Monday, 7 June 2010

It's like waiting for a bus... wait for ages for one and then a whole bunch come along at once.

I am of course talking about decent albums. After a strong start to the year March through April was a bit fallow but just recently we've had a whole bunch of great new releases. Here are some of my favourites that you should look out for:

Sleigh Bells - Treats [Neat / Mom & Pop]

There's not much left to be said about this album that hasn't already been said in a million reviews which can be condensed into the one word - 'Loud'. This record is very very loud, to the point where I don't actually own a pair of headphones that can successfully deal with the loudness so what I actually hear on the bus is just the impression of incredible loudness which is conveyed by a persistent fuzz that I take as an indication of loudness.

When I get home the loudness continues but it's only here, on a pair of speakers that I can endlessly play around with, and with the aid of several EQs, can I get the distinction between the often sweet vocals and the grinding guitars and drum machines. But then again that isn't the point of this's just about reveling in the fun of noise and that's my simple advice for Sleigh Bells listeners, embrace the noise.

Sleigh Bells - Tell 'Em

Male Bonding - Nothing Hurts [Sub Pop]

There's a bit of a buzz going round at the moment about 'nu-grunge' and so I feel the need to plant my flag in this whole discussion. I'm not against 'nu-' anything in principle as long as there is something new about it. There's a lot of nu-grunge bands going around at the moment when they might as well pack up their plaid shirts and jump in a time-machine to Seattle. Not that there's anything particularly wrong with that either (although in many cases they choose the most uninspiring bands to rip off, where are the Love Battery rip offs?) just don't call yourself 'nu-'.

Male Bonding on the other hand seem to take the fuzzy grunge base as a spring board to really cycle through what seems like a dizzying number of styles of guitar based rock. You have some surprisingly pop numbers along with a few (what seems like the now obligatory) surf tracks. The great thing about the album as a whole is that these never feel like experiments or disconnected, the sheer pace of the album, where many tracks come in at under or around 2 minutes, gives a great continuity to the whole.

Male Bonding - Years Not Long

Maps & Atlases - Perch Patchwork [Barsuk]

When I first heard this album (which is actually only out on 29th June) I immediately thought this is just what a Fleet Foxes / Fiery Furnaces collaboration would sound like. Then I put the album on again, and again...and again. In fact yesterday, for the first time I can remember, I listened to an album 3 times in a row.

For an album with such an impression of experimentalism it's also incredibly warm and listenable. Taking the strange rhythms and harmonies of what (I hate) is often called 'math rock' and placing them in an instantly recognisable setting of folk means that rather than alienating the listener this is a record that invites you in and keeps you interested.

Maps & Atlases - Pigeon

Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History (Kitsuné]

OK this album was actually released in the UK on 1st March but I didn't get to listen to it until after the US release at the end of April. After creating quite a buzz in the UK press last year, and given the dubious prestige of being 'a band to watch in 2010', TDCC have actually produced a pretty damn good album.

Tourist History is most definitely a singles led affair with the two strongest tracks being Something Good Can Work and Undercover Martyn but that's not to say the rest is filler. Like Casiotone For The Painfully Alone after a few hearty meals (less depressing and a fuller sound) they could very well be the next big storytelling indie band (If that award didn't so comfortably rest with The Wave Pictures).

Two Door Cinema Club - Undercover Martyn

The Drums - The Drums [Island]

Possibly the most hyped debut this year. After a very well received EP last year there were very high hopes for The Drums, a band I recently read as 'The most English sounding American band since the 1980s'. It's either part of some new fascination with English indie or else part of a general rediscovering of 80s new wave/post-punk but considering that this style and era is one of my great passions in music I don't think the Drums will be a lasting presence in this genre. The album is a great deal of fun but for me the best tracks are those which temper the 80s revivalism with a mixture of Beach Boys surfer pop, tracks like Lets Go Surfing and Down By The Water at least display a bit of individual energy that stops the band sounding like a Cars covers band.

They also seem a bit earnest which bugs me.

The Drums - Best Friend

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