SINGLES & DOWNLOADS
The humanoid is often wracked with existential angst at the turn of the year. This malady will be aggravated by the latest release from Sandi Thom. One may suffer unyielding conundrums such as: why has this single been released? And: why has Thom covered ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (Essential) ●●●●●? And: why must she warble about a whorehouse as one might a tragically befallen love? The List has retreated to bed with a fever, convinced this is a hatchet job on the virtuous name of Scottish pop.
Thank goodness, then, for The Seventeenth Century, who recover the nation’s musical honour with starlit fingerpicking, huddled harmonies and soaring fanfares of ‘Young Francis’ (Electra French) ●●●●●. (See live review, page 59.) The Streets further assuage our torment with ‘Going Through Hell’ (679) ●●●●●, which unifies Skinner’s ambling chat with beefcake riffage and a gleaming MOR chorus; a heady aural orgy. Similarly euphoric is Yasmin’s ‘On My Own’ (Ministry of Sound) ●●●●●. Although the press release is all about trip hop, we’re down with its arms-aloft resemblance to Crystal Waters and Ce Ce Peniston. Villagers contribute their life-affirming tuppence-worth with ‘Becoming a Jackal’ (Domino) ●●●●●, the stand-out title track from last year’s debut album, but this issue’s ebullient garland goes to the punk-spattered power-pop of Glasgow’s CDEX: ‘I Need Your Touch’ (Armellodie) ●●●●● recalling The Jon Spencer Blues Experience, aka JSBX, and Rocket From the Crypt, aka RFTC; it’s all the best acronyms rolled into one.
Speaking of acronyms, HMSG – Anstruther pop star HMS Ginafore – has united with Glasgow folk alchemist Iona Marshall for a sublime EP, 10x10:07 (De-Fence) ●●●●●. Ginafore comes forth with ‘Rock of Ages’, an electro-acoustic tropical swansong (no!); while the cosmic synth-folk of Marshall’s ‘Shtoom’ is so beautiful it’s quite upsetting. It is Mike Oldfield’s ‘Moonlight Shadow’ for the DIY pop generation. It is perfect.
But it’s to Randan Discotheque (pictured, above) who we turn to for Single of the Month. ‘Heather the Weather’ (The Bonjour Branch) ●●●●● simultaneously canonises one of our greatest-ever meteorologists, and confirms your correspondent’s suspicions that a Corries revival is round the corner. Egad! The year is looking brighter. (Nicola Meighan)
60 THE LIST 20 Jan–3 Feb 2011
HIP HOP / SOUL-POP THE GO! TEAM Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries) ●●●●●
Although this third album from Brighton’s manic devotees of the pop symphony makes a feature of its roots in live instrumentation rather than the usual samples, it’s business as usual otherwise. Highlights include the hyperactive indie-pop grind of ‘Secretary Song’ and ‘Buy Nothing Day’s soaring, tambourine- shaking twang (featuring guest vocals from Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki and Best Coast’s Bethany Consentino, respectively), instrumental ‘Bust-Out Brigade’s horn-blazing soul swagger and the widescreen, old Hollywood cheer of the harmonica-led ‘Yosemite Song’. These are all growers in comparison with G!T’s classic ‘Bottle Rocket’, but this is still a rewarding record that finds lots of different ways to do happy. The live shows will be a blast. (David Pollock) ■ The Go! Team play Oran Mor, Glasgow, Thu 3 Feb; Liquid Room, Edinburgh, Fri 4 Feb. DANCE-PUNK MEN Talk About Body (IAMSOUND) ●●●●●
With electro punk pioneers Le Tigre currently on hiatus, two of the trio, JD Samson and Johanna Fateman, created MEN with the intention of making ‘radical’ dance music. Talk About Body certainly ticks those boxes, with lines like ‘I’m going to fuck my friends, to get a little tiny baby’ and ‘why
procreate and overpopulate?’ (from ‘Credit Card Babies’) propelling scratchy riff- tinged disco singalongs.
