shadow. The album doesn't make for a light listen and I left it alone for a while, but I'm going to see her in concert tomorrow, hence the revisit and my choice for this week.


    Further reading:

    BBC review
    The Quietus review
    Pitchfork review
    The Line Of Best Fit - interview with Anna Calvi
    The Line Of Best Fit review



    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
    My Gang Reco of The Week

    Disclaimer: Mines




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  • [My Gang] Stereolab - Pause : Reco of the Week 12 Apr 11

    12 Apr 2011, 16:26 by Babs_05

    Track: Pause
    Artist: Stereolab
    Album: Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements (Elektra, 1993)
    [ We7 | Spotify | mflow ]
    Tags: , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload


    To celebrate the shiny new pause function for Last.fm radios [blog post], this week's recommended track is Pause by post-rock pioneers Stereolab from the classic Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements.

    Pause has one of them, a pause, just before the final minute when the track changes tack completely and becomes something else, ramping up the noise and painful distortion. Before that, dream pop is mixed with keyboards, noise, distorted spoken word, drone and fuzzy rock which, with their clever treatment and those gorgeous progressions, offers a moment to stop and reflect before the 18 minute masterpiece, Jenny Ondioline.



    'The Groop's' American debut was not without its problems; the majority of the first 1500 vinyl copies had to be destroyed because of bad pressing quality and one of the tracks had to be re-recorded:

    The original version of this LP had a George Harrison sample on 'Pack Yr Romantic Mind' for which we were denied clearance - we had to re-record the track without the sample but Elektra had already manufactured some promo cassettes with the sample. [Official site]



    Though I was aware of Stereolab in the 90s, like a lot of people, I never really got into them. I appreciated they were good, admired what I heard, but bought something else. Me and everyone else, by the look of things. There is much high praise for 'the groop' and a similar guilt in a lot of user reviews. If I wasn't searching Last.fm for a song with the word 'pause' in the title today, I wouldn't have found this album.

    The sound is ahead of its time for 1993 (when I was mostly listening to Saint Etienne's Foxbase Alpha and feeding my head with Megadog compilations). From Stereolab's inventiveness came both post-rock and britpop, Damon Albarn being a particular fan.

    Stereolab either legitimized forms of music that were on the fringe of rock, or brought attention to strands of pop music -- bossa nova, lounge-pop, movie soundtracks -- that were traditionally banished from the rock lineage. The group's trademark sound -- a droning, hypnotic rhythm track overlaid with melodic, mesmerizing singsong vocals, often sung in French and often promoting revolutionary, Marxist politics -- was deceptively simple, providing the basis for a wide array of stylistic experiments over the course of their prolific career. Throughout it all, Stereolab relied heavily on forgotten methods of recording, whether it was analog synthesizers and electronics or a fondness for hi-fi test records, without ever sinking to the level of kitsch. [allmusic]


    Once again, Last.fm wins hands down as my favourite music discovery site. I voted as much here. I like a lot of the other music sites too, but I didn't find this track on them and they didn't make me want to listen to Stereolab's entire discography, so fair's fair. Be sure to submit your vote too.



    Further reading:

    Stereolab - official site - discography
    Stylus Magazine - review
    Wikipedia - Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements
    allmusic.com - album review



    Babs

    - My Gang

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  • [My Gang] The Go! Team - Yosemite Theme : Reco of the Week 22 Mar 11

    22 Mar 2011, 17:48 by Babs_05

    Track: Yosemite Theme [ Soundcloud ]
    Artist: The Go! Team
    Album: Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries, 31 Jan 2011)
    [ Spotify | We7 ]
    Tags: , , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload


    I thought I had written about The Go! Team before, when I first heard My World [YouTube], their cover of Alan Parker's The Free Life [Hype Machine], on Proof of Youth. Clearly not.

    I'm glad I waited because their third album, Rolling Blackouts, released a couple of months ago, is their best yet. My recommendation of the week is the standout track, Yosemite Theme.

