These past four weeks have been a bit hectic with new releases. So much so, in fact I'm having to re-check what I wrote about February to see exactly what has come out when.
Soundtrack to the month proper, has been the third album by Gorillaz which is a contender for the Album of the Year crown. Plastic Beach, although arguably two or three tracks too long is a wonderfully eclectic and accomplished pop record. That the guest appearances manage to gel into something cohesive despite being as disparate as Lou Reed and Snoop Dogg frankly beggars belief. Still, due to the eclectic nature of the record it is difficult to pick out highlights, although for my tastes the more mellow, Damon Albarn-focused moments are the one's that stick with me. 'Melancholy Hill', 'Rhinestone Eyes' and 'Empire Ants' being prime examples. What I feel recommends this album above those factors however is the beautiful exotic atmosphere that it conjures. With its clean production and tropical themes it manages to stay resolutely human being shot through with a vain of sadness that's present in all great pop music.
Other albums that I've been getting on rather well with this month include newbies from two ends of the spectrum of Brit-rock credibility. At the critical panning end, The Automatic put out their third record Tear The Signs Down. Having multiple front-men suits them well and gives them a chance to fully incorporate the several-part harmonies into their post-hardcore influenced pop rock. The choruses are frequently massive (see 'Interstate' or 'Run and Hide') but when this is juxtaposed with the more experimental moments ('Race To The Heart Of The Sun') a picture is fully painted of a band who are really enjoying the music that they are making.
That other end of the aforementioned spectrum is Blood Red Shoes, who have gotten plaudits from everywhere and are bloody great. The two piece make one hell of a rock n roll racket with their simple set up of drums and guitar and although their second record, Fire Like This, isn't quite up to the standard set by Box of Secrets, it's still one of the years best and most ferocious records. Closing track 'Colours Fade' is epic, and 'Heartsink' is a personal favourite, even if it is one of the duo's more conventional tracks.
The other two releases this month that I've been getting my ears around are Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobious Pip's Logic of Chance and Love Is All's Two Thousand And Ten Injuries. The latter of which I've already reviewed and don't need to go into detail about again. Bitesize quote: indiepop masterpiece. The former however I've yet to really mention and should say now that I really like. Le Sac and Pip frequently get a slating from sites like Drowned in Sound and Pitchfork, with most of this being based around a misunderstanding that the two are a hip-hop act. Whilst The Logic of Chance is closer to this than predecessor Angles, it still feels much more like a spoken word record for the most part. In comparison to it's predecessor The Logic of Chance doesn't quite live up. Pip doesn't have as much to say as last time but Le Sac has come on leaps and bounds with his beats being strong enough to work on their own.
The only other album that I've picked up from the new releases this month is Alphabeat's The Beat Is..., which you already know about. So I won't go into that again. In compilation news Rough Trade Shops Counter Cultre '09 is two discs of brilliant underground gems from the past 12 months or so and comes massively recommended.
To close; a list of older releases that I've picked up this month: The Smiths The Sound Of The Smiths, M83 Before The Dawn Heals Us, Kenickie At The Club, She & Him Volume 1, Jay-Z The Black Album, David Bowie Reality, Grizzly Bear Veckatimest, Talking Heads Stop Making Sense.