ever – from the chilled piano-doused beats of ‘OK’ to the pulsating grooves of ‘Sixteen Shades of Black and Blue’. (Ryan Drever) INDIE ROCK/POP JOHNNY FOREIGNER You Thought You Saw a Shooting Star but Yr Eyes Were Blurred With Tears and That Lighthouse Can Be Pretty Deceiving With the Sky So Clear and Sea So Calm (Alcopop!) ●●●●●
JoFo’s new EP You Thought You Saw . . . is cleaner and more coherent than their earlier work. Usually this brand of noisy indie rock would avoid such change, but the trio have made the transition without sacrificing the faux-adolescent innocence that makes them so uniquely fun. From the accented soliloquy in ‘Elegy For Post Teenage Living’ to the frantically lo-fi ‘Harriet by Proxy’, there’s a significant nod to peers Los Campesinos! and Sky Larkin. The record tries annoyingly hard at times to appeal to the poetry writing 14-year-old demographic, taking away from its spontaneity. But other than that, this is an EP of ironically clever fight pop. (Hamish Gibson) ORCHESTRAL POP ENSEMBLE Excerpts (FatCat) ●●●●●
The work of Montreal- based composer Olivier Alary, who has worked with Björk, Cat Power and Lou Barlow, this album is the follow-up to his debut on Rephlex, Sketch Proposals. Flitting somewhere between measured ambience
Reading Rainbow Prism Eyes (Hozac) ●●●●● Reverb-laden guitars and vocals bridge the gap between 60s psychedelic pop and late 80s garage-pop, but it’s all a bit insubstantial; there’s nothing to sink your teeth into. Sic Alps Napa Asylum (Drag City) ●●●●● There are times when discordant guitars, listless vocals and a desire to make wilfully unlistenable music can result in a powerful, groundbreaking album. Unfortunately, none of those times can be found within the 22 tracks from these San Franciscan noise-poppers. Cloud Nothings Cloud Nothings (Wichita) ●●●●● Good, honest jangly pop-punk with an adolescent-sounding vocal line. Think Undertones or Wannadies, but with a more summery vibe. Fordell Research Institute Heavy Petting (Krapp Tapes) ●●●●● Comprising looped guitar feedback dirges and crackly vox pops about the grind of nine-to-five workdays, this second Krapp cassette will certainly tick the ‘challenging’ genre box for some, but the ‘minimal bliss’ one for others. Spokes Everyone I Ever Met (Counter) ●●●●● Seemingly taking cues from Arcade Fire and Deacon Blue, Spokes make beautiful indie-pop, complete with soaring group vocals and string arrangements. If only the playing field was narrower, they might stand out a bit more. (Niki Boyle)
and bold pop composition, its rich and immersive sound reflects Alary’s other occupations as soundtrack artist, exhibition composer and musical arranger. 6–20 Jan 2011 THE LIST 63
DISCO HOUSE HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR Blue Songs (Moshi Moshi/Cooperative) ●●●●●
Within the first few seconds of this sophomore album, Andy Butler’s New York based disco- house collective have achieved Objective A: to lose the one-hit wonder tag after the deservedly monumental success of ‘Blind’ in 2008. The opening ‘Painted Eyes’ struts in on an irresistible disco bassline and a flute part reminiscent of a Gil Scott-Heron classic, building to a measured symphony of choral strings and ghostly, imploring falsetto vocals. This song will be remixed to bits and destroy dancefloors across the land. Not all of the Patrick Pulsinger-produced
record hits these heights, but there are plenty of well-worked experiments in style and genre to create a compelling listen over nearly an hour. The on-the-nose titling of ‘My House’, for example, mirrors a song that is heavy on
austere, late-80s piano house in the style of Frankie Knuckles, shot through with reverb- heavy, chopped up lyrics, while ‘Answers Come in Dreams’ overlays squelching acid house keys over a soaring Grace Jones-style disco groove. A slight mid-album lull is broken up by the
electro-acoustic chill of ‘Boy Blue’ (a ringer for Everything But the Girl) and enlivened by the by-now familiar handclap disco of ‘Falling’, before a late and concerted rally. ‘I Can’t Wait’ and ‘Visitor’ offer harder, more jackin’ electro beats, while the synthetic soul of ‘Step Up’ continues guest vocalist Kele Okereke’s creditable reinvention as one of clubland’s most compelling chanteurs. The finale is the real killer, though, a haunting, minimal cover of The Pet Shop Boys’ ‘It’s Alright’ sung by regular Herc team-member Kim Ann Mossman, an anthem to define eras and surely this year’s ‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’. (David Pollock)
INDIE ROCK BRITISH SEA POWER Valhalla Dancehall (Rough Trade) ●●●●● British Sea Power’s fourth studio album doesn’t provide much new. The epic swells, slow-builds and flurries of guitar will lend themselves well to the
band’s renowned live shows. Yet, the more frantic, exciting British Sea Power sound seems to have been largely replaced by a more solidly ‘indie’ and at times bland version of the Mercury- nominated band. Lyrically, Valhalla Dancehall is lovelorn and political, the latter style sticking in the craw at points, but perhaps explaining their recent support shows for the Manics. The record, although well arranged, lacks a hugely standout track.
There is nothing here as memorable as ‘No Lucifer’ or ‘Waving Flags’. (Lauren Mayberry) ELECTRO-POP FUJIYA & MIYAGI Ventriloquizzing (Full Time Hobby) ●●●●●
Brighton’s Fujiya & Miyagi return with their fourth album, Ventriloquizzing and, as you might guess from the title, this particular collection is inspired by the idea of ventriloquism or more broadly, the idea of someone else
speaking for you.
As a result, the album is imbued with a creepy, underlying sense of unrest, the kind that goes hand-in-hand with chilling, horror-movie dummies. Still, that doesn’t stop this being as engrossing and, indeed, as funky as