30/08 3 comments
Posts still sporadic – still getting my act together. Bear with me. Here’s my favourite songs this week:
Museum of Bellas Artes – Who Do You Love? (mp3)
Signed to Force Majeure and due at White Heat in a few weeks, this Stockholm trio have put in an early bid for cover of the year via this reprise of The Sapphires’ little-known Motown song from 1964. Relentless beats, glossy synths and moreish vocals combine to prove summer’s not through with us yet…
Still Corners – Endless Summer (mp3)
…as does this effort from the hotly-tipped Londoners. Sounding like a witches’ spell for the senses, this is whimsical hallucination-pop designed for empty stares into deep blue skies.
Freelance Whales – Hannah (mp3)
The FWs specialise in pretty lines about trivial episodes, sung in glorious, folky euphoria. For example: “Hannah takes the stairs ’cause she can’t tell that it’s a wiiiiiiiiinding spiral-case”. Magic.
Small Black – Photojournalist (mp3)
I rarely remember my dreams, my journey to that world, but the little scraps I do retain are much like this slice of haunted pop: groggy, discomforting, lonely, and full of subverted, out-of-focus voices prior to a sudden, bereft, awakening.
1/02 0 comments
One of my tips for 2010, NYC’s Freelance Whales are in London next week for a few dates ahead of debut album Weathervanes’ March release. An endlessly inventive, experimental fivepiece, Freelance Whales can do dainty pop (Starring), swaggering alt-folk (Generator^2nd Floor) and enthralling rock (Hannah). There’s a touch of Mumford & Sons via wholesomely plucked banjos and echoes of Duke Special in the assortment of quirky instruments, including harmoniums and glockenspiel. I particularly like the childlike wonder of the lyrics, a glorious simplicity.
The London dates are: Monday 15 February at Borderline (tickets) and Tuesday 16 February at Madame JoJo’s’ White Heat night (tickets), with Gyratory System also playing. Freelance Whales are also supporting the very decent Fanfarlo at ULU on Friday 12 February.
14/12 2 comments
It’s nearly the end of the year, the decade in fact, and that means one thing – it’s time for Some Of It Was True! to try and name next year’s big things. There’s one rule: I’ve limited myself to acts with 5,000 friends or less on MySpace – no Marina & The Diamonds for me. It’s more exciting for you, and more exciting for me. Here are my 10, then:
I’m not sure which came first, the hairs on the back of my neck or this fourpiece from Chattanooga, Tennessee – but they sure as hell were made for each other. This is lustrous pop-rock: sometimes woozy and woodsmoke, others euphoric and Saturday night. When Justin Wilcox’s voice fully purrs, as on Young Guns, I close my eyes, and I’m in the car, heading south, sun on my back, carefree and happy, knowing it’ll all be okay soon. Then the chorus kicks in, and I gun it like never before…
MySpace (796 friends) | MP3: Moonlight Bride – Young Guns
I blogged about this London soulstress just recently, and I’m so enthused I’m doing it again. A satin voice belying her tender years, Valentina makes warm, fuzzy music over piano tinkles or Ally McBeal-style choirs. Where Heart of Glass is the dreamy stuff of Sunday night strolls and red wine, Dulcimer Sound is a bit folkier and less polished. That’s okay, though: you get to come across all Simon Cowell, and tell friends that once the kinks are ironed out, this one’s got it…
MySpace (2348 friends) | MP3: Valentina – Heart of Glass
The Sweet Serenades
I’ve had to stop playing ‘On My Way’ while out listening to my iPod as it’s dangerous: last time I was doing a silly dance involving stiff shoulders, hip shakes and exaggerated paces on Brick Lane when I almost walked into a bemused Big Issue seller. In short, The Sweet Serenades’ extrovert rock-pop, glam and gleeful in equal measure, is irresistible. Of all the 57,283 cool Swedish acts out there right now, this duo – Martin and Matthias, no less – are right up there with the best.
