Music Record Reviews
ELECTRONICA FOUR TET There is Love in You (Domino) ●●●●●
Hebden, for the giddy homage to Jean-Michel Jarre. There is Love In You is
Thank you, Kieran Hebden’s fifth long-
SINGLES & DOWNLOADS
It’s a new year and The List is feeling all aquiver. You see, our appetite has already been whetted by a whole host of new acts filling our ears with futuristic pioneering pop, so be warned: for this issue’s track reviews, derivative idiotmusic will NOT be tolerated. Which means we can write off Lolene’s ‘Sexy People’ (Capitol) ●●●●●, ‘Fly Away’ (Kult Records) ●●●●● by Cybersutra and Meretto’s’A Method Of Urban Survival’ (Rockpop) ●●●●● straight away. The first is some broad in dodgy aviators churning out the kind of hideous playschool dance tripe that makes N-Dubz sound like the Errors of their genre, Cybersutra is basically sickly Kylie-lite, proclaiming nonsense like ‘we can fly away / in the heavens we will stay’ and the latter tout dull as dishwater indie rock.
Things start to fare better with the ‘Little Miss Lynch Mob EP’ (unsigned) ●●●●● by Glasgow-based riff merchants The Red Show, and The Orison’s Pixies-esque ‘Chemo Rehash’ (unsigned) ●●●●● , but it's not until The List wraps its listening gear around ‘Drop The Other’ (Ninja Tune) ●●●●● by Emika that we allow ourselves a little grin. Gorgeously dark and subtle: a beguiling mix of Tricky, Timbaland and The xx driven by sultry female vocals. Next, promising wee East Lothian rockers Red Ammo bang out a strong contender for top track in ‘Renegade’ (unsigned) ●●●●● , as do The Victorian English Gentlemens Club’s strop-pop ‘Bored In Belgium’ (This Is Fake DIY) ●●●●● and Miike Snow’s sumptuous electro offering ‘Silvia’ (Columbia) ●●●●●✎
And despite an altogether iffy start this issue, Single Of The Fortnight turns out to be a right toughie. The List has made no secret of our fangirl love for Biffy Clyro, and ‘Many Of Horror’ (14th Floor Records) ●●●●● is up there with their best penned ballads. Swedish quintet Mixtapes & Cellmates have swapped the electronics for guitars on ‘Soon’ (Tangled Up!) ●●●●● and are sounding woozily awesome, while newbies Woodenbox With A Fistful Of Fivers tout lovely horn-tinged country music for fans of King Creosote and State Broadcasters with ‘Draw A Line’ (Electric Honey) ●●●●●. But it's Dev Hynes aka Lightspeed Champion who ultimately stands head and shoulders above the rest. ‘Marlene’ (Domino) ●●●●● is a punchy blend of soaring strings, smart lyrics and strutting guitars and is jam-packed full of utterly awe- inspiring ideas – win, win win. (Camilla Pia)
66 THE LIST 21 Jan–4 Feb 2010
player under the quixotic Four Tet designate (he’s also an erstwhile member of post-rockers Fridge, an improv ally of beat-master Steve Reid, and a one-time cohort of dubstep sear Burial). It’s a mind-enlivening, dance-floor enlightening, congenitally melodic hybrid of folk, electronica, free-jazz, techno, hip hop and – less expected – heavenly vocals: particularly on the celestial ‘Angel Echoes’ and ‘Love Cry’.
The literally-entitled ‘Circling’, meanwhile, is vertiginous and brilliant: its gyroscopic electro refracts – and redeems – Jarre’s synth-orgy ‘Oxygene IV’. Hebden, it seems, performs miracles too. (Nicola Meighan)
ELECTRONICA OWEN PALLETT Heartland (Domino) ●●●●●
Torontonian boy-wonder Owen Pallett – formerly revered as Final Fantasy – is a violin alchemist, electronic illusionist, orchestral commander and indie librettist whose loop-ensorcelled, string-drawn pop has lured us since 2004.
