Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Warm & Scratchy

The guys over at Adult Swim have been making a habit lately of giving free music packs just for the hell of it, and they're showing no signs of stopping. While the previous Chrome Children and Definite Swim compilations were hip-hop themed, their new offer is strictly an indie-rock affair, with tracks from The Rapture, Les Savy Fav and Broken Social Scene.

Check out and download the whole tracklist here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Best of SXSW: Beat The Devil

The first things you'll notice on listening to Beat the Devil's 'Shine in Exile' are the vocals, (inadequately describable as a sort of 'languid croon'), and the fact that there are no guitars - just a harmonium (with some bass & drums). Both of these are supplied by lead singer Shilpa Ray. Forced to play harmonium and sing since she was 8, Ray was raised in a strict Hindu household, where Western music was forbidden. As a result, the band's music sounds as if Ray, upon discovering Western music for herself, decided to incorporate as much as possible into her own work. There are echoes of jazz, blues, folk, and rock all within the one track, and it's unlike anything else I've heard recently.

Beat the Devil currently have a self-titled EP, available from their site here.

Beat the Devil - Shine In Exile
Beat the Devil - Plea Bargain

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Best of SXSW: The Kissaway Trail

The Kissaway Trail come from Odense, Denmark: this fact excuses them from what is a terrible name for a band. Their music, on the other hand, is much more appreciable. The Kissaway Trail are five young kids who write big, swirling rock songs; lead single 'Smother + Evil = Hurt' evokes the majesty of The Polyphonic Spree, without sounding derivative. Like the 'Spree, and many other new acts, standard instrumentation doesn't cut it anymore. For extra texture, The Kissaway Trail use a lot of strings, banjo and mandolins in their tracks, and it is exceedingly effective: first time I listened to their single, I was blown away. Grab it below.

The Kissaway Trail: Smother + Evil = Hurt

Their self-titled debut release is out now on Etch 'n' Sketch.

Best of SXSW 2007

Every year around March, the centre of the music world seems to be in Austin, Texas, where the south by southwest music conference is held. It's a week packed full of bands who could be 'the next big thing'. Finally, two months after the event, I've managed to compile somewhat of a 'best of' the conference, and while the general consensus was that this year's installment was a little mediocre, there were still some standouts.

I'll be trying to put up a new artist profile each day. Here goes...

Note: While there were many amazing bands playing there (such as The Polyphonic Spree), I'm only going to be mentioning bands who also supplied a sample track for download.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Our Love To Admire

It seems the new thing is for album art to leak, and so, in keeping with current trends, here is what will be gracing the cover of the new album from Interpol, 'Our Love To Admire'. While the black, white and red colour scheme that adorned their previous two albums is nowhere to be seen, it's been replaced by something that's just as uplifting:

'Our Love To Admire' will be out on Remote Control soon.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Album Review: Maxïmo Park - Our Earthly Pleasures

Our Earthly Pleasures is the second effort from the Newcastle quintet, and while their debut effort – A Certain Trigger – was defined by its hastiness and raw energy, the band has taken much more time and care in crafting their second release. This time, production duties were given to Gil Norton, producer to Foo Fighters and Pixies circa Doolittle. The result is an album that is more anthemic, bolder, and certainly more radio-friendly, but perhaps lacking some of the eager, nervous energy of their debut.

‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ starts the album off on a strong note. While it’s instantly clear that this is a more polished effort than Trigger, the energy from Trigger is still eminent in the angular guitars and Smith’s energetic howl. Lead single ‘Our Velocity’ continues the album at a similar pace. The album briefly dips when it reaches the middle two tracks, ‘When ‘Karaoke Plays’ and ‘Your Urge’, which are both forgettable tracks; both seem to keep a constant flat-line of dynamics for the duration of the song.

Smith’s lyrics throughout are fantastic, and possibly even save some of the songs from obscurity. On ‘A Fortnight’s Time’ he sings, on relationships, ‘when it comes to girls I’m mostly hypothetical / if I list their names it’s purely alphabetical / when it comes to girls I’m truly theoretical / if I touch their nerve it’s merely dialectical’. Similar themes are prevalent through the rest of the tracks, but it doesn’t get old. As has been the case with their other songs, Smith proves himself the backbone of the band.

Our Earthly Pleasures is better sounding, both crisper and cleaner, and more calculated than their previous work. Whether this is a good thing really depends on what you prefer. But while half the album is made of catchy rock songs that will be sure-fire hits (‘Girls Who Play Guitars’, ‘A Fortnight’s Time’, ‘Our Velocity’), the other half is forgettable (‘Your Urge’, ‘Sandblasted And Set Free’, ‘By The Monument’). If one thing’s for certain, make sure you see this band live, as reports of their live gigs in the UK show that even the weaker tracks on the album will sound fantastic when the middleman of the sound-deck is cut out.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Do the D.A.N.C.E.

Here's the new video clip from French act Justice; both the song and the video are two of the coolest things I've heard/seen in ages. Look out for the 12" single soon (including 'Phantom').