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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Bristol based Jesuits debut single is a perfect slice of psych pop that demands to be played loud

 

 

When things appear to be at their darkest, a light appears to lead your way. While this is a slightly over dramatic and pretentious, it is also slightly true. The Jesuits have appeared out of the fog, musically speaking, like Doctor Midnight when you are in distress from over produced pop music and schmindie bands who think angular hair and lad-lite soundbites are the be all and end all.

 

 

Sounding like a mixture of Spaceman 3 covering the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, being produced by Owen Morris, Dinner Jazz shimmers in a translucent psychedelic sheen, but its stomping beat stops everything from disappearing up its arse in sea of reverse guitars, never-ending vocal harmony fade outs and whimsical lyrics that make John Lennon’s poetry look like the Bleak House.

 

 

Officially released next month, Dinner Jazz, and it’s equally catchy mate, Carpet Floors, showcase a band who, despite this being their debut release, show all the power and pose of a well-oiled and established unit. Only good things can come from this Bristol quartet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fuzz duo The Noise Figures return after two years with new album

 

 

The simplicity of music, can sometimes be a liberating thing. When you are recording with limited ingredients, drums and guitars, you have to get creative to produce something memorable and enjoyable. This is what the Noise Figures have done, with new album Aphelion.

 

 

Recorded in five days on vintage equipment at Artracks Studios in Athens, Aphelion practically fizzes with retro charm. While guitar and drums duo aren’t anything new these days, White Stripes/Black Diamond Heavies /Black Keys, the Noise Figures have slightly changed the formula adding a rich vein of slow rhythmic melody to their songs rather than relying on fast blistering riffs and squelching solos.

 

 

Shoot the Moon starts the proceedings in fine form. While musically it’s nothing more than a few riffs and simple drum patterns, it contains a level of angst that says “We’ve had enough!”. Being Grecian this was bound to come across, due to international sanctions being imposed on their country. In the Boneyard follows this theme musically speaking, but there isn’t the venom in the vocals. The band has also managed to add space to their compositions, making it feel slightly less claustrophobic without losing the heaviness. Run changes things slightly by adding an organ. They helps conjure up a light playful surf vibe, which changes the tone from the initial heavy dour beginnings. Title track Aphelion is a slow jam that oozes longing and redemption, until it breaks and all hell, musically speaking, breaks loose. Given the meaning of title, a point in the orbit of a planet when it is furthers from the sun, these breaks do give a sense of emptiness and loss. Feathers ramps things up again for the final sprint home, until Celebration Time closes the album with euphoria and hope.

 

 

Aphelion is strong second album. The Noise Figures have built on their debut, but not lost anything that made them interesting and exciting in the first place. As with albums of this nature, after four to five songs it starts to get samey, luckily this doesn’t last too long, and the album gets back on track again. Roll on album three…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Naturals announce debut album in November on Howling Howl, be very excited!

 

This is an album I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Since I first heard the Naturals I was blown away by not only their bravery in the music they make, but in their desire to push boundaries and their use of texture and tone. When you listen to one of their songs, it sounds like no one else, yet it doesn’t exclude you from the sonic world they’ve created.

 

 

Having announced recently that their debut album will be released through Howling Owl Records next month, their spiritual home, expectation is high, given the quality of their existing singles. After spending a decade honing their sound and taking pointers from soundsystem culture, the Naturals debut album HIVE lives up to its name. This is a collective working for the greater good, rather than just individuals trying to get a name for themselves.

 

 

So far the only clue to what the album will sound like is latest release Axe. Drone vocal harmonies, glithcy beats, funky bass, and charismatic guitars, it’s everything we’ve come to expect from this Bristol outfit. The only hard part will be waiting patiently for its release on November 13th….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Death of Pop’s new single as part of Too Pure’s singles club is a match made in heaven!

 

 

If you take bands on their names alone, you’d probably be forgiven for thinking that the Death of Pop are a bunch of dour ne’er do wells who create music that makes Joy Division sound like a day-glo version of A*Teens. However you’d be wrong. The Death of Pop make gloriously uplifting and surprisingly danceable indie pop, that leans heavily toward the shoegazing camp. Over the past few year they have carved a niche as one of the most forward thinking and revered band around. Anyone who as caught their live shows knows they aren’t just a bunch of lads hammering away on their instruments, eyes down wearing a scowl beneath their asymmetric haircuts. They have passion and believe in what they’re doing.