He’s famously worked with the Arcade Fire, The Last Shadow Puppets and the Pet Shop Boys, but on Heartland – his musically dense, lyrically complex and generally epic third treatise – Pallett’s deceptively modest croons gradually acquiesce the Broadway flair of Rodgers and Hammerstein (via Sufjan Stevens), the fantasy narratives of Kate Bush, and even the rock operatics of Queen. Let
him in. Give him time. He will rock you. (Nicola Meighan) ELECTRONICA FM BELFAST How To Make Friends (World Champion) ●●●●●
When it comes to influences, there’s a huge difference between funk music and ‘funky’ music. Retro funk is generally pretty cool, whereas funky is just, well, a bit gross. FM Belfast seem to have caught onto this pretty quick: an Icelandic boy/girl bunch who veer on the right side of hip- shaking grooves combining them with electronics and a whole heap of eccentricity. How To Make Friends is the collective’s impressive debut, and a brilliant introduction to their cleverly-crafted sound. We can hear a bit of Prince in there, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, Hot Chip, The Blow and even the occasional cover (Technotronic and RATM) – umm, OK . . . (Camilla Pia) FOLK/PSYCH-POP ERLAND AND THE CARNIVAL Erland and the Carnival (Full Time Hobby/Static Caravan) ●●●●●
Despite nary a bushy beard nor deftly plucked acoustic guitar having impacted on the making of this debut album by Orcadian Erland Cooper, it inconspicuously embraces the folk custom of reworking ancient songs to suit the times.
Traditionals from around Britain are torn up, spliced with elements from literary and musical sources and re-imagined completely, as mini
psych-pop opuses. Validating the project somewhat is chief collaborator Simon Tong – ex of The Verve and The Good The Bad and The Queen.
The 13th Floor Elevators and The Doors are invoked in shades, but the wobbliness of the organ sounds and generally carnivalesque spirit of this weird and very rewarding album makes Wirral caners The Coral a better contemporary reference point. (Malcolm Jack)
DREAM-POP BEACH HOUSE Teen Dream Bella Union ●●●●●
This third album from the Baltimore dream- pop duo is billed as a more immediate platter than previous output, and while that’s certainly true, there remains a certain obscurity and lack of personality that makes it, well, a tad wishy-washy. Reverb- soaked wispy organs and chiming guitars abound as Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally stumble through a breathy pop landscape familiar to fans of Galaxie 500 and Mazzy Star, but they never seem to stamp their sound with enough charisma to make any of their melodies stick in the mind. Pleasant on the ears while it’s on, but instantly forgettable afterwards. (Doug Johnstone) JAZZ BOJAN Z TETRABAND Humus (Universal) ●●●●●
Pianist Bojan Z (short for Zulifkarpasic) has been touring this band as a trio with bassist Ruth Goller and the ubiquitous Sebastian Rochford (of Acoustic Ladyland and many others) on drums, but the addition of New York-based trombonist Josh Roseman adds a new dimension to the group’s dense, groove-
based sonic charge. Humus is a perfect example of the pianist’s urge to combine two of his main musical loves, funk and the free jazz approach of Ornette Coleman, into his own distinctive, high-octane blend. The pianist, born in the former Yugoslavia and now based in Paris, plays his own Xenophone (cannibalised from bits of various other electric keyboards) as well as more conventional piano and Fender Rhodes. They can take it down when required, as on the languorous middle of Rochford’s ‘Empty Shell’, but for the most part this is intense and exhilarating uptempo music, rock-like in its intensity but with the fluid rhythmic motion and textural nuances of jazz. (Kenny Mathieson)
JAZZ BEN SIDRAN Dylan Different (Bonsai Music) ●●●●●
Jazz covers of Bob Dylan’s songs are pretty much a rarity, but veteran singer and pianist Ben Sidran takes the bull by the horns in this project. The fact that these are vocal interpretations in Sidran’s laconic, Mose Allison-influenced style is probably key to the project – Dylan does not leave much room for manoeuvre for jazz players looking to erect instrumental edifices on the foundations of his very lyric-driven music (although some have tried). Sidran draws heavily
on the canonical decade of the 60s, with a couple of later songs – ‘Everything Is Broken’ and ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ – thrown in.