Music Record Reviews
SINGLES & DOWNLOADS
Perhaps it’s the cold weather making the world outside the duvet seem even less appealing, but the singles world seems to be very much of a collective one-track mind at the moment, with the latest offering from Arctic Monkeys setting a suitably filthy precedent. Producer Josh Homme’s promiscuous paws are all over ‘My Propeller’ ●●●●●, which sees Alex Turner doing a fine imitation of the QUOTSA man's most smouldering moments in an insistent come-on of a track which must have Alexa blushing into her It Bag.
Meanwhile across the Pennines, Marmite-
voiced Hayden Thorpe is warbling of illicit encounters on Wild Beasts’ ‘We Still Got the Taste Dancing on Our Tongues’ ●●●●●, a track which musically never quite matches the titillation of its lyrical matter. Sophie’s Pigeons have a nice line in voraciously suggestive frenzied yelping on ‘It’s Gonna Bite’ ●●●●●; it's just a shame that, at four minutes, it lasts twice as long as a punch-packing pop song like this needs to. Elsewhere, things are more wholesome, as
Over the Wall deliver a busy sounding, pleasingly original plea for domestic bliss in ‘Settle Down’ ●●●●●, and filth couldn't be further from the minds of bouncy chaps Scouting for Girls, whose ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’ ●●●●● is typically sterile fare in which earnest gent Roy Stride reacts to his lady- friend's departure with such lines as 'I'm a bloody big mess inside', with such blustering middle-class angst you can almost see him shaking his fist. Time was, Tim Wheeler of Ash set many a teenage girl’s hormones a-racing with those cheekbones and pop hooks, but those days are well and truly gone with the turgid, Keane-esque yawnfest that is ‘War With Me’ ●●●●●. Local acts come top of the class though, with
lovely shimmery bleeps and whirrs from Glasgow's Miaoux Miaoux on the ‘Blooms’ EP ●●●●● and gorgeously sedate folk jams on 'Retaliate' ●●●●● from Edinburgh-based Icelander Benni Hemm Hemm. The Twilight Sad’s ‘The Room’ ●●●●● is all epic thumping Arcade Fire pianos and drums hit with such palpable bitterness that you hardly need the lyrics to tell of the strife that’s gone into this epic, brooding, unmistakeably Scottish beast of a song. Single of the Fortnight though, is without doubt the blissfully jaded ‘No Cigarettes’ ●●●●● from Withered Hand. (above) Simple and yet otherworldly, it manages to be plaintive and uplifting at the same time, full of shivers-down-the-spine, aching beauty, with a marvellously shoegazey techno-mix by Swimmer One. (Laura Ennor)
66 THE LIST 18 Mar–1 Apr 2010
JAZZ NICOLAS MEIER Journey (MGP Records) ●●●●● Having produced three fine records on Naim Jazz, London-based Swiss guitarist Nicolas Meier turns to a new label for this highly satisfying album. And ‘album’ it is – in these days of single-track downloads, Meier has opted to create a concept album based around the idea of a journey, with each track flowing seamlessly into the next. It is a well thought out scheme, moving from an evocative ‘Sunrise’ to the brief closing ‘Sunset’ via various strikingly colourful stopping points en route.
There is a strong Turkish influence running through , including his use of two Turkish instruments, glissentar and baglama, alongside his nylon and steel strung guitars. Gilad Atzmon is a towering presence on clarinet and saxophones, Uruguayan pianist Jose Reinoso makes a powerful impact, bassist Pat Bettison doubles on harmonica, and Asaf Sirkis is his usual masterly self on drums. (Kenny Mathieson)
ELECTRONICA AUTECHRE Oversteps (Warp) ●●●●●
Manchester duo Autechre haven’t so much been breaking boundaries for the last two decades as searching for them, like two astronauts blasting off into space, charged with finding the edge of the universe. Oversteps, their tenth album, isn’t it. But it’s pretty out there.