 

 

Earlier in the year they released their debut album Runts. A collection of songs culled from their extensive back catalogue. Now they’re looking set to release their new single Gardens, after teaming up with Too Pure Records, to be the next instalment of their inspired singles club. Gardens has all TDoP’s calling cards, echoy vocals, woozy walls of guitars, a pulsating and driving beat and a devil may care panache that comes from not caring what other people think of you. But most importantly it’s catchy as hell! And the B-Side, Only Now isn’t bad either!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes you hear something and it takes you by surprise. You see the name/cover and you think one thing. Then when you hear it, you get something else that makes you think “What the hell was that?” This is exactly what happened when I played Pyramid’s debut song House.

 

 

The cover is stark and minimal. A small white triangle on a black back ground with the word Pyramid written below it. This gives nothing away. Is it acid techno? Could it be some drone? Is it some neo-prog (given the penchant for bands to parody Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon album cover)? Or is it something else entirely? Is it lo-fi hip-hop? Or is it just some bog-standard indie with a lazy cover? What you actually get is something far more interesting, and thus more enjoyable.

 

 

After the first opening bars it’s hard to gage is this is a band from the 1960’s, that has laid dormant until someone found some old tapes, a-la The Dragons, or if this is a new band who love making retro sounding music. After doing some digging, Pyramids are a new band and their debut EP is on its way. Which is handy as this slice of bubble gum psych is something we all need to hear a lot more of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The battle for song of the year just took an unexpected turn

 

 

There is only one word for the latest edition in Activia Benz’ ilovesingles.club. Beautiful. Usually songs that make up this singles club are generally fast paced, galloping breakbeats, huge basslines and a cheeky wink for the ladies. Rick Eat Acid’s submission is none of these. It’s laid back, melodic and utterly breath-taking.

 

 

Opening with a chiming disjointed xylophone sounding sample, then a mournful violin kicks in, until a demented music box peals away until the proceedings are interrupted by a beat that rolls, glitches and jumps until it is sliced in two by a string loop. The outro mimics the intro with the string loop finally petering out, leaving us with thoughts of “What the hell just happened? I can’t remember what other music sounds like now”.

 

 

This is no exaggeration, but this could very well be the song of the year. I am hard pushed to find another song that has moved and entertained me as much as Carnival of Souls has. The only downside to it, is that this isn’t part of a larger body of work. If this was a lead single, the subsequent album would be immense, and a contender for album of the year, but as it stands all we have is this four and a half minute slice of sheer perfection. And the nagging feeling that music might not get this good again for a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leicester synth worrier returns with third album in the Rival Consoles saga

 

 

Ryan Lee West, AKA Rival Consoles, has been on and off our radar here at thisyearinmusic for a while now. His blend of acid tinged electro-house is perfect for large nights out, or reflective nights in. West is has been busy recently writing and recording his third album Howl, released on Erased Tapes Records next month.

 

 

Lead single Howl opens with galloping beats and nice bit of bass wobble before the melody kicks in. On the surface this appears to be a simple song, but after repeated listens you find a rich tapestry of melody and refrains bubbling below the surface. There are post-dubstep flourishes too, that help bed Howl into your psyche. The downbeat breakbeats work exceedingly well juxtaposed with the faster synth loops that help give the song syncopation. The real highlight is the solo in the middle. Sounding slightly like Captain Nemo going mental at a party on the Nautilus, its over before you know what’s hit you, very much like Nemo’s attacking tactics.

 

 

The only real downside to Howl is that at times you forget you’re listening to West, as it sounds eerily similar to Dan Snaith’s Caribou project. This isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t sound as fresh and original as West’s earlier work. Whether the album will carry on this motif will remain to be seen, but everyone here is excited about find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Orleans jazzman pushes the boundaries of the genre again

 

 

Jazz is in a state of flux. Whilst trying to throw off the shackles of its boring, weirdly beardy past, it’s now being embraced a new generation of musicians. American band leader Kamasi Washington released his debut through Brainfeeder which showcased not only his dextrous playing, but his ability as a composer, arranger and band leader. In England record label Gearbox Records is pushing boundaries not just with their ability to find the best unheard sessions and jams, releasing career defining album by cult artist Michael Horovitz and possibly the album of the year by young duo Binker and Moses.