    Like My World, it's an instrumental, but this time, it's their own, mashing together Ennio Morricone-type country themes, a banjo, a harmonica, a harp and Bollywood, incorporating elements of Yeh Ladka Hai Allah Kaisa Hai Deewana recorded by Mohammad Rafi [YouTube] and Ab To Hai Tumse recorded by Lata Mangeshkar [YouTube, first track].

    Yosemite Theme is, like all their work, relentlessly upbeat and hyper, taking on a sophistication The Go! Team have yet to fully explore. It ends on schoolground chants which are kind of by-the-by, reminding you who you're listening to.



    I can't honestly say I was much of a fan before. I found the lo-fi, gritty, sometimes shrill sound grating and the euphoria annoying. The inclusion of an exclamation mark in their name didn't help their case. Too hipster for me. However now, three albums down the line and their unique sound firmly established, with the confidence to explore and experiment, now I like them. They haven't lost their early unfinished lo-fi playfulness, it's still there, but now it's measured and balanced.

    Musically, they're a mix of indie rock, indie pop, electronica, 80s hip-hop and old classic TV themes of the 70s, heading towards 60s girl bands and Motown, with an eye on Bollywood, Tokyo and the wild west; old school at school. In a sentence.

    Like too much time spent with small children, The Go! Team on repeat are exhausting. There seem to be no breaks. This sense, along with the skipping rope chants, further underlines where they're coming from. It would be easy to dismiss them as a band for the pre-teens, but that would be to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sonically, there is much for adult ears to enjoy, albeit perhaps in small doses.



    The album begins with the explosive klaxon of a track T.O.R.N.A.D.O, which is too much for me and I skip. So my first track is the lovely Secretary Song, which sounds Japanese and uses real office sounds, featuring guest Satomi Matsuzaki of Deerhoof. Firmly enticed into Go! Team world, you may as well turn the volume up and join in. Best Coast's Bethany cosentino features on lead single Buy Nothing Day. Track after track, beat after beat, with pea whistles and cheers, it's a party and they're irresistible.

    Welcome relief comes with this week's track, Yosemite Theme, the adorable Ready To Go Steady "Yeah we only just met but I'm ready to go steady", Super Triangle, which is a bit like the Alan Parker cover again, and the strange, acoustic piano piece Lazy Poltergeist.

    Some critics have been quick to dismiss these tracks as failings. I think they are essential in order to fully appreciate the high energy of the other tracks. You may not hear them properly if you listen to the album in its entirety, so pick them out one by one.

    Rolling Blackouts bounces along and punches the air with infectious, sunny joy. You can't help but smile at the very least. Where The Go! Team go from here, who can say. More of the same but better is always good, but I'd like to see them develop these (for them) quieter tracks.



    Further reading:

    BBC review
    Pitchfork review
    Wikipedia - The Go! Team
    Titanic Fandalism song details

    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
    My Gang Reco of The Week

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  • [My Gang] FOUND – Shallow : Reco of the Week 15 Mar 11

    15 Mar 2011, 17:27 by Babs_05

    Track: Shallow [ Spotify | We7 | Soundcloud ]
    Artist: Found
    Album: factorycraft (Chemikal Underground, 14 Mar 2011)
    [ Spotify | We7 | mflow | Bandcamp | Soundcloud ]
    Tags: , , , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, edit of Shallow


    They had me at I only ever wanted to put my tongue in your dimples.

    My recommendation of the week is the standout track, Shallow, from the new album, factorycraft, released this week.

    Characterised by melty shoegaze swoons, surfy garage and Cocteau Twins pedal board, this catchy track shimmers whilst it bounces, slipping and sliding along the way. It is the only one on the album to have this treatment, making it memorable and moreish. The video, frustratingly, is only an edit. There isn't a full video for this track yet.