Hard to explain but easy to love, this record
is a tapestry of instrumental electronic abstractions which feed on the imagination. ‘r ess’ is a nocturnal macabre, ‘qplay’ and ‘d-sho qub’ the soundtracks to a particularly sinister Anime, ‘os veix3’ a symphony of machinery run by malfunctioning software. The accessibility of this record, as always with Autechre, depends on the ability of the listener to match their own images and emotions to the sounds being made. (David Pollock) SYNTH-POP GOLDFRAPP Head First (Mute) ●●●●●
Today’s pop charts may be awash with female vocalists and 80s synth- pop, but a decade ago, our prevailing sounds were bloke rock (David Gray) and maudlin MOR (Eva Cassidy). It was onto this bland, unsuspecting landscape that electro-pop siren Alison Goldfrapp and her wizard sidekick Will Gregory blazed. They musically and visually transformed the likes of Madonna and Kylie, while paving the way for Girls Aloud and myriad chanteuses hence.
Head First, Goldfrapp’s exultant fifth LP, sees the virtuosic UK deuce embrace 80s blockbusters (Top Gun, Flashdance), and euphoric synth-bombast (Abba, ELO, The Pointer Sisters), to buoyant – if not mindblowing – effect. (Nicola Meighan)
WORLD THE CHIEFTAINS FEATURING RY COODER St Patricio (Fantasy) ●●●●●
The Chieftains’ Paddy Moloney hits bullseye, blending Mexican and Irish music in a brilliant mix of whistles, fiddles, harps and zapateo foot dancing. San Patricio tells of Irish conscripts who switched sides in
1846’s US-Mexican war, a springboard for the Chieftains to play with Carlos Nuñez and Linda Rondstadt as well as lesser known marvels. Ry Cooder walks the right side of sentimentality with his ballad ‘The Sands of Mexico’; while a loving cover of ‘Canción Mixtecta’ is followed by a rustic version by Los Tigres del Norte, the biggest selling Mexican artists around. (Jan Fairley) FOLK POP CHRIS BRADLEY At the Outpost (17 Seconds Records) ●●●●●
With his angelic vocals and breezy folk aesthetic, this release from Aberfeldy man Chris Bradley is an engaging listen. At the Outpost never quite manages to rise out of its lower gears though, making for an ultimately frustrating ride. Opening with Damien Jurado- esque ‘The Man I Love’, Bradley’s 70s-inflected songwriting pokes around the verges of beauty but is just too tentative to rush headlong towards greatness. ‘The Beatles’ is disturbingly quasi- Quo while a stripped- down ‘Your Close Friend’ veers all too swiftly from rousing to risible. Still, there is one killer song, ‘Not What It Was,’ with an infectious verse that Richard Ashcroft would steal for these days. (Brian Donaldson)
POP REISSUES GALAXIE 500 Today/On Fire/This is Our Music (Domino) ●●●●● Between 1987 and 1991, the Harvard Uni- formed slowcore band
released three albums which caught the indie mood of the times but have somehow, pleasingly, weathered the ravages of time. Awash with bonus tracks, the reissue of Today, On Fire and This is Our Music shows a group which matured with each passing
release, giving clues to the direction of future projects such as Luna and Damon & Naomi. The ethereal, jaggedy guitar, fragile, haunting vocals and layered instrumental walls of sound are the motifs which run a thread through Galaxie 500 and helped influence a raft of bands happier staring at their shoes than staring out at the audience. (Brian Donaldson) WORLD SIERRA MAESTRA Sonando Ya (World Village) ●●●●●
Music doesn’t come more seductive than Havana’s glorious Sierra Maestra, who sparked the revival that lead to Buena Vista Social Club’s music sweeping the globe. Touring the UK (Dunfermline, Sat 27 Mar; Stirling, Sun 28 Mar) with five original musicians in place, they dazzle with a stunning set of new songs of their own, plus some classics. Sung by their irresistible cocktail of voices, mixing the rough hewn with serenading tones over percussion and burnished trumpet, the wistful desire they power into lines like, ‘No me imaginó la vida sin tí (‘I can’t imagine life without you’) is unbeatable. (Jan Fairley)