 

 

Now sees Christian Scott releasing his latest album, Stretch Music, on Ropeadope. Sounding like 1970’s Miles Davis working with Herbie Mann while being produced by Danger Mouse, it surges from one discipline to another, without the listener even realising its happened. The drums are tight but loose, guitar funky but despondent and Scott’s trumpet is luxurious but poppy. If it wasn’t for Washington, Binker and Moses it would have been the best jazz album of year, but Scott shouldn’t bemoan his bad timing, far from it, he should rejoice in releasing an album full of power and vitalogy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cosmonostro continue another great year with exquisite new single

 

 

Thomas Fontana makes a hybrid of chillwave and glitch-pop. While this isn’t anything new, Fontana’s ideas of composition and production make him standout from his peers. Seamlessly mixing sharp beats and layered echoey vocals, his music has a dreamlike quality about it, that not only keep your foot tapping, but your mind thinking “Where is this going now?”

 

 

After doing some digging your find out that Fontana is from Paris, and this puts everything into context. You can hear the Metro rattling past clubbers on the way home, the Seine sloshing up steps as tourists pose for pictures on a hot day, female buskers singing their songs of woe and redemption in subway tunnels as the sound reverbs into the distance, bouquinistes calling to each other on a busy pavement and kids on mopeds trying to beat the rush hour traffic on their way home.

 

 

But ultimately what Fontana shows us is that a new wave of producers are reimaging not just the city they love, but their role in it too. By the look, and sound of it, there is movement brewing in Paris, and thanks to labels like Cosmonostro its finding a way out into the world and there is an escape from boring presets and demo settings, and that, despite the hour of the night, make me feel awake and on the lookout for more of the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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King Midas Sound kick off collaborative series in fine form

 

 

Collaborations are a hard thing to get right. The balance needs to be right between the parties, but more importantly the songs need to be there. Luckily, on this the first in a series of collaborative albums that King Midas Sound (The Bugs’ Kevin Martin, and vocalists Rober Robinson and Kiki Hitomi) plan to release, the juxtaposition between ambient drone guru Christin Fennesz, Hitomi & Robinson’s vocals and The Bug’s Kevin Martin luxuriously lurid soundscapes makes for an exquisite listen. Edition 1, realised by Ninja Tune, sits somewhere between Martin and Fennesz’ styles, but not in the way you’d expect.

 

 

Although the album is broken down into nine tracks, it feels like a continuous piece of music. This is partly down to the lyrical content. Both Hitomi and Robinson’s vocal styles are better suited to laidback contemplating music than out and out bangers. Themes including self-doubt, loss, rejection, regret and, surprisingly, optimism for the future reoccur and permeate Edition 1, as Fennesz delivers intricate flourishes from minimal elements, his raison d’etre, Martin matches this with similarly stark melodies. However the most striking thing about Editions 1 is that two thirds of the album is lacking contemporary beats and bass. Instead of a subtle drum, or synth, we find ourselves with filtered Hi-Hats where we’d expect, from Martin at least, there to be something harder hitting. The lack of bass on the album is also noticeable. At first you don’t realise its missing, but after multiple listens its absence slowly dawns on you. While the tracks don’t need it, it does take some getting used to at first. How many albums recently can you think of that are devoid of bass and drums? What’s even more remarkable is that once you’ve worked out they’re absent, you don’t really miss them.

 

 

The only real downside is that neither Martin nor Fennesz take control of each track. While the results are exquisite and striking, we’re left wondering what would have happened is either party had thrown down the gauntlet harder to the other. Instead of trying to match each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they’d pushed the envelope more, like Martin did on the single he released with Earth earlier this year.

 

 

What King Midas Sound have effectively done is re-imagined the ambient album. Through sparse use of percussion and beats, they cocoon us, the listener, in a dense veil of miasmic sound, where only the vocalists Robinson and Hitomi can penetrate it to find us. Martin and Co. create confusion and disorder through tender soundscapes touching modulation that, despite the recording process, has warmth and life to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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