    [Ziggy Campbell on Shallow]: This track was painfully difficult to get sounding right at Chem 19. Paul Savage agonised over it. At one point I declared it a complete write-off before Paul turned it round and managed to make it (in my opinion) one of the finest moments on Factorycraft. It’s a eulogy to all the empty factories, shops and houses in my dying hometown. (The Skinny)

    I was torn between this and album closer, Blendbetter.
    [Ziggy Campbell] The lyrics for this one include a slightly out of place nod to 80s blue-eyed soul boys Hue & Cry. I’ll say no more on that matter. We used a deliberately out-of-tune guitar and a sample of a hoover to create the moody, sci-fi inspired backdrop to this song. The outro features the only live drums on the entire record, which I insisted on playing much to everyone’s annoyance… because I’m painfully shite. We recorded all the vocals in one day due to a tight budget. I remember screaming the last colourful line of this tune right before my voice packed in. (The Skinny)


    (Source: MySpace)



    Formed in Aberdeen and now based in Edinburgh, FOUND do exactly that, take what they find and see what they can do with the sound it makes.
    FOUND began life as an experimental arts collective putting on many weird and wonderful events in art galleries, warehouses and even storage containers.

    Their most recent project, an emotional robot band called Cybraphon, captured the attention of the world’s press. Since its unveiling at the Edinburgh International Festival at the start of August, Cybraphon has been featured on national newspapers across the world (e.g. China, Brazil, Italy, Spain, UK), made the top story on the homepage of WIRED.com and has been covered by CNN and TV networks internationally including BBC’s primetime arts show The Culture Show. In November 2009 Cybraphon won a Scottish BAFTA in the Best Interactive category.

    FOUND made their American debut at SXSW in March 2009 and followed up with a string of performances at CMJ in October 2009 where Brooklyn Vegan picked them out as ones to watch. In the UK they have built up a strong fan base and highlights of their live career to date include the BBC Electric Proms, T in the Park, Triptych, Brighton’s Great Escape, the Fence Collective’s ‘Homegame’ festival and Hydro Connect Festival. (Official site)




    The album has a lo-fi, roughly finished sort of feel to it, with space for the sounds to breathe. Lead singer Ziggy doesn't disguise his Scottish accent, notably on Johnny I Can't Walk The Line, with the line Johnny I just cannae / Cannae walk the line. This track has one foot in OMD and the other in Ennio Morricone.

    Album opener, Anti Climb Paint, features Nuala Kennedy on harmony. It sets the tone with jagged edged but gentle folk rock that sits apart from the average. It's the second track, I'll Wake With A Seismic Head No More, where my favourite line (above) comes from, that tells you how intelligent this album is. Machine Age Dancing is the most commercial sounding track and is followed by the glam Blackette. By this point, you're listening beyond the familiar indie rock to the glitchy electronica and whirrs and squeaks, admiring what they're doing with it. And this is where Shallow comes in. The second half of the album is slightly overshadowed by this track but carries on regardless, finishing on the brilliant psychedelic Blendbetter.

    This album is outside the box whilst standing within it. The music spills out and soars around you, dazzling and confusing with its unexpected twists and references, done in a familiar and acceptable way. This is how you push people beyond their comfort zones without them feeling it.




    Further reading and info:

    http://foundtheband.com/
    Twitter: @foundtheband http://twitter.com/#!/foundtheband
    MySpace
    Facebook
    BBC review
    FOUND’s Factorycraft: a track by track tour by Ziggy Campbell, 01 Mar 2011

    Babs

    - My Gang

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    Disclaimer: Mines


    (Ziggy Campbell, Tommy Perman, Kev Sim | Source: Flickr)


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  • [My Gang] Stateless – Ariel : Reco of the Week 08 Mar 11

    8 Mar 2011, 17:23 by Babs_05

    Track: Ariel [ Soundcloud ]
    Artist: Stateless [ Spotify ]
    Album: Matilda (Ninja Tune, 21 Feb 2011)
    Tags: , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video

    My new obsession. A band that brings together hard rock, trip hop, jazz, dance and soul to name just a few. This week's recommendation is the lead single, released last November.