MySpace (1102 friends) | MP3: The Sweet Serenades – On My Way
“I get up early just to start cranking the generator”. It shouldn’t be brilliant, but somehow it is: a joyous simple high in a joyously simple song. That’s Generator ^ First Floor, all ragtag-guitar intro and echoey folk; listen to that and then the more layered Generator ^ Second Floor and you’ll be in a dozy pop-folk swoon that a quintuple espresso couldn’t interrupt. Based in NYC , this is a band makking elegant music for dog days when rain taps on the windowpanes and you never take off your pajamas.
MySpace (1232 friends) | MP3: Freelance Whales – Generator ^ Second Floor
The purveyors of 2009′s finest slice of trop-rock heaven: Sunrise Hotel. Already the beneficiary of numerous remixes, from Micachu to Phaseone, this was a tinkling, relentless belter, full of inaudible but exotic-sounding vocals and slaloming, whistle-pitched guitars. Other songs like Nadine are just as seductive, but with a classier, brassier edge. A January date at Madame JoJo’s is written in my diary with the inky excitement normally reserved only for the end of my girlfriend’s period.
MySpace (3578 friends) | MP3: Fool’s Gold – Surprise Hotel
The latest signing to Young & Lost Club, Woolf is into a sort of retro-neo-soul (only wanky bloggers can make pronouncements like that): starting with soft grooves, he layers in machete-sharp guitars, suave crooner vocals, dashes of dirty blues, quaint bells, digital frolics… whatever he’s inclined towards, basically. A very modern one man band, Woolf is refrshingly unique but not, thankfully, isolatingly eclectic like many contemporaries. He’s also good looking and sounds a smidge like Bryan Ferry, and the lord can only be praised for that.
MySpace (197 friends) | MP3: Othello Woolf – Stand
Named (useless trivia alert) after a Niagara escarpment near their Canada home, this sometime supergroup – members of Timbre Timbre and ohbijou contribute, among others, but the line-up’s never too constant - combine a spiritual zealot sound with funky gospel anthems like Steamroller. Guitars peal, cymbals tremor, horns honk, cellos swoon and amid it all, chief singer Neil Haverty makes gravelly-voiced pronouncements.
MySpace (1681 friends) | MP3: Bruce Peninsula – Steamroller
A video of the band performing Steamroller:
New Jersey-based purveyors of a slightly burnt-out digipop sound that’s seductively easy on the ears. On delicate songs like Fake Blues, the vocals are vulnerable and overshadowed by the most sincere of guitars; on the more lucid Beach Comber, they play a more prominent role, supported by calmer strings. Elsewhere there are drums and electronic effects, but one thing never alters: each song is constructed around a simple, yet impossibly catchy, central rhythm.
MySpace (3167 friends) | MP3: Real Estate – Fake Blues
Has anyone sounded this earnest since Passion Pit broke onto the scene? What’s In It For is a cuddly, careering rock-pop ballad, punctuated by high-pitched singalongs, aching guitars and cutesy lines like “you know I love it when you put your fingertips around my shoulder”. Much more subdued and rather pretty is Where’s Your Dirty Mind, minimal vocals around a solemn piano and whisper-quiet guitars. Vim and variation, then – it’s easy to see why Sub-Pop have recently snapped up the youthful California quartet. Expect. Big. Things.
MySpace (2125 friends) | MP3: Avi Buffalo – What’s In It For? (MP3 removed on request)
The big disco-pop act of 2010? On the basis of first single Time (beloved of everyone from Monocle to the ever-maddening Annie Mac) and now the follow-up Ten Strikes, it’s very likely. O’Spada are a Stockholm five-piece – Julia’s falsetto soul-singer vocals and four boys with some drums and a lot of electric - and fuse disco and funk into one high-octane good time. You’ll possibly love them and probably hate them, but O’Spada seem set to be ubiquitous in 2010.
MySpace (2671 friends) | MP3: O’Spada – Ten Strikes
Posts tagged as "“freelance whales”"