The biting lyrics, puncturing of hetero- normative ideologies, gender-messing and all- round questioning of everything your parents and peers expect of you is all done with a cheeky grin here. It is an essential part of this Brooklyn-based band and art/performance collective’s utterly unique sound. We can only dream of sneaking it onto mainstream dancefloors one day. (Camilla Pia)
EXPERIMENTAL ROCK DEERHOOF Deerhoof Vs Evil (ATP Recordings) ●●●●●
A recording can’t properly do justice to the strange and playful madness of San Franciscan sonic adventurers Deerhoof, but this is still an entertaining album that’s rich in sonic adventure. The group merge virtuoso classical guitar with Satomi Matsuzaki’s crystal-sharp singing voice on ‘No-One Asked to Dance’, freak out with the monster movie instrumental ‘Let’s Dance the Jet’ and come closer than ever to bona fide indie-pop majesty during ‘Super Duper Rescue Heads!’ and ‘Hey I Can’.
Despite being a DIY self-recording, . . .Vs Evil is as clean and precise as anything they’ve produced, allowing the unrelenting invention exemplified by off-kilter blues track ‘Secret Mobilization’ and semi- acoustic funk odyssey ‘I Did Crimes For You’ to ring out. (David Pollock)
INDIE ROCK COLD WAR KIDS Mine Is Yours (Downtown Records/Cooperative) ●●●●●
Produced by Jacquire King of Only by the Night Kings of Leon
fame, Cold War Kids’ third LP shows a more polished version of the Californian four-piece. Their older, minimalist arrangements are replaced by a more all- encompassing sound, with the title track itself offering a minute-long, croon-filled, U2-esque opening. Nathan Willett’s
recognisable vocal is still soulful and strong. Yet his decision to abandon the narrative storytelling of 2008’s Loyalty to Loyalty and focus lyrically on the ‘push and pull of human relationships’ – evident in ‘Sensitive Kid’ and the Zach Braff film trailer friendly ‘Skip The Charades’ – dilutes the quartet’s ramshackle quirkiness. (Lauren Mayberry) SKA-PUNK-POP THE PLIMPTONS 00s Nostalgia with The Plimptons (16ohm Records) ●●●●●
If you loves your music raucous, bawdy and er, youthfully enterprising, then Motherwell’s finest The Plimptons will fit into as many musical bags as you can procure – possibly too many. With more than a nutty smidgen of early Madness and numerous déjà-vu blasts from the past, the sextet, fronted by the lyrical Smith brothers Adam and Martin, recall the 80s via their banter-fuelled Fratelli-like Scots brogue. On the go since 1999 and now into their third set, ska-boys The Plimptons (and songs such as ‘Drink Y’Self Sober’, ‘Lonely Old Man’ and ‘I Hate Halloween’), poke fun without hurting the masses en route. You
hope they can find that elusive hit before too long. At the moment though, it’s a case of ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before!’ – as a better- known Smiths outfit once sang. (Martin C Strong) INDIE ROCK JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN The Deep Field (Play It Again Sam) ●●●●●
New York rock chanteuse Joan Wasser is no slouch when it comes to a vintage back-catalogue. She has issued two noteworthy studio albums in 2006’s Real Life and 2008’s To Survive. Yet The Deep Field is nonetheless startling in its amalgam of blues-pop swagger and revelatory soul. Inspired by an image from the Hubble Space Telescope, the record hits cosmic highs on the psychedelic dirge-rock of ‘Nervous’, the brooding soul of ‘Run For Love’ and ‘Action Man’, and the organ- fuelled torch-song, ‘I Was Everyone’.
See that up there beyond the stars? That’s the bar Wasser just set for albums this year. (Nicola Meighan)
ROCK IRON AND WINE Kiss Each Other Clean (4AD) ●●●●●
Tom Waits’ groundbreaking 1983 album, Swordfishtrombones, may be the touchstone from which Iron and Wine (aka Sam Beam) takes delivery of his muse, but you wouldn’t know that from his latest collection. While Waits bashed every surface and plucked every string