    Ariel opens with sampled gypsy guitars and heavy beats, morphs into hip-hop trip-hop decorated with glitchy squelches and squeaks from sampled synths and electronica, then moves on to a sparse piano and echoes before returning to the main, thuddingly heavy beat.

    The vocals are soulful and downbeat, allowing the glitchy samples to flash and sparkle. The treatment is complex; even after repeat plays, there's still new detail to notice.

    Ariel is the goddess of healing and the song is about her conflict with the devil, the battle between good and evil.

    The video illustrates themes from both the lyrics and the music with an improvised dance interpretation using motion capture technology and digital animation by FIELD. See the making of here: watch.

    The tiny points of light are like the glitch sounds that flash yet form a sort of aural soup surrounding the main track. Again, dark contrasts against light with black and bright neon colours. The combination and shades chosen are clever and not expected, bright flame orange given shape with flat matt purple and highlighted with pinks. The devil appears in shiny, silvery black. Their battle takes place in another world which, in the end, shatters.



    It's a strong track, with Chris James's vocals somewhat reminiscent of James Blake and Scott Matthews. Elsewhere, he sounds like Chris Martin (Coldplay), Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Jeff Buckley, and occasionally Matthew Bellamy (Muse). I've only named a few.



    The album comes in at about 50 minutes but feels longer because you're paying such close attention. In amongst the spacey ambience and hard rock trip-hop is sensual soul, seductive and moreish. Where James Blake is clinical and cold, here, they're feeling it. Massive Attack style trip-hop sits side by side with Radiohead and Muse type heavy rock and electronica with an occasional flourish of funk and dark disco thrown in for good measure. The contrasts continue with loud versus quiet, familar versus experimental, and abstract lyrics versus catchy choruses.

    Curtain Call begins the show, teasing with a barely audible opening so you wonder if it's started yet, slowly moving into a haunting ambient beginning and a beautiful piano piece that reminds you of Portishead's The Rip - "Won't you come sit here by the fire with me / Tell me the stories of the places you've been." - before kicking off into pure noise.

    The next showpiece after Ariel is the new single, Assassinations, released 14 February. [ Soundcloud ]. It doesn't end where it begins. Tribal drums and ethereal sounds open with the beat slowly introduced with the chorus "You can't stop whatever is round the corner". Glitch is introduced and the track builds to a leap into loud, grungy stadium rock. No, you can't stop whatever is round the corner. "We will knock it dead".



    Stateless are from Leeds, Yorkshire and formed in 2002. 'Stateless' because their music aims to defy placement. Matilda is their second album, produced by Damian Taylor (Björk, The Prodigy) with guests Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), DJ Shadow, and the Balanescu Quartet.

    No one track is like another and none set the tone, the album is as disparate as its samples and influences, yet underpinning everything is this soup of glitch and World sounds, thanks to the eastern European violins of the Balanescu Quartet, sitars and the gypsy guitar. It's big yet small with attention to fine detail. Cinematic and theatrical yet intimate. Heard on good headphones, the sound swirls around you, so you literally turn around to see if it isn't anything else. Glitch comes at you from all angles and you're totally immersed. Yeah, soup.

    I have linked to everything by Stateless in Spotify (above). Be warned, Art of No State (2003) is another artist by the same name (and awful).




    Further reading:

    MySpace
    Wikipedia - Stateless (band)
    Official site
    indieLondon review
    Musos Guide review


    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
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  • [My Gang] Lykke Li – Get Some : Reco of the Week 22 Feb 11

    22 Feb 2011, 18:59 by Babs_05

    Track: Get Some [ Soundcloud | Download mp3 ]
    Artist: Lykke Li
    Album: Wounded Rhymes
    (Atlantic, 28 Feb 2011) [ Hype Machine ]
    Tags: , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video

    (Source: Official site)


    A dramatic single from the extraordinary new album from Lykke Li (pronounced: lickey lee), streaming exclusively at Hype Machine this week.

