Sunday, 31 July 2011

This Is Our Music

This afternoon I'm finally getting around to backing up my laptop (yawn), but having time stuck inside waiting for the little computer windows to take their sweet time transferring files is turning out to be incredibly satisfying. It's also a good excuse to revisit some of the new releases and songs that I've been having to put off paying attention to over the past few weeks, so here's a few choice picks...

Brilliant Colors - Again & Again (LP)
Last summer my birthday was spent at Sex Is Disgusting's 'Dude Fest', an all-dayer at the Cowley Club in Brighton with a bunch of bands who had the tough task of injecting some energy into the hungover Sunday afternoon crowd. By around 6pm everyone had risen from their party-induced zombie states from the night before, and the tiny venue was transformed into a mass of headbanging and bodies throwing themselves around, with only wires snaking across the divide between the stage and the pit. Brilliant Colors were over in the UK and headlined the day, their poppy indie cuteness cut with brittle hooks and unruly melodies that perfectly suited the DIY setup of the day.
     Their new album 'Again & Again' - the follow-up to 2009's ultimate debut 'Introducing...', borrows even more from 80's nostalgic indiepop than its predecessor, but keeps up their sass and signature sound with sharp guitars swapped for a swaying, head-nodding sweetness. This record encapsulates all that is Pretty In Pink - you can picture Andy Walsh lying on her floral bedspread in her peach dress, surrounded by pop icons and waiting for the phone to ring as 'How Much Younger' loops on her tape player. Indiepop of this variety - when done so well - can never be over saturated and will always have a welcomed spot in my record collection. Stream it on Spotify now or pick up the limited pink and blue swirly LP from Slumberland.

Wild Beasts - Smother (LP)
Wild Beasts are one of my favourite bands to follow - their sound is always evolving, and with every album it's difficult to predict which direction they will have moved towards. I've loved them since a recommendation from Gary from The Cribs three years ago, and at that point I'd never even heard of this fourpiece from Kendal before, let alone had any idea of the kinds of sounds they made. That quickly changed, and track 'The Devil's Crayon' caught my attention and stayed on my stereo for the rest of the summer. It was enough to want to interview them for Shebang, and just before Two Dancers came out a friend and I went to see them, and were both blown away by the intensity of their live performance and the heart-stopping beauty of their new songs.
     To watch a much-loved band become increasingly well-known and appreciated is exciting, but as with most things I start to lose interest once everyone else joins in (which is a trait I hate - completely ridiculous and snobby - and also meant that Smother's release wasn't really on my radar so I've really missed out). Thankfully I've now had time to play catch up, and have been reminded of why I loved Wild Beasts so much in the first place. It's mature and less frenetic, and the title is apt - it's a record to get readily lost in and to want to approach again and again. The lead track 'Albatross' is stunningly intricate, and rather than stacking up the obvious sexual innuendos as in Two Dancers, this time the lyrics remain understated and tense, creating an other worldly, dreamlike domain. Available on Spotify and online, as well as in all good record shops with good taste. (Totally shameless but what the hell - if you want to read my interview with singer Hayden from the band from a few years ago, go get Shebang #2! I still have plenty of copies left).

And while this isn't strictly music, my iPod plays of choice go to the Desert Island Discs podcasts, merrily waking me up every morning as I take the bus to work (and oddly, they are the exact length of my journey time, so I'm not left wondering which discs would be saved from the waves or the books that would be read). Not content with waiting a whole week for a new episode, I've started to revisit the older DID sessions from years ago, and last week's guests included Jarvis Cocker, Joanna Lumley, Paul Weller and Whoopi Goldberg who all spoke candidly about their lives and picked some excellent songs. Find a castaway here.

And it's thank to Jarvis that I've been introduced to Dory Previn's 'The Lady With The Braid'..

(FACT FANS! Camera Obscura dedicate a song to Dory on their Let's Get Out Of This Country album, gushing "How I adore you Dory Previn, I turn you up to eleven..." Sigh.)

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