    It features tribal drums and surfer guitars with Lykke Li's vocals dominating over the top. It's a come hither, to put it mildly, and is meant to be played loud. It was released as a single last November, as a taster for Wounded Rhymes, with an equally dramatic accompanying video.

    The video presents Lykke Li in tribal costume on a theatrical set with movie images and stills directly behind her. It's monochromatic and shiny with flashes of light and sharp editing. Lykke Li barely moves, the kaleidoscopic special effects provide all the movement for her. The drums are hypnotic, the special effects compelling, and she smoulders to camera. Of our current crop of weird women, Bat for Lashes, Fever Ray, Soap&Skin et al, all girlish and fey, Lykke Li is the sexiest, albeit in an aggressive, man-eater kind of way.

    There was great excitement on the interwebs for this new release today, with all the major music publications and blogs pointing to the full stream. After four years of hard work, it's probably fair to say she has arrived. She has appearanced at festivals and on television, but it's probably her contribution to major movie soundtracks that got her noticed. The song Possibility was written for the film 'New Moon' (2009).



    Reviews are still being written for the album. I have been listening to it on repeat all day and am still discovering details. It's electronic pop with a heavy tribal theme and Hammond organs, full of catchy hooks and melodies. Produced by Bjorn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn & John, to my ears it's mainstream enough to appear on commercial radio yet weird enough to satisfy my hunger for something different.



    Wounded Rhymes opens with Youth Knows No Pain, again punchy and loud with repeated lyrics. Then she changes tack for the new single, I Follow Rivers, which is more in line with what we expect from our weird women. The accompanying video builds on this with seemingly abstract images of her in a snowy landscape by the sea, following a man running away from her, her cape billowing in the icy winds. Then she catches up with him. [ Watch ].

    The next two tracks, Love Out of Lust and Unrequited Love, change the pace, slowing things down. Now you can hear her unique treatment of harmonies and vocals. There was an underlying ghostliness in the earlier tracks, now she heads into otherwordly territory, weird woman proper.

    This week's track is next and is followed by the most striking song I have heard in a while. Called Rich Kids Blues, she's depressed and rebelling against her pushy mother. Considering most the album-buying demographic are her mother's age, they will most likely identify with the parent and wonder how to best deal with her complaints. Younger listeners will put it on their mp3 players and blast it next time they're going through an "I hate you!" moment. It helps that it's pure bubblegum pop, addictive and repeatable.

    Sadness Is a Blessing has a slightly 50s rock 'n' roll vibe and reminds me in parts of Roy Orbison's I Drove All Night, although I must admit, I thought of Cyndi Lauper's version. It features the line "Sadness is my boyfriend", which I am sure will be heavily quoted. It is also the most vocally ambitious, though she shies of any gratuitous extravagence.

    The slow and acoustic I Know Places is next, followed by the penultimate track Jerome which features the now familiar driving beats and unusual instrumentation. Silent My Song closes, bringing the curtain down with pure unadulterated Fever Ray. I adore this track. Featuring beautiful harmonies and soaring vocals, it's ghostly and skeletal in its minimalism, yet rich with tonal detail. You're left feeling you've been treated to a fantastic show and wouldn't mind an encore if there's one going. There is. Track one.


    Further reading:

    Official site
    Wikipedia - Lykke Li


    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
    My Gang Reco of The Week

    Disclaimer: Mines



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    Date Added: November 15, 2010
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  • [My Gang] Ben Ottewell - Lightbulbs : Reco of the Week 15 Feb 11

    15 Feb 2011, 18:17 by Babs_05

    Track: Lightbulbs [ Soundcloud | Hypem ]
    Artist: Ben Ottewell
    Album: Shapes and Shadows
    (Eat Sleep Records, 7 Feb 11) [ We7 | Spotify | mflow ]
    Tags: , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload


    My recommendation this week isn't as obscure as it looks. Ben Ottewell is one of the vocalists with Gomez, he's the gravel-voiced one. The band are still together, this is his solo debut, five years in the making. The track I have chosen is the lead single, Lightbulbs.



    Again, I have chosen an album that will take time to get to know. On first listen it sounds warm, though minimal and sparse, his familiar voice standing out over everything and no song standing out over another. After a while, things start to take shape. Certain instruments come to the fore, as do certain melodies, you recognise Pachelbel's Canon in Chose, Chicago becomes the hardest track, and the album fills out. The acoustic arrangements were co-written with Sam Genders, formerly of Tunng and the album was co-produced with Will Golden.



    It's a long way from the sound of Gomez, though they're still there, echoing in the background. It owes much to alternative folk of recent years, artists such as Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens. There is the inevitable comparison to Nick Drake and a fair comparison to Ryan Adams and David Gray. Damien Rice could quite reasonably be added to the list.

    'Lightbulbs' begins slowly, as if the instruments are still being warmed up. It takes its time to peak and plateaus somewhere mellow but jolly when it does. Nothing groundbreaking here. The tone is calm, mature and sedate. There's no rush. Plenty of time.

    The next track, All Brand New, is subtle and gorgeous, burning with a restrained passion for a new love, politely requesting permission to stay a while. Beautiful instrumentation, harmonies and pace. This is followed by the bouncy Blackbird, available right now as a free download on the official site.

    The five years of effort shows. The standard is maintained throughout and editing is well-judged. Lyrics are poetic, painting little vignettes when they're not being abstract. There is a small concession to flourishes, which leap out from the stark minimalism and shimmer. It doesn't so much smack you over the head as beckon you in.

    Fans of Gomez will be familiar with this gravelly-voiced old friend and it shouldn't be too much of a leap to go from their madcap antics to the maturity and sophistication of Shapes and Shadows. This is the second solo work from the band. The first was by Ian Ball, who released his album, Who Goes There, in 2007.

    Put this on when you want the world to stop.


    Further reading

    Official site
    Gomez official site
    MySpace
    Wikipedia - Gomez
    BBC review


    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
    My Gang Reco of The Week

    Disclaimer: Mines


    (Source: Bang On PR)


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  • [My Gang] Trail of Dead - Summer Of All Dead Souls : Reco of the Week 08 Feb 11

    8 Feb 2011, 20:03 by Babs_05

    Track: Summer of All Dead Souls [ Soundcloud full stream ]
    Artist: ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
    Album: Tao of the Dead (Superball Music, 7 Feb 11) [ We7 | Spotify | mflow ]
    Tags: , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, audio upload


    I think the Trail of Dead boys have given us the best album of their career. As much loved and wroughtly worked previous albums were, this one, which was pulled together in next to no time, has all the magic.

    For me, the magic peaks in this single, Summer of All Dead Souls, originally released last November.



    It's upbeat, fast and loud. Fuzzy proggy guitars and relentless drums nod to their heroes Pink Floyd and take it from there.
    Unlike the melodically meandering, slow building tracks the band has become known for, "Summer of All Dead Souls" gets straight to the point with rolling drums, a driving bass lick, and big electric guitar that shifts from hard staccato strums to riffs with an outer-space effect. Its lyrics are about the global economic situation and "the haves and the have-nots," says Keely. "[It's] inspired by a documentary I saw about China, or, as they're calling it these days, Chimerica. It illustrated the ongoing struggle between the third world and the first world."

    "The dead souls will pull you down," Keely and multi-instrumentalist Jason Reece, the band's founders, scream on the track. "Will pull you down!!!" (Spin)



    Instead of the usual six in the line up, the band pared down to just four; and instead of labouring over each composition, they completed the entire project in just ten days, working with Chris "Frenchie" Smith (behind their 1998 debut) and Chris Coady (Beach House, Yeah Yeah Yeahs).

    'Tao Of The Dead' is their first concept album, falling in two parts and in two keys. The first is in D, the second in F. The first comprises of eleven tracks, the second is one track of six movements. They wanted to recreate the experience of listening to earlier albums on vinyl where there's no break between tracks and music flows from one song to the next.

    There are passing references to their loves Pink Floyd, especially Dark Side of the Moon, Yes's Relayer and Close to the Edge and Rush's Hemispheres. They still want to shout but the youngsters with a point to make are long gone. As artists, they have matured over the course of their seventeen year career without losing sight of where they started. So what we have is a near perfect album that comes entirely from gut instinct and solid experience.



    For me, there is a lot of beauty in the sixteen minute second part, culminating in 'Strange Epiphany' which comes in around the 11 minute mark. Like 'Summer Of All Dead Souls', it's fast and loud but to a lesser degree, mirroring and acting like a shadow of the big track.

    Despite the fact the album was pulled together in less than a fortnight, it's rich in detail. There are noodles to space out to and bubbles of density that go by too fast. On repeat just isn't enough. This album is going to take time to get to know.



    The artwork began in frontman Conrad Keely's childhood too. The Tao of the Dead's CD booklet will feature the first 16 panels of his upcoming graphic novel.
    "It will hopefully be out shortly after the album. Some of it ties into the record. It's a science fiction story that's set in a steampunk milieu, aesthetically, and involves flying ships. It's an introduction to the world that I've been working on since I was a kid. I've been developing a novel around it, too, but that is going to take years of development."

    The name, Tao of the Dead, is taken from the classic Chinese text, Tao Te Ching. Tao means 'way', so the album title would loosely translate as "The Way of the Dead".


    (Source: MySpace)




    Further reading:

    Spin - interview
    Official site
    BBC review


    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
    My Gang Reco of The Week

    Disclaimer: Mines


    (Source: MySpace)


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  • [My Gang] Hercules and Love Affair – My House : Reco of the Week 25 Jan 11

    25 Jan 2011, 15:38 by Babs_05

    Track: My House [ Hype Machine ]
    Artist: Hercules and Love Affair
    Album: Blue Songs (Moshi Moshi, 31 Jan 11) [Full stream: The Guardian]
    Tags: , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...

    YouTube, official video


    I saw this video the day The Guardian posted it on 5th January and ran away, sharpish. I hated it. Good tune, though.

    There isn't anything much lyrically in 'My House', it's all in the energy and the beat. If you like dance music, this is incredibly addictive.



    However, I wasn't expecting anything quite so faithful to the early 90s from the video, although really, why was I surprised. I didn't know about the ad break till today, I'd stopped watching by that point. More blasts from the past and, for some reason, somewhat disturbing.

    So it was with slight trepidation that I approached the new album. I saved it till I was ready and listened from a distance, turning the volume down low, all set to be disturbed again. And was left puzzled. The rest of the album isn't like 'My House'. It's not even what I expected.

    The style Hercules and Love Affair established previously, 70s disco merged with early 90s house infused with dark morbidity, is developed further but not in any way you would anticipate. There are odd changes of tempo and mood, the dark bits recess further so you chase after them to find out what they are, only to be assailed by bubbly, bright bits that come after you. You're divided. So, one minute you're listening deeply, the next split-second, you're on your feet, whooping. It's not all handed to you on a plate.

    All together, I think I'm looking at a contender for my top ten of 2011 list, if not top five. I am both repelled and intrigued - a good sign as it means this isn't just your average fare.



    I first wrote about Hercules and Love Affair in January 2008 when they, once again, started a new year with their unique body of work, setting a tone and whetting appetites. Their eponymous debut landed in March. I said that was dark. 'Blue Songs' is darker. Again we have the contrast of upbeat dance against melancholic themes.

    The nod to the work of Billie Ray Martin is still there, whose dry, almost monotonous voice with minimal vocal flourishes does the exact opposite of disco divas. Alongside her is the new influence of Grace Jones.

    Last time, they called it . Since then, we got . I'll wait and see what the latest description is. 'Disgusting but good' will do me for now.



    Babs

    - My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives
    My Gang Reco of The Week

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